Missouri Affairs Concern President Lincoln

November 10, 1863

Regarding continuing military/political problems in Missouri, President Lincoln writes General John Schofield, Union commander of Missouri: “I see a despatch here from St. Louis which is a little difficult for me to understand.  It says ‘Gen. Schofield has refused leave of absence to members in Military service to attend the Legislature.  All such are radical and Administration men.  The election of two Senators from this place on Thursday will probably turn upon this thing”

What does this mean?  Of course members of the Legislature must be allowed to attend it’s sessions.  But how is there a session before the recent election returns are in?  And how is it to be at ‘this place’–that is–St Louis?  Please inform me.

President Lincoln issues an order regarding tobacco exports owned by foreign governments: “In consideration of peculiar circumstances, and pursuant to the comity deemed to be due to friendly Powers, any tobacco in the United States, belonging to the Government either of France, Austria, or any other State with which this country is at peace, and which tobacco was purchased and paid for by such Government prior to the 4th day of March, 1861, may be exported from any port of the United States, under the supervision and upon the responsibility of naval officers of such Governments, and in conformity to such regulations as may be prescribed by the Secretary of State of the United States, and not otherwise.”

Lincoln’s accessibility is reflected in a note he sent to an Indiana man who abruptly asked for an appointment in November 1863: “I can-not comprehend the object of your despatch. I do not often decline seeing people who call upon me; and probably will see you if you call.”

Published in: on November 10, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

President Lincoln Watches Actor John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theater

November 9, 1863

President and Mrs. Lincoln go to Ford’s Theater with aides John G. Nicolay and John Hay, who writes: “J.  Wilkes Booth was doing ‘the Marble Heart.’  Rather tame than otherwise.”

President Lincoln writes a group of New York leaders who seek support for General John Adams Dix for mayor of New York City: “Upon the subject of your letter I have to say that it is beyond my province to interfere with New-York City politics; that I am very grateful to Gen. Dix for the zealous and able Military, and quasi civil support he has given the government during the war; and that if the people of New-York should tender him the Mayoralty, and he accept it, nothing on that subject could be more satisfactory to me. In this I must not be understood as saying ought against any one, or as attempting the least degree of dictation in the matter. To state it in another way, if Gen. Dix’ present relation to the general government lays any restraint upon him in this matter, I wish to remove that restraint.”

President Lincoln writes General Ambrose Burnside: “Have seen despatch from Gen. Grant about your loss at Rogersville. [2]Per-contra, about the same time [William] Averell & [Alfred] Duffie got considerable advantage of the enemy at and about Lewisburg Va; [3] and on Saturday, the 7th. Meade drove the enemy from Rappahannockstation, and Kellys-ford, capturing 8 battle-flags, four guns, and over eighteen hundred prisoners, with very little loss to himself. Let me hear from you.”  Burnside responded:

Your dispatch received. The Telegraph lines have been down since Saturday night, so that we could not communicate with Genl Grant. Our loss at Rogersville was about five hundred (500) old troops and one hundred & fifty (150) new troops. Four (4) pieces of artillery and thirty six (36) wagons with all the baggage & ammunition of two (2) Regts & a battery the principal loss was in the Second Tennessee mounted Infantry. The Seventh Ohio Cavalry lost about one hundred (100) men & Phillips Illinois Battery about forty (40). The force at that point consisted of these two (2) Regts & the Phillips Battery with some recruits for a new Tennessee Regt. The rebel attacking force amounted to thirty five hundred (3500) mounted men under Gen Sam Jones. They captured about six hundred horses & equipment & as many stand of small arms. An investigation is being made as to the cause of defeat. I at first thought it was the result of carelessness on the part of the Comdg Officer Col Garrard & want of steadiness on the part of the men but as the Investigation progresses I am becoming satisfied that it is result of the necessity for holding so long a line between two formidable forces of the Enemy. It seems to be impossible to be sufficiently watchful to prevent trouble when so many points are assailable. We were holding the line from Washn. on the Tenn. River to the Watauga. The troops of this command have behaved so well that I shall be glad to find that no one was censurable for the defeat. I send you a cipher dispatch. We were all rejoiced to hear of the Successes in Western Virginia & in the Army of the Potomac.”

Regarding reconstruction in Louisiana, President Lincoln writes Benjamin F. Flanders, a New Orleans politician who had briefly served in Congress earlier in the year.  Flanders had been appointed Special Agent of the United States Treasury Department in August.  Lincoln wrote: “In a conversation with Gen. Butler he made a suggestion which impressed me a good deal at the time. It was that, as a preliminary step, a vote be taken, yea or nay, whether there shall be a State convention to repeal the Ordinance of secession, and remodel the State constitution. I send it merely as a suggestion for your consideration, not having considered it maturely myself. The point which impressed me was, not so much the questions to be voted on, as the effect of chrystallizing, so to speak, in taking such popular vote on any proper question. In fact, I have always thought the act of secession is legally nothing, and needs no repealing. Turn the thought over in your mind, and see if in your own judgment, you can make any thing of it.”

The President meets with wife of General Benjamin Butler who came to the White House to meet with Mrs. Lincoln.

White House aide William O. Stoddard writes in an anonymous newspaper dispatch: “The result of the New-York election must be a cheering thing to the Administration, and as chilling on the other hand to the rebels.  The whole North has now spoken, State by State, and all with the same spirit.”

