It was, therefore, most fitting that in these new complications Lieutenant-General Scott should officially admonish President Buchanan. He addressed to him a paper entitled “Views suggested by the imminent danger (October 29, 1860) of a disruption of the Union by the secession of one or more of the Southern States”; and also certain supplementary memoranda the day after, to the Secretary of War, the two forming in reality but a single document. General Scott was at this time residing in New York City, and the missives were probably twenty-four hours in reaching Washington. This letter of the commander of the American armies written at such a crisis is full of serious faults, and is a curious illustration of the temper of the times, showing as it does that even in the mind of the first soldier of the republic the foundations of political faith were crumbling away. The superficial and speculative theories of Scott the politician stand out in unfavorable contrast to the practical advice of Scott the soldier.
Once break the Union by political madness, reasons Scott the politician, and any attempt to restore it by military force would establish despotism and create anarchy. A lesser evil than this would be to form four new confederacies out of the fragments of the old. And on this theme he theorizes respecting affinities and boundaries and the folly of secession.
[Sidenote] “Mr. Buchanan’s Administration,” Appendix, p. 289.
The advice of Scott the soldier was wiser and more opportune. The prospect of Lincoln’s election, he says, causes threats of secession. There is danger that certain forts of national value and importance, six totally destitute of troops, and three having only feeble and insufficient garrisons, may be seized by insurgents. “In my opinion all these works should be immediately so garrisoned as to make any attempt to take any one of them, by surprise or coup de main, ridiculous.” There were five companies of regulars within reach, available for this service. This plan was provisional only; it eschewed the idea of invading a seceded State; and he suggested the collection of customs duties, outside of the cities.
[Sidenote] “Mr. Buchanan’s Administration,” p. 104.
[Sidenote] Buchanan, in the “National Intelligencer,” Oct. 1, 1862.
Eight to ten States on the verge of insurrection—nine principal sea-coast forts within their borders, absolutely at the mercy of the first handful of street rabble that might collect, and only about four hundred men, scattered in five different and distant cities, available to reenforce them! It was a startling exhibit of national danger from one professionally competent to judge and officially entitled to advise. His timely and patriotic counsel President Buchanan treated with indifference and neglect. “From the impracticable nature of the ‘Views,’ and their strange and inconsistent character, the President