Authorization for the Pembroke

[October 28, 1861]

Abraham Lincoln,

President of the United States of America

To all whom these presents may concern


Know Ye, that, whereas, by the first section of the Act of Congress approved the 5th. of August last, entitled “An Act supplementary, to an Act entitled ‘An act to protect the commerce of the United States, and Punish the Crime of Piracy,’ ” it is enacted “That any vessel or boat which shall be built, purchased, fitted out in whole or in part, or held for the purpose of being employed in the commission of any piratical aggression, search, restraint, depredation, or seizure, or in the commission of any other act of piracy, as defined by the law of nations, shall be liable to be captured and brought into any port of the United States if found upon the high seas, or to be seized if found in any port or place within the United States, whether the same shall have actually sailed upon any piratical expedition or not, and whether any act of piracy shall have been committed or attempted upon or from such vessel or boat or not; and any such vessel or boat may be adjudged and condemned, if captured by a vessel authorized as herein after mentioned, to the use of the United States and to that of the captors, and if seized by a collector, surveyor, or marshal, then to the use of the United States, after due process and trial, in like manner as is provided in section four of the act to which this act is supplementary, which section is hereby made in all respects applicable to cases arising under this act.”

And whereas by the second section of the same Act, the President of the United States is authorized to instruct the commander of any suitable vessel to subdue, seize, take, and, if on the high seas, to send into any port of the United States any vessel or boat, built, purchased, fitted out or held as in the said first section mentioned:

Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, in pursuance of the authority thus in me vested, do hereby authorize the propeller Pembroke, owned by R. B. Forbes of Boston and commanded by to take any vessel or boat, built, purchased or fitted out as aforesaid, and for so doing, this shall be his warrant.


Given under my hand and the seal of the United States at Washington this twenty-eighth day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty one, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-sixth.

By the President: ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.


To Samuel R. Curtis

Executive Mansion,
Brigadier General S. R. Curtis. Washington, Oct. 28. 1861.

My dear Sir. Herewith is a document, half letter, half order, which, wishing you to see, but not to make public I send unsealed. Please read it, and then inclose it to the officer who may be in command of the Department of the West, at the time it reaches him. I can not now know whether Fremont, or Hunter will then be in command. Yours truly A. LINCOLN

This letter appears in the Official Records (I, III, 555) under date of October 24 with a note appended as follows: “No inclosure found, but see Lincoln to Commander of Department of the West, October 24, p. 553.” The editors’ belief is that Lincoln held the letter to the Commander of the Department of the West until October 28 in order to give his letter to Curtis enclosing General Orders No. 18, time to be put in force. See Lincoln to Curtis, October 24, supra.

To David Hunter

Washington, Oct. 24, 1861

Sir: The command of the Department of the West having devolved upon you, I propose to offer you a few suggestions, knowing how hazzardous it is to bind down a distant commander in the field to specific lines and operations, as so much always depends on a knowledge of localities & passing events. It is intended therefore, to leave a considerable margin for the exercise of your judgment & discretion.

The main rebel army (Prices) west of the Mississippi, is believed to have passed Dade county, in full retreat upon North-Western Arkansas, leaving Missouri almost freed from the enemy, excepting in the South-East of the State. Assuming this basis of fact, it seems desireable, as you are not likely to overtake Price, and are in danger of making too long a line from your own base of supplies and reinforcements, that you should give up the pursuit, halt your main army, divide it into two corps of observation, one occupying Sedalia, and the other Rolla, the present termini of Railroads; then recruit the condition of both corps, by re-establishing, and improving, their discipline and instruction; perfecting their clothing and equipments, and providing less uncomfortable quarters. Of course both Railroads must be guarded, and kept open, judiciously employing just so much force as is necessary for this. From these two points, Sedalia and Rolla, and especially in judicious co-operation with Lane on the Kansas border, it would be so easy to concentrate, and repel any army of the enemy returning on Missouri from the South-West, that it is not probable any such attempt to return will be made before, or during, the approaching cold weather. Before spring the people of Missouri will be in no favorable mood to renew, for next year, the troubles which have so much afflicted, and impoverished them during this.

If you adopt this line of policy, and if, as I anticipate, you will see no enemy in great force approaching, you will have a surplus of force, which you can withdraw from these points and direct to others, as may be needed, the railroads furnishing ready means of re-inforcing these main points, if occasion requires. Doubtless local uprisings, for a time, will continue to occur; but these can be met by detachments, and local forces of our own, and will, ere long, tire out of themselves.

While, as stated at the beginning of this letter, a large discretion must be, and is, left with yourself, I feel sure that an indefinite pursuit of Price, or an attempt, by this long and circuitous route, to reach Memphis, will be exhaustive beyond endurance, and will end in the loss of the whole force engaged in it. Your Obt. Servt.


To the Commander of the Department of the West.

To Samuel R. Curtis

Executive Mansion,
Brig: Genl. S. R. Curtis Washington, Oct. 24, 1861.

Dear Sir On receipt of this, with the accompanying inclosures, you will take safe, certain, and suitable measures to have the inclosure addressed to Major General Fremont, delivered to him, with all reasonable despatch—subject to these conditions only, that if, when Gen. Fremont shall be reached by the messenger (yourself, or any one sent by you) he shall then have, in personal command, fought and won a battle, or shall then be actually in a battle, or shall then be in the immediate presence of the enemy, in expectation of a battle, it is not to be delivered, but held for further orders. After, and not till after, the delivery to Gen. Fremont, let the inclosure addressed to Gen. Hunter be delivered to him. Your Obt. Servt. A. Lincoln

[The commentary here is worth reading for context:]

The enclosures referred to were undoubtedly General Orders No. 18 and Lincoln’s letter to General David Hunter, infra. It seems obvious, however, that after writing this letter to Curtis, Lincoln decided to withhold the letter to Hunter until a later date, thus allowing time for General Hunter to assume command before receiving Lincoln’s suggestions (see Lincoln to Curtis, October 28,infra). General Orders No. 18 (OR, I, III, 553) is as follows:

“Headquarters of the Army,

“Washington, October 24, 1861.

