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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1861

Friday 19th

19 April 1861

Sunday 21st

21 April 1861
20 April 1861
Saturday 20th

Fine day. I had several straggling visits of persons about the Offices, but on the whole the war excitement has pretty well checked further zeal. The news today is that Baltimore has been closed to the troops, and that the bridges and the telegraph between Baltimore and the Susquehannak had been destroyed. This puts an end to land progress to Washington, and renders immediate relief by water an absolute necessity. There are now eight or ten thousand men on the road, anxiously seeking the way. None has occurred to me so practicable as that by the way of Annapolis, which is shorter and less liable to interruption than that by the Potomac. There is a branch of the railroad to Washington, and even if that be taken up or the bridges be destroyed, they can march the distance in force without serious fatigue. I confess my uneasiness until the troops reach Washington and establish their communications. After that I do not see any cause for further apprehension at present. Though the situation is decidedly critical. It seems that the Harper’s ferry armory is burned by the regular commanding officer in the view of a force that came to seize it, and he retreated with his small company to Carlisle in Pennsylvania. This is better than suffering the arms to fall into their hands. I tried a long walk out of the way of the crowded and excited streets122 full of flags and all the indications of perturbed times. The truth is that we are in the crisis now. A collision of force seems unavoidable. The only question is how long it will last, and with what consequences. If one of these be really the destruction of slave property then will the cost of the struggle however great be paid for. My only doubt is upon that point. The struggle has not yet reached that degree of intensity. After dinner I was engaged in packing up my coins, which process is pretty nearly completed.

Cite web page as:

Charles Francis Adams, Sr., [date of entry], diary, in Charles Francis Adams, Sr.: The Civil War Diaries (Unverified Transcriptions). Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2015. http://www.masshist.org/publications/cfa-civil-war/view?id=DCA61d110