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 Research ACW US War Dept. Official Records HTML Ser. I, Vol. 1, Ch. V–Reports.

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

{p.474}

CHAPTER V.
THE SECESSION OF NORTH CAROLINA.
January 9-May 20, 1861.
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REPORTS, ETC.

SUMMARY OF THE PRINCIPAL EVENTS.

January 9, 1861.– Fort Johnston seized by citizens of Smithville, N. C.
10, 1861.– Fort Caswell seized by citizens of Smithville and Wilmington, N. C.
April 15, 1861.– Governor of North Carolina refuses to furnish quota of Militia to the United States. Fort Macon seized by State troops.
16, 1861.– Forts Caswell and Johnston seized by State troops.
22, 1861.– United States Arsenal at Fayetteville seized by State troops.
May 20, 1861.– Ordinance of secession adopted.

REPORTS.

No. 1.–Ordnance Sergeant James Reilly, U. S. Army, of the first seizure of Fort Johnston.
No. 2.–Ordnance Sergeant F. Dardingkiller, U. S. Army, of the first seizure of Fort Caswell.
No. 3.–Extract from annual report of Capt. John G. Foster, V. S. Engineers, of the seizure of Fort Macon.
No. 4.–Capt. John G. Foster, U. S. Engineers, of the second seizure of Forts Caswell and Johnston.
No. 5.–Bvt. Maj. S. S. Anderson, Second U. S. Artillery, of the seizure of Fayetteville Arsenal.
No. 6.–Lieut. J. A. De Lagnel, Second U. S. Artillery, of the seizure of Fayetteville Arsenal..

No. 1.

Reports of Ordnance Sergeant James Reilly, U. S. Army, of the first seizure of Fort Johnston.

FORT JOHNSTON, N. C., January 9, 1861-9 o’clock a.m.

SIR: I have the honor to report herewith that this post has been taken possession of this morning at 4 o’clock a.m. by a party of the citizens of Smithville, N. C. They came to my door at the time above stated and demanded the keys of the magazine of me. I told them I would not {p.475} give up the keys to any person with my life. They replied that it was no use to be obstinate, for they had the magazine already in their possession, and that they had a party of twenty men around it, and were determined to keep it; if not by fair means, they would break it open. I considered a while and seen it was no use to persevere, for they were determined to have what ordnance stores there was at the post. I then told them if they would sign receipts to me for the ordnance and ordnance stores at the post, I would give it up to them. (There was no alternative left me but to act as I did.) They replied that they would do so. The receipt was signed, and [they] left fifteen men in charge of the post; the remainder proceeded to take Fort Caswell, which is in their possession by this time. I do not know what arrangement Ordnance Sergeant Dardingkiller made with them.

They have taken out of the magazine at this post nearly all the musket cartridges in it; they are also taking the guns out of the block-house and mounting them. I would have telegraphed long since, had I an opportunity of doing so, to the Department, but I could get no means of going to Wilmington-no person would hire me their horse, or boat for that purpose. Please send me instructions how I am to act hereafter, as there is expected this afternoon 300 men from Wilmington, N. C., to occupy both posts.

They have not as yet decided what to do with me or Sergeant Dardingkiller. I expect they will send us away as soon as they get some kind of an organization amongst them.

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

JAMES REILLY, Ordnance Sergeant, U. S. Army.

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

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FORT JOHNSTON, N. C., January 10, 1861-11 o’clock a.m.

SIR: I respectfully wish to state that the party of citizens who took possession of Forts Johnston and Caswell yesterday has perceived their error. It seems that they were not sustained by the people which brought them into it, or caused them to create such an act of violence against the Federal Government. They were the leaders of a few fanatics in Wilmington, who sent a dispatch to this place that the Department had ordered the revenue cutter forward with troops to garrison Forts Johnston and Caswell, and that they should take possession of the forts before the Federal troops should arrive; that they would assist them with both men, money, and provisions. They failed to do so.

