Saturday, 1863 March 28, Harpers Ferry, Virginia: “All truly loyal and good citizens are expected to make such sacrifices”

Headquarters of the Upper Potomac
Harpers Ferry Va.
March 28, 1863
A. Spates, Esq.
President Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Company
Dear Sir:
I received yesterday your
two communications of dates 25th & 26th instant, with enclosed printed
circular of Gen. McClellan’s Order No. 44 dated Washington
April 21of 1863. On entering upon my duties at this Post and
before I issued my General Orders No. 2 I was informed by
many reliable persons that a large contraband trade
was carried on between Maryland and Virginia and in-
formation constantly passing to the Confederate Army, by
means of small boats and skiffs along the river and canal
on the lines where trade with Virginia is forbidden by a
recent law of Congress. In order to carry into effect that
law, and the regulations of the Treasury and War Dept.
intended for that purpose; I deemed it a Military necessity
to seize the boats and other watercraft as designated in
Part IV of that order. It had been stated to me that many
Boats used in the contraband trade belonged to the Chesa-
peake & Ohio Canal Co. and were hidden away under
Culverts and bridges along the canal and river, and
rented by the Captains, and Agents of the Company to spec-
ulate in this atrocious traffic and to give encouragement

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and carry supplies to Disloyalists and Rebels in Virginia.
It was my first duty, under the state of things as
this represented, to seize all and every kind of skiff
or boat that could be taken by secessionists from their place
of concealment by night or day by force, or that could be
rendered of unfaithful employees of the Company without
its knowledge.
It was not of course my intention in any
manner to interfere with proper commerce and trade
along the canal, or to embarrass in any degree its
lawful business, known to me to be of great importance
to the Federal Government. But if the company has in
its employment Agents or persons who disregard the laws
of Congress and the regulations of the Treasury Depart-
ment and the army, It must suffer the consequen-
ces; as I cannot permit boats or skiffs to be kept with-
in the lines of my command that can be used in
any manner, with or without the assent of the com-
pany or its agents, to aid the enemies of the Federal
Whenever the Boats that have been seized
at Dam No. 5 are wanted by the Company for rebuild-
ing the stone abutment you refer to, and for other
repairs there, I will give such directions to the Military
Commandant at North Mountain, as shall place
them at your disposal, if it is his opinion it can be
done with safety. It is hoped that the Company
will consent willingly to any laws Sent and slight
inconveniences the emergencies of the crisis may

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impose on them. All truly loyal and good citizens are
expected to make such sacrifices, and the more willingly,
as they are intended for the permanent and great good
of the public.
I am Sir
Very Respectfully,
Your obt. Servt.
B. S. Roberts
Brig. Genl. Comdg.

[Brigadier General Benjamin Stone Roberts, commander of the upper defenses of Washington, D. C.]

MSS 554

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