Thursday, October 27, 2016

Diary of John Hay: Sunday, April 21, 1861

This morning came a penitent and suppliant crowd of conditional secessionists from Baltimore, who, having sowed the wind, seem to have no particular desire to reap the whirlwind. They begged that no more federal troops should be sent through Baltimore at present; that their mob was thoroughly unmanageable, and that they would give the government all possible assistance in transporting its troops, safely, across the State by any other route. The President, always inclined to give all men credit for fairness and sincerity, consented to this arrangement, contrary to the advice of some of his most prominent counsellors; and afterwards said that this was the last time he was going to interfere in matters of strictly military concernment; that he would leave them hereafter wholly to military men.

I spoke of the intended resignation of Col. Magruder. The Tycoon was astonished. Three days ago Magruder had been in his room making the loudest protestations of undying devotion to the Union. This canker of secession has wonderfully demoralised the army. Capt. Fry is the firmest and soundest man I meet. He seems to combine great honesty of purpose with accurate and industrious business habits and a lively and patriotic soldier's spirit that is better than anything else to-day.

This morning we mounted the battlements of the Executive Mansion, and the Ancient took a long look down the bay. It was a “water-haul.”

Any amount of feverish rumors filled the evening. The despatch from Mead Addison, in regard to 1,500 Massachusetts troops being seen off Annapolis, seemed to please the President very much. Then there was a Fort Monroe rumor and a 7th Regiment rumor, and a Rhode Island rumor; all which, to-morrow will sift.

We passed the evening pleasantly at Eames', where were the English Legation, and returned to find Vivaldi and his borderers guarding the imperial palace, pacing in belted and revolvered dignity, up and down the wide portico, to give style and tone to the defensive guard, looking, as he said, like gentlemen in feature and dress. We went up and found a despatch stating that no troops had arrived at the Navy Yard. Tant pis we said, and slept.

SOURCES: Clara B. Hay, Letters of John Hay and Extracts from Diary, Volume 1, p. 16-8; Michael Burlingame, Inside Lincoln's White House: The Complete Civil War Diary of John Hay, p. 5-6

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