President Lincoln Concerned about Movements of the Army of the Potomac

April 27, 1863

President telegraphs General Joseph Hooker: “How does it look now?”  Hooker responds: “I fully appreciate the anxiety weighing upon you mind, and hasten to relieve you from so much of it as lies in my power.  You know that nothing would give me more pleasure than to keep you fully advised of every movement and every intended movement made and to be made by this Army, as is my duty to do.  But the country is so full of traitors, and there are so many whose desire it is to see this Army meet with no success, that it almost makes me tremble to disclose a thing concerning it to anyone except yourself.  Not that there are not many as true to the cause as yourself, but all have friends and there are not many as true to the cause as yourself; but all have friends and their fidelity I am not so sure of.  The following is what I have done and what I propose to do.  The 11th 12th & 5th Crops marched this morning, with what I propose to do. The 11th 12th & 5th Crops marched this morning, with instructions to take posts at Kelley’s Ford at 4 P.M. tomorrow.  The Ford being still deep for Artillery, a Ponton train will be in readiness to be thrown across the river, in season I hope, for one or two Corps to cross before morning and take the route to cross the Rapidan at Germania hills and the other Crops to cross at Ely’s Ford about the same night from Kelly’s Ford.  The corps march light, with their pack trains of small ammunition, leaving their wagon trains to be crossed on a more direct line when they become opened.

Simultaneous with this the 6th, 1st & 3rd Crops will cross in the vicinity of Franklin’s crossing and make honest demonstrations on the Telegraph and Bowling Green roads, where the main Rebel bodies behind their defences are posted. keeping them in their places, and if they should detach heavy forces to attack the troops coming down the river, to storm and carry those works and man will cross with his cavalry to carry out the instructions, a copy of which has already been furnished you.  This is an outline, you will be able to fill up the plan.  The object in crossing high up the river is to come down in rear of the enemy holding strong positions at the U.S. and Banks Fords, and so strongly fortified that they can only be carried with great loss of life if at all, from a front attack.  They are held, as you will see by the accompanying map, by a small force, but the crossings are rendered formidable by the character of the defences.

The only element which gives me apprehension with regard to the success of this plan is the weather.  How much will depend upon it.  The details will readily suggest themselves to you.

After crossing the Rapidan I can hear from the column descending the rivers, by the troops now at Bank’s Ford, where I shall throw over two bridges as soon as the development of the battle will permit.

I write in great haste as I leave for Kelley’s Ford tomorrow morning and am busy in making the necessary preparations.

I send you the Richmond papers last received.  The remarkable feature in them is that they write from Fredericksburg that in their opinion we are quitting this line.’

            Navy Secretary Gideon Welles writes in his diary regarding the Peterhoff case: “The President was alone when I called on him with the document, which looked formidable, filling thirty-one pages of foolscap. He was pleased and interested, not all discouraged by my paper; said he should read every word of it, that he wanted to understand the question, etc.  He told me Seward had sent in his answer this morning, but it was in some respects not satisfactory, particularly as regarded the Adela.  He had sent for Hunter, who, however, did not understand readily the case, or what was wanted.”

Mysteriously, President Lincoln writes Assistant Secretary of War Peter Watson: “I  have attentively considered the matter of the “Republican” in regard to which you called on me the other day; and the result is that I prefer to make no change, unless it shall again give just cause of offence, in which case I will at once withdraw the patronage it is enjoying at my hand. I believe it will not offend again; and if not, it is better to let the past go by quietly.”

Kansas and Missouri politics often trouble President Lincoln.  He writes Kansas Senator James Lane: “The Governor of Kansas is here, asking that Lieut. Col. J. M. Williams, of a colored regiment there, shall be removed; and also complaining of the military interference of Gen. Blunt in the late election at Leavenworth. I do not know how, if at all, you are connected with these things; but I wish your assistance to so shape things that the Governor of Kansas may be treated with the consideration that is extended to Governors of other States. We are not forcing a Regimental officer upon any other governor, against his protest. Can not this matter be somehow adjusted?”  On the envelope, the president writes: “To go by Telegraph”  bears Lincoln’s further endorsement “Not sent because Gov. Carney thought it best not be.’”

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