President Appoints General Ulysses Grant to Command all Western Armies

October 16, 1863

After the regular Friday Cabinet Meeting Navy Secretary Gideon Welles writes in his diary:The President read to the Cabinet his letter to the Missouri radicals, and also a letter to General [John] Schofield.  Both exhibit tact, shrewdness, and good sense, on a difficult and troublesome subject.  There is no cause for dissension among the friends of the Administration in Missouri, and the President does not commit himself to either faction in this controversy, but, like some of us, has little respect for the wild vagaries of the radical portion.

The President also read a confidential dispatch to General Meade, urging him not to lose the opportunity to bring on a battle, assuring him that all the honors of a victory should be exclusively his (Meade’s), while in case of a defeat he (the President) would take the entire responsibility.  This is tasking Meade beyond his ability.  If the President could tell him how and when to fight, his orders would be faithfully carried out, but the President is overtasking Meade’s capability and powers.  Where is Halleck, General-in-Chief, who should, if he has the capacity, attend to these things, and if he has not should be got out of the way.”

Attorney General Edward Bates writes in diary: “At C.C. the Prest  read to us his answer to the Radical delegation of Kansas and Mo. Altho’ too long, and not phrased in the pointed language I could wish, still, it denies every thing they ask, and is a flat rebuff.

He also read his letter to Genl Schofield, which, tho’ in some of its parts, lacking in precision and speciality, still, with a good understanding between the Gov and the Genl, all our legal and legitimate ends may be easily accomplished.

In the course of the conversation, I drew the Prest’s attention to Gov Gamble’s last letter – I said it was a formal demand, under the constitution, upon this government, to protect the State Govt. against local insurrection, wch. Was the simple duty of this govt. to do &c.  The Prest admitted the duty, but he did not know that there was any such insurrection &c.  I answered, substantially, that the Gov’s demand was the only evidence required by the constitution.  The President then said, that certainly he wd. Protect the Govt. of Mo., just as he wd. the Govt. of Pa., neither more nor less.

President Lincoln is impatient with inaction by General George Meade, commanding the Union Army of the Potomac in northern Virginia.  He writes General-in-chief Henry W. Halleck: “I do not believe Lee can have over sixty thousand effective men. Longstreet’s corps would not be sent away, to bring an equal force back upon the same road; and there is no other direction for them to have come from. Doubtless, in making the present movement Lee gathered in all available scraps, and added them to Hills & Ewell’s corps; but that is all. And he made the movement in the belief that four corps had left Gen. Meade; and Gen. Meade’s apparantly avoiding a collision with him has confirmed him in that belief. If Gen. Meade can now attack him on a field no worse than equal for us, and will do so with all the skill and courage, which he, his officers and men possess, the honor will be his if he succeeds, and the blame may be mine if he fails.”

Lincoln also wrote Pennsylvania Republican leader Wayne McVeigh about the military situation in Virginia: “The enemy some days ago made a movement, apparantly to turn Gen. Meades right. This led to a manoevering of the two armies, and to pretty heavy skirmishing on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. We have frequent despatches from Gen. Meade, and up to ten o’clock last night, nothing had happened giving either side any marked advantage. Our army reported to be in excellent condition. The telegraph is open to Gen. Meade’s camp this morning, but we have not troubled him for a despatch.”  President Lincoln writes General-in-chief Henry W. Halleck: “I do not believe Lee can have over sixty thousand effective men. Longstreet’s corps would not be sent away, to bring an equal force back upon the same road; and there is no other direction for them to have come from. Doubtless, in making the present movement Lee gathered in all available scraps, and added them to Hills & Ewell’s corps; but that is all. And he made the movement in the belief that four corps had left Gen. Meade; and Gen. Meade’s apparantly avoiding a collision with him has confirmed him in that belief. If Gen. Meade can now attack him on a field no worse than equal for us, and will do so with all the skill and courage, which he, his officers and men possess, the honor will be his if he succeeds, and the blame may be mine if he fails.”

President Lincoln writes railroad promoter Thomas C. Durant: “I remember receiving nothing from you of the 10th, and I do not comprehend your dispatch of to-day.  In fact I do not remember, if I ever knew who you are, and I have very little conception as to what you are telegraphing about.”

President Lincoln wrote Thomas W. Sweeney, an internal revenue assessor, at the Hotel Continental in Philadelphia: “Tad is teasing to have you forward his pistol to him.”

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