Cabinet Discusses Military Affairs in the West

September 9, 1862

Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase writes in his diary: “Went to President’s to attend Cabinet meeting, but there was only a talk.  I proposed the creation of a Department beyond the Mississippi and that Clay be placed in command, with whom Frank P. Blair should be associated; and that an Expedition should be organized to Petersburgh and afterwards to Charleston.”   President Lincoln visits the headquarters of General-in-chief Henry W. Halleck.

General George B. McClellan writes his wife about his military martyrdom: “You don’t know what a task has been imposed upon me!  I have been obliged to do the best I could with the broken & discouraged fragments of two armies defeated by no fault of mine — nothing but a desire to do my duty could have induced me to accept the command under such circumstances — not feeling at all sure that I could do anything I felt that under the circumstances no one else could save the country, & I have not shrunk from the terrible task.  Pope has subsided into oblivion with the contempt of all — he has proved to be a perfect failure & all acknowledge it. [General Irvin] McDowell had to flee for his life — his own men would have killed him had he made his appearance among them — even his staff did not dare to go among his men.  Did you ever hear of a more striking instance of retributive justice — the man who wickedly turned against me when I had done all I could to aid him has now no friends left — utterly despised, entirely lost, he has also been consigned to oblivion — I can afford to forgive & forget him.   …[Pope & McDowell] are responsible for the lives of many of my best & bravest men – -they had done all they could (unintentionally I hope) to ruin & destroy the country — I can never forgive them for that.”  The Union commander when on to complain that “it is something of a triumph that my enemies have been put down so completely, & if to that I can add the defeat of secesh I think I ought to be entitled to fall back into private life.”

 

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