Battle of Gettysburg Keeps Washington on Edge

President Lincoln spends much of time at the War Department next to the White House – waiting for telegrams from the war fronts at Gettysburg and Vicksburg.  The Battle of Gettysburg is in its second day.   “Lincoln was in the telegraph office hour after hour during those anxious days and nights,” reported telegraph operator Homer Bates, who wrote that telegraph service was “poor and desultory.”

However, he takes time to deal with a political problem.  President Lincoln writes Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton: “I wish you would allow the Republican (my paper as you jokingly call it), to be paid for advertising. The non-payment is made a source of trouble to me.”  The National Republican had a contract for printing government legal notices.

Commissioner of Public Buildings Benjamin B. French writes to Abraham Lincoln about his relationship with the Department of the Interior: “I think you believe in my truth, my sincerity & my honesty, & believing thus I do not think you would suffer me to be dishonored or degraded without cause. The Honorable Caleb B. Smith, when Secy. of the Interior, without any consultation with me, or notice to me, appointed me Disbursing Agent of the Capitol Extension and New Dome, & I gave bonds for 40000 dollars & entered on the duties & have most faithfully performed them till yesterday, when, to my utter surprise, and without notice or reason, Mr. Secy. Usher saw fit to “relieve” me, as he expressed it, from those duties.

The Com. of P. B. has always been the Disbursing Agent of the Patent Office Building, & his appointment and blank bond for $40000, has always accompanied his Commission as Commr ever since that Building was commenced. Mr. Usher has also “relieved” me from that duty.

Why this has been done I am at a loss to know, unless it be that, as I was doing the duty for a mere trifle, & even that expired yesterday, & I should probably have continued to do it for nothing, and the Secy. desired to give some one else a fat salary. That is the only reason I can think of for — there has never been a single complaint, & all the persons employed are expressing their strong regrets at the removal.

After having done all my duty for you & to you, and to my Country, avowing always, my determination to stand by and defend you & your policy “to the last of my blood & my breath,” — & I now solemnly reaffirm that intention, — it is hard to receive such evidence of lack of confidence in me as the action of the Secy. shows.

I do not write this expecting or asking any action by you, but only to let you know the treatment I have received, & to express a hope that I still retain your confidence and kind feeling.

You may rely upon my doing all my duty toward you, be where I may.

Colonel Joshua L. Chamberlain, commander of the 20th Maine Regiment declares of the Battle at Little Round Top at the southern edge of the battle: “The edge of the conflict swayed to and fro, with wild whirlpools and eddies.  At times I saw around me more of the enemy than of my own men; gaps opening, swallowing, closing agin with sharp convulsive energy.  All around, a strange, mingled roar.”

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Published in: on July 2, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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