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Discovery of the Col. Charles Morris report, in the National Archives, resolved two historical mysteries. First, of course, was resolution to part of the puzzle of "martial law," which most people in San Francisco thought had been "proclaimed" by President Roosevelt.

Colonel Morris told of the Army's work with Mayor Schmitz in a report forwarded on July 5, 1906, to Robert Shaw Oliver, the Acting Secretary of War.

Colonel Morris also revealed that it was he, alone, who ordered the drastic use of dynamite to stop the fire along Van Ness Avenue. The colonel's report was written after submission of a claim for lost property by W.M. Slattery, who was burned out by the fire. He blamed military guards for not allowing him to rescue his possessions. Slattery's building had been dynamited.

Presidio of San Francisco, California,
9th - July 1906.

Respectfully returned to the Military Secretary, Department of California, Presidio of San Francisco, California.

Mr. Slattery's experience was that of thousands of other unfortunate victims of the San Francisco disaster. In accordance with the request expressly made to me by the Mayor of the City, the soldiers co-operated with the police in keeping the streets clear for a distance of at least a square from the actual scene of the fire. The same rule applied in the cases of destruction of buildings by dynamite. It is impossible to either refute or confirm the statement that Mr. Slattery or any member of his party, were prevented from passing the sentinel on post, because it is utterly impossible to identify the sentinel, or procure any testimony in the premises, nevertheless, admitting the accuracy of Mr. Slattery's statements, the sentinel was entirely justified in his course of action, a course adopted to preserve the life and limb of citizens, and to avoid interference with the fire department and dynamiting parties. Mr. Slattery is in error when he asserts that Martial law had been "proclaimed," but it is a notorious fact that the Army, heartily and successfuly, co-operated with the Civil authorities in the extinguishment of the fire, the protection of life and property (particularly property of the U.S.), and the preservation of good order.

Mr. Slattery is laboring under a misapprehension of facts in asserting that any particular apartment houses, or any other buildings "were allowed" to be caught on fire. No one, directly or indirectly, was responsible for the losses sustained by Mr. Slattery, certainly not the Military authorites. His property simply shared the fate of thousands of other unfortunate victims of the disaster.

Colonel Artillery Corps,

Return to the 1906 Earthquake Exhibit.

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