Monthly Record of Current Events, May 6.
In the mean while increased activity had been noted in the navy-yards and forts at the North. Vessels were equipped and manned as rapidly as possible. About the 8th a fleet, having on board nearly 2000 men and a large quantity of stores, was dispatched Southward. It soon transpired that its object was to reinforce Fort Pickens, and if possible to throw provisions into Fort Sumter, the supplies of which were known to be nearly exhausted. On the 8th General Beauregard, the Commander of the Confederate forces at Charleston, was formally notified that an attempt would be made to provision Fort Sumter. After communicating with his Government, he was directed to reduce the Fort. On the 11th Major Anderson was summoned to evacuate the Fort. He refused to comply; and on the morning of the following day fire was opened upon Fort Sumter from Fort Moultrie and the Confederate batteries. This was returned by Major Anderson with as much vigor as was possible with the small force under his command. The bombardment continued with scarcely an intermission for 34 hours. The wood-work within the Fort was set on fire by hot shot, the quarters were entirely consumed, the main gate burned, the gorge wall seriously injured, the magazine enveloped in flames, and the door closed from the heat, so that only four barrels of powder and a few cartridges were available. The garrison, which numbered only about 100 men, including laborers were exhausted by fatigue and hunger, the only remaining provisions consisting of salt pork; opposed to them were 7000 men and powerful batteries. Further resistance being impossible, and the vessels not being able to afford any assistance to the Fort, Major Anderson accepted the terms which had been offered before the commencement of hostilities, evacuating the Fort, marching out with flying colors, saluting his flag with fifty guns. The men on both sides were so completely protected by the works that no loss of life occurred during the bombardment, but in saluting the flag a gun burst, by which several of the defenders of the Fort were injured, one being killed. The evacuation of Fort Sumter took place on the afternoon of Sunday, the 14th of April, Major Anderson and his men embarking on board a steamer for New York, where be was welcomed with distinguished honor. The Secretary of War subsequently addressed a note to him, expressing perfect satisfaction with the manner in which he had defended the post under his command.
Hostilities against the United States having thus been commenced by the Confederate States, President Lincoln, on the 15th of April, issued a proclamation stating that the laws of the United States had been and are opposed in several States, by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings; he therefore called for 75,000 troops from the several States. The first service assigned to this force would probably be to repossess the forts and other places and property which had been seized from the Union. An extra session of Congress was also summoned, to meet on the Fourth of July.
Dispatches from the Secretary of War, addressed to the Governors of the several States, designated the quotas assigned to each State, under this proclamation. The Executives of the slaveholding States, with the exception of Maryland and Delaware, peremptorily refused to comply with this requisition. Governor Ellis, of North Carolina, replied, "I regard the levy of troops made by the Administration for the purpose of subjugating the States of the South as in violation of the Constitution, and a usurpation of power. I can be no party to this wicked violation of the laws of the country, and to this war upon the rights of a free people. You can get no troops from North Carolina." — Governor Jackson, of Missouri, answered, "There can be, I apprehend, no doubt but these men are intended to form part of the President's army to make war upon the people of the seceding States. Your requisition, in my judgment, is illegal, unconstitutional, and revolutionary in its objects, altogether inhuman and diabolical, and can not be complied with. Not one man will the State of Missouri furnish to carry on such an unholy crusade." — Governor Magoffin, of Kentucky, replied, "In answer, I say emphatically that Kentucky will furnish no troops for the wicked purpose of subduing her sister Southern States." — Governor Letcher, of Virginia, answered, "I have only to say that the militia of Virginia will not be furnished to the powers at Washington for any such use or purpose as they have in view. Your object is to subjugate the Southern States, and a requisition made upon me for such an object — an object, in
121my judgment, not within the purview of the Constitution or the Act of 1795 — will not be complied with. You have chosen to inaugurate civil war; and having done so, we will meet it in a spirit as determined as the Administration has exhibited toward the South." — Governor Harris, of Tennessee, refused in terms equally explicit to comply with the requisition of the Government. In his Message to the Legislature, dated April 25, he takes strong ground against the action of the Administration, which he says is designed for the subjugation of the Southern States. He recommends the immediate passage of an Act of Secession, and an Act for the union of Tennessee with the Southern Confederacy, both to be submitted separately to the people at an early day. He also recommends an appropriation for arming the State, and the creation of a large military fund, to be placed under the direction of a special Board.