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

President Has Photographs Take with Aides

November 8, 1863

President Lincoln visits the photography studios of Alexander Gardner with aides John G. Nicolay and John Hay. One photo taken this day featured presidential aide John Hay standing by a seated president and a seated John G. Nicolay.   Presidential aide John Hay writes that he went “to Gardner’s gallery & were soon joined by Nico and the Prest.  We have a great many pictures taken.  Some of the Presdt the best I have seen.  Nico & I immortalized ourselves by having ourselves done in group with the Presdt.”

Hay also writes in his diary: “In the evening Seward came in.  He feels much easier about his won.  He is very easy and confident now about affairs.  He says N.Y. is safe for the Presidential election by a much larger majority: that the crowd that follows power have come over: that the Copperhead spirit is crushed and humbled.  He says the Democrats lost their leaders when [Robert] Toombs & [Jefferson] Davis & [John] Breckenridge forsook them and went South: that their new leaders, the [Horatio] Seymours [Clement] Vallandighams & [Fernando] Woods are now whipped and routed.  So that they have nothing left.  The Democratic leaders are either ruined by the war or have taken the right shoot & have saved themselves from the ruin of their party by coming out on the right side.”

Published in: on November 8, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

President Lincoln Reviews Court Martial Cases

November 7, 1863

A group of New York leaders, led by William B. Astor, write to Abraham Lincoln: “The undersigned representing in the City of New York both political parties have offered Gen Dix2 the nomination for Mayor and finding some hesitation on his part arising from his official position ask President Lincoln in view of the great national importance of the matter to request Gen. Dix to accept the nomination.”

Presidential aide John Hay writes in his diary: “The President passed the morning in disposing of cases of Courts Martial with the Judge Advocate Genl [Joseph Holt].”

Historian Edward G. Longacre wrote in Lincoln’s Cavalrymen: “Sharp fighting in northern Virginia where General George Meade had formed a plan to cross the Rapidan at three points, stealing a march on Lee, then to curl around the Rebel right, which was anchored on the east side of a Rapidan tributary known as Mine Run.”  John Waugh wrote in Reelecting Lincoln: “On November 7, [General George] Meade’s army had pushed to the Rappahannock and, after severe fighting at Kelly’s Ford and at Rappahannock Station, had muscled Lee back across the Rapidan.   It was not the major Federal offensive the president longed for, and it was cautiously done, but it had returned the two armies to roughly where they had been before Lee’s election-time offensive.”

Published in: on November 7, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Thurlow Weed Presents Peace Strategy

November 6, 1863

Lincoln’s oldest and best friend, Joshua Speed, writes him for a rare favor: “The last time I had an interview with you I expressed a desire that a speedy investigation should be had in the case of Genl [Thomas L.} Crittenden –  And I understood you to say that it should be done.– No Court of inquiry has been held or ordered so far as I know–

Gen. Crittenden distinguished himself at Shiloh and Stone River — for his action at Shiloh he was promoted; — and for his conduct at Stone River he has the plaudits of all who are acquainted with the part he took in that great Battle–

For some cause he has been removed from Command for his conduct at Chicamauga– Is it not due to a man who has made his name illustrious on two fields that he should have a speedy investigation–? Crittenden has said to me that if there is any two days of his life for which deserves more credit than that rendered to his Country at the battle of Chicamauga he would not know where to select them–

I write this letter without his knowledge or consent– Much as I like him I like both you & the cause better– All demand a speedy investigation, that justice may be done– If he is at fault — strike him from the roll — if he has acted well his part sustain him–

I earnestly ask this as your friend and a friend of the cause

Another Lincoln friend from Illinois, General John McClernand, also asks a more difficult favor: “I have seen Gov. [Richard] Yates– I hope you have read my protest — which I ask, in justice, to publish.”  McClernand has been dismissed from command after clashing with Union commander Ulysses S. Grant.   Secretary of State William H. Seward notifies President Lincoln that he is returning to Washington from New York.

New York political boss Thurlow Weed  proposes a four-point peace strategy in an extensive letter to President Lincoln.  Weed recalled: “After long and anxious reflection, I worked out a plan, by the adoption of which I believed not only that the war could be more vigorously prosecuted but that the Rebellion would be speedily ended.  After explaining the plan to two or three experienced and enlightened friends, whose approval of it was very earnest.  I proceeded to Washington and submitted it to the President, who, after discussing its prominent features, requested me to commit them to paper; which I did, on the afternoon of the same day.”  Weed’s letter stated: “The advantages of the plan for the more vigorous prosecution of the war which I have submitted to you verbally and in writing are, briefly, these: –

First.  That in exhausting the highest and last attribute of humanity, in an unavailing effort to restore peace, it makes our record so clearly right that you stand justified in the eyes of the whole world for permitting war to assume its severest aspects.

Second.  The armistice occurring when the season interrupts active army movements, it would cause little practical delay, but give ample time, with uninterrupted facilities of travel through the Confederate States, for widespread circulation of the proclamation.

Third.  In offering to restore the Union as it was, you will, when that offer has been rejected, secure a united North in favor of war to the knife.

Fourth. In partitioning rebel territory, as fast as it may be conquered, among the officers and soldiers of the armies by which such territory is conquered, the question will not be how many troops can be raised, but how many can be equipped, organized, and advantageously employed in the field.  The demoralizations and desertions consequent upon large bounties will immediately cease.  Your armies will be voluntarily and promptly recruited, and their ranks filled with enterprising, earnest yeomen, who have an intelligent reason for entering the army, and who know that the realization of their hopes depends upon their zeal, fidelity, and courage, And by thus providing homes and occupations when the war is over for our disbanded soldiers, you leave scattered over rebel territory an element that may be relied upon for the reconstruction of civil government in the seceded states.

