Guards of Lincoln
By James Croggon, The Evening Star, May 19, 1906 [pt. 3, p. 5]
The peace congress was holding its sessions at Willard Hall, on F street west of 14th street, when President Lincoln and his party arrived prior to his inauguration. It had opened February 4. Ex-President John Tyler of Virginia was in the chair, and sessions were held behind closed doors until March 1, when it adjourned sine die. It, however, submitted a plan of adjustment recommending amendments to the Constitution, February 28, to the Senate, but this plan failed to be
Among the delegates were many prominent persons, including Gen. William O. Butler of Kentucky, once a candidate for the vice presidency; James Guthrie of the same state, who had been Secretary of the Treasury; Charles A. Wyckliff of Kentucky an ex-Postmaster General, and at the time a representative-elect; Gov. Thomas Ewing of Ohio, who had been the Secretary of the Interior; Reverdy Johnson of Maryland, ex-Attorney General; Salmon P. Chase of Ohio, then senator-elect, who became Mr. Lincoln’s Secretary of the Treasury; D. M. Barringer of North Carolina, who had long served as a representative and was once minister to Spain, and W. C. Rives of Virginia, who had served in both houses of Congress and as minister to Spain.The War Department had detailed as an escort to Mr. Lincoln on his journey to Washington from Springfield Col. E. V. Sumner, Maj. David Hunter and Capts. John Pope and G. W. Hazard. Mr. Lincoln, accompanied by these, with Col. Ward H. Lamon and Col. E. E. Ellsworth and others, made a party of fifteen who left Springfield February 13, the same day he was declared elected in the House of Representatives. The journey was made by easy stages, the party coming by way of New York, he receiving ovations there and elsewhere.
Quietly Arrived Here
Mr. Seward, who became his Secretary of State, and Mr. Chase, Secretary of the Treasury, were almost constantly in attendance, but, besides attending St. John’s Church the Sunday following, he did not leave the house, excepting for a few dinner engagements, until his tenancy at the White House was about to begin.
Military preparations were being made to prevent interference with the ceremony of the inauguration. Political clubs, “Wide Awakes” and others were making preparations for the procession, and Col. B. B. French had been appointed grand marshal. Besides the local organizations there were few coming from outside to take part in the procession, and the District clubs were handicapped by many of their members having joined the military companies. Nevertheless, the preparations for the civic display went on.
Plan to Protect Lincoln
Battery A, 2d Artillery, Barry’s stationed at the arsenal, was ordered near the Capitol, to be supported by Maj. Haskins’, Company B, 1st Artillery, quartered on B street. A Battery of the 1st Artillery, Fry’s, stationed at 15th and G streets, was posted near the Treasury, supported by Brooks’ Company II of the 2d Artillery, whose quarters were on 17th street, opposite the War Department. The West Point battery, Griffin’s, quartered in Judiciary Square, was ordered in front of the City Hall, supported by Allen’s Company K of the 2d Artillery, quartered on E street, west of 6th street. Elzy’s Company E, 2d Artillery quartered in the Treasury, was to remain there. Col. Harvey Brown was in the immediate command of the artillery. Under the orders of Maj. Gen. Weightman, Col. Stone, inspector general, in conjunction with Gen. Scott and the chief marshal, assigned the other troops to duty.
The engineers under the command of Capt. J. A. Duane, were to march before the carriage of the incoming and outgoing President. The President’s Mounted Guard, Capt. Owen; the Georgetown Mounted Guard, Capt. W. E. Stewart, were assigned on the right and left of the carriage and the rear was guarded by United States dragoons. The Washington Rifles, Capt. Balbach, and other riflemen were ordered to housetops along Pennsylvania avenue. The National Rifles, Capt. F. B. Schafer, were ordered to flank the procession by side streets to the Capitol. The National Guard battalion, Lieut. Col. Tait, three companies, were ordered to guard the platform at the Capitol, and other riflemen were posted in the windows of the building and foot companies were detailed to patrol the city.
