President Lincoln Addresses Military and Political Concerns

July 25, 1864

Navy Secretary Gideon Welles writes in his diary that Postmaster General Montgomery “Blair is sore and vexed because the President frequently makes a confidant and adviser of Seward, without consulting the rest of the Cabinet. I told him this had been the course from the beginning; Seward and Chase had each striven fro the position of Special Executive Counsel; that it had apparently been divided between them, but Seward had outgeneraled or outintrigued Chase. The latter was often consulted when others were not, but often he was not aware of things which were intrusted to Seward (who was superserviceable) and managed by him.”

President Lincoln writes a memo about the recent negotiations conducted by New York Tribune editor: “Hon. Clement C. Clay, one of the Confederate gentlemen who recently, at Niagara Falls, in a letter to Mr. Greeley, declared that they were not empowered to negotiate for peace, but that they were, however, in the confidential employment of their government, has prepared a Platform and an Address to be adopted by the Democracy at the Chicago Convention, the preparing of these, and conferring with the democratic leaders in regard to the same, the confidential employment of their government, in which he, and his confreres are engaged. The following plans are in the Platform–

5. The war to be further prossecuted only to restore the Union as it was, and only in such manner, that no further detriment to slave property shall be effected.

6. All negro soldiers and seamen to be at once disarmed and degraded to menial service in the Army and Navy; and no additional negroes to be, on any pretence whatever, taken from their masters.

7. All negroes not having enjoyed actual freedom during the war to be held permanently as slaves; and whether those who shall have enjoyed actual freedom during the war, shall be free to be a legal question.

The following paragraphs are in the Address–

Let all who are in favor of peace; of arresting the slaughter of our countrymen, of saving the country from bankruptcy & ruin, of securing food & raiment & good wages for the laboring classes; of disappointing the enemies of Democratic and Republican Government who are rejoicing in the overthrow of their proudest monuments; of vindicating our capacity for self-government, arouse and maintain these principles, and elect these candidates.”

*          *          *          *          *

The stupid tyrant who now disgraces the Chair of Washington and them, only that he persists in the war merely to free the salves.”

The convention may not litterally adopt Mr. Clay’s Platform and Address, but we predict it will do so substantially. We shall see.

Mr. Clay confesses to his Democratic friends that he is for peace and disunion; but, he says “You can not elect without a cry of war for the union; but, once elected, we are friends, and can adjust matters somehow.” He also says “You will find some difficulty in proving that Lincoln could, if he would, have peace and re-union, because Davis has not said so, and will not say so; but you must assert it

President Lincoln writes New York Republican Abram Wakeman, Esq.: “I feel that the subject which you pressed upon my attention in our recent conversation is an important one. The men of the South, they are in the confidential employment of the rebellion; and they tell us as distinctly that they are not empowered to offer terms of peace. Does any one doubt that what they are empowered to offer terms of peace. Does any one doubt that what they are empowered to do, is to assist in selecting and arranging a candidate and a platform for the Chicago convention? Who could have given them this confidential employment but he who only a week since declared to Jacquess and Gilmore that he had no terms of peace but the independence of the South–the dissolution of the Union? Thus the present presidential contest will almost certainly be no other than a contest between a Union and Disunion candidate, disunion certainly following the success of the latter. The issue is a mighty one for all people and all time; and whoever aids the right, will be appreciated and remembered.”

Historian William Frank Zornow wrote in Lincoln & the Party Divided: “Through these missions, however, Lincoln accomplished one important result. He silenced many of the critics who insisted that the South was eager for peace and would yield if given fair terms. The Jacquess-Gilmore mission especially brought back conclusive proof that this was not so. Jefferson Davis had told the envoys that nothing short of independence would satisfy the Confederacy. Those who loved the Union had no choice after this but to fight to the finish.”

From City Point, Virginia, General Ulysses S. Grant writes President Lincoln: “After the late raid into Maryland had expended itself,1 seeing the necessity of having the four departments of “The Susquehanna”, “The Middle”, “Western Va.” and “Washington” under one head, I recommended that they be merged into one, and named Gen. Franklin as a suitable person to command the whole. I still think it highly essential that these four Departments should be in one command. I do not insist that the Departments should be broken up, nor do I insist upon Gen. Franklin commanding. All I ask is that one General officer in whom I, and yourself, have confidence in, should command the whole. Gen. Franklin was named because he was available and I know him to be capable and believe him to be trustworthy.

It would suit me equally well to call the four Departments referred to, a “Military Division”, and to have, placed in command of it, General Meade.3 In this case I would suggest Gen. Hancock for command of the Army of the Potomac, and Gen. Gibbon5 for the command of the 2d Corps.

With Gen. Meade in command of such a Division, I would have every confidence that all the troops within the Military Division would be used to the very best advantage in case of another invasion. He too having no care beyond his own command, would station his troops to the best advantage, from a personal examination of the ground, and would adopt means of getting the earliest information of any advance of the enemy, and would prepare to meet it.

During the last raid the wires happened to be down between here and Fortress Monroe, and the cable broken between there and Cherrystone. This made it take from twelve to twenty-four hours, each way, for dispatches to pass. Under such circumstances it was difficult for me to give positive orders or directions because I could not tell how the conditions might change during the transit of dispatches.

Many reasons might be assigned for the change here suggested, some of which I would not care to commit to paper but would not hesitate to give verbally.

I send this by Brig. Gen. Rawlins, Chief of Staff, who will be able to give more information of “the situation” than I could give in a letter.

Historian R. Steven Jones wrote in The Right Hand of Command: Use & Disuse of Personal Staffs in the Civil War: “In late July Grant assigned Rawlins to personally deliver the report and rolls of Confederate parolees to the adjutant general’s office in Washington.   He intended the trip to be something of a vacation for the chief of staff, who had worked so diligently for Grant the past two years. He also sent with Rawlins a letter introducing him to President Lincoln. Grant said he would be pleased if the president granted Rawlins an interview, noting that Rawlins could give Lincoln any information he wanted about affairs in the Department of the Tennessee. Grant ended by saying that he thought Lincoln would be relieved to know that Rawlins had no favor to ask. ‘Even in my position it is a great luxury to meet a gentleman who has no ‘axe to grind’ and I can appreciate that it is infinitely more so in yours,’ said Grant. Lincoln must indeed have been relieved, recalling the visits of McClellan’s chief of staff and father-in-law, Randolph Marcy, in 1862 when Marcy most certainly had an ‘axe to grind.’”

President Lincoln writes General Edward R.S. Canby in Louisiana: “Frequent complaints are made to me that persons endeavoring to bring in cotton in strict accordance with the trade regulations of the Treasury Department, are frustrated by seizures of District Attorneys, Marshals, Provost-Marshals and others, on various pretences, all looking to black-mail, and spoils, one way and another. I wish, if you can find time, you would look into this matter within your Department, and finding these abuses to exist, break them up, if in your power, so that fair dealing under the regulations, can proceed. The printed Regulations, no doubt, are accessable to you. If you find the abuses existing, and yet beyond your power, please report to me somewhat particularly upon the facts.

The bearer of this Shaffer, is one who, on behalf of himself and firm, makes complaint; but while he is my friend, I do not ask anything for him which can not be done for all honest dealers under the Regulations.

Published in: on July 25, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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