Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 01.djvu/453

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445
Colonel Baldwin's Interview with Mr. Lincoln.

fer with Mr. Lincoln. Mr. Magruder stated that he was authorized by Mr. Seward to say that Fort Sumter would be evacuated on the Friday of the ensuing week, and that the Pawnee would sail on the following Monday for Charleston, to effect the evacuation. Mr. Seward said that secrecy was all important, and while it was extremely desirable that one of them should see Mr. Lincoln, it was equally important that the public should know nothing of the interview. These gentlemen held a conference, and determined that as each of them was well known in Washington by person, the required secrecy could not be preserved if either of them went. They therefore asked Colonel Baldwin to go, furnished with the necessary credentials to Mr. Lincoln. He at first demurred, saying that all his public services had been to Virginia, and that he knew nothing of Washington and the Federal politics, but they replied that this was precisely what qualified him, because his presence there would not excite remark or suspicion. Colonel Baldwin accordingly agreed to the mission, and went with Mr. Magruder the following night, reaching Washington the next morning by the "Acquia Creek route" a little after dawn, and driving direct to the house of Mr. Magruder's brother. [These gentlemen were brothers of General J. B. Magruder of Virginia]. These prefatory statements prepare the way for Colonel Baldwin's special narrative.

He stated that after breakfasting and attending to his toilet at the house of Captain Magruder, he went with Mr. A. B. Magruder, in a carriage, with the glasses carefully raised, to Seward, who took charge of Mr. Baldwin, and went direct with him to the White House, reaching it, he thought, not much after nine o'clock A. M. At the door, the man who was acting as usher, or porter, was directed by Colonel Baldwin's companion, to inform the President that a gentleman wished to see him on important business. The man replied, as Colonel Baldwin thought, with an air of negligence that he would report the application of course, but that it would be useless, because the President was already engaged with very important personages. Some card, or such missive, was given him, and he took it in. He soon returned with a surprised look, and said that the gentleman was to be admitted instantly. Colonel Baldwin accordingly followed him and Mr. Seward into what he presumed was the President's ordinary business room, where he found him in evidently anxious consultation with three or four elderly men, who appeared to wear importance in their aspect. Mr. Seward whispered something to the President, who at once arose