President Lincoln Tries to Sort Out Military Command in Kansas

February 10, 1862

President Lincoln wrote to General David Hunter, a professional soldier and General James Lane, who was also a U.S. Senator from Kansas: “My wish has been,–and is, to avail the government of the services of both Gen. Hunter and Gen. Lane; & so far as possible, to personally oblige both.  Gen. Hunter is the senior officer, and must command when they serve together; though, in so far as he can, consistently with the public service, and his own honor, oblige Gen. Lane, he will also oblige me.  If they can not come to an amicable understanding, Gen. Lane must report to Gen. Hunter for duty, according to the rules, or decline the service.”

Presidential aide John Hay was less sanguine and less diplomatic about the possibility of a ceasefire between the Union commanders in Kansas.  In an anonymous newspaper dispatch that day, Hay wrote: “The West is still troubled with feuds, and the craft of demagogues.  I believe no good thing will come out of Kansas until Jim Lane has retired to private life and the cormorants that surround him see no prospect for further plunder in his train.  The man and his history form a marvel of unmerited distinction and utterly baseless success.  Low, vulgar, and coarse, he has gained the plaudits of the polished fanatics of Boston Illiterate and narrow minded, he retains a seat in the Senate of the Republic.  Tricky and unprincipled in politics, he has somehow gained a reputation for bluff honor and frankness.  With no military ability, he has succeeded in impressing the public with the idea that he is a thunderbolt of war.  Crafty, cruel, and remorseless, and only half civilized, he has fostered the idea in the mind of his deluded adherents that on him alone rest the hopes of endangered civilization, and that in his success are contained the grand possibilities of aroused and regenerate humanity.”

Published in: on February 10, 2012 at 12:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

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