President Seeks Release of Indiana Soldiers to Vote

September 19, 1864

President Lincoln writes General William T. Sherman: “The State election of Indiana occurs on the 11th. of October, and the loss of it to the friends of the Government would go far towards losing the whole Union cause. The bad effect upon the November election, and especially the giving the State Government to those who will oppose the war in every possible way, are too much to risk, if it can possibly be avoided. The draft proceeds, notwithstanding its strong tendency to lose us the State. Indiana is the only important State, voting in October, whose soldiers cannot vote in the field. Any thing you can safely do to let her soldiers, or any part of them, go home and vote at the State election, will be greatly in point. They need not remain for the Presidential election, but may return to you at once. This is, in no sense, an order, but is merely intended to impress you with the importance, to the army itself, of your doing all you safely can, yourself being the judge of what you can safely do.”

On September 12, Indiana Governor Oliver O. Morton joined Republican members of Congress in writing Secretary of the War Edwin M. Stanton that “we express it as our profound conviction that upon the issue of the election that occurs within a month from this date may depend the question as to whether the secession element shall be effectually crushed or whether it shall acquire strength enough, we do not say to take the state out of the Union, but practically to sever her from the general government, so far as future military aid is concerned.

We further express the gravest doubts as to whether it will be possible for us to secure success at the polls on the 11th of October unless we can receive aid—

  1. By delay of the draft until the election has passed.
  2. By the return, before election day, of fifteen thousand Indiana soldiers.

Stanton had conveyed to Morton the gist of a telegram from Sherman: ‘The Secretary of War tells me the draft will be made on Monday next. If the President modifies it to the extent of one man, or waivers in it’s execution he is gone ever. The Army would vote against him.”

President Lincoln writes New Jersey Congressman John C. Ten Eyck: “Dr. J. R. Freese, now editor of a leading Union Journal in New-Jersey, resided, for a time, in Illinois, when & where I made his acquaintance, and since when I have enjoyed much of his friendship. He is somewhat wounded with me now, that I do not recognize him as he thinks I ought. I wish to appoint him a Provost-Marshal in your State. May I have your approval?”

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Published in: on September 19, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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