Lincoln Requests Privacy and a Traitor Hands Over a Fort

Monday, January 28, 1861

Abraham Lincoln, still in Springfield, had officially announced that he would be leaving for Washington on February 11. In the time between now and then, he wished for “the utmost privacy,” barring all callers as he locked himself “in a room upstairs over a store across the street from the Statehouse.”

There he began to compose the first draft of his Inaugural Address.1

Lincoln replied to a request from Indianapolis Republicans inviting him to speak on his way to Washington. “Permit me to express to the citizens of Indianapolis, through you, their committee, my cordial thanks for the honor shown me. I accept with great pleasure the invitation so kindly tendered, and will be in your city on the 12th day of February next.”2

He also made plans for one short visit to his old home in Coles County, Illinois to visit his stepmother, who had become like a true mother to him. He wrote his cousin, John Hanks, asking him to “Be ready, and go along” since he would be passing through Hanks’s town of Decatur.3


Colonel Resigns Himself and His Fort

Fort Macomb, near New Orleans, was still under United States control and commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Abraham C. Myers. The now-independent State of Louisiana greatly desired the fort for herself.

Governor Thomas O. Moore contacted Lt. Col. Myers requesting, “possession of all the quartermaster’s commissary stores, and of all property under your control and in your possession belonging to the United States of America.”

Myers, a graduate of West Point, veteran of the Mexican War, native South Carolinian and citizen of Louisiana, immediately turned over the fort and its stores to the state and then resigned his commission in the United States Army:

“South Carolina, the State where I was born, and Louisiana, the State of my adoption, having in convention passed ordinances of secession from the United States, I am absolved from my allegiance to the Federal Government. My resignation as an officer of the U. S. Army is accepted for me by the States above named.”

Abraham C. Myers’s last act in the United States Military was also his first act in the Southern Military.4


Twiggs is Relieved

Perhaps to make sure that a situation like that of Myers’s would not also take place in Texas, General Daniel Twiggs, commander of the Department of Texas, was officially relieved of duty. The Department was ordered to Colonel Carlos Waite, a New Yorker.

It would be some time before either Twiggs or Waite received these orders. All hoped that nothing big would happen from now till then.5

  1. President Lincoln: The Duty of a Statesman by William Lee Miller, Random House, Inc., 2009. []
  2. Letter from Lincoln to Messrs. James Sulgrove, Eric Locke, William Wallace, and John F. Wood Committee, January 28, 1861. []
  3. Letter from Lincoln to John Hands, January 28, 1861. []
  4. The Seizure of the Forts and Public Property in Louisiana by Edwin C. Bearss. []
  5. Official Records Vol. 1, p584. []
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6 thoughts on “Lincoln Requests Privacy and a Traitor Hands Over a Fort

  1. Another Beauregard factoid:

    According the Museum of the Confederacy: On this day in 1861, P.G.T. Beauregard resigned his post of Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy, just five days after he had assumed it.

    When he had a layover in Washington for two day, on his way to West Point, he saw General Totten. He told General Totten that if Louisiana seceded, he would have to resign his commission and go with his state. The day after he took office, Totten wrote him that his orders were revoked and that he was to turn over the previous incumbent. – Napoleon in Gray by T. Harry Williams pg.46

    1. Thanks so much! I really appreciate it. I think I used “Napoleon in Gray” for a post or two and I wish I would have included this really early Beauregard nugget in today’s post. So, thank you very much for adding the comment.


  2. I wish I could have asked Lincoln about his first inaugural address. The end especially, and his plea for our “better angels.” It’s not as great as his second inaugural– perhaps one of the most amazing speechs in American history– but it’s pretty interesting.

    1. In a couple of weeks, I have a post about the “better angels” bit and where it came from. It’s actually quite interesting.

  3. Fascinating stuff; only wish I could have found it sooner. Been doing some research on Fort Macomb just recently, and am generally having a hard time finding documentation outside the National Archives. Where did the photo come from? And do you know much about it?

    I did note one thing; the Army List published by Powell in 1900 lists a Gnl David Twiggs, but no Daniel. This same David was dismissed in 1861; he also happens to be Myer’s father-in-law, according to the biographical sketch on Civil War Reference online. I couldn’t tell which came first, though: the surrender of Macomb or Twigg’s dismissal. History is a crazy thing.

    And as it turns out, the Superintendent of West Point who had preceded, and briefly succeeded, Beauregard in that position was Richard Delafield, who was one of the officers who supervised the construction of Fort Macomb in the 1820s.

    Cool blog!

    1. Hi there.

      I’m not completely sure where the photo came from. Sometimes I’ll spend a half-hour or more just searching for a picture. I know that I should be better at these things, but I lose track of photographic sources here and there.

      Thanks for the “small world” information on Macomb. I love stuff like that and really wish I could add it to the posts. So I’m thrilled when someone comes along and does it for me in the comments. 🙂



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