President Lincoln Discusses Louisiana Reconstruction

July 26, 1863

Navy Secretary Gideon Welles writes in his diary: “I went this noon (Sunday) to the President with Dahlgren’s dispatches; told him that the force under Gillmore was insufficient for the work assigned him; that it ought not now to fail; that it ought not to have been begun unless it was understood his force was to have been increased; that such was his expectation, and I wished to know if it could not be done.  It would be unwise to wait until Gillmore was crushed and repelled, and to then try and regain lost ground, which seemed to be the policy of General Halleck; instead of remaining inactive till Gillmore, exhausted, cried for help, his wants should be anticipated.

The President agreed with me fully, but said he knew not where the troops could come from, unless from the Army of the Potomac, but if they were going to fight they would want all their men.  I asked if he really believed Meade was going to have a battle.  He looked at me earnestly for a moment and said:  ‘Well, to be candid, I have no faith that Meade will attack Lee; nothing looks like it to me.  I believe he can never have another as good opportunity as that which he trifled away.  Everything since has dragged with him.  NO, I don’t believe he is going to fight.’

‘Why, then,’ I asked, ‘not send a few regiments to Charleston?  Gillmore ought to be reinforced with ten thousand men.  We intend to send additional seamen and marines.’  ‘Well,’ said the President, “I will see Halleck.  I think we should strain a point.  May I say to him that you are going to strengthen Dahlgren?’  ‘Yes,’ I replied.  ‘But it would be better that you should say you ordered it, and that you also ordered the necessary army increase.  Let us all do our best.’

Our interview was in the library, and was earnest and cordial.

Building Commissioner Benjamin Brown French writes in his diary that Sunday  “was a very hot day.  I was at the President’s at 10 A.M. by appointment with my friend J.Q.A. Fellows of New Orleans, and a Mr. May, a young planter from near that City.  They came to see what could be done to reorganize the civil government of Louisiana on the basis of Free labor.  The President received them in a most friendly and cordial manner, and we conversed at least an hour, and our interview ended very hopefully, with an appointment for another next Monday or Tuesday.  From the President’s we went to the Treasury and had a very pleasant interview with Secy. Chase on the same subject….”

Published in: on July 26, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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