“Major-General Fremont, of the U.S. Army, the present commander of the Western Department of the same, will, on the receipt of this order, call Major-General Hunter, of the U.S. Volunteers, to relieve him temporarily in that command, when he (Major-General Fremont) will report to General Headquarters, by letter, for further orders.


“By command: E. D. TOWNSEND,

“Assistant Adjutant-General.”

Lincoln’s precaution in withholding the letter to Hunter was justified, for General Fremont attempted to prevent the delivery of General Orders No. 18. Leonard Swett, by whom Lincoln dispatched the letter to Curtis, related the circumstances at length in a letter dated November 9, 1861, which reads in part as follows:

“Tuesday morning [October 29], I went immediately to Genl. Curtis . . . but I could not see him until evening . . . . we found numerous obstacles to the delivery of the order. It had unfortunately been announced in the New York papers, that the order was coming. Several St Louis men, who knew me came out on the same train. . . . It was therefore thought by Genl’ Curtis & myself that my connection with it might be suspected and some other person should take it through the lines. . . . Gen’l Curtis knew nothing of the character of these orders except what I, a stranger to him, told him. In the event of trouble, which he feared, it might be necessary for him . . . to know what it contained. . . . I opened one of the orders, took several copies, after which, the Genl enclosed it in a new envellop and directed it as before.

“The trouble of delivery was to get some reliable man, who had legitimate business inside Gen’l Fremont’s lines. Capt [Ezekiel] Boyden, of Champaign Co. Ills . . . was selected as one, and Capt McKinney [Thomas J. McKenny?] . . . as the other. . . . McKinney took the originals and delivered them first.

“He arrived at Fremonts camp, at five oclock am. [November 1] having rode on horseback the two nights and day previous, having gone by Rolla. After waiting about five hours, and learning that there was no immediate prospect of battle, he applied at head quarters for admission The aid . . . told him he must make known his errand He declined, stating he must see the Gen’l & could confer with no one else I omitted to say he was dressed for the trip like a country farmer. . . . Finally he was admitted. When the Gen’l read the order he said excitedly “Sir, how did you get through my lines,” when informed the Gen’l dismissed him. In a few moments . . . the aid came to him and told him not tell [sic] in camp the character of the order In a few moments more he came back again asking if Hunter knew of this To this . . . he responded as directed that a messenger had gone by Sedalia to give him a duplicate The messenger then tried to find where Hunter was. The soldiers did not know and the Genl’s friends could not or would not tell. He tried to get a pass out of camp That was refused About eleven oclock at night, he overheard the password With that and an old pass of Gen’l Curtis he started & got out The next day [November 2] about twelve oclock he found Hunter. . . .

“The following facts I learn from Capt J W Shaffer of Freeport As soon as the order arrived, Fremont ordered all his men to arms He sent back for Hunter'[s] division to march all night which they did, to join in the battle in the morning. When morning came, Fremont issued his Farewell address and left without giving any information about the Gov property There went with him, his body guard, 50 Indians and a paymaster with between 200000 & 300,000$ The paymaster was arrested here last night and has some of the money. Hunter on taking command send [sic] cavalry scouts in all directions for from 30 to 40 miles but of course there was no enemy. . . .

“Let me tell a few more things which I have tried to investigate candidly & believe to be true. Gen’l Fremont has talked about his signature to unlawful orders being above law & to be obeyed The german people have talked about making him Dictator Some of his officers in quite high standing have talked so too.”

Fremont’s order relinquishing his command to General Hunter was issued under date of November 2 (General Orders No. 28, OR, I, III, 559).

To Officer in Command at Poolesville, Maryland

Executive Mansion, October 21, 1861— 10 p.m.

Officer in Command at Poolesville:

Send a mounted messenger to the battle-ground and bring me information from General Stone. I want the particulars as to result of engagement and the relative position of the forces for the night, their numbers, and such other information as will give me a correct understanding of affairs. A. Lincoln.

To Winfield Scott

Lieut. Gen. Winfield Scott: Washington, October 14, 1861.

The military line of the United States for the suppression of the insurrection may be extended so far as Bangor in Maine. You and any officer acting under your authority are hereby authorized to suspend the writ of habeas corpus in any place between that place and the city of Washington. Abraham Lincoln.

By the President:

WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

To Pacha Mohammed Said

October 11, 1861

Abraham Lincoln,

President of the United States of America

To His Highness Mohammed Said Pacha,

Viceroy of Egypt and its Dependencies &c., &c. &c.,

Great and Good Friend: I have received from Mr. Thayer, Consul General of the United States at Alexandria, a full account of the liberal, enlightened and energetic proceedings which, on his complaint, you have adopted in bringing to speedy and condign punishment the parties, subjects of Your Highness in Upper Egypt, who were concerned in an act of cruel persecution against Faris, an agent of certain Christian missionaries in Upper Egypt. I pray Your Highness to be assured that those proceedings, at once so prompt and so just, will be regarded as a new and unmistakable proof equally of Your Highness’ friendship for the United States, and of the firmness, integrity and wisdom with which the Government of Your Highness is conducted. Wishing you great prosperity and success, I am, Your Friend, ABRAHAM LINCOLN

Washington, October 11, 1861.

By the President:

WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.