Friday, May 27, 2011

Lincoln Mourns the Loss of His Friend, Colonel Ellsworth

It is a sad time at the White House.  Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln and I mourn the death of their our from Illinois, Colonel Ephraim Elmer Ellsworth, who was killed after taking down Confederate flag from the Marshall House Hotel in Alexandria, Virginia. Ellsworth was shot by the proprietor Captain Jackson. Jackson was then immediately shot and killed by Frank Brownwell, a member of Ellsworth’s New York Fire Zouaves.
Ellsworth had read law under Mr. Lincoln in Springfield, Illinois. Ellsworth and I had accompanied Mr. Lincoln when he voted in the presidential election on Nov. 6, 1860.  He had also been on the train with us when Mr. Lincoln rode from Springfield, Illinois to Washington City for his inauguration.
Mr. Lincoln had also been right that it wouldn’t be long before Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Roger B. Taney weighed in on his suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.  Taney had been appointed to his position by Andrew Jackson in 1837. The justice flew into a rage regarding Mr. Lincoln’s actions, condemning them. Taney was hardly impartial, as the President pointed out. Taney owned slaves at his home in Frederick, Maryland.
Mr. Lincoln responded by ordering Taney’s arrest. Mr. Lincoln swore out a warrant for Taney’s arrest and assigned the duties of taking the justice into custody to none other than me.
W. H. Lamon

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Additions to the Army and Navy Called Up

President Lincoln informed me that he was annoyed that  a Confederate flag flying from the top of a building in Alexandria could be seen out the window of his office. He asked me to see that the flag was removed. 
As I had already learned in my short time in Washington City, my duties included “and anything the president required of me.”
He had called up an additional 42,000 three year volunteers to help the 75,000 called up for ninety days. That initial call-up had produced 80,000 enlistees. Two hundred eight regiments were formed and had already been played in the field.
Although the country had boldly claimed that it was a “great maritime power”, the naval inventory included only 58 useable vessels with 1021 working guns. Meanwhile there had been a wholesale depletion on Naval officers, with resignations, men being dismissed or fleeing to the South.
Congress was also losing members to the newly formed Confederacy. All Senators and House members from the seceding states had resigned except one. Only John Edward Bouligny, a Congressman from New Orleans, Louisiana opposed secession and moved to Washington City so that he could continue to serve and support the Union.
W. H. Lamon

Friday, May 13, 2011

Trouble in Baltimore

President Lincoln was very troubled by the recent attempt by troops from Massachusetts who had been attacked in April while marching through Baltimore.  He ordered Pennsylvania units to guard the railroad north of town to prevent further problems. His additional order was to have future troops to come into Washington through Annapolis, Maryland instead of Baltimore.

He had been aware since his train trip through Baltimore in February of this year o the way to his Inauguration that southern sympathies were rampant in Maryland's largest city. The president was alsso aware that he could not let Maryland join the new Confederacy because then Washington City would be surrounded by the secessionists. He used Fort McHenry, where the Star Spangled Banner had been written by Francis Scott Key, as a prison, and herded Maryland and Baltimore officials as well as sympathetic members of the press into the prison for what he called "safe keeping."

Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Roger B. Taney, appointed in 1837 by Andrew Jackson, was furious at the president's decision to suspend habeas corpus. 

W. H. Lamon

Friday, May 6, 2011

My Early Days in Washington City

My early days in Washington were both very productive and very lonely. My new wife Sally was still back in Springfield, Illinois. She was quite unhappy with for two specific reasons. I had given her the impression that my young daughter Dollie would be coming with us. Dollie however was pretty stubborn and chose to live with her Aunt and Uncle Morgan who had raised her since the death of her mother and my first wife. Secondly, Sally had her heart set on my appointment as Counsel to Paris. Mr. Lincoln had other plans. Thus Sally chose to not accompany me to Washington City.
I sought accommodations in a neighborhood not far from the White House. I procured an annual lease on a small apartment and moved my meager belongings in. I would not be there much, but needed to have something if Sally changed her mind.
Meanwhile President Lincoln decided to open the White House to anyone and everyone. I didn’t think that was wise, but he reminded me that all federal jobs were now vacant. The majority of those in line were persons who wanted to meet the new President for the purpose of seeking postal appointments, port authority assignments or the like in their home town. For some reason Mr. Lincoln decided he needed to meet with each and every person and make the appointment himself.
Most of my day was overseeing the visitors and watching to see if I thought they were any danger to him. I was pretty sure that my two eyes alone could not avert a disastrous situation at the President’s home.
W. H. Lamon