Coup de Main
John Minor Botts

They all say they were Union men until Lincoln issued his proclamation, but this I have shown to be false. This proclamation was for the protection of the Capitol at Washingon and of his own life, which they would have taken in three weeks if he had not made the call, the design being to employ a body of men collected from New York, Newark, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Alexandria, Richmond, Petersburg, and Norfolk, headed by two leading men of the South - one from Texas, who has since been slain in battle, and the other from Virginia, who has never taken the chances of being slain. I knew at least that this was the opinion of Mr. Lincoln when he issued his proclamation, for I was cognizant of the communication that was made to him on this subject; for when I left the city of Washington on the day the proclamation was issued, the windows of a portion of the Treasury building had already been barricaded. Of these facts, no doubt, abundant proof will be found hereafter.

Nov. 5, 1863. - Such proof now begins to leak out; and in confirmation of what I have said, I take the following editorial paragraph from the Richmond Sentinel (the recognized organ of the administration) of Nov. 2, 1863, edited by a Mr. Smith, who in 1860, '61, conducted a secession journal in Alexandria, and may well be supposed to have been in the secrets of the plot. The Sentinel says, "Indeed a formidable organization existed all the winter in Baltimore and the counties adjacent to Washington, having for its object the capture of that city, the seizure of the government officers, and the inauguration of a provisional government in the interests of the South. Such a step would have given the South the command of the United States Army and Navy; it would have consigned the North to anarchy, at least for a while - perhaps to a civil war at their own doors; but wise and politic as was this measure in the eyes of those who saw the value of striking the first blow, it was too rash to be hazarded until the support of Virginia could be secured, and for that there was no chance."

Here, then, is a precious confession by a precious rebel of a concerted scheme, not to protect or "defend the South from a ruthless, heartless, savage invasion by the North," as has since been pretended; not to throw off the yoke "of an intolerable oppressive government," and to set up an independent government for themselves simply, as the people have been made to believe, but here it is openly avowed that there was a formidable organization to capture the Capitol of the nation, to depose the lawfully-elected President of the country, and inaugurate a provisional government in the interests of the South, by which they were to have secured the army and navy of the United States, and to have involved the North in a civil war at home among themsleves, while Southern Democracy reveled in the enjoyment of the spoils derived from their own hellish treason, from the consequences of which they now shrink, and piteously whine that "all they ask is to be let alone."


The Great Rebellion: Its Secret History, Rise, Progress, and Disastrous Failure
by John Minor Botts, of Virginia, The Political Life of the Author Vindicated, pages 113-114
Harper & Brothers, Publishers, Franklin Square, New York, 1866