In answer to those who may object to the sanguinary feature of this plan.  I think it quite sufficient to say that in maritime wars this feature has long been recognized and practiced by all civilized nations.  Argosies of merchant vessels, laden with untold millions of the wealth of non-combatants, captured in time of war, are divided as prize money among the officers ans sailors by whom they are captured. This, therefore, in all wars upon the oceans and seas of the world, being a part of the law of nations, cannot, in reason or common-sense, he objected to, whereas, in this case, the sufferers are in rebellion against their government, and have been warned of the consequences of rejecting the most liberal offers of peace, protection, and prosperity.

“I have, acting upon your suggestion, submitted this plan to the Secretary of State and to the Secretary of War.  It did not, if I may judge from his silence, strike Governor Seward favorably.  But Mr. Stanton, after listening attentively to the plan, asked me to repeat it to him, and then expressed his unqualified approval of it.  In talking it over, he became very much animated, saying that it would greatly lessen his labor and anxiety, save hundreds of millions of dollars to the government, and put an early end to the Rebellion.  He said he would see you on the subject to-day.  I also explained it to Senator Wilson, of Massachusetts, at the Astor House, in New York, who was favorably impressed, and said that unless it should be found defective or impracticable he would sustain it Before I left New York, as I remarked to you this morning, I had a long conversation with Dean Richmond on the subject.  Mr. Richmond took the same view of it that occurred to Mr. Stanton, and was equally anxious that it should be adopted.  Mr. Richmond authorized me to say to you that, in his opinion, this plan, fully and fairly cried out, would make the North a unit in support of the war, that it would immediately give us as many good soldiers as the government wanted, and that th Rebellion would be crushed out within six months after the expiration of the armistice.

According Weed’s post-war Memoir: “The President considered these suggestions attentively, and was disposed to admit their wisdom and practicability.  Just before he left Washington to deliver the address at Gettysburg he characterized the plan as ‘water-tight,’ and it was hoped that it would be incorporated in some form in his annual message.”

Published in: on November 6, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Louisiana Reconstruction Occupies President Lincoln

November 5, 1863

After meeting with former Louisiana Congressman Benjamin F. Flanders, President Lincoln writes General Nathaniel Banks to express his disappointment about the progress of reconstruction in Louisiana: “Three months ago to-day I wrote you about Louisiana affairs, stating on the word of Gov. [George] Shepley, as I understood him, that Mr. Durant was taking a registry of citizens, preparatory to the election of a constitutional convention for that State.  I sent a copy of the letter to Mr. Durant; and I now have his letter, written two months after, acknowledging receipt, and saying he is not taking such registry; and he does not let me know that he personally is expecting to do so.  Mr. Flanders, to whom I also sent a copy, is now here, and he says nothing has yet been done.  This disappoints me bitterly; yet I do not throw blame on you or on them.  I do however, urge both you and them, to lose no more time.  Gov. Shepley has special instructions from the War Department.  I wish him–these gentlemen and others co-operating–without waiting for more territory, to go to work and give me a tangible nucleus which the remainder of the State may rally around as fast as it can, and which I can at once recognize and sustain as the true State government.  And in that work I wish you, and all under your command, to give them a hearty sympathy and support.  The instruction to Gov. Shepley bases the movement (and rightfully too) upon the loyal element.  Time is important.  There is danger, even now, that the adverse element seeks insidiously to pre-occupy the ground.  If a few professedly loyal men shall draw the disloyal about them, and colorably set up a State government, repudiating the emancipation proclamation, and re-establishing slavery, I can not recognize or sustain their work.  I should fall powerless in the attempt.  This government, in such an attitude, would be a house divided against itself.  I have said, and say again, that if a new State government, acting in  harmony with this government, and consistently with general freedom, shall think best to adopt a reasonable temporary arrangement, in relation to the landless and homeless freed people, I do not object; but my word is out to be for and not against them on the question of their permanent freedom.  I do not insist upon such temporary arrangement, but only say such would not be objectionable to me. “

Thomas Webster of Supervisory Committee for Recruiting Colored Regiments in Philadelphia complains to President Lincoln about pay for black soldiers: .

“This memorial on behalf of the Supervisory Committee for recruiting Colored Regiments in the State of Pennsylvania respectfully represent

That notwithstanding the inequality of pay and bounty, the Colored people of the free states have heretofore responded to the call for volunteers with an alacrity and to an extent which clearly provide that they are not deficient in military spirit and patriotism.  And it is believed by those who have the best opportunity for forming correct opinions on the subject, that the national forces would be very largely increased from this portion of our population, if the same protection and encouragement were extended to them as to others.

“The courage, discipline and general good behaviour of the colored troops, as already displayed, have enlisted in their behalf a favorable sentiment throughout the country; and justice, as well as mere policy, would seem to require that, in the matter of pay and bounty they should be placed on a more equal footing.

“It is believed that there is no insuperable objections to such a course in existing laws, liberally construed, and your memorialists cannot doubt the disposition of the Government to extend to this class of its brave defenders every proper measure of protection and reward.

“By the terms of your Proclamation of the Seventeenth day of October 1863 calling for three hundred thousand more volunteers to serve for three years, it appears to be doubtful whether colored troops are to b e included in its provisions.  Your memorialists would therefore respectfully bring this subject to your attention, and request such a further order in regard to the acceptance and compensation of colored volunteers, as their willingness and ability to aid in the suppression of a wicked rebellion, renders just and proper.

“It is not doubted that under suitable encouragement, many regiments of colored troops can be raised in this and adjoining States.  And your Excellency may rest assured of the readiness of the people of this community to cooperate in this and all other measures the Government may adopt for the purposes of reinforcing our armies now in the field, bringing their needful operations to a prosperous end, and thus closing forever the fountains of sedition and civil war.

