« PreviousContinue »
village of Leesburg, near by, whither the captives were taken, was brilliantly illuminated, and the Confederates there were wild with joy. The Union loss was about one thousand men and three cannon. Nearly three hundred men were killed, and over five hundred were made prisoners and taken to Richmond.' The Confederate loss was about three hundred. According to General Evans's report, he had one hundred and fifty-three killed, including Colonel E. R. Burt, of the Eighteenth Mississippi, and two taken prisoners. He did not mention the number of his wounded, which was reported to be large.
The death of Senator Baker was felt as a national calamity. He was one of the ablest men of his time as a statesman and orator. Thoroughly comprehending the great issue, and the horrible crime of the conspirators, he had eagerly left the halls of legislation (where he had combated the friends of the criminals with eloquent words, and voted for abundant means to crush the rebellion) to lead his countrymen into battle for the right. The achievements of his little band at Ball's Bluff, who composed a part of the Army of the Potomac, assisted greatly in effacing from the escutcheon of that army the stain it received at the battle of Bull's Run.
Again, as in the case of the battle of Bull's Run, the grieved, and disappointed, and mortified loyal people demanded an explanation of the catastrophe. To the most inexpert there appeared evidence of fatal mismanagement. General McClellan, General Stone, and Colonel Baker all received censure at different times, and by different persons; the first, for remissness in duty in not informing Stone of the retrograde movement of McCall, and sending re-enforcements; the second, for sending troops across the river without adequate transportation for a larger body at a time; and the third, for rashness in crossing at all and engaging the Confederates, double his own in numbers.
There was a natural clamor for investigation, and, on the assembling of Congress, the House of Representatives passed a resolution asking the
1 Twenty-four of the prisoners were oflicers, namely, two colonels, one major, one adjutant, one assistant." surgeon, seven captains, and twelve lieutenants. The colonels were M. Cogswell (Captain of the Eighth U. & Infantry), of the Forty-second New York Volunteers, and W. Raymond Lee, of the Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteers. The major was P. J. Rivers, of the latter regiment. At Leesburg, General Evans (who was represented as a tall, strong man, of unusual length of limb, and in manners courteous and dignitied) offered the captains a parole on the condition that they should not, unless exchanged, agnin“ bear arms against the Southern ('onfederacy.” They refused to accept it, and were sent to Richmond by way of Manassas, arriving there at nine o'clock in the morning of the 24th of October, where they were greeted with many jeers from an inmense crowd, such as “I say, Yanks, how do you feel ?" The captains were confined in the tobacco warehouse, already mentioned on page 26, where they were soon brought under the petty tyranny of the notorious General Winder. A full account of the experience of the captains may be found in a little volume entitled “ Prison Life in the Tobacco Warehouse at Richmond," by Lieutenant Willian C. Harris, of Baker's California reziment.
? In a general order issued by McClellan, on the day after the battle, he announced the death of Baker, and spoke of him as one having “ many titles to honor," as a patriot zealous for the honor of bis adopted country" (he was born in England), cut off “ in the fullness of his power as a statesman, and in the course of a brilliant career as a soldier distinguished in two wars." When Congress met, in December, the Senate appointed a day (the 11th of that month) for the consideration of the death of this distinguished member. The President was there to participate in the monrnful proceedings. Most touching culogies were pronounced by the dead hero's compatriots of the Senate. From that body went resolutions to the House of Representatives, where like proceedings were held; and all over the country there was general grief because of the fall of that noble man. In California, which had been his chosen residence for a long time, the news of his death created a profound sensation. It reached San Francisco a few days after the battle, the lino of telegraph between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans having been just completed. That line was opened for messages on the 25th of October, when :: communication (the first) was sent by Judge Field to President Lincoln. While they were preparing in San Francisco, on the following day, to fire a salute in honor of this important event, a dispatch from the East announced the death of Baker. Rejoicing was changed into mourning, and the celebration was deforred.
