Cabinet Reviews Military Situation

October 7, 1862

At a noon Cabinet meeting, President Lincoln recounts his recent trip to the Army of Potomac.  Other military situations are also reviewed.   Navy Secretary Gideon Welles writes in his diary: A number of highly respectable persons in Maine memorialized the President in behalf of George Henry Preble, recently dismissed, desiring his restoration.  Submitted the memorial, which had been inclosed to me by Senator Fessenden with a request I would do so in a pretty earnest letter.  The President read it through, and said no one could be dismissed or punished without bringing up a host of sympathizing friends to resist the unpleasant but necessary action of the Government and make the victim a martyr.  Said he would do nothing in this case unless I advised it.”

General George B. McClellan, under pressure to be more supportive of the Emancipation Proclamation (which McClellan opposed) writes President Lincoln “I have issued the following order on your proclamation.

‘Hd Quarters Army Potomac Camp near Sharpsburg Md Oct 7th 1862 Genl Order No. 163.  The attention of the officers & soldiers of the Army of the Potomac is called to Genl Order No. 139 War Dept Sept 24th 1862, publishing to the Army the Presidents proclamation of Sept 22d.

A proclamation of such grave moment to the Nation officially communicated to the Army affords to the Genl Commanding an opportunity of defining specifically to the officers & soldiers under his Command the relation borne by all persons in the Military service of the U.S. towards the Civil Authorities of the Government.  The Constitution confides to the Civil Authorities legislative judicial and executive, the power and duty of making expounding & executing the federal laws.  Armed forces are raised & supported simply to sustain the Civil Authorities and are to be held in strict subordination thereto in all respects.  This fundamental rule of our political system is essential to the security of our Republican Institutions & should be thoroughly understood & observed by every soldier. The principle upon which & the objects for which Armies shall be employed in suppressing Rebellion must be determined & declared by the Civil Authorities and the Chief Executive, who is charged with the administration of the National affairs, is the proper & only source through which the views & order of the Government can be made known to the Armies of the Nation.  Discussions by officers & soldiers concerning public measures determined upon and declared by the Government when carried at all beyond temperate and respectful expressions of opinion tend greatly to impair & destroy the discipline & efficiency of troops by substituting the spirit of political faction for that firm steady & earnest support of the Authority of the Government which is the highest duty of the American soldier.  The remedy for political error if any are committed is to be found only in the action of the people at the polls.  In thus calling the attention of this Army to the true relation between the soldiers and the Government the Genl Commanding merely adverts to an evil against which it has been thought advisable during our whole history to guard the Armies of the Republic & in so doing he will [not] be considered by any right minded person as casting any reflection upon that loyalty & good conduct which has been so fully illustrated upon so many battle field.  In carrying out all measures of public policy this Army will of course be guided by the same rules of mercy and Christianity that have ever controlled its conduct toward the defenceless.

President Lincoln writes McClellan: “You wish to see your family, and I wish to oblige you. It might be left to your own discretion – certainly so, if Mrs. M. could meet you here at Washington.”  The president also writes General Ulysses S. Grant regarding Richard Oglesby, who had engineered Lincoln’s Illinois endorsement for the Republican presidential nomination in early May 1860: “I congratulate you and all concerned on your recent battles and victories. How does it all sum up?  I especially regret the death of Gen. Hackelman; and am very anxious to know the condition of Gen. Oglesby, who is an intimate personal friend.”

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

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