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ratified by the people. At the opening of the convention in Richmond, a majority of its members were decidedly opposed to the secession of their state; but the conspirators, stopping short at nothing, resorted to secret sessions, and to deriding the weaker members, bullying the timid, cajoling the wavering, and firing southern pride and passion in every possible way; so that, three days after the bombardment of Fort Sumter, they gained their purpose, and Virginia was lost.* Although the law required the vote of the people before secession could be ratified, there was no waiting, no scruple on the part of the rebels. "For mutual defence," as Mr. Mason, late Senator, wrote, May 16th, "immediately after the ordinance of secession passed, a treaty, or ' military league' was formed by the convention, in the name of the people of Virginia, with the Confederate States of the South, by which the latter were bound to march to the aid of our state, against the invasion of the Federal Government. And we have now in Virginia, at Harper's Ferry, and at Norfolk, in face of the common foe, several thousand of the gallant sons of South Carolina, of Alabama, of Louisiana, Georgia, and Mississippi, who hastened to fulfil the covenant they made, and are ready and eager to lay down their lives, side bv side, with our sons in defence of the soil of Virginia."
Everything was assumed as being complete. Members of the Confederate
* The rote, at the last, was 88 to 53; a majority increased both by the means above spoken of, and by the provision noted on a previous page (see vol. iii. 560,) that Virginia, unless she joined the rebels, would be :ut off entirely from a market for her slaves.
Congress were appointed; troops were sent into the state from further south; and when the 23d of May arrived, the voting was only to support a foregone conclusion; union men were not safe in casting their suffrages; of course, secession was carried, the actual vote being 128,884 for secession, to 32,134 against. Virginia, mad and foolish, joined the foes of law and order; and bitterly did she afterwards find occasion to repent of her action*
As we have said above, there was no waiting, no delay in entering upon active measures of hostility. Within twenty-four hours after the convention had done its work, not only were the Custom House and Post Office at Richmond seized upon, but an attack on the United States arsenal at Harper's Ferry was made. The possession of this latter was of prime importance to the rebels. Situated at the junction of the Shenandoah and Potomac, some sixty miles above Washington, it constitutes the outer gate to the great valley of Virginia, and offers the readiest mode of approach from the east to Winchester and the inner region. In addition to the armory with its weapons of war, it contained a large number of
* "The second secessionary movement" as the rebels termed it, which was begun by Virginia, added three other states to the confederacy. Tennessee seceded May 6th, 1861; Arkansas, May 18th; North Carolina, May 21st. Thus, eleven states were arrayed in hostile attitude against the Constitution and laws. (See note, vol. iii. p. 556.) In regard to Tennessee, however, it may here be stated, that she was never carried into the position of rebellion by the will of the majority of her people. On the contrary, it was only by the audacity and unscrupulousness of disunionists, that the secession act was forced upon the people. Andrew Johnson was appointed military governor, March 4th, 1862, and in September, 1863, the rebel government was quashed entirely, 1861.
VIRGINIA FORCED INTO SECESSION.
shops for the manufacture of arms. The arsenal was, at the time, in the charge of about forty riflemen, under command of Lieutenant Jones, who was instructed, in case of attack, not to surrender, but to destroy the works. Receiving information that bands of state militia were prepared to seize upon the arsenal, Lieut. Jones caused all the arms, 6ome 15,000 in number, to be heaped up ready to be burned. When, on the night of the 18th of April, the invaders approached, the trains were fired, and in three minutes the buildings were in flames, and nearly every thing was destroyed. Lieut. Jones escaped with his men by the bridge leading into Maryland, and reached Carlisle barracks in Pennsylvania the next afternoon. For this good service he was duly thanked and promoted.
