Washington Anxious About Threatened Attack

July 10, 1864

President Lincoln tours forts defending Washington. He writes General Ulysses S. Grant: “Your despatch to Gen. Halleck, referring to what I may think in the present emergency, is shown me. Gen. Halleck says we have absolutely no force here fit to go to the field. He thinks that with the hundred day-men, and invalids we have here, we can defend Washington, and scarcely Baltimore. Besides these, there are about eight thousand not very reliable, under Howe at Harper’s Ferry, with Hunter approaching that point very slowly, with what number I suppose you know better than I. Wallace with some odds and ends, and part of what came up with Ricketts, was so badly beaten yesterday at Monocacy, that what is left can attempt no more than to defend Baltimore. What we shall get in from Penn. & N.Y. will scarcely [be] worth counting, I fear. Now what I think is that you should provide to retain your hold where you are certainly, and bring the rest with you personally, and make a vigorous effort to destroy the enemie’s force in this vicinity. I think there is really a fair chance to do this if the movement is prompt. This is what I think, upon your suggestion, and is not an order.”

President Lincoln writes Baltimore leaders concerned about the safety of their city: “Yours of last night received. I have not a single soldier but whom is being disposed by the Military for the best protection of all. By latest account the enemy is moving on Washington. They fly to either place. Let us be vigilant but keep cool. I hope neither Baltimore or Washington will be sacked.”

At 10:30 P.M., Grant writes: “I have sent from here a whole corps commanded by an excellent officer, besides over three thousand other troops. One Division of the Nineteenth Corps, six thousand strong is now on its way to Washington. One Steamer loaded with these troops having passed Ft. Monroe today. They will probably reach Washington tomorrow’ night. This force under [Horatio G.] Wright will be able to compete with the whole with [Richard S.] Ewell.

Before more troops can be sent from here [David] Hunter will be able to join Wright in rear of the Enemy, with at least ten thousand men, besides a force sufficient to hold Maryland Heights.

I think on reflection it would have a bad effect for me to leave here, and with Genl [Edward O. C.] Ord at Baltimore and Hunter and Wright with the forces following the enemy up, could do no good

I have great faith that the enemy will never be able to get back with much of his force.’

About 10 P.M. President Lincoln and his family return from the Soldiers Home to the White House. John Hay writes that he returned to the White House at night, “I found Mr. Whiton had been there [and] had stampeded the servants by leaving a message for me suggesting that Mr. Lincoln should have a gunboat in readiness to leave in the morning as the enemyw as in force within fives miles. I went to bed. A little after midnight R.T.L. came into my room & go into bed: Saying Stanton had sent out for them all to come in.”

From New York, New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley writes President Lincoln about possible peace negotitions: “I have yours of yesterday. Whether there be persons at Niagara (or elsewhere) who are empowered to commit the rebels by negotiation, is a question; but if there be such, there is no question at all that they would decline to exhibit their credentials to me, much more to open their budget and give their best terms. Green as I may be, I am not quite so verdant as to imagine, anything of the sort. I have neither purpose nor desire to be made a confidant, far less an agent, in such negotiations. But I do deeply realize that the rebel chiefs achieved, a most decided advantage in proposing or pretending to propose to have A.H. Stephens visit Washington as a peacemaker, and being rudely repulsed; and I am anxious that the ground lost to the national cause by thatmistake shall somehow be regained in season for effect on the approaching North Carolina election. I will see if I can get a look into the hand of whomsoever may be at Niagara; though that is a project so manifestly hopeless that I have little heart for it, still I shall try.

Meantime I wish you would consider the propriety of somehow apprising the people of the South, especially those of North Carolina, that no overture or advance looking to peace and reunion has ever been repelled by you, but that such a one would at any time have been cordially received, and favorably regarded and would still be.

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Published in: on July 10, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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