Presidential secretary John G. Nicolay returns to White House duty after a trip to Colorado.  The other principal Lincoln aide, John Hay, rides with President Lincoln to Georgetown Heights in the afternoon.  Nearby in Oak Hill Cemetery was the grave of Lincoln’s son Willie.

Published in: on November 5, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Summer Comes to a Late End

November 4, 1863

The Lincoln family normally stays at the Soldiers Cottage during summer and fall nights.  Today,  James L. Thomas hauls 19 loads of furniture from Soldiers’ Home to the Executive Mansion, signalling the official end of summer.

Sometime in November, General George B. McClellan writes to request retirement.  He was relieved of command of the Army of the Potomac a year earlier: “When the present war commenced I was successfully engaged in private life.  Actuated solely by the desire to serve my country, I sacrificed all my personal interests, and accepted the Commission of Maj Genl in the Regular Army which you bestowed upon me without any solicitation from me.  I have never applied to you directly or indirectly for any particular command position or duty, but have contented myself with performing to the best of my ability whatever duties you imposed upon me.  It was in this spirit that I conducted the campaign of Western Virginia, and after its successful close I assumed control at Washington of the troops just defeated at the first battle of Manassas, organized and commanded the Army of the Potomac, received without being asked and gave up without complaining the position of Commander in Chief of the U.S. Armies, conducted the Peninsular Campaign, witnessed the transfer of my army to the command of Genl Pope, resumed it when the combined forces had been defeated and the Capital was in hourly peril, carried on the Maryland Campaign, and, thanks to my noble and tried comrades, gained the battles of South Mountain and Antietam, and it was in this spirit that, when in full advance with every probability of a successful battle impending, I again, and finally, yielded the command of that Army to which I was united by those inexpressibly close bonds which a soldier alone can appreciate.

I have been now for more than a year unemployed, and it is evident that my services are no longer desired by your Excellency.  Under these circumstances I feel that I can be of no present use to my country by retaining my Commission, and I am unwilling longer to receive pay while performing no service.

It is now my duty to consult my private interests and those of my family — which I have entirely ignored and sacrificed during my continuance in service.

As a fitting opportunity has offered, and my conscience tells me that I have faithfully performed all the service I at present can for the benefit of my country, I have determined to return to private life, and have sent to the Adjt Genl the resignation of my Commission, which I beg may be at once accepted.  Should unexpected, and I trust improbable, vicissitudes of fortune ever again, as heretofore, render my sword necessary to the nation, I shall again be ready to use it in her cause at any sacrifice to myself.

It would have been gratifying to me to have retired from the service with the knowledge that I still retained the approbation of your Excellency — as it is, I thank you for the confidence and kind feeling you once entertained for me, and which I am unconscious of having justly forfeited.  I cannot, nor ought I to restrain myself from bidding through you a last farewell to the heroic men who so long fought under my command.

Neither time nor space can divide them from my heart; whatever fate the future may have in store for me, my pulse will ever beat more quickly, and my blood war at the thought of the soldiers who were with me during the trying scenes of the Peninsula, at South Mountain & at Antietam.

I am grateful to Providence that it was permitted me that my last service should be to free the Capital a second time from danger and the loyal states from invasion.

I am content to bear as a legacy to my descendants the connection which already exists between my name and that of the proud Army of the Potomac.  It can have far abler Commanders than myself, and may win even more glorious victories than those which now grace its annals, but it can have no General who will love it so well as I did.

I invoke upon it and the other Armies of the Republic the highest blessings of the Almighty, and it severing my official connection with your Excellency I pray that God may bless you, and so direct your counsels that may succeed in restoring to this distracted land the inestimable boon of peace founded on the preservation of our Union and the mutual boon of peace founded on the preservation of our Union and the mutual respect & sympathy of the now discordant and contending sections of our once happy country.

Published in: on November 4, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Election Day in Much of North

November 3, 1863

President Lincoln telegraphs Secretary of State William H. Seward in Auburn, New York with his son William. “Nothing new. Despatches up to twelve last night, from Chattanooga show all quiet and doing well. How is your son?”  Seward responds: “Thanks. William is better. Our friends reckon on (25,000) majority in the state.”

The controversy between civil and military authorities in Maryland continues.  Governor Augustus Bradford responds to President Lincoln’s letter of the previous day – pointing out that he received the letter after reading it in the newspaper: “Your letter of 2nd inst. in reply to mine of 31st ulto. reached me to-day after I had already read it in the Baltimore papers of this morning.

Your Excellency has in this respect the advantage of me; for although, following your example, I shall send a duplicate of this to the Press, the probabilities are, looking to recent events, that the military Authorities will not allow its publication.

When I wrote to you on Saturday last I had not been able to procure a Copy of the Military Order in reference to the Election and acted merely on the rumor of its character.

When I saw it, as I did for the first time on Sunday I found it even more objectionable than rumor had represented it, and when I was shown on the same day a copy of your letter to Mr. Swann, in which you say you “trust there is no just ground for the suspicion” he had expressed and declaring that you felt “mortified that there could be a doubt upon this point of your (his) enquiry” &c., which point was a suggestion by Mr Swann, that “the election about to take place will be attended with undue interference on the part of persons claiming to represent the wishes of the Government” –  I rested satisfied that I should receive from you a prompt Countermand of the Order in question. If the sending out one or more Regiments of troops distributed among several of the Counties to attend their places of Elections in defiance of the well known laws of the State prohibiting their presence; ordering Military Officers and Provost Marshalls to arrest voters guilty, in the opinion of such officers, of certain offences; menacing Judges of Election with the power of the Military Arm in case this Military order was not respected, is not an “undue interference with the freedom of elections, I confess myself unable to imagine what is.

