President Visited by Army Substitute

October 1, 1864

Provost Marshal General James Fry brings J.S. Staples, the President’s draft substitute, to the White House. Fry announces: “Mr. President, this is the man who is to represent you in the army for the next year.’ It was Staples second tour of Army duty.   He had gotten typhoid fever while on service in North Carolina in 1862. Lincoln shook hands with the soldier and said such an honest-looking young man could be relied upon to do his duty. The President was then presented with a framed official notice of the fact that he had put a representative recruit into the military service of the United States Army.” The Washington Evening Star runs the following announcement: “A REPRESENTATIVE RECRUIT FOR PRESIDENT LINCOLN.”

“Yesterday, Provost Marshal General Fry sent for Mr. Noble D. Larnner, of the Third Ward, and announced to him that President Lincoln desired to have a representative recruit put in for him (the President) and credited to the Third Ward. Mr. Larner at once set to work to procure as fine and healthy a looking recruit as he could, and today secured a young man, twenty years of age named John Summerfield Staples, from Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, and who served nine months in the 176th Pennsylvania militia regiment. Staples is not so tall as the President, but is well-formed, stout and healthy, and there is every indication that he will prove an excellent soldier. The recruit was accompanied by his father, Mr. J.L. Staples, who gave the consent to his son’s enlistment. The bounty was paid the recruit, and the money was handed over to Mr. Larner by General Fry, who was authorized by the President to draw upon him for the amount. Staples was at once sent to he barracks, and will be uniformed, and then will be sent to the barracks, and will be uniformed, and thence will be sent to Col. Alexander’s 2d District regiment.

It was Staples’ second tour of Army duty.   In 1862, Staples had fallen ill with typhoid fever on military service in North Carolina. Larner had recruited Staples to be Lincoln’s substitute after encountering him on Pennsylvania Avenue. The 5′ 3″ recruit was a foot shorter than the President. Two days later, the Washington Evening Star reported: “The morning, John S. Staples, President Lincoln’s representative recruit, was arrayed in the uniform of the United States army and accompanied by General Fry, Provost Marshal General; Mr. N.D. Larner, of the Third World, and his (Staples’) father, was taken to the Executive Mansion, where he was received by President Lincoln. Gen. Fry introduced him by saying: ‘Mr. President this is the man who is to represent you in the army for the next year.’

Mr. Lincoln shook hands with Staples, remarked that he was a good looking, stout and healthy appearing man, and that he believed he would do his duty. He asked Staples if he had been mustered in, and he replied that he had.

“Mr. Larner then presented the President with a framed official notice of the fact that he had put in a representative recruit, and the President again shook hands with Staples, and expressed the hope that he would be one of the fortunate ones, and the visiting party retired.

President Lincoln writes Acting Secretary of the Interior William T. Otto: Understanding that persons giving credit in this case will have no strictly legal claim upon the government, yet the necessity for it is so great and urgent, that I shall most cheerfully urge upon Congress that such credit and claims fairly given and made, shall be recognized and paid.” Indian Commissioner William Dole had $30,000 worth of clothing and$170,000 worth of food be purchased for refugee Indians in Kansas.

At Navy Department, President Lincoln discusses with Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles the disposition of Admiral David Farragut in the Gulf of Mexico: “The President yesterday made inquiry of me as to the disposition made of Farragut. Informed me that General Canby wanted him to remain at Mobile, and that F. preferred doing so to coming to Wilmington. I told him Farragut was relieved of the latter duty, and he could remain as long as he pleased in the Gulf. This morning the President called at the Navy Department and made further inquiry. Said that Halleck and Sherman had some movements on hand, and the War Department also, and would like to know if F. could remain. I told him he could.”

Shortly after he left, two dispatches from Admiral Farragut came on to my table, received by this morning’s mail, in which he expressed decided aversion to taking command at Wilmington.

These dispatches inform me that General Canby has an expedition on foot for the capture of Mobile, that he is getting troops for this purpose, etc., all of which has been studiously kept from the Navy Department, and now when ready to move, they are embarrassed. I immediately went over to the War Department and the President was there. He was, I soon saw, but slightly informed of the proposed army movement, but Stanton and Halleck, finding they had refined too much, had communicated hastily with him, in order that he should see me.

All this is bad administration. There will be want of unity and concert under such management. It is not because the President has any want of confidence in his Cabinet, but Seward and Stanton both endeavor to avoid Cabinet consultations on questions of their own Departments. It has been so from the beginning on the part of the Secretary of State, who spends more or less of every day with the President and worms from him all the information he possesses and can be induced to impart. A disposition to constantly intermeddle with other Departments, to pry into them and often to control and sometimes counteract them, has manifested itself throughout, often involving himself and others in difficulty. Chase for some time was annoyed that things were so but at length went into competition for the President’s ear and company. He did not succeed, however, as against Seward, though adopting his policy of constant attendance. Stanton has been for the departmental system always. Pressing, assuming, violent, and impatient, intriguing, harsh, and arbitrary, he’ is often exceedingly offensive in his manners, deportment, and many of his acts.

A majority of the friends of the Administration in the last Congress was opposed to the President, but his opponents were the cronies and intimates of Stanton, or Chase, who, however, were not cordial towards one another or in anything but in their hostility to the President. Stanton kept on more intimate terms with the President, while his friends were the most violent in their enmity. Wade, Winter Davis, and men of that description were Stanton’s particular favorites and in constant consultation with him.

Published in: on October 1, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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