President Lincoln Confers on Maryland Elections

October 22, 1863

President Lincoln meets with Maryland Governor Augustus Bradford and Senator Reverdy Johnson regarding the upcoming elections in Maryland.   Lincoln also writes General Robert C. Schenck, who is in charge of preserving order for the elections as well as recruiting black soldiers: “”Please come over here. The fact of one of our officers being killed on the Patuxent, is a specimen of what I would avoid. It seems to me we could send white men to recruit better than to send negroes, and thus inaugerate [sic] homicides on punctillio.”

President Lincoln briefly responded to expressions of loyalty from New School Presbyterian Synod: “It has been stated that he had a heavy responsibility resting upon him. He felt it when he considered the great territory of the country—the large population, with the institutions which have grown up – -liberty and religion to be maintained. He could only do his duty by the assistance of God and the means which He has supplied, of which the reverend gentlemen around him were noble examples. If God be with us, we will succeed; if not, we will fail.”

General Ambrose Burnside responds to President Lincoln’s questions regarding Union strength in Tennessee: “We have already over three thousand in the three years service & half armed– About twenty five hundred home guards many more recruits could have been had for the three years service but for the want of clothing & camp equipage We have not means of bringing those things with us & since our arrival we have not been able to accumulate them by transportation from Kentucky Our command is now & has been ever since our arrival on half rations of everything except fresh beef We have no rations of beafs beans rice pickles &c in fact no Small stores but sugar Coffee & Salt but the command is remarkably happy cheerful & willing & I hope we are all ready for any ordinary emergency The country thus far has supplied an abundance of forage We are suffering considerably for want of shoes & clothing & horse shoes– I have told Gen Halleck fully as to our position A road has been surveyed from Clinton to the mouth of Big South Fork on the Cumberland from which point are transported supplies After the Cumberland River becomes navigable to that place we will commence work on it at once with a view to making a good winter road– It runs along the line of the projected RR & will be of material assistance in building the Rail Road The RR is already built from this place to within 8 miles of Clinton & is graded that 8 miles – I hope to take Iron enough from the track above (above) I have to finish this grade to Clinton & I have already made arrangements to build the RR bridge at that place The abutments are already built After the wagon road is repaired the entire force will be put to work grading the RR from Clinton to the Cumberland to meet the road we are building in Kentucky I have understood that some obstacles have been thrown in the way of this work by persons declaring that the expenditures would not be authorized If such is the case I should have been notified of it & thereby save myself & others connected with the work very serious embarassed– I am daily becoming more satisfied of wisdom necessity & efficiency of the work.”

Attorney General Edward Bates writes President Lincoln regarding his recent communication regarding Missouri affairs : “I venture to send for your perusal, a letter of my friend Broadhead – the last paragraph which alone relates to you – He is one of the very best samples of Missouri men. With sense & courage far above the common range, he is a plain, downright man: Sound in his principles, and (it may be stubbornly) true to them, he maintains them boldly, & always with a manly frankness which, I am forced to believe, is very uncommon.”

When you said to me, the other day, that you had no friends in Missouri, I answered that you had good materials there, out of which you could make the whole State your friends. And now (since the receipt of Broadhead’s letter, & several others of the same sort) I am more than ever convinced of the truth of my answer. For, I confidently hope that – in virtue of your three letters, to the General, to the Governor & to the Jacobins – we will be able to restore, in a good degree, peace, order & law in Missouri; and then, as Broadhead says, “the Country will thank & bless you.”

Shakespearean actor James Hackett writes President Lincoln about the unfortunate publication of their earlier correspondence: “About a month since my son John K. Hackett of New York wrote to me how vexed he had been at the unwarrantable liberty taken by certain Newspaper-Presses in publishing your kind sensible & unpretending letter to me of “17 Augt” last1 & more particularly at the Editorial remarks upon & [perversions?] of its subject-matter to antagonistic political purposes, accompanied by satirical abuse in general –

In order to calm my son’s fears that it might give you cause to regret your having thus favored me with such original materiél, I replied that I felt assured that, as a man of the world now and an experienced politician you were not likely to be so thin skinned, and that in my humble opinion such political squibs would probably affect your sensibility about as much as would a charge of mustard seed shot at forty yards distance, fired through a pop-gun barrel at the naturally armed Alligator, touch his nerves– Pray excuse the illustration! But, my son being a first rate shot with gun or pistol & theroughly aware of thin comparative effects, it was therefore an argumentum ad hominem.

Presidential aide John G. Nicolay writes: “I spoke to President today about Blair – his Rockville speech and the action of the Union League of Philadelphia leaving out his name in resolutions electing the Cabinet honorary members of the League.  He says Blair is anxious to run Swann and beat Winter Davis.  The President the contrary says that as Davis is the nominee of the Union convention & as we have recognized him as our candidate it would be mean to do anything against him now.”

Things in Maryland are badly mixed.  The unconditional Union people are not entirely acting in concert.  Thomas seems acceptable to every one.  Cresswell si going to make a good man. But Schenck is complicating the canvass with an embarrassing element, that of forcible negro enlistments.  The President is in favor of the voluntary enlistment of negroes with the consent of their masters & on payment of the price.  But Schenck’s favoriate way (or rather Irney’s whom Schenck approves) is to take a squad of soldiers into a neighborhood, & carry off into the army all the ablebodied darkies they can find without asking master or slave to consent.  Hence results like the case of [Eben] White& [John J.] Sothoron.  ‘The fact is,’the President observes, ‘Schenck is wider acaross the head in the region of the ears, & loves fight for its own sake, better than I do.’”

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