After Republicans fared poorly in the 1862 elections, the party would take precautions which guaranteed success the following year. They found that “the military power of the federal government, aided and supplemented by the organized Union Leagues and Strong Bands, could alone ensure electoral success in the more important Northern States.” General Schenck, below, was a political appointee of Lincoln.
Test Oaths and Federal Bayonets
“[Lincoln’s election] leadership received a new and emphatic demonstration in Maryland. Just on election eve ex-Governor Hicks, now in the United States Senate and co-operating with the Radicals, advised General Robert Schenck, in charge of the area, to place restrictions on disloyal voters in the State.
At least, Hicks suggested, voters should be forced to take a stringent oath. Hearing that troops were being sent to Maryland to administer test oaths, Governor Bradford protested to Lincoln. But General Schenck, who had defeated [Ohioan Clement] Vallandigham in the congressional elections the year before and would soon take his seat in the House of Representatives, was as violent a Radical as Burnside.
He promptly ordered provost marshals to take troops to the polls, prevent disorder, and administer oaths to suspected Democrats. [Maryland Republican Gov. Augustus] Bradford protested to Lincoln and issued a proclamation rescinding Schenk’s orders. The general forbade the telegraph companies to transmit the Governor’s order.
Lincoln replied to Bradford with a reminder that the Governor had been elected with federal bayonets the year before. Moreover, said the President, it was not enough that the candidates be true men. “In this struggle for the nation’s life” it was necessary that loyal men should have been elected only by loyal voters.
Schenck himself, after consulting Stanton, told Lincoln that without military intervention “we lose this State.” The President modified Schenck’s order slightly, but accepted the basic principle.
On election day the troops were at the polls. In Kent County, on the Eastern Shore, they arrested leading Democrats and scurried them across the bay. The commander issued instructions that only candidates of the Union League convention were recognized by the federal authorities. In other places the soldiers administered oaths, arrested Democrats, and voted themselves.”
(Lincoln and the War Governors, William B. Hesseltine, Albert A. Knopf, 1955, pp. 337-338)