Providence, January 12, 1861.
Honorable JOSEPH HOLT,
Secretary of War:
SIR: The Governor of this State has to-day been informed by Colonel Tew, commanding a company of artillery at Newport, int his State that Captain George W. Cullum, of the U. S. Engineers, requested the mayor of that city on the 10th instant to detail six armed men from his command to protect Fort Adams from a threatened plunder of ammunition and that the same authority infers from a conversation between the mayor and Captain Cullum that the Department will need a company to protect this fortification. Governor Sprague desires me to say that he would not correctly represent the sentiment of the people of this State did he hesitate to assure the Department that they are anxious to do their utmost to assist the Government in its execution of the laws and that this government will receive with much satisfaction the wishes of the War Department in view of any assistance Rhode Island can give in this matter. Orders will be given to Colonel Tew to supply the men wanted, and to place his command at the disposal of the mayor of Newport for the defense of the U. S. property and for the occupancy of Fort Adams when desired so to do by any competent U. S. authority.
With high respect, I have the honor to remain, your most obedient servant,
JOHN R. BARTLETT,
Secretary of State.
WASHINGTON, January 14, 1861.
Colonel S. COOPER,
Adjutant-General U. S. Army:
In my letter of instructions from your office, dated January 3, it is stated that-
The Secretary of War directs that you repair to Harper's Ferry and assume the military command of the armory; that, without making a display of your force, you so dispose it as to prevent the success of an attack upon the U. S. property there, should one be attempted.
The regular force at my disposal is one officer and sixty men. Two companies, composed of workmen in the armory numbering some 120 men, could probably be relied upon to assist in repelling any attack not authorized or countenanced by the State. If such attack should be authorized, many of the men would possibly join in it, and from the peculiarity of their position might surprise us in spite of any vigilance. Shall I resist such an attack? The armory is, in its present condition, from the nature and position of the buildings, almost entirely indefensible, by a small force. The present garrison, if attacked by superior numbers, could only hope to defend itself, and that for a limited time. To do this, it would be necessary besides other preparations to take possession when attacked of one or more private buildings near and commanding the arsenal. It could not protect the public property against a well-organized or persistent effort to capture it.
From the nature of my instructions I have not considered it proper to make any of the usual military preparations for defense, except to keep my command on the alert. Any measures to be at all effectual would be of such character as to excite the already feverish feeling of the neighborhood, and perhaps induce an attempt on the armory. I have therefore abstained from all such labors or acts as would serve to