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At a later date, very soon, indeed, before the assassination of the President and the horrible attempt upon his own life, Mr. Seward received the following communication from our consul in London. It was upon the strength of these letters that the consultation was held to which allusion is made in the preceding page:
United States Consulate, LONDON, March 17, 1865. MY DEAR SIR:-I herewith enclose for your perusal two private letters received this week from "B," my secret agent in France. On receiving the first, dated March 12th, I immediately wrote to him for a more full statement of all he knew about its contents. I stated to him that the story seemed very improbable; that if they intended to resort to such diabolical modes of warfare, they could find instruments enough near at hand to serve them in such a capacity, and have their work done or attempted more speedily than it could be by sending assassins from Europe; that the assassins would be sure to forfeit their own lives, &c. At the same time I could not shut out from my mind the idea that the starving of our prisoners, shooting and torturing them, the hotel burnings, the piracies, the hanging of Union men in the insurgent States, the murdering of prisoners of war in cold blood after surrendering, and their manifold acts of cruelty, rendered the purposes named not only probable, but in harmony with their character and acts. My letter brought the further explanation contained in the second letter of the 14th inst. You perceive the statement of B. rests on the declaration of or a man who now goes by that name. He is a business agent of the rebels, and has the confidence of the leaders to as great an extent perhaps as any one employed by them, or any one under their direction. He travels most of the time from place to place, giving directions and superintending the purchase and shipment of war material. B. has travelled much with him, and seems to have his entire confidence. I do not think would make such a revelation to B. unless he believed it well founded. If they are to come out openly as professional assassins, it is not at all probable that the distinguished persons named are the only ones selected for their vengeance, or that our Chief Magistrate, or General Grant, are left out of their rôle. The dangers they see to them in the calm forbearance, the inflexible justice and firm determination of President Lincoln, will not be overlooked by them.
According to my request, a full description of the man calling himself Clark is given in the second letter. Johnston is unknown to "B." If Clark has really set forth on such a mission, he will probably attempt to make his way into Sherman's camp as a private soldier, and attempt the deed during an engagement when Sherman is under fire.
Whether there is any actual foundation for what is set forth in the letters or not, I think it not my duty to withhold them, for fear it may be only another added to the thousand false rumors which have got into circulation. I send you all I have been able to learn on the subject, that you may act as you deem expedient in the case. Permit me to express my earnest desire, whatever may be the wish of the rebels in regard to you, and I dare say they are the worst that fiendish brains can entertain, that your valuable life may long be spared to your friends and the service of the Republic.
I remain, dear sir, most truly yours,
Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.
F. H. MORSE.
P. S.-Please regard B.'s letter as strictly confidential, I mean as far as the name of the writer is concerned.
PARIS, Sunday, March 12, 1865.
MY DEAR SIR-I wrote you on Friday eve late, in hopes it would reach you at your hotel last evening. I have learned only an hour since, that on Tuesday or Wednesday a steamer will be in waiting at Belisle, or the island of Oleron (the last named some forty miles off the mouth of Bordeaux Erie) with war material and supplies for the rams; most of the stuff is from Hamburg, reshipped on board of an English steamer, which has been chartered for the purpose. She is a Newcastle steamer, and said to be very swift. I must communicate at once with Walker at Ferrol. Two desperate characters have just left here (on Wednesday, I believe, but not sure), one for the North and the other for the South; one of them I know; he has been loafing here for some time, hard up. His name is Clark, the other Johnston, but to the best of my knowledge I had never seen him, he having been here only a few days. Their object is the assassination of Sherman and Mr. Seward. Clark is to join Sherman's army and accomplish his deed. The other goes direct to Washington, and the first opportunity that offers kill Mr. Seward, Their expenses are paid, and if successful in the accomplishment of their murderous designs, are to receive five thousand dollars each. Here is a pretty state of affairs; and I fear those are not the only ones that they intend wreaking their vengeance upon, and you must take immediate steps to convey this to Mr. Seward and General Sherman, as I feel positive it is true, for the party that divulged to me has the greatest confidence in me, and would not have said such a thing to me were it not true. They think by getting rid of Mr. Seward that it will be utterly impossible to get another as able to fill his place, as they say, so rabid for the utter annihilation of the Southern cause. And Sherman being the only real General that we have got, if he could be got rid of, the task is an easy one, as there is no Yankee, to use their expression, to be found that can fill his place. And only see the ingenuity of the rebels here; they have caused to be circulated, and it is quite current, that General Sherman is dead. This is done for the sole cause to prepare the public mind to receive his death beforehand, so as that they may not be taken by surprise. It is from beginning to end a deep laid plot, and the Devil himself is no match for them. I have given you all the facts so far as I know, and at once, as I considered it my duty so to do as soon as possible, so that you may convey it to Washington with all dispatch. I don't know this Johnston, or I would describe him, so that he might be arrested at once, but to my knowledge I have never seen him. Cooper came last night, and to-day spent an hour with me. On leaving he said he would return and dine with me, but about an hour since I learned that he went off in haste to Cherbourg. I don't know what's up there, as I have heard nothing from them; but there must be something in the wind. Friday a courier was sent off as I stated to you, as I was asked to go; but being ill I could not, and to-day, Cooper leaving so suddenly, looks suspicious. I can give you a full description of Clark at once if you wish it. I am better, and quite able to undertake the journey to Bordeaux or Ferrol, but as yet keep myself in doors, so that I may not be called on to go anywhere for them before I hear from you: then I can excuse myself for a few days in the country, so as to be able to get to Bordeaux. I hope you have received my note on Saturday eve, and written me to-day. If I am to go to B- there is no time to be lost. If you have not written me before you receive this, send me twenty pounds, so that I may be prepared for any emergency. Hoping that all of the first of the note will be received at Washington in time to frustrate the hellish designs, I am truly yours, B.
