Page images
PDF

of troops that can be regarded as intended for chastisement or prompted by resentment. The undersigned are not able to indicate to what extent or to what degree the executive discretion will be exercised in modifying the relations which now exist between the State of Maryland and the Federal Government, and in the particular matter of the commercial communication between the city of Baltimore and the other part of the country, brought to the attention of the General Assembly by the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore; but they feel authorized to express the opinion that some modification may be expected. The undersigned feel painfully confident

that a war is to be waged to reduce all
the seceding States to allegiance to the
Federal Government, and that the whole
military power of the Federal Govern-
ment will be exerted to accomplish that
purpose; and though the expression of
this opinion is not called for by the res-
olution of your honorable bodies, yet,
having had the opportunity to ascertain
its entire accuracy, and because it will
explain much of the military prepara-
tions and movements of the troops
through the State of Maryland, it is
proper to bring it to your attention.
"Otho Scott,
"Robert M. Mclane,
"Wm. J. Ross."

CHAPTER XIX.

The rapid Response to the President's Call for Troops.—The Capital pronounced safe.—Maryland Awed.—Virginia kept in check.—Increased Resources of the Government.—Reinforcement of Fortress Monroe.—Description of Fortress Monroe.—The importance of its Position.—Its Construction.—Site.—Communications with the Mainland.—The Outer Walls.—The form of the Fort.—The Armament.—Late Additions.—The Moat.—The Water Battery.—The Gates.—The Redoubt.—How Commanded.—Its Approaches.—How Defended.—The Defects of the Fort.—The Exterior.—The Hygeia Hotel.—Old Point Comfort.—Importance of the Post.—Danger of losing it.—Anxiety of the North.—Reinforcements from Massachusetts.—Increased Authority and Vigor of the Federal Government.—New Military Departments.—Another Call from the President for Troops.—His Proclamation.—The swift Answer of the North.—Virginia and North Carolina included in the Blockade.—Increase of the Fleet.—Purchase of Merchant Steamers.—General Butler's Fortifications at the Relay House.—Command of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.— Reconstruction of Bridges and Opening of Communications.—Fort McHenry Reinforced.—Its effect upon Baltimore. —Description of the Fortress.—The good conduct of its Commander.—Position of the Fort.—Reaction of Sentiment in Maryland.—Union Feeling claimed to be predominant.—Union Meetings and Union Orators.— Speech of Reverdy Johnson.—Presentation of Flag to the Home Guard of Frederick.—Great Crowds of Unionists.—Remarkable display of Union Emblems.—Manly Rhetoric of Johnson.—Sensible Advice to Marylanders.—A fervid Appeal in behalf of the United States Flag.—The Secessionists awed to silence.—Secret efforts to advance Secession.—The City of Baltimore tranquilized.—Disbandment of the City Soldiery.—Butler Marches into the City.—His Reception. —Encampment on Federal Hill.—Proclamation of Butler.—Seizure of Arms.—Arrest of prominent Citizens.—Good effects of Decision.—The Governor of Maryland takes Courage.—He responds to the President's Call for Troops.— A Proclamation Modified to suit Equivocal Loyalty.—Comparative Propriety of the Legislature.—A Spirit of Disaffection finds vent.—The last Act of the Legislature.—The Route through Baltimore opened.—The first great Victory for the Union.

Such had been the promptitude with which the North had responded to 1 the proclamation, of the 15th of

April, of the President calling forth the militia, that in less than ten days after, more than twenty thousand troops had

FORTRESS

marched. The capital, which was supposed to have been in imminent danger from Virginia and Maryland, was now pronounced safe. The insurgents of the former State in arms against the Federal Government, and who had mustered to the number of several thousands, and encamped on the banks of the Potomac opposite to Washington, were kept in awe by the militia which had rapidly accumulated at the capital. Maryland, dominated by a considerable Federal force in possession of the channels of communication, also feared any longer to make violent demonstration of its disaffection, and appeared suddenly to be converted to loyalty.