The position of Virginia is of the greatest importance. At the breaking out of hostilities the State Convention was in session. As noted in our last Record, a resolution was passed expressing an earnest desire for the re-establishment of the Union in its former integrity; an amendment declaring that Virginia ought not to accept a form of adjustment which would not be acceptable to the seceding States was rejected. Commissioners were appointed to wait upon the President and ascertain the policy which he intended to pursue. An amendment denying the right of the Federal Government to deal with the question of secession was rejected. A resolution was adopted expressing a willingness that the independence of the seceding States should be acknowledged. An amendment declaring that Virginia would secede in case the proposed amendments to the Constitution were rejected by the non-slaveholding States, was lost. And resolutions were adopted opposing any action on the part of the Federal Government for retaining or retaking forts in the seceding States, and affirming that any measures of the Government tending to produce hostilities with the Confederate States would leave Virginia free to determine her own future policy. When the proclamation of tho President calling for troops was issued the Convention went into secret session, and on the 17th of April passed the following:
AN ORDINANCE TO REPEAL THE RATIFICATION OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. BY THE STATE OF VIRGINIA, AND TO RESUME ALL THE RIGHTS AND POWERS GRANTED UNDER SAID CONSTITUTION.
The people of Virginia, in their ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America, adopted by them in Convention on the twenty-fifth day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand, seven hundred and eighty-eight, having declared that the powers granted under the said Constitution were derived from the people of the United States, and might be resumed whensoever the same should be perverted to their injury and oppression; and the Federal Government, having perverted said powers, not only to the injury of the people of Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern Slaveholding States.
Now, therefore, we, the people of Virginia, do declare and ordain that the ordinance adopted by the people of this State in Convention, on the twenty-fifth day of June, eighty-eight, whereby the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified, and all acts of the General Assembly of this State, ratifying or adopting amendments to said Constitution, are hereby repealed and abrogated; that the Union between the State of Virginia and the other States under the Constitution aforesaid, is hereby dissolved, and that the State of Virginia is in the full possession and exercise of all the rights of sovereignty which belong and appertain to a free and independent State. And they do further declare that the said Constitution of the United States of America is no longer binding on any of the citizens of this State.
This ordinance shall take effect and be an act of this day when ratified by a majority of the votes of the people of this State, cast at a poll to be taken thereon on the fourth Thursday in May next, in pursuance of a schedule to be hereafter enacted.
The "schedule" appoints the time and manner of holding the election. Polls will be opened in each military camp, in addition to the regular election precincts, and all volunteers will be entitled to vote. The election for members of the United States Congress, which was to take place on the same day, is prohibited, unless otherwise ordered by the Convention. The proceedings of the Convention were held in secret session; but the passage of the ordinance of secession was telegraphed to the South. Mr. Stephens, Vice-President of the Confederate States, at once set out for Virginia upon a special mission, the result of which was a convention between Virginia and the Confederate States, upon the following terms: Virginia adopts and ratines the Constitution of the Provisional Government of the Confederate States, adopted on the 8th of February, unless the people, at the election to be held in May, reject the ordinance of secession. But until the union between Virginia and the Confederacy is perfected, the whole military force, and the military operations of the Commonwealth, are to bo under the control of the President of the Confederate States, on the same footing as if Virginia were a member of the Confederacy. If the State becomes a member of the Confederacy, she is to turn over to it all the property and stores acquired from the