PARIS, March 14, 1965.
DEAR SIR:-Yours of yesterday came duly to hand this morning, and I answer in as brief a manner as possible to its contents in every particular, as you request.
The ram, at Bordeaux, leaves that port to go to Germany, where report says she is to be sold to the Prussian Government. So did the other -now the Stonewall, in Confederate hands, laying at Ferrol, Spainleave Bordeaux, for the use of the Danish Government. They must use strategy to get them out of a French port-once out, they can do as they please with her. I am perfectly satisfied, and I believe it beyond a question of doubt, that the ram now at-Bordeaux belongs to, and is intended for the use of the rebels, and will go into their hands, if not directly, indirectly, especially if there is any pressure used by the French Government. But my opinion is, this Government will only wink at her departure. I have repeatedly (being one of the order of the Sons) heard the . above things discussed, from time to time, by Mc Culloch, De Leon, Heustis, Macfarlan, and others of the secret order. The captain of the Stonewall, Captain Page, is here, and has been for some days (I forgot to mention this in my last), as well as several of the officers of the late rebel steamer Florida, and I believe they leave to-day. The Stonewall is lying at Ferrol, and the Niagara is at Corunna-two different harbors, but not far apart. I hear nothing as to when they intend to leave Ferrol, but this much I have learned that when they are ready to go to sea, they will run one to Corunna where the Niagara is, and demand of the Spanish Government twenty-four hours' detention of the Niagara, so as to enable them to put to sea. But if Commodore Craven adopts the plan I suggested when I last saw him, this plan of theirs will be easily evaded. Clark I believe to be the real name of the party of whom I wrote you in my last; he has been hanging on here for some time. They could have no possible object in imposing on me in this particular. That's his business, and both he and Johnston have gone, for the avowed purpose, as I have before stated to you, of taking the lives of Mr. Seward and General Sherman. I have not the least doubt but that there are others watching for the same opportunity. The opinion is with many of them here, that Mr. Seward is de facto the President, and does just as he pleases, and were it not for him, they could come to some amicable arrangement. It would be useless for me to repeat to you all that I hear on the subject, and the arguments pro and con. This Clark, I believe, has some other mission as well as that of seeking the life of General Sherman. He is in height about five feet nine inches, rather slender, thin in flesh, high cheek-bones, low forehead, eyes dark and sunken, very quiet, seldom or ever speaks in company unless spoken to, has a large dark-brown mustache, and large, long goatee; hair much darker than whiskers, and complexion rather sallow. While here wore gray clothes and wide-awake slouchhat. He is a Texan by birth, has a very determined look, and from all appearances, I should judge, would, if possible, accomplish whatever he undertakes. The other man, Johnston, I know nothing of, as he was only here some three or four days-he came from Canada, viá Liverpool— nor would it be prudent for me to make any inquiries concerning him, under the circumstances, as, if any thing ever transpires, and he was taken, suspicion from that fact might point to me. And I beg that on no occasion will you ever make use of my name, so that they could get any clue to me; if you did, from that moment my fate would be sealed, especially as I have bound myself to their cause, under so fearful au oath. I once entertained a very high opinion of the Southerners, but from recent
facts and events I have changed those opinions, and now my firm belief is, that they would stop at no act, if necessary to accomplish their dear, cherished Confederation. The offer, five thousand dollars, is a good one, and there is to be found plenty who would gladly catch at it. You cannot for one moment have the slightest idea of their feelings towards the North, and it increases as their struggle becomes more desperate. The heads here are in daily consultation, and what is there discussed I have no means of ascertaining. It was Cooper who told me of these two men going out on their diabolical mission, or I perhaps should never have heard of the matter at all, and I considered it my duty to convey to you the facts as I got them, at once, so that, if possible, their designs might be thwarted, and every precaution taken that was necessary; for I repeat again what I have already done to you before: they are bent on destruction, and will not stop at any object, even to the taking of life, so as to attain their ends-and mark me, Mr. Seward is not the only one they will assassinate. I have heard some fearful oaths, and it's war to the teeth with them. I feel confident that there is some secret understanding between them and the Emperor of this Government; at least I am given to understand so. The death of the Duke de Morny has deprived them of an interview with the Emperor, which was to have taken place, if I am rightly informed, on Sunday last. My sickness has prevented me from being fully posted to all recent movements, but I am in hopes that my health will in a short time be fully re-established, and after my return from Bordeaux, I shall be in possession of all movements. I have written at some length, but required, as you requested a full explanation of the foregoing facts. Be kind enough to see that my name is not used at Washington, for there are plenty on the sharp lookout there, and it would be heralded back here, and it might prove fatal for me. I believe I cannot add any thing more at present. You did not send me all I requested; please send it at once to Bordeaux by return of mail. I leave for Bordeaux to-night, and will do as you request.
