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tended to suspend the ordinary tribunals of the country, where law will be administered by civil officers in the usual manner, and with their customary authority, while the same can be peaceably administered.
The commanding General will labor vigilantly for the public welfare, and, by his efforts for their safety, hopes to obtain not only acquiescence, but the active support of the people of the country
J. C. FREMONT, Major General Commanding.
An order of this character could not fail to become a topic of general discussion throughout the land. The attention of the President was early called to the subject, and the strongest opposition was manifested to the proposed exercise of the military power, by a subordinate commander, for the confiscation of slave property. This sentiment was clearly expressed in a letter to the President, by the Hon. Joseph Holt, under date of September 12th, in which he said:
The late act of Congress providing for the confiscation of the estates of persons in open rebellion against the Government was, as a necessary war measure, accepted and fully approved by the loyal men of the country. It limited the penalty of confiscation to property actually employed in the service of the rebellion with the knowledge and consent of its owners, and, instead of emancipating slaves thus employed, left their status to be determined either by the Courts of the United States or by subsequent legislation. The proclamation, however, of Gen. Fremont, under date of the 30th of August, transcends, and, of course, violates the law in both these particulars, and declares that the property of rebels, whether used in support of the rebellion or not, shall be confiscated, and if consisting in slaves, that they shall be at once manumitted. The act of Congress referred to was believed to embody the conservative policy of your Administration upon this delicate and perplexing question, and hence the loyal men of the Border Slave States have felt relieved of all fears of any attempt on the part of the Government of the United States to liberate suddenly in their midst a population unprepared for freedom, and whose presence could not fail to prove a painful apprehension, if not a terror, to the homes and families of all. You may, therefore, well judge of the alarm and condemnation with which the Union-loving citizens of Kentucky-the State with whose popular sentiment I am best acquainted—have read this proclamation.
The hope is earnestly indulged by them as it is by myself, that this paper was issued under the pressure of military necessity, which Gen. Fremont believed justified the step, but that in the particulars specified it has not your approbation and will not be enforced in derogation of law. The magnitude of the interest at stake, and my extreme desire that by no misapprehension of your sentiments or purposes shall the power and fervor of the loyalty of Kentucky be at this momen. abated or chilled, must be my apology for the frankness with which I have addressed you, and for the request I venture to make of an expression of your views upon the points of Gen. Fremont's proclamation on which I have commented.
The President had already written and transmitted the following letter to Gen. Fremont, expressing in definite terms, as a public order, what had been before more privately indicated to him, immediately after that officer's action on this subject was known:
WASHINGTON, D. C., Sept. 11, 1861. Major General John C. Fremont :
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 nonconformity 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 en: titled "An act to confiscate property used for insurrectionary purposes," approved August 6, 1861, and that said act be pubfished at length with this order. Your obedient servant,
It will be observed that this modification merely requires the General commanding in the Department of the West “to conform with, and not to transcend, the provisions” of the Confiscation Actoin regard to the slaves of Rebels; in other words, it merely required obedience to the law. At the present time, in view of what the President has since done, as Commander-inchief of the Army, as well as of his sentiments on Slavery clearly set forth, previously, on all proper occasions, no word is needed to prevent misapprehension as to this Executive order.
By a timely movement, anticipating the contemplated advance of Gen. Polk from Hickman and Columbus, Gen. Grant, of Fremont's command, on the 6th of September, occupied Paducah, at the mouth of the Tennessee river--a position virtually flanking that of the Rebel forces on the Mississippi, in Kentucky. Com. A. H. Foote had been ordered, a few days previously, (August 26,) to the command of the naval forces on the Western waters. Price and Jackson were actively engaged in endeavoring to raise a formidable army, and to overrun the State. Their attack on our forces at Lexington had terminated in the surrender of Col. - Mulligan and the men under him at that place, on the 12th of September. Fremont at length prepared to take the field in person against the insurgents, in Southwestern Missouri. He collected all the troops which he regarded as properly available for the purpose, and, leaving Jefferson City for Sedalia, on the 8th of October seemed to be energetically commencing a campaign which many thought to have been quite too long deferred. Price's force gradually fell back once more before the Natior al columns, and were finally reported to be preparing to give battle near Springfield. Here Fremont, who was apparently on the point of engaging the enemy, was overtaken by the order relieving him from his command. He was temporarily succeeded by Gen. Hunter, who soon handed over the command to Gen. Halleck.