Simultaneously with this attack on Harper's Ferry, the rebels took active measures to get possession of the Navy Yard at Norfolk. This large and very raluable depot, with its vast stores of provisions and materials for naval purposes, its shops and manufactures, was situated at Gosport, adjoining Portsmouth, on the Elizabeth River, opposite Norfolk. It covered an area of threequarters of a mile in length and a quarter in breadth, and it had a drydock of granite, with ship-houses, naval hospital, etc. There were twelve vessels in the yard, but most of them were dismantled and in ordinary. The Merrimac, a first class frigate of forty guns, was the most important of all. Her machinery needed repair, and steps had been taken to put her in order as speed
ily as possible. On the 17th, she was ready to be moved, and yet Commodore McCauley refused to allow her departure. His excuse was, paltry enough too, that he relied on the honor and veracity of his junior officers, who, by the way, when they had got through at Norfolk, coolly resigned and went over to secession. Commodore Paulding waa sent with the Pawnee, and some Massachusetts troops, on the 20th of April, to save what he could and destroy the remainder. When he arrived, he found that the powder magazine had fallen into the hands of the insurgents, and that the ships were scuttled and sinking. Commodore Paulding had them set on fire, and destroying as much oi the public property as was possible, he took the U. S. ship Cumberland in tow. and sailed down the river.* By a strange fatuity of the government, in not making proper provision in order to save public property from the hands of thieves and robbers, the confederates gained 2,000 pieces of heavy ordnance, 300 of the guns being of the Dahlgren pattern, and in stores, furniture, etc., property to the amount of $10,000,000.+
* Mr. Pollard, of Richmond, with various flourishes of rhetoric, terms what was done by order of the government, "acts of ruthless vandalism," and winds up his paragraph, giving an account of the matter, in these words: "In the midst of the brilliance of the scene (i. e., the conflagration of the ships, etc.) the Pawnee with the Cumberland in tow, stole like a guilty thing through the harbor, fleeing from the destruction they had been sent to accomplish."—" First Year of the War," pp. 65, 66.
f The Senate committee (April 18th, 1862) speaks of this whole matter with very great and deserved severity. The hope of good and true men at Norfolk, who greeted the arrival of the Pawnee with cheer on cheer, " was cruelly disappointed by the hasty attempt to destroy the yard; and the government afforded the loyal men at Norfolk—as indeed every where else at
It was a painful, mortifying event, and rendered all the more so by its crippling the government, strengthening the secessionists, prolonging the contest, and giving the enemy so abundant ground of rejoicing. It was bad enough to meet with losses such as those just named; but to have the guns stolen from us turned against us, in Virginia, North Carolina and the West, was particularly aggravating. Mr. W. H. Peters, a person appointed by the governor of Virginia to make an inventory of t he property acquired by seizing upon what belonged to the government, illustrates clearly the position of affairs on this subject. He writes in this strain :— "I had proposed some remarks upon the vast importance to Virginia, and to the entire South, of the timely acquisition of this extensive naval depot, with its immense supplies of munitions of war, and to notice briefly the damaging effects of its loss to the government at Washington; but I deem it unnecessary, since the presence at almost every exposed point on the whole southern coast, and at numerous inland intrenched camps in the several states, of heavy pieces of ordnance, with their equipments and fixed ammunition, all supplied from this establishment, fully attests the one; while the unwillingness of the enemy to attempt demonstrations at any point, from which he is obviously deterred by the knowledge of its wellfortified condition, abundantly proves the other—especially when it is consid
that time—every possible reason for the conviction that the rebellion was the winning side, and that devotion to the government could end only in defeat, \oaa, and death."
ered that both he and we are wholly indebted for our means of resistance to his loss and our acquisition of the Gosport Navy Yard." *
For some time past, the hot-bloods of the South had been crying out for an attack upon Washington. Its capture, they thought, would be no difficult matter, and its importance to them, as giving them a sort of credit in the eyes of the world, they valued very highly. Various and alarming reports came up from all quarters of the seceded states, and the newspapers, as well as the speechifying demagogues, urged an immediate advance upon the capital. "The capture of Washington city,'' said a Richmond paper, April 23d, " is perfectly within the power of Virginia and Maryland, if Virginia will only make the effort by her constituted authority; nor is there a single moment to lose. The entire population pant for the onset. There was never half the unanimity among the people before, nor a tithe of the zeal upon any subject that is now manifested to take Washington and drive from it every Black Republican who is a dweller there. From the mountain tops and valleys to the shores of the sea, there is one wild shout of fierce resolve to capture Washington city at all and every human hazard. The filthy cage of unclean birds must and will assuredly be purified by fire. The people are determined upon it. and are clamorous for a leader to conduct them to the onslaught. That leader will assuredly rise, aye, and that right speedily."
Doubtless, from what is now known
* See Rickmo.id Enquirer, February 4th, 1862.
of the defenceless condition of Washington at the time, it is quite possible that the rebels might have seized upon the city. Happily, they did not make the attempt, and the government was roused to provide for the emergency.
On the 18th of April, a body of troops, about 500 in number, arrived from Pennsylvania, unarmed, it is true, but ready to take their places at the post of danger. A few days brought troops from Massachusetts and New York, and in a few weeks, under the patriotic exertions and energy of the venerable General Scott, Washington was placed in a position which rendered it safe against rebel assault.
