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Mrs Key Howard A Lineal Descendant Of The Author Of The Star Spangled Banner

Headquarters, Middle Department,

8th Army Corps,

Baltimore, Apl. 28, 1864.

Special Order No. 48.

Lieut. H. B. Smith, Chief Officer, Secret Service Bureau, 8th

Army Corps, will proceed to Washington, D. C., in charge of

prisoners, Miss Martha Dungan and Mrs. Key Howard.

On arrival you will deliver prisoners to Mr. Wm. P. Wood, in
charge of Old Capitol Prison and receive receipt for same,

after which you will report to Hon. C. A. Dana, Asst. Secy. of

War, deliver all papers in prisoners' cases and return to

these headquarters without delay.

Quartermasters will furnish transportation.

By command of Major General Lew Wallace.


Lt. Col. and Provost Marshal.

Here is a sad incident illustrating what Hamlet meant when he said: "To

what base uses may we return, Horatio!" Mrs. Key Howard, a lineal

descendant of Francis Scott Key, author of the "Star Spangled Banner,"

having obtained a personal pass direct from Mr. Lincoln, permitting her

to pass our lines, had actually gathered a Confederate mail, to carry

through, under its protection. Honor of a truly "Blue Blood?"--it was


The pass was written on a plain card, and read:

Pass Mrs. Key Howard through the lines.


I might have retained the card, but turned it in with the case. Mrs.

Howard, in discussing with me the lack of honor in so abusing a great

favor, became very angry; she said: "Lincoln was vulgar, not a polished

man; he sat with legs crossed while talking to me." Young and

inexperienced as I was, I was so forcibly struck with the shallowness of

_pretended culture_ that I have many times told the story to illustrate.

I have no doubt that Mrs. Howard traded upon her family name with

President Lincoln. He undoubtedly trusted her, believing that she had

honor in her composition.

Blockade running schemes were without limit as to variety or manner of

evasion. Vessels were loaded in Baltimore, clearing for any port.

Trading schooners were loaded, taking shipments for various stores on

the rivers and bays of the Chesapeake Bay; some of the shipments would

be honest transactions, but others would be especially designed for

Confederate consumption.

In April, 1864, the schooner "Wm. H. Travers" (Captain Rice) had been

under surveillance. She was loaded at Baltimore with a mixed cargo, part

of which was of honest shipments. I learned that it was intended to

swamp the vessel within reach of the Confederates, thus permitting them

to take the entire cargo regardless of ownership. I allowed its loading

and permitted the captain to leave port with her, but after she got well

down the stream I overhauled her with the steam tug "Ella," and brought

her back to Baltimore. Her cargo was worth about six thousand dollars.

Mr. Blackstone, of St. Mary's County, was the guilty party.

Depot, Quartermaster's Office,

Baltimore, Md., April 30, 1864.


Steam Tug Ella:

You will proceed with your tug under the orders of Lt. H. B.

Smith, and render such service as he may require; after

performing those duties you will return to Boston wharf and

report to me.



Chief Quartermaster.

Headquarters, Middle Department,

8th Army Corps,

Baltimore, May 4, 1864.

H. B. Smith,

Lt. Comdg. Detective Corps.

Lieutenant.--You will please order the guard in charge of the

schooner "W. H. Travers" to remove and put her in such

position at Boston Wharf as will not interfere with the

vessels in the government service at the wharf, and not to

interfere in any way with or be in the way of the vessels in

public service.

I have addressed a note to the Quartermaster asking to be

allowed the privilege of unloading the vessel at the wharf.

Very respy,

Your obdt. servt,


Lt. Col. and Provost Marshal.

Headquarters, Middle Department,

8th Army Corps,

Baltimore, May 11, 1864.

Lieut. Col. Woolley,

Provost Marshal.

Colonel.--I have the honor to report that I have completed the

discharge of the goods on board the schooner "W. H. Travers"

to the shippers, excepting those named on the enclosed list.

I enclose herewith all the papers in connection with the case,

two lists, one of goods not on the manifest, and one of goods

not permitted, but on the manifest. I also enclose a note from

Mr. McJilton, clerk of the Custom House, showing that some

transactions there in this case are not all right.

Mr. McJilton, the Surveyor of the Port, stated that he would

not grant a permit for percussion caps, unless by permission

of the military authorities. The impression at the Custom

House is that the whole transaction of shipping these goods is

a fraud, and they do not know what to think of their books and


I have a package of gold leaf in my possession, also two

Confederate uniforms. Some of the cotton cards I found stored

away in the cabin, and some away under the stairs. The second

box on the manifest, shipped by Bolton to R. P. Blackstone,

contained one box soap, and one box of glass. I have a

certificate from Bolton to that effect. Mr. Passano, who

shipped the box containing the glass, denies any knowledge of

the contents of the box, as it was a cash bill and he had no

record of it.

I am, Colonel,

Very respy your obdt. servt.,


Lieut Com'd'g, D. C.

We subsequently returned to the innocent shippers their goods, but

confiscated the balance, and also the vessel. I afterwards used the

"Travers" to capture other blockade runners, and quite successfully. A

sailor will recognize a vessel as far as the eye can reach, as surely as

a man can recognize any familiar object. She was known as a

blockade-runner to the fraternity; we used her to crawl upon others.

Any citizen or soldier from the Confederacy found within our lines was

considered a spy; some were executed. To escape such treatment it was

necessary to report to the nearest officer and take the oath of

allegiance. Even then we were not protected, but had to carefully

examine the purported refugee, or deserter, to ascertain their possible

honesty. We captured a great many spies.

An official spy, sent out by the Confederates to perform a specific

duty, had no conscience to answer to, that would prevent his taking our


Headquarters, Middle Department,

8th Army Corps,

Baltimore May 3, 1864.

Lieut. Col. Woolley,

Provost Marshal.

Colonel.--I have the honor to report that this evening we

arrested James A. Winn, a member of Co. E. 1st Md. Rebel

Cavalry, in a house, No. 42 Saratoga street. He was dressed as

a citizen; under his coat, with the flaps rolled back, was his

uniform jacket. His coat was buttoned, thus hiding his

uniform. He wore a black slouch hat.

I placed the inmates of the house, Mrs. Hall and Miss McAlden

in arrest, and searched the premises.

Both of these ladies admitted they were aware of Winn's

character, and that their sympathies were with the South. I

found nothing contraband in the house. They live neatly, but

are evidently poor. Miss McAlden remarked that they were too

poor to aid the South even if they were so disposed.

I have a guard in charge of the house awaiting your

disposition of the case.

Messrs. Allen and Sampson, clerks at Department Headquarters,

are, I am informed, boarding at this house.

I am Colonel,

Very respy, your obdt. servant,


Lt. Com'd'g D. C.

The papers and pocketbook that I handed you were found on his


Any incautious information dropped by Allen or Sampson was likely to be

immediately reported to the Confederate authorities. The Department was

honeycombed with just such points of insecurity, leaks which it was my

duty to stop.

Headquarters, Middle Department,

8th Army Corps,

Baltimore, May 4, 1864.

Col. Woolley,

Provost Marshal.

Send a good detective to Frederick, Md. He may possibly get

track there of some of the 1st (Rebel) Maryland Spies. Send

him on the first train.


Major General Commanding.

The above order is in General Wallace's handwriting. Winn, whom we had

arrested, was of that regiment and we were searching for others.