Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Early Preparations for the Civil War

In December of 1860, it was obvious that great changes would be taking place in the country regarding the conflicts over slavery and states rights. South Carolina had given notice of its intent to secede from the Union and other states were certainly thinking in the same direction.

After many years of peace and tranquility, there were few armed forces to speak of in the capital. There was the Potomac Light Infantry(1 company), The National Rifles (1 company), the Washington Light Infantry (160 men) and a small group called the National Guard Battalion.

President Buchanan put his feelers out for the formation of a "union" defense team that would keep the capital safe. Lieutenant General-in-Chief Scott was summoned to Washington and chose Brigadier-General Charles P Stone to assist him in "rallying" the loyal Union supporters together. Letters were sent out to at least 40 respectable and well known District gentlemen to advise them that their support was needed to sustain the District. The responses were varied, some outright declining their services, some sarcastically retorting, and many enthusiastically offering their support.

While support for the District was being organized, support for the Confederate side was organizing behind the scenes as well.

Oddly enough, as General Stone was progressing with his volunteer army, he was incredulous to learn that President Buchanan has issued an order to the Ordnance Department not to issue arms. This was  on the advice of the District Attorney--Robert Ould.

Eventually, Mr President was convinced to issue the order to arm the volunteer army lest he lose the support of the citizens and the Union crumble... Here is Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy under President Lincoln:

As the inauguration of President -Elect Lincoln approached, many attempts to sabatoge the inauguration and assassinate Lincoln were averted. Most likely, President Lincoln would never have held office without the support of the volunteer army.  The volunteer army saw to it that the President elect arrived safely in Washington DC for his inauguration.

The military forces of the United States army in December of 1860 were comprised of 1108 officers and 15,259 men.

Who was running the country at the time the Civil War broke out?  Here are some of the leaders in the administration in 1861.

The Secretary of War from 3/4/1961 to 1/15/1862 was Simon Cameron:

The Secretary of State under President Lincoln's entire term was William H Seward:

General Winfield Scott was the General in Chief of the army when the Civil War broke out. At 75 years of age, 6 ft 5 and approximately 300 lbs, General Scott was not in good enough physical shape to lead the Union forces.   He was replaced by General George McClellan at the end of 1861.  

Salmon Chase was the Secretary of the Treasury under President Lincoln until July of 1864:

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ps.All pictures and sketches were taken from THE CENTURY WAR BOOK


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