Lincoln Meets with Delaware Leaders

August 13, 1862

As a small slaveholding Border State, Delaware did not often consume the President’s attention – except in the winter of 1861-1862 when president Lincoln sought to promote compensated emancipation of slaves in the states.  Today, a delegation of state leaders meets at the White House to discuss the state’s contribution to military affairs.  The next day, Congressman George P. Fisher, a Unionist, writes President Lincoln a followup to the White House meeting:

You requested our delegation from Delaware, that before leaving this city, they should submit to you in writing the desires of our friends in that state respecting the calls for troops. All of them except myself have left; but before leaving they desired me to express to you our views, which are as follows.

1st That the time for drafting may be extended till the 15th day of September.

2d That the 3d Delaware Regiment (now in the field) which was over and above the quota which we were called upon to furnish, prior to the recent calls might be set down to the credit of the state, as part of the quota required of her under the calls for 30 0,000 additional volunteers.

3d That Col: Grimshaw may have till the 15th day of September to fill up the 4th Delaware Regiment and that it also be credited as above.

4th That the battery of artillery now just made up by Capt Ben. Shields also be so credited.

5th That the Battalion of Cavalry, for the raising of which an order was yesterday issued to N. B. Knight Esq, when raised may be credited as above if necessary to make up the quota of additional volunteers; or if not so necessary then that it be set off against an equal number of militia called for under the recent order.

6th That none of the troops now being organized or hereafter to be raised shall be removed from the State of Delaware until after the election to be held on the 4th day of Novr next.

Let them be placed in a camp of instruction under Genl Lockwood3 who is now a brigadier with only or less than one Regiment of Maryland Home Guards under him stationed at Eastville Virginia; or if the new levies shall be removed from the state that they and the three Regts. now in the field may be allowed to return home to vote.

7th That the drafting be made under the Marshall of the district & not by Comrs. &c appointed by the Governor.

8th That the officers of the Vols. & Militia all be appointed by the War Dept. & not by the Governor.

I deem it my duty to say that with the present programme we do but waste our strength in Delaware by offering opposition to the Disunionists in Delaware at the approaching election. We have but 16,000 voters in the state all told; and of these we have sent already 2,000 men into the field if not more. The present arrangement will diminish our strength from 500 to 1000 votes. Two years ago I had only a plurality of 247 votes while the majority against me was more than 400– You may very readily see how slim will be our chances to carry the election in favor of the administration, if, in addition to the loss of voters already sustained by enlistments we now be turned over to our opponents to finish the work against us by fraudulent drafting, which we know must be the case if it be conducted by our Governor.

I feel free to add, that although I confidently expect every vote in our nominating state convention to be cast for me on Tuesday next, as at present advised I shall feel it my duty to myself to decline a canvass, in which the administration we have done all in our power to sustain shall turn us over to the fury of our enemies.

President Lincoln was not pleased by Fisher’s letter.  He would write on August 16: “I was painfully surprised by your letter, handed me by the P. M. G.; because the Secretary of War, who saw you after I did, had assured me, that you and accompanying friends, were fully satisfied with what he had undertaken to do – Since receiving your letter, I have seen him again, and he again assures me that such was his understanding–. I went over your eight points with him to see which he accepted, and which he rejected.”  Lincoln closed the letter by writing: “I do hope you will not indulge a thought which will admit of your saying the Administration turns you over to the fury of your enemies.  You certainly I know I wish your success as much as you can wish it yourself.”

Published in: on August 13, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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