Monday, September 22, 2008

Benjamin Butler's Recollection

There is in the records of the National Archives the following letter, sent from Benjamin Butler to Montgomery C. Meigs, then still the Quartermaster General of the United States. It is Butler's recollection, some six years on, of the circumstances surrounding his acquisition of land for the extension of the Annapolis & Elkridge Railroad line through Annapolis to the Naval Academy wharf in April of 1861. It is an interesting piece of the story. The letter reads:
Washington, July 20, 1867

To the
Quartermaster General

When in command of the Department of Annapolis in April and May 1861 it became necessary to connect the Elkton [sic] and Annapolis Railroad by a temporary track with tide water at Severn river.

You will remember that at this time this was the only Railroad Communication with Washington - the bridges at Gunpowder creek, between Baltimore and Havre de Grace having been burned.

I ordered it to be done. That action was approved by the Secretary of War, and Thomas Scott Esq, then in charge of Military Railroads and afterwards assistant Secretary of War, was sent down to superintend the construction.

For the purpose of the road it was necessary to take the land of private parties.

I see no reason why they should not be compensated for the use of their land upon proof of their loyalty.

I have the honor to be
Very respectfully
Your obedt. Servt.

Benj. F. Butler

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