Saturday, May 7, 2011

May 3, 1861 (Friday): Vexing Baltimore

Secretary of War Simon Cameron

Washington, May 3, 1861.

John Tucker:
  The administration cannot afford to temporize with Baltimore.  They (the people of Baltimore and Maryland at large) must agree to restore the property they have destroyed, and make reparation for damages before we can open communication by their city.  They must also agree that the Federal Government shall have the absolute right to move troops through their city, or quarter them in it or any part of the State of Maryland.  Northern sentiment on this question is overwhelming and just in every respect.  In a very few days Baltimore will be at work reconstructing the works destroyed by authority under color of mob violence.  In the mean time see Felton, perfect the line via Annapolis, which will be useful in the future, even after route through Baltimore is opened.  The large fleet of vessels should be dispensed with as rapidly as our wants of transportation will admit.
    Yours, respectfully,
Secretary of War

Yet another letter from the administration to a railroad official.  Tucker, a railroad official from Philadelphia would shortly receive an appointment from the Secretary of War as general agent of transportation.  He would later become an assistant secretary of war.  Here you see again how critical passage through Baltimore was toward the early organization of an effective defense of Union interests on the Virginia front.  The Union was in the unique position of having its capitol city forward of a city (Baltimore) with substantial anti-government sentiment.  Securing Baltimore and bringing opposition in the city to heel occupied much attention early in the war.

No comments:

Post a Comment