The Federal Government strengthened thus by the military ardor and promptitude of the loyal States, was enabled not only to provide for the immediate defence of the capital, and to check the rebellious tendencies of Maryland, but to reinforce a post of the greatest. importance in the future conduct of the war. This was Fortress Monroe, the most extensive work of defence in the United States. Situated at the mouth of the Chesapeake, it commands the only approaches from the sea to Maryland and Virginia, and to the various rivers, the Susquehaimah, the Potomac, Rappahannock, York, James, and the numerous small streams and creeks which empty into the bay, and thus find their outlet to the Atlantic Ocean.

Fortress Monroe was designed by the celebrated French engineer General Barnard, in 1819, then in the service of

MONROE. 217

the United States. Such has been the magnitude of the work, that although thus early begun, it is yet incomplete. It is built upon a peninsula connected with the mainland by a narrow strip of sand beach, not more than forty rods in width. In addition to this communication, there has been constructed a causeway with a bridge toward its end which leads from the fort to the road on the mainland which passes to Hampton. This passage is so narrow and so completely commanded by some of the heaviest guns of the fort, as to render any approach in that direction almost impracticable. The waters of the bay which flow in between the peninsula and the mainland, enclosed, as it were, like a lake, between the natural neck of sand and the artificial causeway, vary in width from one to three miles.

The outer walls of Fortress Monroe embrace an area of nearly sixty-five acres, of which twenty-five regularly laid out and shaded by a fine growth of live oak form the parade ground. The work is bastioned, and is of an irregular heptagon form. The walls, constructed of granite and embanked with thick mounds of sand and clay, rise to a height of thirty-five feet. On the ramparts are mounted heavy guns, some of which are forty-two pounders and others columbiads. These being en barbette are uncovered. There are about seventy large casemates, which are bomb and shot proof. Some of these are appropriated for officers' quarters, and others for guard-houses and general barracks. The embrasures, though intended originally for forty-two pounders, are sufficiently large for columbiads of the greatest size.

The armament of the fortress as originally recorded in the official statement was composed of forty-two forty-two pounders, a hundred and thirty-nine thirty-two pounders, ten twenty-four pounders, fourteen eighteen pounders, twenty-five twelve pounders, twelve field pieces, sixteen flank howitzers, twenty heavy eight-inch howitzers, five light eight-inch howitzers, three thirteen-inch mortars, seven heavy ten-inch mortars, three light ten-inch mortars, five light eight-inch mortars, five sixteen-inch stone mortars, and fifteen cohorns, making in all three hundred and seventy-one guns.

This armament, however, has been much modified and considerably augmented since. Columbiads of various calibres have been liberally supplied, and mortars of various construction and other cannon added, so that the guns of the fort at present are much more numerous and effective.

A broad and deep moat surrounds the whole work. This is faced with dressed granite, and when flooded by the opening of the gates, is supplied with water, varying from eight to fifteen feet in depth, and from seventy-five to a hundred and fifty feet in breadth, presenting a formidable obstacle to be overcome in an attempted assault.

As the fort was chiefly intended to protect the approaches from sea, the chief labor and expense were concentrated upon the work in that direction.

Here is what is termed the Water Battery, which is constructed of stone, of a thickness so great, and of a masonry so solid, that it is supposed to be proof against any weight of metal. It has forty-two embrasures, originally mounted with that number of forty-two pounders. Presenting a formidable front to the sea, this defence would seem impregnable to a naval attack from without. The slope of the battery is laid with green turf, like the ramparts of the rest of the fortress, and in times of peace was a favorite promenade for the fashionable frequenters of the peninsula seeking the fresh breezes of the ocean.

On the north side of the fort there is a postern gate, which leads to a redoubt or outerwork, built to protect the land side, which, as the work was never intended except as a protection against a foreign enemy, was left, as in all our coast defences, comparatively weak. Since, however, the commencement of this civil war, great efforts have been made to give additional strength to this portion of the works. Heavy guns and mortars have been mounted to command the artificial causeway and the strip of beach which join the peninsula with the mainland. The surface of the country in the immediate neighborhood, moreover, being generally level, there is hardly a favorable point for commencing the operations of a siege. The only rising ground for many miles is a slight elevation with trees on either side, at the extremity of the neck of land. This, however, is so commanded by the guns of the fort as to be untenable.

FORT MONROE SECURED.