It was not, however, without toil and exposure to outrage and insult that this result was accomplished. Maryland, one of the slave states, and having among its population many ardent sympathizers with secession and its excesses, was so situated as to make it necessary to march the troops through her territory in order to reach the capital. Baltimore, through which the great line of railroad communication between the North and South passed, was a city of not too good reputation, where political questions and discords were concerned; and there were in this city not a few disorderly and unscrupulous characters, who were ready to commit outrage and violence to any extent, when urged on by passion and self-interest. This was made evident by the scandalous riot of the 19th of April, in Baltimore, the particulars of which we put on record, not so much because of any importance in the riot itself, as to show forth the detestable spirit existing
at the time, and the calm, determined manner in which it was met by the loyal men of Massachusetts. On the 18th of April, the Sixth Massachusetts regiment passed through New York, where it was warmly greeted and cheered onward in its noble work in defence of the common capital of the Union. It reached Philadelphia the same day, and the next morninsr was forwarded to Baltimore. The cars reached the depot, on the northern side of the city, about ten o'clock, and the troops expected to pass without difficulty in the horse-cars to the station, where they were to embark for Washington. But a crowd was found awaiting them, which, like all crowds under excitement, needed but to be set in motion, in order to proceed to any extreme. Hootings, jeerings, abusive epithets were freely employed; but these were comparatively hannless, and the troops regarded them with silent contempt. In a little while, stones and other missiles were used, and the leaders of the mob exulted in witnessing the patience with which these too were received. Some of the cars were at last got through, but four companies yet remained in the rear cars. Soon it became known that the rails were blocked, and passage was no longer practicable. In the emergency, the Massachusetts men determined to proceed on foot and join their companions at the depot. They formed in close order, and started; when immediately the mob, with terrible threats and denunciations, began anew the assault with brickbats and stones. Not content with this, shpts were fired at them from the streets and houses; whereupon the commanding
officer ordered his men to protect themselves and return the fire. Amid this shocking and outrageous attack, the troops fought their weary way for more than a mile, and finally rejoined their comrades. Three of the soldiers were killed and eight wounded; eleveu of the Baltimorians were killed, and a large number wounded. Other troops from Pennsylvania, being without arms, after a furious assault upon them by the populace, were finally sent back in the cars to Philadelphia.
Law and order, for the time, seemed to be lost. Mayor Brown aud police marshal Kane, were virtually helpless, as well as in sympathy with the rebels, and the city to all appearance was given aver to mob law and unutterable disgrace. The gun shops of the city were plundered at night, and the city authorities, under an impression of its necessity, and also its helpfulness to the cause of secession, the same night issued an order for the destruction of the railroad bridges on the northern routes, as the only means of impeding the arrival of the Pennsylvania troops on their way, and preventing a repetition of the conflict of the day; and the order was promptly executed. The greatest excitement and apprehension prevailed throughout the city. The most violent secession sympathies were openly avowed, the flag of the Confederate States was seen in all directions, and the glorious Stars and Stripes were shamefully insulted. No more troops, this was their determination, should pass through their city.*
On the afternoon of this same 19th of April, the gallant Seventh Regiment of New York, a regiment which stands high in popular favor in the Empire City, set out on its way to "Washington. They were aware of what their countrymen from Massachusetts had just met with in Baltimore; but they faltered not; they were prepared to go through whatever was before them. The enthusiasm of the city, as they departed, was raised to its highest pitch, although no man knew how soon that noble band of soldiers would meet with deadly enemies in their path. On reaching Philadelphia, and finding it impossible to go by way of Baltimore, the seventh embarked in the steamer Boston, to find their way to Washington by water. At Annapolis, thirty miles south of Baltimore, they found General Butler with the Eighth Massachusetts regiment. He had, on the 20th of April, reached Perrysville, on the Susquehanna, when ascertaining that the bridges were burned and that there were no cars to proceed with, he seized the railroad ferry steamboat Maryland, and early the next morning arrived at Annapolis. The seventh joined the troops under Gen. Butler,
* " Baltimore was a secession voleano in full eruption; while the count <"i south of that city were overwhelm
ingly in sympathy with the slaveholders rebellion, and their few determined Unionists completely overawed and silenced. The counties near Baltimore, between that city and the Susquehanna, wero actively co-operating with the rebellion, or terrified into dumb submission to its b hests. The (Treat populous counties of Frederick, Washington, and Alleghany, composing Western Maryland—having few slaves—were preponderantly loyal; but they were overawed and paralyzed by the attitude of the rest of the state, and still more by the large force of rebel Virginians—said to be 5,000 strong—who had been suddenly pushed forward to Harper's Ferry, and threatened Western Maryland from that commanding jjosition."—Groeley's : American Conflict," vol. i., p. 468