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Home > Civil War Sesquicentennial > George Dyer Transcript

George Dyer Transcript

To Hon. Israel Washburn Jr.

Commander in Chief of the Forces of Maine


Calais , May 6, 1861


In obedience to your order, I made immediate inquiry of gentlemen connected with the government of New Brunswick , in person, and by telegraph, and on Tuesday last proceeded to Saint John . There I put myself in communication with Hon. S. L. Tilley the Provincial Secretary, and present head of the Government, who entered warmly into my plans, and endeavored to forward them as much as possible. As Mr. Tilley thought it best to see the Governor of New Brunswick in person, at the same time I did, I waited for him until Friday last, when at great personal inconvenience he went with me to Fredericton , the Capitol. We there had an interview with the Governor on Saturday, which interview was long, earnest, but unsuccessful. The Governor was pleased to say that he would communicate the reasons why he was unable to comply with your request.

The reasons in brief which he gave to me, were that the rifles, three thousand in number, were sent to him in his military role as Commander in Chief, by the home government for a specific purpose, to wit, for the arming of volunteer companies of militia of the Province of New Brunswick, that these arms remain the property of the Queen, that two thousand of them had been distributed, and that one thousand yet remained in store, subject to call from companies already formed or in process of formation, that he could not direct any of these arms or suffer them to be directed from the use specified, without a breach of orders on his own part.

The Governor informed me that Nova Scotia received the same number of rifles as New Brunswick , at the same time, under the same orders, nearly all of which arms had been distributed.

The governor expressed his warmest sympathy with the Government of the United States, and toward the State of Maine and its Executive, and proposed to communicate at once with the Maine Government in relation to the loan of these rifles, to which I answered, that the delay probably would be too great, but that I would make his offer known to you.

It may be proper to add that the Governor is a cautious man, was bred to diplomacy, and before coming to New Brunswick, was an Under Secretary, that his term of office has expired, and that he desires a better position.

Also, that "responsible government" has stripped him of all practical civil power, and that his military power is all that remains, and consequently he has made the militia his object of special attention.

I presume, that I might have obtained any quantity of muskets, of an inferior rank, from the government, being the property of the Province. I learned that there are no rifles in the hands of the trade, in either New Brunswick or Nova Scotia .

Trusting that this failure of success, which was as grievous to me, as no doubt it will be to yourself, may prove no serious hindrance to the arming of the regiments of Maine.

I am Sir,

Very truly,

George W. Dyer

Special agent to procure arms in New Brunswick