BECK index

Lincoln’s War for Union in 1861

by Sanderson Beck

Lincoln’s Inauguration March 1861
North & South War Begins in April 1861
Confederate Congress on April 29
North & South Mobilization in May 1861
US Civil War June-July 1861
US Civil War August-October 1861
US Civil War November-December 1861

Lincoln’s Inauguration March 1861

      On 4 March 1861 about 25,000 people attended the inauguration of President Abraham Lincoln. In his address he repeated his promise that he would not “interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists” because he had “no lawful right to do so.” From the Republican platform he quoted this:

Resolved, that the maintenance inviolate of the rights
of the states, and especially the right of each state
to order and control its own domestic institutions
according to its own judgment exclusively,
is essential to that balance of power on which
the perfection and endurance of our political fabric depend;
and we denounce the lawless invasion by armed force
of the soil of any state or territory, no matter what pretext,
as among the gravest of crimes.1

Then he made promises to protect property, peace, and security in all the states. He would take the oath to enforce all acts of Congress including the reclaiming of fugitive slaves. He believed the Union is perpetual, and he argued that states have a contract which should not be broken without the consent of all the other states. Thus he considered any state withdrawing from the Union unlawful and any action against the authority of the United States insurrection. He said,

The power confided to me will be used
to hold, occupy, and possess the property
and places belonging to the Government
and to collect the duties and imposts.2

      He said mail, unless repelled, would continue in all of the Union. He argued that no right written in the Constitution has been denied including the rights of minorities. He warned that if a minority seceded, then another minority would secede from them, and he called secession “anarchy.” He believed that a minority cannot be allowed to rule permanently. Although a husband and wife can divorce and become separate, he argued that states could not physically separate themselves. He noted that even after war and fighting, problems still have to be resolved. Congress had passed an amendment to the Constitution; but he had not seen it, and it had not been ratified. He also said,

While the people retain their virtue and vigilance,
no administration by any extreme of wickedness
or folly can very seriously injure the Government
in the short space of four years.3

Lincoln made the following appeal and warning:

In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen,
and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war.
The Government will not assail you.
You can have no conflict
without being yourselves the aggressors.
You have no oath registered in heaven
to destroy the Government,
while I shall have the most solemn one
to “preserve, protect, and defend it.”4

Seward suggested a paragraph that Lincoln edited for this conclusion:

We are not enemies, but friends.
We must not be enemies.
Though passion may have strained,
it must not break our bonds of affection.
The mystic chords of memory,
stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave
to every living heart and hearthstone
all over this broad land,
will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched,
as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.5

      Several Republican newspapers praised the speech; but the Albany Atlas and Argus predicted that trying to collect revenues in seceded states would lead to conflict and war, and Edward Everett in his diary noted that either keeping the forts or collecting customs would result in civil war.
      Tennessee Representative Thomas Nelson, who was a unionist from the American Party, met with President Lincoln and urged him not to collect revenues in seceded states until the southerners had time to think. The Republican majority in the US Congress had refrained from prohibiting slavery in the new Dakota, Colorado, and Nevada territories because they considered it provocative and unnecessary. Governor Hicks of Maryland warned that tyranny would make his state join the seceders. The Tennessee legislature in Nashville voted to fight against a Union invasion moving south.
      On March 5 President Lincoln learned that the Fort Sumter garrison would run out of food in about six weeks.
      On March 6 the Confederate States authorized President Jefferson Davis to call up as many as 100,000 volunteers for one year. On that day people in New Orleans cheered General David Twiggs, who had taken over 19 army posts in Texas and had then been removed from the US Army for “treachery” on March 1. The Confederate Congress in Montgomery unanimously adopted the new Constitution on March 11.
      On that day General Winfield Scott advised Lincoln that Sumter’s food would last only 26 days except the salt meat for 48 days, and to relieve the fort they would need a fleet with 5,000 regulars and 20,000 volunteers. The Whig newspaper, the National Intelligencer, urged withdrawal, and the National Republican reported that that the cabinet had decided to leave Fort Sumter and Fort Pickens. All the other federal installations in the seceded states were seized by local militias. Greeley’s Tribune and other radical Republicans took a contrary position. Only Fort Pickens would remain under Union control during the war.
      Senator Douglas supported Lincoln, but he urged the President to make maintaining the peace his top priority. John Bell of Tennessee advised Lincoln not to attack the Confederacy or try to reinforce forts or collect revenues that could cause conflicts that would lead to war and the secession of border states. Lincoln ordered Seward to have nothing to do with the Confederate envoys, and he informed the mediating former Virginia Senator R. M. T. Hunter that there would be no meeting. Seward did tell the Russian Minister Baron Stoeckl there would be no coercion and that the seceded states could collect customs dues.
      The Confederacy’s commissioner Martin J. Crawford learned that Seward and Cameron favored a peaceful policy, but on March 13 Lincoln told Seward not to meet with the Confederate commissioners. Commissioner John Forsyth asked the senators Gwin of California and Hunter of Virginia to help establish relations with Seward, but he would not recognize them as agents of an independent nation.
      Lincoln met with his cabinet on March 14, and only Montgomery Blair opposed the surrender of Fort Sumter. The next day Lincoln sent a letter to each cabinet member asking for their views on provisioning Sumter. Postmaster Blair wrote a letter of resignation. William Rives of Virginia warned Lincoln that if he used force, Virginia would secede. Lincoln wanted Virginia to stay in the Union and may have promised to withdraw troops from Sumter if they did. Seward favored evacuating Sumter as soon as possible. Even sending food supplies could be interpreted by the South as a hostile act. Cameron, Welles, Bates, and Caleb Smith agreed with Seward, and only Chase and Blair were for provisioning Fort Sumter. Supreme Court Justice John A. Campbell of Alabama told Seward that he was going to write to Davis, and he asked him what he should say about Fort Sumter. Seward said that Sumter would be evacuated before his letter arrived. On April 1 Seward would give Campbell a note that they would not supply Sumter without notifying South Carolina Governor Pickens.
      On March 15 Louisiana had transferred $536,000 from the US Mint in New Orleans to the Confederacy. The next day the Confederate Congress sent William Yancey, Pierre Rost, and A. Dudley Mann as commissioners to Britain; but the British Foreign Minister John Russell gave them only one cold interview, and he told them to write communications to which he did not reply until very briefly in December.
      Conventions in Mesilla and Tucson formed the Arizona Territory and voted to join the Confederacy. An Arkansas convention voted against secession 39-35 on March 18. On that day Texas Governor Houston refused to swear allegiance to the Confederacy, and on the 29th he declined an offer from the US government to reinstate him as Texas governor. A Missouri convention rejected secession 98-1 on March 21. On that day the Confederacy’s Vice President Stephens gave his corner-stone speech at Savannah and defended “the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery—subordination to the superior race—is his natural and normal condition.”6 Stephens also approved the constitutional bans on protective tariffs and aid for internal improvements.
      James Gordon Bennett published the New York Herald which had the largest circulation in the nation in 1860 with over 77,000 daily subscribers. On March 21 his paper accused Lincoln of pleasing “ultraists of New England and the Northwest,” and he complained that the Lincoln administration was taking “no efficient step towards peacefully solving the difficulties that embarrass the country.”7
      The White House was often filled with people, and Lincoln set his hours for seeing people from ten to three and later reduced it to ten to one. He was besieged by hundreds of men seeking offices and appointments. He named his supporter Hiram Barney as collector for the port of New York, and he sent Charles Francis Adams as minister to Britain, W. L. Dayton to France, Norman Judd to Germany, and Cassius M. Clay to Russia. The US Senate was busy confirming hundreds of appointees before they adjourned their special session on March 28. On that day Senator Trumbull introduced the following resolution:

That in the opinion of the Senate, the true way
to preserve the Union is to enforce the laws of the Union;
that resistance to their enforcement, whether
under the name of anti-coercion or any other name,
is encouragement to disunion;
and that it is the duty of the President of the United States
to use all the means in his power to hold and protect
the public property of the United States,
and enforce the laws thereof.8

      Col. Ward Lamon had visited Charleston on March 25 and on the 28th told Lincoln that the South Carolina Governor said that the only way to prevent war was for the US President to accept the Confederate States; but reinforcing Fort Sumter would cause war to be sounded throughout the South. Lamon also reported that the South Carolinian Stephen Hurlbut believed the Confederate nationality was a “fixed fact” because there was “no attachment to the Union.”
      That evening after the first Lincoln state dinner the cabinet met, and Salmon Chase and Gideon Welles supported provisioning Fort Sumter even though General Winfield Scott had advised that giving up forts Sumter and Pickens was justified. Bryant’s New York Evening Post, Forney’s Philadelphia Press, and Medill’s Chicago Tribune all demanded the US take a strong position.
      On March 29 Lincoln asked his cabinet officers to write their views on the war, and he ordered the War and Navy Secretaries to plan an expedition to relieve Fort Sumter on April 6. At his first state dinner that evening Lincoln shared a note from General Winfield Scott advising him to surrender Fort Sumter and Fort Pickens. On March 30 Lincoln, realizing his decision could mean war, had a terrible headache and even “keeled over” according to his wife Mary. At the cabinet meeting that day they all agreed with him except Seward and Caleb Smith. Lincoln then ordered War Secretary Cameron to prepare the expedition. The next day Charles Francis Adams wrote in his diary, “The course of the President is drifting the country into war, by its want of decision…. The man is not equal to the hour.”9 In elections two Connecticut Republicans and two more from Rhode Island lost their seats in Congress, and Democrats won in St. Louis and in other major cities.

