House of Representatives
July 10th 1861
As one of the Representatives of the State of Maryland I beg leave to lay before you the following grievances, under which my State is at present suffering, and ask your interference in our behalf. In the first place I hope and trust that your Administration duly appreciates the position which Maryland has assumed in the late election and that this result has been produced by the untiring efforts of the Union men against great difficulties. Admitting this position, which cannot be controverted, the Union men consider that your administration should do every thing, in its power, to strengthen their cause and it is under this supposition that I now address you. The first great cause of complaint and one which involves a very heavy interest, is the facility afforded for the escape of our Slaves by the encouragement held out to them by some of the Volunteer regiments lately
and or now quartered around and in Washington. Many of these regments, it is said, and I believe truly, have not only employed these slaves in their camps whilst sojourning on this side of the Potomac but have actually transported them with them into Virginia. It will be at once perceived that such acts are calculated to arouse very strong feelings and to draw down upon the Government great censure for permitting such acts to be done. Although generally those, who have gone into the camps to search for fugitives, have been treated with all proper respect still there are many instances to the contrary. I would therefore most respectfully suggest as the best means of doing justice to all parties that those slaves, who are at this time in any of the Camps, should at once be placed in confinement until their owners can have an opportunity of recovering them and that all officers, commanding encampments, or military stations, shall be instructed not to permit negroes to come into their camps in future for any purpose. Such action on the part of the Government would at once calm the excitement at present prevailing on the subject and in my opinion would be nothing but an act of simple justice to our Citizens. Another grievance, complained of, is that unauthorized forays are made by the Soldiers upon the premises and property of our citizens under the pretense of searching for arms &c. In one instance in my own neighbourhood a gentleman's house was surrounded some time in the night by one of these parties of wandering soldiers and his family alarmed and disturbed on awakening in the morning by finding themselves prisoners. Upon enquiring the reason of such conduct he was informed that they had received information, (from some vagabond, no doubt who had some malicious resentment to gratify) that he had concealed in his house arms and amunition intended for the Secessionists of Virginia. He gave at once permission to examine his premises and the result proved the entire falsity of the Charge. I would therefore respectfully ask that the various Commanders shall be directed to permit no such unauthorized forays but and shall punish severely all engaged in them. If any treasonable designs are suspected on the part of any citizen and a search is deemed necessary it should be made under the supervision of some officer in whose discretion the Commander of the Division has confidence and then only on the information of some reliable person. The foregoing lines were written before I had the pleasure of a personal interview and are only now sent as a memorandum of the positions I desired to impress on the Government. Trusting that your Excellency will see the policy of conciliating the Union men of the South and the necessity of doing them simple justice by the adoption of these measures for their relief I beg to subscribe myself
Yr. obt. servt.
Chas B Calvert
Charles Benedict Calvert (1808 - 1864) – Calvert served in the US House of Representatives between 1861 - 1863.