The Military Escort
For the second division, Col. R. S. Cox of the 8th regiment militia was assigned the command and the following companies to the line: Potomac Light Infantry, Capt. I. J. McKenny; Company B, Anderson Rifles, Capt. F. W. Jones; Carrington Home Guard, Capt. James Goddard; Scott Rifles, Capt. J. O. Berry; District of Columbia Rifles, Capt. H. W. Blunt, and Company A, Anderson Rifles, Capt. C. H. Rodier.
Inauguration day a slight shower of rain fell in the morning, and this was regarded by many as a bad omen, but soon the clear skies came as an augury for good. The city was filled with people, and ere the formation of the procession at the courthouse, windows and pavements were crowded, and about the Capitol there was a multitude. Few women, however, were to be seen out of doors, and it was evident that the advice which had been given some of the southern families to be out of town that day was having its effect.
President Closely Guarded
Following came the civic division, headed by a mammoth car on which rode thirty-four young girls, representing the states of the Union. In the line were the Wide-Awakes, the republican clubs of the city and Georgetown, numbering about 500; the New England delegation of 350; the New York delegation of about 200, California of about 50, and others, the whole of this line numbering scarcely 13,000. On the arrival of the procession at the Capitol Mr. Lincoln first entered the Senate chamber, and, accompanied by the senators and other distinguished persons, proceeded to the platform, at the foot of which the three companies of the National Guard under Col. Tait kept off the crowd to a respectful distance, and this crowd extended over much of the area.
Troops were in the windows of the Capitol, and, as were the others, each man had his piece loaded and a full cartridge box. On B street, east of Delaware Avenue, was a battery, prepared to go into action, and nearby stood Gen. Scott, under whose direction the troops had be posted. Other batteries were at the courthouse and the White House, and the cavalry was patrolling the neighborhood, not omitting the entrances to the city.
While Mr. Lincoln was speaking every one seemed to realize that it would take but little to incite mob violence, despite the precautions. There was applause as also dissent heard in the crowd. On the skirts of the assemblage in the East Park an intoxicated stranger essayed to make an out-and-out secession speech, and it was having some little effect, but he was dragged off by the police and sent from the grounds. A religious crank undertook to exhort sinners to repentance, and he, too, was taken from the grounds. But such instances did not affect the majority of the people who were in hearing distance, for all seemed to be intent on hearing every word of the President’s.
Guarded on Return Trip
At night the inauguration ball was held in a frame structure on Judiciary Square, and it was attended by several thousand persons by whom the thoughts of trouble seemingly had been forgotten. Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln, Vice President Hamlin and his wife and Senator Douglas, who had been Mr. Lincoln’s competitor, arrived about 11 o’clock and were warmly greeted. It was remarked that very few of the southern element were present.
The next day the President engaged in cabinet making, in which work the citizens of the District, especially the employes of the departments, were vitally interested. Their positions were at stake, for under the democratic rule of eight years the pro-slavery element predominated in the departments, and the slogan of the aspirants for office was “march forth.” The President named his cabinet that day and it was confirmed at once. It consisted of William H. Seward of New York, Secretary of State; S. P. Chase of Ohio, Secretary of the Treasury; Simon Cameron of Pennsylvania, Secretary of War; Caleb B. Smith of Indiana, Secretary of the Interior; Montgomery Blair of Maryland, Postmaster General, and Edward Bates of Missouri, Attorney General.
Ex-President Buchanan Leaves
Tranquility did not follow, for the establishment of the Confederate army under Gen. Beauregard at Charleston and other movements in the south stirred the people of the District to activity. Everywhere recruiting was going on, new military companies coming into existence and old ones being strengthened. Nightly these were being drilled by regulars, non-commissioned officers and others. Col. Ellsworth, who had come here with Mr. Lincoln, was tendered the command of the Washington Zouaves, Company E, Washington Light Infantry, but declined, as he was even then contemplating raising a regiment of fire zouaves in New York. He, however, gave his services and drilled them nightly in the neighborhood of the city hall and made an efficient company of them, Lieut. John Tyler Powell being made a captain.
It was remarked about his time that some of the United States Army officers here, as well as officers and men of the local troops, were wavering as to their future course, and it was afterward learned that a few of the former, who had helped guard Mr. Lincoln, became generals officers in the Confederate army, and one of the most prominent Union generals was then seeking a position under the Confederacy.