Headquarters of the Army, WASHINGTON, April 26th, 1861
The undersigned, General-in-Chief of the Army, has received from the President of the U. States the following instructions respecting the legislature of Maryland now about to assemble at Annapolis, viz.:
It is “left to the Commanding General to watch and await their action, which, if it shall be to arm their people against the United States, he is to adopt the most prompt and efficient means to counteract, even if necessary to the bombardment of their cities, and, in the extremest necessity, suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.”
In the absence of the undersigned, the foregoing instructions are turned over to Brig. General B. F. Butler, of the Mass. Volunteers, or other Officer commanding at Annapolis, who will carry them out in a right spirit, — that is, with moderation and firmness. In the case of arrested individuals, notorious for their hostility to the United States, the prisoners will be safely kept and duly cared for; but not surrendered except on the order of the Commander aforesaid.
SOURCE: Jessie Ames Marshall, Editor, Private and Official Correspondence of Gen. Benjamin F. Butler During the Period of the Civil War, Volume 1: April 1860 – June 1862, p. 43