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150 Years Ago: Thursday, May 30, 1861

Seventeen year old Lewis Thornton Powell leaves his home in Live Oak, Florida for the city of Jasper. He is the youngest of of eight children and son of a Baptist minister. He is considered to be quiet and introverted and cares a great deal for sick and injured animals. His fondness for nursing animals has led his sisters to give him the nickname “Doc.” In Jasper, Powell enlists as a Private in the 2nd Florida Infantry, Company I.

In Washington City, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln consults with the Maryland District Attorney concerning the case of secessionist sympathizer John Merryman, who is currently held in prison at Fort McHenry, Maryland without the writ of habeas corpus. U.S. Supreme Court Judge Roger B. Taney has demanded the release of Merryman, but Lincoln continues to ignore Taney’s judgement. Taney contends that: 1. According to Constitution President has no right to suspend writ of habeas corpus; and 2. Military can arrest only persons subject to rules and articles of war. As a result of Lincoln’s meeting, he asks Attorney General Edward Bates to present an argument for the continued suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.

Lincoln also meets with his Cabinet to discuss the topic of black volunteers. Over the last two months the administration has received numerous appeals from white and black persons alike for permission to recruit free northern black men for Companies or even Regiments. Lincoln and his Cabinet oppose such a move at this time; not only could it push the border states closer to the Confederacy, but to employ black soldiers would imply equality, putting the slave system currently active in the border states in jeopardy. The Union position is that they are fighting a war against a group of rebels who seceded from the U.S. when they had no power to do so. The war is about preserving the Union, not ending slavery or fighting for equal rights.

General Irvin McDowell arrived at Robert and Mary Custis Lee’s former Arlington, Virginia home yesterday. Today he writes Mary Custis about her house, which is now being used as a Union base:

Mrs. R.E. Lee:

Madam: I am here temporarily in camp on the grounds, preferring this to sleeping in the house. I assure you it has been and will be my earnest endeavor to have all things so ordered that on your return you will find things as little disturbed as possible. Everything has been done as you desired with respect to your servants, and your wishes, as far as possible have been complied with. I trust, Madam, you will not consider it an intrusion if I say I have the most sincere sympathy for your distress, and I shall be always ready to do whatever may alleviate it.

Irvin McDowell

Having returned home from Springfield, Ulysses S. Grant writes his father a letter from Galena, Illinois:

Dear Father:

I have now been home near a week but return to Springfield to-day. I have tendered my services to the Government and go to-day to make myself useful, if possible, from this until all our National difficulties are ended. During the six days I have been at home I have felt all the time as if a duty was being neglected that was paramount to any other duty I ever owed. I have every reason to be well satisfied with myself for the services already rendered but to stop now would not do

All here are well. Orvil or Lark will write to you in a day or two and tell you how business matters stand. Write to me at Springfield.

Yours Truly

U.S. Grant

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