President Lincoln Focuses On Maryland Military Situation

September 12, 1862

While trying to calm panic, President Lincoln anxiously monitors development by General George B. McClellan’s forces maneuvering in Maryland.  At 4 A.M., Lincoln wires McClellan: “How does it look now?”  Later, Lincoln writes the general:  “Receiving nothing from Harper’s Ferry or Martinsburg to-day, and positive information from Wheeling that the line is cut, corroborates the idea that the enemy is recrossing the Potomac. Please do not let him get off without being hurt.”

McClellan writes President Lincoln:“You will have learned by my telegrams to Genl Halleck that we hold Frederick & the line of the Monocacy. I have taken all possible means to communicate with harper’s Ferry so that I may send to its relief if necessary.  Cavalry are in pursuit of the Westminister party with orders to catch them at all hazards. The main body of my cavalry & horse artillery are ordered after the enemy’s main column with orders to check its march as much as possible that I may overtake it.  If Harper’s Ferry is still in our possession I think I can save the garrison if they fight at all.  If the rebels are really moving into Penna I shall soon be up with them.  My apprehension is that they may make for Williamsport & get across the river before I can catch them.”

Lincoln writes Pennsylvania Governor Andrew G. Curtin: “Your despatch asking for eighty thousand disciplined troops to be sent to Pennsylvania is received. Please consider. We have not to exceed eighty thousand disciplined troops, properly so called, this side of the mountains, and most of them, with many of the new regiments, are now close in the rear of the enemy supposed to be invading Pennsylvania. Start half of them to Harrisburg, and the enemy will turn upon and beat the remaining half, and then reach Harrisburg before the part going there, and beat it too when it comes. The best possible security for Pennsylvania is putting the strongest force possible into the enemies rear.”

Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase complains in his diary: “It is a bad state of things; but neither the President, his counsellors nor his commanding generals seem to care.  They rush on from expense to expense and from defeat to defeat, heedless of the abyss of bankruptcy and ruin which yawns before us–so easily shunned, yet seemingly so sure to engulf us.  May God open the eyes of those who control, before it is too late!”  Chase continued: “Called at President’s, and spoke to him of leave of absence to Cameron. He referred me to Seward, to whom I went, and was informed that leave was sent by last steamer.–We talked on many things—Barney’s appointments, conduct of the war, &c., &c.–Engaged to go together tomorrow, and urge expedition to C[haresto]n.–He said some one had proposed that the President should issue a Proclamation, on the invasion of Pennsylvania, freeing all the Apprentices of that State, or with some similar object.  I thought the jest ill-timed.

Published in: on September 12, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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