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Memoirs of Three Civil War Generals, Complete by U. S. Grant, W. T. Sherman, P. H. Sheridan

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Sanders & Brenham; Davidson & Co.; Palmer, Cook & Co., and others.
Turner and I had rooms at Mrs. Ross's, and took our meals at
restaurants down-town, mostly at a Frenchman's named Martin, on the
southwest corner of Montgomery and California Streets. General
Hitchcock, of the army, commanding the Department of California,
usually messed with us; also a Captain Mason, and Lieutenant
Whiting, of the Engineer Corps. We soon secured a small share of
business, and became satisfied there was room for profit.
Everybody seemed to be making money fast; the city was being
rapidly extended and improved; people paid their three per cent. a
month interest without fail, and without deeming it excessive.
Turner, Nisbet, and I, daily discussed the prospects, and gradually
settled down to the conviction that with two hundred thousand
dollars capital, and a credit of fifty thousand dollars in New
York, we could build up a business that would help the St. Louis
house, and at the same time pay expenses in California, with a
reasonable profit. Of course, Turner never designed to remain long
in California, and I consented to go back to St. Louis, confer with
Mr. Lucas and Captain Simonds, agree upon further details, and then
return permanently.

I have no memoranda by me now by which to determine the fact, but
think I returned to New York in July, 1853, by the Nicaragua route,
and thence to St. Louis by way of Lancaster, Ohio, where my family
still was. Mr. Lucas promptly agreed to the terms proposed, and
further consented, on the expiration of the lease of the Adams &
Co. office, to erect a new banking-house in San Francisco, to cost
fifty thousand dollars. I then returned to Lancaster, explained to
Mr. Ewing and Mrs. Sherman all the details of our agreement, and,
meeting their approval, I sent to the Adjutant-General of the army
my letter of resignation, to take effect at the end of the six
months' leave, and the resignation was accepted, to take effect
September 6, 1853. Being then a citizen, I engaged a passage out
to California by the Nicaragua route, in the steamer leaving New
York September 20th, for myself and family, and accordingly
proceeded to New York, where I had a conference with Mr. Meigs,
cashier of the American Exchange Bank, and with Messrs. Wadsworth
& Sheldon, bankers, who were our New York correspondents; and on
the 20th embarked for San Juan del Norte, with the family, composed
of Mrs. Sherman, Lizzie, then less than a year old, and her nurse,
Mary Lynch. Our passage down was uneventful, and, on the boats up
the Nicaragua River, pretty much the same as before. On reaching
Virgin Bay, I engaged a native with three mules to carry us across
to the Pacific, and as usual the trip partook of the ludicrous
--Mrs. Sherman mounted on a donkey about as large as a Newfoundland
dog; Mary Lynch on another, trying to carry Lizzie on a pillow
before her, but her mule had a fashion of lying down, which scared
her, till I exchanged mules, and my California spurs kept that mule
on his legs. I carried Lizzie some time till she was fast asleep,
when I got our native man to carry her awhile. The child woke up,
and, finding herself in the hands of a dark-visaged man, she yelled
most lustily till I got her away. At the summit of the pass, there
was a clear-running brook, where we rested an hour, and bathed
Lizzie in its sweet waters. We then continued to the end of our
journey, and, without going to the tavern at San Juan del Sur, we
passed directly to the vessel, then at anchor about two miles out.
To reach her we engaged a native boat, which had to be kept outside
the surf. Mrs. Sherman was first taken in the arms of two stout
natives; Mary Lynch, carrying Lizzie, was carried by two others;
and I followed, mounted on the back of a strapping fellow, while
fifty or a hundred others were running to and fro, cackling like

Mary Lynch got scared at the surf, and began screaming like a fool,
when Lizzie became convulsed with fear, and one of the natives
rushed to her, caught her out of Mary's arms, and carried her
swiftly to Mrs. Sherman, who, by that time, was in the boat, but
Lizzie had fainted with fear, and for a long time sobbed as though
permanently injured. For years she showed symptoms that made us
believe she had never entirely recovered from the effects of the
scare. In due time we reached the steamer Sierra Nevada, and got a
good state-room. Our passage up the coast was pleasant enough; we
reached San Francisco; on the 15th of October, and took quarters at
an hotel on Stockton Street, near Broadway.

Major Turner remained till some time in November, when he also
departed for the East, leaving me and Nisbet to manage the bank. I
endeavored to make myself familiar with the business, but of course
Nisbet kept the books, and gave his personal attention to the
loans, discounts, and drafts, which yielded the profits. I soon
saw, however, that the three per cent. charged as premium on bills
of exchange was not all profit, but out of this had to come one and
a fourth to one and a half for freight, one and a third for
insurance, with some indefinite promise of a return premium; then,
the, cost of blanks, boxing of the bullion, etc., etc. Indeed, I
saw no margin for profit at all. Nisbet, however, who had long
been familiar with the business, insisted there was a profit, in
the fact that the gold-dust or bullion shipped was more valuable
than its cost to us. We, of course, had to remit bullion to meet
our bills on New York, and bought crude gold-dust, or bars refined
by Kellogg & Humbert or E. Justh & Co., for at that time the United
States Mint was not in operation. But, as the reports of our
shipments came back from New York, I discovered that I was right,
and Nisbet was wrong; and, although we could not help selling our
checks on New York and St. Louis at the same price as other
bankers, I discovered that, at all events, the exchange business in
San Francisco was rather a losing business than profitable. The
same as to loans. We could loan, at three per cent. a month, all
our own money, say two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, and a
part of our deposit account. This latter account in California was
decidedly uncertain. The balance due depositors would run down to
a mere nominal sum on steamer-days, which were the 1st and 15th of
each month, and then would increase till the next steamer-day, so
that we could not make use of any reasonable part of this balance
for loans beyond the next steamer-day; or, in other words, we had
an expensive bank, with expensive clerks, and all the machinery for
taking care of other people's money for their benefit, without
corresponding profit. I also saw that loans were attended with
risk commensurate with the rate; nevertheless, I could not attempt
to reform the rules and customs established by others before me,
and had to drift along with the rest toward that Niagara that none
foresaw at the time.

Shortly after arriving out in 1853, we looked around for a site for
the new bank, and the only place then available on Montgomery
Street, the Wall Street of San Francisco, was a lot at the corner
of Jackson Street, facing Montgomery, with an alley on the north,
belonging to James Lick. The ground was sixty by sixty-two feet,
and I had to pay for it thirty-two thousand dollars. I then made a
contract with the builders, Keyser, & Brown, to erect a three-story
brick building, with finished basement, for about fifty thousand
dollars. This made eighty-two thousand instead of fifty thousand
dollars, but I thought Mr. Lucas could stand it and would approve,
which he did, though it resulted in loss to him. After the civil
war, he told me he had sold the building for forty thousand
dollars, about half its cost, but luckily gold was then at 250, so
that he could use the forty thousand dollars gold as the equivalent
of one hundred thousand dollars currency. The building was
erected; I gave it my personal supervision, and it was strongly and
thoroughly built, for I saw it two years ago, when several
earthquakes had made no impression on it; still, the choice of site
was unfortunate, for the city drifted in the opposite direction,
viz., toward Market Street. I then thought that all the heavy
business would remain toward the foot of Broadway and Jackson
Street, because there were the deepest water and best wharves, but
in this I made a mistake. Nevertheless, in the spring of 1854, the
new bank was finished, and we removed to it, paying rents
thereafter to our Mr. Lucas instead of to Adams & Co. A man named
Wright, during the same season, built a still finer building just
across the street from us; Pioche, Bayerque & Co. were already
established on another corner of Jackson Street, and the new
Metropolitan Theatre was in progress diagonally opposite us.
During the whole of 1854 our business steadily grew, our average
deposits going up to half a million, and our sales of exchange and
consequent shipment of bullion averaging two hundred thousand
dollars per steamer. I signed all bills of exchange, and insisted
on Nisbet consulting me on loans and discounts. Spite of every
caution, however, we lost occasionally by bad loans, and worse by
the steady depreciation of real estate. The city of San Francisco
was then extending her streets, sewering them, and planking them,
with three-inch lumber. In payment for the lumber and the work of
contractors, the city authorities paid scrip in even sums of one
hundred, five hundred, one thousand, and five thousand dollars.
These formed a favorite collateral for loans at from fifty to sixty
cents on the dollar, and no one doubted their ultimate value,
either by redemption or by being converted into city bonds.
The notes also of H. Meiggs, Neeley Thompson & Co., etc.,
lumber-dealers, were favorite notes, for they paid their interest
promptly, and lodged large margins of these street-improvement
warrants as collateral. At that time, Meiggs was a prominent man,
lived in style in a large house on Broadway, was a member of the
City Council, and owned large saw-mills up the coast about
Mendocino. In him Nisbet had unbounded faith, but, for some
reason, I feared or mistrusted him, and remember that I cautioned
Nisbet not to extend his credit, but to gradually contract his
loans. On looking over our bills receivable, then about six
hundred thousand dollars, I found Meiggs, as principal or indorser,
owed us about eighty thousand dollars--all, however, secured by
city warrants; still, he kept bank accounts elsewhere, and was
generally a borrower. I instructed Nisbet to insist on his
reducing his line as the notes matured, and, as he found it
indelicate to speak to Meiggs, I instructed him to refer him to me;
accordingly, when, on the next steamer-day, Meiggs appealed at the
counter for a draft on Philadelphia, of about twenty thousand
dollars, for which he offered his note and collateral, he was
referred to me, and I explained to him that our draft was the same
as money; that he could have it for cash, but that we were already
in advance to him some seventy-five or eighty thousand dollars, and
that instead of increasing the amount I must insist on its
reduction. He inquired if I mistrusted his ability, etc. I
explained, certainly not, but that our duty was to assist those who
did all their business with us, and, as our means were necessarily
limited, I must restrict him to some reasonable sum, say,
twenty-five thousand dollars. Meiggs invited me to go with him to a
rich mercantile house on Clay Street, whose partners belonged in
Hamburg, and there, in the presence of the principals of the house,
he demonstrated, as clearly as a proposition in mathematics, that
his business at Mendocino was based on calculations that could not
fail. The bill of exchange which he wanted, he said would make the
last payment on a propeller already built in Philadelphia, which
would be sent to San Francisco, to tow into and out of port the
schooners and brigs that were bringing his lumber down the coast. I
admitted all he said, but renewed my determination to limit his
credit to twenty-five thousand dollars. The Hamburg firm then
agreed to accept for him the payment of all his debt to us, except
the twenty-five thousand dollars, payable in equal parts for the
next three steamer-days. Accordingly, Meiggs went back with me to
our bank, wrote his note for twenty-five thousand dollars, and
secured it by mortgage on real estate and city warrants, and
substituted the three acceptances of the Hamburg firm for the
overplus. I surrendered to him all his former notes, except one for
which he was indorser. The three acceptances duly matured and were
paid; one morning Meiggs and family were missing, and it was
discovered they had embarked in a sailing-vessel for South America.
This was the beginning of a series of failures in San Francisco,
that extended through the next two years. As soon as it was known
that Meiggs had fled, the town was full of rumors, and everybody was
running to and fro to secure his money. His debts amounted to
nearly a million dollars. The Hamburg house which, had been
humbugged, were heavy losers and failed, I think. I took possession
of Meiggs's dwelling-house and other property for which I held his
mortgage, and in the city warrants thought I had an overplus; but it
transpired that Meiggs, being in the City Council, had issued
various quantities of street scrip, which was adjudged a forgery,
though, beyond doubt, most of it, if not all, was properly signed,
but fraudulently issued. On this city scrip our bank must have lost
about ten thousand dollars. Meiggs subsequently turned up in Chili,
where again he rose to wealth and has paid much of his San Francisco
debts, but none to us. He is now in Peru, living like a prince.
With Meiggs fell all the lumber-dealers, and many persons dealing in
city scrip. Compared with others, our loss was a trifle. In a
short time things in San Francisco resumed their wonted course, and
we generally laughed at the escapade of Meiggs, and the cursing of
his deluded creditors.

