Monday, September 19, 2011

September 18, 1861 (Thursday): Guests of the Government

Kemp Hall, Frederick, Maryland

Fort Monroe, September 18, 1861.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United States.

SIR: The bearer of this letter, Major Cannon, has been acting on my staff as aide-de-camp for about two weeks. From his ability and opportunity for information he has become familiar with many important questions relating to this department and will be able to explain various circumstances connected with it that concern the public service and for this purpose he goes by my direction to Washington.

The state prisoners arrested in Baltimore (the mayor and others) have been here for several days in close custody without any direct authority or instructions from the Government, the only official communication to me on this subject being an extract from a letter addressed to General Dix and sent me by the letter. I have written to the Secretary of War in regard to them but have received no reply. Major Cannon can explain fully their condition and the difficulty I have in keeping them safety from the crowded state of the fort without injury to their health from insufficient air and ventilation.

With considerations of high respect, I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Series II., Vol. 1, Page 682

On September 12 General Banks, at the direction of the administration, arrested several members of the Maryland State Legislature, which was about to convene at Kemp Hall in Frederick.  Their crime was to be suspected of harboring Southern sympathies and possibly voting to secede from the Union, which there is much doubt could have been accomplished in any case.  Here General Wool worries about the living conditions of the prisoners, writing directly to the President.  Instead, Secretary Seward would respond, allowing the men some additional freedom within the confines of the prisoners but not allowing them visitors except as approved and with the presence of a commissioned officer.

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