219

On the beach outside of the walls there is a fifteen-inch columbiad placed there for practice, and for additional defence against an attack from the sea. It, however, also commands the neck of land, and would seem to check the approach of the most ventursome in that direction. The whole cost of the extensive works of Fortress Monroe has been estimated at nearly three millions. The greatest deficiency of the fort is the precariousness of its supply of water. An attempt was made some fifteen years ago to bore an Artesian well, but the effort was abandoned, and the only dependence at present is upon large cisterns, which are supplied by the rains.

Outside of the fort are the numerous foundries and work and machine shops, where large quantities of munitions of war can be rapidly fabricated. There is a wharf on the southern side of the peninsula, three hundred yards distant from the fort, where vessels of the greatest draft of water can lie. About a quarter of a mile distant, and on the western side of the walls, stands the "Hygeia Hotel," a famous resort in past summers for the planters of the South in search of the sea breeze at "Old Point Comfort," as the peninsula is called. Within the fort itself there is a group of nearly fifty houses of brick and wood, forming quite a village, and on one side of the parade ground is a seemly Episcopal chapel.

To secure this important post became at once a matter of the greatest moment. Placed as it was within the boundaries of a State already in open rebellion, and

threatened by a force gathered apparently for the purpose of attempting to wrest it from the meagre garrison which held it, there was great danger of its loss. Massachusetts, however, which had been foremost in pouring out her resources of men and money in defence of the Union, came to the rescue, and promptly sent one of her regiments of militia to aid in its defence. Embarking on board of the steamer Maine, at Boston, the Fourth Regiment of Massachusetts militia sailed directly to the Chesapeake, and landed in safety April at Fortress Monroe on the 20th of 20. April.

The Government, encouraged by the enthusiasm of loyalty of the people, and fortified by their generosity of service, began to assert with more confidence, and to vindicate with more firmness, its contemned authority. New military departments were organized. The \jtrn District of Columbia, Fort Wash- 27. ington and the adjacent country, and the State of Maryland as far as Bladensburgh, were erected into the Department of Washington, and placed under the command of Colonel J. K. F. Mansfield, inspector-general, with his headquarters at the capital. That part of Maryland including the country for twenty miles on each side of the railroad from Annapolis to the city of Washington, as far as Bladensburgh, was formed into a new military department, entitled the Department of Annapolis, and Butler, with the rank of brigadier-general of Massachusetts volunteers, assigned to the command, with his headquarters at Annapolis. To these was added a third, the Department of Pennsylvania, including that State, the State of Delaware, and all of Maryland not within the other departments, and the command given to Major-General Patterson, with his headquarters at Philadelphia, or any other point which he might be temporarily occupying.

This was soon after followed by this May proclamation of the President calling for volunteers for three years, and an increase of the regular army and navy:

"Whereas existing exigencies demand immediate and adequate measures for the protection of the national Constitution and the preservation of the national Union, by the suppression of the insurrectionary combinations now existing in several States for opposing the laws of the Union and obstructing the execution thereof, to which end a military force in addition to that called forth by my proclamation of the fifteenth day of April in the present year appears to be indispensably necessary, now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, and Commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy thereof, and of the militia of the several States, when called into actual service, do hereby call into the service of the United States forty-two thousand and thirty-four volunteers, to serve for a period of three years, unless sooner discharged, and to be mustered into service as infantry and cavalry. The proportions of each arm and the details of enrolment and organization will be made known through the

department of war; and I also direct that the regular army of the United States be increased by the addition of eight regiments of infantry, one regiment of cavalry, and one regiment of artillery, making altogether a maximum aggregate increase of 22,714 officers and enlisted men, the details of which increase will also be made known through the department of war; and I further direct the enlistment, for not less than one nor more than three years, of 18,000 seamen, in addition to the present force, for the naval service of the United States. The details of the enlistment and organization will be made known through the department of the navy. The call for volunteers, hereby made, and the direction of the increase of the regular army, and for the enlistment of seamen hereby given, together with the plan of organization adopted for the volunteers and for the regular forces hereby authorized, will be submitted to Congress as soon as assembled.

"In the mean time I earnestly invoke the co-operation of all good citizens in the measures herebj'' adopted for the effectual suppression of unlawful violence, for the impartial enforcement of constitutional laws, and for the speediest possible restoration of peace and order, and with those of happiness and prosperity throughout our country.

"In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

"Done at the city of Washington this third day of May, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and

« PreviousContinue »