Union Defeated at Battle of Monocacy in Maryland

July 9, 1864

President Lincoln writes John W. Garrett, president of the president of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad: “What have you heard about a battle at Monococy to-day? We have nothing about it here except what you say.” Garrett responded early that night: “At 10:30 this a.m. operator at Monocacy stated there was then severe fighting near that point, our forces shelling the enemy, who had advanced to within three-quarters of a mile of Monocacy on the road from Frederick to Georgetown….Our telegraph operator at Monrovia, which is eight miles east of Monocacy, this instant telegraphs that an aide of General [Lew] Wallace has arrived there, who reports that `our troops at Monocacy have given way, and that General Wallace has been badly defeated,’ the bridge having been abandoned.”

General Grant telegraphs Henry W. Halleck at 6 P.M. on July 9: “Forces enough to defeat all that Early has with him should get in his rear south of him, and follow him up sharply, leaving him to go north, defending depots, towns, &c., with small garrisons and the militia. If the President thinks it advisable that I should go to Washington in person I can start in an hour after receiving notice….” Historian Brooks Simpson noted in Ulysses S. Grant: Triumph Over Adversity, 1822-1865: “If Grant had to leave the Petersburg front for any reason, Butler, by virtue of his seniority in rank, would command both his army and the Army of the Potomac. Yet Lincoln, anxious to dispose of Early, wanted Grant to do just that. He suggested that his general-in-chief take charge of matters around Washington ‘and make a vigorous effort to destroy the enemie’s force in this vicinity.’ That thought had crossed Grant’s mind on July 9, but by the time the president’s message arrived, Grant had met with Butler and Smith. For the general-in-chief to leave now would be one command crisis too many. He decided to stay at City Point, informing Lincoln that ‘it would have a bad effect for me to leave here.’ Besides, he believed that with the force at hand ‘the enemy will never be able to get back with much of his force.’

Just before midnight, General Henry W. Halleck telegraphs General Wallace: “I am directed by the President to say that you will rally your forces and make every possible effort to retard the enemy’s march on Baltimore.”

President Lincoln writes New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley’s suggestion that there are Confederate representatives in Canada prepared to negotiate peace: “Your letter of the 7th, with inclosures, received. If you can find, any person anywhere professing to have any proposition of Jefferson Davis in writing, for peace, embracing the restoration of the Union and abandonment of slavery, what ever else it embraces, say to him he may come to me with you, and that if he really brings such proposition, he shall, at the least, have conduct, with the paper (and without publicity, if he choose) to the point where you shall met him. The same, if there be two or more persons.

Greeley had written Lincoln on July 7: “I venture to inclose you a letter and telegraphic dispatch that I received yesterday from our irrepressible friend, Colorado Jewett, at Niagara Falls. I think they deserve attention. Of course, I do not indorse Jewett’s positive avertment that his friends…have ‘full powers’ from J.D., though I do not doubt that he thinks they have. I let that statement stand as simply evidencing the anxiety of the Confederates everywhere for peace. So much is beyond the doubt.

And thereupon I venture to remind you that our bleeding, bankrupt, almost dying country also longs for peace–shudders at the prospect of fresh conscriptions, of further wholesale devastations, and of new rivers of human blood. And a wide-spread conviction that the Government…are not anxious for Peace, and do not improve proferred opportunities to achieve it, is doing great harm now, and is morally certain, unless removed, to do far greater in the approaching Elections…

I entreat you, in your own time and manner, to submit overtures for pacification to the Southern insurgents which the impartial must pronounce frank and generous. If only with a view to the momentous Election soon to occur in North Carolina, and of the Draft to be enforced in the Free States, this should bedone at once.

I would give the safe conduct required by the Rebel envoys at Niagara…but you may see reasons for declining it. But, whether through them or otherwise, do not, I entreat you, fail to make the Southern people comprehend that you and all of us are anxious for peace…

Mr. President, I fear you do not realize how intently the people desire any peace consistent with the national integrity and honor…With United States stocks worth but forty cents in gold per dollar, and drafting about to commence on the third million of Union soldiers, can this be wondered at?

I do not say that a just peace is now attainable, though I believe it to be so. But I do say, that a frank offer by you to the insurgents of terms…will…prove an immense and sorely needed advantage to the national cause; it may save us from a northern insurrection…

I beg you to invite those now at Niagara to exhibit their credentials and submit their ultimatum.

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

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