The purport of your Excellency’s remarks in your letter to me is confined chiefly to a justification of the exclusion of disloyal voters from the Polls by means of the administration of an oath of Allegiance; without stopping to analyse the particular oath in question it may be sufficient to say that this clause of the Order is by far the least objectionable of the three. If any who were once citizens of the United States have been guilty of such conduct as justly disfranchises them, let them take the consequences. I, for one, have not interfered and shall not interfere to prevent it. But I insist that the Judges whom the State has provided are the exclusive Judges of the question of such citizenship and that they shall be allowed to exercise their own judgment upon that question, and I shall never cease to protest against any attempt of the Military power in a loyal State to control that judgment and especially against the use of any threats tending to coerce an observance by these Judges of any law which such a power shall undertake to prescribe.

The first and third Sections of the Order are the most remarkable items of the arbitrary authority it assumes; the first places all persons supposed to have given “aid and comfort or encouragement” to persons engaged in the Rebellion, and those who “do not recognize their allegiance to the United States” at the mercy of a Military Officer and Provost Marshall, and orders the latter to arrest them when “approaching the polls” &c; and the third clause intimates to the Judges of Election in very unmistakeable terms the danger they incur in case they disobey the Military authority. These sworn officers of the law have a new law prescribed to them in this Military order, and for disobedience of which they are to be reported to “these Headquarters,” and of course must take warning of the consequences that will ensue.

I am aware that your Excellency has so far modified the first of said Sections, as to substitute for it a direction to these Provost Marshalls “to prevent all disturbance or violence about the Polls” &c. and that in speaking of the terms of the original order; you admit “that these officers being of necessity the exclusive judges as to who shall be arrested, the provision is liable to abuse”; but I submit with deference that while the modification may relieve that part of the order of some of the most immoderate of its powers it still leaves these Officers the exclusive judges of who are guilty of violence or disturbances and of course who are liable to arrest therefor; and leaves them consequently the same opportunity for a similar abuse of power, — the probabilities of which you may the more readily estimate when I inform you that several of them are themselves candidates for some of our most important offices.

You refer several times in your letter, to the Missouri case, and to my approval of your course therein, and seem to think that the two States are in the same condition, and have been treated in like manner. Without pausing to compare their conditions or their respective liability to violence at the polls I propose to contrast the proceedings which have severally taken place in the two. You say “my order in Missouri which you approve and General Schenck’s order here reach precisely the same end”. The only action of yours in reference to the Missouri case of which I have expressed approval or of which I have any knowledge is as mentioned in my letter that disclosed in your letter of instructions to Gen. Schofield bearing date the 1st day of October last; and whether the instructions contained in that letter and Gen. Schenck’s order reach the same end as you suppose or not, they certainly propose to reach it by very different means. To estimate correctly this difference we must compare the course respectively taken by the Department Commanders in the two States. Gen. Schofield in his Order of 28th Sept. 18635 and to which I understand you to refer when in your letter to him above mentioned, you commence by saying “under your recent order which I have approved” &c lays down the following as the Military law for Missouri on the subject of elections: “The right” says he, “of the people peaceably to assemble for all lawful purposes and the right freely to express their will at the polls according to law are essential to civil liberty; no interference with these rights either by violence, threats or intimidation or otherwise will be tolerated.” Again in the same order he says “any Officer, Soldier or civillian who shall attempt to intimidate any qualified voter in the exercise of his right to vote or who shall attempt to prevent any qualified voter from going to the polls or voting shall be imprisoned or other punished by imprisonment or otherwise” &c.

If these provisions are compared with the first and third Sections of Gen. Schenck’s Order, the contrast rather than the similarity will, I think, be striking. In your same letter to Gen. Schofield your further say – “See that those and only those are allowed to vote who are entitled to do so by the laws of Missouri” not only thus conceding to the State laws the right to prescribe the qualification of the voter, but enjoining upon the Military Commander to see that he be allowed to enjoy that right.

Though your Excellency refers to the difference in the qualification required of voters in the two States, I can hardly suppose – especially in view of the unqualified and emphatic terms in which you recognise the control of the State laws – that you mean to place that recognition upon the ground that you approve the laws of one State and not those of the other; and besides I think we might be allowed some benefit of the consideration, that in Missouri they have recently had a Constitutional Convention which enabled them to remodel their laws on the subject of the elective franchise, an opportunity we have not yet enjoyed, and which is necessary for the purpose of such modification, though such necessity might possibly be dispensed with hereafter in view of the new power which Military Commanders claim to exercise in the premises.

The conclusion of your Excellency’s letter makes allusion to past precedents in Maryland, and is evidently designed to make the point that I should be the last to complain of such an order as it is as you say “precisely what Gen. Dix did” when I was elected Governor. If such was the case the proceeding at least does not seem to have been very effective in reducing the vote of the State, as I received fifteen thousand more votes than the highest candidate at the Presidential election in the preceding year and when a very large vote was polled in the State

But your Excellency will, I think, find that no such order as the present was ever issued by Gen. Dix. It is besides of some importance to note the difference in the condition of our State between that time and now. Her present condition requires no comment, but then, I beg leave to remind you, she was hovering upon the brink of Secession; her legislators had been arrested but a short time before to prevent them passing an Ordnance for that purpose, and at the election referred to there was an organized Secession party under the guise of a Peace Party with a nominated ticket in every Country and believed to be then actuated with the determination to carry the State into rebellion.

