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 Research ACW US War Dept. Official Records HTML Ser. I, Vol. 1, Ch. II

THE
WAR OF THE REBELLION:
A COMPILATION OF THE
OFFICIAL RECORDS
OF THE
UNION AND CONFEDERATE ARMIES.

{p.318}

CHAPTER II.
THE SECESSION OF GEORGIA.
January 3-26, 1861.

SUMMARY OF THE PRINCIPAL EVENTS.

January 3, 1861.– Fort Pulaski seized by State troops.
19, 1861.– Ordinance of secession adopted.
24, 1861.– United States Arsenal at Augusta, Ga., seized by State troops.
26, 1861.– Oglethorpe Barracks, Savannah, and Fort Jackson, seized by State troops.

REPORTS, ETC.

No. 1.–Capt. Wm. H. C. Whiting, U. S. Corps of Engineers, of the seizure of Fort Pulaski, Ga.
No. 2.–Letter of Col. H. K. Craig, Chief of Ordnance U. S. Army, in reference to transfer of detachment from the Charleston to Augusta Arsenal.
No. 3.–Capt. Arnold Elzey, Second U. S. Artillery, of the seizure of Augusta Arsenal.
No. 4.–Ordnance Storekeeper John M. Galt, U. S. Army, of the seizure of Augusta Arsenal.
No. 5.–Capt. Wm. H. C. Whiting, U. S. Corps of Engineers, of the seizure of Oglethorpe Barracks and Fort Jackson.
No. 6.–Ordnance Sergeant E. Burt, U. S. Army, of the seizure of Oglethorpe Barracks, Savannah.

No. 1.

Reports of Capt. W. H. C. Whiting, U. S. Corps of Engineers, of the seizure of Fort Pulaski, Ga.

SAVANNAH, January 3, 1861.

By direction of Captain Whiting, now on duty at Fort Clinch, I have to report that State troops left this morning for Fort Pulaski by order of Governor Brown.

HERMANN HIRSCH, Clerk.

Col. R. E. DE RUSSY, Commanding Corps of Engineers.

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U. S. ENGINEER OFFICE, Savannah, January 7, 1861.

GENERAL: I have to report that on the 3d instant, being at Fort Clinch, I received a telegram from my clerk informing me that troops of the State of Georgia were moving to occupy Fort Pulaski, by order of the governor. I replied by telegraph, directing Mr. Hirsch to inform {p.319} the commandant of Engineers of the fact. I took the first opportunity to reach Savannah on the 6th, and arrived last night. This morning I proceeded to Fort Pulaski, which I found occupied by Georgia troops, commanded by Colonel Lawton. I was received with great civility, and informed by him that he held possession of all the Government property for the present, by order of the governor of the State, and intended to preserve it from loss or damage. He requested a return of the public property, both Ordnance and Engineer, which I have given as existing January 1. Those returns for the fourth quarter, 1860, Will be forwarded with my quarterly papers, signed as usual up to the commencement of the present quarter. I can sign no more, however, for I cannot be responsible for property of the charge of which I have been forcibly deprived. I have directed Ordnance Sergeant Walker to report at Oglethorpe Barracks until further orders. The fort keeper I have discharged.

On Saturday, 3d instant, the regular mail-boat from Fernandina to this place, by which I intended to travel, was taken off the line by the governor of Florida and ordered, as I was informed, to Saint Augustine, with a force to seize the ordnance mounted in the water battery of Fort Marion for the purpose of arming Fort Clinch.

It is, perhaps, unnecessary for me to say to the Department that in the present condition of Fort Clinch the idea of arming it either for offense or defense is simply absurd. My presence, however, is necessary there, for I know that I have sufficient influence in the community to prevent anything like spoliation or plunder of the public property by lawless individuals. I shall, therefore, return there on Wednesday, the 9th instant. Previous to leaving that post, I received assurances from the principal citizens to the effect that they would promptly put down anything like an attempt on the part of unauthorized mobs to take a dime’s worth of the large amount of valuable material and property at the fort. They manifest a desire that the work shall continue without molestation, and this I believe to be the desire also of the members of the State Convention. I have a force of sixty men at work pushing the masonry as rapidly as possible. On the authority of Department letter of 9th ultimo, I have continued the work with the funds in my hands. The payments for December, which will be immediately made, will exhaust all funds in my hands belonging to Fort Clinch, and perhaps exceed a little. I have, as will be seen by the monthly statement, enough of other funds to continue for the present; but unless a portion at least of my last estimates is sent to me, I shall be compelled to close my operations. I respectfully request instructions. It is necessary to inform you that the telegraph is in the hands of the State authorities, and no message of a military or political character is allowed to be sent or delivered except by permission of the governor. The telegram of Mr. Hirsch to Colonel De Russy was refused until countersigned by Governor Brown.

