President Lincoln Reviews Situation in Tennessee

October 31, 1862

President Lincoln responds to a request by Tennessee Military Governor Andrew Johnson  for more troops: “Yours of the 29th. received. I shall take it to Gen. Halleck; but I already know it will be very inconvenient to take Gen. Morgan’s command from where it now is. I am glad to hear you speak hopefully for Tennessee. I sincerely hope Rosecrans may find it possible to do something for her.”  He added that “`David Nelson’ son of the M.C. of your state, regrets his father’s final defection, and asks me for a situation. Do you know him? Could he be of service to you, or to Tennessee, in any capacity in which I could send him?”  On October 29, Governor Johnson had telegraphed the president: “General [George W.] Morgan’s entire command ought to be sent to Tennessee, and if not, all the Tennessee regiments should be sent. They are the troops we need here. Press the importance of sending these regiments to Tennessee upon General Halleck. I know if his attention is called to it he will not hesitate one moment. Let them come and we will redeem East Tennessee before Christmas. East Tennessee must be redeemed. I have much to say upon this subject at the proper time. Let sufficient forces be sent to Nashville. It must and can be held. I will communicate fully all that has transpired as soon as mail facilities are restored.”

General George B. McClellan writes his wife: “If I am successful in this campaign I think it will end in driving Stanton out — as he was good enough to say that he held office only for the purpose of crushing me, it will afford me great pleasure if I can in any honorable & open way be instrumental in consigning the rascal to the infamous fate he deserves.  If I can crush him I will — relentlessly & without remorse.”

Published in: on October 31, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

General McClellan Reports Army Crossing the Potomac

October 30, 1862

General George B. McClellan writes to President Lincoln: General Thomas “Reynolds has crossed.  All the Army is in motion to follow the general movement.  OI ask your attention to my dispatches calling the notice of the General in Chief to the insufficiency of the preparations I leave behind me for resisting a raid, also to the fact that we are to have no reinforcements for the old Penna regts from the drafted men.  No greater mistake has been made than the total failure to reinforce the old regiments.  Please remember that I have clearly stated what troops I leave behind & that I regard the number insufficient to prevent a raid & that while the responsibility has been thrown upon me by General Halleck he has given me only limited means to accomplish the object.

I write this only to place the responsibility where it belongs & wish you to show this to Genl Halleck.  I also wish before entering upon this important campaign again to inform you that I am most ill provided with cavalry & artillery horses, & that any statements to the effect that I have received for the active army under my command more than (2500) twenty five hundred horses for cavalry & artillery are totally untrue & that it is not until today that I have clothing enough in hand to supply the pressing wants of my men.

Destructive diseases are breaking out among the horses.

President Lincoln writes Pennsylvania Governor Andrew G. Curtin: “By some means I have not seen your despatch of the 27th. about order No. 154, till this moment. I now learn, what I knew nothing of before, that the history of the order is as follows, towit. Gen. McClellan telegraphed asking Gen. Halleck to have the order made. Gen. Halleck went to the Sec. of War with it, stating his approval of the plan, the Secretary assented, and Gen. Halleck wrote the order. It was a military question which the Secretary supposed the Generals understood better than he. I wish I could see Gov. Curtin.”

Governor Curtin had  protested against army orders “as unjust to the people of the States, and calculated to demoralize and destroy volunteer organizations.”  The orders stated “The commanding officer of each regiment, battalion, and battery of the Regular Army in the field, will appoint one or more recruiting officers, who are hereby authorized to enlist, with their own consent, the requisite number of efficient volunteers to fill the ranks of their command to the legal standard.”  Lincoln referred Curtin’s telegram to the Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, who responds: ‘The protest of Governor Curtin is ill advised, revolutionary and tends to excite discontent and mutiny in the army and in my judgment should be severely rebuked by the President.”

President Lincoln writes the Grand Duke of Baden: “I have received the letter which Your Royal Highness was pleased to address to me on the 27th. of last month, announcing the marriage of Her Grand Ducal Highness the Princess Leopoldine of Baden, with His Most Serene Highness the Prince Hermann of Hohenloe Langenburg. I participate in the satisfaction afforded by this happy event, and pray Your Royal Highness to accept my sincere congratulations.”

