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.