Then they came to both me and Sergeant Dardingkiller and asked us to take back the public property. I answered, Yes; if there was none of it broken, or none of the ammunition expended. It was returned in good order. As they deprived me of all quick communication with the Department, so that I might receive instructions how to act, I thought to do as I did. I wanted to go to Wilmington to telegraph this business to the Department, but when they found I was going on the schooner that runs between here and Wilmington as a passenger boat, the passengers chartered the boat from the owners to prevent me from going. I hope that the conduct of me and Sergeant Dardingkiller will {p.476} be approved by the Department, as we took the responsibility of taking the stores back for the best interest of the public service.

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

JAMES REILLY, Ordnance Sergeant, U. S. Army.

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

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No. 2.

Reports of Ordnance Sergeant Frederick Dardingkiller, U. S. Army, of the first seizure of Fort Caswell.

FORT CASWELL, N. C., January 11, 1861.

SIR: I have the honor to report herewith that this post is reoccupied by a party of citizens from Wilmington and Smithville. They took possession at 7 o’clock on the night of the 10th instant. The individual who represents them as commanding officer is a Mr. Hedrick, from Wilmington; he has signed receipts to me for all the ordnance stores at the post, and is using such of them as he needs.

I would have used every effort to communicate this matter to the Department before this, only that Sergeant Reilly was pleased to write on the night of its occurrence. Please send me instructions how I am to act, and if I am to receive what portion of the stores that is left; and how I am to expend the property they have destroyed, in the event of my receiving the stores back.

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

FREDERICK DARDINGKILLER, Ordnance Sergeant, U. S. Army.

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

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FORT CASWELL, N. C., January 14, 1861.

SIR: I most respectfully wish to state that the party of citizens who occupied this post has left this day. Mr. Hedrick, who signed receipts to me for the ordnance stores, has returned them to me in good order, except what he expended.

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

F. DARDINGKILLER, Ordnance Sergeant, U. S. Army.

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

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No. 3.

Extract front annual report of Capt. John G. Foster, U. S. Engineers, dated October 1, 1861. (Seizure of Fort Macon.)

...

This work was taken possession of by the troops of the State of North Carolina about the middle of April. It was at that time in bad repair; {p.477} the woodwork of the quarters and barracks and of one of the draw-bridges required renewing and painting; the ironwork and door and window fastenings were much rusted; the shingled interior slope was very much rotted, and the masonry in many places required repointing. The embankment of the causeway needed repairing, and the bridge across the canal to be rebuilt. A few guns (four, I believe) were mounted on the southeast or sea front, but the carriages were decayed and weak.

The site of Fort Macon was tolerably well preserved by the temporary brush jetties that were constructed last winter for this purpose.

...

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No. 4.

Reports of Capt. John G. Foster, U. S. Engineers, of the second seizure of Forts Caswell and Johnston.

NEW YORK, May 18, 1861.

GENERAL: I have the honor to report the circumstances connected with the seizure of Fort Caswell by the Militia of North Carolina, as they are reported to me by John Russell, fort keeper, who has arrived in this city:

The fort was taken possession of by the Wilmington Light Infantry, Col. John Cantwell commanding, on April 16. The force was subsequently increased, and a large force of laborers employed to mount the guns; to erect temporary quarters on the terre-pleins; to construct a railway from the wharf to the fort; to deepen the ditch of the fort, and to erect an earthen battery about one-half mile from the fort, on the beach, opposite the bar.

The eighteen guns inside the fort were mounted, and four others of the same size brought there, and also mounted, beside two guns at the main gates, inside the fort. A considerable quantity of provisions and many boxes of rifles were landed and stored in the fort. The lights in the light-houses and beacons are put out, and the Frying-Pan Shoal light-ship removed. A schooner was sunk in the new inlet to obstruct the channel, but it does not appear to accomplish this completely, as vessels pass in and out by it.