North & South War Begins in April 1861

      On April 1 (All Fool’s Day) Secretary of State Seward presented Lincoln with “Some Thoughts for the President’s Consideration” which included a war against Spain and maybe France. The aim was to unite the nation in a foreign war. They could defeat Spain and take over Cuba and Puerto Rico and maybe French islands. This would also influence southerners who wanted these to be slave states. Spain had recently invaded Santo Domingo. The US could work with Britain to suppress the Cuban slave trade and promote Santo Domingo’s independence. Seward also advised negotiating with the Confederate States rather than asserting federal sovereignty over them. Given the current crisis, Lincoln rejected Seward’s outlandish suggestion to start a foreign war, but he would continue to work with Seward for four years.
      The only extensive debate on several proposed amendments during the ratification of the Confederate Constitution was at the South Carolina convention, and they ratified it 137-21 on April 3. The North Carolina unionist William W. Holden criticized southern leaders for pushing through a constitution that most people had not even read.
      On April 4 Lincoln received a letter from Major Anderson indicating that their rations would last only one week. The Virginia convention in Richmond voted 90-45 to reject an ordinance of secession, but they did not adjourn. That was also a day of national fasting, and Congregational minister Zachary Eddy advised that the North should let the “idolatrous” South go peacefully. He noted that they had already become a nation which had seized federal property, armed state militias for self-defense, and commissioned foreign ministers. He suggested it was time to face reality and realize “that the union is actually dissolved.” The Unitarian minister Henry Bellows in “Crisis of Our National Defense” agreed that they should be permitted to leave the union in peace, asking, “Why not consent, then, to pacific and amicable and just terms of separation?”10 Bellows would help citizens in Washington organize the U.S. Sanitary Commission to support nurses and supplies in camps and battlefields. During the war they would raise about $25 million and many thousands of volunteers, mostly women, who provided humanitarian assistance to Union soldiers.
      On April 6 Lincoln sent a message to South Carolina Governor Pickens that he was going to try to supply Fort Sumter but only with provisions. If this was not resisted, he would make no effort to send men, arms, and ammunition unless the fort was attacked. The Harriet Lane sailed for Charleston on April 8 followed by other ships in the next two days. Also on the 8th Lincoln’s two messengers reached Charleston and learned that the Confederacy would not permit provisioning Sumter. At midnight during a rain-storm guns signaled the mustering of reserves, and by dawn 3,000 men were marching in the streets; telegrams summoned 4,000 more.
      Telegraph alerted the Confederate Secretary of War Walker, and on April 9 the Confederate cabinet supported the order by President Davis to General Beauregard to seize Fort Sumter before relief could arrive. Confederate Secretary of State Robert Toombs warned President Davis that attacking a US fort would be “suicide, murder and will lose us every friend at the North” and that it was unnecessary, wrong, and would be fatal. Georgia troops were already moving to attack Fort Pickens. On the 10th Walker telegraphed Beauregard to demand the evacuation of Sumter. The next day Major Anderson refused to surrender to Beauregard, but he admitted they would “be starved out in a few days.” On that April 11 the three Confederate commissioners left Washington.
      Early in the morning on April 12 Virginia lawyer Roger Pryor and three others in a boat with a white flag demanded that Major Anderson surrender within one hour, or he would be bombarded. Anderson offered to evacuate on the 15th, but that was rejected. At 4:30 a.m. Confederate forces in Fort Johnson began the attack on Fort Sumter, and Edmund Ruffin fired the first iron battery from Morris Island. Their 47 cannons fired 4,000 shots and shells for 33 hours. Fort Sumter’s garrison fired only a thousand rounds before they surrendered. No one had been injured on either side. Anderson was allowed to fire a 50-gun salute, and an ember set off a powder keg, killing Private Daniel Hough and wounding five other US soldiers. By then Washington was garrisoned by about 500 regulars and 700 militia. The American Civil War had begun. In the North they were calling it the “War of Rebellion” and in the South the “War between the States.” Both Lincoln and Davis were responsible for starting the war. Lincoln waited for the South to fire first, but this took place in the territory of a seceded state. Neither side had yet made a formal declaration of war.
      On April 13 at 9 in the evening Horace Greeley’s New-York Tribune issued an extra edition with this headline:

War Begun. The Jeff. Davis Rebellion, claiming to be
the Confederate government of the seven States
which profess to have seceded from the Federal Union,
commenced formal war upon the United States by opening
fire on Fort Sumter at 4 o’clock yesterday morning.11

Thus the infection of war fever began to spread. Four days later the Tribune called for at least 200,000 men in addition to the regular army. Senator Stephen A. Douglas called on President Lincoln on April 14 and offered his support. Douglas then went off to make speeches in Cleveland, Columbus, Indianapolis, and Chicago where he said,

There are only two sides to the question.
Every man must be for the United States or against it.
There can be no neutrals in this war,
only patriots or traitors.12

In Springfield he called for “the most stupendous and unanimous preparation for war.” On May 10 the National Intelligencer printed his letter that recalled how Clay and Webster had supported President Jackson during the nullification crisis. Douglas suffered from rheumatism, other ailments, and too much drinking, and he died on June 3 and was widely mourned.
      Republican Governor Richard Yates of Illinois had called a special session of the legislature for April 12, and the day after the attack on Sumter they appropriated $3,500,000 for the military and garrisoned Cairo. The Ohio Congressman Samuel S. Cox, a Democrat, opposed secession; but he called it revolution, and he criticized Lincoln’s war response and pleaded for compromise. Lincoln had refused to summon the US Congress during this crisis, and on April 15 he called up 75,000 militia for 90 days of national service to put down the insurrection, and the governors of Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri rejected this while Maryland and Delaware asked for conditions. Kentucky Governor Magoffin warned both the Federal and the Confederate governments not to invade Kentucky.
      Regiments had 780 soldiers, and New York raised 17 regiments, Pennsylvania 16, Ohio 13, Illinois 6, and Massachusetts had 4 departing for the front by April 17. The next day five companies from Pennsylvania passed through hostile Baltimore and reached Washington unarmed and untrained. Navy Secretary Welles ordered Captain Hiram Paulding to command the naval forces at Norfolk, Virginia and destroy property if necessary; several ships were burned on the 20th.
      After the surrender of Fort Sumter the Confederate Congress and President Davis declared that their policy would be defensive, and Robert E. Lee in special orders made known that Virginia’s policy was at present “strictly defensive.” On April 17 Davis called for 32,000 volunteers, and he invited private ships to apply for Letters of Marque and Reprisal. Two days later Lincoln reacted by threatening to treat captured crews as pirates, declaring a blockade of the seven seceded states.
      On April 19 a mob in Baltimore shot at the Massachusetts 6th regiment which returned fire, killing 12 civilians; 4 soldiers were killed, and 17 were wounded. When they arrived in Washington, Clara Barton brought to the railroad station sheets she tore up to nurse them.
      A Virginia convention on the 17th had voted 88-55 to secede from the United States, but the public did not ratify it until May 23. Virginians negotiated an alliance with the Confederacy’s Vice President Stephens on April 24 and began cooperating. On April 18 the Union garrison had evacuated the arsenal at Harpers Ferry. Washington in response was being strengthened with troops and cannons, and they doubled their companies to 30 by April 20. Some were quartered in the chambers of the US Senate and the House of Representatives, and a company from Kansas was in the East Room of the White House.
      Almost a third of the US Army’s commissioned officers resigned, and 34 of the 90 employees of the US War Department left. Winfield Scott considered Robert E. Lee the best officer, and Lincoln and Cameron asked Francis Blair to make an offer to Lee, who met with him on April 18. Although in 1856 Lee had called slavery “a moral and political evil, he resigned from the US War Department on the 20th writing, “Save in defense of my native state, I never desire again to draw my sword.”13 The next day Virginia Governor Letcher appointed Lee commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. In 1854 War Secretary Jefferson Davis and West Point Superintendent Lee had organized a 5-year course of study.
      Governor Letcher also ordered Thomas J. Jackson to command the Virginia Military Institute cadets and move them to Richmond. Secessionists criticized Letcher for appointing moderates and cooperators. In April at VMI 74 southern cadets resigned or were dismissed for refusing allegiance to the United States, though 21 southerners remained and fought for the Union. A total of 294 West Point graduates became Union officers compared to 151 Confederates.
      On the night of April 20-21 Captain Hiram Paulding led an effort to destroy what was in the Norfolk naval base. The next day Confederates salvaged much and still had hundreds of cannons. They took over Fort Norfolk and began shipping out ordnance.
      Maryland’s Governor Hicks promised Lincoln four regiments to be used only in Maryland and the District of Columbia. Hicks told a crowd he would not attack a sister state, and he telegraphed Lincoln to send no more troops. Baltimore’s Mayor George W. Brown agreed with him as the mob dominated that city until April 21. Hicks was ill on the 21st when Lincoln met with Brown and three prominent men from Baltimore. The President promised to use no force against Maryland and not invade the South, but he insisted on allowing Federal troops to cross Maryland in order to protect Washington. After the meeting they cut telegraph lines, burned bridges, and dismantled railway tracks. The next day Lincoln wrote to the Baltimore committee, “Keep your rowdies in Baltimore, and there will be no bloodshed. Go home and tell your people that if they will not attack us, we will not attack them.”14 Continued terror until the 24th persuaded Hicks to summon the Maryland legislature that favored secession. They met on the 26th and became neutral by denouncing both southern secession and northern coercion. Regiments coming from the north came to Washington by way of Annapolis. About 1,200 men from Massachusetts repaired the railways by the 25th.
      On April 23 John Bell of Tennessee, who had led the Constitution Party, announced his support for a united South and criticized “the unnecessary, aggressive, cruel, unjust wanton war which is being forced upon us.”15
      Cheering greeted the Massachusetts 6th regiment when they arrived at Capitol Hill at noon on April 25. Troops also came from New York, Rhode Island, and New Jersey.
      Treasury Secretary Chase asked Ohio to increase their contingents. Captain Stokes of Illinois was sent to the St. Louis arsenal where his men removed 10,000 muskets and other stores. Fort McHenry was reinforced, and Fort Morris was garrisoned by the end of April. Indiana was asked for six regiments, but Governor Morton said he would send 30,000 men. New York was enlisting that many soldiers for two years, and the city council had approved $1 million for equipment and half that for their families. The cities of Brooklyn, Rochester, Buffalo, and Troy raised a total of $290,500, and New York Governor Edwin Morgan signed a bill appropriating $3 million. On April 27 Lincoln extended the blockade to Virginia and North Carolina. Because railroad bridges and telegraph lines had been destroyed in Maryland, he suspended the writ of habeas corpus from Washington to Philadelphia. Many southerners were leaving the federal government. Navy Secretary Welles ordered US ships to seize Confederate privateers, and they captured the Helmick with munitions at Cairo, Illinois.

