Doc. 20.-General Harney's Report.
W. S. Harney, Brigadier-General.
Having been desired from the Adjutant-General's office, to make a statement of the events with which I have been more or less connected, as a public officer, since the breaking out of the present rebellion, I make the following brief reference to them. I was in command of the Western Department when the first overt acts of the rebels startled the country — not then prepared to anticipate the great results which followed. I was suddenly surprised by an order calling me to Washington, and set out immediately in obedience to it. At that moment Harper's Ferry was in possession of the rebels; but this fact had not become known, and in my route to Washington, the train upon which I was travelling was seized at that place, and I was myself taken to Richmond, where I saw a number of officers, old friends and associates of mine in the army in Mexico and elsewhere, but who had now withdrawn from the service of the United States and joined the rebel cause. They treated me with kindness and civility, but whether from a sense of old attachment, or from a hope of drawing me over to their side, I do not know. As I was a native of Tennessee, and had been for many years, when not on duty in the field, a resident of the State of Missouri, I presume that  my old friends made tolerably sure of my taking sides with them. Be this as it may, they showed no disposition to detain me in Richmond by violence, but permitted me to leave there, and I went to Washington without opposition, and immediately availed myself of the opportunity of publishing a letter, addressed to an old friend and resident of St. Louis, in which I announced myself as irrevocably for the Union. I desired to put this point absolutely beyond the possibility of question. Under ordinary circumstances, such a declaration would not have been necessary; but as I was from one of the Southern States, and had resided nearly all my life in a slave State, I felt called upon to make my election as between the Union and the rebel cause as publicly as possible, that my old friends in the South might understand that they had nothing to expect from me, and to manifest before the country my sense of duty as an officer of the Government. Upon making my report at the War Office, and asking for orders, I was not long in discovering that the public affairs of Missouri--especially in the city of St. Louis — were very much under the influence of the two Blairs, Montgomery and Frank — the former the Postmaster-General, then in Washington; the latter a lawyer in St. Louis, who had recently been active in raising a volunteer force in the city of St. Louis, then immediately designed for the protection of the United States Arsenal on the Mississippi River, in the southern suburb of the city. It will be the province of history to recite the suspicious proceedings of the Legislature of the State of Missouri, in authorizing military organizations in different parts of the State, under pretence of preparing the militia for the defence of the State. One of these organizations was commenced in the city of St. Louis; the nucleus of it having meetings in a building on one of the most public streets of the city, where they impudently hoisted a rebel flag. They continued to assemble at this place, until their numbers had increased so greatly as to require more room for their meetings, when they formally marched out of the city, and established a camp in what was called Lindell's Grove, immediately in the western edge of the city. This was called Camp Jackson, after the Governor of the State, who was known to be in the interests of the South, and was commanded by General Frost, an officer of the State militia, acting under the authority of the Governor, ostensibly for the purpose of militia exercise in a camp of instruction; but no one who was willing to see the truth, had any doubt but that this organization had for its object the seizure of the public arsenal, which was to have been a signal-step for the State to declare herself with the South. Among those who very clearly saw the purpose of this camp was Frank Blair, who had been appointed a colonel of volunteers, and had been stationed at the arsenal with his own regiment and other troops, for its defence. The lamented General Lyon had recently been placed on duty at the arsenal with his company of infantry; and the whole force at the arsenal had reached, I think, about five thousand; the troops in General Frost's camp numbering about six hundred. There may be many matters of interest in connection with the events at St. Louis at that time with which I was not then acquainted, and am not now thoroughly informed of. I think there was a Committee of Safety, of known Union men, acting under advice from the authorities at Washington, communicated, perhaps, through Mr. Montgomery Blair; and that the military authorities at the arsenal had been instructed by the Secretary of War to make no movement without first consulting the Committee of Safety, and to do nothing except upon their approval. I have never known precisely the origin of the first movement made from the arsenal — whether it was made on the suggestion of General Lyon, Colonel Frank Blair, or that of the Committee of Safety. But on the tenth day of May, 1861, in the middle of the day, when no one in the city or in Camp Jackson anticipated the movement, the military force at the arsenal was suddenly put in march toward the city. One portion of it passed through the midst of the city, whilst another marched along the western outskirts of the city; and the march of the two portions was so well-timed and measured, that Camp Jackson was completely surrounded before any measures could be taken by its inmates for either escape or defence. An unconditional surrender was demanded and acquiesced in. Unfortunately, some citizen sympathizers with the rebel cause, together with some loose population, had gathered around the camp, and while measures were being taken to secure the prisoners, without bloodshed, the troops were insulted by the most abusive epithets from the populace, which was all borne for a considerable time by the most perfect