Published in: on October 30, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

President Lincoln Assigns Responsibility to Supreme Court

October 29, 1862

President Lincoln writes: “Two associate justices of the Supreme Court of the United States having been appointed since the last adjournment of said court, and consequently no allotment of the members of said court to the several circuits having been made by them, according to the fifth section of the act of Congress entitled “An act to amend the judicial system of the United States,” approved April 29, 1802, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, in virtue of said section, do make an allotment of the justices of said court to the circuits now existing by law, as follows:

For the first circuit: Nathan Clifford, associate justice.

For the second circuit: Samuel Nelson, associate justice.

For the third circuit: Robert C. Grier, associate justice.

For the fourth circuit: Roger B. Taney, Chief Justice.

For the fifth circuit: James M. Wayne, associate justice.

For the sixth circuit: John Catron, associate justice.

For the seventh circuit: Noah H. Swayne, associate justice.

For the eighth circuit: David Davis, associate justice.

For the ninth circuit: Samuel F. Miller, associate justice.

President Lincoln writes General George B. McClellan: “Your despatches of night before last, yesterday, & last night, all received. I am much pleased with the movement of the Army. When you get entirely across the river let me know. What do you know of the enemy?” McClellan  wrote his wife:  “It will not do for me to visit Washn now — the tone of the telegrams I receive from the authorities is such as to show that they will take advantage of anything possible to do me all the harm they can & if I went down I should at once be accused by the Presdt of purposely delaying the movement.  Moreover the condition of things is such that I ought not to leave just now — the army is in the midst of the preliminary movements for the main march & I must be at hand in this critical moment of the operation.”  He added:

If you could know the mean & dirty character of the dispatches I receive you would boil over with anger — when it is possible to misunderstand, & when it is not possible, whenever there is a chance of a wretched innuendo — there it comes.  But the good of the country requires me to submit to all this from men whom I know to be greatly my inferiors socially, intellectually & morally!  There never was a truer epithet applied to a certain individual than that of the ‘Gorilla.’”

Published in: on October 29, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Senator Sumner Express Confidence in President Emancipation Policy

October 28, 1962

Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner writes British statesman John Bright: “The Presdt. is in earnest.  He has no thought of any backward step.  Of this be assured.  Since I last wrote you I have been in Washington, where I saw him daily, & became acquainted precisely with his position at that time.  There is nobody in the cabinet who is for ‘backing down.’  It is not talked of or thought of.

The Presdt. was brought slowly to the Proclamation.  It was written six weeks before it was put forth, & delayed, waiting for a victory; & the battle of Antietam was so regarded.  I protested against the delay, & wished it to be put forth — the sooner the better — without any reference to our military condition.  In the cabinet it was at first opposed strenuously by Seward, who, from the beginning has failed to see this war in its true character, & whose contrivances & anticipation have been merely those of a politician, who did not see the elemental forces engaged.  But he countersigned the Proclamation, which was written by the Presdt himself, as you may infer from the style.”

Sumner adds: “The hesitation of the Administration to adopt the policy of Emancipation led democrats to feel that the President was against it & they have gradually rallied.  I think a more determined policy months ago would have prevented them from shewing their heads.  The President himself has played the part of the farmer in the fable who warmed the frozen snake at his fire.”

The case is being made against General George B. McClellan. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton writes to General Henry W. Halleck: “It has been publicly stated that the army under General McClellan has been unable to move during the fine weather of this fall for want of shoes, clothing, and other supplies.  You will please report to this Department upon the following points:

1st.  To whom and in what manner the requisitions for supplies to the army under General McClellan have been made since you assumed command as General-in-Chief, and whether any requisition for supplies of any kind has since that time been made upon the Secretary of War or communication had with him except through you.

2c.  If you, as General-in-Chief, have taken pains to ascertain the condition of the army in respect to supplies of shoes, clothing, arms and other necessaries, and whether there has been any neglect or delay by any Department or bureau in filling the requisitions for supplies, and what has been is the condition of that army as compared with other armies in respect to supplies.