Under these circumstances what was the order issued by Gen. Dix? It was issued on the 1st Nov. 1861 and referring to the authority vested in him “to arrest all persons in rebellion against the United States” proceeded to direct the arrest of persons appearing at the polls “known to have been recently in Virginia bearing arms against the authority and forces of the United States and who have returned to their former homes with a view of taking part in the election” as also of other individuals lately residents of Maryland who have been engaged in similar acts of hostility or actively engaged in aiding and abetting those in arms.

The class of persons to be arrested, it will be observed, is much more distinctly marked than by the order of Gen. Schenck, and there is consequently much less margin for mistake or abuse of authority. Not only so, but the order does not seem to have applied to the proper residents of the State but only to returning rebels, and so far from being precisely what Gen. Schenck has now directed it not only contained no expressions which could by any implication be tortured into a menace of the Judges of Election, but it prescribed no oath of allegiance or any other oath to be taken by any one.

I find no allusion in your Excellency’s letter to the fact adverted to in mine that no Military intervention or test oath was ordered in either of the late important elections that have taken place in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

If your Excellency cannot as you say confidently rely even upon loyal men “whose election may have depended upon disloyal votes” and therefore cannot recognise the force of my suggestion that nearly all our candidates are loyal it is difficult to see what reliance you could have reposed on such a candidate as Mr. Vallandigham and quite as difficult for us to understand why such a discrimination has been allowed against a State whose citizens claim to be, if not as numerous, at least as loyal as those of any other.

President Lincoln telegraphs General George Meade, commander of the Army of the Potomac: “Samuel Wellers, private in Co. B. 49th. Penn Vols. writes that he is to be shot for desertion on the 6th. Inst. His own story is rather a bad one, and yet he tells it so frankly, that I am some what interested in him. Has he been a good soldier, except the desertion? About how old is he?”  President Lincoln generally refused to approve executions of soldiers under 18.   Two days later, his sentence is commuted.

Published in: on November 3, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

President Lincoln Invited to Gettysburg Ceremonies

November 2, 1863

President Lincoln meets with General Robert C. Schenck and two congressman – James A. Garfield of Ohio  and William Kelley of Pennsylvania about elections in Maryland to be held on November 4.

President Lincoln is invited to give brief remarks at the dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery on November 19.  Former Massachusetts Senator Edward Everett is to be the main speaker.  The invitation to Lincoln reads: “The Several States having soldiers in the Army of the Potomac, who were killed at the battle of Gettysburg, or have since died at various hospitals which were established int eh vicinity, have procured grounds on a prominent part of the field for a cemetery, and are having the dead removed to them and properly buried.  These grounds will be consecrated and set apart to this sacred purpose, by appropriate ceremonies, on Thursday, the 19th inst.  Hon. Edward Everett will deliver the oration.  I am authorized by the governors of the different States to invite you to be present and participate in these ceremonies, which will be very imposing and solemnly impressive.  It is the desire that after the oration, you, as Chief Executive of the Nation, formally set apart these grounds to their sacred use by a few appropriate remarks.  It will be a source of great gratification to the many widows and orphans that have been made almost friendless by the great battle here, to have you here personally; and it will kindle anew in the breasts of the comrades of these brave dead, who are now in tented field or nobly meeting the foe in the front, a confidence that they who sleep in death on the battlefield are not forgotten by those highest in authority; and they will feel that, should their fate be the same, their remains will not be uncared for.   We hope you will be able to be present to perform this last solemn act to the soldier-dead on this battlefield.”

President Lincoln, always interested in military technology, writes a memo about testing of “Diller’s Powder brought to the United States by an old Springfield friend, Isaac R. Diller, who had been consul at Bremen, Germany: “I select you to make the test of the new gun-powder, according to the foregoing documents.  Having expended some five thousand dollars to be prepared for making the test, it is desired that it be most carefully and thoroughly made, and answers thereupon given to all the following questions, and any others which may occur to you as pertinent.

Does this powder contain salpetre or sulphur?

Does it bear any relation to gun-cotten?

Can the ingredients for making it always be obtained in sufficient quantity in the United States?

Is it’s manufacture simple, requiring no complicated apparatus, and is attended with less danger than the manufacture of ordinary gun-powder?

Do atmospheric changes, whether of moisture or heat, injure the powder?

Will it explode with as little or less pressure than ordinary gun-powder?

Will it ignite under 300 . Celsius?

Will it ignite by a spark, or percussion-cap, like common gun-powder?

Are seven parts of it, in weight, as effective in smooth bored guns as nineparts of common gun-power?

In one part of it, in weight, as effective in rifled guns, as two parts of common power?

Will it, or the ingredients of it, deteriorate in store?

Will it heat a gun less than common powder? and in what proportion?

Does it give a weaker report?

Does it make less smoke?

Does it foul a gun less?

Is it less liable to burst or damage a gun?

In proportion to effect produced, is it cheaper than common gun-powder?

Has it any fault or faults not stated, or suggested in and by the answers to the foregoing questions?  and if so, what?