Shortly after our arrival in San Francisco, I rented of a Mr.
Marryat, son of the English Captain Marryat, the author, a small
frame-house on Stockton Street, near Green, buying of him his
furniture, and we removed to it about December 1,1853. Close by,
around on Green Street, a man named Dickey was building two small
brick-houses, on ground which he had leased of Nicholson. I bought
one of these houses, subject to the ground-rent, and moved into it
as soon as finished. Lieutenant T. H. Stevens, of the United
States Navy, with his family, rented the other; we lived in this
house throughout the year 1854, and up to April 17, 1855.




During the winter of 1854-'55, I received frequent intimations in
my letters from the St. Louis house, that the bank of Page, Bacon &
Co. was in trouble, growing out of their relations to the Ohio &
Mississippi Railroad, to the contractors for building which they
had made large advances, to secure which they had been compelled to
take, as it were, an assignment of the contract itself, and finally
to assume all the liabilities of the contractors. Then they had to
borrow money in New York, and raise other money from time to time,
in the purchase of iron and materials for the road, and to pay the
hands. The firm in St. Louis and that in San Francisco were
different, having different partners, and the St. Louis house
naturally pressed the San Francisco firm to ship largely of
"gold-dust," which gave them a great name; also to keep as large a
balance as possible in New York to sustain their credit. Mr. Page
was a very wealthy man, but his wealth consisted mostly of land and
property in St. Louis. He was an old man, and a good one; had been
a baker, and knew little of banking as a business. This part of
his general business was managed exclusively by his son-in-law,
Henry D. Bacon, who was young, handsome, and generally popular.
How he was drawn into that affair of the Ohio & Mississippi road I
have no means of knowing, except by hearsay. Their business in New
York was done through the American Exchange Bank, and through
Duncan, Sherman & Co. As we were rival houses, the St. Louis
partners removed our account from the American Exchange Bank to the
Metropolitan Bank; and, as Wadsworth & Sheldon had failed, I was
instructed to deal in time bills, and in European exchange, with
Schnchardt & Gebhard, bankers in Nassau Street.

In California the house of Page, Bacon & Co. was composed of the
same partners as in St. Louis, with the addition of Henry Haight,
Judge Chambers, and young Frank Page. The latter had charge of the
"branch" in Sacramento. Haight was the real head-man, but he was
too fond of lager-beer to be in trusted with so large a business.
Beyond all comparison, Page, Bacon & Co. were the most prominent
bankers in California in 1853-'55. Though I had notice of danger
in that quarter, from our partners in St. Louis, nobody in
California doubted their wealth and stability. They must have had,
during that winter, an average deposit account of nearly two
million dollars, of which seven hundred thousand dollars was in
"certificates of deposit," the most stable of all accounts in a
bank. Thousands of miners invested their earnings in such
certificates, which they converted into drafts on New York, when
they were ready to go home or wanted to send their "pile" to their
families. Adams & Co. were next in order, because of their
numerous offices scattered throughout the mining country. A
gentleman named Haskell had been in charge of Adams & Co. in San
Francisco, but in the winter of 1854-'55 some changes were made,
and the banking department had been transferred to a magnificent
office in Halleck's new Metropolitan Block. James King of Wm. had
discontinued business on his own account, and been employed by
Adams & Co. as their cashier and banker, and Isaiah C. Wood had
succeeded Haskell in chief control of the express department.
Wells, Fargo & Co. were also bankers as well as expressmen, and
William J. Pardee was the resident partner.

As the mail-steamer came in on February 17, 1855, according to her
custom, she ran close to the Long Wharf (Meiggs's) on North Beach,
to throw ashore the express-parcels of news for speedy delivery.
Some passenger on deck called to a man of his acquaintance standing
on the wharf, that Page & Bacon had failed in New York. The news
spread like wild-fire, but soon it was met by the newspaper
accounts to the effect that some particular acceptances of Page &
Bacon, of St. Louis, in the hands of Duncan, Sherman & Co., in New
York, had gone to protest. All who had balances at Page, Bacon &
Co.'s, or held certificates of deposit, were more or less alarmed,
wanted to secure their money, and a general excitement pervaded the
whole community. Word was soon passed round that the matter
admitted of explanation, viz., that the two houses were distinct
and separate concerns, that every draft of the California house had
been paid in New York, and would continue to be paid. It was
expected that this assertion would quiet the fears of the
California creditors, but for the next three days there was a
steady "run" on that bank. Page, Bacon & Co. stood the first day's
run very well, and, as I afterward learned, paid out about six
hundred thousand dollars in gold coin. On the 20th of February
Henry Height came to our bank, to see what help we were willing to
give him; but I was out, and Nisbet could not answer positively for
the firm. Our condition was then very strong. The deposit account
was about six hundred thousand dollars, and we had in our vault
about five hundred thousand dollars in coin and bullion, besides an
equal amount of good bills receivable. Still I did not like to
weaken ourselves to help others; but in a most friendly spirit,
that night after bank-hours, I went down to Page, Bacon & Co., and
entered their office from the rear. I found in the cashier's room
Folsom, Parrott, Dewey and Payne, Captain Ritchie, Donohue, and
others, citizens and friends of the house, who had been called in
for consultation. Passing into the main office, where all the
book-keepers, tellers, etc., with gas-lights, were busy writing up
the day's work, I found Mr. Page, Henry Height, and Judge Chambers.
I spoke to Height, saying that I was sorry I had been out when he
called at our bank, and had now come to see him in the most
friendly spirit. Height had evidently been drinking, and said
abruptly that "all the banks would break," that "no bank could
instantly pay all its obligations," etc. I answered he could speak
for himself, but not for me; that I had come to offer to buy with
cash a fair proportion of his bullion, notes, and bills; but, if
they were going to fail, I would not be drawn in. Height's manner
was extremely offensive, but Mr. Page tried to smooth it over,
saying they had had a bad day's run, and could not answer for the
result till their books were written up.

I passed back again into the room where the before-named gentlemen
were discussing some paper which lay before them, and was going to
pass out, when Captain Folsom, who was an officer of the army, a
class-mate and intimate friend of mine, handed me the paper the
contents of which they were discussing. It was very short, and in
Henry Haight's handwriting, pretty much in these terms: "We, the
undersigned property-holders of San Francisco, having personally
examined the books, papers, etc., of Page, Bacon & Co., do hereby
certify that the house is solvent and able to pay all its debts,"
etc. Height had drawn up and asked them to sign this paper, with
the intention to publish it in the next morning's papers, for
effect. While I was talking with Captain Folsom, Height came into
the room to listen. I admitted that the effect of such a
publication would surely be good, and would probably stave off
immediate demand till their assets could be in part converted or
realized; but I naturally inquired of Folsom, "Have you personally
examined the accounts, as herein recited, and the assets, enough to
warrant your signature to this paper?" for, "thereby you in effect
become indorsers." Folsom said they had not, when Height turned
on me rudely and said, "Do you think the affairs of such a house as
Page, Bacon & Co. can be critically examined in an hour?" I
answered: "These gentlemen can do what they please, but they have
twelve hours before the bank will open on the morrow, and if the
ledger is written up" (as I believed it was or could be by
midnight), "they can (by counting the coin, bullion on hand, and
notes or stocks of immediate realization) approximate near enough
for them to indorse for the remainder." But Height pooh-poohed me,
and I left. Folsom followed me out, told me he could not afford to
imperil all he had, and asked my advice. I explained to him that
my partner Nisbet had been educated and trained in that very house
of Page, Bacon & Co.; that we kept our books exactly as they did;
that every day the ledger was written up, so that from it one could
see exactly how much actual money was due the depositors and
certificates; and then by counting the money in the vault,
estimating the bullion on hand, which, though not actual money,
could easily be converted into coin, and supplementing these
amounts by "bills receivable," they ought to arrive at an
approximate-result. After Folsom had left me, John Parrott also
stopped and talked with me to the same effect. Next morning I
looked out for the notice, but no such notice appeared in the
morning papers, and I afterward learned that, on Parrott and Folsom
demanding an actual count of the money in the vault, Haight angrily
refused unless they would accept his word for it, when one after
the other declined to sign his paper.

The run on Page, Bacon & Co. therefore continued throughout the
21st, and I expected all day to get an invitation to close our bank
for the next day, February 22, which we could have made a holiday
by concerted action; but each banker waited for Page, Bacon & Co.
to ask for it, and, no such circular coming, in the then state of
feeling no other banker was willing to take the initiative. On the
morning of February 22, 1855, everybody was startled by receiving a
small slip of paper, delivered at all the houses, on which was
printed a short notice that, for "want of coin," Page, Bacon & Co.
found it necessary to close their bank for a short time. Of
course, we all knew the consequences, and that every other bank in
San Francisco would be tried. During the 22d we all kept open, and
watched our depositors closely; but the day was generally observed
by the people as a holiday, and the firemen paraded the streets of
San Francisco in unusual strength. But, on writing up our books
that night, we found that our deposit account had diminished about
sixty-five thousand dollars. Still, there was no run on us, or any
other of the banks, that day; yet, observing little knots of men on
the street, discussing the state of the banks generally, and
overhearing Haight's expression quoted, that, in case of the
failure of Page, Bacon & Co., "all the other banks would break," I
deemed it prudent to make ready. For some days we had refused all
loans and renewals, and we tried, without, success, some of our
call-loans; but, like Hotspur's spirits, they would not come.

Our financial condition on that day (February 22, 1855) was: Due
depositors and demand certificates, five hundred and twenty
thousand dollars; to meet which, we had in the vault: coin, three
hundred and eighty thousand dollars; bullion, seventy-five thousand
dollars; and bills receivable, about six hundred thousand dollars.
Of these, at least one hundred thousand dollars were on demand,
with stock collaterals. Therefore, for the extent of our business,
we were stronger than the Bank of England, or any bank in New York

Before daylight next morning, our door-bell was rung, and I was
called down-stairs by E. Casserly, Esq. (an eminent lawyer of the
day, since United States Senator), who informed me he had just come
up from the office of Adams & Co., to tell me that their affairs
were in such condition that they would not open that morning at
all; and that this, added to the suspension of Page, Bacon & Co.,
announced the day before, would surely cause a general run on all
the banks. I informed him that I expected as much, and was
prepared for it.

In going down to the bank that morning, I found Montgomery Street
full; but, punctually to the minute, the bank opened, and in rushed
the crowd. As usual, the most noisy and clamorous were men and
women who held small certificates; still, others with larger
accounts were in the crowd, pushing forward for their balances.
All were promptly met and paid. Several gentlemen of my personal
acquaintance merely asked my word of honor that their money was
safe, and went away; others, who had large balances, and no
immediate use for coin, gladly accepted gold-bars, whereby we paid
out the seventy-five thousand dollars of bullion, relieving the
coin to that amount.

Meantime, rumors from the street came pouring in that Wright & Co.
had failed; then Wells, Fargo & Co.; then Palmer, Cook & Co., and
indeed all, or nearly all, the banks of the city; and I was told
that parties on the street were betting high, first, that we would
close our doors at eleven o'clock; then twelve, and so on; but we
did not, till the usual hour that night. We had paid every demand,
and still had a respectable amount left.

This run on the bank (the only one I ever experienced) presented
all the features, serious and comical, usual to such occasions. At
our counter happened that identical case, narrated of others, of
the Frenchman, who was nearly squeezed to death in getting to the
counter, and, when he received his money, did not know what to do
with it. "If you got the money, I no want him; but if you no got
him, I want it like the devil!"

Toward the close of the day, some of our customers deposited,
rather ostentatiously, small amounts, not aggregating more than
eight or ten thousand dollars. Book-keepers and tellers were kept
at work to write up the books; and these showed:

Due depositors and certificates, about one hundred and twenty
thousand dollars, for which remained of coin about fifty thousand
dollars. I resolved not to sleep until I had collected from those
owing the bank a part of their debts; for I was angry with them
that they had stood back and allowed the panic to fall on the banks
alone. Among these were Captain Folsom, who owed us twenty-five
thousand dollars, secured by a mortgage on the American Theatre and
Tehama Hotel; James Smiley, contractor for building the
Custom-House, who owed us two notes of twenty thousand and sixteen
thousand dollars, for which we held, as collateral, two acceptances
of the collector of the port, Major R. P. Hammond, for twenty
thousand dollars each; besides other private parties that I need
not name. The acceptances given to Smiley were for work done on
the Custom-House, but could not be paid until the work was actually
laid in the walls, and certified by Major Tower, United States
Engineers; but Smiley had an immense amount of granite, brick,
iron, etc., on the ground, in advance of construction, and these
acceptances were given him expressly that he might raise money
thereon for the payment of such materials.

