Presidential Party Returns to Washington

June 23, 1864

Accompanied by Assistant Secretary of the Navy Gustavus Fox and Rear Admiral William Lee, President Lincoln returns to Washington from a meeting with General Ulysses S. Grant at City Point, Virginia. . Presidential aide John Hay writes in his diary: “The President arrived today from the front, sunburnt and fagged but still refreshed and cheered. He found the army in fine health good position and good spirits; Grant quietly confident: he says quoting the Richmond papers, it may be a long summer’s day before he does his work but that he is as sure of doing it as he is of anything in the world. Sheridan is now on a raid, the purpose of which is to sever the connection at junction of the Lynchburg & Danville R.R.’s at Burke’s. While the Army is swinging around to the south of Petersburg and taking possession of the roads in that direction.”

President Lincoln is sent an unusual request by General Alvin P. Hovey, who wants to leave the Union Army: “I have just received a letter from my old personal friend Hon Schuyler Colfax, in which he informs me, that you will decline to accept my resignation– I trust this is not so– I have never asked you for promotion, and now after fighting for nearly three years in the front, I simply ask, that you will not drive me to extremes, and that you will grant me, the poor privilege of retiring to private life– If left to my own choice, I should have stated no reasons for my resignation, but being compelled to do so by Gen Orders, I preferred stating the blunt truth, to covering the same, under some hypocritical pretexts–

Whether right or wrong, I am now unfit to command– I could not go back to my little Brigade (called a Division) without deep humiliation– I think I have served my Country– In the battles of Shiloh, Port Gibson, Champion Hills, Big Black, Vicksburgh, Jackson, Dalton, Reseca, Altoona mountains, besides many expeditions in Arkansas, and Mississippi The troops under my command have borne a conspicuous and honorable part, and I can proudly boast, for them, that on no occassion, were they ever compelled to give back before the foe– I have probably, been nearly if not quite One hundred days under fire, and the only claim I now have to make, is one, that I regard as my legal right, that is, the privilege of retiring from the service, when I believe that my honor demands it–

My motherless children, now demand my care, but I do not wish to parade my family affairs before the World–

Although General Hovey writes, “I trust Mr President that you will not hesitate to grant my request– With heartfelt prayers for the success of our Government, under your administration,” his request is apparently not granted.

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Published in: on June 23, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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