United States. Any expenditure of money made by the State in the interval is to be met by the Confederate States. This Convention is signed by Alexander H. Stephens as " Commissioner for the Confederate States," and John Tyler, William Ballard Preston, S. M'D. Moore, James P. Holcomb, James C. Bruce, and Lewis E. Harvie, " Commissioners for Virginia." This convention bears date the 24th of April. — In the mean time the people and authorities of the State did not wait action of the Convention. The United States Armory at Harper's Ferry contained some 15,000 stands of arms. It was guarded by only 40 men under the command of Lieutenant Jones. On the 18th of April the commander was apprised that two or three thousand Virginia militia were advancing to take possession of the armory and arms. The position being untenable by the small force under his command in the face of so large a body, Lieutenant Jones destroyed the greater portion of the arms, set fire to the Armory building, and withdrew with his command. They were fired upon by the inhabitants, and two of the troops were killed. The remainder made their way through Maryland and escaped. — At the Navy-yard near Norfolk were stored an immense amount of artillery and munitions of war. Hero also lay the ship of the line Pennsylvania of 120 guns, used as a receiving-vessel; the ships of the line Columbus, Delaware, and New York, of 80 guns, useless for naval purposes; the frigates United States, Columbia, and Raritan, greatly out of order; the sloops of war Plymouth and Germantown, of 22 guns; the steam-frigato Merimac, under repair; the corvette Germantown, 22 guns, nearly ready for sea; and the brig Dolphin, of 4 guns: in all of a capacity 21,000 tons, with 606 guns, though with a few exceptions practically useless. Besides these was the ship Cumberland, the only one of the vessels in commission. Preparations were made to capture the Navy-yard, and vessels were sunk in the channel to prevent the passage of the Cumberland; but the steam-tug Yankee from Charleston arrived
122opportunely, took the Cumberland in tow, forced her over the sunken vessels, and towed her off. In the mean time the other eleven vessels were scuttled and set on fire, and the buildings at the Navy-yard were also set on fire, after as much of the public property as possible had been destroyed to prevent its becoming of use to the enemy. It seems, however, that the destruction was incomplete, and that a large amount of artillery and munitions of war fell into the hands of the Virginians in a condition to be made available.
When the proclamation of President Lincoln calling out the militia was received at Montgomery, President Davis issued a proclamation, dated on the 17th of April, inviting all persons to apply for letters of marque and reprisal, to be issued under the seal of the Confederate States. Those applying for these letters are to make a written statement, giving the name and a suitable description of the character, force, and tonnage of the vessel, with the names and residences of the owners, and the intended number of the crow. All applicants, before receiving their commissions, must give bonds to the amount of $5000, or $10,000 if the vessel is to have more then 150 men, that the laws of the Confederate States shall be observed, and all damages done contrary to those laws shall be satisfied, and that the commission shall be surrendered when revoked by the President. — President Lincoln thereupon, on the 19th, issued a proclamation, announcing the blockade of all the ports of the seceding States, and that a competent forces would be stationed to prevent the entrance and exit of vessels at these ports. Any vessel attempting to enter or leave these ports is to be warned by the commander of a blockading vessel, the warning to be indorsed on her register; and if the vessel again attempts to enter or leave, she is to be captured and sent to the nearest convenient port. On the 27th the President issued a proclamation extending the blockade to the ports of North Carolina and Virginia. It is announced that the blockade will be maintained by at least fifty vessels of war, accompanied by a fleet of steam transports capable of conveying an army of 20,000 men. — On the 3d of May the President issued another proclamation, calling into service 42,000 volunteers to serve for a period of three years, unless sooner discharged; ordering that the regular army should bo increased by 22,714 men; and directing the enlistment for the naval force of the United States of 18,000 seamen, for a period of not less then one or more then three years.