As to the Savannah River improvement, no interference with the property belonging to the appropriation has been attempted, nor is any at present anticipated. I have, however, directed the discharge of all employés except a watchman. Fort Jackson remains as heretofore.

The mail between Charleston and Fernandina having been discontinued, I request that communications be addressed to me via Savannah.

Very respectfully,

WM. H. C. WHITING, Captain of Engineers.

General J. G. TOTTEN, Chief Engineer, Washington.

{p.320}

No. 2.

Letter from Col. H. K. Craig, Chief of Ordnance U. S. Army, in reference to transfer of detachment from the Charleston to Augusta Arsenal.

ORDNANCE OFFICE, Washington D. C., January 19, 1861.

SIR: The inclosed letter from Captain Elzey to the Adjutant-General of the Army is submitted for the perusal of the Lieutenant-General commanding, and for such action as he may deem proper in the case, with the remarks that the captain had no means of knowing whether the Colonel of Ordnance had or had not consulted higher authority on the matter, even if such consultation, under the peculiar circumstances of the case, had been requisite.

The Ordnance detachment had been ejected from the Charleston Arsenal by the treasonable violence of the State authorities, and it became absolutely necessary to shelter it elsewhere. The Augusta Arsenal, Ga., under the control of this Department, where ample quarters are prepared for its enlisted men, is the nearest acceptable military post to which the detachment could be sent. The order to that effect was given after a full consideration of its propriety, and it is believed that if Captain Elzey had taken the pains to offer such explanations as his information warranted, the excitement alluded to by him need not have occurred, or might have been readily abated.

With much respect,

H. K. CRAIG, Colonel of Ordnance.

Lieut. Col. L. THOMAS, Assistant Adjutant-General, Headquarters.

[Inclosure.]

AUGUSTA ARSENAL, GA., January 11, 1861.

SIR: I have the honor to forward a field return of a detachment of Ordnance which arrived at this post last night from Charleston, S. C., under command of Military Storekeeper Humphreys. He reported here by telegraphic order from Colonel Craig. This movement on the part of Colonel Craig I believe to be wholly unauthorized by the War Department. It was injudicious and impolitic, added much to the excitement in Augusta, and was very nigh producing serious difficulties in this quarter, the people believing it to be a re-enforcement to my command. I had no previous knowledge of it whatever.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

ARNOLD ELZEY, Captain, Second Artillery, Commanding Post.

Col. S. COOPER, Adjutant-General U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.

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No. 3.

Reports of Capt. Arnold Elzey, Second U. S. Artillery, of the seizure of Augusta Arsenal.*

* See also inclosure to No. 2, p. 320.

HEADQUARTERS AUGUSTA, GA., ARSENAL, January 23, 1861-1 o’clock p.m.

SIR: I am just officially informed by the governor of Georgia, now in Augusta, supported by a superior military force, that Georgia having {p.321} resumed exclusive sovereignty over her soil, it has become his duty to require me to withdraw the troops under my command at the earliest practicable moment from the limits of the State. He declares his intention to take possession of the arsenal, and proposes to receipt for the public property and account for the same on adjustment between the State of Georgia and the United States of America. He further declares that the retention of the troops upon the soil of Georgia after remonstrance is, under the laws of nations, an act of hostility, claiming that the State now is not only at peace but anxious to cultivate the most amicable relations with the United States Government, and that an answer from me to his demand is, required at 9 o’clock a.m. to-morrow. An immediate answer to this communication is respectfully requested.*

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

ARNOLD ELZEY, Captain, Second Artillery, Commanding.

Col. S. COOPER, Adjutant-General U. S. Army.

* The answer is quoted in Elzey’s report of February 15, 1861, p. 322.

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AUGUSTA ARSENAL, GA., January 24, 1861.

SIR: I have the honor to report that the arsenal was surrendered this morning to the governor of Georgia upon honorable terms, herewith inclosed.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

ARNOLD ELZEY, Captain, Second Artillery.

Col. S. COOPER, Adjutant-General U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.

[Inclosure.]

AUGUSTA ARSENAL, GA., January 24, 1861.

His excellency the governor of Georgia having demanded the United States Arsenal at Augusta, commanded by Capt. Arnold Elzey, Second Artillery, U. S. Army, the following terms are agreed upon, to wit:

1st. The flag to be saluted and lowered by the United States troops.