THE CASE OF GENERAL STONE.
a Dec. 16,
Secretary of War “whether any, and, if any, what measures had been taken
to ascertain who was responsible for the disastrous movement of the National troops at Ball's Bluff.” It was answered that
General McClellan was of the opinion that “an inquiry on the subject of the resolution would, at that time, be injurious to the public service.” But General McClellan had already answered that inquiry, so far as one of the commanders was concerned. He was at Stone's head-quarters, at Poolesville, twenty-four hours after the disaster, and from there had telegraphed to the President, saying, "I have investigated this matter, and General Stone is without blame. Had his orders been followed, there could (or would have been no disaster.” This was unknown to the public. They were dissatisfied with the apparent desire on the part of the General-in-chief to stifle investigation, and more than ever he was held to be personally responsible for the disaster. For a time there were warm discussions in Congress on the subject.
Finally a victim appeared to propitiate the public feeling, in the Feb. 8,
person of General Stone, who was arrested by order of the
War Department and sent to Fort Lafayette, at the entrance to New York Bay, and then used for the confinement of political priso
There he was detained until the following August, when, without trial, or any public proceedings whatever, he was released. That fort
ress being a place of durance for men charged with treasonable acts, this gallant and truly patriotic officer suffered patiently and silently, for a greater portion of the war, under the imputations of disloyalty. He was imprisoned without public accusation, was held a prisoner about
six months, in profound ignorance of any charges against him, and was released without comment by the power that closed the prison doors upon him.”
But little more remains to be said concerning affairs at Ball's Bluff.
1 Dispatch to President Lincoln, Tuesday evening, October 22, 1961. General Stone well knew that the public would naturally blame him for the disaster, he being in chief command there, and he had suggested to General McClellan that he should desire a court of inquiry, when that officer showed him the above satisfactory vindication by the higbest authority.
2 The proceedings in this case were extraordinary. So full was the acquittal of all blame accorded by Gencral McClellan to General Stone, in his dispatch to the President, that Stone was not only retained in command, but his force was increased to the number of 12,000 men. For about a hundred days Stone was busily engaged in his duties, and had just submitted to McClellan a plan for the capture of General D. H. Hill and his force of 4,500 men, lying opposite his camp, when he was ordered to Washington, and placed before the Committee on the Conduct of the War, to answer charges against his loyalty. His explanations were such that the Committee simply reported to the Secretary of War that, on the points to which his attention had been called, " the testimony was conflicting."
General Stone heard nothing more of the matter until the night of the sth of February, when, after being engaged at Willard's hotel, in Washington, in the examination of maps until almost midnight, he was retiring to his residence, he found General Sykes, an old friend, and then commander of the city guard, waiting for him,
A PRISONER OF STATE.
Supposing all the troops to be on the Virginia side of the Potomac, McClellan telegraphed to Stone to intrench himself there, and to hold his position, at all hazards, until re-enforcements should arrive. At the same time he ordered Banks to remove the remainder of his division to Edwards's Ferry, and send ‘over as many men as possible to re-enforce Stone. These orders were promptly obeyed. Intrenchments were thrown up; large numbers of
with orders from General McClellan for his arrest, and immediate departure for Fort Lafayette.* He exchanged his inilitary for citizen's dress, said a few consoling words to his wife, and departed for Sykes's quarters, where he was kept until morning, and then sent under a guarr to Fort Hamilton, near Fort Lafayette. Before leaving he had written to the Adjutant-General, asking for information concerning his arrest, not doubting that there was some strange misunderstanding in the matter. On the 10th be was in the custody of Colonel Burke, at Fort Hamilton, and was then taken over to Fort Lafayette in a boat. There he was confined in a casemate ifty. four days, receiving the most kind treatment. There he again wrote to the Adjutant-General, requesting a copy of charges, and a trial, but, as before, was denied any response.
In the mean time, General Stone's friends had unsuccessfully endeavored to obtain justice for him at Washing. ton. When his brother-in-law, on his way thither, stopped in New York, to consult with Lieutenant-General Scott, the astonished veteran, who had not till then heard of his arrest, indignantly exclained, “ Colonel Stone a traitor! Why, if he is a traitor, I am a traitor, and we are all traitors. While holding Washington last year, he was my right hand, and I do not hesitate to say that I could not have held the place without him.”+
After the lapse of fifty-four days, General Stone was transferred to Fort Hamilton, where he had larger liberty. He was released on the 16th of August, by an order from the War Department, sent by telegraph. He immediately applied for orders to active duty; and on returning to Washington he searched in vain in the office of the Adjutant-General and of the War Department for the order for his arrest; the law requiring the officer issuing such order to give a statement in writing, signed with his own name, and noting the offense, within twenty-four hours Halleck, then General-in-Chief, knew nothing about it. Stone then went to the President who said he knew nothing about the matter, but kindly remarked, “I could never be made to believe General Stone was a traitor.". In endeavors to give to his country his active services in the war he was thwarted, and it was not until May, 1863, that he was allowed to enter again upon duty in the field, when he was ordered to report to General Banks, then the commander of the Department of the Gulf. He served faithfully during the remainder of the war, until prostrated by malarious fever before Petersburg, when the service lost a meritorious and patriotic officer.