Confederate Congress on April 29

      On April 29 the Confederate Congress met again at Montgomery, and President Jefferson Davis made a speech explaining why they needed to prepare for their common defense. He began by announcing that the constitution of the Confederate States of America had been ratified by conventions of their seven states. Then he explained he had convoked their Congress because of “the states which now unite in warfare against us,” saying,

The declaration of war made against this Confederacy
by Abraham Lincoln, the President of the United States,
in his proclamation issued on the 15th day
of the present month, rendered it necessary,
in my judgment, that you should convene
at the earliest practicable moment to devise the measures
necessary for the defense of the country….
During the war waged against Great Britain by her colonies
on this continent a common danger impelled them
to a close alliance and to the formation of a Confederation,
by the terms of which the colonies,
styling themselves States, entered “severally
into a firm league of friendship with each other
for their common defense, the security of their liberties,
and their mutual and general welfare,
binding themselves to assist each other
against all force offered to or attacks made upon them.”…
In order to guard against any misconstruction
of their compact, the several States
made explicit declaration in a distinct article—
that “each State retains its Sovereignty, freedom, and—
independence, and every power, jurisdiction and right
which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated
to the United States in Congress assembled.”…
Amendments were added to the (1787) Constitution
placing beyond any pretense of doubt the reservation
by the States of all their sovereign rights and powers
not expressly delegated to the United States
by the Constitution….
An organization created by the States to secure
the blessings of liberty and independence
against foreign aggression, has been gradually perverted
into a machine for their control in their domestic affairs….
The people of the Southern States,
whose almost exclusive occupation was agriculture,
early perceived a tendency in the Northern States to render
the common government subservient to their own purposes
by imposing burdens on commerce as a protection
to their manufacturing and shipping interests.
Long and angry controversies grew out of these attempts,
often successful, to benefit one section of the country
at the expense of the other.
And the danger of disruption arising from this cause
was enhanced by the fact that the Northern population
was increasing, by immigration and other causes,
in a greater ratio than the population of the South.
By degrees, as the Northern States gained preponderance
in the National Congress, self-interest taught their people
to yield ready assent to any plausible advocacy of their right
as a majority to govern the minority….
in the inaugural address delivered by President Lincoln
in March last, he asserts as an axiom,
which he plainly deems to be undeniable,
of constitutional authority, that the theory of the Constitution
requires that in all cases the majority shall govern;
and in another memorable instance
the same Chief Magistrate did not hesitate to liken
the relations between a State and the United States
to those which exist between a county and the State
in which it is situated and by which it was created.
This is the lamentable and fundamental error on which rests
the policy that has culminated in his declaration of war
against these Confederate States….
In twelve out of the thirteen States negro slavery existed,
and the right of property in slaves was protected by law.
This property was recognized in the Constitution,
and provision was made against its loss
by the escape of the slave….
As soon, however, as the Northern States
that prohibited African slavery within their limits
had reached a number sufficient to give their representation
a controlling voice in the Congress,
a persistent and organized system of hostile measures
against the rights of the owners of slaves
in the Southern States was inaugurated
and gradually extended.
A continuous series of measures was devised
and prosecuted for the purpose of rendering insecure
the tenure of property in slaves.
Fanatical organizations, supplied with money
by voluntary subscriptions, were assiduously engaged
in exciting amongst the slaves
a spirit of discontent and revolt….
Finally a great party was organized for the purpose of
obtaining the administration of the Government,
with the avowed object of using its power
for the total exclusion of the slave States
from all participation in the benefits of the public domain
acquired by all the States in common,
whether by conquest or purchase;
of surrounding them entirely by States
in which slavery should be prohibited;
of thus rendering the property in slaves
so insecure as to be comparatively worthless,
and thereby annihilating in effect
property worth thousands of millions of dollars.
This party, thus organized, succeeded
in the month of November last in the election
of its candidate for the Presidency of the United States….
African slaves had augmented in number
from about 600,000, at the date of the adoption
of the constitutional compact, to upward of 4 million.
In moral and social condition they had been elevated
from brutal savages into docile, intelligent,
and civilized agricultural laborers,
and supplied not only with bodily comforts
but with careful religious instruction….
The white population of the Southern slaveholding States
had augmented from about 1,250,000
at the date of the adoption of the Constitution
to more than 8,500,000 in 1860….
In the exercise of a right so ancient, so well established,
and so necessary for self-preservation,
the people of the Confederate States, in their conventions,
determined that the wrongs which they had suffered
and the evils with which they were menaced required that
they should revoke the delegation of powers
to the Federal Government
which they had ratified in their several conventions.
They consequently passed ordinances resuming
all their rights as sovereign and Independent States
and dissolved their connection
with the other States of the Union.
Having done this, they proceeded to form a new compact
amongst themselves by new articles of confederation,
which have been also ratified by the conventions
of the several States with an approach to unanimity
far exceeding that of the conventions
which adopted the Constitution of 1787.
They have organized their new Government
in all its departments;
the functions of the executive legislative,
and judicial magistrates are performed
in accordance with the will of the people,
as displayed not merely in a cheerful acquiescence,
but in the enthusiastic support of the Government
thus established by themselves;
and but for the interference of the Government
of the United States in this legitimate exercise
of the right of a people to self-government, peace,
happiness, and prosperity would now smile on our land.
That peace is ardently desired by this Government
and people has been manifested in every possible form.
Scarce had you assembled in February last when,
prior even to the inauguration of the Chief Magistrate
you had elected, you passed a resolution expressive
of your desire for the appointment of commissioners
to be sent to the Government of the United States
“for the purpose of negotiating friendly relations between
that Government and the Confederate States of America,
and for the settlement of all questions of disagreement
between the two Governments
upon principles of right, justice, equity, and good faith.” …
I had said “as a necessity, not a choice,
we have resorted to the remedy of separation,
and henceforth our energies must be directed
to the conduct of our own affairs
and the perpetuity of the Confederacy
which we have formed.
If a just perception of mutual interests shall permit us
peaceably to pursue our separate political career,
my most earnest desire will have been fulfilled.”
It was in furtherance of these accordant views
of the Congress and the Executive that I made choice
of three discreet, able, and distinguished citizens,
who repaired to Washington.
Aided by their cordial cooperation
and that of the Secretary of State, every effort compatible
with self-respect and the dignity of the Confederacy
was exhausted before I allowed myself to yield
to the conviction that the Government of the United States
was determined to attempt the conquest of this people
and that our cherished hopes of peace were unobtainable….
People of the Confederate States earnestly desire
a peaceful solution of these great questions;
that it is neither their interest nor their wish to make
any demand which is not founded on strictest justice,
nor do any act to injure their late confederates.
To this communication
no formal reply was received until the 8th of April.
The crooked paths of diplomacy can scarcely furnish
an example so wanting in courtesy, in candor,
and directness as was the course
of the United States Government
toward our commissioners in Washington.…
On the 5th, 6th, and 7th of April transports and vessels
of war with troops, munitions, and military supplies
sailed from Northern ports bound southward….
The Secretary of State
and the President of the United States had already
determined to hold no intercourse with them whatever;
to refuse even to listen to any proposals they had to make,
and had profited by the delay created
by their own assurances in order to prepare secretly
the means for effective hostile operations.
That these assurances were given has been virtually
confessed by the Government of the United States
by its sending a messenger to Charleston to give notice
of its purpose to use force
if opposed in its intention of supplying Fort Sumter….
I was sincerely anxious to avoid the effusion of blood,
and directed a proposal to be made to the commander
of Fort Sumter, who had avowed himself
to be nearly out of provisions, that we would abstain
from directing our fire on Fort Sumter
if he would promise not to open fire on our forces
unless first attacked.
This proposal was refused and the conclusion was reached
that the design of the United States was to place
the besieging force at Charleston
between the simultaneous fire of the fleet and the fort….
Although the bombardment lasted but thirty-three hours,
our flag did not wave over its battered walls until
after the appearance of the hostile fleet off Charleston….
The people of Charleston for months had been irritated
by the spectacle of a fortress
held within their principal harbor as a standing menace
against their peace and independence….
How it was held with persistent tenacity as a means
of offense against them by the very Government which
they had established for their protection is well known….
Their commanding general, with their cordial approval
and the consent of his Government,
refrained from imposing any terms that could wound
the sensibilities of the commander of the fort.
He was permitted to retire with the honors of war,
to salute his flag, to depart freely with all his command,
and was escorted to the vessel in which he embarked
with the highest marks of respect from those against whom
his guns had been so recently directed….
Scarcely had the President of the United States
received intelligence of the failure of the scheme
which he had devised for the reinforcement of Fort Sumter,
when he issued the declaration of war
against this Confederacy
which has prompted me to convoke you….
He calls for an army of 75,000 men to act
as a posse comitatus in aid of the process
of the courts of justice in States
where no courts exist whose mandates and decrees
are not cheerfully obeyed and respected by a willing people.
He avows that “the first service to be assigned to the forces
called out” will be not to execute the process of courts,
but to capture forts and strongholds situated
within the admitted limits of this Confederacy
and garrisoned by its troops;
and declares that “this effort” is intended
to maintain the perpetuity of popular government.…
The President of the United States
called for an army of 75,000 men,
whose first service was to be to capture our forts.
It was a plain declaration of war
which I was not at liberty to disregard
because of my knowledge that under the Constitution
of the United States the President was usurping
a power granted exclusively to the Congress….
Although I might have refrained
from taking active measures for our defense,
if the States of the Union had all imitated the action
of Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee,
and Missouri, by denouncing the call for troops
as an unconstitutional usurpation of power
to which they refused to respond,
I was not at liberty to disregard the fact that
many of the States seemed quite content to submit
to the exercise of the power assumed
by the President of the United States,
and were actively engaged in levying troops to be used
for the purpose indicated in the proclamation.
Deprived of the aid of Congress at the moment,
I was under the necessity of confining my action to a call
on the States for volunteers for the common defense,
in accordance with the authority
you had confided to me before your adjournment.
I deemed it proper, further, to issue proclamation inviting
application from persons disposed to aid our defense
in private armed vessels on the high seas….
I cannot close this review of the acts
of the Government of the United States without referring
to a proclamation issued by their President,
under date of the 19th instant, in which, after declaring that
an insurrection has broken out in this Confederacy
against the Government of the United States,
he announces a blockade of all the ports of these States,
and threatens to punish as pirates all persons
who shall molest any vessel of the United States
under letters of marque issued by this Government.
Notwithstanding the authenticity of this proclamation
you will concur with me that
it is hard to believe it could have emanated
from a President of the United States.
Its announcement of a mere paper blockade is so manifestly
a violation of the law of nations that it would seem incredible
that it could have been issued by authority;
but conceding this to be the case
so far as the Executive is concerned,
it will be difficult to satisfy the people of these States
that their late confederates will sanction its declarations—
will determine to ignore the usages of civilized nations,
and will inaugurate a war of extermination on both sides
by treating as pirates open enemies
acting under the authority of commissions
issued by an organized government.
If such proclamation was issued,
it could only have been published
under the sudden influence of passion,
and we may rest assured mankind will be spared
the horrors of the conflict it seems to invite.16