2d. The company to be marched out with military honors and to retain its arms and company property.

3d. The officers and soldiers to occupy quarters until removed beyond the limits of the State, and to have the use of the post transportation to and from the city and in the neighborhood, and the privilege of obtaining supplies from the city.

4th. The public property to be receipted for by the State authorities and accounted for upon adjustment between the State of Georgia and the United States of America.

5th. The troops to have unobstructed passage through and out of the State, by water, to New York, via Savannah.

JOSEPH E. BROWN, Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Army of the State of Georgia. ARNOLD ELZEY, Captain, Second Artillery, Commanding Augusta Arsenal.

{p.322}

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WASHINGTON, D. C., February 15, 1861.

SIR: In compliance with your letter of this date, I have the honor to submit the following complete report of the surrender of the United States Arsenal at Augusta, Ga.:

On the morning of the 23d of January, ultimo, I received from the governor of Georgia, then in Augusta, backed by a superior force of State troops, numbering some six or seven hundred, a verbal demand of the arsenal, which I refused. Shortly after came through his aide-de-camp a written demand in the following terms, the substance of which was telegraphed by me to the War Department, to wit:

AUGUSTA, January 23, 1861.

SIR: I am instructed by his excellency Governor Brown to say to you that, Georgia having seceded from the United States of America and resumed exclusive sovereignty over her soil, it has become his duty to require you to withdraw the troops under your command, at the earliest practicable moment, from the limits of the State.

He proposes to take possession of the arsenal, and to receipt for all public property under your charge, which will be accounted for on adjustment between the State of Georgia and the United States of America.

He begs to refer you to the fact that the retention of your troops upon the soil of Georgia after remonstrance is, under the laws of nations, an act of hostility, and he claims that the State is not only at peace but anxious to cultivate the most amicable relations with the United States Government.

I am further instructed to say that an answer will be expected by to-morrow morning at 9 o’clock.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

HENRY R. JACKSON, Aide-de-Camp, &c.

About 1 o’clock on the night of the 23d of January, ultimo, I received from the War Department the following reply to my telegram, to wit:

WASHINGTON, January [23, 1861.]

Capt. ARNOLD ELZEY, Second Artillery, Commanding Augusta Arsenal, Ga.:

The governor of Georgia has assumed against your post and the United States an attitude of war. His summons is harsh and peremptory. It is not expected that your defense shall be desperate. If forced to surrender by violence or starvation, you will stipulate for honorable terms and a free passage by water with your company to New York.

J. HOLT, Secretary of War.

To have resisted such a force, then ready to attack me, with my knowledge of large re-enforcements at Savannah and Atlanta, ready to come up by rail at a moment’s warning, would have been desperation in my weak position. I therefore directed my adjutant to address and convey the following note in reply to the governor’s demand:

HEADQUARTERS AUGUSTA ARSENAL, GA., January 24, 1861.

Col. H. R. JACKSON, A. D. C. :

SIR: I have the honor to inform you that I am directed by Captain Elzey, commanding this post, to say, in reply to the demands of the governor of Georgia, made through you yesterday, requiring him to withdraw his command beyond the limits of the State, he begs to request an interview with his excellency the governor for the purpose of negotiating honorable terms of surrender at as early an hour this morning as practicable.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant.

J. P. JONES, Lieutenant, Second Artillery, Post Adjutant.

About 10 o’clock of the same morning (24th) the governor, accompanied by his staff and Brigadier-General Harris, commanding the {p.323} troops, rode up to my quarters and were received by me, when the following honorable terms were agreed upon and executed, to wit:*

...

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

ARNOLD ELZEY, Captain, Second Artillery.

Col. S. COOPER, Adjutant-General U. S. Army.

* See inclosure to report of January 24, 1861, p. 321.

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No. 4.

Report of Ordnance Storekeeper John M. Galt, U. S. Army, of the seizure of Augusta Arsenal.

AUGUSTA ARSENAL, GA., January 25, 1861.

SIR: I have the honor to report that this post was surrendered to the authorities of the State of Georgia on a demand made by the governor in person, backed by a very superior force of the military of the State. The company of Second U. S. Artillery stationed here is under orders for New York, and as we are required to evacuate the post as soon as practicable, I would respectfully recommend the immediate discharge of the detachment of Ordnance, and would request that four or six months’ leave of absence be granted to me. It may be well in making the application for leave of absence to say that I have had none for fourteen years, with one exception, which I did avail myself of. Full and complete receipts will be taken for all the public property in my charge.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

JOHN M. GALT, Military Storekeeper of Ordnance.

