President Lincoln Confers with General Irvin McDowell

April 20, 1862

In the morning, President Lincoln General Irvin meets McDowell in morning at Aquia Creek.   Historian David H. Donald noted the president’s adventuresome nature was on display. ” When they reached the Potomac Creek, McDowell called their attention to a trestle bridge his men were erecting a hundred feet above the water in that deep and wide ravine. ‘Let us walk over,’ exclaimed the President boyishly, and though the pathway was only a single plank wide, he led the way. About halfway across Stanton became dizzy and Dahlgren, who was somewhat giddy himself, had to help the Secretary. But Lincoln, despite the grinding cares of his office, was in fine physical shape and never lost his balance.” McDowell joins Lincoln on Potomac River trip back to Washington, where they dine at the Naval Yard with Commandant John Dahlgren. Later, Illinois Senator Orville H. Browning visits the White House: “At night I went to the Presidents and had a long talk with him about the condition of things at York Town and Corinth.

From the Yorktown peninsula, General George B. McClellan writes the president: “I enclose herewith a copy of the first reliable map we have prepared of this vicinity — it will give you a good general idea of positions.  In a day or two we will have one on a larger scale which will be more satisfactory to you.  I will soon send you one of the immediate front of Yorktown on which I will mark the batteries now being entrenched & send such information as will enable you to put down the new works as they progress.

We are now actually at work, & nearly through, with 6 batteries for guns, have commenced a series for 10 13″ mortars, & commence tomorrow morning another gun battery.  As soon as these are armed we will open the first parallel & other batteries for 8″ & 10″ mortars & some heavy guns.  Everything is going on admirably & we shall soon open with a terrific fire.  I hope to hear hourly of the arrival of Franklin’s Division, & shall lose no time in placing him in position.  I hope the Galena will be here to assist us very soon.
Genl Robt Lee is in command in our front — Johnston is under him!  I learn that there has been quite a struggle on the subject between Davis & his Congress, Davis insisting upon Johnston.  I prefer Lee to Johnston — the former is too cautious & weak under grave responsibility — personally brave & energetic to a fault, he yet is wanting in moral firmness when press by heavy responsibility & is likely to be timid & irresolute in action.
The difficulties of our position are considerable, that is the enemy is in a very strong position — but I never expected to get to Richmond without a hard fought battle, & am just as willing to fight it here as elsewhere — I am confident of success, not only of success but of brilliant success.  I think that a defeat here substantially breaks up the rebel cause.  They are making great efforts — enforcing the conscription with the utmost vigor, & now have their regiments full — whether the infusion of raw & perhaps unwilling men will benefit them remains to be seen.  I doubt whether it is a disadvantage to us.

Published in: on April 20, 2012 at 12:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

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