      Also on April 29 the Confederate Congress authorized $50 million in 20-year 8% bonds or $30 million in bonds and $20 million in treasury notes without interest. They prohibited paying debts outside the slave states. The Maryland House of Delegates at Annapolis voted 53-13 against secession, but many on the eastern shore supported the South. On the day that President Davis addressed the Confederate Congress he also said that they would “seek no conquest, no aggrandizement, no concession of any kind from the States with which we were lately confederated; all we ask is to be let alone.”17

North & South Mobilization in May 1861

      On May 1 President Lincoln told New York troops that the Government had three things to do—defend Washington, blockade southern ports, and retake US property. Two days later Lincoln called for 42,034 more volunteers to serve for three years, and he ordered the regular US Army increased by eight regiments of infantry, one of cavalry, and one of artillery making a total of 22,714 men while enlisting 18,000 more sailors for the US Navy. He appointed General George McClellan to command the new Department of the Ohio that included Indiana and Illinois. Missouri Governor Claiborne Jackson announced that his state was for the South, and the next day he had seized ordnance stores in Kansas City. On May 4 groups supporting the Union met in western Virginia to consider seceding from Virginia.
      Also on May 4 the radical reformer, Thomas Nichols, published the first and only edition of The Age in New York. He warned,

It is easy to clamor for war—but it is wise to count the cost
before entering upon such a war as this.
Those who think the South is powerless
do not understand her.
In the Mexican War the Southern States
contributed twice as many men as the Northern….
In case of civil war, with the North as the aggressor,
the whole South would be united to a man,
while the North would be divided….
Suppose we were to conquer—
burn their cities, waste their fields,
introduce all the horrors of servile insurrection,
and finally overcome and subdue them.
What then?… To do this,
our Government must become a military despotism.
It cannot be done under the Constitution.
And if it were,
there are four millions of negroes to dispose of.
The North, the conquering section,
must either govern them in slavery, or take responsibility
of setting them free, and providing for them.
Frankly we see no course for the Government to pursue
but to acknowledge the independence
of the Southern Confederacy, make equitable treaties,
conciliate the Border States,
and wait for the developments of the future.18