Fort Johnston was also in the possession of the insurgents, but some excitement had arisen from the occurrence of two fires simultaneously-one inside of the fort, which consumed the large building called the hospital, and the other a private house outside of the walls. Both were supposed to be the work of incendiaries, and some negroes were suspected.

The troops at Fort Caswell were actively employed in preparing for defense, making ball cartridges, &c., and W. H. C. Whiting, formerly of the Corps of Engineers, had been there to give the necessary directions as a major of Engineers of the so-called Southern Confederacy.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. G. FOSTER, Captain, Engineers.

General JOSEPH G. TOTTEN, Chief Engineer, U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.

{p.478}

Extract from annual report, dated October 1, 1861.

...

Fort Caswell, mouth of Cape Fear River, N. C.-This fort was taken possession of on the 16th of April, 1861, by a militia company from Wilmington, N. C., commanded by Mr. John Cantwell. The fort keeper and ordnance sergeant were forced to leave, and all public property in the fort and at Fort Johnston, Smithville, N. C., was taken possession of.

At the time of this seizure very few guns were inside of the fort, and these were of inferior calibers, and without carriages to mount them. The gorge of the main work and the right flank and gorge of the covered way were without traverse circles for guns, which was a serious want, as these parts now bear more directly than others upon the channel, which has shifted on the bar from the east to the west shore. The fort generally was in good repair, having been quite thoroughly repaired two years since. The shot furnaces were not in good order, and required rebuilding, as is also the case with those at Fort Macon.

...

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No. 5.

Report of Bvt. Maj. S. S. Anderson, Second U. S. Artillery, of the seizure of the U. S. Arsenal at Fayetteville, N. C.

HEADQUARTERS TROOPS NORTH CAROLINA ARSENAL, Fayetteville, N. C., April 23, 1861.

COLONEL: I have to report that this arsenal was surrendered to the State of North Carolina yesterday, on demand of the governor of the State, which demand was sustained by a force of one thousand and fifty rank and file of State troops, well armed and equipped. The demand for the surrender being made, supported by such an overwhelming force, after consulting with Captain Bradford, the commander of the arsenal, we did not deem it necessary to offer a resistance, which in the end could be of no avail other than the total annihilation of my command (which at the time consisted of only forty-two effective muskets), as there was no probability, or possibility I may say, I could or would be re-enforced. I inclose a certified copy of the terms agreed upon between myself and the governor’s aide-de-camp with regard to the withdrawal of my command.

I have to-day ordered Lieutenant De Lagnel to Wilmington, N. C., for the purpose of procuring transportation for the troops to one of the northern posts.

Captain Bradford, the commander of the arsenal, and on whom the demand for surrender was made, has made an official report* to the chief of his corps, which embraces all the particulars regarding the surrender.

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

S. S. ANDERSON, Capt., Second Artillery, and Bvt. Maj., U. S. A., Comdg. Troops.

Col. L. THOMAS, Adjutant-General U. S. Army, Washington City, D. C.

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* Not found.

{p.479}

[Inclosure.]

Duplicate of the terms agreed upon between Maj. S. S. Anderson, Second Artillery, and Warren Winslow, esq., on the part of Governor Ellis, for the withdrawal of the United States forces now stationed at the North Carolina Arsenal, in Fayetteville, N. C., and the transfer of the United States property to the State authorities.

1. The United States troops now composing the guard at the United States Arsenal shall be permitted to march out with their arms, and all of their personal and company property of every description whatsoever.

2. The subsistence stores necessary for their use hence to their ultimate destination shall be taken by them.

3. The United States troops now about to evacuate the arsenal at this place shall be permitted to salute (with twenty-one guns) their flag before it is lowered.

4. The company of United States troops now here shall be permitted to retain their quarters, and be unmolested therein, until arrangements can be made (which will be immediately done) for their removal.