Believe me truly yours,
REPORTS, DISPATCHES, AND PROCLAMATIONS RELATING TO THE ASSASSINATION.
WAR DEPARTMENT, WASHINGTON, April 15, 1.80 ▲. M.
Major-General Dix, New York:
This evening, at about 9.30 P. M., at Ford's Theatre, the President, while sitting in his private box with Mrs. Lincoln, Mrs. Harris, and Major Rathburn, was shot by an assassin, who suddenly entered the box and approached behind the President.
The assassin then leaped upon the stage, brandishing a large dagger or knife, and made his escape in the rear of the theatre.
The pistol-ball entered the back of the President's head and penetrated nearly through the head. The wound is mortal.
The President has been insensible ever since it was inflicted, and is now dying.
About the same hour an assassin, whether the same or not, entered Mr. Seward's apartments, and, under pretence of having a prescription, was shown to the Secretary's sick chamber. The assassin immediately rushed to the bed and inflicted two or three stabs on the throat and two on the face.
It is hoped the wounds may not be mortal. My apprehension is that they will prove fatal.
The nurse alarmed Mr. Frederick Seward, who was in an adjoining room, and he hastened to the door of his father's room, when he met the assassin, who inflicted upon him one or more dangerous wounds. The recovery of Frederick Seward is doubtful.
It is not probable that the President will live through the night. General Grant and wife were advertised to be at the theatre this evening, but he started to Burlington at six o'clock this evening.
At a Cabinet meeting, at which General Grant was present, the subject of the state of the country and the prospect of a speedy peace were discussed. The President was very cheerful and hopeful, and spoke very kindly of General Lee and others of the Confederacy, and of the establishment of government in Virginia.
All the members of the Cabinet, except Mr. Seward, are now in attendance upon the President.
I have seen Mr. Seward, but he and Frederick were both unconscious. EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War.
Major-General Dix, New York:
WAB DEPARTMENT, WASHINGTON, April 15, 3 a. M.
The President still breathes, but is quite insensible, as he has been ever since he was shot. He evidently did not see the person who shot him, but was looking on the stage, as he was approached from behind. Mr. Seward has rallied, and it is hoped he may live.
Frederick Seward's condition is very critical.
The attendant who was present was shot through the lungs, and is not expected to live.
The wounds of Major Seward are not serious.
Investigation strongly indicates J. Wilkes Booth as the assassin of the President. Whether it was the same or a different person that attempted to murder Mr. Seward remains in doubt.
Chief-Justice Carter is engaged in taking the evidence.
Every exertion has been made to prevent the escape of the murderer. His horse has been found on the road near Washington.
EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War.
War Department, WashingTON, April 15, 4.10 A. M.
The President continues insensible, and is sinking.
Frederick Seward's skull is fractured in two places, besides a severe cut upon the head. The attendant is still alive, but hopeless. Major Seward's wounds are not dangerous.
It is now ascertained with reasonable certainty that two assassins were engaged in the horrible crime-Wilkes Booth being the one that shot the President, and the other a companion of his, whose name is not known, but whose description is so clear that he can hardly escape.
It appears, from a letter found in Booth's trunk, that the murder was planned before the 4th of March, but fell through then because the accomplice backed out until "Richmond could be heard from."
Booth and his accomplice were at the livery-stable at six o'clock last evening, and left there with their horses about ten o'clock, or shortly before that hour.
It would appear that they had for several days been seeking their