President Lincoln Meets General Ulysses S. Grant at Fortress Monroe

July 31, 1864

President Lincoln arrives at Fortress Monroe to meet with General Ulysses S. Onboard U.S.S. Baltimore at 10 AM to discuss new command for Shenandoah Valley.

Historian Brooks Simpson wrote in Ulysses S. Grant: Triumph Over Adversity, 1822-1865,: “Early on the morning of July 31 Grant traveled to Fort Monroe to meet with Lincoln. The failure of the Crater still weighed heavily on his mind: he would much rather have presented the president with a victory than with more disappointment. Now he needed to straighten out the confused command situation around Washington Both the president and the general-in-chief wanted to do more than to simply render the capital secure. A unified command under an aggressive Union commander could destroy a portion of Lee’s army in the field, deprive Lee’s army of resources from the Shenandoah Valley, and perhaps make it far enough south to destroy the Virginia Central Railroad.   Explaining that Franklin was unacceptable, Lincoln was lukewarm to the idea of transferring Meade, ostensibly because it would look as if he was being demoted, but probably in part because the president, recalling Gettysburg, did not see Meade as a general capable of conducting a vigorous pursuit. Ironically, he was willing to discuss the possibility of naming George b. McClellan to take charge – an option worth considering more for political than military reasons, for McClellan was a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. Although Grant had previously expressed an interest in offering McClellan an assignment, nothing came of this proposal. Grant then suggested Sheridan for the command – although Hunter would remain as head of the department. Lincoln agreed. ‘I presume our Father Abraham looks on his election prospects as waning, and wants to know if Ulysses, the warrior, if some man or some plan can’t be go to do some thing,’ Lyman speculated. ‘I one word he wants to know WHY THE ARMY OF THE POTOMAC DON’T MOVE.”

At 3 PM, President Lincoln begins return trip to Washington by boat.

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Published in: on July 31, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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