The Harry Gilmor Sword And General Wallace's Comments
The sword of Harry Gilmor, the Confederate colonel, which General
Wallace had given me, had aroused Graham's interest so much that I
presented it to him; I had, prior to this, presented to Curtis, my
Creedmoor rifle trophies. I had become tired of telling the history of
that sword and how it came into my possession, having no other evidence
than my word for the truth of the story, since I had lost General
Wallace's letter. However, quite unexpectedly, the story was revived in
the following manner:
Evelyn, who was but a baby in those days, remembering that I was with
General Wallace, on Christmas day, 1908, presented me with his
Autobiography (two volumes) much to my delight. A few days later Aunt
Mag, glancing through the second volume, discovered that I was
remembered by the General and the sword incident was there officially
described, so that now the sword is really vouched for in history, for
Wallace's volumes will be in every important library in the world.
I quote from General Lew Wallace's Autobiography, page 687 and on:
"From what has been said, it would seem my friend, General
Schenck, had found a disturbing element in the Secession
ladies of Baltimore, and in some way suffered from it. His
description of them, and the emphasis with which he had dwelt
upon their remarkable talent for mischief in general, I
accepted as a warning, and stood upon my guard.
"Every one into whose hands these memoirs may fall will see
almost of his own suggestion how necessary it was that, of the
inhabitants of the city, I should know who were disloyal with
more certainty even than who were loyal; of the latter there
was nothing to fear, while of the former there was at least
everything to suspect. We knew communication with the enemy
across the line was unceasing; that interchange of news
between Richmond and Baltimore was of daily occurrence; that
there were routes, invisible to us, by which traffic in
articles contraband of war was carried on with singular
success, almost as a legitimate commerce--routes by water as
well as by land. General Butler, at Norfolk, exerted himself
to discover the traders operating by way of the Chesapeake
Bay, but without success; with a like result I tried to
unearth the landward lines.
"_Captain Smith, my chief of detectives, a man of ability and
zeal_, at last brought me proof incontestable that Baltimore
was but a way-side station of the nefarious commerce, the
initial points of active transaction centering in
"As to Baltimore, this simplified our task, and shortly
General Schenck's sagacity was again vindicated--those working
in the prohibited business were ladies who moved in the upper
circles of society.
"Should I arrest the fair sympathizers? What was the use? The
simple appearance of distress was enough with the President;
and if that were so with a man in concernment, what would it
be with a woman? In sight of the hopelessness of effort on my
part, over and over, again and again, in the night often as in
the day, I took counsel of myself, 'What can be done?' At last
an answer came to me, and in a way no one could have
dreamed--the purest chance.
"A woman in high standing socially, alighted from a carriage
at the Camden station of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad,
carrying a mysterious-looking box. At the moment she was
stepping into a car my chief of detectives arrested her. The
box being opened, there, in velvet housings, lay a sword of
costly pattern inscribed for presentation to Colonel ----, a
guerilla officer of Confederate renown.
"A commission was immediately ordered for the woman's trial.
The word and the inscription upon it were irrefutable proofs
of guilt, and she was sent to a prison for females in
Massachusetts. The affair was inexcusably gross, considering
the condition of war--so much, I think, will be generally
conceded--still, seeking the moral effect of punishment alone,
I specially requested the officials of the institution not to
subject the offender to humiliation beyond the mere
imprisonment. In a few days she was released and brought home.
_The sword I presented to Captain Smith._"
General Wallace makes a slight error. I did not arrest the woman at the
station, but captured her messenger with the sword, and upon his person
were credentials to Gilmor, which I used myself, and of which I will
tell later on. Later on I arrested the woman herself.
Next: New York Harbor Fort Schuyler Fort Marshal And Aunt Mag