Family of 16th President Visits Home of 1st President

April 2, 1862

A Navy steamer, commanded by Lieutenant John Dahlgren, transported the Lincoln Family – including sister-in-law Elizabeth Todd Edwards and her husband Ninian – to Mount Vernon, where they visited for about an hour and a half in the early afternoon while President Lincoln remained aboard the ship.   Among the guests of the presidential party was Mary Hay, aunt of presidential secretary John Hay.  She wrote her husband Milton, a longtime legal colleague of Lincoln: “The President looks much as he did when he left Springfield ‑ and tells jokes yet. I had the happiness of sitting by him ‑ and conversing with him for some time ‑ but, did not know how to flatter his vanity as some others did.” Back at the White House, President Lincoln wrote a Philadelphia man to thank him “for your present of White Rabbits” for Tad Lincoln.  “He is very much pleased with them.”

Back in Washington, doubts were growing about General George B. McClellan and the adequacy of the troops left behind by McClellan to defend Washington. General James Wadsworth, the general commanding the capital’s defense, reported that he had less than 20,000 raw recruits under him.  Senator Orville H. Browning, whose wife and daughter had accompanied the presidential party to Mount Vernon, made one of his customary visits to the White House, writing in his diary: “At night I went up to the Presidents and had a talk with him about Genl McClelland [sic] whose loyalty is beginning to be questioned in some quarters   I asked him if he still had confidence in McClelland’s fidelity.  He assured me he had, and that he had never had any reason to doubt it.  That he had now gone to Fortress Monroe with his Command, with orders to move on Richmond without delay, and that only on yesterday when McClelland came to take leave of him preparatory to marching, he shed tears when speaking of the cruel imputations upon his loyalty, and defending himself against them   The President added that Genl Scott and all the leading military men around him, had always assured him that McClelland possessed a very high order of military talent, and that he did not think they could all be mistaken — yet he was not fully satisfied with his conduct of the war — that he was not sufficiently energetic and aggressive in his measures — that he had studied McClelland and taken his measure as well as he could — that he thought he had the capacity to make arrangements properly for a great conflict, but as the hour for action approached he became nervous and oppressed with the responsibility and hesitated to meet the crisis, but that he had given him peremptory orders to move now, and he must do it.   Whilst we were in conversation Mr. Secretary Stanton came in.

Supposing he had private business I proposed to leave, but both he and the President insisted that I should remain, and I did so.  Stanton then commenced a conversation about McClelland, saying that there was a very general distrust of his loyalty growing up in the Country.  He then took from his pocket a letter, which he said he had just received from one of the first men of the Nation, who was known to both the President and myself, but whose name he would not mention, and read from it a passage stating that McClelland some time in 1860 had been initiated as a Knight of the Golden Circle by Jeff Davis — that Davis still had great power and influence over him, and that he would do nothing against the reels which would be inconsistent with his obligations as a Knight of the golden Circle, and that disaster would come upon us as long as he was continued in Command.  Stanton added that he did not believe these imputations of disloyalty, but they were believed extensively and did us injury   When we left the President Stanton took me in his carriage and brought me home.  As we rode down the Avenue he expressed the opinion that McClelland ought to have been removed long ago, and a fear that he was not in earnest, and said that he did not think he could emancipate himself from the influence of Jeff Davis, and feared he was not willing to do any thing calculated greatly to damage the cause of secession, and that if I would propose the President to appoint Co N B Buford of Illinois a Majr Genl. And give him the Command of the army here he would second my application.
He [Stanton] said that when McDowell was appointed he was greatly dissatisfied – thought him unfit for the place, and when he lost the battle of Bull Run he denounced him fiercely, but since he became Secy of War, and had had much official communication with McDowell, and heard his explanations of the battle of Bull Run he was satisfied he had done him injustice, and with shame for having said it, he took back all he had said   That he was now satisfied that he was an able officer, more able than any on the Potomac, and an earnest, gallant man intent upon doing his duty.

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Published in: on April 2, 2012 at 12:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

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