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Plot In Baltimore

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"Dxiring the first year of the war," a grizzled colonel remarked, while recalling incidents of the great rebellion, "business connected withthe recruiting and equipping of volunteers in Pennsylvania took me frequently to Washington, and, as the hotels in that city soon became crowded and. unconifortable, I made it a custom to stop at Barnum's, in Baltimore, remain overnight there and run over to the capital earlyin the morning, and thus I passed inany nights during 1861 in the famous old hotel of the Monumental City. Near it was a large tobacconist's shop, where I discovered a superior grade of cigars was sold, and of this shop I became a regular customer. Ordinarily I was served by a young salesman, but I frequently saw in the shop an old gentleman who, I presumed, was the proprietor. One day I was rather surprised by the old gentleman's stepping forward to wait on me himself. After I was served he said : " 'If you are not in a hurry, sir, I would be pleased to have you walk into my private office and have a snioke. ' "I readily assented, and he led the way to a room at the rear of the store, separated froin it by a glass partition, plainly but comfortably furnished, and having the appearance of long and habitual use. Pushing toward me a large split bottomed rocker, my host remarked: " 'Here, for many years, I have been accustomed to receive my friends, of whom 1 had many, but I ani sorry to say that now the number is sadly dimiuished. ' " 'Why so?' I asked. ' ' ' Because of differences in opinión, ' he replied. 'I need not remind you of the condition the whole country is in, or teil you how cornpletely men vaxy in their ideas of duty. Nowhere is that variance greater than here in Baltimore, and nowhere is there greater danger of its leading to a calamity. ' " 'You surprise me,' I exclaimed. 'I knew there was considerable secession sentiment here, and that months ago it exhibited itself openly, leading to bloodshed on the streets, but I thought all that had passed away. ' " 'By no means, ' he replied. 'The rebel sentiment in Baltimore is as intense and bitter today as it ever was. The apparent quiet is only on the surface. You are in the service of the Union, and it may be as well for you to be informed exactly what the situation here is. ' " 'Three-fourthsof the people of Baltimore are intensely southern in their feelings and prejudices. All the slaveholders are so, and they are the leading citizens. Following them is the class which always toadies towhat is considered the aristocracy, and after these comes a large disorderly. element known as the plug uglies, who are willing and ready to do anything that looks like resistance to constituted authority. Now, I know beyond doubt that the leading secessionists here are thoroughly organized and are determined, the first favorable opportunity that offers, to declare openly for the new Confederacy and carry Baltimore certainly, and Maryland if possible, out of the Union. ' " 'How is all this to be done?' I inquired. "'Their plan is this: They know every man upon whom they can rely, and their strength is well understood. They have clubs organized, which meet regularly. The leaders have control of plenty of ruoney, and supplies of arms are available. Regular communication is had with the Confedérate leaders in Virginia, and thev are waiting only for a definite, tangible opportunity to strike. Such an opportunity would come if the Confedérate army made an advance toward Washington - a thing they expect - or should the Union army meet with another serious reverse in the east. If Beauregard had pursued McDowell after the battle of Buil Run, they would have risen then, and many were the curses heaped upon him for his failure, as they expressed it, to follow up his victory. ' "'What,' I asked, 'do you Union men propose to do if the movement you anticipate is made?' " 'Burn the city, 'he replied. 'Just as certainly as the Russians burned Moscow will we burn Baltimore if the rebels here take it out of the Union. ' 'How can you, so few cornparatively in numbers, do this?' " 'Well, sir, we, too, are organized and for this one purpose. ín every part of the city preparations have been made, and when the time comes 100 or more fires will be started at once. Do you know what this is?' he asked, taking, from a closet a ball of tow, cotton, or oakum about the size of a large cocoanut. 'It is a fire ball, thoronghly saturated with tvxpentine. Plenty of these are ready, and at an understood signal they will be lighted and throwu where they will certainly prove effective. Oh, we know well enough that we cannot resist the organized rebels, but you can rely upon it that only the ruins of Baltimore will ever become a part of the slaveholding Confederacy. ' "I never saw my old Union loving tobacconist after that evening, for not long af terward I was sent to the army in the sonthwest and remained there until the end of the war. We all know that Baltimore remained in the Union and was not burned, but we know, too, that the Confedérate army uever made a serious advauce on Washington, so that the opportunity waited for by the rebels in the Monumental City uever same. How much truth, if any, there was in the old man's story must remain unknown. I only teil the tale as it was told to me. '


Ann Arbor Argus
Old News