Therefore, as soon as I got my dinner, I took my saddle-horse, and
rode to Captain Folsom's house, where I found him in great pain and
distress, mental and physical. He was sitting in a chair, and
bathing his head with a sponge. I explained to him the object of
my visit, and he said he had expected it, and had already sent his
agent, Van Winkle, down-town, with instructions to raise what money
he could at any cost; but he did not succeed in raising a cent. So
great was the shock to public confidence, that men slept on their
money, and would not loan it for ten per cent. a week, on any
security whatever--even on mint certificates, which were as good as
gold, and only required about ten days to be paid in coin by the
United States Mint. I then rode up to Hammond's house, on Rincon
Hill, and found him there. I explained to him exactly Smiley's
affairs, and only asked him to pay one of his acceptances. He
inquired, "Why not both?" I answered that was so much the better;
it would put me under still greater obligations. He then agreed to
meet me at our bank at 10 P.M. I sent word to others that I
demanded them to pay what they could on their paper, and then
returned to the bank, to meet Hammond. In due time, he came down
with Palmer (of Palmer, Cook & Co.), and there he met Smiley, who
was, of course, very anxious to retire his notes. We there
discussed the matter fully, when Hammond said, "Sherman, give me up
my two acceptances, and I will substitute therefor my check of
forty thousand dollars," with "the distinct understanding that, if
the money is not needed by you, it shall be returned to me, and the
transaction then to remain statu quo." To this there was a general
assent. Nisbet handed him his two acceptances, and he handed me
his check, signed as collector of the port, on Major J. R. Snyder,
United States Treasurer, for forty thousand dollars. I afterward
rode out, that night, to Major Snyder's house on North Beach, saw
him, and he agreed to meet me at 8 a.m. next day, at the United
States Mint, and to pay the check, so that I could have the money
before the bank opened. The next morning, as agreed on, we met,
and he paid me the check in two sealed bags of gold-coin, each
marked twenty thousand dollars, which I had carried to the bank,
but never opened them, or even broke the seals.

That morning our bank opened as usual, but there was no appearance
of a continuation of the "run;" on the contrary, money began to
come back on deposit, so that by night we had a considerable
increase, and this went on from day to day, till nearly the old
condition of things returned. After about three days, finding I
had no use for the money obtained on Hammond's check, I took the
identical two bags back to the cashier of the Custom-House, and
recovered the two acceptances which had been surrendered as
described; and Smiley's two notes were afterward paid in their due
course, out of the cash received on those identical acceptances.
But, years afterward, on settling with Hammond for the Custom-House
contract when completed, there was a difference, and Smiley sued
Lucas, Turner & Co. for money had and received for his benefit,
being the identical forty thousand dollars herein explained, but he
lost his case. Hammond, too, was afterward removed from office,
and indicted in part for this transaction. He was tried before the
United States Circuit Court, Judge McAlister presiding, for a
violation of the sub-Treasury Act, but was acquitted. Our bank,
having thus passed so well through the crisis, took at once a first
rank; but these bank failures had caused so many mercantile losses,
and had led to such an utter downfall in the value of real estate,
that everybody lost more or less money by bad debts, by
depreciation of stocks and collaterals, that became unsalable, if
not worthless.

About this time (viz., February, 1855) I had exchanged my house on
Green, street, with Mr. Sloat, for the half of a fifty-vara lot on
Harrison Street, between Fremont and First, on which there was a
small cottage, and I had contracted for the building of a new
frame-house thereon, at six thousand dollars. This house was
finished on the 9th of April, and my family moved into it at once.

For some time Mrs. Sherman had been anxious to go home to
Lancaster, Ohio, where we had left our daughter Minnie, with her
grandparents, and we arranged that S. M. Bowman, Esq., and wife,
should move into our new house and board us, viz., Lizzie, Willie
with the nurse Biddy, and myself, for a fair consideration. It so
happened that two of my personal friends, Messrs. Winters and
Cunningham of Marysville, and a young fellow named Eagan, now a
captain in the Commissary Department, were going East in the
steamer of the middle of April, and that Mr.. William H.
Aspinwall, of New York, and Mr. Chauncey, of Philadelphia, were
also going back; and they all offered to look to the personal
comfort of Mrs. Sherman on the voyage. They took passage in the
steamer Golden Age (Commodore Watkins), which sailed on April 17,
1855. Their passage down the coast was very pleasant till within a
day's distance of Panama, when one bright moonlit night, April
29th, the ship, running at full speed, between the Islands Quibo
and Quicara, struck on a sunken reef, tore out a streak in her
bottom, and at once began to fill with water. Fortunately she did
not sink fast, but swung off into deep water, and Commodore Watkins
happening to be on deck at the moment, walking with Mr. Aspinwall,
learning that the water was rushing in with great rapidity, gave
orders for a full head of steam, and turned the vessel's bow
straight for the Island Quicara. The water rose rapidly in the
hold, the passengers were all assembled, fearful of going down, the
fires were out, and the last revolution of the wheels made, when
her bow touched gently on the beach, and the vessel's stern sank in
deep water. Lines were got out, and the ship held in an upright
position, so that the passengers were safe, and but little
incommoded. I have often heard Mrs. Sherman tell of the boy Eagan,
then about fourteen years old, coming to her state-room, and
telling to her not to be afraid, as he was a good swimmer; but on
coming out into the cabin, partially dressed, she felt more
confidence in the cool manner, bearing, and greater strength of Mr.
Winters. There must have been nearly a thousand souls on board at
the time, few of whom could have been saved had the steamer gone
down in mid-channel, which surely would have resulted, had not
Commodore Watkins been on deck, or had he been less prompt in his
determination to beach his ship. A sailboat was dispatched toward
Panama, which luckily met the steamer John T. Stephens, just coming
out of the bay, loaded with about a thousand passengers bound for
San Francisco, and she at once proceeded to the relief of the
Golden Age. Her passengers were transferred in small boats to the
Stephens, which vessel, with her two thousand people crowded
together with hardly standing-room, returned to Panama, whence the
passengers for the East proceeded to their destination without
further delay. Luckily for Mrs. Sherman, Purser Goddard, an old
Ohio friend of ours, was on the Stephens, and most kindly gave up
his own room to her, and such lady friends as she included in her
party. The Golden Age was afterward partially repaired at Quicara,
pumped out, and steamed to Panama, when, after further repairs, she
resumed her place in the line. I think she is still in existence,
but Commodore Watkins afterward lost his life in China, by falling
down a hatchway.

Mrs. Sherman returned in the latter part of November of the same
year, when Mr. and Mrs. Bowman, who meantime had bought a lot next
to us and erected a house thereon, removed to it, and we thus
continued close neighbors and friends until we left the country for
good in 1857.

During the summer of 1856, in San Francisco, occurred one of those
unhappy events, too common to new countries, in which I became
involved in spite of myself.

William Neely Johnson was Governor of California, and resided at
Sacramento City; General John E. Wool commanded the Department of
California, having succeeded General Hitchcock, and had his
headquarters at Benicia; and a Mr. Van Ness was mayor of the city.
Politics had become a regular and profitable business, and
politicians were more than suspected of being corrupt. It was
reported and currently believed that the sheriff (Scannell) had
been required to pay the Democratic Central Committee a hundred
thousand dollars for his nomination, which was equivalent to an
election, for an office of the nominal salary of twelve thousand
dollars a year for four years. In the election all sorts of
dishonesty were charged and believed, especially of "ballot-box
stuffing," and too generally the better classes avoided the
elections and dodged jury-duty, so that the affairs of the city
government necessarily passed into the hands of a low set of
professional politicians. Among them was a man named James Casey,
who edited a small paper, the printing office of which was in a
room on the third floor of our banking office. I hardly knew him
by sight, and rarely if ever saw his paper; but one day Mr. Sather,
of the excellent banking firm of Drexel, Sather & Church, came to
me, and called my attention to an article in Casey's paper so full
of falsehood and malice, that we construed it as an effort to
black-mail the banks generally. At that time we were all laboring
to restore confidence, which had been so rudely shaken by the
panic, and I went up-stairs, found Casey, and pointed out to him
the objectionable nature of his article, told him plainly that I
could not tolerate his attempt to print and circulate slanders in
our building, and, if he repeated it, I would cause him and his
press to be thrown out of the windows. He took the hint and moved
to more friendly quarters. I mention this fact, to show my
estimate of the man, who became a figure in the drama I am about to
describe. James King of Wm., as before explained, was in 1853 a
banker on his own account, but some time in 1854 he had closed out
his business, and engaged with Adams & Co. as cashier. When this
firm failed, he, in common with all the employees, was thrown out
of employment, and had to look around for something else. He
settled down to the publication of an evening paper, called the
Bulletin, and, being a man of fine manners and address, he at once
constituted himself the champion of society against the public and
private characters whom he saw fit to arraign.

As might have been expected, this soon brought him into the usual
newspaper war with other editors, and especially with Casey, and
epithets a la "Eatanswill" were soon bandying back and forth
between them. One evening of May, 1856, King published, in the
Bulletin, copies of papers procured from New York, to show that
Casey had once been sentenced to the State penitentiary at Sing
Sing. Casey took mortal offense, and called at the Bulletin
office, on the corner of Montgomery and Merchant Streets, where he
found King, and violent words passed between them, resulting in
Casey giving King notice that he would shoot him on sight. King
remained in his office till about 5 or 6 p.m., when he started
toward his home on Stockton Street, and, as he neared the corner of
Washington, Casey approached him from the opposite direction,
called to him, and began firing. King had on a short cloak, and in
his breast-pocket a small pistol, which he did not use. One of
Casey's shots struck him high up in the breast, from which he
reeled, was caught by some passing friend, and carried into the
express-office on the corner, where he was laid on the counter; and
a surgeon sent for. Casey escaped up Washington Street, went to
the City Hall, and delivered himself to the sheriff (Scannell), who
conveyed him to jail and locked him in a cell. Meantime, the news
spread like wildfire, and all the city was in commotion, for grog
was very popular. Nisbet, who boarded with us on Harrison Street,
had been delayed at the bank later than usual, so that he happened
to be near at the time, and, when he came out to dinner, he brought
me the news of this affair, and said that there was every
appearance of a riot down-town that night. This occurred toward
the evening of May 14, 1856.

It so happened that, on the urgent solicitation of Van Winkle and
of Governor Johnson; I had only a few days before agreed to accept
the commission of major-general of the Second Division of Militia,
embracing San Francisco. I had received the commission, but
had not as yet formally accepted it, or even put myself in
communication with the volunteer companies of the city. Of these,
at that moment of time, there was a company of artillery with four
guns, commanded by a Captain Johns, formerly of the army, and two
or three uniformed companies of infantry. After dinner I went down
town to see what was going on; found that King had been removed to
a room in the Metropolitan Block; that his life was in great peril;
that Casey was safe in jail, and the sheriff had called to his
assistance a posse of the city police, some citizens, and one of
the militia companies. The people were gathered in groups on the
streets, and the words "Vigilance Committee" were freely spoken,
but I saw no signs of immediate violence. The next morning, I
again went to the jail, and found all things quiet, but the militia
had withdrawn. I then went to the City Hall, saw the mayor, Van
Ness, and some of the city officials, agreed to do what I could to
maintain order with such militia as were on hand, and then formally
accepted the commission, and took the "oath."

