President Lincoln Sends to Congress a Treaty for Anti-Slavery Trade Cooperation

June 10, 1862

President Lincoln sent to the Capitol an Anglo-American treaty to work together against the international slave trade: “I transmit to Congress a copy of a treaty for the suppression of the African slave trade, between the United States and her Britannic Majesty, signed in this city on the 7th of April last, and the ratifications of which were exchanged at London on the 20th ultimo.”

A copy of the correspondence which precede the conclusion of the instrument, between the Secretary of State and Lord Lyons, her Britannic Majesty’s envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary, is also herewith transmitted.

It is desirable that such legislation as may be necessary to carry the treaty into effect should be enacted as soon as may compart with the convenience of Congress.

Illinois Senator Orville H. Browning: “At night went to see the President about an exchange of the rebel [General Simon Bolivar] Buckner for Genl Prentiss &c.  The Kentucky delegation are all opposed to Buckner being given up, but the President is very much disposed to let him go, not attaching much importance to him any way or any where, either in prison or out of it.”

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Operations in Shenandoah Valley Under Review

June 9, 1862 

President Lincoln continues to try to direct operations in the Shenandoah Valley.  He writes letters to both Nathaniel P. Banks and John C. Frémont.   To Banks, Lincoln wrote: “We are arranging a general plan for the valley of the Shenandoah; and, in accordance with this, you will move your main force to the Shenandoah at or opposite Front-Royal as soon as possible.”  To Frémont, Lincoln wrote: Halt at Harrisonburg, pursuing Jackson no farther; get your force well in hand, and stand on the defensive, guarding against a movement of the enemy either back towards Strasburg, or towards Franklin, and await further orders which will soon be sent you.”  Meanwhile, General George B. McClellan wrote his wife:

“I had a telegram from your friend [Irvin] McDowell last evening stating that he was ordered down here with his command & assuring me that he received the order with great satisfaction!! I have not replied to it, nor shall I — the animal probably sees that the tide is changing & that I am not entirely without friends in the world.  The Secy & Presdt are also becoming quite amiable of late — I am afraid that I am a little cross to them & that I do not quite appreciate their sincerity & good feeling.”

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

President Lincoln Reviews Courts Martial

June 8, 1862

As president, Abraham Lincoln spent a great deal of time as president reviewing the verdicts of Army courts martial.  He was usually keen for any excuse that might lighten any otherwise severe sentence.   Today, President looks the files of courts martial for inmates of the District of Columbia jail.”  As he sometimes observed when reviewing such cases: “”I must put this by until I can settle in my mind whether this soldier can better serve the country dead than living.”

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White House Rules Out Concerts

June 7, 1862

With Mrs. Mary Lincoln still in mourning for the death of Willie Lincoln in February, the White House announces that the usual Saturday concerts on the White House grounds have been canceled. In May, presidential aide John G. Nicolay had written Mrs. Lincoln: “The Secretary of the Navy has called to ask whether you have any objection to the Marine Band beginning to play upon the lawn.”  Mrs. Lincoln said no, so Nicolay wrote her that “the Secretary of the Navy…requests me to ascertain whether you have any objection to the Band playing in Lafayette Square” on the north side of the White House.”  Again, the answer was no.

President Lincoln maintained his interest in innovative armaments that might shorten the war.  Illinois Senator Orville H. Browning writes: “At 6 ½ P.M. went with Jones & Eastman to see the President about Jones Gun carriage.”  President Lincoln reports to General George B. McClellan: “Your despatch about Chattanooga and Dalton was duly received and sent to Gen. Halleck. I have just received the following answer from him. We have Fort-Pillow, Randolph, and Memphis.:

The president also writes a letter of recommendation for the White House doorman. “The bearer of this, Edward Burke, has been here at the White-House, several months, during my residence here, and has appeared to me to be a quiet, orderly, and faithful man.”

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President Lincoln Concerned with Virginia Military Campaigns

June 6, 1862

In response to General George B. McClellan’s persistent calls for more troops, President Lincoln orders the transfer of a division from General Irvin McDowell to General  McClellan.

Maryland Governor Augustus W. Bradford visits the White House with a Union Army colonel from Maryland who had been captured at the Battle of Front Royal on May 23. The Confederates had paroled the Union officer so that might negotiate “an exchange for himself and those of his command.” According to one newspaper, “President Lincoln received the gallant officer very kindly, and inquired with much interest into the details of the battle.”

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President Lincoln Approves Diplomatic Recognition for Liberia and Haiti

June 5, 1862 

For the first time, the United States recognizes black-ruled governments in Haiti and Liberia.  Later in the Lincoln Administration, Haiti would become the first country to have a black ambassador in Washington.