The Congress of the Confederate States met at Montgomery on the 29th of April. The Message of President Davis announced that the Permanent Constitution had been ratified by a sufficient number of States to render it valid, and that it only remained to elect officers under its provisions. The Message of President Lincoln calling for volunteers is characterized as a declaration of war, which will render it necessary to adopt measures to replenish the treasury of the Confederation, and provide for the defense of the country. Proposals had been issued, inviting subscriptions for a loan of five millions; more then eight millions were bid for, none under par. The whole amount had been ordered to be accepted; and it was now necessary to raise a much larger sum. The Confederate States had in the field, at Charleston, Pensacola, and different forts, 19,000 men, and 16,000 were era route for Virginia. It was proposed to organize and hold in readiness an army of 100,000 men. "We seek no conquest," says Mr. Davis, "no aggrandizement, no concession from the Free States. All that we ask is to be let alone; that none shall attempt our subjugation by arms. This we will and must resist to the direst extremity. The moment this pretension is abandoned the sword will drop from our grasp, and we shall be ready to enter into treaties of amity and commerce mutually beneficial." — In the mean while warlike and aggressive measures have been pushed forward with all possible activity. The forces besieging Fort Pickens have been augmented, and new batteries have been constructed against it. Vessels belonging to the Government and to individuals have been seized. Among these is the steamer Star of the West, which had been dispatched to Indianola, Texas, to bring away the United States troops collected at that port. The vessel was lying at anchor, awaiting the arrival of the troops. At midnight of the 19th of April the steamer Rusk approached, and the captain of the Star of the West was informed that she had on board 320 United States troops, which were to be embarked. Every assistance was given for the reception of the supposed soldiers, who, however, proved to be Texan troops. As soon as they were on board they took possession of the steamer, which was taken to New Orleans, the crew being detained as prisoners of war. Shortly after, 450 of the United States troops attempted to make their escape from Indianola on board of two sailing vessels. They were pursued by two armed steamers, manned by the Texans, overtaken, and made prisoners.
The attack upon Fort Sumter aroused an intense feeling throughout the Free States. All the Governors responded promptly to the demand of the President for troops, promising to raise not only the number required, but as many more as might be needed. The Legislature of New York appropriated three millions of dollars for arming and equipping troops; Connecticut appropriated two millions, Vermont one million, New Jersey two millions, and other States in proportion. The Common Council of the city of New York appropriated one million. Besides the public appropriations, in every considerable town and city private subscriptions have been made for the same purposes, and to support the families of volunteers. The aggregate of the sums thus furnished is estimated at 25 millions. Public meetings have been held every where; and all men, without distinction of party, express the determination that the Government must be sustained at all hazards, and at any cost of life and money.
It being supposed that an attack upon Washington was meditated, the first care of the Government was to provide troops for its defense. The usual route to Washington from the North and East lies through the city of Baltimore. The first troops which reached this point were a regiment from Pennsylvania, and one from Massachusetts. Upon their arrival, on the 19th of April, they found the railroad track through the city obstructed, and their passage was opposed by a mob. The Pennsylvania regiment, being unarmed, was driven back. The greater part of the Massachusetts regiment passed on to the station without interruption. Two cars in the rear were detained a few moments. The troops left the cars and attempted to march through the city. They were assailed by missiles and firearms, three of them were killed. They then fired upon the mob, killing and wounding several; and then forced their way through, and proceeded to Washington. This was on the 19th of April, the anniversaryof the Battle of Lesington.
For some days Baltimore was completely under the control of the Secessionists. The railroad track upon each side was torn up and bridges burned, so that direct communication between the North and Washington was suspended. Regiments which set out from New York on the 19th were therefore stopped at Philadelphia. They were finally sent by steamers to Annapolis, the capital of Maryland, which is also connected by railroad with Washington. Other regiments gathered at New York were forwarded to the same point. The troops here were placed under the command of General Butler, of Massachusetts. Rails had been removed, bridges destroyed, and engines rendered useless on the road to Washington. The Massachusetts and New York troops, who were the first at Annapolis, were on the 24th of April sent on toward Washington, repairing the track and rebuilding the bridges as they advanced. The New York 7th reached the capital on the 26th of April, having opened the route, which was taken in possession by the Government. They were speedily followed by other troops from New York and New England, until at the close of the month the capital was considered secure from any force that could be brought against it from the South.