In this connection, the following letter, written to the author by the Superintendent of the Metropolitan Police of the City of New York, may be appropriately given. It furnishes interesting additions to the history of Mr. Lincoln's journey from Philadelphia to Washington, in February, 1861, given in the first volume of this wurk,
"Office of the Superintendent of Metropolitan Police,
" 300 Mulberry Street.
" New York, August 13th, 1866. “ BENSON J. LOSSING, Esq.,
** Poughkeepsie, New York. " DEAR SIR:-On reading your description of the manner in which the late President Lincoln was induced to change his route in going to the City of Washington, in February, 1861, I was impressed with the faithfulness, 80 far as the narrative goes, but regretted that it was not more full in showing how and to whom the country 16 indebted for the safety of his valuable life at th:t important period.
" It will be remembered that there was much uncertainty at the beginning of the late rebellion as to what course the conspirators designed taking to carry ont their plans; and, with the view of ascertaining titeir pur. pose, in the latter part of December, 1860, I detailed two of my most intelligent detectives to proceed to Washington, with instructions to endeavor to discover the secret plans of the conspirators, if they had any, for taking possession of the seat of Government, and to communicate with Senator Grimes, of Iowa, on the subject 1 did not know the Senator personally at that time, but I had a reputation of him that justified me in confiding in him,
"On Friday, January 4th, 1861, I received a note from Hon. Schuyler Colfax, requesting me to send a number of detectives to Washington, for the same purpose that I had already dispatched the two alluded to. I then
In the report of the Committeo on the Conduct of the War (Part II., page 18) is a statement of General McClellan, that op the day of the arrest he received information from e refugee from Leesburg, which, in his mind,“ tended to corroborate some of the charges made against General Stone,” which he reported to the Secretary of War, and received orders to arrest the General and send him immediately to Fort Lafayette. What those charges were, neither the Committee on the Conduct of the Wær nor General McClellan ever mada public
+ When, lato in 1860, General Stone, who had left the army (in which he held the commission of captain by brevet, awarded for meritorious services in Mexico), was in Washington City, General Scott desired bim to rally around him the loyal mes of the District of Columbia. He complied, and on the Ist of January, 1861, he was made inspector-general of the District. He at once commenced organizing and instructing rolunleers and when Fort Sumter was attacked he had under him no less than 3,000 well-organized troops fit for service. He was the first man mustered into the service for the defense of the Capital. That was done on the %d day of January, 1861. He was in command of the troops in Washington during the dark days at the close of April, when that city was cut off from the loyal people. Durink those seven days, he slept but ibree boun in his bed, all other rest being taken in his military cloak. All the outposte around Washington were under his command ontil the passage of a portion of the arny into Virginia, in May (sce pages 450, 481, & 469, volume 1.), and some of his tropes were the first to encounter the pickets of the nsurgenta.
THE BALTIMORE PLOT.
troops were crossed, and active preparations were in progress for moving
strongly upon the Confederates, when, on Tuesday night," General McClellan arrived at Poolesville. Then, as he says, he
“ learned, for the first time, the full details of the affair.” The preparations for a forward movement, which promised the most important results for the National cause, were immediately suspended, and orders were
• Oct. 23,
determined to go that night myself, and take with me another of my inen. I purposed looking the field over, with the view of ascertaining the probability of such an attempt being made. In the morning of Saturday I found a want of harmony among the friends of the Union-scarcely any two lovked at the crisis through the same medium. Mr. Colfax invited me to attend a meeting of a sort of committee of members of both houses of Congress, at the residence of Senater Trumbull, that morning. It numbered about a dozen persons, and there wero about twelve different opinions among them as to the ultimnate designs of the conspirators. The extreme views were entertained by Senator Trumbull and Rep. E. B. Washburn. One of these gentlemen regarded the 'matter as nothing more than the usual Southern vaunting; that the South had been badly defeated, and the secession talk meant nothing but braggadocio; that they had had things so long their own way, it could not be expected of them to quietly submit to defeat; a few weeks and all would be peaceful again.' The other gentleman was of opinion that the Southern men meant every word they uttered; that they had been preparing for this thing since 1832; that he was convinced they had selected this time because they think themselves ready, while wo are not; that they have made preparations which we know nothing about; that their plan was to destroy the Government and to start one of their own; and that to take possession of Washington was more than half tho battle.'
“None of the remaining gentlemen agreed with either of these, nor with themselves.
" While at this ineeting, I learned that a large number of detectives had been sent for to all the larger cities, East, North, and West, and among these it was mentioned that Marshal Kane, of Baltimore, had been applied to, and had promised to send ten detectives. I told the gentlemen plainly tho Marshal would betray them; that his sympathies were with the South in any inovement they would make; that but a few weeks before he had declined an invitation to exchange a detective of his for one of mine, on the ground that he had but one in his force, and consequently he could not now furnish them with ten. In reply, I was informed that Mr. Corwin had confidence in Marshal Kane, and they also hail confidence in Mr. Corwin. So, as they decided to hold on to the Marshal and his bogus detectives, I concluded not to act with thein.
" I then called on a number of other members of Congress, without finding much improvement; the exceptional case was Senator Grimes. One distinguished Senator informed me that he was in counsel with Jefferson Davis, and that in a day or two they would be able to adjust all apparent differences.
** After that I went among the people, and soon found that Mr. Washburn was nearer right than any other member of Congress I had talked with. I also found that the safety of the country depended on LieutenantGeneral Scott, and I determined to consult with him; but I feared the General could not spare sufficient time to talk with me as fully as I desired, and then conclu led to see one of his confidential officers. On inquiring, I learned that two of General Scott's family had great influence with him, Col. Robt. E. Lee and Capt. Chas. P. Stone. I do not know what induced me to select Captain Stone in preference to Col. Lee, but I did so, and called on the Captain at his quarters. We conversed freely in regard to the impending trouble, and especially of the danger in which Washingion stood. I informed him I would leave three of my detectives in the city, and, at his request, agreed to instruct them to report to him verbally any things of importance they should discover.
" I stopped in Baltimore that night on my way hom., and ascertained from Marshal Kano himself the plan by which Maryland was to be precipitated out of the Union, against the efforts of Govr. Hicks to keep it there; and with Maryland also the District of Columbia. He told me Maryland would wait for the action of Virginia, and that action would take place within a month; and that when Virginia seceded through a convention, Maryland would secede by gravitation. It was at this interview I ascertained Fort McHenry to be garrisoned by a corporal's guard, consisting of one man, and that the Baltimore police were keeping guard on the outside, to prevent the roughs from capturing it prematurely. I communicated the facts to Captain Stone, and on the following Wednesday, January 9th, troops from Washington took possession of the fort, under orders froin General Scott
" At a subsequent visit to Washington I called, of course, on Captain Stone, and informed him of the purposes contemplated in Baltimore. He then requested me to put some of my men on duty there, and instruct them to report to him in person, by word of month, and not by mail, as he conld not trust the mails. I had previously placed two inen there, and on my return selected a third, who! I sent directly to Captain Stone for special instructions. Under these instructions, this officer, David S. Bookstaver, remainod at Baltimore until February 23d, when I relieved him. During that period, while apparently occupied as a music agent, Bookstaver gavo particular attention to the sayings and doings of the better class of citizens and strangers who frequent oyusic, variety, and book stores, while the other two detectives had joined an organization of rebel roughs, destined to go South or elsewhere, whenever their services should be required.
" It was on the evening of Wednesday, February 20th, that Bookstaver obtained the information that made it necessary for him to take the first train for Washington. Before going, he posted a letter to me, briefly stating the condition of things, and of his intention to go on the four o'clock morning train and report. I sha: 1 complete this narrative with an extract from a letter written by Captain Stone on the subject.
