President Lincoln Decides to Replace General William Rosecrans

October 19, 1863

In the wake of the Union defeat at Chicakamauga, President Lincoln decides to replace General William Rosecrans with General George Thomas as commander of Union forces in eastern Tennessee.   Thomas had been the hero of the Battle of Chickamauga in mid-September.   President Lincoln tells John Hay “this morning that Rosecrans was to be removed from command of the army of Chattanooga.  Thoms is to take his original army and Grant to command the whole force, including Hooker’s and Burnside’s reinforcements.  He says Rosecrans has seemed tl lose spirit and nerve since the battle of Chic[k]amauga.  I told him that I believe Thomas would fail in attack, like Meade and others.  The vis inertia which prevents these fellows from running when attacked will prevent them from moving in the initiative.” He added: “Today I induced the President to sign a letter I wrote to Col. Rowland approving his proposed National Rifle Corps.  I think Rowland himself rather a humbug but his idea is a good one.”

President Lincoln writes Missouri Governor Hamilton R. Gamble, who is consistently upset with Administration policy in his state: “Yours of the 1st. Inst. was duly received; and I have delayed so long to answer it, because of other pressing duties; because it did not appear to me that the domestic violence you apprehend, was very imminent; and because, if it were so imminent, my direction to Gen. Schofield embraces very nearly the extent of my power to repress it.  Being instructed to repress all violence, of course he will, so far as in his power, repress any which may be offered to the State government.

At the beginning of our present troubles, the regularly installed State officers of Missouri, taking sides with the rebelion, were forced to give way to the provision State government, at the head of which you stand and which was placed in authority, as I understood, by the unanamous action and acquiesence, of the Union people of the State.  I have seen no occasion to make a distinction against that provisional government because of it’s not having been chosen and inaugurated in the usual way.  Nor have I seen any cause to suspect it of unfaithfulness to the Union.  So far as I have yet considered, I am as ready, on a proper case made, to give the State the constitutional protection against invasion and domestic violence, under the provisional government, as I would be if it were under a government installed in the ordinary manner.  I have not thought of making a distinction.

In your proclamation of the 12th Inst. you state the proposition substantially, that no objection ocan be made to any change in the State government, which the people may desire to make, so far as the end can be effected by means conforming to the constitution and laws through the expression of the popular will; but that such change should not be effected by violence.  I concur in this; and, I may add, that it makes precisely the distinction I wish to keep in view.  In the absence of such violence, or imminent danger thereof, it is not proper for the national executive to interfere; and I am unwilling, by any formal, action, to show an appearance of belief that there is such imminent danger, before I really believe there is.  I might thereby to some extent bear false witness.

You tell me ‘a party has sprung up in Missouri, which openly and loudly proclaims the purpose to overturn the provisional government by violence.’  Does the party so proclaim, or is it only that, some members of the party so proclaim?  If I mistake not, the party alluded to recently held a State convention, and adopted resolutions.  Did they, therein declare violence against the provisional State government?  No party can be justly held responsible for what individual members of it may say or do.

Nothing in this letter is written with reference to any State which may have maintained within it, no State government professedly loyal to the United States.

White House aide William O. Stoddard writes in an anonymous newspaper dispatch: “The late Elections have demonstrated that the masses of the people have full confidence in the honesty and wisdom of the Executive….The verdict given is eminently satisfactory, and must have sent a thrill of pleasure to the heart of our good President.  The people are evidently with him.”

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Published in: on October 19, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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