To Gideon Welles

Hon. Secretary of the Navy, Executive Mansion,
Sir: April 29. 1861

You will please to have as strong a War Steamer as you can conveniently put on that duty, to cruise upon the Potomac, and to look in upon, and, if practicable, examine the Bluff and vicinity, at what is called the White House, once or twice per day; and, in case of any attempt to erect a battery there, to drive away the party attempting it, if practicable; and, in every event to report daily to your Department, and to me. Your Obt. Servt. A. LINCOLN

Private note. The above order I make at the suggestion of General Scott, though the execution of it, I believe is substantially what you are already doing A. L.


To Winfield Scott

April 27, 1861

To the Commanding General of the Army of the United States:

You are engaged in repressing an insurrection against the laws of the United States. If at any point on or in the vicinity of the [any] military line, which is now [or which shall be] used between the City of Philadelphia and the City of Washington, via Perryville, Annapolis City, and Annapolis Junction, you find resistance which renders it necessary to suspend the writ of Habeas Corpus for the public safety, you, personally or through the officer in command at the point where the [at which] resistance occurs, are authorized to suspend that writ. ABRAHAM LINCOLN

April 27 1861

Proclamation of Blockade

April 27, 1861

By the President of the United States of America,

A Proclamation.

Whereas, for the reasons assigned in my Proclamation of the 19th. instant, a blockade of the ports of the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, was ordered to be established:

And whereas, since that date, public property of the United States has been seized, the collection of the revenue obstructed, and duly commissioned officers of the United States while engaged in executing the orders of their superiors have been arrested and held in custody as prisoners or have been impeded in the discharge of their official duties without due legal process, by persons claiming to act under authorities of the States ofVirginia and North Carolina, an efficient blockade of the ports of those States will also be established.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this twenty-seventh day of April, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty one, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-fifth. ABRAHAM LINCOLN


By the President:

WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

To Winfield Scott

Lieutenant General Scott Washington, April 25— 1861.

My dear Sir: The Maryland Legislature assembles to-morrow at Anapolis; and, not improbably, will take action to arm the people of that State against the United States. The question has been submitted to, and considered by me, whether it would not be justifiable, upon the ground of necessary defence, for you, as commander in Chief of the United States Army, to arrest, or disperse the members of that body. I think it would not be justifiable; nor, efficient for the desired object.

First, they have a clearly legal right to assemble; and, we can not know in advance, that their action will not be lawful, and peaceful. And if we wait until they shall have acted, their arrest, or dispersion, will not lessen the effect of their action.

Secondly, we can not permanently prevent their action. If we arrest them, we can not long hold them as prisoners; and when liberated, they will immediately re-assemble, and take their action. And, precisely the same if we simply disperse them. They will immediately re-assemble in some other place.

I therefore conclude that it is only 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, the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. Your Obedient Servant


To Reverdy Johnson

Hon. Reverdy Johnson Executive Mansion, April 24th 1861.

My dear Sir: Your note of this morning is just received. I forebore to answer yours of the 22d because of my aversion (which I thought you understood,) to getting on paper, and furnishing new grounds for misunderstanding.

do say the sole purpose of bringing troops here is to defend this capital.

do say I have no purpose to invade Virginia, with them or any other troops, as I understand the word invasion. But suppose Virginia sends her troops, or admits others through her borders, to assail this capital, am I not to repel them, even to the crossing of the Potomac if I can?

Suppose Virginia erects, or permits to be erected, batteries on the opposite shore, to bombard the city, are we to stand still and see it done? In a word, if Virginia strikes us, are we not to strike back, and as effectively as we can?

Again, are we not to hold Fort Monroe (for instance) if we can? I have no objection to declare a thousand times that I have no purpose to invade Virginia or any other State, but I do not mean to let them invade us without striking back. Yours truly


Reply to Baltimore Committee

April 22, 1861

You, gentlemen, come here to me and ask for peace on any terms, and yet have no word of condemnation for those who are making war on us. You express great horror of bloodshed, and yet would not lay a straw in the way of those who are organizing in Virginia and elsewhere to capture this city. The rebels attack Fort Sumter, and your citizens attack troops sent to the defense of the Government, and the lives and property in Washington, and yet you would have me break my oath and surrender the Government without a blow. There is no Washington in that— no Jackson in that— no manhood nor honor in that. I have no desire to invade the South; but I must have troops to defend this Capital. Geographically it lies surrounded by the soil of Maryland; and mathematically the necessity exists that they should come over her territory. Our men are not moles, and can’t dig under the earth; they are not birds, and can’t fly through the air. There is no way but to march across, and that they must do. But in doing this there is no need of collision. Keep your rowdies in Baltimore, and there will be no bloodshed. Go home and tell your people that if they will not attack us, we will not attack them; but if they do attack us, we will return it, and that severely.

To Thomas H. Hicks and George W. Brown

Gov. Hicks, & Mayor Brown Washington, April 20. 1861

Gentlemen: Your letter by Messrs. Bond, Dobbin & Brune, is received. I tender you both my sincere thanks for your efforts to keep the peace in the trying situation in which you are placed. For the future, troops must be brought here, but I make no point of bringing them through Baltimore. Without any military knowledge myself, of course I must leave details to Gen. Scott. He hastily said, this morning, in presence of these gentlemen, “March them around Baltimore, and not through it.” I sincerely hope the General, on fuller reflection, will consider this practical and proper, and that you will not object to it. By this, a collision of the people of Baltimore with the troops will be avoided, unless they go out of their way to seek it. I hope you will exert your influence to prevent this.

Now, and ever, I shall do all in my power for peace, consistently with the maintainance of government. Your Obt. Servt.