Sunday, May 1, 2011

May 1, 1861 (Wednesday): Preparing to Defend Washington

Postage stamp of Scott issued in 1870.

                                         Washington, May 1, 1861
Major-General Patterson, U.S.A. Commanding, &c:
  SIR: I am glad to learn that Brigadier-General Butler has re-enforced Fort McHenry, and hope that Maj. W. W. Morris may be soon sent there to command.
   We still need eight or nine additional regiments of volunteers to give to this capital a reasonable security against a threatened attack.  All the troops which have arrived here are, with the exception of the Seventh New York Regiment, without camp equipage, and several regiments without accouterments.
   In those essentials, we are here, and everywhere else, most deficient.
   With high respect, yours, very respectfully.
                                   WINFIELD SCOTT

The position of Washington at the commencement of hostilities was precarious.  With Virginia across the river, and southeastern Maryland full of Southern sympathizers, the first task at hand for the 75 year old Scott, was to secure lines of communication with the North and prepare for a feared invasion from Virginia.  Patterson, who he writes to here, was a regular army officer who commanded forces to the west of the capital.  In 1862 he would die under peculiar circumstances in camp, through what was termed the accidental discharge of his own pistol.

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