      On May 6 the Arkansas convention met again and voted 65 to 5 to secede, and the Tennessee legislature declared independence and planned a referendum on secession.
      After a governors’ convention in Cleveland the governors Curtin of Pennsylvania, Dennison of Ohio, Morton of Indiana, and Yates of Illinois met with Lincoln on May 7 and said they would provide the men to destroy the rebellion if he had a strong policy.
      Major Robert Anderson was promoted to Brigadier General, and on May 7 he was sent to Cincinnati to recruit volunteers from Kentucky and western Virginia. William Nelson offered to distribute weapons in Kentucky, and on May 13 Lincoln ordered that 5,000 muskets be sent to him. Kentucky had elected unionists, and the state was neutral. Anderson decided not to raise regiments in Kentucky; but during the war 75,000 men would join Union armies while about a third as many fought for the Confederacy.
      On May 9 the US Naval Academy moved to Newport, Rhode Island, and Lincoln authorized suspending the writ of habeas corpus on the Florida coast and nearby islands. The next day Captain Nathaniel Lyon led 7,000 men who took over the arsenal at St. Louis and shipped 21,000 muskets across the Mississippi, and the next day they captured 700 militia at Camp Jackson. After a drunk fired at his troops, they shot at the crowd, killing 28 civilians. That night mobs murdered some German-Americans, and the next day another conflict killed four civilians and two soldiers. In reaction the Missouri legislature passed Governor Jackson’s bill to arm the Confederate cause, and they authorized cooperating with Indians. That night they learned that Lyon was leading 2,000 men to capture the governor and the legislature. In the next five days the legislature authorized Governor Jackson to borrow another $1 million and organize the state’s military.
      On May 13 Queen Victoria in London declared that England would be strictly neutral, and General Benjamin Butler’s Massachusetts militia occupied Baltimore and declared martial law to protect men and supplies moving into Washington. On May 20 US Marshals raided all northern telegraph offices to confiscate all telegrams and copies received in the previous year in order to search for evidence of spying.
      President Davis had signed a declaration of war on May 3, and on the 6th Tennessee and Arkansas joined the Confederate States of America (CSA). On May 8 and 13 the Confederate Congress authorized President Davis to call up as many as 400,000 men for the duration of the war. Alabama provided the largest loans and gifts amounting to $5 million.
      Tennessee’s Governor Isham Harris favored secession, and on May 1 the ordinance had passed the Senate 20-4 and the House 46-21, calling for a force of 25,000 men with 30,000 in reserve and issuing bonds for $5 million. The Confederacy admitted Tennessee on May 17. On June 8 the referendum approving this passed 104,471 to 47,183, though two-thirds of those in East Tennessee voted no. On May 20 Kentucky’s Governor Beriah Magoffin confirmed their neutrality.
      The Arkansas convention in May authorized the governor to enlist 60,000 men out of a white population of 325,000, and their troops took over Fort Smith. Arkansas held no referendum and became part of the Confederacy on May 18.
      After Lincoln’s troop call on April 15 North Carolina’s Governor John W. Ellis had taken over the Fayetteville arsenal, the mint at Charlotte, and three coastal forts, and he asked for 30,000 men to be enlisted. A special session of the North Carolina legislature set May 13 to elect delegates to a convention, and on the 20th they voted unanimously to secede, becoming the 11th state to join the Confederacy.
      On May 20 the Confederate Congress voted to move the capital to Richmond, Virginia, and six days later Davis left Montgomery and made speeches on his way there. On the 21st the Congress required Confederate citizens to buy Confederate bonds for the amount of their debts to US citizens, but this raised only $12 million despite $200 million in debts. On May 23 Virginia approved the secession referendum by a vote of 128,884 to 32,134. The next day Union troops crossed the Potomac River and occupied Alexandria, Virginia, and a hotel owner killed Col. Elmer Ellsworth for having taken down a Confederate flag. Also on May 24 General Benjamin Butler at Fort Monroe, Virginia refused to return escaped slaves because they had worked on Confederate fortifications; he called them “contraband of war.”
      As President Davis set up his administration in Richmond, an army gathered at Harpers Ferry. General Joseph E. Johnston covered the Shenandoah Valley while General Beauregard was at Manassas near Washington. At Norfolk were Lt. Col. Benjamin Huger and Col. John B. Magruder. On May 7 Josiah Gorgas had reported that the Confederate states had 15,000 rifles and 120,000 muskets in arsenals east of the Mississippi. The Norfolk navy yard had about 500 cannons. Yet the South had little ammunition. Of the 1,554 officers in the United States Navy only 373 left to join the South, and few of its 7,600 seamen did so. In May they approved enlisting 400,000 more volunteers for three years; but they had to turn away 200,000 because they lacked enough arms and equipment.
      The Presbyterian Assembly met in Philadelphia on May 16, and the northern clergy adopted an oath of allegiance to the United States Government. The southerners withdrew and met on December 4 at Augusta, Georgia where they formed the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America.
      Postmaster General Montgomery Blair proposed that the Union Army invade Virginia to attack Richmond and the naval base at Norfolk by May 22. General Winfield Scott’s strategy was to strangle the southern economy with the oceanic blockade and by sending an army to control the Mississippi River before invading southern territory in the fall after malignant fevers were not a danger. General George McClellan was commanding the Department of Ohio, and he wanted to cross Kentucky and attack Nashville. Lincoln preferred Scott’s plan because he did not want to antagonize Virginia or Kentucky.
      On May 26 US Chief Justice Taney granted a writ of habeas corpus for John Merryman who had been arrested for burning bridges and cutting telegraph wires. The officer cited Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus in parts of Maryland and declined to show cause for the arrest. Taney ruled that the President had no right to suspend habeas corpus because the US Constitution listed that as a power of Congress. Republican newspapers disparaged Taney, and Lincoln refused to obey him. The US Army went on to arrest Baltimore’s police chief, four police commissioners, and prominent citizens for subversion during the riots. Lincoln would extend his suspension of habeas corpus on the rail line to New York City on July 2 and to Bangor, Maine on October 14.
      Also on May 26 Postmaster General Blair announced that the US mail service in southern states would end on May 31. War Secretary Cameron on May 24 had ordered General Butler to retain and employ slaves entering his lines. Jesse Chisholm used the trail named after him to transfer abandoned posts from Indian Territory to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. On May 27 California’s government decided to support the Union.
      Frederick Douglass wrote in his May Monthly magazine “How to End the War” beginning,

To our mind, there is but one easy, short and effectual way
to suppress and put down the desolating war which
the slaveholders and their rebel minions are now waging
against the American Government and its loyal citizens.
Fire must be met with water, darkness with light,
and war for the destruction of liberty
must be met with war for the destruction of slavery.
The simple way, then, to put an end to the savage
and desolating war now waged by the slaveholders,
is to strike down slavery itself, the primal cause of the war.
  Freedom to the slave should now be proclaimed
from the Capitol….
Let the slaves and free colored people be called into service,
and formed into a liberating army, to march into the South
and raise the banner of Emancipation among the slaves.19

Blacks in New York joined a military drill club, but police disbanded them. New York’s Republican Governor Edwin D. Morgan rejected three regiments of Negroes.

US Civil War June-July 1861

      On June 3 the Union offensive began as 3,000 soldiers defeated 800 Virginian troops at Philippi. General Harney had reported that Missouri was being pacified by May 29. Lincoln asked Frank Blair to remove Harney, and on June 11 Confederate General Sterling Price negotiated with Blair and Captain Nathaniel Lyon. Four days later fighting broke out in Lexington, Missouri as that state experienced civil war on June 15. On that day Lyon’s US and Missouri troops occupied Jefferson City, and on the 17th they defeated the Missouri State Guard at Boonville, capturing about 70 men with five killed on each side. After this battle Lyon sent a regiment to occupy Lexington, Missouri.
      On June 10 President Lincoln referred to the 1860 treaty of Saxcoxieville with the Delaware tribe, and he directed the Leavenworth, Pawnee, and Wester Railroad Company to pay the US Treasury $286,742 in gold or silver for land in Kansas to be expended by the Delaware people on agriculture. Also on June 10 War Secretary Cameron appointed Dorothea Dix to organize military hospitals, and General Ben Butler sent 3,500 Union troops from Fort Monroe against Confederates at Big and Little Bethel; but the two Union columns used old maps and shot at each other. Then both sides retreated; 18 Union soldiers were killed, but only one Confederate died. In a special election on June 13 Maryland Unionists won all six House races. One week later Unionists took over five of Kentucky’s six seats.
      On June 8 Virginia had transferred their forces to the Confederacy, and by June 14 they spent nearly $2 million to put 40,000 soldiers in the field. After Confederates had removed the machinery from the arsenal, General Robert Patterson of Pennsylvania led volunteers who regained Harpers Ferry on June 16. General Irvin McDowell commanded the army that was extended 20 miles along the Potomac River and some ten miles into Virginia by June 20. On May 14 William Tecumseh Sherman had accepted command as colonel of the 13th US Infantry, and on June 21 General Scott made Sherman inspector general in Washington and then on the 30th made him a brigade commander under McDowell.
      Preparing and equipping such a large army in such a short time was difficult, and they were not yet ready to march even twenty miles into enemy territory. Lincoln approved Treasury Secretary Chase taking over organizing the levies from War Secretary Cameron, who was trying to reduce the number of regiments because he was having trouble equipping and providing for them. Massachusetts with only 1,250,000 people was raising 17 regiments. The New York legislature in April had authorized organizing 38 regiments for two-year service, but Cameron wanted to limit them to 10 regiments. Lincoln in May suggested 14 regiments for three years, and he told Governor E. D. Morgan they would be in addition to the 38 regiments; Cameron accepted the 38 with two-year men. In 1861 New York would raise 120,000 men in 125 regiments.
      Unionists in western Virginia had been meeting at Wheeling since May 13. The lawyer Francis Pierpont, who had made a fortune working for the B&O Railroad and invested in coal mines, drafted an ordinance for secession from Virginia, and a large majority passed it on May 23. Then at a convention there on June 11 they declared the Richmond government illegal, and on the 19th they reorganized the government and elected Pierpont governor of the restored Virginia. He formed a legislature and collected $40,000 from the US Government from public land sales since 1841. In 50 days they would raise ten regiments. On July 13 voters in western Virginia elected two US Senators and three members of the House.
      After Maryland had elected only unionists to Congress, Governor Hick’s belatedly called out four regiments. On June 20 Kansas Governor Charles L. Robinson began raising military forces to confront pro-South Missourians.
      During the spring and summer of 1861 many people visited the White House that was open from early morning to midnight. Lincoln’s secretary John Hay found it difficult keeping people away from the President because he liked to talk with people who wanted to see him. Lincoln allowed the cabinet officers to run their departments without approval from him or the cabinet, and he often made decisions without consulting the cabinet.
      On June 26 Greeley’s New-York Tribune headline suggested the Nation’s War Cry:

