General John Pope Defends His Actions

September 4, 1862

An angry General John Pope, who commanded the Union Army in its defeat at the second Battle of Bull Run, meets at the White House with President.   Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles writes in his diary: “When with the President this A.M. heard Pope read his statement of what had taken place in Virginia during the last few weeks, commencing at or before the battle of Cedar Mountain.  It was not exactly a bulletin nor a report, but a manifesto, a narrative, tinged with wounded pride and a keen sense of injustice and wrong.  The draft, he said, was rough.  It certainly needs modifying before it goes out, or there will be war among the generals, who are now more ready to fight each other than the enemy.  No one was present but the President, Pope, and myself.  I remained by special request of  both to hear the report read.  Seward came in for a moment, but immediately left.  He shuns these controversies and all subjects where he is liable to become personally involved.  I have no doubt Stanton and Chase have seen the paper, and Seward, through Stanton, knows it character.”   Pope and the President later go to the War Department to consult with Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton.

In a unique note written about this time, Lincoln observes: “The will of God prevails.  In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God.  Both may be, and one must be wrong.  God can not be for, and against the same thing at the same time.  In the present civil war it is quite possible that God’s purpose is something different from the purpose of either party–and yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they do, are of the best adaptation to effect His purpose.  I am almost ready to say this is probably true–that God wills this contest, and wills that it shall not end yet.  By his mere quiet power, on the minds of the now contestants.  He could have either saved or destroyed the Union without a human contest.  Yet the contest began.  And having begun He could give the final victory either side any day.  Yet the contest proceeds.”

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Published in: on September 4, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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