Page images

Fremont's Proclamation.

President's Modification.

General Fremont, in command of the Department of Missouri, in an order dated August 30th, declaring martial law established throughout that State, used the following language:

"Real and personal property of those who shall take up arms against the United States, or who shall be directly proven to have taken an active part with their enemies in the field, is declared confiscated to public use, and their slaves, if any they have, are hereby declared free men."

This order violated the above-named act, and could only be justified upon the ground of imperative military necessity Some correspondence which passed between the President and General Fremont upon this topic, resulted in the following official letter, dated Washington, D. C., Sept. 11, 1861:


"SIR,-Yours of the 8th, in answer to mine of the 2d inst., is just received. Assured that you, upon the ground, could better judge of the necessities of your position than I could at this distance, on seeing your proclamation of August 30, I perceived no general objection to it; the particular clause, however, in relation to the confiscation of property and the liberation of slaves, appeared to me to be objectionable in its non-conformity to the Act of Congress passed the 6th of last August, upon the same subjects, and hence I wrote you, expressing my wish that that clause should be modified accordingly. Your answer just received expresses the preference on your part that I should make an open order for the modification, which I very cheerfully do. It is, therefore, ordered that the said clause of the said proclamation be so modified, held and construed, as to conform with, and not to transcend the provisions on the same subject contained in the Act of Congress entitled 'An Act to confiscate property used for insurrectionary purposes,' approved

Sherman's Instructions.

Ball's Bluff.

August 6, 1861, and that said Act be published at length with this order.

"Your obedient servant,


In the instructions from the War Department to General Sherman, in command of the land forces destined to operate on the South Carolina coast, that commander was directed to govern himself relative to this class of persons, by the principles of the letters addressed to General Butler, exercising, however, his own discretion as to special cases. If particular circumstances seemed to require it, they were to be employed in any capacity, with such organization in squads, companies, or otherwise, as should be by him deemed most beneficial to the service. This, however, not to mean a general arming of them for military service. All loyal masters were to be assured that Congress would provide just compensation to them for any loss of the services of persons so employed.

This phase-varying and indefinite-at that time did that question present, which was at a later period to take, under the moulding hand of the President, body and form clearly defined and unmistakable.

The battle of Ball's Bluff-the first under the direction of the new commander on the Potomac-fought October 21st was but Bull Run repeated; happily, however, on a somewhat smaller scale. A convenient scapegoat upon whom to throw the responsibility-General Stone-was found, and the indignation of the country was measurably, and for the time, appeased.

Directly after this affair, the veteran Scott having asked to be relieved from active service, his request was granted in the following highly complimentary order:

"Executive Mansion, Washington, Nov. 1, 1861. "On the 1st day of November, A. D., 1861, upon his own application to the President of the United States, Brevet

Scott's Retirement.

Army of the Potomac.

Lieutenant-General Winfield Scott is ordered to be placed, and hereby is placed, upon the list of retired officers of the Army of the United States, without reduction in his current pay, subsistence, or allowances.

"The American people will hear with sadness and deep emotion that General Scott has withdrawn from the active control of the army, while the President and the unanimous Cabinet express their own and the nation's sympathy in his personal affliction, and their profound sense of the important public services rendered by him to his country during his long and brilliant career, among which will ever be gratefully distinguished his faithful devotion to the Constitution, the Union, and the flag, when assailed by a parricidal rebellion. "ABRAHAM LINCOLN."

To General McClellan, now the ranking officer of the army, the duties of General-in-chief were assigned by the President. The autumnal months passed away-gorgeous and golden -men thought them made for fighting, if fighting must be; but no fighting for the Army of the Potomac-an occasional skirmish only-mainly reviews.

The winter months came-the dry season had passed. The Grand Army being now thoroughly organized, disci plined, and equipped went to fight ?-no-into winter quarters.

And the people, patient ever and forgiving, when inclination impels, forgot Ball's Bluff-forgot what they had hoped for-trusted in the prudent caution of the general in command and waited for the springtide.

Meeting of Congress.


Mason and Slidell.



The Military Situation-Seizure of Mason and Slidell-Opposition to the AdministrationPresident's Message-Financial Legislation-Committee on the Conduct of the WarConfiscation Bill.

AT the time of the re-assembling of Congress, December 2d, 1861, the military situation was by no means as promising as the liberal expenditure of money and the earnest efforts of the Administration toward a vigorous prosecution of the war might have led the people to expect. True, the National Capitol had been protected, and Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri had not, as had been at various times threatened, been brought in subjection to the rebels. Nothing more, however though this would have been judged no little, had the people been less sanguine of great results immediately at hand-than this had been accomplished in the East; and in the West, large rebel forces threatened Kentucky and Missouri, and the Mississippi river was in their possession from its mouth to within a short distance of the mouth of the Ohio.

The seizure of the emissaries, Mason and Slidell likewisethough afterwards disposed of by the Government in such a way as to secure the acquiescence of the nation-taken in connection with the position assumed by the British Government-in every way unpalatable to the mass of the peopleseemed likely to entangle us in foreign complications exceedingly undesirable at that juncture. It was generally believed that England and France, while neutral on the surface, were in reality affording very material aid and comfort to the rebel cause, our commercial interests being very seriously impaired

Opposition Party.

President's Message.

by the construction which those powers saw fit to place upon

their duties as neutrals.

Efforts, moreover, were making to organize a formidable party in antagonism to the Administration, comprising the loose ends of every class of malcontents; those who had always opposed the war, though for a time cowed down by the outburst which followed the fall of Sumter; those who were satisfied that no more progress had been made; those who were inclined, constitutionally, to oppose any thing which any Administration, under any circumstances, might do; those who were beginning to tire of the war, and were ready to patch matters up in any way, so only that it should come to an end; and those who were on the alert for some chance whereby to make capital, political or pecuniary, for their own dear selves.

As a whole, affairs wore by no means a cheering aspect at the opening of this Session.

That the President was fully alive to the true state of the case, the views announced in the following message clearly show:

"FELLOW-CITIZENS OF THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: In the midst of unprecedented political troubles, we have cause of great gratitude to God for unusual good health and most abundant harvests.

"You will not be surprised to learn that, in the peculiar exigences of the times, our intercourse with foreign nations has been attended with profound solicitude, chiefly turning upon our own domestic affairs.

"A disloyal portion of the American people have, during the whole year, been engaged in an attempt to divide and destroy the Union. A nation which endures factious domestic division, is exposed to disrespect abroad; and one party, if not both, is sure, sooner or later, to invoke foreign intervention.

"Nations thus tempted to interfere, are not always able to

« PreviousContinue »