President Returns from Visit to New York

June 25, 1862

Stopping in Jersey City late in the morning on the way home from West Point, President Lincoln says: “When birds and animals are looked at through a fog they are seen to disadvantage, and so it might be with you if I were to attempt to tell you why I went to see Gen. Scott.  I can only say that my visit to West Point did not have the importance which has been attached to it; but it conceived [concerned matters that you understand quite as well as if I were to tell you all about them.  Now, I can only remark that it had nothing whatever to do with making or unmaking any General in the country.  [Laughter and applause.]  The Secretary of War, you know, holds a pretty tight rein on the Press, so that they shall not tell more than they ought to, and I’m afraid that if I blab too much he might draw a tight rein on me.”  After returning to Washington in the early evening, President Lincoln apparently went directly to his summer cottage at the Soldiers Home in Northeast Washington.

General George B. McClellan writes Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton: “I regret my great inferiority in numbers but feel that I am in no way responsible for it as I have not failed to represent repeatedly the necessity of reinforcements, that this was the decisive point, & that all the available means of the Govt should be concentrated here.  I will do all that a General can do with the splendid Army I have the honor to command & if it is destroyed by overwhelming numbers can at least die with it & share its fate.

But if the result of the action which will probably occur tomorrow or within a short time is a disaster the responsibility cannot be thrown on my shoulders — it must rest where it belongs.

McClellan adds: “In addition to what I have already said I only wish to say to the Presdt that I think he is wrong, in regarding me as ungenerous when I said that my force was too weak.  I merely reiterated a truth which today has been too plainly proved.  I should have gained this battle with (10,00) tn thousand fresh men.  If at this instant I could dispose of (10,00) ten thousand fresh men I could gain the victory tomorrow.”

I know that a few thousand men more would have changed this battle from a defeat to a victory — as it is the Govt must not & cannot hold me responsible for the result.
I feel too earnestly tonight — I have seen too many dead & wounded comrades to feel otherwise than that the Govt has not sustained this Army.  I you do not do so now the game is lost.
If I save this Army now I tell you plainly that I owe no thanks to you or any other persons in Washington — you have done your best to sacrifice this Army.

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Published in: on June 25, 2012 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

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