President Lincoln Plots Capture of Norfolk

May 9, 1862

President Lincoln, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton and Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase seek a spot for Union forces to land in preparation for capture of Norfolk.  There are two reconnaissance cruises – the second including President Lincoln – to determine a landing spot.   They confer at dinner with General John Wool, who promises: “If you stay here 48 hours, I will present Norfolk to you.”  Attack plans are readied.  President Lincoln, as usual, has poured over the relevant maps.

Historian William E. Baringer noted that President Lincoln had waited for General George B. McClellan to join them, but when he did not they decide to act: “They ordered General Wool to prepare his force for an attack early Saturday morning.  Stanton, impressed with the work and determination of his friend Chase, said he had a mind to make Chase the over-all commander of the assault, General Wool being too old, at seventy-eight, although a veteran of the War of 1812, to take the field in a shooting battle.  Not so, returned the aged general, and he entered a formal request to hold the command.  Chase had no objection, remarking that he could not inflict sorrow upon gray hairs,’ and Wool was designated commander.  He asked Chase to go along in the assault, and went off to write orders setting troops in motion.  Chase turned the Miami over to Colonel Cram, who would use it to protect the transports.”

Published in: on May 9, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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