In 1851 (when I was not in California) there had been a Vigilance
Committee, and it was understood that its organization still
existed. All the newspapers took ground in favor of the Vigilance
Committee, except the Herald (John Nugent, editor), and nearly all
the best people favored that means of redress. I could see they
were organizing, hiring rendezvous, collecting arms, etc., without
concealment. It was soon manifest that the companies of volunteers
would go with the "committee," and that the public authorities
could not rely on them for aid or defense. Still, there were a
good many citizens who contended that, if the civil authorities
were properly sustained by the people at large, they could and
would execute the law. But the papers inflamed the public mind,
and the controversy spread to the country. About the third day
after the shooting of King, Governor Johnson telegraphed me that he
would be down in the evening boat, and asked me to meet him on
arrival for consultation. I got C. H. Garrison to go with me, and
we met the Governor and his brother on the wharf, and walked up to
the International Hotel on Jackson Street, above Montgomery. We
discussed the state of affairs fully; and Johnson, on learning that
his particular friend, William T. Coleman, was the president of the
Vigilance Committee, proposed to go and see him. En route we
stopped at King's room, ascertained that he was slowly sinking, and
could not live long; and then near midnight we walked to the
Turnverein Hall, where the committee was known to be sitting in
consultation. This hall was on Bush Street, at about the
intersection of Stockton. It was all lighted up within, but the
door was locked. The Governor knocked at the door, and on inquiry
from inside "Who's there?"--gave his name. After some delay we
were admitted into a sort of vestibule, beyond which was a large
hall, and we could hear the suppressed voices of a multitude. We
were shown into a bar-room to the right, when the Governor asked to
see Coleman. The man left us, went into the main hall, and soon
returned with Coleman, who was pale and agitated. After shaking
hands all round, the Governor said, "Coleman, what the devil is the
matter here?" Coleman said, "Governor, it is time this shooting on
our streets should stop." The Governor replied, "I agree with you
perfectly, and have come down, from Sacramento to assist." Coleman
rejoined that "the people were tired of it, and had no faith in the
officers of the law." A general conversation then followed, in
which it was admitted that King would die, and that Casey must be
executed; but the manner of execution was the thing to be settled,
Coleman contending that the people would do it without trusting the
courts or the sheriff. It so happened that at that time Judge
Norton was on the bench of the court having jurisdiction, and he
was universally recognized as an able and upright man, whom no one
could or did mistrust; and it also happened that a grand-jury was
then in session. Johnson argued that the time had passed in
California for mobs and vigilance committees, and said if Coleman
and associates would use their influence to support the law, he
(the Governor) would undertake that, as soon as King died, the
grand-jury should indict, that Judge Norton would try the murderer,
and the whole proceeding should be as speedy as decency would
allow. Then Coleman said "the people had no confidence in
Scannell, the sheriff," who was, he said, in collusion with the
rowdy element of San Francisco. Johnson then offered to be
personally responsible that Casey should be safely guarded, and
should be forthcoming for trial and execution at the proper time.
I remember very well Johnson's assertion that he had no right to
make these stipulations, and maybe no power to fulfill them; but he
did it to save the city and state from the disgrace of a mob.
Coleman disclaimed that the vigilance organization was a "mob,"
admitted that the proposition of the Governor was fair, and all he
or any one should ask; and added, if we would wait awhile, he would
submit it to the council, and bring back an answer.

We waited nearly an hour, and could hear the hum of voices
in the hall, but no words, when Coleman came back, accompanied by a
committee, of which I think the two brothers Arrington, Thomas
Smiley the auctioneer, Seymour, Truett, and others, were members.
The whole conversation was gone over again, and the Governor's
proposition was positively agreed to, with this further condition,
that the Vigilance Committee should send into the jail a small
force of their own men, to make certain that Casey should not be
carried off or allowed to escape.

The Governor, his brother William, Garrison, and I, then went up to
the jail, where we found the sheriff and his posse comitatus of
police and citizens. These were styled the "Law-and-Order party,"
and some of them took offense that the Governor should have held
communication with the "damned rebels," and several of them left
the jail; but the sheriff seemed to agree with the Governor that
what he had done was right and best; and, while we were there, some
eight or ten armed men arrived from the Vigilance Committee, and
were received by the sheriff (Scannell) as a part of his regular

The Governor then, near daylight, went to his hotel, and I to my
house for a short sleep. Next day I was at the bank, as usual,
when, about noon the Governor called, and asked me to walk with him
down-street He said he had just received a message from the
Vigilance Committee to the effect that they were not bound by
Coleman's promise not to do any thing till the regular trial by
jury should be had, etc. He was with reason furious, and asked me
to go with him to Truett's store, over which the Executive
Committee was said to be in session. We were admitted to a
front-room up-stairs, and heard voices in the back-room. The
Governor inquired for Coleman, but he was not forthcoming. Another
of the committee, Seymour, met us, denied in toto the promise of
the night before, and the Governor openly accused him of treachery
and falsehood.

The quarrel became public, and the newspapers took it up, both
parties turning on the Governor; one, the Vigilantes, denying the
promise made by Coleman, their president; and the other, the
"Law-and-Order party," refusing any farther assistance, because
Johnson had stooped to make terms with rebels. At all events, he
was powerless, and had to let matters drift to a conclusion.

King died about Friday, May 20th, and the funeral was appointed for
the next Sunday. Early on that day the Governor sent for me at my
house. I found him on the roof of the International, from which we
looked down on the whole city, and more especially the face of
Telegraph Hill, which was already covered with a crowd of people,
while others were moving toward the jail on Broadway. Parties of
armed men, in good order, were marching by platoons in the same
direction; and formed in line along Broadway, facing the jail-door.
Soon a small party was seen to advance to this door, and knock; a
parley ensued, the doors were opened, and Casey was led out. In a
few minutes another prisoner was brought out, who, proved to be
Cora, a man who had once been tried for killing Richardson, the
United States Marshal, when the jury disagreed, and he was awaiting
a new trial. These prisoners were placed in carriages, and
escorted by the armed force down to the rooms of the Vigilance
Committee, through the principal streets of the city. The day was
exceedingly beautiful, and the whole proceeding was orderly in the
extreme. I was under the impression that Casey and Cora were
hanged that same Sunday, but was probably in error; but in a very
few days they were hanged by the neck--dead--suspended from beams
projecting from the windows of the committee's rooms, without other
trial than could be given in secret, and by night.

We all thought the matter had ended there, and accordingly the
Governor returned to Sacramento in disgust, and I went about my
business. But it soon became manifest that the Vigilance Committee
had no intention to surrender the power thus usurped. They took a
building on Clay Street, near Front, fortified it, employed guards
and armed sentinels, sat in midnight council, issued writs of
arrest and banishment, and utterly ignored all authority but their
own. A good many men were banished and forced to leave the
country, but they were of that class we could well spare. Yankee
Sullivan, a prisoner in their custody, committed suicide, and a
feeling of general insecurity pervaded the city. Business was
deranged; and the Bulletin, then under control of Tom King, a
brother of James, poured out its abuse on some of our best men, as
well as the worst. Governor Johnson, being again appealed to,
concluded to go to work regularly, and telegraphed me about the 1st
of June to meet him at General Wool's headquarters at Benicia that
night. I went up, and we met at the hotel where General Wool was
boarding. Johnson had with him his Secretary of State. We
discussed the state of the country generally, and I had agreed that
if Wool would give us arms and ammunition out of the United States
Arsenal at Benicia, and if Commodore Farragat, of the navy,
commanding the navy-yard on Mare Island, would give us a ship, I
would call out volunteers, and, when a sufficient number had
responded, I would have the arms come down from Benicia in the
ship, arm my men, take possession of a thirty-two-pound-gun battery
at the Marine Hospital on Rincon Point, thence command a dispersion
of the unlawfully-armed force of the Vigilance Committee, and
arrest some of the leaders.

We played cards that night, carrying on a conversation, in which
Wool insisted on a proclamation commanding the Vigilance Committee
to disperse, etc., and he told us how he had on some occasion, as
far back as 1814, suppressed a mutiny on the Northern frontier. I
did not understand him to make any distinct promise of assistance
that night, but he invited us to accompany him on an inspection of
the arsenal the next day, which we did. On handling some rifled
muskets in the arsenal storehouse he asked me how they would answer
our purpose. I said they were the very things, and that we did not
want cartridge boxes or belts, but that I would have the cartridges
carried in the breeches-pockets, and the caps in the vestpockets.
I knew that there were stored in that arsenal four thousand
muskets, for I recognized the boxes which we had carried out in the
Lexington around Cape Horn in 1846. Afterward we all met at the
quarters of Captain D. R. Jones of the army, and I saw the
Secretary of State, D. F. Douglass, Esq., walk out with General
Wool in earnest conversation, and this Secretary of State afterward
asserted that Wool there and then promised us the arms and
ammunition, provided the Governor would make his proclamation for
the committee to disperse, and that I should afterward call out the
militia, etc. On the way back to the hotel at Benicia, General
Wool, Captain Callendar of the arsenal, and I, were walking side by
side, and I was telling him (General Wool) that I would also need
some ammunition for the thirty-two-pound guns then in position at
Rineon Point, when Wool turned to Callendar and inquired, "Did I
not order those guns to be brought away?" Callendar said "Yes,
general. I made a requisition on the quartermaster for
transportation, but his schooner has been so busy that the guns are
still there." Then said Wool: "Let them remain; we may have use for
them." I therefrom inferred, of course, that it was all agreed to
so far as he was concerned.

Soon after we had reached the hotel, we ordered a buggy, and
Governor Johnson and I drove to Vallejo, six miles, crossed over to
Mare Island, and walked up to the commandant's house, where we
found Commodore Farragut and his family. We stated our business
fairly, but the commodore answered very frankly that he had no
authority, without orders from his department, to take any part in
civil broils; he doubted the wisdom of the attempt; said he had no
ship available except the John Adams, Captain Boutwell, and that
she needed repairs. But he assented at last, to the proposition to
let the sloop John Adams drop down abreast of the city after
certain repairs, to lie off there for moral effect, which afterward
actually occurred.

We then returned to Benicia, and Wool's first question was, "What
luck?" We answered, "Not much," and explained what Commodore
Farragut could and would do, and that, instead of having a naval
vessel, we would seize and use one of the Pacific Mail Company's
steamers, lying at their dock in Benicia, to carry down to San
Francisco the arms and munitions when the time came.

As the time was then near at hand for the arrival of the evening
boats, we all walked down to the wharf together, where I told
Johnson that he could not be too careful; that I had not heard
General Wool make a positive promise of assistance.

Upon this, Johnson called General Wool to one side, and we three
drew together. Johnson said: "General Wool, General Sherman is
very particular, and wants to know exactly what you propose to do."
Wool answered: "I understand, Governor, that in the first place a
writ of Habeas corpus will be issued commanding the jailers of the
Vigilance Committee to produce the body of some one of the
prisoners held by them (which, of course, will be refused); that
you then issue your proclamation commanding them to disperse, and,
failing this, you will call out the militia, and command General
Sherman with it to suppress the Vigilance Committee as an unlawful
body;" to which the Governor responded, "Yes." "Then," said Wool,
"on General Sherman's making his requisition, approved by you, I
will order the issue of the necessary arms and ammunition." I
remember well that I said, emphatically: "That is all I want.
--Now, Governor, you may go ahead." We soon parted; Johnson and
Douglas taking the boat to Sacramento, and I to San Francisco.

The Chief-Justice, Terry, came to San Francisco the next day,
issued a writ of habeas corpus for the body of one Maloney, which
writ was resisted, as we expected. The Governor then issued his
proclamation, and I published my orders, dated June 4, 1855. The
Quartermaster-General of the State, General Kibbe, also came to San
Francisco, took an office in the City Hall, engaged several rooms
for armories, and soon the men began to enroll into companies. In
my general orders calling out the militia, I used the expression,
"When a sufficient number of men are enrolled, arms and ammunition
will be supplied." Some of the best men of the "Vigilantes" came
to me and remonstrated, saying that collision would surely result;
that it would be terrible, etc. All I could say in reply was, that
it was for them to get out of the way. "Remove your fort; cease
your midnight councils; and prevent your armed bodies from
patrolling the streets." They inquired where I was to get arms,
and I answered that I had them certain. But personally I went
right along with my business at the bank, conscious that at any
moment we might have trouble. Another committee of citizens, a
conciliatory body, was formed to prevent collision if possible, and
the newspapers boiled over with vehement vituperation. This second
committee was composed of such men as Crockett, Ritchie, Thornton,
Bailey Peyton, Foote, Donohue, Kelly, and others, a class of the
most intelligent and wealthy men of the city, who earnestly and
honestly desired to prevent bloodshed. They also came to me, and I
told them that our men were enrolling very fast, and that, when I
deemed the right moment had come, the Vigilance Committee must
disperse, else bloodshed and destruction of property would
inevitably follow. They also had discovered that the better men of
the Vigilance Committee itself were getting tired of the business,
and thought that in the execution of Casey and Cora, and the
banishment of a dozen or more rowdies, they had done enough, and
were then willing to stop. It was suggested that, if our
Law-and-Order party would not arm, by a certain day near at hand
the committee would disperse, and some of their leaders would
submit to an indictment and trial by a jury of citizens, which they
knew would acquit them of crime. One day in the bank a man called
me to the counter and said, "If you expect to get arms of General
Wool, you will be mistaken, for I was at Benicia yesterday, and
heard him say he would not give them." This person was known to me
to be a man of truth, and I immediately wrote to General Wool a
letter telling him what I had heard, and how any hesitation on his
part would compromise me as a man of truth and honor; adding that I
did not believe we should ever need the arms, but only the promise
of them, for "the committee was letting down, and would soon
disperse and submit to the law," etc. I further asked him to
answer me categorically that very night, by the Stockton boat,
which would pass Benicia on its way down about midnight, and I
would sit up and wait for his answer. I did wait for his letter,
but it did not come, and the next day I got a telegraphic dispatch
from Governor Johnson, who, at Sacramento, had also heard of
General Wool's "back-down," asking me to meet him again at Benicia
that night.