General George B. McClellan telegraphs President Lincoln about military affairs in the west – over which McClellan no longer has control: “May I again invite your Excellency’s attention to the great importance of occupying Chattanooga & Dalton by our western forces.  The evacuation of Corinth would appear to render this very easy — the importance of this move in force cannot be exaggerated.” Lincoln forwarded McClellan’s note to General Henry W. Halleck.

Illinois Senator Orville H. Browning writes: “At night went to the Presidents and took tea with him in his room.  He showed me a despatch from McClellan saying our loss at Richmond was over five thousand but did not wish it mentioned at present.  Enemies loss said to be still greater.”

President Lincoln also concerns himself with the son of an old Illinois friend who had been seeking reinstatement at West Point.  Lincoln writes Secretary of War Stanton: “Herewith I return you the papers in relation to the proposed reappointment of William Kellogg, Jr. to a Cadetship.  Upon Gen. Totten’s statement of the case I think it is natural that he should feel as he expresses himself.  And yet the case comes upon me in the very strongest way to be painful to me.  Hon. William Kellogg, the father is not only a member of Congress from my state, but he is my personal friend of more than twenty years’ standing, and of whom I had many personal kindnesses.  This matter touches him very deeply–the feelings of a father for a child–as he thinks, all the future of his child.  I can not be the instrument to the re-nomination.  Let the appointment be made. It needs not to become a precedent.  Hereafter let no resignation be accepted under demerit amounting to cause for dismissal, unless upon express stipulation in writing that the cadet resigning shall not be re-nominated.  In this I mean no censure upon Gen. Totten; and although I have marked this ‘private’ I am quite willing for him to see it.”  Young Kellogg was duly reappointed, but never finished his degree.

Published in: on June 5, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Rains Slows both Washington and the Army of the Potomac

June 4, 1862

General George B. McClellan telegraphs President Lincoln: “Terrible rain storm during the night & morning — not yet cleared off.  Chickahominy flooded, bridges in bad condition — are still hard at work at them.  I have taken every possible step to insure the security of the Corps on the right bank, but I cannot reinforce them from here until my bridges are all safe as my forces is too small to insure my right & rear should the enemy attack in that direction, as they may probably attempt.  I have to be very cautious now.  Our loss in the late battle will probably exceed (5000) five thousand.  I have not yet full returns.  On account of the effect if might have on our own men & the enemy I request that you will regard this information as confidential for a few days.  I am satisfied that the loss of the enemy was very considerably greater — they were terribly punished.

I mention these facts now merely to show you that the Army of the Potomac has had serious work & that no child’s play is before it.  You must make your calculations on the supposition that I have been correct from the beginning in asserting that the serious opposition was to be here.

“Raining heavily all night and this morning,” wrote Illinois Senator Orville H. Browning. “After breakfast went through the rain to the Presidents to see about appointment of Chaplains….At night went to the Presidents – [Senator James R.] Doolittle went with me.”

Lincoln writes Attorney General Edward Bates: “I said yesterday if the Kentucky delegation or a majority of them, would ask in writing, for the pardon of [Herman] Franks, I would grant it. Having so asked, then the Attorney General will please make out the pardon.”

Lincoln also sent a classic message to Surgeon General William A. Hammond about a nurse unhappy with her position: “Surgeon-General please see Mrs. Bradley, whom I do not know, & redress her grievance, if she have any real one.”

On a more serious matter, President Lincoln writes Tennessee’s military governor, Andrew Johnson: “Do you really wish to have control of the question of releasing rebel prisoners so far as they may be Tennesseans? If you do, please tell us so distinctly. Your answer not to be made public.”  Lincoln writes General Henry W. Halleck: “Your despatch of to-day to Sec. of War received. Thanks for the good news it brings. Have you anything from Memphis or other parts of the Mississippi river? Please answer.”

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Rains Dampens Military Campaigns in Virginia

June 3, 1862

In the wake of the Battle of Seven Pines, President Lincoln is concerned about the vulnerability of the Army of the Potomac to Confederate attack.  He writes General George B. McClellan: “With these continuous rains, I am very anxious about the Chickahominy so close in your rear, and crossing your line of communication. Please look well to it.”   McClellan replied: “Your despatch of Five PM just received. As the Chickahominy has been almost the only obstacle in my way for several days your Excellency may rest assured that it has not been over-looked Every effort has been made and will continue to be to perfect the communication across it Nothing of importance except that it is again raining.”

Illinois Senator Orville H. Browning writes in his diary that President Lincoln is also concerned about Union Army efforts in the Shenandoah Valley: “At 6 P M went to the Presidents and had a talk with him.   He is afraid [Confederate General Stonewall] Jackson has got away from Fremont and McDowell.”  President Lincoln telegraphed General Irvin McDowell: “Anxious to know whether Shields can head or flank Jackson. Please tell about where Shields and Jackson respectively are, at the time this reaches you.”  McDowell responds: “Shields is at Luray—his advance at the Shenandoah on the road to New Market with an indifferent road, which the constant rains are making bad and with the Shenandoah impassable and rising.”  Jackson would eventually escape from the Union trap and reenforce Confederates near Richmond.

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Worries Continue about Battle of Seven Pines

June 2, 1862

The Battle of Seven Pines is over.  The Confederates have retreated to their defensive positions protecting Richmond – which Union forces had been driving to capture.  Confederate General Robert E. Lee replaces commanding General Joseph Johnston, who was wounded in the battle.  General George B. McClellan writes his soldiers regarding the Battle of Seven Pines near Richmond: “I have fulfilled at least a part of my promise to you: you are now face to face with the rebels, who are at bay in front of their Capital.  The final and decisive battle is at hand.  Unless you belie your past history, the result cannot be for a moment doubtful….The enemy has staked his all on the issue of the coming battle.  Let us meet and crush him here in the very centre of the rebellion.” Actually, McClellan’s leadership had been sadly lacking and the battle had largely been without his direction.   To his wife, McClellan writes: “I am tired of the sickening sight of the battlefield, with its mangled corpses & poor suffering wounded! Victory has no charms for me when purchased at such cost.”

Meanwhile, President Lincoln concerned himself with some nominations.  He wrote Attorney General Edward Bates, for example: “Judge Pettis having resigned, as appears by his letter herewith inclosed please send me a nomination for Allen A. Bradford as his successor.”  He also concerned himself with ordnance improvements, writing the Army’s head of ordnance:  “Will Gen. Ripley please consider whether this Musket-shell, would be a valuable missile in battle?”

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President Lincoln Waits for Reports on Battle of Seven Pines

June 1, 1862

President Lincoln spends much of the day anxiously anticipating  news of the Battle of Seven Pines just east of Richmond Virginia– in the morning with Assistant Secretary of the Navy Gustavus V. Fox.  The battle – the largest in the eastern sector of the Civil War to date — had begun the previous day when Confederates had almost overwhelmed Union forces.  Lincoln aide John G. Nicolay writes that “the first despatch came along about eleven o’clock on Saturday night, giving only vague rumors it is true, but leaving the inference very evidence that we were having the worst of it.”

Lincoln sends General George B. McClellan a series of telegrams after McClellan wrote Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton: “We have had a desperate battle, in which the corps of Sumner, Heintzelman, and Keyes have been engaged against greatly superior numbers.”  About 1:15 PM, Lincoln  sends the first two telegrams in quick succession: “You are probably engaged with the enemy.  I suppose be made the attack.  Stand well on your guard–hold all your ground, or yield any only, inch by inch and in good order.  This morning we merge Gen. [John] Wool’s department into yours, giving you command of the whole, and sending Gen. [John A.] Dix to Fortress-Monroe, and Gen. Wool to Fort McHenry.  We also send Gen. [Franz] Sigel to report to you for duty.”

Lincoln is trying to organize Union forces to put maximum pressure on the Confederates.  He follows up by writing McClellan: “You are already notified that Gen. Sigel is to report to you for duty.  I suggest–(do not order) that he have command of such of the forces about Fort-Monroe, Norfolk, Newport-News, &c. as you may see fit to put into active service, or such other command as may be suitable to his rank.” At 5 P.M, Lincoln again wrote McClellan: “Thanks for what you could, and did say, in your despatch of noon to-day to the Sec. of War.  If the enemy shall not have not renewed the attack this afternoon, I think the hardest of your work is done.

Shields’ advance came in collision with part of the enemy yesterday evening six miles from Front-Royal in a direction between Winchester & Strausburg, driving them back, capturing a few prisoners and one rifled cannon.  Firing in that direction to-day, heard both from Harper’s Ferry and Front Royal, indicate a probability that Fremont has met the enemy.
We have concluded to send Gen. Sigel to Harper’s Ferry, so that what I telegraphed you about him this morning, is revoked.  Dix goes to Fort-Monroe to-night.

While President Lincoln worries, Mrs. Lincoln goes to New York Presbyterian Church with Illinois Senator Orville H. Browning: “Mrs. Lincoln called this morning and Judge Norton and myself went to Dr Gurley’s Church with her.  About 6 P M I went to the Presidents and walked with him and Mrs Lincoln in the grounds, then went with President to War Department to get further news of the fight at Richmond which commenced yesterday.  The enemy had attacked us — the battle was terrible but we had driven them back, and the victory was ours.”

Nicolay writes of the slow trickle of news that the White House received regarding the Battle of Seven Pines:: “We got no more information until noon when we heard that after a severe conflict during the forenoon, we had finally repulsed the enemy at all points.  It seems that they attacked us at about one o’clock on Saturday and whipped us pretty badly until night, but that we recovered our losses during the next morning.  We have as yet no particulars of the affair though one or two dispatches received this morning indicate that it is more of a success for us than we at first supposed.”

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