President Lincoln Stymied by Army Inaction

October 20, 1862

Presidential aide John G. Nicolay writes: “We still have no exciting or startling changes here.  Everything goes on in its usual quiet way: the fine dry weather of the autumn is daily passing, and I discover no sign of life in the Army of the Potomac which gives me hope of adequate energy and activity.  The President is anxious that it should move and fight, and I still hope that even if [General George B.] McClelland refuses or neglect to take the responsibility, the President himself will give the order to ‘forward, march!’…

President continues tentative steps toward the reconstruction of Louisiana.  He issues an “Executive Order Establishing A Provisional Court in Louisiana”

The insurrection which has for some time prevailed in several of the State of this Union, including Louisiana, having temporarily subverted and swept away the civil institutions of that State, including the judiciary and the judicial authorities of the Union, so that it has become necessary to hold the State in military occupation, and it being indispensably necessary that there shall be some judicial tribunal existing there capable of administering justice, I have therefore thought it proper to appoint, and I do hereby constitute, a provisional court, which shall be a court of record, for the State of Louisiana, and I do hereby appoint Charles A. Peabody, of New York, to be a provisional judge to hold said court, with authority to hear, try, and determine all causes, civil and criminal, including causes in law, equity, revenue, and admiralty, and particularly all such powers and jurisdiction as belong to the district and circuit courts of the United States, conforming his proceedings so far as possible to the course of proceedings and practice which has been customary in the courts of the United States and Louisiana, his judgment to be final and conclusive. And I do hereby authorize and empower the said judge to make and establish such rules and regulations as may be necessary for the exercise of his jurisdiction, and empower the said judge to appoint a prosecuting attorney, marshal, and clerk of the said court, who shall perform the functions of attorney, marshal, and clerk according to such proceedings and practice as before-mentioned and such rules and regulations as may be made and established by said judge. These appointments are to continue during the pleasure of the President, not extending beyond the military occupation of the city of New Orleans or the restoration of the civil authority in that city and in the State of Louisiana. These officers shall be paid out of the contingent fund of the War Department compensation as follows: The judge, at the rate of $3500 per annum; the prosecuting attorney, including the fees, at the rate of $3000 per annum; the marshal, including the fees, at the rate of $3000 per annum, and the clerk, including the fees, at the rate of $2500 per annum; such compensations to be certified by the Secretary of War. A copy of this order, certified by the Secretary of War and delivered to such judge, shall be deemed and held to be a sufficient commission.

President Lincoln agrees to a plan by former Democratic Congressman John A. McClernand to raise additional troops in the Midwest for use in the Mississippi Valley.  The president writes: “This order, though marked confidential, may be shown by Gen. McClernand, to Governors, and even others, when, in his discretion, he believes so doing to be indispensable to the progress of the expedition. I add that I feel deep interest in the success of the expedition, and desire it to be pushed forward with all possible despatch, consistently with the other parts of the military service.”  The order by Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton stated:

“Ordered. That Major General McClernand be, and he is directed to proceed to the States of Indiana, Illinois and Iowa, to organize the troops remaining in those States and to be raised by volunteering or draft, and forward them with all despatch to Memphis, Cairo, or such other points as may hereafter be designated by the General-in-Chief—to the end, that when a sufficient force, not required by the operations of General Grant’s command, shall be raised, an expedition may be organized under General McClernand’s command against Vicksburg and to clear the Mississippi river and open navigation to New Orleans.

“The forces so organized will remain subject to the designation of the General-in-Chief, and be employed according to such exigencies as the service, in his judgment, may require.

McClernand’s appointment was viewed antagonistically by General-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck and other West Point-trained officers who viewed the Illinois political general with military disdain.

Published in: on October 20, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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