The Rebel Congress Must Not be Allowed
to Meet There on the 20th of July.
By that date the place must be held by the national army.20

By July 1 Lincoln had increased Union forces to at least 186,000 men, and McDowell faced Beauregard with 30,000. News arrived that the Confederates had fortified the Mississippi River and had forces in Tennessee and southeastern Missouri, and that canceled Scott’s strategic plan. On the 2nd Lincoln gave General Scott authority to suspend habeas corpus near military forces between Washington and New York.
      The United States Congress met on July 4. The Senate had 29 Republicans including unionist Andrew Johnson of Tennessee along with 22 Democrats while the House had 107 Republicans, 23 Unionists, and 45 Democrats. The House of Representatives elected Galusha Grow of Pennsylvania as Speaker. He had been David Wilmot’s law partner and had championed the Homestead Act. The assertive Charles Sumner, chairman of the Foreign Affairs committee, was most respected in the Senate. Frank Blair of Missouri led the House Military Affairs committee. Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania was chairman of House Ways and Means. John J. Crittenden of Kentucky came out of retirement to chair the House committee on Foreign Relations. John Breckenridge had gained that Kentucky Senate seat and was a strong voice for southern interests. On July 11 Illinois Senator Trumbull introduced a resolution advising “the immediate movement of the troops, and the occupation of Richmond before the 20th of July” when the Confederate Congress was scheduled to meet.
      President Lincoln in his message to the special session of Congress on July 4 asked them for at least 400,000 men and $400 million. Both houses of Congress approved 500,000 soldiers with 11 regiments added to the regular Army and an increase of the Navy. They also authorized using women nurses in army hospitals, and they assigned an ordained clergyman as chaplain for each regiment. Treasury Secretary Chase estimated they needed $320 million, and he proposed raising $80 million by taxes from the states, tariff duties on sugar, tea, and coffee, and an income tax. The other $250 million would come from treasury notes offered at 7.3% interest.
      On July 9 the USS Massachusetts attacked the uncompleted Fort Twiggs on Ship Island off the Gulf Coast by the state of Mississippi. Confederate forces abandoned the fort. The Union ship came back to take possession of Ship Island on September 17, and they would use it to hold Confederate prisoners of war in Fort Massachusetts.
      Thaddeus Lowe had made a record flight by balloon on April 20 from Cincinnati to Unionville, South Carolina where he was arrested briefly as a Yankee spy. On July 11 Lowe demonstrated his balloon over the White House. Lincoln put him in charge of the Union Army Balloon Corps, and Lowe would fly his balloon during the first battle at Bull Run. Also on July 11 General McClellan led 7,000 troops and in two hours defeated 1,300 Confederates at Rich Mountain in western Virginia, and two days later his army of 20,000 men overwhelmed 4,500 Confederate soldiers at Carrick’s Ford.
      General McDowell was quartered in the former home of Robert E. Lee across the Potomac. On July 16 President Davis told Mary Chestnut that they needed ammunition, but the blockade was starting to keep it out.
      On July 16 General McDowell sent his army of 35,732 across the Potomac, and on the 18th they reached Centerville where they camped until the Battle of Bull Run (Manassas) began on July 21. Each side engaged with about 18,000 men, and at first the Union Army was winning; but by 5 they were retreating, and Johnston’s force of 9,000 men arrived and turned it into a route in which 1,216 Union soldiers went missing. The US Army regulars and marines had more discipline and better officers, and they fought longer than the volunteers. The Confederate General B. E. Bee, before he was mortally wounded, said that General Thomas J. Jackson was “standing like a stone wall against the enemy” on a hilltop, and he became known as “Stonewall Jackson.” He urged his men to use their bayonets and “yell like furies,” initiating the fearsome rebel yell. Sherman noted that the Confederates were not pursuing the fleeing Union soldiers, and he attributed the “disgraceful” retreat to inadequate training. Seward commented, “What went out an army is surging back toward Washington as a disorganized mob.”21
      On July 21 the Union Army had 481 men killed with 1,011 wounded while the Confederates lost 387 killed and had 1,582 wounded. The Union army left much behind and made it back to Washington in one day while the Confederates acquired 28 cannons, 500 muskets, 5,000 rounds of ammunition, horses, wagons, and ambulances. Some Congressmen and ladies in carriages had left Washington to watch the battle and became obstacles during the panicky withdrawal. The medical service was not ready for so many wounded and those suffering from measles, dysentery, and typhoid fever. That night Lincoln sent a telegram to General McClellan in western Virginia ordering him to come to Washington and take command of the Army there. It began raining which continued the next day when the US Congress created military boards to examine officers and remove the unqualified.
      General McClellan bragged about his success in western Virginia even though he faced ill equipped Confederates in friendly country that gave him use of railways. General Jacob D. Cox was an Ohio state senator and observed that McClellan tended to overestimate the enemy and to hold back his force when his subordinate was engaged. The Union was raising 500 regiments. Congress passed the Military Act that authorized the President to appoint generals; state governors chose the next highest officers, and lower officers were elected by the men. Lincoln put General John C. Frémont in command of the Western Department of Missouri.
      On July 24 General Cox led men who defeated Confederates and took over Charleston in western Virginia. In Congress the Crittenden Resolution passed the House and Senate by the 25th and stated,

this war is not waged upon our part
in any spirit of oppression,
nor for any purpose of conquest or subjugation,
nor purpose of overthrowing or interfering with the rights
or established institutions of those States,
but to defend and maintain the supremacy
of the Constitution and to preserve the Union,
with all the dignity, equality, and rights
of the several States unimpaired;
and that as soon as these objects are accomplished
the war ought to cease.22

      When Lincoln came to speak to the soldiers on July 26, General Sherman advised him to discourage cheering, and the President deferred to his opinion. Sherman complained that democracy had prevented order and discipline. General McClellan arrived in Washington on July 27 and found a collection of dispirited regiments; but he began training them to be an efficient fighting machine. He soon would be drilling 50,000 men, but he was reluctant to engage with the enemy. On August 4 he said that he would need about 273,000 men plus 20,000 to defend Washington. Prior to the battle at Bull Run the Union Army had poor food. Afterward they were supplied mostly with bread, pork, and beef, but the Army regulations did not permit green vegetables except by gifts to soldiers or by foraging.
      A Missouri state convention met in Jefferson City on July 22, and on the 31st they elected Hamilton Gamble to replace the pro-South Governor Claiborne Jackson. On July 28 all ten companies of the 7th US Infantry without resisting had surrendered to a Confederate force at St. Augustine Springs in the New Mexico Territory.
      On July 30 General Butler wrote to War Secretary Cameron asking what he should do with 900 escaped slaves who had entered his lines. They included 300 able-bodied men, 175 women, 170 children between 10 and 18 years, and 225 children under 10. He asked several questions including whether he should enforce General McDowell’s order “forbidding all fugitive slaves from coming within his lines or being harbored there.” Butler suggested,

In a loyal state, I would put down a servile insurrection.
In a state of rebellion, I would confiscate
that which was used to oppose my arms,
and take all that property
which constituted the wealth of that state
and furnished the means by which the war is prosecuted,
besides being the cause of the war;
and if, in so doing, it should be objected that
human beings were brought to the free enjoyment
of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,
such objection might not require much consideration.23

