For a Kinder, Gentler Society
Six Days in April: Lincoln
and the Union in Peril
  • Frank B. Marcotte
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Six Days in April: Lincoln.   and the Union in Peril
Sound Bite

In a dramatic episode at the outset of the Civil War, Baltimore held the fate of the Union in its hands. The drama of these six days encapsulates the complexity of motives and of logistics, and the mixed and sometimes shifting loyalties, that characterized much of the Civil War.


About the Author

Frank B. Marcotte has researched the personalities, motives, loyalties and conduct of key figures in the Civil War for three decades, combing archives to pull together a rich picture of the events and their context. His first book, Private Osborne; Massachusetts 23rd Volunteers: Burnside Expedition, Roanoke Island, Second Front Against Richmond, was published in 2002.

About the Book

This is the story of the two cities, Baltimore and Washington, at the outset of the Civil War, and the story of five men who battled for the state of Maryland.

In...

This is the story of the two cities, Baltimore and Washington, at the outset of the Civil War, and the story of five men who battled for the state of Maryland.

In their hands lay the fate of the Union: Abraham Lincoln, president of the United States; Thomas Hicks, governor of Maryland; George Brown, mayor of Baltimore; George Kane, chief of police of Baltimore; and General Benjamin Butler, in charge of the military force trying to rescue Washington.

Before Abraham Lincoln could even get to Washington for his inauguration, Southern states began seceding; the rebellion was underway.

On April 12, 1861, the South fired on Fort Sumter. On April 15, President Lincoln ordered 75,000 troops from the Northern states to assemble in Washington — but thousands of Baltimore rough-necks attacked a Massachusetts regiment on their way to defend the capital. Commanding the only rail and telegraph links, this feisty port city with a reputation for mob rule held Washington incommunicado.

Five men — Confederates and Union sympathizers, and somewhere in between — battled for control of Baltimore and for the state of Maryland. For six long days they acted (and failed — or refused — to act), strategized and maneuvered.

This lively historical account is rich in personal observations from eye-witnesses to the events from Southern and Northern perspectives, drawing on contemporary newspaper articles, personal correspondence and other sources including foot soldiers, officers, elected officials and civilians. The conveys a pungent sense of life in the days when the elegance of Washington was still mostly a vision for the future.


Introduction

CHAPTER 1. TWO CITIES: BALTIMORE AND WASHINGTON

The rebellion of the Southern states was underway. On Friday, April 12, 1861 the South fired on Fort Sumter. On Monday, April 15, President Lincoln...

CHAPTER 1. TWO CITIES: BALTIMORE AND WASHINGTON

The rebellion of the Southern states was underway. On Friday, April 12, 1861 the South fired on Fort Sumter. On Monday, April 15, President Lincoln ordered 75,000 troops from the Northern states to assemble in Washington. On Friday, April 19, a Baltimore mob of thousands attacked a Massachusetts regiment en route to Washington.

The Massachusetts troops, the first to respond to Lincoln’s call, lost four men and many others were wounded by the angry hordes. In a spectacular midnight raid, Baltimore citizens burned all the railroad bridges, cut telegraph wires, and stopped all mails en route to the capital. They were determined that Northern troops would not go through Baltimore on their way to protect Washington.

All Washington’s connections to the North normally went through Baltimore. Now, they were cut off. Without any military force or the possibility of calling any in, the capital was helpless. For six days Washington was threatened with capture. It was isolated, an island in a sea of Southern states. On the Virginia heights, across the Potomac River from Washington, Southern troops were massed for an attack. On its other three sides Washington was pressed against the Potomac by the surrounding state of Maryland, which was threatening to secede and join the South.

This is the story of the two cities, Baltimore and Washington. It is the story of five men who battled for the state of Maryland, key to the immediate survival of the Union. For six long days, these five men battled to control Maryland while Baltimore held Washington incommunicado: Abraham Lincoln, president of the United States; Thomas Hicks, governor of Maryland; George Brown, mayor of Baltimore; George Kane, chief of police of Baltimore; and General Benjamin Butler, in charge of the military force trying to rescue Washington. In their hands lay the fate of the Union. Laid out in grand circumstance on the hills above the harbor, Baltimore had a magnificent history, as one of the great American cities of the colonial period. Now, in the years before the Civil War, it was in the grip of partisan outrages. In the late 1850s, as the Civil War approached, Baltimore was a brutal city, a city ruled by thuggery and violence. Authorities could not control the raging political factions, whose “bloody and destructive riots...[left scenes of] killed and wounded truly appalling,” said Governor T.W. Ligon in a special report to the Maryland legislature.1 The unruly populace of Baltimore presented such dangers that on February 22, 1861, on his way to Washington for his inauguration, president-elect Abraham Lincoln went through that city in disguise in the middle of the night.

In contrast, Washington, the capital of the nation, was a new city, only a few decades from farmland when the Civil War began…


More Information

Sound Bite

Baltimore burned its bridges, isolating Washington at the outset of the conflict between North and South. Here is the riveting account of a contest between two cities and five men at a turning point in history.



Sound Bite

Baltimore burned its bridges, isolating Washington at the outset of the conflict between North and South. Here is the riveting account of a contest between two cities and five men at a turning point in history.



Categories

Pages 200
Year: 2004
LC Classification: F189.B157M37
Dewey code: 973.7'09752—dc22
BISAC: HIS036050
Soft Cover
ISBN: 978-0-87586-313-9
Price: USD 22.95
Hard Cover
ISBN: 978-0-87586-314-6
Price: USD 28.95
Ebook
ISBN: 978-0-87586-315-3
Price: USD 28.95
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