Wednesday, November 2, 2011

November 3, 1861 (Saturday): A Secession Barbeque

General Joseph Hooker
Camp Baker, Lower Potomac, Maryland, November 3, 1861.
Brigadier General S. WILLIAMS, Asst. Adjt. General of the Army:
    GENERAL: I have to acknowledge three communications from the headquarters of the Army of the 2nd instant.* I had previously given directions for four companies of the Indiana cavalry to hold themselves in readiness to march to various points in the Peninsula at which the polls will be opened on the 6th instant, in order to preserve quiet and good order, and to suppress any attempt at coercion or intimidation on the part of the secession leaders. I had considered this force, in connection with the regiments stationed at Pomonkey, Hilltop, and Port Tobacco, sufficient to accomplish this object throughout the length and breadth of Lower Maryland. A solitary troops of cavalry can march without molestation and execute any order with which it may be charged through Southern Maryland. The population is sparse at best, but at the present time no doubt but that a majority of the young men of the country are with the rebel troops and those remaining are filled with terror. They have no arms and no heart for resistance, however much they may desire it.
   The vote polled will be a very small one in the whole district lying south of Bladensburg. Perhaps I am at fault in not having communicated this information earlier. Of parties who have returned from Virginia to influence the election I have heard of but one, and he a rebel officer. I heard of him at Pomonkey, and sent for him at once, and my scouts are still in his pursuit. By my last advices he was concealed in the neighborhood of Good Hope.
    The most noisy resident rebel is Perry Davis, a tavern-keeper at Port Tobacco, and the secession candidate for the legislature. I learn he has been stumping the district and filling the heads of his listeners with his secession heresies. I shall give directions for him to be arrested to-day and forwarded to me.
I am informed that a secession barbecue will be given at what is called White House Tavern on election day, at which I shall take the liberty to invite a full company of Indiana cavalry.
    Lieutenant-Colonel Getty informs me by report to-day that a schooner passed down under sail without injury, although thirty-two shots were fired at her from seven batteries. These batteries are established to Sandy Point. Most of the guns are planted to throw shot diagonally across the river.
    Your instructions in regard to the telegraphic people had been anticipated. I am informed that the line will be completed to-morrow or next day, should the weather continue favorable.
    Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Brigadier-General, Commanding Division. 

*Not found.

Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 5, Part 1, Page 640.

The elections of 1861 included the only Confederate presidential election.  Voters on November 6 cast ballots for electors who would ultimately elect Jefferson Davis President and Alexander Stephens Vice-President.  Both were unopposed.  Perry Davis was, in fact, arrested on Hooker's orders.  Davis assured Hooker statements he made while campaigning were made in a secession district, and in case of his being elected he would vote against the ordinance for secession if an opportunity presented itself.  Given the assurance he was that variety of politician who had no intention of voting in accordance with his campaign statements, Hooker released him.

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