Col. H. K. CRAIG, Ordnance Office, Washington, D. C.

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No. 5.

Report of Capt. Wm. H. C. Whiting, U. S. Corps of Engineers, of the seizure of Oglethorpe Barracks and Fort Jackson.

U. S. ENGINEER OFFICE, Savannah, January 28, 1861.

GENERAL: I arrived here this evening from Fort Clinch. I left that post in charge of Mr. James A. Walker as fort keeper. A copy of my instructions to him is forwarded herewith.

Previous to leaving Fernandina I received verbal assurance from a member of the governor’s council that the property at Fort Clinch would not be disturbed by the State, and that the work would be allowed to remain in the charge of the United States fort-keepers in statu quo. On my arrival here I found that the authorities of the State of Georgia had taken possession of all the works under my charge in the State, and had formally assumed the control of Oglethorpe Barracks. I forward herewith a copy of a letter addressed to me by Colonel A. R. Lawton, of the Georgia troops. Ordnance Sergeant Burt having refused to surrender, his storeroom was taken possession of, and on his reporting to me I gave him orders to make no further resistance. Both Ordnance Sergeant {p.324} Walker, late at Fort Pulaski, and Ordnance Sergeant Burt are now at the barracks, where they are permitted to remain. My command having been forcibly interrupted, I can give them no further orders, and must leave the disposition of them to headquarters.

Very respectfully,

WM. H. C. WHITING, Captain of Engineers.

General J. G. TOTTEN, Chief of Engineers.

[Inclosure.]

SAVANNAH, January 28, 1861.

Captain WHITING, U. S. Engineers:

SIR: I am instructed by the governor and commander-in-chief of the State of Georgia to take possession of Oglethorpe Barracks, in the name of the State of Georgia, and in your absence from this city possession has been taken. The occupants will not be disturbed at present, and you will please consider yourself at liberty to occupy, with your employés, such apartments as are necessary for your convenience while you are closing up your business here. The steamer Ida and appurtenances have also been taken possession of under the same authority. This, I believe, includes all the property held by you in the State of Georgia, as military engineer of the United States, but does not include any light-house property.

You have been already notified, informally, that Forts Pulaski and Jackson had been occupied by the troops of the State of Georgia under my command.

Very respectfully,

A. R. LAWTON, Colonel, Commanding.

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No. 6.

Report of Ordnance Sergeant E. Burt, U. S. Army, of the seizure of Oglethorpe Barracks, Savannah.

SAVANNAH, GA., January 27, 1861.

SIR: I transmit herewith a copy of an order which was handed to me yesterday.

I refused to recognize Colonel Lawton’s authority, or to allow Lieutenant Bassinger to interfere with the barracks or public property.

Lieutenant Bassinger, on my refusal to agree to comply with the order which he gave me, called on and obtained assistance from the city police and fastened up my public storeroom. The barracks are now under the charge of the police.

I do not think the State authorities design taking the stores from here at present, or that they will molest me so long as I allow them to keep my storeroom fastened.

Lieutenant Bassinger, an officer of the State, offered to give me any writing I might desire in relation [to] the post and stores, but I refused to take any, or to give him any information. Please inform me if I am to act different from what I have.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

E. BURT, Ordnance Sergeant, U. S. Army.

Col. S. COOPER, Adjutant-General U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.

{p.325}

[Inclosure.]

SAVANNAH, January 26, 1861.

Lieut. W. S. BASSINGER:

SIR: You will immediately take possession of Oglethorpe Barracks, in this city, in the name of the State of Georgia., and under orders of the commander-in-chief.

The present occupants are not to be disturbed, provided they agree to remain subject to my orders, or to any proper authority of this State. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

A. R. LAWTON, Colonel, Commanding.

Library Reference Information

Type of Material: Book (Book, Microform, Electronic, etc.)
Corporate Name: United States. War Dept.
Main Title: The War of the Rebellion:
a compilation of the official records of the
Union and Confederate armies.
Prepared under the direction of the Secretary of War
by Robert N. Scott.
Washington, Govt. Print. Off., 1880-1900.
Published/Created: Washington : Government Pub. Off., 1880-1901 (70 v. in 128).
Description: 70 v. in 128. 24 cm.
Subjects: United States. Army--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Sources.
Confederate States of America. Army--History--Sources.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Regimental histories.
LC Classification: E464 .U6