President Lincoln Starts Reconstruction of New Orleans

June 12, 1862

Increasingly during the summer of 1862, issues regarding Louisiana preoccupy President Lincoln as he began to consider the problems of reconstruction.  With the capture of New Orleans, Lincoln needed to begin to restore federal control over the area.   Illinois Senator Orville H. Browning writes: “At 9 O’clock this morning went with Reverdy Johnson to the President to ask the appointment of Cuthbert Bullitt as collector of Customs at New Orleans.  The President had twice before told me he thought he should appoint him.  He said to us this morning that he would send for Secy [Salmon P.}Chase, and ask whether there was any reason why the appointment should not be made immediately – If there was not he would make the appointment at once.”

President Lincoln wrote General John C. Fremont regarding military conditions in the Shenandoah Valley: “Accounts which we do not credit, represent that Jackson is largely reinforced, and is turning upon you.  Stand well on your guard, get your forces well in hand, and keep us well and frequently advised; and if you find yourself really pressed by a superior force of the enemy, fall back cautiously towards, or to, Winchester, according to circumstances; and we will in, due time, have Gen. Banks in position to sustain you. Do not fallback of Harrisonburg, unless upon tolerably clear necessity.  We understand Jackson is on the other side of the Shenandoah from you, and hence can not, in any event, press you into any necessity of precipitate withdrawal.”

General George B. McClellan, operating near Rich;mond,  remained preoccupied with getting additional troops from General McDowell’s command transferred to him by water: McClellan telegraphed Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton: “In your telegram respecting reinforcements you inform me that Genl McDowell with the residue of his command will proceed overland to join me before Richmond.  I beg leave to suggest that the destruction of the RR bridges by flood & fire cannot probably be remedied in under 4 weeks, that an attempt to employ wagon transportation must involve great delay and may be found very difficult of accomplishment.  An extension of my right wing to meet him may involve serious hazard to my flank and my line of communications and may not suffice to rescue him from any peril in which a strong movement of the enemy may involve him.  I would advise that his forces be sent by water.  Even a portion thus sent would by reason of greater expedition and security and less complications of my movements probably be more servicable in the operations before Richmond.  The roads throughout the region between the Rappahannock and the James can not be relied upon and may become execrable even should they be in their best condition.  The junction of his force with the extension of my right flank can not be made without derangement of my plans and if my recent experience in moving troops be indicative of the difficulties incident of McDowell’s march the exigencies of my present position will not admit of delay.  I have ordered back all the transports used in bringing McCall’s Division, that they may be ready for service if you deem it best to employ water transportation.  I have to day moved my Head Quarters across the Chickahominy to a central position so that I can readily reach any point of attack or advance.  The enemy are massing their troops near our front, throwing up earthworks on all the approaches to Richmond and giving every indication of fight.”

Published in: on June 12, 2012 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

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