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Doc. 160.-Major Morris's letter, to Judge Giles, at Baltimore.

At the date of issuing your writ, and for two weeks previous, the city in which you live and where your Court has been held, was entirely under the control of revolutionary authorities. Within that period United States soldiers, while committing no offence, had been perfidiously attacked and inhumanly murdered in your streets; no punishment had been awarded, and I believe no arrests had been made for these atrocious crimes; supplies of provisions intended for this garrison had been stopped; the intention to capture this fort had been boldly proclaimed; your most public thoroughfares were daily patrolled by large numbers of troops armed and clothed, at least in part, with articles stolen from the United States; and the Federal flag, while waving over the Federal offices, was cut down by some person wearing the uniform of a Maryland soldier. To add to the foregoing, an assemblage elected in defiance of law, but claiming to be the legislative body of your State, and so recognized by the Executive of Maryland, was debating the federal compact. If all this be not rebellion, I know not what to call it. I certainly regard it as sufficient legal cause for suspending the writ of habeas corpus. Besides, there were certain grounds of expediency on which I declined obeying your mandate.

1st. The writ of habeas corpus in the hands of an unfriendly power might depopulate this fortification and place it at the mercy of “a Baltimore mob,” in much less time than it could be done by all the appliances of modern warfare.

2d. The ferocious spirit exhibited by your community toward the United States army would render me very averse from appearing publicly and unprotected in the city of Baltimore to defend the interests of the body to which I belong. A few days since a soldier of this command, while outside the walls, was attacked by a fiend or fiends in human shape, almost deprived of life, and left unprotected about half a mile from garrison. He was found in this situation and brought in, covered with blood. One of your evening prints was quite jocose over this laughable occurrence.

And now, sir, permit me to say, in conclusion, that no one can regret more than I this conflict between the civil and military authorities. If, in an experience of thirty-three years, you have never before known the writ of habeas corpus to be disobeyed, it is only because such a contingency in political affairs as the present has never before arisen. I claim to be a loyal citizen, and I hope my former conduct, both official and private, will justify this pretension.

In any condition of affairs, except that of civil war, I would cheerfully obey your order, and as soon as the present excitement shall pass away I will hold myself ready, not only to [240] produce the soldier, but also to appear in person to answer for my conduct; but, in the existing state of sentiment in the city of Baltimore, I think it your duty to sustain the federal military and to strengthen their hands, instead of endeavoring to strikes them down. I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

W. W. Morris, Major, Fourth United States Artillery, Commanding Fort McHenry.

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