5. A safe-conduct shall be given (pledging therefor the good faith and honor of the State of North Carolina) to the United States troops now evacuating the United States Arsenal, through the State of North Carolina, to the coast; nor shall they be molested in their property or person while within the limits of the State or the waters thereof.

6. Every facility for leaving the borders of North Carolina shall be afforded to the withdrawn command; nor shall any impediment be thrown in the way to prevent the accomplishment of this object.

7. In order to the preservation of a peaceful condition between the parties to these terms of agreement, it is agreed that while the withdrawing United States forces remain necessarily at the arsenal awaiting transportation, the present command will be permitted to act as a guard, for the sole purpose of preserving good order and decorum within their own command.

8. With a desire to avoid unnecessarily wounding and paining the feelings or sense of honor of the parties to these terms of agreement, no flag will be hoisted on the staff at the arsenal, or within the limits of the Government grounds, until the departure of the troops, excepting the necessary raising of the North Carolina or Confederate flag, in token of evacuation by the one party and possession by the other party.

On the part of the governor of North Carolina, these terms were fully assented to.

WARREN WINSLOW, Aide-de-Camp. S. S. ANDERSON, Capt., Second Artillery, Bvt. Maj., U. S. A., Comdg. Troops.

FAYETTEVILLE, April 22, 1861.

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No. 6.

Report of Lieut. J. A. De Lagnel, Second U. S. Artillery, of the seizure of the U. S. Arsenal at Fayetteville, N. C.,

FORT HAMILTON, NEW YORK HARBOR, May 7, 1861.

COLONEL: I have the honor to report, for the information of the General-in Chief, my arrival at this post with Company D, Second Artillery. {p.480} It will be proper to state, in this connection, the circumstances under which this change of station has been made and with that view I will copy the remarks indorsed upon the muster rolls and company return for the past month:

On April 22, 1861, the United States Arsenal at Fayetteville, N. C., was surrendered to the State of North Carolina, upon a demand being made by the governor of the State, backed by a force of between one thousand and one thousand one hundred men, well armed and equipped, having also several pieces of field artillery. The number of the effective United States forces was forty-two. The weakness of the command, the hopelessness of relief, the distance from the coast, and the want of supplies, which had been cut off, rendered the surrender a military necessity.

The command left the arsenal (with arms, company and personal property) on April 27, 1861, and Wilmington, N. C., on April 28, 1861, on the schooner Charles Dennis, and reached Fort Hamilton on the morning of May 7, 1861. Having no accurate copy of the terms of surrender, I can only give in substance the conditions upon which the withdrawal of the garrison and the transfer of the property was effected. As nearly as I can recollect they were as follows:

First. That the troops composing the guard at the United States Arsenal should be allowed to march out, retaining their personal and company property of every description whatsoever.

Second. That the subsistence stores necessary for the use of the command should be taken by them.

Third. That the flag should be saluted before being lowered.

Fourth. That the command should be permitted to occupy their accustomed quarters until arrangements for the removal of the troops could be made.

Fifth. That a safe-conduct should be given to the withdrawn command for their protection through the State to the coast.

Sixth. That every facility should be afforded for the quiet, unmolested, and speedy removal of the United States troops.

Seventh. That, for the preservation of good order and discipline in the command, the United States troops should continue to act as a guard until their withdrawal; maintain their guards and sentinel’s as before.

Eighth. That during the stay of the United States troops at the arsenal, awaiting transportation, no flag should be hoisted on the staff or within the Government inclosure, except the necessary raising of the North Carolina or Confederate flag, on taking possession by the one party and surrender by the other.

Such, sir, are, I believe, the facts attending the presence of my company at this place; but, given from recollection altogether, there may be some inaccuracies, which will be corrected upon the reception of the report of the officers commanding, respectively, the arsenal and the guard.

With respect, I remain your obedient servant,

J. A. DE LAGNEL, First Lieutenant, Second Artillery, Comdg. Co. A

Col. H. L. SCOTT, Aide-de-Camp, Headquarters Army, New York.

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