3d. At what date after the battle of Antietam the orders to advance against the enemy were given to General McClellan, and how often have they been repeated.

4th.  Whether, in your opinion, there has been any want in the army under General McClellan of shoes, clothing, arms or other equipments or supplies that ought to have prevented its advance against the enemy when the order was given.

5th How long was it after the orders to advance were given to General McClellan before he informed you that any shoes or clothing were wanted in his army, and what are his means of promptly communicating the wants of the army to you or to the proper bureaus of the War Department.

Published in: on October 28, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

October 27, 1862

President Lincoln writes General  George B. McClellan: “Yours of yesterday received. Most certainly I intend no injustice to any; and if I have done any, I deeply regret it. To be told after more than five weeks total inaction of the Army, and during which period we had sent to that Army every fresh horse we possibly could, amounting in the whole to 7918 that the cavalry horses were too much fatigued to move, presented a very cheerless, almost hopeless, prospect for the future; and it may have forced something of impatience into my despatches. If not recruited, and rested then, when could they ever be? I suppose the river is rising, and I am glad to believe you are crossing.”

General McClellan writes: “Your excellency is aware of the very great reduction of numbers that has taken place in most of the old regiments of this command, and how necessary it is to fill up these skeletons before taking them again into action. I have the honor to request that the order to fill up the old regiments with drafted men may at once be issued.

Lincoln writes McClellan: “Your dispatch of 3 p.m. to-day, in regard to filling up old regiments with drafted men, is received, and the request therein shall be complied with as far as practicable. And now I ask a distinct answer to the question, Is it your purpose not to go into action again until the men now being drafted in the States are incorporated into the old regiments?” General McClellan writes to President Lincoln: “I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatch of 5.10 pm today.  Feeling deeply impressed with the importance of filling up the old regiments at the earliest practicable moment, I have upon several different occasions urged this measure upon the War Dept as well as upon Your Excellency, as the most speedy and effectual method of giving us effective troops for future operations.  Some time ago an agent of the Governor of Pennsylvania informed me that an order from the War Dept was necessary to authorize the transfer of drafted men to the old regiments.  On the 17 inst I requested Gen Halleck to have the necessary order given. I received no reply to this, and learned this afternoon that no such order had been issued.  In the press of business I then called an aide and tell him that I had conversed with you upon this subject, I directed him to write for me a dispatch asking Your Excellent to have the necessary order given I regret to say that this officer after writing the dispatch, finding me still engaged, sent it to the telegraph office without first submitting it to me, under the impression that he had communicated my views.  He however unfortunately added ‘before taking them into action again.’  This phrase was not authorized or intended by me.  It has conveyed altogether an erroneous impression as to my plans and intentions.”

To Your Excellency’s question I answer distinctly that I have not and have not had any idea of postponing the advance until the old regiments are filled by drafted men.

I commenced crossing the Army into Virginia yesterday and shall push forward as rapidly as possible to endeavor to meet the enemy.  Burnside’s Corps and part of Slocum’s have been crossing yesterday and today, and Reynolds’ Corps is ready to follow.  Pleasonton with the cavalry is at Purcellville this evening.  The crossing will be continued as rapidly as the means at hand will permit.  Nothing but the physical difficulties of the operation shall delay it.

President Lincoln writes on behalf of a Harvard classmate of son Robert Todd Lincoln: “Mr. [Henry M.] Rogers wishes to be an Asst. Paymaster in the Navy. I know not whether there is a vacancy. The within shows that my son “Bob” has a high opinion of him.”  The appointment was made in early November.

