Heretofore Senator Johnson had been in the minority, a free lance and a man without a political party. But with the breaking out of war he stepped to the front, and disputed the leadership of the Senate with Collamer, Sumner, Fessenden and Hale. In matters pertaining to the war in Tennessee and the West his wish became a command.
On April 15 Lincoln had called for 75,000 troops to suppress insurrectionary combinations ; on the 19th and 27th issued proclamations setting on foot a blockade of southern ports ; on the 27th authorized the Commanding General to suspend the writ of habeas corpus between Washington and Philadelphia ; on May 1 called for 42,034 volunteers. Under these proclamations action had been taken, arrests made on suspicion and without legal authority. In Border States, particularly, the people were in an uproar. On April 22 the Sixth Massachusetts Regiment, passing through Baltimore to Washington, were attacked by a mob and several lives were lost. Baltimore, a city with southern sympathy, was in a frenzy, Washington in danger of capture. It was agreed by the Washington and Baltimore authorities that no more troops should pass through the latter city but should go around it. Hundreds of secessionists in Maryland were cast into prison, without judge or jury. The writ of habeas corpus was a dead letter. Civil officers, being powerless to over-ride the military, returned such writs "unexecuted for lack of power to enforce." Mr. Lincoln, now "a military dictator," as his enemies charged, declared he was not going to give up the government "till he had played his last card." Finally he could play a lone hand no longer and called a special session to meet July 4.
In the Senate Andrew Johnson took an active part, pleading