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These letters, which do honor to the Navy, might, if we had the room, be greatly multiplied; but we will only add the following extracts from letters of a little earlier date than the preceding, from an officer who a short time before had retired from the service to become a farmer at the West:
“Events which have followed each other for the last month so rapidly, and all tending to the disruption of our government, and even the bonds of society itself, have naturally turned every one's attention to the appalling state of affairs likely to arise in the future. You will not be surprised to hear that my desires look back to my profession. My faith in the Union gives me an intense desire to lend my service, such as it is, to the support of the Constitution. I am most satisfactorily situated here, with excellent promise of future content and of a peaceful and prosperous life, and the idea of returning to the Navy would otherwise never have suggested itself. I want to hear from you and get your advice. I am inclined to view the failure of the Star of the West to get to her destination as a circumstance reflecting discredit upon the government. I must confess to having wished, with all my heart, that your old command had been commissioned with that job. My father says, 'Oh that Foote had had command of that Star of the West !' He feels keenly the shade of indignity put upon his old arm of the service, the artillery, and hardly allows himself to speak of the outrage upon the flag by those crazy men at Charleston. If you hear of any thing which would argue a solid and great action of the Executive in defense of the government which he holds in his weak hands, let me know, and I will take steps.”
"I was much gratified, my dear captain, by the receipt of your card, which appeared in the Tribune a few days since. I heard of it, and was anxious to see it. Our papers here, as well as your own, were filled with accounts of the 'Navy Yard excitement,' and just such exaggerated sensational articles as appear in reference to any matter of our day. I was quite persuaded, and told my friends, that in a few days we would probably arrive at the truth, and we would then find that our Navy' had done nothing subjecting them to ridicule or censure. I had almost determined to write to you myself and get the truth, when your letter came. Allow me to say it is a characteristic letter, just such a one as you can write-frank, good-humored, truthful, and fearless—the case made clear,
* * * *
and criticism itself disarmed.* Yesterday I sent a letter to the President, tendering my services to the government in my old position as lieutenant; but I will give you the letter. My object is to have it on file. It was as follows: 'In the spring of 1859, when the government was at peace and seemed secure in the loyalty of the people, I resigned my commission as lieutenant in the Navy, after a service of eighteen years. Recent revolutionary acts in portions of the territory, and the many cases of desertion from the service, fill me with a desire to assist in maintaining the integrity of the Union and the honor of its flag, and impel me to tender my services to the government. I am ready at a moment's notice to return to the Navy, should contingencies arise which shall make my services needed.' The letter has not been acknowledged ; but as the feeble individual at the head of the government seems to have lost his head, this carries no special sting. I suppose a few days will decide our fate now. I await them with intense impatience. A great fear for Sumter possesses the public mind here. Should it fall, woe to that old man in his native community!"
“The eve of the eventful day has arrived, and millions have read the inaugural of our new President. I need hardly say that many in this our city lament its tone, and show no disposition to recognize or support the high, and, in my view, the only true position assumed by him. For my part, I should heartily despise a government which took other grounds, and should despair of the people who failed to support it. My letter to Buchanan has been passed by without notice. I am ready to renew the offer-in truth, feel that it is a duty for every citizen to uphold, to the whole extent of his ability, the high position assumed by the President. I am willing to risk life and all in what seems to me the only salvation of the nation when its integrity is attacked. If we shrink from the execution of laws the moment they are rebelled against, what is to become of us? I despise such a course, which causes a bitterness of feeling in me which I never fancied I could have. Under any party, I would take the same course to give my services to uphold the government.”
“It would be a happy day in my life to find myself once again associated with you in upholding the honor and integrity of our beloved
* Reference here to a letter of Captain Foote's published in the Brooklyn Eagle (January 30th), in reference to a little flurry in regard to the alleged exceeding of his official authority for the protection of the Navy Yard.
flag. Selfishness, cowardice, and depraved party necessities seem to be arrayed against the purity and unity of our once glorious nation.”
This has the true ring. It must have gone home to the heart of his former commander. While it can not be denied that Foote struggled for a time, as a great many did, with the political problems of the hour, and even strove, as did Crittenden and others, to discover some impossible compromiseground, yet when the time for action came he was found at his post of duty. He had no hesitation as to his own course.
. That was clear as the sun in heaven. One day, while discussing these matters with his brother John, he said : “Well, brother John, tell me plainly, do you mean to fight? If you don't mean to fight, then don't express your opinions so loudly. As for me, I intend to fight.”
Although he had now held for some time the title of captain, yet he did not receive his actual commission to the captaincy until June 29, 1861. His worth and capacity were then also fully recognized. In this hour of need the government gladly turned to him and to the few who were like him. He received an order, August 23d, to proceed to Washington, and report in person to the Naval Department. He was removed from the Navy Yard August 26th, and was appointed to the command of the naval operations in the Western waters. The following is the order of his appointment:
“Navy DEPARTMENT, WASHINGTON, August 30, 1861. SIR,—You have been selected to take command of the naval operations upon the Western waters, now organizing under the direction of the War Department.
“ You will therefore proceed to St. Louis, Missouri, with all practical dispatch, and place yourself in communication with Major-General John C. Fremont, United States Army, who commands the Army of the West. You will co-operate. fully and freely with him as to your movements.
“Requisitions must be made upon the War Department through Gen
Transferred to the West
eral Fremont, and whatever the Army can not furnish the Navy will endeavor to supply, having due regard to the operations on the coast.
“The Western movement is of the greatest importance, and the Department assigns you this duty, having full confidence in your zeal, fidelity, and judgment.
I am, respectfully,
“GIDEON WELLES, Secretary of the Navy. Captain Andrew H. Foote, U. S. Navy, Washington, D. C.”
As we now commence a new period, by far the most important and brilliant one of Admiral Foote’s life, we reserve further details respecting the new field for the next chapter.
APPOINTMENT TO COMMAND OF NAVAL OPERATIONS AT THE WEST.
—THE WESTERN FLOTILLA.
The official account of Captain Foote's appointment to the command of naval operations on the Western waters is thus briefly given in Secretary Welles's Report of December 1, 1862:
“Besides these large squadrons on our maritime frontier, it became a necessity at an early period of the insurrection to have an organized naval force on the Mississippi and its tributaries. On May 16, 1861, Commander John Rodgers was directed to report to the War Department, which in the preliminary stages assumed the chief expense, for the purpose of initiating an armed flotilla on the Western waters, and immediately entered upon his duties.' Proceeding to the West, he purchased steamers which, under his supervision, were fitted, armed, and armored as gun-boats, and thus was commenced the organization of the Mississippi flotilla, which a few months later made itself felt in a succession of achievements that electrified the country. But before Commander Rodgers had an opportunity of completing his arrangements and taking his vessels into action, he was succeeded by Captain A. H. Foote, whose energies and talents were exerted in creating and preparing that Navy on the Western waters which he soon made so serviceable to the country. Painfully wounded at Fort Donelson, he was relieved the 9th of May by Captain Charles H. Davis, who was soon after appointed Chief of the Bureau of Navigation, and in October relinquished the command. By order of Congress the gun-boat fleet was transferred to the Navy, and now constitutes an important squadron, under the command of Acting RearAdmiral D. D. Porter, who entered upon his duties the 15th of October.
“When Flag-Officer Foote arrived at St. Louis, and on the 6th of September, 1861, assumed command of the Western flotilla, the forces consisted of three wooden vessels in commission, which had been purchased, equipped, and armed as gun-boats by Commander John Rod