President Lincoln Arrives to Meet General McClellan Before He Gets Out of Bed

September 7, 1862

An early-rising President Lincoln visits General George B. McClellan but finds him still asleep.   Later,  Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles visits the White House.  He writes in his diary: “From what I have seen and heard within the last few days, the more highly do I appreciate the President’s judgement and sagacity in the stand he made, and the course he took.   Stanton has carried his dislike or hatred of McC. to great lengths, and from free intercourse with Chase has enlisted him, and to some extent influenced all of us against that officer, who has failings enough to his own to bear without the addition of Stanton’s enmity to his own infirmities.  Seward, in whom McC. has confided more than any member of the Administration, from the common belief that Seward was supreme, yielded to Stanton’s malignant feelings, and yet, not wiling to encounter that officer, he went off to Auburn, expecting the General would be disposed of whilst he was away.  The President, who, like the rest of us, has sen and felt McClellan’s deficiencies and has heard Stanton’s and Halleck’s complaints more than we have, finally, and I think not unwillingly, consented to bring Pope here in front of Washington; was also further persuaded by Stanton and Chase to recall the army from Richmond and turn the troops over to Pope.  Most of this originated, and has been matured in the War Department, Stanton and Chase being the pioneers, Halleck assenting, the President and Seward under stress of McClellan’s disease ‘the slows,’ and with the reverses before Richmond, falling in with the idea that a change of commanders and a change of base was necessary.  The recall of the army from the vicinity of Richmond I though wrong, and I know it was in opposition to the opinion of the best military men in the service.  Placing Pope over them roused the indignation of many.  But in this Stanton had a purpose to accomplish, and in bringing first Pope here, then by Pope’s assistance and General Scott’s advice bringing Halleck, and concerting measures which followed, he succeeded in breaking down and displacing McClellan, but not in dismissing and disgracing him.  This the President would not do or permit to be done, though he was more offended with McC. than he ever was before.  In a brief conversation with him as we were walking together on Friday, the President said with much emphasis: ‘I must have McClellan to reorganize the army and bring it out of chaos, but there has been a design, a purpose in breaking down Pope, without regard of consequences to the country.  It is shocking to see and know this, but there is no remedy at present, McClellan has the army with him.

My convictions are with the President that McClellan and his generals are this day stronger than the Administration with a considerable portion of this Army of the Potomac.  It is not so elsewhere with the soldiers, or in the country, where McClellan has lost favor…

Chase and myself found the President alone this Sunday morning.  We canvassed fully the condition of the army and country.  Chase took an early opportunity, since the report of Pope was suppressed, to urge upon the President the propriety of some announcement of the facts connected with the recent battles….I at once comprehended why Chase had invited me to accompany him in this visit.  It was that it might appear that we were united on this mission.  I therefore promptly stated that this was the first time I had heard the subject broached.”

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Published in: on September 7, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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