I went up in the evening boat, and found General Wool's
aide-de-camp, Captain Arnold, of the army, on the wharf, with a
letter in his hand, which he said was for me. I asked for it, but
he said he knew its importance, and preferred we should go to
General Wool's room together, and the general could hand it to me in
person. We did go right up to General Wool's, who took the sealed
parcel and laid it aside, saying that it was literally a copy of one
he had sent to Governor Johnson, who would doubtless give me a copy;
but I insisted that I had made a written communication, and was
entitled to a written answer.

At that moment several gentlemen of the "Conciliation party," who
had come up in the same steamer with me, asked for admission and
came in. I recall the names of Crockett, Foote, Bailey Peyton,
Judge Thornton, Donohue, etc., and the conversation became general,
Wool trying to explain away the effect of our misunderstanding,
taking good pains not to deny his promise made to me personally on
the wharf. I renewed my application for the letter addressed to
me, then lying on his table. On my statement of the case, Bailey
Peyton said, "General Wool, I think General Sherman has a right to
a written answer from you, for he is surely compromised." Upon
this Wool handed me the letter. I opened and read it, and it
denied any promise of arms, but otherwise was extremely evasive and
non-committal. I had heard of the arrival at the wharf of the
Governor and party, and was expecting them at Wool's room, but,
instead of stopping at the hotel where we were, they passed to
another hotel on the block above. I went up and found there, in a
room on the second floor over the bar-room, Governor Johnson,
Chief-Justice Terry, Jones, of Palmer, Cooke & Co., E. D. Baker,
Volney E. Howard, and one or two others. All were talking
furiously against Wool, denouncing him as a d---d liar, and not
sparing the severest terms. I showed the Governor General Wool's
letter to me, which he said was in effect the same as the one
addressed to and received by him at Sacramento. He was so offended
that he would not even call on General Wool, and said he would
never again recognize him as an officer or gentleman. We discussed
matters generally, and Judge Terry said that the Vigilance
Committee were a set of d---d pork-merchants; that they were
getting scared, and that General Wool was in collusion with them to
bring the State into contempt, etc. I explained that there were no
arms in the State except what General Wool had, or what were in the
hands of the Vigilance Committee of San Francisco, and that the
part of wisdom for us was to be patient and cautious. About that
time Crockett and his associates sent up their cards, but Terry and
the more violent of the Governor's followers denounced them as no
better than "Vigilantes," and wanted the Governor to refuse even to
receive them. I explained that they were not "Vigilantes," that
Judge Thornton was a "Law-and-Order" man, was one of the first to
respond to the call of the sheriff, and that he went actually to
the jail with his one arm the night we expected the first attempt
at rescue, etc. Johnson then sent word for them to reduce their
business to writing. They simply sent in a written request for an
audience, and they were then promptly admitted. After some general
conversation, the Governor said he was prepared to hear them, when
Mr. Crockett rose and made a prepared speech embracing a clear and
fair statement of the condition of things in San Francisco,
concluding with the assertion of the willingness of the committee
to disband and submit to trial after a certain date not very
remote. All the time Crockett was speaking, Terry sat with his hat
on, drawn over his eyes, and with his feet on a table. As soon as
Crockett was through, they were dismissed, and Johnson began to
prepare a written answer. This was scratched, altered, and
amended, to suit the notions of his counselors, and at last was
copied and sent. This answer amounted to little or nothing.
Seeing that we were powerless for good, and that violent counsels
would prevail under the influence of Terry and others, I sat down
at the table, and wrote my resignation, which Johnson accepted in a
complimentary note on the spot, and at the same time he appointed
to my place General Volney E. Howard, then present, a lawyer who
had once been a member of Congress from Texas, and who was expected
to drive the d---d pork-merchants into the bay at short notice. I
went soon after to General Wool's room, where I found Crockett and
the rest of his party; told them that I was out of the fight,
having resigned my commission; that I had neglected business that
had been intrusted to me by my St. Louis partners; and that I would
thenceforward mind my own business, and leave public affairs
severely alone. We all returned to San Francisco that night by the
Stockton boat, and I never after-ward had any thing to do with
politics in California, perfectly satisfied with that short
experience. Johnson and Wool fought out their quarrel of veracity
in the newspapers and on paper. But, in my opinion, there is not a
shadow of doubt that General Wool did deliberately deceive us; that
he had authority to issue arms, and that, had he adhered to his
promise, we could have checked the committee before it became a
fixed institution, and a part of the common law of California.
Major-General Volney E. Howard came to San Francisco soon after;
continued the organization of militia which I had begun; succeeded
in getting a few arms from the country; but one day the Vigilance
Committee sallied from their armories, captured the arms of the
"Law-and-Order party," put some of their men into prison, while
General Howard, with others, escaped to the country; after which
the Vigilance Committee had it all their own way. Subsequently, in
July, 1856, they arrested Chief-Justice Terry, and tried him for
stabbing one of their constables, but he managed to escape at
night, and took refuge on the John Adams. In August, they hanged
Hetherington and Brace in broad daylight, without any jury-trial;
and, soon after, they quietly disbanded. As they controlled the
press, they wrote their own history, and the world generally gives
them the credit of having purged San Francisco of rowdies and
roughs; but their success has given great stimulus to a dangerous
principle, that would at any time justify the mob in seizing all
the power of government; and who is to say that the Vigilance
Committee may not be composed of the worst, instead of the best,
elements of a community? Indeed, in San Francisco, as soon as it
was demonstrated that the real power had passed from the City Hall
to the committee room, the same set of bailiffs, constables, and
rowdies that had infested the City Hall were found in the
employment of the "Vigilantes;" and, after three months
experience, the better class of people became tired of the midnight
sessions and left the business and power of the committee in the
hands of a court, of which a Sydney man was reported to be the head
or chief-justice.

During the winter of 1855-'56, and indeed throughout the year 1856,
all kinds of business became unsettled in California. The mines
continued to yield about fifty millions of gold a year; but little
attention was paid to agriculture or to any business other than
that of "mining," and, as the placer-gold was becoming worked out,
the miners were restless and uneasy, and were shifting about from
place to place, impelled by rumors put afloat for speculative
purposes. A great many extensive enterprises by joint-stock
companies had been begun, in the way of water-ditches, to bring
water from the head of the mountain-streams down to the richer
alluvial deposits, and nearly all of these companies became
embarrassed or bankrupt. Foreign capital, also, which had been
attracted to California by reason of the high rates of interest,
was being withdrawn, or was tied up in property which could not be
sold; and, although our bank's having withstood the panic gave us
great credit, still the community itself was shaken, and loans of
money were risky in the extreme. A great many merchants, of the
highest name, availed themselves of the extremely liberal bankrupt
law to get discharged of their old debts, without sacrificing much,
if any, of their stocks of goods on hand, except a lawyer's fee;
thus realizing Martin Burke's saying that "many a clever fellow had
been ruined by paying his debts." The merchants and business-men
of San Francisco did not intend to be ruined by such a course. I
raised the rate of exchange from three to three and a half, while
others kept on at the old rate; and I labored hard to collect old
debts, and strove, in making new loans, to be on the safe side.
The State and city both denied much of their public debt; in fact,
repudiated it; and real estate, which the year before had been
first-class security, became utterly unsalable.

The office labor and confinement, and the anxiety attending the
business, aggravated my asthma to such an extent that at times it
deprived me of sleep, and threatened to become chronic and serious;
and I was also conscious that the first and original cause which
had induced Mr. Lucas to establish the bank in California had
ceased. I so reported to him, and that I really believed that he
could use his money more safely and to better advantage in St.
Louis. This met his prompt approval, and he instructed me
gradually to draw out, preparatory to a removal to New York City.
Accordingly, early in April, 1857, I published an advertisement in
the San Francisco papers, notifying our customers that, on the 1st
day of May, we would discontinue business and remove East,
requiring all to withdraw their accounts, and declaring that,
if any remained on that day of May, their balances would be
transferred to the banking-house of Parrott & Co. Punctually to the
day, this was done, and the business of Lucas, Turner & Co., of San
Francisco, was discontinued, except the more difficult and
disagreeable part of collecting their own moneys and selling the
real estate, to which the firm had succeeded by purchase or
foreclosure. One of the partners, B. R. Nisbet, assisted by our
attorney, S. M. Bowman, Esq., remained behind to close up the
business of the bank.




Having closed the bank at San Francisco on the 1st day of May,
1857, accompanied by my family I embarked in the steamer Sonora for
Panama, crossed the isthmus, and sailed to New York, whence we
proceeded to Lancaster, Ohio, where Mrs. Sherman and the family
stopped, and I went on to St. Louis. I found there that some
changes had been made in the parent, house, that Mr. Lucas had
bought out his partner, Captain Symonds, and that the firm's name
had been changed to that of James H. Lucas & Co.

It had also been arranged that an office or branch was to be
established in New York City, of which I was to have charge, on
pretty much the same terms and conditions as in the previous San
Francisco firm.

Mr. Lucas, Major Turner, and I, agreed to meet in New York, soon
after the 4th of July. We met accordingly at the Metropolitan
Hotel, selected an office, No. 12 Pall Street, purchased the
necessary furniture, and engaged a teller, bookkeeper, and porter.
The new firm was to bear the same title of Lucas, Turner & Co.,
with about the same partners in interest, but the nature of the
business was totally different. We opened our office on the 21st
of July, 1857, and at once began to receive accounts from the West
and from California, but our chief business was as the resident
agents of the St. Louis firm of James H. Lucas & Co. Personally I
took rooms at No. 100 Prince Street, in which house were also
quartered Major J. G. Barnard, and Lieutenant J. B. McPherson,
United States Engineers, both of whom afterward attained great fame
in the civil war.

My business relations in New York were with the Metropolitan Bank
and Bank of America; and with the very wealthy and most respectable
firm of Schuchhardt & Gebhard, of Nassau Street. Every thing went
along swimmingly till the 21st of August, when all Wall Street was
thrown into a spasm by the failure of the Ohio Life and Trust
Company, and the panic so resembled that in San Francisco, that,
having nothing seemingly at stake, I felt amused. But it soon
became a serious matter even to me. Western stocks and securities
tumbled to such a figure, that all Western banks that held such
securities, and had procured advances thereon, were compelled to
pay up or substitute increased collaterals. Our own house was
not a borrower in New York at all, but many of our Western
correspondents were, and it taxed my tune to watch their interests.
In September, the panic extended so as to threaten the safety of
even some of the New York banks not connected with the West; and
the alarm became general, and at last universal.

In the very midst of this panic came the news that the steamer
Central America, formerly the George Law, with six hundred
passengers and about sixteen hundred thousand dollars of treasure,
coming from Aspinwall, had foundered at sea, off the coast of
Georgia, and that about sixty of the passengers had been
providentially picked up by a Swedish bark, and brought into
Savannah. The absolute loss of this treasure went to swell the
confusion and panic of the day.

