Arthur Crisfield Prevented from Voting
November 4, 1863

In November 1863, Arthur Crisfield attempted to vote for his father, a conservative Unionist congressman running for reelection. Union cavalry officer Charles C. Moore stopped Crisfield and interrogated him about his political beliefs. When an election judge protested the interrogation, Moore arrested the judges and shut down the polling place.

Outrage upon the Elective Franchise in Maryland

Freemen of the North, Read.

A Statement of the Proceedings which led to the Interruption and arrest of the Election at Princess Anne, In Somerset County, Maryland, on Wednesday, the 4th day of Nov., 1863.

I arrived in Princess Anne about nine o’clock a.m., on the morning of this day, and saw a detachment of about twenty armed cavalrymen, in front of Twilley’s Hotel. I observed a cavalry officer, whom I afterwards learned to be Cap. Moore, of the 3d Maryland Cavalry, standing in front of Wilson’s Hotel, with perhaps a dozen persons standing near. As I approached I heard Mr. John A. Pinto, one of the Judges of Election, (who was standing immediately in front of the officer) reading aloud from a large printed handbill the oath to be taken by voters, under General Schenck’s order No. 53. Upon Mr. Pinto’s having finished reading the oath, an inquiry was made by some one, of the officer, if he “had seen the proclamation of Governor Bradford and the President’s order modifying General Schenck’s order No. 53. He replied, “ I have seen them, but they were not officially communicated to me, and I cannot recognize them. He stated that his orders came from the Major of his regiment; that if the President’s order had been officially notified to him he would feel bound to obey it; not being so notified, he must obey the instructions which he had received.”…

Whilst Captain Moore was thus stationing his men, the Judges announced the opening of the election, and Wm J. Brittingham, esq., offered his vote. Just as it was received by the Judges, Captain Moore stepped up hastily and called out, “that he challenged that vote;’ coming up to the desk, he required the Judges to administer the oath required in order No. 53 to Mr. Brittingham was said “I am ready to take it.” One of the Judges inquired of Captain Moore, if he intended “to disregard the proclamation of Governor Bradford and require them to administer the oath required by General Schenck.” Captain Moore replied that he did. The Judge then said, “we must administer the oath under coercion,” and proceeded to read to Mr. Brittingham the oath of General Schenck’s order No. 58, which Brittingham took.—His vote was then received, and directed to be recorded by the clerks. Mr. Arthur Crisfield then advanced between the file of soldiers to the judge’s desk and offered his vote. Capt. Moore, who was standing by the desk, immediately fronting the judges, challenged his vote and inquired his name. The reply was “Arthur Crisfield.” Capt. Moore, pulling a paper from his pocket, examined it, and proceeded to interrogate Mr. A. Crisfield, in substance as follows:

Capt. Moore—Have you ever been in the rebel service?

Mr. A. Crisfield—No.

Capt. Moore—Are you loyal?

Mr. A. Crisfield—I am.

Capt. Moore—Have you ever sympathized with those in rebellion against the Government.

Mr. A. Crisfield—I have never given aid, assistance or encouragement to the South.

Capt. Moore—Do you acknowledge this to be a rebellion against the Government.

Mr. A. Crisfield—I acknowledge this.

Capt. Moore—Are you in favor of prosecuting the war to put down the rebellion by every means, and of voting men and money for this purpose, and all that your property may be devoted to the prosecution of the war?

Mr. A. Crisfield—Define the means.

Capt. Moore—By blockade, cutting off supplies from the South, and every means known in civilized warfare.

Mr. A. Crisfield—I think the government has the right to prosecute the war by all the means recognized by international law and civilized warfare, within the limits of the Constitution and the laws of the country.

Capt. Moore—Are you in favor of prosecuting the war by EVERY means?

Mr. A. Crisfield was repeating the same reply as that to the former question, when Capt. Moore turned to the judges and said, “administer the oath to him.”

Mr. Pinto, one of the judges of the election, then rose and said, “we disapprove this mode of conducting the election. It is impossible to conduct it in this way. We should never get through. We are sworn to conduct the election according to the laws of Maryland; and if we are not permitted to do so, we submit to arrest.”

Capt. Moore—You refuse then to carry out the order of General Schenck?

Mr. Pinto—We decide to obey the proclamation of the Governor and the order of the President.

Capt. Moore then arrested the judges and said “the arrest is for refusing to obey the order of Gen. Schneck.”

The judges then said the election was closed, and Capt. Moore required them to report themselves to him under arrest at Twilley’s hotel, which they promised to do. Capt. Moore informed them they were to be taken to the city of Baltimore…


Bedford Gazette, 4 December 1863