Imagine yourself, if you will, stuck in a damp, dark, extremely small prison cell. You are not in the cell aone mind you, there could be as many as 12 other people in the cell with you, you really dont know how many because the cell is so dark that you can barely see your own hands. You are fed bread that is coated with the fecal matter of rats, raw potatoes that are so rotten that they have maggots in them and water so rancid that you must close your nose to drink it. Perhaps the worst part is that you do not know where you are because you were dragged to that prison after being knocked unconcious in such an extreme way that your jailers were not even sure you would survive. Your family weeps every day because they do not know where you are or what has happened to you and death at this point welcome companion. If you can imagine this enviroment, perhaps you are thinking of a dungeon in medevial Europe. Maybe you are thinking about the Tower of London or maybe you are thinking about the modern prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. While those places were no picnic, the place I am talking about is a place closely assosciated with our National Anthem. To many it is a immortal symbol of freedom and Democracy but to hundreds and thousands of souls forgotten by many, it was Hell on earth, this place is Ft. McHenry in Baltimore,MD. When the struggle for Southern Independence broke out in 1861, there was a lack of prisons to house those who may be captured in battle. This problem was resolved by taking forts dating back to the Revolution and war of 1812 and turning them into prison camps. If you have ever toured Ft. McHenry you would quickly notice how small and cramped the installation is. You would notice the narrow corridors and the mildewy smell that lingers to this day. Look inside those cells and you can almost see the frail, eldery, malnourished body of a Maryland Circuit Court Judge by the name of Carmichael. Judge Carmichael experienced all of the horrors described above along with untold others whose names have been lost. What was Judge Carmichael's crime? The answer is a suprising NOTHING. How could this happen in the United States of America? It is very simple really. When one man decides to go against the Constitution of the United States and declare the writ of Habeus Corpus(or basically the right to a trial and to know the charges against you)null and void, than one man alone can order the imprisonment of anyone he wants. Now the question would be, who would do such a thing? The answer to that is our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln. On April 27th, 1861 , Lincoln suspended that writ for the purpose of invading Maryland (a Union State) as well as several Midwestern States (I.E. Indiana). Within days, a Union Cavalry patrol numbering over 100 approahed the Courthouse in Easton,Maryland. They held in their hand an arrest warrant signed by Lincoln himself. That afternoon they surrounded the building and a detachment entered the courthouse where court was in session. They burst through the door and interrupted the trial by demanding that Judge Carmichael submit to being chained and carried away. When Judge Carmichael asked to know what the charges were against him he was clubbed over the head by the butts of several Colt Revolvers and the grips of several Cavalry sabers. Blood was gushing from his head as the union patrol dragged him from the courthouse and threw his body into a wagon. They then went mere blocks where they loaded him onto Federal vessel in the Tred Avon river and escorted his unconcious body through the Miles River and into the Chesapeake Bay. From there he was taken North to Ft. McHenry where would awaken hours later after struggling to survive. He screamed from his cell asking about his crime and about his family but was only met with punches through the bars and taunts of "One more word and I will beat you to death you damned seccesh". Why was this allowed to happen? Why would the Union patrol use such force on an elderly man who simply asked a question? It is because Lincoln left explicit orders that "anyone who questions MY supreme authority shall be taken immediately by whatsoever means may be deemed neccesary". Carmichael would not be alone for long as soon the entire prison was overflowing with political prisoners. You had a mix of judges, lawyers, politicians, bankers, newspaper editors and reporters, priests, ex U.S. Officers and soldiers, and other well knowns of the time. With these SUSPECTED Confederate Sympathizers out of the way, Lincoln was free to move the Union Army to polling places throughout Maryland and other areas that questioned his authority to conduct this war. Voters at the polls were interrogated by Federal authorities as to who they wished to vote for and in many documented cases were escorted into the voting area where the Union soldiers themselves told them who to vote for. It is no surprise than that Maryland remained in the Union after pro-Union and Lincoln approved politicians were elected statewide in landslides. This was the first time that Lincoln suspended this Writ, but sadly it would not be the last as he would go on to do this several more times and bring his brand of terrorism to communities throughout the United States. My next post will also be Lincoln related, it will be a historical examination with the intent to prove that Lincoln's "Emancipation Proclomation" did in fact, free nobody!