Military and Patronage Problems Plague President

June 15, 1863

Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles writes in his diary: “Met [Montgomery] Blair at the depot. Told him of the conversation I had last evening with the President and the appearance of things at the War Department. It affected him greatly.  He has never had confidence in either Stanton, Halleck, or Hooker. He fairly groaned that the President should continue to trust them and defer to them, when the magnitude of the questions is considered. “Strange, strange,” he exclaimed, “that the President, who has sterling ability, should give himself over so completely to Stanton and Seward.”

Something of a panic pervades the city. Singular rumors reach us of Rebel advances into Maryland. It is said they have reached Hagerstown, and some of them have penetrated as far as Chambersburg in Pennsylvania. These reports are doubtless exaggerations, but I can get nothing satisfactory from the War Department of the Rebel movements, or of our own. There is trouble, confusion, uncertainty, where there should be calm intelligence.

I have a panic telegraph from Governor Curtin, who is excitable and easily alarmed, entreating that guns and gunners may be sent from the navy yard at Philadelphia to Harrisburg without delay. We have not a gunner that we can spare. Commodore Stribling can spare men, temporarily, from the navy yard.

I went again, at a late hour, to the War Department, but could get no facts or intelligence from the Secretary, who either does not know or dislikes to disclose the position and condition of the army. He did not know that the Rebels had reached Hagerstown; did not know but some of them had; quite as likely to be in Philadelphia as Harrisburg. Ridiculed Curtin’s fears. Thought it would be well, however, to send such guns and men as could be spared to allay his apprehension. I could not get a word concerning General Milroy and his command, — whether safe or captured, retreating or maintaining his position. All was vague, opaque, thick darkness. I really think Stanton is no better posted than myself, and from what Stanton says am afraid Hooker does not comprehend Lee’s intentions nor know how to counteract them. Halleck has no activity; never exhibits sagacity or foresight, though he can record and criticize the past. It looks to me as if Lee was putting forth his whole energy and force in one great and desperate struggle which shall be decisive; that he means to strike a blow that will be severely felt, and of serious consequences, and thus bring the War to a close. But all is conjecture.

President Lincoln writes General Joseph Hooker: “The facts are now known here that Winchester and Martinsburg were both besieged yesterday; the troops from Martinsburg have got into Harper’s Ferry without loss; those from Winchester, are also in, having lost, in killed, wounded and missing, about one third of their number. Of course the enemy holds both places; and I think the report is authentic that he is crossing the Potomac at Williamsburg. We have not heard of his yet appearing at Harper’s Ferry, or on the river anywhere below. I would like to hear from you.”  Curt Anders, biographer of General Henry W. Halleck,  noted that in two messages (both to Lincoln) on June 15, Hooker seemed nigh-incoherent:

* ‘Your telegram…seems to disclose the intentions of the enemy to make an invasion, and, if so, it is not in my power to prevent it. I can, however, make an effort to check him….On so short reflection, I am not prepared to say this is the wisest move, nor do I know that my opinion on this subject is wanted.

*  “[Lee] has more to accomplish, but with more hazard, by striking an easterly direction after crossing [the Potomac] than a northerly one….It is an act of desperation on his part, no matter in what force he moves….I do not know that my opinion as to the duty of this army in the case is wanted; if it should be, you know that I will be happy to give it.’

            Journalist Noah Brooks writes: “Perhaps the even of the week is the reply of the President to the Albany Democrats.  It is a grand documents, strong, plain, simple, without one sparkle of tinsel ornament, yet dignified as becomes the ruler of a great people when the nation is listening to what he says.  It should be printed in every Northern paper, and read by every citizen.  It will go far to free the minds of many from unpleasant fears and doubts, and the angry thoughts so carefully instilled and cherished by the race of demagogues whose doom the President foretells.  It is well that he has spoken, and all the nation should hear what he said.”

President Lincoln writes  Edward L. Baker, co-owner of the Illinois State Journal about the problems involving Illinois patronage and the conduct of Ninian Edwards and W.H. Bailhache, also co-owner of the Journal.  Baker himself was married to Mary Todd Lincoln’s niece, daughter of Ninian Edwards: “Not to exceed two hours after you left me I received a letter from Springfield, renewing the pressure upon me in the matter we talked of; and, in fact, leaving me no alternative but to make some change there. I can say but little beyond what I then said to you. The appeal to me in behalf of Mr. Edwards and Mr. Bailhasche, for a hearing, does not meet the case. No formal charges are preferred against them, so far as I know; nor do I expect any will be made; or, if made, will be substantiated. I certainly do not suppose Mr. Edwards has, at this time of his life, given up his old habits, and turned dishonest; and while I have not known Mr. Bailhasche so long, I have no more affermative reason to suspect him. The trouble with me is of a different character. Sprinfield is my home, and there, more than elsewhere, are my life-long friends. These, for now nearly two years, have been harrassing me because of Mr. E. & Mr. B. I think Mr. E. & Mr. B. without dishonesty on the other hand, could have saved me from this, if they had cared to do so. They have seemed to think that if they could keep their official record dryly correct, to say the least, it was not any difference how much they might provoke my friends, and harrass me. If this is too strong a statement of the case, still the result has been the same to me; and, as a misfortune merely, I think I have already borne a fair share of it.”

President Lincoln writes his wife in Philadelphia: “Tolerably well. Have not rode out much yet, but have at last got new tires on the carriage wheels, & perhaps, shall ride out soon.”

President Lincoln issues a proclamation calling for 100,000 militia to meet the Confederate invasion: “Whereas the armed insurrectionary combinations now existing in several of the States are threatening to make inroads into the States of Maryland, Western Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio, requiring immediately an additional military force for the service of the United States;

Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States and Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy thereof and of the Militia of the several States when called into actual service, do, hereby, call into the service of the United States, one hundred thousand militia from the States following, namely—from the State of Maryland ten thousand, from the State of Pennsylvania, fifty thousand, from the State of Ohio, thirty thousand, from the State of West Virginia, ten thousand, to be mustered into the service of the United States forthwith and to serve for the period of six months from the date of such muster into said service, unless sooner discharged; to be mustered in as infantry, artillery and cavalry, in proportions which will be made known through the War Department, which Department will also designate the several places of rendezvous. These militia to be organized according to the rules and regulations of the volunteer service and such orders as may hereafter be issued. The States aforesaid will be respectively credited under the enrolment act for the militia services rendered under this proclamation.

Published in: on June 15, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: