President Lincoln Deals with Issues of Confiscation, War and Recruitment

July 1, 1862

As the end of the congressional session approached, President Lincoln confronted the question of whether he would sign or veto the Second Confiscation Act.  Illinois Senator Orville H. Browning writes: “Immediately after breakfast went to the Presidents with Uri Manly.   Saw the President alone, and had a talk with him in regard to the Confiscation bills before us. He read me a paper embodying his views of the objects of war, and the proper mode of conducting it in its relations to slavery.  This, he told me, he had sketched hastily with the intention of laying it before the Cabinet.   His views coincided entirely with my own.  No negroes necessarily taken and escaping during the war are ever to be returned to slavery – No inducement are to be held out to them to come into our lines for they come now faster than we can provide for them and are becoming an embarrassment to the government.

At present none are to be armed. It would produce dangerous & fatal dissatisfaction in our army, and do more injury than good.
Congress has no power over slavery in the states, and so much of it as remains after the war is over will be in precisely the same condition that it was before the war began, and must be left to the exclusive control of the states where it may exist.

President Lincoln writes General George B. McClellan in Virginia in response to his demands for thousands of new troops: “It is impossible to re-inforce you for your present emergency.  If we had a million of men we could not get them to you in time.  We have not the men to send.  If you are not strong enough to face the enemy you must find a place of security, and wait, rest, and repair.  Maintain your ground if you can; but save the Army at all events, even if you fall back to Fortress-Monroe.  We still have strength in the country, and will bring it out.” McClellan writes General Lorenzo Thomas in Washington:

“If it is the intention of the Government to reinforce me largely, it should be done promptly and in mass.  I need fifty thousand 50,000 more men, and with them I will retrieve our fortunes.  More would be well, but that number sent at once, will, I think enable me to assume the offensive.  I cannot too strongly urge the necessity of prompt action in this matter.  Even a few thousand fresh men within the next twenty four or forty eight hours, will do much towards relieving & encouraging this wearied army, which has been engaged in constant combat for the last five or six days.  I must apologize for the incoherency of this letter.  I am exhausted by want of sleep and constant anxiety for many days.

Meanwhile, a group of northern governors, instigated by the Lincoln Administration, call for raising more troops: “The undersigned, Governors of States of the Union, impressed with the belief that the citizens of the States which they respectively represent are of one accord in the hearty desire that the recent successes of the Federal arms may be followed up by measures which must insure the speedy restoration of the Union; and believing that in view of the present state of the important military movements now in progress and the reduced condition of our effective forces in the field, resulting from the usual and unavoidable casualties of the service, that the time has arrived for prompt and vigorous measures to be adopted by the people in support of the great interests committed to your charge, we respectfully request, if it meets with your entire approval, that you at once call upon the several States for such number of men as may in your judgment be necessary to garrison and hold all of the numerous cities and military positions that have been captured by our armies, and to speedily crush the rebellion that still exists in several of Southern States, thus practically restoring to the civilized world our great and good Government.  All believe that the decisive moment is near at hand, and to that end the people of the United States are desirous to aid promptly in furnishing all re-enforcements that you may deem needful to sustain our Government.”

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Published in: on July 1, 2012 at 12:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

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