President Lincoln writes Postmaster General Montgomery Blair about whether his brother Frank Blair Jr. should take his seat in Congress from Missouri or continue in military service.  Should Frank not be elected speaker, Lincoln suggests he retain his commission:  “Some days ago I understood you to say that your brother, Gen. Frank Blair, desires to be guided by my wishes as to whether he will occupy his seat in congress or remain in the field.  My wish, then, is compounded of what I believe will be best for the country, and best for him.  And it is, that he will come here, put his military commission in my hands, take his seat, go into caucus with our friends, abide the nominations, help elect the nominees, and thus aid to organize a House of Representatives which will really support the government in the war.  If the result shall be the election of himself as Speaker, let him serve in that position; if not, let him re-take his commission, and return to the Army.  For the country this will heal a dangerous schism; for him, it will relieve from a dangerous position.  By a misunderstanding, as I think, he is in danger of being permanently separated from those with whom only he can ever have a real sympathy–the sincere opponents of slavery.  It will be a mistake if he shall allow the provocations offered him by insincere time-servers, to drive him out of the house of his own building.  He is young yet.  He has abundant talent–quite enough to occupy all his time, without devoting any to temper.  He is rising in military skill and usefulness.  His recent appointment to the command of a corps, by one so competent to judge as Gen. Sherman, proves this.  In that line he can serve both the country and himself more profitably than he could as a member of congress on the floor.  The foregoing is what I would say, if Frank Blair were my brother instead of yours.”

President Lincoln responds to an apology from Shakespearean actor James H. Hackett regarding a previous letter to Hackett that Hackett had released to the public – engendering widespread criticism of the president’s ideas about Shakespeare: “Yours of Oct. 22nd. is received, as also was, in due course, that of Oct. 3rd.  I look forward with pleasure to the fulfillment of the promise made in the former.

Give yourself no uneasiness on the subject mentioned in that of the 22nd.

My note to you I certainly did not expect to see in print; yet I have not been much shocked by the newspaper comments upon it.  Those comments constitute a fair specimen of what has occurred to me through life.  I have endured a great deal of ridicule without much malice; and have received a great deal of kindness, not quite free from ridicule.  I am used to it.

Presidential aide John Hay writes in his diary that Philadelphia Congressman William “Kelley says he has no part in any Presidential intrigue: that he would prefer Abraham Lincoln for his own successor to any one that he would be grieved if by the course of the Government itself he should be forced into an attitude of seeming hostility.

I came up and told Presdt. The wrong and injurious impressions Kelley had & he asked to see Kelley.  I found him closeted with Garfield & Whitelaw Reid, who seemed a little disgruntled at my abrupt requisition.  He came up with me talking in his effusive and intensely egotistic way about the canvass he had been making & speaking most bitterly of Blairs Rockville Speech.  He went in and talked an hour with the President.

After him came Schenck and the President fixed up a letter to Bradford about Schenck’s election order, in which while he guaranteed to all loyal people the right of voting for whom they pleased he strongly intimates that the loyalty of the candidates is not a sufficient safeguard – that men elected by disloyal votes are not wholly to be trusted.

I saw Sam: Wilkeson today.  He tells me he assisted at a somewhat formal conference of political people yesterday and the unanimous conclusion was that the Union nominee for the next Presidency must be Abraham Lincoln.  And that as a necessary condition of reelection a reorganization of the cabinet must be made.  The feeling of the country on this matter demands.  He laid his finger mysteriously on his lips and flitted like an elderly owl into the Treasury Department.

The President says Butler has been tendered Foster’s Department while Foster goest o relieve Burnside, who resigns.  It is not yet known whether Butler will accept.

General John Schofield had to be replaced in Missouri because of political dissension there.  President Lincoln tells John Hay that “he had thought, when the trouble and row of this election in Missouri is over, and the matter will not be misconstrued, of sending to Missouri and Schofield into the field.  He says that it was because of Grant’s opposition that Rosecrans is not in the Army of the Cumberland: when it was decided to place Grant in command of the whole Military division, two sets of orders were made out, one contemplating Rosecrans’ retention of the command of his own army & the other his relief.  Grant was to determine that question for himself.  He said at once that he preferred Rosecrans should be relieved – that he (R) never would obey orders.  This consideration of course involves a doubt as to whether Rosecrans should be placed in command of a district from which Grant ust to a certain extent derive supplies & reinforcements, on occasion.”

That night, writes Hay, “Schenck sent for copies of the correspondence between the Presdt. and Bradford.  The President came into his room with the despatch in his hands, clad in an overcoat pure & simple reaching to his knees & sleepily fumbled for the papers in his desk till he found them & travelled back to bed.  I took the letters to the telegraph office & sent them off about midnight.”  President Lincoln writes Maryland Governor Augustus W. Bradford regarding plans for security by General Robert C. Schenck at the upcoming state elections: “Yours of the 31st ult. was received yesterday about noon, and since then I have been giving most earnest attention to the subject matter of it.  At my call Gen. Schenck has attended; and he assures me it is almost certain that violence will be used at some of the voting places on election day, unless prevented by his provost-guards.  He says that at some of those places Union voters will not attend at all, or run a ticket unless they have some assurance of protection.  This makes the Missouri case, of my action in regard to which, you express your approval.  The remaining point of your letter is a protest against any person offering to vote being put to any test not found in the laws of Maryland.  This brings us to a difference between Missouri and Maryland.  With the same reason in both States, Missouri has, by law, provided a test for the voter, with reference to the present rebellion, while Maryland has not.  For example, Gen. [Isaac R.] Tremble, captured fighting us at Gettysburg is, without recanting his treason, a legal voter by the laws of Maryland.  Even Gen. Schenck’s order, admits him to vote, if he recants upon oath.  I think that is cheap enough.  My order in Missouri, which approve, and Gen. Schenck’s order here, reach precisely the same end.  Each assures the right of voting to all loyal men; and whether a man is loyal, each allows that man to fix by his own oath.  Your suggestion that nearly all the candidates are loyal, I do not think quite meets the case.  In this struggle for the nation’s life.  I can not so confidently rely on those whose elections may have depended upon disloyal votes.  Such men, when elected, may prove true, but such votes are given them in the expectation that they will prove false.