Gen. Fremont had been created a Major General by the voluntary action of President Lincoln, from a conviction of the fitness of such appointment. When assigned to the command of the Army of the West he was received in that quarter with
general enthusiasm, despite the seeming tardiness with which he entered on his work. Of the charges made against him, and of the grounds which seemed to make a change in the command advisable, it is enough to say here that they did not so far influence the mind of Mr. Lincoln against Gen. Fremont, as to prevent his subsequently assigning him a high military trust. The President's action was then, and still may be, to some extent, misconstrued; but no candid person, with the facts before him, will question that honorable and patriotic motives led to an order which was, on mere personal considerations, reluctantly given.
Under Gen. Hunter, our forces retreated without a battle, and the Rebel hordes again advanced over the already devastated country beyond and around Springfield. It was at the latter place, which had been speedily reoccupied by Price, that, on the 25th of October, Fremont's body guard, of three hundred mounted men, under Maj. Zagonyi, charged upon and routed two thousand Rebels, drawn up in line of battle, dispersed them pell-mell, and retired without serious loss-a deed of heroic daring unsurpassed in any war.
In West Virginia, after the departure of McClellan, our army found its labors by no means so completely terminated as that officer had supposed at the date of his glowing dispatch, announcing the victory at Rich Mountain. On the contrary, serious work was still to be done, and there were active enemies to meet, not only under such Brigadiers as Floyd and Wise, but also under Gen. Robert E. Lee. The well-planned schemes of all these Rebel leaders for subjugating the loyal people of that section were foiled by Gen. Rosecrans, but not without his utmost vigilance, and only after labors, hardships and battles, which were by no means unimportant in comparison with those of the earlier summer. On the 10th of September, Floyd was beaten in the battle of Carnifex Ferry, while Lee's attempt to lead a force through Greenbriar County to coöperate in crushing the Ohio forces, which had advanced up the Kanawha and the Gauley, ended at Big Sewell Mountain, in utter failure. It was only on the sudden and final retreat of Floyd, from Gauley Bridge, eluding the grasp of Gen. Benham, to the disappoint
ment of Rosecrans, that, on the 20th of November, West Virginia was substantially freed from armed Rebels, and the campaign in that quarter ended.
During the progress of these events, of the autumn of 1861, two expeditions were in preparation, one under the command of Gen. Butler, and the other under Gen. Burnside. These expeditions, undertaken against the persistent opposition of McClellan, were regarded with interest and hope by the people, who were becoming wearied with the long inaction of the Army of the Potomac, in the presence of an enemy noto- · riously much inferior in numbers. The fine condition of the roads and the pleasant weather seemed to invite the long delayed and long-expected advance, which the public had again and again been led to believe, by intimations from headquarters, was about to be commenced. One, at least, of the expeditions named, was for a time believed to be intended to aid McClellan's promised movement, by ascending the Rappabannock or otherwise. Without the slightest detriment, twenty thousand men might have been spared for such a purpose from the already too cumbersome army near Washington. Yet so little did this suit the policy of the commanding General, in whom there was still confidence, that the forces for Butler and Burnside were raised elsewhere, and they were so delayed, in consequence, as in part to thwart their original purpose, and to impair their effectiveness. That under Gen. Butler, acting jointly with a naval force under Com. Stringham, took possession of the Hatteras forts on the 29th of August. The Rebel commandant, Barron, formerly of the United States Navy, after enduring a severe cannonade from the fleet, surrendered the position, with the officers and soldiers under him. This intelligence was received by the country with lively satisfaction, at a time when some reassuring success was specially needed.
In the month of August the Rebels had occupied Munson's Hill, in full view of the capital, and six or seven miles distant in a right line. The force thus advanced was not formidable, and the character of the works thrown up there, as discovered on the voluntary withdrawal of the occupants, clearly showed that their purpose was not serious. They hold this position