A few days after, I was standing in the vestibule of the
Metropolitan Hotel, and heard the captain of the Swedish bark tell
his singular story of the rescue of these passengers. He was a
short, sailor-like-looking man, with a strong German or Swedish
accent. He said that he was sailing from some port in Honduras for
Sweden, running down the Gulf Stream off Savannah. The weather had
been heavy for some days, and, about nightfall, as he paced his
deck, he observed a man-of-war hawk circle about his vessel,
gradually lowering, until the bird was as it were aiming at him.
He jerked out a belaying-pin, struck at the bird, missed it, when
the hawk again rose high in the air, and a second time began to
descend, contract his circle, and make at him again. The second
time he hit the bird, and struck it to the deck.... This strange
fact made him uneasy, and he thought it betokened danger; he went
to the binnacle, saw the course he was steering, and without any
particular reason he ordered the steersman to alter the course one
point to the east.

After this it became quite dark, and he continued to promenade the
deck, and had settled into a drowsy state, when as in a dream he
thought he heard voices all round his ship. Waking up, he ran to
the side of the ship, saw something struggling in the water, and
heard clearly cries for help. Instantly heaving his ship to, and
lowering all his boats, he managed to pick up sixty or more persons
who were floating about on skylights, doors, spare, and whatever
fragments remained of the Central America. Had he not changed the
course of his vessel by reason of the mysterious conduct of that
man-of-war hawk, not a soul would probably have survived the night.
It was stated by the rescued passengers, among whom was Billy
Birch, that the Central America had sailed from Aspinwall with the
passengers and freight which left San Francisco on the 1st of
September, and encountered the gale in the Gulf Stream somewhere
off Savannah, in which she sprung a leak, filled rapidly, and went
down. The passengers who were saved had clung to doors, skylights,
and such floating objects as they could reach, and were thus
rescued; all the rest, some five hundred in number, had gone down
with the ship.

The panic grew worse and worse, and about the end of September
there was a general suspension of the banks of New York, and a
money crisis extended all over the country. In New York, Lucas,
Turner & Co. had nothing at risk. We had large cash balances in
the Metropolitan Bank and in the Bank of America, all safe, and we
held, for the account of the St. Louis house, at least two hundred
thousand dollars, of St. Louis city and county bonds, and of
acceptances falling due right along, none extending beyond ninety
days. I was advised from St. Louis that money matters were
extremely tight; but I did not dream of any danger in that quarter.
I knew well that Mr. Lucas was worth two or three million dollars
in the best real estate, and inferred from the large balances to
their credit with me that no mere panic could shake his credit;
but, early on the morning of October 7th, my cousin, James M. Hoyt,
came to me in bed, and read me a paragraph in the morning paper, to
the effect that James H. Lucas & Co., of St. Louis, had suspended.
I was, of course, surprised, but not sorry; for I had always
contended that a man of so much visible wealth as Mr. Lucas should
not be engaged in a business subject to such vicissitudes. I
hurried down to the office, where I received the same information
officially, by telegraph, with instructions to make proper
disposition of the affairs of the bank, and to come out to St.
Louis, with such assets as would be available there. I transferred
the funds belonging to all our correspondents, with lists of
outstanding checks, to one or other of our bankers, and with the
cash balance of the St. Louis house and their available assets
started for St. Louis. I may say with confidence that no man lost
a cent by either of the banking firms of Lucas, Turner & Co., of
San Francisco or New York; but, as usual, those who owed us were
not always as just. I reached St. Louis October 17th, and found
the partners engaged in liquidating the balances due depositors as
fast as collections could be forced; and, as the panic began to
subside, this process became quite rapid, and Mr. Lucas, by making
a loan in Philadelphia, was enabled to close out all accounts
without having made any serious sacrifices, Of course, no person
ever lost a cent by him: he has recently died, leaving an estate of
eight million dollars. During his lifetime, I had opportunities to
know him well, and take much pleasure in bearing testimony to his
great worth and personal kindness. On the failure of his bank, he
assumed personally all the liabilities, released his partners of
all responsibility, and offered to assist me to engage in business,
which he supposed was due to me because I had resigned my army
commission. I remained in St. Louis till the 17th of December,
1857, assisting in collecting for the bank, and in controlling all
matters which came from the New York and San Francisco branches.
B. R. Nisbet was still in San Francisco, but had married a Miss
Thornton, and was coming home. There still remained in California
a good deal of real estate, and notes, valued at about two hundred
thousand dollars in the aggregate; so that, at Mr. Lucas's request,
I agreed to go out again, to bring matters, if possible, nearer a
final settlement. I accordingly left St. Louis, reached Lancaster,
where my family was, on the 10th, staid there till after Christmas,
and then went to New York, where I remained till January 5th, when
I embarked on the steamer Moles Taylor (Captain McGowan) for
Aspinwall; caught the Golden Gate (Captain Whiting) at Panama,
January 15, 1858; and reached San Francisco on the 28th of January.
I found that Nisbet and wife had gone to St. Louis, and that we had
passed each other at sea. He had carried the ledger and books to
St. Louis, but left a schedule, notes, etc., in the hands of S. M.
Bowman, Esq., who passed them over to me.

On the 30th of January I published a notice of the dissolution of
the partnership, and called on all who were still indebted to the
firm of Lucas, Turner & Co. to pay up, or the notes would be sold
at auction. I also advertised that all the real property, was for

Business had somewhat changed since 1857. Parrott & Co.; Garrison,
Fritz & Ralston; Wells, Fargo & Co.; Drexel, Sather & Church, and
Tallant & Wilde, were the principal bankers. Property continued
almost unsalable, and prices were less than a half of what they
had been in 1853-'54. William Blending, Esq., had rented my house
on Harrison Street; so I occupied a room in the bank, No. 11, and
boarded at the Meiggs House, corner of Broadway and Montgomery,
which we owned. Having reduced expenses to a minimum, I proceeded,
with all possible dispatch, to collect outstanding debts, in some
instances making sacrifices and compromises. I made some few
sales, and generally aimed to put matters in such a shape that time
would bring the best result. Some of our heaviest creditors were
John M. Rhodes & Co., of Sacramento and Shasta; Langton & Co., of
Downieville; and E. M. Stranger of Murphy's. In trying to put
these debts in course of settlement, I made some arrangement in
Downieville with the law-firm of Spears & Thornton, to collect, by
suit, a certain note of Green & Purdy for twelve thousand dollars.
Early in April, I learned that Spears had collected three thousand
seven hundred dollars in money, had appropriated it to his own use,
and had pledged another good note taken in part payment of three
thousand and fifty-three dollars. He pretended to be insane. I
had to make two visits to Downieville on this business, and there,
made the acquaintance of Mr. Stewart, now a Senator from Nevada.
He was married to a daughter of Governor Foote; was living in a
small frame house on the bar just below the town; and his little
daughter was playing about the door in the sand. Stewart was then
a lawyer in Downieville, in good practice; afterward, by some lucky
stroke, became part owner of a valuable silver-mine in Nevada, and
is now accounted a millionaire. I managed to save something out of
Spears, and more out of his partner Thornton. This affair of
Spears ruined him, because his insanity was manifestly feigned.

I remained in San Francisco till July 3d, when, having collected
and remitted every cent that I could raise, and got all the
property in the best shape possible, hearing from St. Louis
that business had revived, and that there was no need of
further sacrifice; I put all the papers, with a full letter of
instructions, and power of attorney, in the hands of William
Blending, Esq., and took passage on the good steamer Golden Gate,
Captain Whiting, for Panama and home. I reached Lancaster on July
28, 1858, and found all the family well. I was then perfectly
unhampered, but the serious and greater question remained, what was
I to do to support my family, consisting of a wife and four
children, all accustomed to more than the average comforts of life?

I remained at Lancaster all of August, 1858, during which time I
was discussing with Mr. Ewing and others what to do next. Major
Turner and Mr. Lucas, in St. Louis, were willing to do any thing to
aid me, but I thought best to keep independent. Mr. Ewing had
property at Chauncey, consisting of salt-wells and coal-mines, but
for that part of Ohio I had no fancy. Two of his sons, Hugh and T.
E., Jr., had established themselves at Leavenworth, Kansas, where
they and their father had bought a good deal of land, some near the
town, and some back in the country. Mr. Ewing offered to confide
to me the general management of his share of interest, and Hugh and
T. E., Jr., offered me an equal copartnership in their law-firm.

Accordingly, about the 1st of September, I started for Kansas,
stopping a couple of weeks in St. Louis, and reached Leavenworth.
I found about two miles below the fort, on the river-bank, where in
1851 was a tangled thicket, quite a handsome and thriving city,
growing rapidly in rivalry with Kansas City, and St. Joseph,
Missouri. After looking about and consulting with friends, among
them my classmate Major Stewart Van Vliet, quartermaster at the
fort, I concluded to accept the proposition of Mr. Ewing, and
accordingly the firm of Sherman & Ewing was duly announced, and our
services to the public offered as attorneys-at-law. We had an
office on Main Street, between Shawnee and Delaware, on the second
floor, over the office of Hampton Denman, Esq., mayor of the city.
This building was a mere shell, and our office was reached by a
stairway on the outside. Although in the course of my military
reading I had studied a few of the ordinary law-books, such as
Blackstone, Kent, Starkie, etc., I did not presume to be a lawyer;
but our agreement was that Thomas Ewing, Jr., a good and thorough
lawyer, should manage all business in the courts, while I gave
attention to collections, agencies for houses and lands, and such
business as my experience in banking had qualified me for. Yet, as
my name was embraced in a law-firm, it seemed to me proper to take
out a license. Accordingly, one day when United States Judge
Lecompte was in our office, I mentioned the matter to him; he told
me to go down to the clerk of his court, and he would give me the
license. I inquired what examination I would have to submit to,
and he replied, "None at all;" he would admit me on the ground of
general intelligence.

During that summer we got our share of the business of the
profession, then represented by several eminent law-firms,
embracing names that have since flourished in the Senate, and in
the higher courts of the country. But the most lucrative single
case was given me by my friend Major Van Vliet, who employed me to
go to Fort Riley, one hundred and thirty-six miles west of Fort
Leavenworth, to superintend the repairs to the military road. For
this purpose he supplied me with a four-mule ambulance and driver.
The country was then sparsely settled, and quite as many Indians
were along the road as white people; still there were embryo towns
all along the route, and a few farms sprinkled over the beautiful
prairies. On reaching Indianola, near Topeka, I found everybody
down with the chills and fever. My own driver became so shaky that
I had to act as driver and cook. But in due season I reconnoitred
the road, and made contracts for repairing some bridges, and for
cutting such parts of the road as needed it. I then returned to
Fort Leavenworth, and reported, receiving a fair compensation. On
my way up I met Colonel Sumner's column, returning from their
summer scout on the plains, and spent the night with the officers,
among whom were Captains Sackett, Sturgis, etc. Also at Fort Riley
I was cordially received and entertained by some old army-friends,
among them Major Sedgwick, Captains Totted, Eli Long, etc.

Mrs. Sherman and children arrived out in November, and we spent the
winter very comfortably in the house of Thomas Ewing, Jr., on the
corner of Third and Pottawottamie Streets. On the 1st of January,
1859, Daniel McCook, Esq., was admitted to membership in our firm,
which became Sherman, Ewing & McCook. Our business continued to
grow, but, as the income hardly sufficed for three such expensive
personages, I continued to look about for something more certain
and profitable, and during that spring undertook for the Hon.
Thomas Ewing, of Ohio, to open a farm on a large tract of land he
owned on Indian Creek, forty miles west of Leavenworth, for the
benefit of his grand-nephew, Henry Clark, and his grand-niece, Mrs.
Walker. These arrived out in the spring, by which time I had
caused to be erected a small frame dwelling-house, a barn, and
fencing for a hundred acres. This helped to pass away time, but
afforded little profit; and on the 11th of June, 1859, I wrote to
Major D. C. Buel, assistant adjutant-general, on duty in the War
Department with Secretary of War Floyd, inquiring if there was a
vacancy among the army paymasters, or any thing in his line that I
could obtain. He replied promptly, and sent me the printed
programme for a military college about to be organized in
Louisiana, and advised me to apply for the superintendent's place,
saying that General G. Mason Graham, the half-brother of my old
commanding-general, R. B. Mason, was very influential in this
matter, and would doubtless befriend me on account of the relations
that had existed between General Mason and myself in California.
Accordingly, I addressed a letter of application to the Hon. R. C.
Wickliffe, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, asking the answer to be sent to
me at Lancaster, Ohio, where I proposed to leave my family. But,
before leaving this branch of the subject, I must explain a little
matter of which I have seen an account in print, complimentary or
otherwise of the firm of Sherman, Ewing & McCook, more especially
of the senior partner.