Published in: on October 27, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

General McClellan and President Lincoln Exchange Telegrams

October 26, 1862

Presidential assistant John G. Nicolay writes fellow aide John Hay: “Nothing new of importance.  The treadmill goes round as usual.  The President keeps poking sharp sticks under little Mac’s ribs, and has screwed up his courage to the point of beginning to cross the [Potomac] river today.”  General George B. McClellan writes his wife: “I moved a respectable number of troops across the Potomac today — the beginning of the general movement, which will however require several days to accomplish — for the cavalry is still terribly off.  I was mad as a ‘march hare’ yesterday at a telegram received from the Presdt asking what my ‘cavalry had done since the battle of Antietam to fatigue anything’ — it was one of those dirty little flings that I can’t get used to when they are not merited.”

President Lincoln follows up to his inquiry regarding the health of horses in the Army of the Potomac: “Yours in reply to mine about horses received. Of course you know the facts better than I, still two considerations remain. Stuart’s cavalry outmarched ours, having certainly done more marked service on the Peninsula, and everywhere since. Secondly, will not a movement of our army be a relief to the cavalry, compelling the enemy to concentrate, instead of “foraging” in squads everywhere?”  He added: “I am so rejoiced to learn from your despatch to Gen. Halleck, that you begin crossing the river this morning.”

President Lincoln was also perturbed by military inaction in Kentucky. Presidential aide Nicolay writes his finance: “The President is subjected to all sorts of annoyances.  Going into his room this morning to announce the Secretary of War, I found a little party of Quakers holding a prayer-meeting around him, and he was compelled to bear the infliction until the ‘spirit’ moved them to stop.  Isn’t it strange that so many and such intelligent people often have so little common sense.”

About this date, English Quaker Eliza P. Gurney, conducts a prayer meeting at the White House.  Historian Wayne C. Temple observed in that she “was an English Quaker, a writer on religious matters and a philanthropist.  She ended the audience by kneeling and praying for God to guide Abraham Lincoln.”  Lincoln writes Gurney: “I am glad of this interview, and glad to know that I have your sympathy and prayers. We are indeed going through a great trial—a fiery trial. In the very responsible position in which I happen to be placed, being a humble instrument in the hands of our Heavenly Father, as I am, and as we all are, to work out his great purposes, I have desired that all my works and acts may be according to his will, and that it might be so, I have sought his aid—but if after endeavoring to do my best in the light which he affords me, I find my efforts fail, I must believe that for some purpose unknown to me, He wills it otherwise If I had had my way, this war would never have been commenced; If I had been allowed my way this war would have been ended before this, but we find it still continues; and we must believe that He permits it for some wise purpose of his own, mysterious and unknown to us; and though with our limited understandings we may not be able to comprehend it, yet we cannot but believe, that he who made the world still governs it.”

Published in: on October 26, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

President Lincoln and General McClellan Exchange Correspondence

October 25, 1862

General George B. McClellan responds to President Lincoln’s sarcastic question of the previous day about the inaction of federal cavalry: “In reply to your telegram of this date, I have the honor to state that from the time this Army left Washington on the 7th of Sept my Cavalry has been constantly employed in making reconnaissances, scouting and picketing.  Since the battle of Antietam six Regiments have made one trip of two hundred miles, marching fifty five miles in one day while endeavoring to reach Stewart’s Cavalry.  General Pleasanton in his official report, states that he with the remainder of our available Cavalry while on Stewart’s track marched seventy eight miles in twenty four hours.  Besides these two remarkable expeditions our Cavalry has been engaged in picketing and scouting one hundred and fifty miles or river front, even since the battle of Antietam, and has made repeated reconnaissances since that time, engaging the enemy on every occasion.  Indeed it has performed harder service since the battle than before.  I beg you will also consider that this same Cavalry was brought from the Peninsula where it encountered most laborious service and was at the commencement of this campaign in low condition and from that time to the present it has had no time to recruit.

If any instance can be found where overworked Cavalry has performed more labor than mine since the battle of Antietam I am not conscious of it.”