6. It is impossible, with the time now at my disposal, to give you any thing like a detailed history of the Information derived from your men, and from dozens of letters and reports from other sources, addressed someHOW MR. LINCOLN WAS SAVED.
given for the entire force to recross the river to the Maryland side. Generals Banks and Stone, and the troops under their commands, were disappointed and mortified, for they knew of no serious impediments then in the way of an advance. General McClellan subsequently said, that " a few days afterward,” he “received information which seemed to be authentic, to the effect that large bodies of the enemy had been ordered from Manassas to Leesburg, to cut off our troops on the Virginia side;" and that their “ timely withdrawal had probably prevented a still more serious disaster.” Plain people inquired whether sufficient re-enforcements for the Nationals, to counteract the movement from Manassas, might not have been spared from the almost one hundred thousand troops then lying at ease around Washington, only a few miles distant. Plain people were answered by the question, What do you know about war?
times to the General-in-Chief and sometimes to mysell, which served to convince both of us that there was imminent danger that Mr. Lincoln's life would be sacrificed, should he attempt to pass through Baltimore at the timo and in the manner published in the newspapers as the programme of his journey.
**** The closing piece of information on the subject was brought by one of your men, Bookstaver. He had for weeks been stationed in Baltimore, and on the morning of Thursday (two days before the intended pussage of Mr. Lincoln through Baltimore) he arrived by the early train and reported to me. His information was entirely corroborative of that already in our possession; and at the time of making my morning report to the General-in-Chief, I communicated that. General Scott had received from other sources urgent warnings also, and he stated to me that it was almost a certainty that Mr. Lincoln could not pass Baltimoro alive by the train on the day fixed. " But," said the General, “ while you and I know this, we cannot convince these gentlemen that Mr. Lincoln is not coming to Washington to be inaugurated as quietly as any previous President."
" ' I recoinmended that Mr. Lincoln should be officially warned; and suggested that it would be altogether best that he should take the train of that evening from Philadelphia, and so reach Washington early the next day. General Scott said that Mr. Lincoln's personal dignity would revolt at the idea of changing the programme of his journey on account of danger to his life. I replied to this, that it appeared to me that Mr. Lincoln's personal dignity was of small account in comparison with the destruction, or, at least, dangerous disorganization of the United States Government, which would be the inevitable result of his death by violence in Baltimore; that in a few days more the term of Mr, Buchanan would end, and there would (in case of Mr. Lincoln's death) be no elected President to assume the office; that the Northern cities would, on learning of the violent death of the President-elect, pour masses of excited people upon Baltimore, which would be destroyed, and we should find ourselves in the worst form of civil war, with the Government utterly unprepared for it.
"General Scott, after asking me how the details could be arranged in so short a time, and receiving my suggestion that Mr. Lincoln should be advised quietly to take the evening train, and that it would do him no harm to have the telegraph wires cut for a few hours, he directed me to seek Mr. W. H. Seward, to whom ho wrote a few lines, which he handed me.
** It was already ten o'clock, and when I reached Mr. Seward's house he had left: followed him to the Capitol, but did not surceed in finding him until after 12 m. I handed him the General's note; he listened attentively to what I said, and asked me to write down my information and suggestions, and then, taking the paper I had written, he hastily left.
* * The note I wrote was what Mr. Frederick Soward carried to Mr. Lincoln in Philadelphia. Mr. Lincoln has stated that it was this note which induced him to change his journey as he did. The stories of disguise are all nonsense; Mr. Lincoln merely took the sleeping-car in the night train. I know nothing of any connection of Mr. Pinkerton with the matter.'
** The letter from which the above extract is made was sent to me by General Stone, in reply to an inquiry of mine, made in consequence of having seen an article in a newspaper which gave the whole credit of the movement to a person who I supposed had little to do with it. My opportunity for knowing who the parties were that rendered this service to the country was very good, but I thought it advisable to have the testimony of one of the most active in it to sustain my views. For obvious reasons, I have not called on either of the other living parties to the matter, regarding the above sufficient to satisfy all reasonable persons that the assassination consuinmated in April, 1865, would have taken place in February of 1861 had it not been for the timely efforts of Lieutenant-General Scott, Brigadier-General Stone, Hon. Wm. H. Seward, Frederick W. Seward, Esq., and David S. Bookstaver, of the Metropolitan Police of New York.
“Iaz, very respectfully, yours, &c.,
* Joux A. KENNEDY.** See General McClellan's Report, page 81.