War of the Rebellion: Serial 107 Page 0320 MD., E. N. C. PA., VA., EXCEPT S. W., & W. VA. Chapter LXIII.

Search Civil War Official Records



Washington, D. C., April 6, 1861.

Bvt. Colonel Charles F. Smith, U. S. Army, is assigned to the command of all the troops stationed in this city and at Fort Washington, Md.

By command of Lieutenant-General Scott:


Assistant Adjutant-General.



April 7, 1861.


Secretary of War:

DEAR SIR: I have the honor to inclose a copy of a letter recently addressed by Commodore Hiram Paulding to the Secretary, of the Navy, setting forth the peculiar position of our national capital, and proposing a plan for its protection. Commodore Paulding is aware of the liberty that I have taken in addressing you. At a period so critical as the present it may not be deemed ill-timed to call your attention to the contents of this letter. Ours is an age of revolution and the times seem to demand energy and promptness. The cloud of war has already exceeded in dimensions the size of a man's hand, and it may soon be surcharged with alarm and death. It becomes, therefore, in my humble opinion, the custodians of our national welfare to guard all the avenues of safety, and carefully to consider the hints and advice of the patriotic and distinguished.

I have the honor to be, with perfect respect, your obedient servant,


Chief Clerk.


WASHINGTON CITY, March 31, 1861.


Secretary of the Navy, Washington:

SIR: I do not wish to be considered an alarmist, but simply to convey a theory as it is presented to my mind. The cotton States have decreed an army, and an indefinite force is assembling about Pensacola, not to attack Fort Pickens, but for ulterior objects of greater importance. When a body of men are inured to the life of a camp, trained to arms, and instructed in the varied evolutions of the field by able officers, a few thousands make a formidable army, and may be used for mischievous purposes and with great effect if not opposed by men equal to themselves in discipline. If in conspiracy against the Government, with an able leader at their head, they can move secretly and with great celerity what, with this view, will prevent the army of the cotton States from coming to Washington when they are ready? Officers who some time since resigned from the Navy are known to be in our cities at the North. Is it too much to suppose that steamers and other vessels may be employed secretly to assemble at a given point, take on board as large a force as may be convenient, and, before the movement is known here, land at no considerable distance from Washington, coming by the Potomac or the Chesapeake? The railroads afford their facilities. Men not loyal to the Union would swell the raks of the invaders here anal might be intimated or paralyzed, and plenty of men might be found to break up the railroads and obstruct the advance of