Generals Dine at the White House

March 12, 1864

President Lincoln attends the regular Saturday afternoon reception.  Later, he hosts a White House dinner for  General. Lewis Wallace and other generals at 6:45 PM.   In attendance are General George Meade, John Wool, David Hunter, Daniel Sickles, Doubleday and Alexander McCook.  In response to Grant’s request to be excused, President Lincoln commented: “‘I don’t see how we can excuse you.  It would be Hamlet with the Prince left out.”  Lincoln had just seen the actor Edwin Booth as Hamlet at Grover’s Theatre.  Grant responded: “I appreciate fully the honor Mrs. Lincoln would do me, but time is precious; and — really — Mr. President, I have had enough of the show business.” The President of the United States ordered:

I. Major Gen. H.W. Halleck is, at his own request, relieved from duty as General-in-Chief of the Army, and Lieut. Gen. U.S. Grant is assigned to the command of the armies of the United States.  The headquarters of the army will be in Washington, and also with Lieutenant-General in the field.

II. Maj. Gen. H.W. Halleck is assigned to duty in Washington as Chief of Staff of the Army, under the direction of the Secretary of War and the lieutenant-general commanding.  His orders will be obeyed and respected accordingly.

III. Maj. Gen. W.T. Sherman is assigned to the command of the Military Division of the Mississippi, composed of the Departments of the Ohio, the Cumberland, the Tennessee, and the Arkansas.

IV. Maj. Gen. J.B. McPherson is assigned to the command of the Department and Army of the Tennessee.

V. In relieving Major-General Halleck from duty as General-in-Chief, the President desires to express his approbation and thanks for the able and zealous manner in which the arduous and responsible duties of that position have been performed.

The biographer of General David Hunter, Edward A. Miller, Jr., wrote: “Hunter’s status in the capital was such that he was invited by Lincoln with other generals to a White House dinner on 12 March.  Grant was also asked.  Indeed the even might have been to introduce thenew commander to eastern army officers and administration officials.   Grant knew few of them, apart from those with Mexican War experience, but he certainly had warm recent relations with Hunter.  Grant, however, was not at the function because he had left for the West to turn over responsibility in that theater of war to Sherman…”

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Published in: on March 12, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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