Nor do I think that to keep the peace at the polls, and to prevent the persistently disloyal from voting, constitutes just cause of offence to Maryland.  I think she has her own example for it.  If I mistake not, it is precisely what Gen. Dix did when your Excellency was elected Governor.

I revoke the first of the three propositions in Gen. Schenck’s general order No. 53; not that it is wrong in principle, but because the military being, of necessity, exclusive judges as to who shall be arrested, the provision is too liable to abuse.  For the revoked part I substitute the following:

‘That all Provost Marshals, and other Military officers, do prevent all disturbance and violence at or about the polls, whether offered by such persons as above described, or by any other person, or persons whomsoever’

The other two propositions of the order I allow to stand.

Gen. Schenck is fully determined, and has my strict orders besides, that all loyal men may vote, and vote for whom they please.

Late that night, Schenck telegraphs President Lincoln: “Governor Bradford has issued this evening such a proclamation in regard to my order in relation to elections that I deem it absolutely essential to have your correspondence with him here immediately Will you please have telegraphed to me or send by special messenger tonight full copies of his letters & your reply.”

General Benjamin F. Butler had been waiting for months for a new assignment after he was removed a year earlier as the Union commander in New Orleans. Today, he receives orders: ‘You have been assigned to command at Fort Monroe.  The Secretary of War directs you to repair there immediately.’

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

Maryland Matters Concern President Lincoln

November 1, 1863

General Robert C. Schenck telegraphs Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton: “I will go to see the President by next Train 5. P. M. today. My order as to the election has already been issued. If it is revoked, we lose this State. Can I see you first on arrival at Washington this evening?”  His orders provided for military provost marshals to arrest civilians acting disorderly around polling places.

Maryland Governor August Bradford and other officials objected to this military interference by Schenck.  Postmaster General Montgomery Blair, a Maryland resident, writes President Lincoln: “Col Berry Speaker of the House of Delegates in Md. is here with a letter from Govr Bradford in reference to the interference – of the Military in the Election on Wednesday. Orders he understands have already been printed which are to be promulgated to morrow. The Govr. thinks such orders only promotive of mischief & entirely unnecessary for any public purpose. I concur cordially in his protest & feel sure that only mischief can grow out of them–

Will you see Col Berry for a few moments at the White House? He will call at any moment – He is your warm friend, & tells me that he recently presented your name in a speech to the Baltimore County people & had an enthusiastic response from them which even surprized him –

On the other side of the issue, former Secretary of War Simon Cameron is pushing for more arrests.  He writes President Lincoln: “The Police Commissioners, of Baltimore, have sued me for their arrest — and the trials are expected on this week. My attorney thinks they will be favorably affected by the arrest of all the parties for Treason, and the hope that you will have their arrests ordered immediately has brought me here. The suits need not be prosecuted, unless it is found necessary in the progress of my suits. These of mine are the first suits of the kind and a decision would not only be injurious to the Govt, but would be injurious to me — and hence my anxiety.”

Presidential aide John Hay writes: “This evening Genl. Schenck, accompanied by Genl. Garfield & Judge Kelley came in to insist upon some order which would prevent disloyal people from voting at the ensuing Maryland election.  Before going into the President’s room (Kelley & Garfield sitting with me in the ante room) Kelley spoke very bitterly of Blair’s working against the Union party in Maryland.”

After they were gone I handed the President’ Blair’s Rockville speech, telling him I had read it carefully and saving a few intemperate and unwise personal expressions against leading Republicans which might better have been omitted, I saw nothing in the speech which could have given rise to such violent criticism.”

“Really” says the President “the controversy between the two sets of men, represented by him and by Mr. Sumner is one of mere form and little else.  I do not think Mr Blair would agree that the states in rebellion are to be permitted to come at once into the political family & renew the very performances which have already so bedeviled us.  I do not think Mr. [Charles] Sumner would insist that when the loyal people of a state obtain the supremacy in their councils & are ready to assume the direction of their own affairs, that they should be excluded. I do not understand Mr. Blair to admit that Jefferson may take his seat in Congress again as a Representative of his people; I do not understand Mr Sumner to assert that John Minor Botts may not.  So far as I understand Mr Sumner he seems in favor of Congress taking from the Executive the power it at present exercises over insurrectionary districts, and assuming it to itself.  But when the vital question arises as to the right and privilege of the people fo these states to govern themselves, I apprehend there will be little difference among loyal men.  The question at once is presented in whom this power is vested.  And the practical matter for decision is how to keep the rebellious populations rom overwhelming and outvoting the loyal minority.”

I asked him if Blair was really opposed to our Union ticket in Maryland.  He said he did not know anything about it – had never asked: he says Crisfield plainly told him he was opposed to the Administration.

I spoke of Fox having said that Union men must divide on the question of the Blair and Sumner theories & that I could see no necessity for it.  He agreed.  He says Montgomery Blair came to him today to say that Frank has no idea or intention of running for Speaker – that Frank wishes to know what the President desires him to do & he will do it.  The President will write to Frank his ideas of the best thing to do: for Frank to come here at opening of Congress: say publicly he is not candidate for Speaker: assist in organization of the House on Union basis & then go back to the field.

If Frank Blair does that, it will be the best thing for his own fame he has recently done.  He is glorious fellow & it is pitiable to see him the pet of traitors or lukewarm loyalists in Mo, and attacked abused and vilified by his old friends and adherents.

I was pleased to learn from the President tonight that the Eleventh Corps did specially well in Hooker’s night battle on the Tennessee.

Published in: on November 1, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment