Security & Secession in Washington

Tuesday, January 22, 1861

Lincoln friend Charles Ballance writes to Abraham Lincoln from Washington about security conditions there: “I write to you, not because (as you will naturally expect) that I have something important to write, but because, what, will seem to you under the circumstances, is much more strange, that I have nothing at all to write. While our forts and munitions of war are being every where seized by rebels, and state after state is declaring itself out of the Union, and the papers and telegraphs are teeming with preparations for war, this city is more quiet, at this time, and there are fewer people here by more than one half, than I ever saw before, when Congress was in session. I fact, nearly every body whose business does not require them to be here, has gone away. I see no secession cockades, and hear no blustering. A stranger here, who could not read our papers, would not suspect he was in the midst of a revolution. I have been here nearly two weeks, and have not seen a soldier, a musket or a cannon, until this evening. There are said to be troops in the neighborhood, and there are several thousand militia being equipped and trained, but it is all done quietly.
“That it was a part of the secession plan to seize the capitol, and prevent you from being inaugurated, I have no doubt, but the firmness of [Maryland] Gov. [Thomas] Hicks and Gen. [Winfield] Scott has backed them out from this project, at least for the present. We cannot tell what a day will bring forth, but I give it as my opinion, that such is the apathy that prevails here just now, that you might walk the streets with as much safety, as you do those of Springfield.”

Published in: on January 31, 2011 at 4:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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