One day, as I sat in our office, an Irishman came in and said he
had a case and wanted a lawyer. I asked him to sit down and give
me the points of his case, all the other members of the firm being
out. Our client stated that he had rented a lot of an Irish
landlord for five dollars a month; that he had erected thereon a
small frame shanty, which was occupied by his family; that he had,
paid his rent regularly up to a recent period, but to his house he
had appended a shed which extended over a part of an adjoining
vacant lot belonging to the same landlord, for which he was charged
two and a half dollars a month, which he refused to pay. The
consequence was, that his landlord had for a few months declined
even his five dollars monthly rent until the arrears amounted to
about seventeen dollars, for which he was sued. I told him we
would undertake his case, of which I took notes, and a fee of five
dollars in advance, and in due order I placed the notes in the
hands of McCook, and thought no more of it.

A month or so after, our client rushed into the office and said his
case had been called at Judge Gardner's (I think), and he wanted
his lawyer right away. I sent him up to the Circuit Court, Judge
Pettit's, for McCook, but he soon returned, saying he could not
find McCook, and accordingly I hurried with him up to Judge
Gardner's office, intending to ask a continuance, but I found our
antagonist there, with his lawyer and witnesses, and Judge Gardner
would not grant a continuance, so of necessity I had to act, hoping
that at every minute McCook would come. But the trial proceeded
regularly to its end; we were beaten, and judgment was entered
against our client for the amount claimed, and costs. As soon as
the matter was explained to McCook, he said "execution" could not
be taken for ten days, and, as our client was poor, and had nothing
on which the landlord could levy but his house, McCook advised him
to get his neighbors together, to pick up the house, and carry it
on to another vacant lot, belonging to a non-resident, so that even
the house could not be taken in execution. Thus the grasping
landlord, though successful in his judgment, failed in the
execution, and our client was abundantly satisfied.

In due time I closed up my business at Leavenworth, and went to
Lancaster, Ohio, where, in July, 1859, I received notice from
Governor Wickliffe that I had been elected superintendent of the
proposed college, and inviting me to come down to Louisiana as
early as possible, because they were anxious to put the college
into operation by the 1st of January following. For this honorable
position I was indebted to Major D. C. Buell and General G. Mason
Graham, to whom I have made full and due acknowledgment. During
the civil war, it was reported and charged that I owed my position
to the personal friendship of Generals Bragg and Beauregard, and
that, in taking up arms against the South, I had been guilty of a
breach of hospitality and friendship. I was not indebted to
General Bragg, because he himself told me that he was not even
aware that I was an applicant, and had favored the selection of
Major Jenkins, another West Point graduate. General Beauregard had
nothing whatever to do with the matter.




In the autumn of 1859, having made arrangements for my family to
remain in Lancaster, I proceeded, via Columbus, Cincinnati, and
Louisville, to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where I reported for duty to
Governor Wickliffe, who, by virtue of his office, was the president
of the Board of Supervisors of the new institution over which I was
called to preside. He explained to me the act of the Legislature
under which the institution was founded; told me that the building
was situated near Alexandria, in the parish of Rapides, and was
substantially finished; that the future management would rest with
a Board of Supervisors, mostly citizens of Rapides Parish, where
also resided the Governor-elect, T. O. Moore, who would soon
succeed him in his office as Governor and president ex officio; and
advised me to go at once to Alexandria, and put myself in
communication with Moore and the supervisors. Accordingly I took a
boat at Baton Rouge, for the mouth of Red River.

The river being low, and its navigation precarious, I there took
the regular mail-coach, as the more certain conveyance, and
continued on toward Alexandria. I found, as a fellow-passenger in
the coach, Judge Henry Boyce, of the United States District Court,
with whom I had made acquaintance years before, at St. Louis, and,
as we neared Alexandria, he proposed that we should stop at
Governor Moore's and spend the night. Moore's house and plantation
were on Bayou Robert, about eight miles from Alexandria. We found
him at home, with his wife and a married daughter, and spent the
night there. He sent us forward to Alexandria the next morning, in
his own carriage. On arriving at Alexandria, I put up at an inn,
or boarding-house, and almost immediately thereafter went about ten
miles farther up Bayou Rapides, to the plantation and house of
General G. Mason Graham, to whom I looked as the principal man with
whom I had to deal. He was a high-toned gentleman, and his whole
heart was in the enterprise. He at once put me at ease. We acted
together most cordially from that time forth, and it was at his
house that all the details of the seminary were arranged. We first
visited the college-building together. It was located on an old
country place of four hundred acres of pineland, with numerous
springs, and the building was very large and handsome. A
carpenter, named James, resided there, and had the general charge
of the property; but, as there was not a table, chair, black-board,
or any thing on hand, necessary for a beginning, I concluded to
quarter myself in one of the rooms of the seminary, and board with
an old black woman who cooked for James, so that I might personally
push forward the necessary preparations. There was an old
rail-fence about the place, and a large pile of boards in front. I
immediately engaged four carpenters, and set them at work to make
out of these boards mess-tables, benches, black-boards, etc. I
also opened a correspondence with the professors-elect, and with
all parties of influence in the State, who were interested in our
work: At the meeting of the Board of Supervisors, held at
Alexandria, August 2, 1859, five professors had been elected:
1. W. T. Sherman, Superintendent, and Professor of Engineering, etc.;
2. Anthony Vallas, Professor of Mathematics, Philosophy, etc.;
3. Francis W. Smith, Professor of Chemistry, etc.;
4. David F. Boyd, Professor of Languages, English and Ancient;
5. E. Berti St. Ange, Professor of French and Modern Languages.

These constituted the Academic Board, while the general supervision
remained in the Board of Supervisors, composed of the Governor of
the State, the Superintendent of Public Education, and twelve
members, nominated by the Governor, and confirmed by the Senate.
The institution was bound to educate sixteen beneficiary students,
free of any charge for tuition. These had only to pay for their
clothing and books, while all others had to pay their entire
expenses, including tuition.

Early in November, Profs. Smith, Yallas, St. Ange, and I, met a
committee of the Board of Supervisors, composed of T. C. Manning,
G. Mason Graham, and W. W. Whittington, at General Graham's house,
and resolved to open the institution to pupils on the 1st day of
January, 1860. We adopted a series of bylaws for the government of
the institution, which was styled the "Louisiana Seminary of
Learning and Military Academy." This title grew out of the
original grant, by the Congress of the United States, of a certain
township of public land, to be sold by the State, and dedicated to
the use of a "seminary of learning." I do not suppose that
Congress designed thereby to fix the name or title; but the subject
had so long been debated in Louisiana that the name, though
awkward, had become familiar. We appended to it "Military
Academy," as explanatory of its general design.

On the 17th of November, 1859, the Governor of the State,
Wickliffe, issued officially a general circular, prepared by us,
giving public notice that the "Seminary of Learning" would open on
the 1st day of January, 1860; containing a description of the
locality, and the general regulations for the proposed institution;
and authorizing parties to apply for further information to the
"Superintendent," at Alexandria, Louisiana.

The Legislature had appropriated for the sixteen beneficiaries at
the rate of two hundred and eighty-three dollars per annum, to
which we added sixty dollars as tuition for pay cadets; and, though
the price was low, we undertook to manage for the first year on
that basis.

Promptly to the day, we opened, with about sixty cadets present.
Major Smith was the commandant of cadets, and I the superintendent.
I had been to New Orleans, where I had bought a supply of
mattresses, books, and every thing requisite, and we started very
much on the basis of West Point and of the Virginia Military
Institute, but without uniforms or muskets; yet with roll-calls,
sections, and recitations, we kept as near the standard of West
Point as possible. I kept all the money accounts, and gave general
directions to the steward, professors, and cadets. The other
professors had their regular classes and recitations. We all lived
in rooms in the college building, except Vallas, who had a family,
and rented a house near by. A Creole gentleman, B. Jarrean, Esq.,
had been elected steward, and he also had his family in a house not
far off. The other professors had a mess in a room adjoining the
mess-hall. A few more cadets joined in the course of the winter,
so that we had in all, during the first term, seventy-three cadets,
of whom fifty-nine passed the examination on the 30th of July,
1860. During our first term many defects in the original act of
the Legislature were demonstrated, and, by the advice of the Board
of Supervisors, I went down to Baton Rouge during the session of
the Legislature, to advocate and urge the passage of a new bill,
putting the institution on a better footing. Thomas O. Moors was
then Governor, Bragg was a member of the Board of Public Works, and
Richard Taylor was a Senator. I got well acquainted with all of
these, and with some of the leading men of the State, and was
always treated with the greatest courtesy and kindness. In
conjunction with the proper committee of the Legislature, we
prepared a new bill, which was passed and approved on the 7th of
March, 1860, by which we were to have a beneficiary cadet for each
parish, in all fifty-six, and fifteen thousand dollars annually for
their maintenance; also twenty thousand dollars for the general use
of the college. During that session we got an appropriation of
fifteen thousand dollars for building two professors' houses, for
the purchase of philosophical and chemical apparatus, and for the
beginning of a college library. The seminary was made a State
Arsenal, under the title of State Central Arsenal, and I was
allowed five hundred dollars a year as its superintendent. These
matters took me several times to Baton Rouge that winter, and I
recall an event of some interest, which most have happened in
February. At that time my brother, John Sherman, was a candidate,
in the national House of Representatives, for Speaker, against
Bocock, of Virginia. In the South he was regarded as an
"abolitionist," the most horrible of all monsters; and many people
of Louisiana looked at me with suspicion, as the brother of the
abolitionist, John Sherman, and doubted the propriety of having me
at the head of an important State institution. By this time I was
pretty well acquainted with many of their prominent men, was
generally esteemed by all in authority, and by the people of
Rapides Parish especially, who saw that I was devoted to my
particular business, and that I gave no heed to the political
excitement of the day. But the members of the State Senate and
House did not know me so well, and it was natural that they should
be suspicions of a Northern man, and the brother of him who was the
"abolition" candidate for Speaker of the House.

One evening, at a large dinner-party at Governor Moore's, at which
were present several members of the Louisiana Legislature, Taylor,
Bragg, and the Attorney-General Hyams, after the ladies had left
the table, I noticed at Governor Moore's end quite a lively
discussion going on, in which my name was frequently used; at
length the Governor called to me, saying: "Colonel Sherman, you can
readily understand that, with your brother the abolitionist
candidate for Speaker, some of our people wonder that you should be
here at the head of an important State institution. Now, you are
at my table, and I assure you of my confidence. Won't you speak
your mind freely on this question of slavery, that so agitates the
land? You are under my roof, and, whatever you say, you have my

I answered: "Governor Moors, you mistake in calling my brother,
John Sherman, an abolitionist. We have been separated since
childhood--I in the army, and he pursuing his profession of
law in Northern Ohio; and it is possible we may differ in
general sentiment, but I deny that he is considered at home an
abolitionist; and, although he prefers the free institutions under
which he lives to those of slavery which prevail here, he would not
of himself take from you by law or force any property whatever,
even slaves."

Then said Moore: "Give us your own views of slavery as you see it
here and throughout the South."

I answered in effect that "the people of Louisiana were hardly
responsible for slavery, as they had inherited it; that I found two
distinct conditions of slavery, domestic and field hands. The
domestic slaves, employed by the families, were probably better
treated than any slaves on earth; but the condition of the
field-hands was different, depending more on the temper and
disposition of their masters and overseers than were those employed
about the house;" and I went on to say that, "were I a citizen of
Louisiana, and a member of the Legislature, I would deem it wise to
bring the legal condition of the slaves more near the status of
human beings under all Christian and civilized governments. In the
first place, I argued that, in sales of slaves made by the State, I
would forbid the separation of families, letting the father,
mother, and children, be sold together to one person, instead of
each to the highest bidder. And, again, I would advise the repeal
of the statute which enacted a severe penalty for even the owner to
teach his slave to read and write, because that actually qualified
property and took away a part of its value; illustrating the
assertion by the case of Henry Sampson, who had been the slave of
Colonel Chambers, of Rapides Parish, who had gone to California as
the servant of an officer of the army, and who was afterward
employed by me in the bank at San Francisco. At first he could not
write or read, and I could only afford to pay him one hundred
dollars a month; but he was taught to read and write by Reilley,
our bank-teller, when his services became worth two hundred and
fifty dollars a month, which enabled him to buy his own freedom and
that of his brother and his family."

