Item description: Letter, 28 December 1861, to Edward Porter Alexander from an unidentified writer (later identified by Alexander as simply “Chapman”).
Maryland, Dec. 28th 1861 –
To Genl. G.T. Beauregard
Hdquarters, Centreville, Fairfax Co., Va.
My Dr Sir,
Your favor requesting me to receive Mr. E. Bryan as an inmate in my house, reached me safely & with every desire to comply, I at once saw that it would fail & that immediately.
Nine tenths of the troubles of persons here have been brought upon them by their negro’s. In a word, as Seward says, “there is a spy in every house.” Mr. Bryan is known at least to my carriage driver, consequently he & I would be arrested in less than ten days.
But I have found a substitute, equally faithful, equally zealous, who will never be suspected.
I flatter myself that I have also divised a plan by which Dispatches & newspapers can be transmitted across the river, at any & all times, regardless of storms, ice, fogs & even a fleet in sight.
A small machine constructed some what like a weavers-shuttle, with a small tin box therein, hermetically sealed, can be dragged across on the bottom of the river, under the ice & under the keels of twenty ships, & they be ignorant of it.
It will require a small wire, in length, twice the width of the river, say three miles long, to drag the little machine back & forth. All to be moved by a small lever, somewhat resembling that used to wind a bucket from a well, placed in some obscure place, on each side of the river, where the ice never banks up.
I would procure the wire myself & put it in immediate operation; but should it be ever hauled up on the flue of an anchor (& there are ten thousand chances to one against it) they might ferret out the purchaser of the wire.
If done at all, the wire must be laid across at once before a freeze & then if the thing is known only to the operators, all zealous friends kept out of the secret. In my humble opinion it will work to the advancement of the cause of the satisfaction of its friends.
No written dispatches should leave Washington. They should be committed to memory & only reduced to writing when it can be done with safety. Otherwise your best friends will continue to be sacrificed. This plan is respectfully submitted to your better judgment.
Having now disposed of your business, pardon me if you please, for pouring out the anguish of my soul about mine.
Maryland — poor down trodden Maryland! Decoyed by her traitorous Governor into a Brothel__in the bitterness of her heart being forsaken by her friends, has to submit to the fulsome embraces of a detestable Yankee!!
She now lies prostrate & can only raise her hands clanking in chains & with one finger slyly beckon her southern friends to come to her rescue.
Be not deceived by Elections held with yawning cannon pointing at houses containing the Ballot box.
By the test oath swearing men to sustain Lincoln’s government, before they were allowed to vote. Thereby driving them in disgust from the Poll’s.
By Soldiers, who had never seen Baltimore before, pouring into the city to vote for Lincoln’s menial tools, when her bona fide citizens had returned in disgust. All of which was submitted to in silence by our Editors — And why — ? Let Fort Warren answer!
Where are the able & fearless Editors of the “Baltimore Exchange?” Rotting in the loathsome Fortress out at sea.
Where is the fire of the “Baltimore Sun,” which blazed before the 19th April? Conducted by the same Editors, it is hushed into submissive silence. But the light of Southern heat is there “biding their time.”
We do not ask you to come into Maryland for we are well aware of that insufferable barrier – the Potomac – But we do ask & demand that when the day of treaty comes & come it must – for God will & does smile on your cause. Maryland with all her grievous wrongs may be remembered & no treaty made without including her.
But if God, in his infinite mercy, would only grant you a second opportunity (you had one on the 23rd day of last July) to come to Maryland. Forty thousand of her son’s in addition to those you now have, good & true would rise from their backs, break loose their chains & demand to be allowed to avenge themselves upon their oppressors. Once a chance & they would outvie the noble dead of the “old, Maryland sine”, who brought tears from the eyes of the immortal Washington, when on the Battle-field of Long Island, they poured out their blood like water, to defend the liberties of these very men, who now, in sight & sound of Washingtons grave, are here to enslave his kindred & friends.
Remember – that on the 19th of last April – Maryland opened the ball & with brick[?] for bomb-shells & paving stones for cannonballs, whipped a Massachusetts Regt., killed some & took some prisoners & was ready & willing & would have stayed the storm of the whole North & breasted it off, till her friends could come to her aid. But to her sorrow she discovered they were fortifying Manassas & not Baltimore.
Consequently, she was compelled to make the best terms she could — only temporary she hopes — & as I have stated submit to the fulsome embraces of those she despises.
With the highest respect
In a land where the Constitution guarantees freedom of speech & freedom of the Press, I am from motives of prudence compelled to omit my signature as you will know who it is from.