Friday, July 29, 2011

Lincoln Appoints George McClellan to Lead the Army

Although the great loss at Manassas Junction/Bull Run was very discouraging to many Washington City officials, President Lincoln was not one of them. He stood firm in his resolve that in the long run the Union Army would suppress the rebellion. He realized that after a bad start, the Union Army would recover and win, even if the struggle became long and drawn out.
Mr. Lincoln did fear however, if the tide was not turned quickly, that the people of the North might become discouraged and push for compromise and peace. He did have a large support base in his own party, but also realized that some were just backing the war as a means of securing additional revenue for themselves.
With the battle behind him, President Lincoln put General George McClellan in charge of the army. His appointment brought great enthusiasm to the soldiers who loved McClellan. His new duties however were compounded as the original 90 day enlistments were now up, and inexperienced soldiers came into his army. On July 24, 80,000 new Union volunteers were accepted into McClellan’s army.
On July 26, Congress finally voted to approve my appointment as U.S. Federal Marshal of the District of Columbia.  I had accepted my commission on April 12, but Congress had more important things to do in the meantime than to vote on political appointments.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Armies Clash at Manassas Junction, Virginia

Congress had approved the call up of 500,000 additional troops on July 16. Word from that same day was that a Negro, William Tilghman, killed three men and commandeered the rebel vessel S. J. Waring, and steered it safely into New York Harbor.
There was a great deal of commotion in Washington City yesterday as people who had taken their finest buggies to Manassas Junction to picnic as they watched the battle they thought would end the war, instead turned into a rout of the Union troops. Those returning to Washington City were in a panic, appalled by the brutality of the war and hoping that no blood had splashed on their fine attire.
Word from the field was that the Union army had won the early part of the day, but that Confederate reinforcements at the end turned the tide for the rebels. About 60,000 men were reportedly engaged – 20,000 Union and 40,000 Confederates. There were more than 5,000 killed and wounded in the battle.
This created great consternation and a shift in the political thinking, with Congressmen and Senators meeting with President Lincoln throughout the night to discuss the ramifications of the previous day’s actions.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Congress Authorizes Additional Troops

Congress continued to meet, but only considered bills concerning the military, naval and financial operations of the government in Washington City. Their Act of July 13 called for the closing of all ports, a measure that was a compromise from the original plan to blockade the ports. They were prepared within the next few days to authorize the call up of 500,000 additional Union soldiers. 
Some extreme Democrats tried to block any and all measures, but were voted down each time by overwhelming margins.  They sought peace negotiations throughout the entire session but got no support.
Meanwhile President Lincoln continued to treat the Confederate States of America as belligerents and their leadership as “quasi-government”, refusing to negotiate with states he considered in armed rebellion that he considered to be unconstitutional.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Congress Convenes in Special Session

General Patterson's Union army did indeed cross the Potomac River into Virginia on the early morning hours of July 2, 1861.They were met at Falling Waters by a Confederate army that retreated quickly as they were vastly outnumbered.

Congress convened for the first time in speical session on July 4, 1861. Prior to that, President Lincoln had almost no Congressional support. By that time he had declared war, raised troops, and spent money to support the war effort.

Now Congress needed to sanction his actions in a backhanded way, after he had already acted without authority. Mr. Lincoln would have argued, if needed, that what he did was done to save the Union. Hopefully that would not be needed.

W. H. Lamon

Friday, July 1, 2011

Invasion of Virginia to Begin Tonight

President Lincoln received a telegram informing him that General Patterson's men would begin crossing the Potomac River during the night tonight -- the first major inv asion of the war of Union soldiers entering onto the ground of the enemy.

Patterson's orders were to push the enemy out of Martinsburg, Virginia and then march his men further to Winchester, Virginia.

The President was excited to the point of telling me that he would wait up all night to read the dispatches at the telegraph office to track the action of Patterson and his men.

W. H. Lamon