discipline and forbearance. But at length the report of a pistol from the crowd was heard, and it was immediately supposed by the troops that it was necessary to disperse the crowd to protect themselves; and accordingly a miscellaneous firing was commenced by the soldiers, which required all the efforts of the officers to control; and this was not effected until some twenty-five or thirty persons were killed or wounded. It may well be supposed that such an event could not transpire without producing in the city, then nearly divided in sentiment between the North and South, an immense excitement. I now return to myself in the city of Washington, where I was wholly ignorant of the events just detailed; the closing event — the capture of Camp Jackson — not having, indeed, taken place until after I left Washington on my return to St. Louis, which city I reached on the evening of the Friday on which that event took place. It is necessary to state that whilst in Washington, making my application to the Secretary of War for orders to return to my command, Mr.  Cameron quite distinctly intimated to me that the affairs of Missouri were under the control and direction of the two brothers Blair, and stated, indeed, that he could not give me orders to return to St. Louis without first knowing how Mr. Montgomery Blair might feel disposed in regard to his doing so. As I had never had any other than friendly relations with both of the Blairs, I did not hesitate to speak with Mr. Montgomery Blair on the subject, and I understood from him distinctly that he had no objection to my returning to the military command of the Western Department. This was certainly the impression left upon my mind by what I understood him to say, though I cannot now undertake to repeat precisely his language. I had no suspicion, at that time, of his being illdisposed toward me; and for this reason I may not have noticed his language — whatever it was — so particularly as I might have done had I suspected that he was hostile to me. The impression he left upon me was, as just stated, that he had no objection to my returning to St. Louis. I accordingly stated this to the Secretary of War, who immediately thereupon gave me orders to return to St. Louis and assume command. Upon this I took the evening train of that day, and reached St. Louis on the evening of the Camp Jackson affair, and assumed the command of the Western Department. It was greatly to my astonishment that I heard, some weeks afterward, that so soon as Mr. Blair heard of the order for my return to St. Louis, he went in great haste to the Secretary of War, and denounced it — using, as I heard, very emphatic language — saying that “it is not what we wish — we (speaking in the plural) cannot permit it. The order must be countermanded.” The Secretary explained that he had given the order, and, as he supposed, with the approbation of Mr. Blair; and as he had given the order he did not wish to countermand it. After some further conversation on the subject, it was determined that an order to displace me from the command, should be confidentially placed in the hand of Mr. Blair, to be sent by him to his brother Frank, then acting as a colonel of volunteers, who was to be empowered and instructed to hold it secretly in reserve until such time as in his own discretion and judgment he might think proper to lay the order upon me, and thus annihilate my power as a military man in my own department, the command of which was then to devolve upon my subordinate. How Mr. Cameron, the Secretary of War, or those associated with him, could reconcile it to themselves to be guilty of this act of duplicity, is a matter which must be left for themselves to determine. I have only this to add in relation to it: that during several weeks of very delicate and important duty in St. Louis, I was almost daily in intercourse with Colonel Frank Blair, confidentially conferring with him and trusting him as I would have done a friend, fully relied upon as such; his whole intercourse with me and his official position requiring this course. And during this period he carried in his pocket — unknown to me — an order which was calculated, if not designed, very materially to affect my reputation as a military man, and to bring even my patriotism into question. During this time I continued to receive official communications from the War Department as if the order to supersede me in the command was not in existence — a fact which might perhaps have justified me in resisting the order itself, had I been disposed to stand upon a technical point — the orders received from the War Department of subsequent date to the order relieving me, virtually countermanding that order. But at a time when public events of vast importance throughout the whole country were manifesting themselves, I supposed it to be my proper course to yield to what I believed to be the design of the authorities in Washington, without attempting to enforce what, nevertheless, I considered my technical right; and I yielded obedience to the order without hesitation when it was presented to me;which event, however, did not take place until some weeks had passed after my return to St. Louis, within which time I had completely succeeded in allaying the agitations and excitements which threatened the peace of the city and of the State, at the moment of my resuming the command. The Governor of the State of Missouri, with the Legislature then in session, which had been elected without any view to the question of secession, had begun to show a decisive tendency toward a separation from the Union, when a large portion of the people of the State were decidedly opposed to it. Among the acts of the Legislature having the approval of the Governor, was one for the reorganization of the militia of the State, containing one clause requiring every man enrolled in the militia to take an oath of fealty to the State, in the full spirit of what is known as the State rights doctrine. It was impossible not to see the purpose of this, Governor Jackson being of known secession tendencies, and the whole militia of the State being subject to his orders. It was equivalent to a public declaration by the Governor