The New York Herald, May 14, 1861
THE SITUATION OF AFFAIRS.
The President, accompanied by Secretary Seward and Thurlow Weed, took a tour of inspection down the Potomac yesterday. The rebel troops at Alexandria appear to be fluctuating from point to point. It is said there are not now more than one hundred and fifty men there. The steamer Pawnee, however, was moored in front of the city yesterday, with her guns (rifle cannon) and mortars so commanding it that they can bombard it with hot shot, grape and shell, as well as any camp that may be located in the vicinity.
The reports of the number of Southern troops at Richmond are somewhat conflicting. A few days ago it was confidently put down at seven thousand, but a gentleman who arrived at Washington from there yesterday says that there are not more than three thousand men there. It is quite likely, however, that the troops are being moved about from one point to another. At the Relay House everything is quiet and safe. No attack on General Butler's command is now anticipated, and it is said that if his army is molested General Butler will make a terrible onslaught on the city of Baltimore.
The railroad through Baltimore is open, the route clear, and the bridges all secure and well guarded. The first train from Perryville, consisted of three passenger cars filled, arrived there last evening. The streets through which the train passed were thronged with people, men, women and children, and no attempt was made to interfere with it, nor was there any disturbance on the road. When the steamer Maryland left the dock at Perryville, with the train of cars on deck, the American flag was hoisted and saluted by the troops. Crowds lined the river at both sides and cheered vehemently. The same scene occurred at Havre de Grace and all along the route.
The government contemplates the erection of earthworks at intervals all along the railroads from the North through Maryland, preliminary surveys for which are now being made. The capital is now completely encircled with encampments, controlling all the railroads.
The Navy Department expects that the ports of Charleston, Savannah and the mouths of the Mississippi will be effectually blockaded in a week. Commodore Stringham, who commands the blockading squadron, is to depart at once for the Mississippi, with the Minnesota as flagship, and it is said that his instructions are of the most rigorous character.
We have some important intelligence of the condition of things at Harper's Ferry from a party who visited it last week on special service, and reached Chambersburg yesterday. he says that there are six thousand rebel troops there, but very imperfectly armed; two hundred Kentucky men and one company from South Carolina were among them. Provisions were running very short, supplies having been cut off by the Western Virginia Unionists. There were not two week's provisions any where in the surrounding country, and that they must either receive supplies at once of retreat seemed inevitable. They had no batteries, nor were they erecting any. The total number of arms saved from the wreck of the arsenal is positively stated to be only one thousand, and the number of rifles they can turn out of the work shops does not exceed twelve per day.
The government designs to move an immense force, embracing the strength of the Northwestern army, down the Mississippi without delay, thus carrying the war in that direction into the seceded river States.
The Convention of Western Virginia met at Wheeling yesterday. The attendance was large, and the feeling on the entire line, from Wheeling to Baltimore, was enthusiastically in favor of separation from the Eastern portion and the maintenance of the Union. It was feared that the secessionists would pour troops into the Wheeling district to break up the Convention, and a special agent was accordingly dispatched to Washington asking for material aid. He had an interview with the authorities yesterday, and was assured that the government would lose no time in sending assistance.
The confederate government at Montgomery has appointed Gen. Lee Commander-in-Chief of the forces in Virginia, in which State there are said to be about 50,000 men. Positive information, however, has reached General Scott that the whole number of men from Harper's Ferry down to Lynchburg does not exceed 25,000. Strong efforts are being made, even by members of the Cabinet, to induce him to advance his forces into Virginia; but he is resolute in maintaining his present position until he is quite ready to move. Considerable bodies of men, said to he pretty well armed with Minie rifles and muskets, are moving up from the South, among them a regiment of Zouaves from New Orleans, who went from Richmond to Norfolk on Saturday. It is commonly reported that the rebel troops are determined to burn every city and village which they are compelled to abandon, in case of being driven back by the Northern troops.
Intense excitement prevailed at St. Louis yesterday, arising out of the recent riot. A thousand people left the city in consequence of rumored insubordination among the German troops, and their threats to burn the city, but at the last accounts all was quiet, and no further disturbance was expected.
The most important intelligence which we learn from the Montgomery Congress is the formal recognition of Virginia as a member of the Southern confederacy, which took place on the 6th instant, upon which occasion two representatives from the State took their seats.