May 25, 1863
Navy Secretary Gideon Welles writes in his diary: “Am anxious in relation to the South Atlantic Squadron and feel daily the necessity of selecting a new commander. Du Pont is determined Charleston shall not be captured by the Navy, and that the Navy shall not attempt it; thinks it dangerous for the vessels to remain in Charleston Harbor, and prefers to occupy his palace ship, the Wabash, at Port Royal to roughing it in a smaller vessel off the port. His prize money would doubtless be greater without any risk. All officers under him are becoming affected by his feelings, adopt his tone, think inactivity best, — that the ironclads are mere batteries, not naval vessels, and that outside blockade is the true and only policy. Du Pont feels that he is strong in the Navy, strong in Congress, and strong in the country, and not without reason. There is not a more accomplished or shrewder gentleman in the service. Since Barron and others left, no officer has gathered a formidable clique in the Navy. He has studied with some effect to create one for himself, and has in his personal interest a number of excellent officers who I had hoped would not be inveigled. Good officers have warned me against him as a shrewd intriguer, but I have hoped to get along with him, for I valued his general intelligence, critical abilities, and advice. But I perceive that in all things he never forgets Du Pont. His success at Port Royal has made him feel that he is indispensable to the service. The modern changes in naval warfare and in naval vessels are repugnant to him; and to the turret vessels he has a declared aversion. He has been active in schemes to retire officers; he is now at work to retire ironclads and impair confidence in them. As yet he professes respect and high regard for me personally, but he is not an admirer of the President, and has got greatly out with Fox, who has been his too partial friend. An attack is, however, to be made on the Department by opposing its policy and condemning its vessels. This will raise a party to attack and a party to defend. The monitors are to be pronounced failures, and the Department, which introduced, adopted, and patronized them, is to be held responsible, and not Du Pont, for the abortive attempt to reach Charleston. Drayton, who is his best friend, says to me in confidence that Du Pont has been too long confined on shipboard, that his system, mentally and physically, is affected, and I have no doubt thinks, but does not say, he ought to be relieved for his own good as well as that of the service. Du Pont is proud and will not willingly relinquish his command, although he has in a half-defiant way said if his course was not approved I must find another.
Former Ohio Congressman Clement Vallandigham is transferred from Union to Confederate authorities. Historian William Marvel in his biography of General Ambrose Burnside wrote: ““An effort to have Vallandigham released on a writ of habeas corpus failed, but before Burnside could send him to the chosen prison — Fort Warren, in Boston harbor — President Lincoln decided it would be better to banish him into the Confederacy. It was a brilliant ploy, for while it removed Vallandigham fro the area where he might do much harm, it also denied him the degree of martyrdom Fort Warren might have afforded; at the same time, it effectively associated the dissident’s cause with that of the enemy. Burnside objected, however, with a logical argument of his own; the court had rejected the alternative of expulsion for some reason known only to its members, and presidential interference might be viewed either as tampering with a legitimate court or as recognition that the court was not legal. Lincoln nevertheless insisted upon the political expedient of exile. Burnside accordingly transferred the prisoner to Rosecrans’s army, at Murfreesborough, Tennessee. On the morning of May 25, Mr. Vallandigham stood on the Shelbyville Turnpike and presented himself to an Alabama cavalry officer.”
President Lincoln writes to Judge Advocate Joseph Holt: Please send me the record, if you have it, of the conviction of John R. Syles, of Ky, as a Spy.” His execution is ordered suspended.