What I said was listened to by all with the most profound
attention; and, when I was through, some one (I think it was Mr.
Hyams) struck the table with his fist, making the glasses jingle,
and said, "By God, he is right!" and at once he took up the debate,
which went on, for an hour or more, on both sides with ability and
fairness. Of course, I was glad to be thus relieved, because at
the time all men in Louisiana were dreadfully excited on questions
affecting their slaves, who constituted the bulk of their wealth,
and without whom they honestly believed that sugar, cotton, and
rice, could not possibly be cultivated.

On the 30th and 31st of July, 1860, we had an examination at the
seminary, winding up with a ball, and as much publicity as possible
to attract general notice; and immediately thereafter we all
scattered--the cadets to their homes, and the professors wherever
they pleased--all to meet again on the 1st day of the next
November. Major Smith and I agreed to meet in New York on a
certain day in August, to purchase books, models, etc. I went
directly to my family in Lancaster, and after a few days proceeded
to Washington, to endeavor to procure from the General Government
the necessary muskets and equipments for our cadets by the
beginning of the next term. I was in Washington on the 17th
day of August, and hunted up my friend Major Buell, of the
Adjutant-General's Department, who was on duty with the Secretary of
War, Floyd. I had with me a letter of Governor Moore's, authorizing
me to act in his name. Major Buell took me into Floyd's room at the
War Department, to whom I explained my business, and I was agreeably
surprised to meet with such easy success. Although the State of
Louisiana had already drawn her full quota of arms, Floyd promptly
promised to order my requisition to be filled, and I procured the
necessary blanks at the Ordnance-Office, filled them with two
hundred cadet muskets, and all equipments complete, and was assured
that all these articles would be shipped to Louisiana in season for
our use that fall. These assurances were faithfully carried out.

I then went on to New York, there met Major Smith according to
appointment, and together we selected and purchased a good supply
of uniforms, clothing, and text books, as well as a fair number of
books of history and fiction, to commence a library.

When this business was completed, I returned to Lancaster, and
remained with my family till the time approached for me to return
to Louisiana. I again left my family at Lancaster, until assured
of the completion of the two buildings designed for the married
professors for which I had contracted that spring with Mr. Mills,
of Alexandria, and which were well under progress when I left in
August. One of these was designed for me and the other for Vallas.
Mr. Ewing presented me with a horse, which I took down the river
with me, and en route I ordered from Grimsley & Co. a full
equipment of saddle, bridle, etc., the same that I used in the war,
and which I lost with my horse, shot under me at Shiloh.

Reaching Alexandria early in October, I pushed forward the
construction of the two buildings, some fences, gates, and all
other work, with the object of a more perfect start at the opening
of the regular term November 1, 1860.

About this time Dr. Powhatan Clark was elected Assistant Professor
of Chemistry, etc., and acted as secretary of the Board of
Supervisors, but no other changes were made in our small circle of

November came, and with it nearly if not quite all our first set of
cadets, and others, to the number of about one hundred and thirty.
We divided them into two companies, issued arms and clothing, and
began a regular system of drills and instruction, as well as the
regular recitations. I had moved into my new house, but prudently
had not sent for my family, nominally on the ground of waiting
until the season was further advanced, but really because of the
storm that was lowering heavy on the political horizon. The
presidential election was to occur in November, and the nominations
had already been made in stormy debates by the usual conventions.
Lincoln and Hamlin (to the South utterly unknown) were the nominees
of the Republican party, and for the first time both these
candidates were from Northern States. The Democratic party
divided--one set nominating a ticket at Charleston, and the other
at Baltimore. Breckenridge and Lane were the nominees of the
Southern or Democratic party; and Bell and Everett, a kind of
compromise, mostly in favor in Louisiana. Political excitement was
at its very height, and it was constantly asserted that Mr.
Lincoln's election would imperil the Union. I purposely kept aloof
from politics, would take no part, and remember that on the day of
the election in November I was notified that it would be advisable
for me to vote for Bell and Everett, but I openly said I would not,
and I did not. The election of Mr. Lincoln fell upon us all like a
clap of thunder. People saw and felt that the South had threatened
so long that, if she quietly submitted, the question of slavery in
the Territories was at an end forever. I mingled freely with the
members of the Board of Supervisors, and with the people of Rapides
Parish generally, keeping aloof from all cliques and parties, and I
certainly hoped that the threatened storm would blow over, as had
so often occurred before, after similar threats. At our seminary
the order of exercises went along with the regularity of the
seasons. Once a week, I had the older cadets to practise reading,
reciting, and elocution, and noticed that their selections were
from Calhoun, Yancey, and other Southern speakers, all treating of
the defense of their slaves and their home institutions as the very
highest duty of the patriot. Among boys this was to be expected;
and among the members of our board, though most of them declaimed
against politicians generally, and especially abolitionists, as
pests, yet there was a growing feeling that danger was in the wind.
I recall the visit of a young gentleman who had been sent from
Jackson, by the Governor of Mississippi, to confer with Governor
Moore, then on his plantation at Bayou Robert, and who had come
over to see our college. He spoke to me openly of secession as a
fixed fact, and that its details were only left open for
discussion. I also recall the visit of some man who was said to be
a high officer in the order of "Knights of the Golden Circle," of
the existence of which order I was even ignorant, until explained
to me by Major Smith and Dr. Clark. But in November, 1860, no man
ever approached me offensively, to ascertain my views, or my
proposed course of action in case of secession, and no man in or
out of authority ever tried to induce me to take part in steps
designed to lead toward disunion. I think my general opinions were
well known and understood, viz., that "secession was treason, was
war;" and that in no event would the North and West permit the
Mississippi River to pass out of their control. But some men at
the South actually supposed at the time that the Northwestern
States, in case of a disruption of the General Government, would be
drawn in self-interest to an alliance with the South. What I now
write I do not offer as any thing like a history of the important
events of that time, but rather as my memory of them, the effect
they had on me personally, and to what extent they influenced my
personal conduct.

South Carolina seceded December 20, 1860, and Mississippi soon
after. Emissaries came to Louisiana to influence the Governor,
Legislature, and people, and it was the common assertion that, if
all the Cotton States would follow the lead of South Carolina, it
would diminish the chances of civil war, because a bold and
determined front would deter the General Government from any
measures of coercion. About this time also, viz., early in
December, we received Mr. Buchanan's annual message to Congress, in
which he publicly announced that the General Government had no
constitutional power to "coerce a State." I confess this staggered
me, and I feared that the prophecies and assertions of Alison and
other European commentators on our form of government were right,
and that our Constitution was a mere rope of sand, that would break
with the first pressure.

The Legislature of Louisiana met on the 10th of December, and
passed an act calling a convention of delegates from the people, to
meet at Baton Rouge, on the 8th of January, to take into
consideration the state of the Union; and, although it was
universally admitted that a large majority of the voters of the
State were opposed to secession, disunion, and all the steps of the
South Carolinians, yet we saw that they were powerless, and that
the politicians would sweep them along rapidly to the end,
prearranged by their leaders in Washington. Before the ordinance
of secession was passed, or the convention had assembled, on the
faith of a telegraphic dispatch sent by the two Senators, Benjamin
and Slidell, from their seats in the United States Senate at
Washington, Governor Moore ordered the seizure of all the United
States forts at the mouth of the Mississippi and Lake
Pontchartrain, and of the United States arsenal at Baton Rouge.
The forts had no garrisons, but the arsenal was held by a small
company of artillery, commanded by Major Haskins, a most worthy and
excellent officer, who had lost an arm in Mexico. I remember well
that I was strongly and bitterly impressed by the seizure of the
arsenal, which occurred on January 10, 1861.

When I went first to Baton Rouge, in 1859, en route to Alexandria,
I found Captain Rickett's company of artillery stationed in the
arsenal, but soon after there was somewhat of a clamor on the Texas
frontier about Brownsville, which induced the War Department to
order Rickett's company to that frontier. I remember that Governor
Moore remonstrated with the Secretary of War because so much
dangerous property, composed of muskets, powder, etc., had been
left by the United States unguarded, in a parish where the slave
population was as five or six to one of whites; and it was on his
official demand that the United States Government ordered Haskinss
company to replace Rickett's. This company did not number forty
men. In the night of January 9th, about five hundred New Orleans
militia, under command of a Colonel Wheat, went up from New Orleans
by boat, landed, surrounded the arsenal, and demanded its
surrender. Haskins was of course unprepared for such a step, yet
he at first resolved to defend the post as he best could with his
small force. But Bragg, who was an old army acquaintance of his,
had a parley with him, exhibited to him the vastly superior force
of his assailants, embracing two field-batteries, and offered to
procure for him honorable terms, to march out with drums and
colors, and to take unmolested passage in a boat up to St. Louis;
alleging, further, that the old Union was at an end, and that a
just settlement would be made between the two new fragments for all
the property stored in the arsenal. Of course it was Haskins's
duty to have defended his post to the death; but up to that time
the national authorities in Washington had shown such
pusillanimity, that the officers of the army knew not what to do.
The result, anyhow, was that Haskins surrendered his post, and at
once embarked for St. Louis. The arms and munitions stored in the
arsenal were scattered--some to Mississippi, some to New Orleans,
some to Shreveport; and to me, at the Central Arsenal, were
consigned two thousand muskets, three hundred Jager rifles, and a
large amount of cartridges and ammunition. The invoices were
signed by the former ordnance-sergeant, Olodowski, as a captain of
ordnance, and I think he continued such on General Bragg's staff
through the whole of the subsequent civil war. These arms, etc.,
came up to me at Alexandria, with orders from Governor Moore to
receipt for and account for them. Thus I was made the receiver of
stolen goods, and these goods the property of the United States.
This grated hard on my feelings as an ex-army-officer, and on
counting the arms I noticed that they were packed in the old
familiar boxes, with the "U. S." simply scratched off. General G.
Mason Graham had resigned as the chairman of the Executive
Committee, and Dr. S. A. Smith, of Alexandria, then a member of the
State Senate, had succeeded him as chairman, and acted as head of
the Board of Supervisors. At the time I was in most intimate
correspondence with all of these parties, and our letters must have
been full of politics, but I have only retained copies of a few of
the letters, which I will embody in this connection, as they will
show, better than by any thing I can now recall, the feelings of
parties at that critical period. The seizure of the arsenal at
Baton Rouge occurred January 10, 1861, and the secession ordinance
was not passed until about the 25th or 26th of the same month. At
all events, after the seizure of the arsenal, and before the
passage of the ordinance of secession, viz., on the 18th of
January, I wrote as follows:

Louisiana State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy
January 18, 1861

Governor THOMAS O. MOORE, Baton, Rouge, Louisiana.

Sir: As I occupy a quasi-military position under the laws of the
State, I deem it proper to acquaint you that I accepted such
position when Louisiana was a State in the Union, and when the
motto of this seminary was inserted in marble over the main door:
"By the liberality of the General Government of the United States.
The Union--esto perpetua."

Recent events foreshadow a great change, and it becomes all men to
choose. If Louisiana withdraw from the Federal Union, I prefer to
maintain my allegiance to the Constitution as long as a fragment of
it survives; and my longer stay here would be wrong in every sense
of the word.

In that event, I beg you will send or appoint some authorized agent
to take charge of the arms and munitions of war belonging to the
State, or advise me what disposition to make of them.

And furthermore, as president of the Board of Supervisors, I beg
you to take immediate steps to relieve me as superintendent, the
moment the State determines to secede, for on no earthly account
will I do any act or think any thought hostile to or in defiance of
the old Government of the United States.

With great respect, your obedient servant,

W. T. SHERMAN, Superintendent.

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