and the Legislature, that the people of the State of Missouri owed allegiance first to the State of Missouri, and only to the United States Government in subordination to that first duty. In connection with the statement I am now making, it is a point of very great importance that, whilst the militia bill required the oath just stated, there was a separate and detached bill authorizing the Governor to appoint a major-general for the command of the militia of the State, which bill contained no reference to the oath above referred to. When the bill for a major-general was passed and approved by the Governor, he gave the appointment to Sterling Price, then the most influential man in the State--a man of the highest respectability, who had been a brigadier-general in the war with Mexico; had been the Governor of the State of Missouri, and had occupied other public offices, acquiring a high reputation in all of them for ability, high  honor, and especially for integrity of character. He accepted the appointment of major-general, but especially spoke of the fact in public that he had not taken the oath of special allegiance to the State of Missouri, under the militia bill whilst he publicly declared that he was under oath to support the Constitution of the United States. The importance of the position of General Price, and of his well-known character for integrity and honor, will be apparent from the following statement of the further proceedings of the Legislature. Although the feeling in the Legislature was very strong in favor of secession, the members did not dare to proceed so far as to attempt to carry the State out of the Union by an act of its own body; and a proposition to call a Convention of the State, although very fiercely opposed, nevertheless prevailed; many members voting for it in a blind trust that the people would return members for the Convention who would favor secession. The Legislature would not have authorized the Convention, except in the belief that they themselves, as representatives of the people, were representatives also of the feeling in the State on the question of secession, although that question had not been before the people at the time of their election. The law authorizing the Convention, having received due sanction, went into operation, and members for a Convention throughout the State were elected — the question now being distinctly that of secession; and it was found, when the members assembled, that a very large majority was for the Union and against secession — thus manifesting the true feeling in the State against all the influences of the Governor and the Legislature. It is impossible to recur to these proceedings without feeling that similar results might have grown out of a similar reference of the question of secession to the people of other States, which were carried out of the Union by the political chicanery of a few violent and desperate demagogues; but this is not a place for comment upon such questions. Among the members returned for the Convention was Sterling Price, who immediately announced himself a Union man, and was elected as such to preside over the Convention which, in its very first proceedings, declared itself unmistakably for the preservation of the Union, and throughout its session continued to maintain that character. The Convention had been in session for some weeks, and had temporarily adjourned, just prior to my resumption of the command in the Western Department. On assuming the command, my attention was first drawn to a consideration of the state of parties and public opinion on the one absorbing topic of union and secession; and, taking the complexion of the recently-elected members of the Convention as a reliable guide, and having myself some knowledge of the growing opinion in the State in favor even of emancipation, I felt convinced that the elements of freedom in the State needed nothing more than to be treated with reasonable respect and attention to secure their predominance over the temporary frenzy of the excited Legislature, which was known to have been tampered with by agents sent expressly from the Southern States to invite and urge them to join in their wicked enterprise. Some of these agents, abusing the liberty of speech accorded to American citizens, publicly addressed the legislative body, making nflammatory appeals to it to drive or commit them into acts of treason against the Government. In this state of things, on the suggestion of a judicious friend whose patriotism I knew was beyond suspicion, I determined to invite an interview with Major-General Price, the presiding officer over the Union Convention of the State, and the commanding general of the entire militia of the State, in the belief that if General Price would assure me that he would act in his public character in harmony with all of his avowed principles, there could be no great difficulty in preserving the State to the Union, in spite of all the machinations of the secessionists. Accordingly I caused it to be communicated to General Price, who was then at Jefferson City, the capital of the State, that I desired to confer with him personally in the city of St. Louis on questions of common interest to both of us. He at once accepted the invitation and came to St. Louis, where, the next morning after his arrival, I met him with a single friend, he also having a single friend with him. These two gentlemen who were witnesses to what passed were General Hitchcock and Major Turner, both of them formerly members of the army, but who were then residing as citizens, General Hitchcock in the city of St. Louis, and Major Turner but a few miles in the country. These gentlemen had both of them been long known to me in the army; they were also well known to General Price, and it was publicly known that they were old and attached friends of each other. Nothing could exceed the harmony of this meeting. General Price appeared to rejoice in the opportunity of declaring his wishes, and his purpose to maintain the peace of the State of Missouri within the Union, and in subordination to the Constitution of the United States, and as that was also my purpose and duty, we mutually pledged