President Lincoln Anxious about Military Campaigns in Virginia and South Carolina

April 14, 1863

President Lincoln writes General Joseph Hooker, commander of the Army of the Potomac: “Would like to have a letter from you as soon as convenient.”  Hooker responds: “I had supposed the enemy were attacking [John J.] Peck to prevent his reenforcing [John G.] Foster; but if with the numbers alleged, it must be for a more important purpose. As soon as [George] Stoneman’s designs are discovered to the enemy, Peck will be relieved. The enemy have not to exceed 30,000 men between Richmond and Suffolk, including both of those towns.”   Two days earlyer, Stoneman had been ordered to try to ride around the Confederate left flank.

Despite recent setbacks on the attack on Charleston, President Lincoln writes General David Hunter and Admiral Samuel Du Pont to order continue of operations against the South Carolina port: “This is intended to clear up an apparent inconsistency between the recent order to continue operations before Charleston and the former one to move to another point in a certain contingency. No censure upon you or either of you is intended. We still hope that by cordial and judicious co-operation you can take the batteries on Morris island and SullivansIsland and FortSumpter. But whether you can or not we wish the demonstration kept up for a time for a collateral and very important object– We wish the attempt to be a real one (though not a desperate one) if it affords any considerable chance of success– But if prosecuted as a demonstration only, this must not become public, or the whole effect will be lost– Once again — before Charleston do not leave till further orders from here. Of course this is not intended to force you to leave unduly exposed Hilton Head or other near points in your charge.”

Two days later, Du Pont writes: “I am…painfully struck by the tenor and tone of the President’s order, which seems to imply a censure, and I have to request that the Department will not hesitate to relieve me by an officer who…is more able to execute that service in which I have had the misfortune to fail–the capture of Charlestown…”

President Lincoln is also concerned with Louisiana after a visit from Congressman John E. Bouligny.   He writes Bouligny: “I did not certainly know the object of your call yesterday, but I had a strong impression in regard to it. When our national troubles began you and I were not personally acquainted; but all I heard of you placed you, in my estimation, foremost among Louisianians, as a friend of the Union. I intended to find you a position, and I did not conceal my inclination to do so. When, last autumn, you bore a letter from me to some parties at New-Orleans, you seemed to expect, and consequently I did expect, you would return here as a member of one or the other branch of Congress. But you were not so returned; and this negative evidence, with other of like character, brings me to think that the Union people there, for some reason, prefer others for the places there [here?]. Add to this that the Head of the Department here, in which finding a place for you was contemplated, is not satisfied for the appointment to be made, and it presents, as you see an embarrassing case for me. My personal feelings for Mr. Bouligny are not less kind than heretofore.”

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Published in: on April 14, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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