The position of Maryland is especially critical. Governor Hicks had throughout opposed the secession movement, and refused to summon an extra meeting of the Legislature. Upon the receipt of the requisition for the Maryland quota of troops, he wrote to the Secretary of War, asking if these troops were to be used solely within the limits of the State and for the protection of the National Capital. He said that he wished for an assurance to this effect, that "in responding to the lawful demands of the United States Government he might be able to give effective and reliable aid for the support and defense of the Union." He was informed that it was not intended to remove the troops from the State except for the defense of the District. On the 18th of April he was notified by the Secretary of War that information had been received that the United States troops would be obstructed in their passage through the State, and a hops was expressed that this obstruction would be prevented by the State authorities. On the 20th he wrote that he had endeavored, with little success, to preserve peace and order; the rebellions element had the control of things; they had the principal part of the military force with them, and had taken possession of the armories, arms, and ammunition. He therefore "thought it prudent to decline for the present the requisition by President Lincoln for four regiments of infantry." He urged that no more troops should be sent through Maryland. Ha was informed by the Government that, for a time, no more troops would be sent through Baltimore, provided that they could march around the city. On the 22d the Governor wrote again — although he had previously admitted that he had no right to demand it — advising that no more troops should be sent through Maryland, and suggesting that the British Minister, Lord Lyons, "should be requested to act as mediator between the contending parties of our country." To this Mr. Seward replied, affirming the right and necessity of sending troops through Maryland, and declining to ask for foreign mediation. In the mean time the Governor repeatedly protested against the landing of the troops at Annapolis and the military occupation of the Railroad thence to Washington, assigning as a reason for the latter protest that he had summoned the Legislature to meet at the Capital, and the occupancy of the road would prevent some members from reaching the city. General Butler, the United States officer in command at Annapolis, replied that his troops were in Maryland to maintain the laws and preserve the peace against all disorderly persons whatever; that he had taken possession of the road, because threats had been made to destroy it in case the troops passed over it; if the Government of the State had taken possession he should have waited long before he entered upon it; that he was endeavoring to obtain means of transportation so that he might vacate Annapolis before the meeting of the Legislature; and that he could not understand how, if the road was rendered impassable one way, the members of the Legislature could pass over it the other way. He also understood that apprehensions were entertained of negro insurrection, and offered his command to suppress it. The Governor thanked him for the offer, but said that the citizens were fully able to quell any insurrection among the slaves. — Annapolis and the railway remaining in possession of the Federal troops, the Maryland Legislature met at Frederick on the 27th of April. The Governor, in his message, admits the right of the United States to transport their troops through Maryland; counsels the State not now to take sides against the General Government, but to maintain a neutral position, so that in the event of war it may not take place on her soil. The first action of the Legislature rendered it doubtful whether that body would sanction even this recommendation of neutrality. A bill passed the Senate vesting the entire military power of the State in a Board of Public Safety, a majority of which were in favor of secession; this bill was subsequently recommitted, apparently on account of the strong feeling existing in a large portion of the State against any attempt to urge measures for secession. A Committee of the Legislature, appointed to meet the President, admitted the right of the Government to transport troops through the State, and expressed their belief that no immediate attempt would, be made to resist the Federal authority.
The position of affairs at the close of the first week in May is this: The Government of the United States is resolved to maintain its authority throughout the entire country, and has called for forces, amounting in all to 180,000 men, and is on the point of beginning offensive operations; forts Monroe, M'Henry, and Pickens have been reinforced; the blockade of Southern ports has been commenced. The Southern Confederacy, probably strengthened by the addition of Arkansas, Virginia, and Tennessee, are determined to resist, at all hazards, and are sending troops to the Border States. The position of Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri is undetermined; but a few days must decide it. The only clew yet given to the action of the European Powers is the reply of M. Thouvenel, the French Foreign Minister, to Mr. Faulkner, our late Minister at Paris. It is to the effect that no application had been as yet made for the recognition of the Confederate States; that the French Government was not wont to act hastily upon such questions; that he believed the maintenance of the integrity of the Federal Union was for the benefit of France; but the principle was firmly established that all de facto governments had a right to be recognized as such. — Our new Minister to France, Mr. Dayton, is instructed to say emphatically that "the thought of a dissolution of this Union, peaceably or by force, has never entered into the mind of any candid statesman here.