Friday, October 28, 2016

Diary of John Hay: Monday, April 22, 1861

. . . . The whining traitors from Baltimore were here again this morning. The President, I think, has done with them. In conversation with Major Hunter last night, in reply to the Major's blunt assertion that the troops should have been brought through Baltimore if the town had to be leveled to the earth, he said that that order commanding them to return to Pennsylvania was given at the earnest solicitation of the Maryland conservatives who avowed their powerlessness in Baltimore, but their intention to protect the federal troops elsewhere, granted them as a special extension; as an exhaustion of the means of conciliation and kindness. Hereafter, however, he would interfere with no war measures of the army.

A young lady called to-day from Baltimore, sent by her father, H. Pollock, Esq., to convey to the Government information as to the state of affairs in the Plug-ugly city. She was very pretty and southern in features and voice, and wonderfully plucky and earnest in the enunciation of her devotion to the Stars and Stripes. She stated that the mails had been stopped at the Baltimore Post-office — arms expected from Virginia — Fort McHenry to be attacked tonight — the scared Commanders here thoroughly traitorous, and other things. I met her again this afternoon and talked three hours. Her quiet courage and dauntless patriotism brought back to me the times of De Montfort and Queen Eleanor, and the girl of Dom Remy. I gained a new idea of the possibilities of true, brave hearts being nourished in Republics. Just as she stepped into her carriage, her friend called her “Lilie,” and I knew her name. She seemed so heart whole in her calm devotion to the Union that flirtation died in her presence and better thoughts than politicians often know, stole through the mind of one who listened to the novelty of an American woman, earnest, intelligent, patriotic and pretty.

This afternoon the Pocahontas and the Anacostia came peacefully back from their cruise and folded their wings in the harbor. The Pocahontas has done her duty at Norfolk and is welcome to our bay, with its traitor-haunted shores. She reports no batteries at the White House Point, and makes no record of any hostile demonstration from the banks of Alexandria. The very fact of the Pocahontas coming so quietly in, is a good one.

A telegram intercepted on its way to Baltimore states that our Yankees and New Yorkers have landed at Annapolis. Weary and foot-sore but very welcome, they will probably greet us tomorrow.

. . . . It is amusing to drop in some evening at Clay’s Armory. The raw patriots lounge elegantly on the benches, drink coffee in the ante-room, change the boots of unconscious sleepers in the hall, scribble busily in editorial note-books, while the sentries snore at the doors, and the grizzled Captain talks politics on the raised platform, and dreams of border battle and the hot noons of Monterey.

It was melodramatic to see Cassius Clay come into the President's reception room to-day. He wore, with a sublimely unconscious air, three pistols and an Arkansas tooth pick, and looked like an admirable vignette to 25 cents worth of yellow-covered romance.

Housekeepers here are beginning to dread famine. Flour has made a sudden spring to $18 a barrel, and corn-meal rejoices in the respectable atmosphere of $2.50 a bushel. Willard is preparing for war, furling all sails for the storm. The dinner-table is lorn of cartes, and the tea-table reduced to the severe simplicity of pound-cake.

SOURCES: Clara B. Hay, Letters of John Hay and Extracts from Diary, Volume 1, p. 18-21; Michael Burlingame, Inside Lincoln's White House: The Complete Civil War Diary of John Hay, p. 6-8

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