US Civil War August-October 1861

      On August 1 Senator Breckenridge criticized Lincoln’s policies for violating the Constitution and civil liberties. He warned that war would ruin the South, North, and West. Col. Edward Baker was there in his uniform and called Breckenridge’s words “brilliant, polished treason,” and he considered it “a grand commentary upon the American Constitution that we permit these words to be uttered.”24
      On August 5 the US Congress passed a tax of 3% on personal incomes over $800 a year that would start in January 1862, and it would be made progressive on July 1 at 3% over $600 and 5% over $10,000. They also authorized Lincoln to enlist sailors into the US Navy for the duration of the war. On the last day before adjourning on August 6 they passed the Confiscation Act to take captured property that was supporting the Confederate cause. They also approved Lyman Trumbull’s amendment to set free any slave who had worked for the Confederate military.
      On August 8 the Confederacy claimed the states of Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, and Delaware in order to raise troops there. On the 14th President Davis advised foreigners they had 40 days to leave the Confederacy.
      On August 16 Lincoln declared the eleven southern states of the Confederacy a “rebellion,” and he prohibited commerce with them. The next day the Departments of Northeastern Virginia, Washington, and the Shenandoah were renamed the “Army of the Potomac,” and McClellan was appointed their commander. The Union Army ordered nurses to be given 40 cents and one ration per day.
      On August 23 Allan Pinkerton, the first head of the Secret Service, arrested Rose O’Neal Greenhow for being a Confederate spy in Washington for having aided the their victory in the first battle at Bull Run. She managed to send more messages during her imprisonment until she was released and deported to the South on 31 May 1862 when she agreed to stay in the Confederacy.
      General Lyon had 5,500 soldiers camped in Springfield, Missouri since July, and on August 10 his two columns attacked about 12,000 Confederate forces that included the Missouri Militia Guard at the battle of Wilson’s Creek near Springfield; but Lyon was killed in the Union defeat with 285 killed, 873 wounded, and 186 missing compared to Confederate losses of 277 dead, 945 wounded, and 10 or more missing. General James Lane’s Kansas Brigade of about 900 men ambushed about 8,000 Militia Guard near the border at Dry Wood Creek on September 2; but only 7 men were killed before Lane led a retreat to Fort Scott.
      Seven Union warships carried 935 troops led by General Butler, and on the coast of North Carolina on August 28 and 29 they captured Fort Hatteras and 691 Confederates.
      On August 31 the Confederacy ranked their top generals based on the dates of commission in this order: Samuel Cooper, Albert Sidney Johnston, Robert E. Lee, Joseph E. Johnston, and P. G. T. Beauregard.
      On September 3 a Confederate force under General Gideon Pillow invaded Kentucky heading for Columbus on the Mississippi River, and the next day Confederate General Polk’s troops occupied Columbus. Having been appointed commander in southeast Missouri, General Grant arrived at Cairo, Illinois on September 2. After his forces took an overnight steamboat trip, they arrived in the  morning on the 6th in Paducah, Kentucky. That day Grant ordered “special care and precaution that no harm is done to inoffensive citizens,” and he proclaimed that he would protect them until they could defend themselves. Union General Charles F. Smith commanded Western Kentucky, and on the 16th his men took over Smithland at the junction of the Ohio and Cumberland rivers. The new Kentucky legislature had just met with Unionists becoming 27 of 38 senators and 74 of 100 in the House, and they directed Governor Magoffin to use the militia to “drive out the invaders” and to ask for protection from the United States.
      General Frémont had declared martial law in St. Louis on August 14. On the 30th he extended it to Missouri with death for armed Confederates caught behind Union lines, and he authorized confiscating Confederates’ property and freeing their slaves. On September 2 Lincoln wrote to Frémont advising him to follow the new law limiting confiscating to property and slaves used in the Confederate war effort. He asked him not to shoot a prisoner of war without getting the President’s consent because it could cause Confederates to “shoot our best man in their hands in retaliation; and so, man for man, indefinitely.”25
      Frémont declined to change his policy unless he got a direct order, and his wife Bessie went to Washington to plead with the President, arrogantly implying that her husband was more capable than Lincoln. She argued that a war of emancipation would more likely prevent European powers from recognizing the Confederacy. Lincoln cancelled Frémont’s emancipation order on September 11. He found that Frémont was criticized for many things. He had spent about $12 million on steamboats and other items and had lavish parties in his mansion at St. Louis. On September 13 a Confederate army besieged Lexington, Missouri. Frémont had 38,000 soldiers in St. Louis but did not relieve Mulligan’s Irish Guard. After three days of fighting in which only 66 men lost their lives about 3,000 Union infantry surrendered on the 20th. His wife Bessie persuaded Frémont to have the prominent Frank Blair arrested for insubordination on the 16th. Lincoln eventually sent General Curtis with an order dismissing Frémont who managed to avoid the order until November 1 when he was replaced by the scholarly General Henry Halleck in the Missouri Department which included Arkansas, Illinois, and western Kentucky to the Cumberland River. Halleck had published in 1846 Elements of Military Art and Science which he based on the ideas of Antoine Henry Jomini, and he also translated Jomini’s Life of Napoleon. Halleck published International Law: Or, Rules Regulating the Intercourse of States in Peace and War in 1861.
      On September 10 President Davis appointed his former fellow officer Albert Sidney Johnston commander of the Confederates army in six western states, but he had only 40,000 troops to go up against 90,000 Union soldiers. He ordered General Simon Buckner to fortify Bowling Green. Confederates burned a railroad bridge 30 miles from Louisville, but General Sherman sent a thousand men to repair the bridge. On October 1 he had less than 5,000 inexperienced men, and Sidney Johnston in October complained he had no gunpowder for a campaign. General Robert E. Lee led a Confederate army of 5,000 men into western Virginia, and they fought a Union force of 3,000 at Cheat Mountain on September 12-15; but after confusion and poor communication Lee’s army retreated.
      President Lincoln on August 12 had proclaimed “a day of public humiliation, prayer and fasting” for the last Thursday in September to ask for “a speedy restoration of peace.”26 On that national fast day R. H. Weller in his sermon at Christ Church in St. Joseph, Missouri suggested North and South had equal guilt, saying,

Is it not repetition of the sad calamity that befell
Israel of old—a disrupted country, with rival capitals,
and the hands of brethren embued in brethrens’ blood?...
Our practice has given the lie to our pretensions,
and practically we are a nation of infidels….
Let us strive to lay aside passion and prejudice—
to hold fast to charity—to covet the good things
of God’s blessing, the things which make for peace.27

      On September 18 Lincoln had one third of Maryland’s bicameral General Assembly arrested to prevent them from voting for secession or interfering in the war.
      On September 25 Navy Secretary Welles issued an order to enlist “persons of color” under the same regulations as others. On October 1 the War Department organized the Department of New England to recruit troops for a New Orleans expedition led by General Butler. General Robert Anderson of Sumter fame was ill, and on October 8 General William T. Sherman was promoted to command the Cumberland Department for one month until General Halleck replaced him with General Buell.
      The Confederate General Albert Pike was put in charge of the Indian Territory, and on August 12 he negotiated a treaty with several tribes including Comanches, Shawnees, and Delawares who had leased land from the Choctaws and Chickasaws. On October 4 the Confederacy made treaties with the Shawnee and Seneca Indians and three days later with the Cherokees. The nations of the Cherokees, Creeks, Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Seminoles were neutral, but on November 22 the Confederacy claimed authority over them in the Indian Territory north of Texas and west of Arkansas.
      Western Union completed its transcontinental telegraph when Denver was connected to Sacramento, California on October 21. On that day in the battle at Ball’s Bluff near Leesburg, Virginia 1,709 Confederates ambushed and defeated a Union force of 1,720 men, and Lincoln’s friend, General Edward Baker, was killed. The Union forces suffered more casualties and had 714 missing compared to only 2 Confederates.
      In western Virginia the Wheeling Convention had called for an election on statehood for West Virginia, and on October 24 there were 18,408 votes for it and only 781 against. A constitutional convention met in November, and they proposed a constitution on the 26th.
      Republican Senators Trumbull of Illinois, Chandler of Michigan, and Wade of Ohio wanted action and met with Lincoln, Seward, and General McClellan at Montgomery Blair’s house for three hours on October 26. McClellan persuaded them that General Scott was the main obstacle.
      On October 29 a fleet of 77 Federal ships sailed from Fort Monroe to Port Royal, South Carolina with about 16,000 troops. Two days later a storm scattered them and sank the transport Governor, but the USS Sabine rescued the marines. Also on October 31 secessionists from Missouri’s legislature met at Neosho and voted to join the Confederate States.

