COLONEL WILLIAM A. HOWARD - AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED 03/13/1861 - HFSID 174712
COLONEL WILLIAM A. HOWARD (CIVIL WAR)
A month before the Declaration of the Civil War, the Naval Colonel engages Senator Fessenden of Maine with war tactics.
Autograph Letter signed: "W.A.Howard", 3 pages, 8½x9¾. Lag Harbor Long Island, 1861 March 13, one month before the Civil War. To "My Dear Fessenden" [U.S. Senator] William Pitt Fessenden, Washington, D.C., In full: "Yours was received for which I thank you, as also for your kind offer. I was in New York last week and intending to go to Washington, but I learned the carr'd of office hunters was immense, and as I did not care to add to the annoyance of the Secretaries or my friends I returned here. I wish to be there before you leave, & hope to do so when the rush & scramble has somewhat subsided. I wish you would advise me when I can effect this object. I am as you must be aware, desirous of taking a part in the affairs of the Country at this time, and of course would like a responsible & creditbale [sic] position, but I will care, chase any set of men for their influence or letters much to their annoyance & my own feelings of self-abasement. I could avoid much to the thought of the Government as this time by a re-organization of the Reserve Marines (under existing laws) if I could have an opportunity to lay the matter before the Secretary of Treasury. This service if properly directed, would be of immense service to the commercial community & would add a respectable fence to a coast defence. The order for cruising for vessels on our Winters Coast was obtained in fact written by me. & you are well aware that in three winters in the Coast of Maine I carried into but if Vessels thereby saving their cargoes & many lives, and with a vessel Very Inferior one in Service. Twelve of the Schooners are capable of mounting each 1-24 Sounding rifled command amidship (over) amidship with a crew of (40) Forty men each (the law allows (70) Seventy) they could be very serviceable. All these improvements it is in the power of the Secretary to make without applications to Congress. The Cutter Service as it now exists (with the Exception of one Vessel.SV. Harriet Lane') is perfectly useless, without crews or discipline they lie at thin anchors distinguishable from common coasters only by a flag sometimes hoisted over the rail. Esprit du Corps no longer exists, and should an officer desire to earn a portion of his pay, the want of crew & the indifference of his assertions deter him. Again the present pay is totally inadequate to the Service however I doubt not this matter could be easily arranged if the service would commend its self to the Country. Now Friend Fessenden I can remidy [sic] all this (pay except) and put vitality & strength for good & will with this now useless service. In (3) Three months, & with means at this disposal of the department, what think you is it much the trial? Let me have something to do, what is given me to do, you know I do, honestly & Earnestly I claim nothing from the fact of being a Republican because House id mu Conviction, now for Service, those are duties appointing to me, a man having an interest in his country's well far. Several officers of the Reve. Marine have written tinged me personally to reorganize their services, knowing how much I did for it in that way. Some years since. You must excuse me, my dear frined, for taking up so mucho f your time, it may appear selfish, but in as much as everything that concerns you, affection has taught me to consider as affection me you can I am sure make the necessary alleviance [sic]. Be pleased to say when you think I had better leave for the City of Curruption meeting & discussion. Yours ever with affection. " William A. HOWARD (1807-1871) was a veteran Coast Guard officer who commanded a detachment of marine artillery during battles on the Carolina coast during the Civil War. At the beginning of the war, he was commissioned as a Colonel of the 1st New York Heavy Artillery in the defenses around Portsmouth & Norfolk. Earlier in his career, when he commanded the revenue cutter Jackson, he was said to look so resplendent in his Coast Guard uniform that naval officers pressured Navy Secretary Levi Woodbury to remove epaulettes from Coast Guard uniforms. In the years before the Civil War, he was in private business as a shipbuilder. William Pitt FESSENDEN (1806-1869) had resigned a seat in the U.S. Senate to assume, at the personal behest of President Lincoln, the Cabinet post of Treasury Secretary after the resignation of Secretary Chase. Fessenden, who as Chairman the important Senate Finance Committee (1861-1864) had played an important role in raising revenues for the Union cause, but he served at Treasury for only eight months (July 5, 1864 - March 3, 1865). Thereafter he returned to the Senate, becoming chairman of the Joint Committee on Reconstruction. Lightly creased. File holes at left edge. Toned . Ink note (unknown hand) on verso of last page. Otherwise, fine condition.
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