each other to that object in the presence of the two gentlemen just named. General Price declared that he was under no obligations to the State, as such, which could impede him in the execution of his declared purpose. He expressed his conviction that he had a personal influence in the State which would enable him to put down all attempts at organizations designed to disturb the peace of the State, and he voluntarily pledged his honor that in case he should hear of any attempt at disturbance, he would himself go personally to the place and address the people, and, if necessary, would disperse  them by the military power he possessed as the Major-General in command of the militia of the State. He only requested of me that, in case I should hear of any threatened disturbance, I would give him notice of it, and allow him an opportunity of trying his ability to put it down, before using the military force of the United States for that purpose — putting this on the ground of mere policy, but without attempting to put me under any obligations in the premises; leaving me perfectly free in the exercise of whatever power the Government might confer upon me as the military commander of the department. After we had thus come to an understanding, General Price expressed the opinion that it might tend to quiet the public mind if it were made Known that our meeting had taken place; that it was perfectly amicable, and that we had but one common purpose; to which I assented, and General Hitchcock and Major Turner were then requested by General Price to prepare a paper for us to sign. They retired a few moments and submitted to us a paper, which we mutually signed, expressing in concise but very precise terms the circumstances of our meeting and agreement. This paper was immediately sent to the press, and I received many evidences of its having given almost universal satisfaction throughout the State. It is important to mention here that the Governor of the State had assembled at the capital a considerable body of militia, ostensibly for its defence; but these militia were under the immediate command of General Price, and as soon as he and myself had come to the understanding just stated, General Price, of his own accord, and without any suggestion from me, declared that immediately on his return to Jefferson City he would order the militia to their homes, which he did, and now, for some weeks there was perfect quiet throughout the State, and there were no signs of a purpose to disturb the arrangement which General Price and myself had agreed upon, and which, as I believed at the time, and still believe, might easily have been maintained by ordinary prudence in the military authorities then exercising control in the State. In the midst of this quiescent state of things, what can express my astonishment when Colonel Blair determined to make use of the order to supersede me, which accordingly was laid upon me, and I was deprived of the command. Immediately upon this, a military expedition was started from St. Louis with the avowed purpose of seizing Governor Jackson at Jefferson City. I omitted to mention at the proper time, that in my interview with General Price, he stated that he would not agree to come down to St. Louis for the interview with me, until he had first obtained the sanction of Governor Jackson; and further, that he had obtained from Governor Jackson his personal pledge that he, Governor Jackson, would give no order to the militia, and would make no attempt at a movement in the State, without his approbation. General Price even stated that he had obtained this pledge in writing, giving as a reason — not particularly respectful to Governor Jackson--that he had held his character for fidelity in suspicion; and as this was generally known at the time, Governor Jackson's acquiescence in General Price's demands was attributed to his having come under a wholesome apprehension for his own personal safety, in view of the fact that the State, through its convention, had given its voice decisively against him; this also having its weight with me in the reliance I placed upon General Price as a co-worker with me for the peaceful preservation of the State. As might have been anticipated, the Governor of the State, immediately upon hearing of the military expedition for his arrest, took care to secure himself by withdrawing from Jefferson City beyond reach. And if the effects of this military expedition had stopped with this fact alone, it would have been fortunate for the State; but, unfortunately, General Price, having no knowledge of the particular circumstances connected with it, looked upon it as a breach of faith against himself, who had, of his own accord, removed the militia on which the Governor might have relied, and it appeared to him as if his meeting me at St. Louis had been designed expressly to induce such an action on his part as might lay the Governor open to seizure. This was undoubtedly his view of the proceeding, upon which he decided to take part with the Governor against what he regarded as a treacherous act of military despotism. Accordingly, he fled with the Governor, and has since been numbered among the enemies of the Federal Government. The subsequent proceedings in the State of Missouri have, in my opinion, fully justified the view I took of the state of public feeling when I resumed the command of the Western department, and I have never doubted that if the measures I adopted had not been violently interfered with, the State might have been spared a vast amount of suffering from military movements, into which she was precipitated by the single act, which, on its face, must necessarily have been futile, by which an attempt was made to seize the Governor, whose influence in the State had wholly departed, and who was, in fact, powerless for evil until driven into rebellion by what seemed to be an act of treachery to General Price. Since the events above recited, I have not been called to take a public part in the war, though holding myself constantly in readiness to obey any order which the Government might think proper to give in relation to me; being now, as I ever have been, devotedly attached to the Union.