US Civil War November-December 1861

      The 75-year-old General Scott resigned on November 1 and was replaced by his critic, 34-year-old George McClellan. This change increased the calls for action, but then McClellan said he needed 300,000 troops. His chief of secret service, Allan Pinkerton, had estimated on October 4 that the Confederate army in Virginia had about 126,600 men, and on November 15 he changed that to 116,430.
      Ulysses S. Grant had fought in several major battles during the Mexican War, and on June 14 Illinois Governor Yates promoted him to colonel and put him in command of the “Hellions” in the 21st Illinois Infantry Regiment. They were sent to Missouri, and on August 5 Grant was promoted to Brigadier General. Frémont made Grant commander of Southeastern Missouri, and he took command at Cairo, Illinois on September 2. Frémont in October led a force of more than 20,000 men who took over Springfield, Missouri from the Confederates who after a battle fled. Frémont sent Grant with 3,114 men to the battle at Belmont, Missouri, and on November 7 both sides had over 600 killed, wounded, or captured.
      On November 7 the Union fleet led by Commodore Samuel Du Pont reached Port Royal Sound and attacked Fort Walker and Fort Beauregard with cannons. General Thomas Sherman led 12,000 troops who after four hours of fighting with only three casualties occupied Hilton Head and Port Royal, the best harbor on the east coast which the Union held for the rest of the war. On the 9th they captured Beaufort, South Carolina. They took over the Broad River and blocked transportation between Charleston and Savannah. Planters began burning their cotton to prevent the North from getting it. Union forces also controlled the Sea Islands that had 10,000 slaves.
      On November 8 Union Captain Wilkes, following an order from Secretary of State Seward, stopped and searched the British ship Trent and arrested the Confederate commissioners James Mason and John Slidell who were going to England. The British condemned this violation of international law and demanded reparation. Seward had sent Thurlow Weed as an unofficial representative to England, and he told people that Seward was trying to provoke a war with England so that the US could invade Canada. On the 16th the news arrived, and Senator Sumner and Postmaster Blair urged Lincoln to release Mason and Slidell; but on November 24 they were imprisoned at Fort Warren in Boston harbor. Three days later the Trent reached England, and in December 11,000 British troops boarded ships for Canada. On the 19th the British government declared the seizure of diplomats “an affront to the national honor,” and they demanded the prisoners be freed. The British delegation prepared to leave Washington. Seward actually realized that the US could not afford to go to war against England who would ally with the Confederacy. He recalled how the Secretary of State James Madison had demanded the British return seized contraband from American ships, and he agreed to turn the two envoys over to the British Ambassador Lyons. Lincoln invited the advice of Senator Sumner who argued that the friendly settling of the dispute would lessen the North’s problems with the British. After a dinner party Lincoln finally realized the diplomatic logic and gave up the prisoners.
      On November 18 a convention at Russellville, Kentucky formed a Confederate government, and two days later another convention at Hatteras, North Carolina challenged that and set up a Union government for Kentucky. Missouri and North Carolina also had two governments. On the 21st President Davis transferred Attorney General Judah Benjamin to Secretary of War, and he made General Braxton Bragg the Attorney General.
      General McClellan on November 20 exhibited his army near Washington with 100,000 troops marching with banners as bands played. One week later Senator Sumner at a mass meeting at Cooper Institute in New York praised Frémont before a mass meeting that passed resolutions defending the general and his emancipating slaves.
      The US Congress since July had been investigating War Secretary Cameron for corruption that enabled his cronies to make money on contracts and for incompetence that endangered the lives of soldiers. Cameron released his report on October 9 before showing it to Lincoln. Cameron with Col. John Cochrane visited Springfield, Massachusetts in November, and they talked to citizens about arming slaves “for the liberty of the human race.” On the 25th Washington correspondents began writing that Cameron advocated the arming of slaves. Cameron consulted with the War Department’s attorney Edwin Stanton, and he approved the legality. Lincoln read Cameron’s annual report on December 1 and insisted that he recall copies and suppress the paragraph. At that time the President did not consider arming seized slaves “an indispensable necessity.” Postmaster General Blair telegraphed postmasters to return the packages; but many got through, and it was published by the Cincinnati Gazette, the New York Tribune, and others.
      Navy Secretary Welles believed that the escaped slaves should be allowed “to seek a livelihood,” and he was willing to resign over the issue; but Lincoln dropped his opposition to that Navy report.
      The Provisional Confederate Congress set the first Wednesday in November for CSA elections; but there were no conventions, and little or no rallies, campaigning, or opposition candidates especially to President Davis and Vice President Stephens. Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown had criticized Davis, but on November 6 Davis and Stephens were easily elected to six-year terms. Democrats and Whigs generally praised each other. The chief political difference was between secessionists and cooperators. About three-fifths of the races were won by secessionists and Democrats.
      On December 2 Lincoln authorized suspending habeas corpus in the Missouri Department. Navy Secretary Welles reported that they now had 264 ships with 22,000 seamen and that they planned to spend $43,615,552 in the current fiscal year.
      On December 3 Lincoln in his first annual message to Congress urged the building of a railroad to connect the loyal regions of eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina to Kentucky. He reported a surplus of $2,257,066 for the fiscal year that ended in June 1861 and of $4,292,776 for the first quarter of the next fiscal year. He noted that “the Indian country south of Kansas is in the possession of insurgents from Texas and Arkansas,” and the tribes had been disturbed in the New Mexico Territory. He suggested forming a Department of Agriculture with a statistical bureau, and he announced that the Colorado, Dakota, and Nevada Territories had been organized with civil administration. In regard to the war he said,

In considering the policy to be adopted
for suppressing the insurrection,
I have been anxious and careful that the inevitable conflict
for this purpose shall not degenerate
into a violent and remorseless revolutionary struggle.
I have therefore in every case thought it proper
to keep the integrity of the Union prominent
as the primary object of the contest on our part,
leaving all questions
which are not of vital military importance
to the more deliberate action of the legislature.28

Lincoln mentioned the old solution of African colonization, and this irritated abolitionists such as Frederick Douglass who in May had suggested how effective using black soldiers would be against southerners terrified of black rebellions, writing,

Oh! that this Government would only now
be as true to liberty as the rebels,
who are attempting to batter it down, are true to slavery.
We have no hesitation in saying that
ten thousand black soldiers might be raised
in the next thirty days to march upon the South.
One black regiment alone would be, in such a war,
the full equal of two white ones.
The very fact of color in this case
would be more terrible than powder and balls.
The slaves would learn more as to the nature of the conflict
from the presence of one such regiment,
than from a thousand preachers.29

      On December 4 the House of Representatives refused to reaffirm the Crittenden Resolution. The US Senate unanimously expelled Breckenridge who had suggested peaceful solutions to no avail and then had joined the Confederate Army in November. He was given a command in Kentucky over what was called the “Orphan Brigade.” On the 9th the Congress appointed Senator Benjamin Wade of Ohio as chairman of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War. A few days later they reported that the Army of the Potomac had equipped about 134,000 infantry, 10,000 cavalry, and 10,350 artillery under 6,850 officers.
      In the fall people had formed the Arkansas Peace Society. Many were investigated for not serving in the military, and Governor Henry Rector had 117 men arrested in late November. They were given the choice to enlist in the Confederate Army or face trial, and 15 chose the latter and were charged with treason. In December a member of the legislature and 40 others from the Peace Society joined the Union Army at Rollo, Missouri. Rector wrote to President Davis that the Peace Society had about 1,700 members, but he only knew the names of 240.
      On December 10 the Confederacy admitted Kentucky as their 13th state. On the 11th the Cincinnati Commercial ran the headline GENERAL WILLIAM T. SHERMAN INSANE, but General Sherman blamed it on a reporter he had excluded from his camp. General Halleck realized that Sherman was exhausted from command responsibilities and on the 23rd sent him to St. Louis where he could be with his wife. Sherman, like several high-level commanders on both sides, had a tendency to overestimate the enemies’ troops while underestimating their own.
      On December 20 England shipped 8,000 troops to Canada. By Christmas Day the Army of the Potomac had nearly 220,000 men while Johnston’s Confederate Army had only 57,337 with about 41,000 of them at Manassas. The Confederate Congress approved a $50 bounty and a 60-day furlough to one-year soldiers who re-enlisted, and they could join new regiments and elect their own officers; but this policy would only last about three months.
      The Lincoln government finally decided to release the Confederate envoys Mason and Slidell on December 26. On that day the Union declared martial law in St. Louis and on all railways in Missouri. New York banks stopped making specie payments on the 28th, and two days later the United States banks stopped redeeming paper money with metal coins, a policy that continued until 1879.
      In 1861 1,841,600 bales of cotton were exported from the United States to Britain, but in 1862 this would fall precipitously to only 72,000 bales.


1. Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume IV, p. 263.
2. Ibid., p. 266.
3. Ibid., p. 270.
4. Ibid., p. 271.
5. Ibid.
6. Quoted in The Confederate Republic: A Revolution Against Politics by George C. Rable, p. 53.
7. Quoted in Upon the Altar of the Nation: A Moral History of the American Civil War by Harry S. Stout, p. 30.
8. Cong. Globe 36th Cong. 2d Sess., p. 1519 quoted in The War for the Union Volume 1 by Allan Nevins, p. 54-55.
9. Adams, MS Diary quoted in The War for the Union Volume 1, p. 72.
10. Quoted in Upon the Altar of the Nation, p. 469 note 7.
11. Ibid., p. 30-31.
12. Quoted in Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era by James L. McPherson, p. 274.
13. The Annals of America, Volume 9 1858-1865: The Crisis of the Union, p. 258.
14. Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume IV, p. 342.
15. Quoted in Battle Cry of Freedom, p. 277.
16. The Annals of America, Volume 9, p. 260-268.
17. Quoted in Battle Cry of Freedom, p. 310.
18. Quoted in Upon the Altar of the Nation, p. 32.
19. The Civil War: The First Year Told by Those Who Lived It ed. Brooks D. Simpson et al, p. 333, 334.
20. Quoted in Battle Cry of Freedom, p. 334.
21. Quoted in Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin, p. 373.
22. Messages and Papers of the Presidents 1789-1908 ed. James D. Richardson, Volume 6, p. 430.
23. The Annals of America, Volume 9, p. 278.
24. Quoted in The War for the Union Volume 1, p. 186.
25. Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume IV, p. 506.
26. Ibid., p. 482.
27. Two Firebrands by Weller, p. 5, 8, 11.
28. Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Vol. V, p. 48-49.
29. Douglass’ Monthly May 1861, The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass by Philip S. Foner, Volume III, p. 95.

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