General George B. McClellan writes General-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck: “As the moment is at hand for the advance of this Army a question arises for the decision of the General in Chief, which although perhaps implicitly decided by the President in his letter of the 13th should be clearly presented by me as I do not regard it as in my province to determine it.  This question is the extent to which the line of the Potomac should be guarded after this Army leaves, in order to cover Maryland and Pennsylvania from invasion by large or small parties of the enemy.  It will always be somewhat difficult to guard the immediate line of the river, owing to its great extent and the numerous passages which exist.  It has long appeared to me that the best way of covering this line would be occupying Front Royal, Strasburg, Wardensville and Moorefield at the debouches of the several vallies in which they are situated.  These points, or suitable places in their vicinity, should be strongly intrenched and permanently held.  One great advantage of this arrangement would be the covering of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and an essential part of the system would be the construction of the link of railway from Winchester to Strasburg, and the rebuilding of the Manassas Gap Railway bridge over the Shenandoah.  He intrechment of Manassas Junction would complete the system for the defence of the approaches to Washington and the Upper Potomac.  Many mothers ago I recommended this arrangement, in fact gave orders for it to be carried into effect.  I still regard it as essential under all circumstances.

The view of the Chief Engineer of this Army in regard to the defences and Garrisons of Harper’s Ferry and its dependencies are in your possession.  The only troops under my command outside of the organization of the Army of the Potomac are the Maryland Bridge…

President Lincoln was also busy commuting military sentences.  In an “Order Disapproving Death Sentence of Jose Maria Rivas,” President Lincoln writes: “Waiving the question of jurisdiction in the case, the sentence is not approved, because the accused is not shown to have been within our lines in disguise, or by false pretense, except by hearsay testimony; and because in his admission that he was a “Spy,” he may not have understood the technical term, and may have meant no more than that he was a scout of the enemy. He clearly is a prisoner of war.”   Rivas had been arrested as a spy in New Mexico.  In an “Order Mitigating Death Sentence of Sely Lewis,” President Lincoln wrote: “So far as the sentence in the case relates to the accused as a Spy, it is disapproved, the Commission not having jurisdiction of the offense. The sentence of death is mitigated imprisonment for the term of six months, commencing this day.”

Published in: on October 25, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

President Lincoln Fatigued with Fatigued Horses

October 24, 1862

A clearly perturbed President Lincoln writes General McCellan: “I have just read your despatch about sore tongued and fatigued [sic] horses.  Will you pardon me for asking w hat the horses of your army have done since the battle of Antietam that fatigue anything?”

More sympathetically, President Lincoln writes a reference for his White House valet: “The bearer of this, William Johnson (colored), came with me from Illinois; and is a worthy man, as I believe.”  Johnson would continue in Lincoln’s service for more than another year.  After accompanying President Lincoln to Gettysburg in November 1863, both Lincoln and Johnson would come down with a form of smallpox.  Lincoln would recover.  Johnson would not and Lincoln would see to closing Johnson’s financial affairs and his burial in Arlington National Cemetery.

Published in: on October 24, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

President Lincoln Finds a Job for Young Woman

October 23, 1862

President Lincoln writes: “I shall be very glad if the Secretary of the Treasury, or any Head of a Department, or Bureau can, and will find employment for Miss. Sommers.”   She subsequently wins employment as an employee in the Treasury whose duties were counting notes and currency preparatory to burning.”

President Lincoln declined, on the other hand, to get the military involved in the critical New York State gubernatorial race.  James S. Wadsworth was the Union candidate for governor and Lyman Tremain the candidate for lieutenant governor.  Lincoln writes lawyer Ben Field: “Think your request cannot safely be granted.”  Field had written: “I am directed by this committee to represent to you that it is important that Genl [Franz] Sigel should visit this state and address one or more meetings in behalf of Wadsworth and Tremain. It is believed that this would influence favorably the result. He should come on as Early as the forepart of next week.”

Published in: on October 23, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

President Lincoln Reviews Union Troops in Virginia

October 22, 1862

In the afternoon, President Lincoln travels by  steamer to Alexandria about to review General Daniel Sickle’s division near contraband camp.

President Lincoln writes Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton regarding the cotton trade: “In this case I can say no more than that individuals should not be allowed to impose terms on purchasers of Cotten, beyond those contained in the rules established by the Government. If individuals are doing this, it should be stopped. Will the Sec. of War please look to it.”

Published in: on October 22, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment