Friday, November 25, 2011

Day of National Thanksgiving in the North

President Lincoln declared tomorrow a day of national thanksgiving in the North. He suggested prayer and gratefulness for the boys defending the country as they battled the rebels in various battles throughout the rebellious states.

The war had already lasted seven months. The ninety day recruits had either re-enlisted or gone home. New recruits arrived daily and training started upon their arrival. 

Mr. Lincoln kept up with the daily activities of the war by visiting the telegraph office on a daily basis. He read and reread acccounts from his generals. It wasn't too long before he realized that his men were always outnumbered and therefore frequently pushed ahead. They seemed to always be waiting for reinforcements.

He was excited to hear the news that Union forces now assumed exclusive control of both the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. Up to that point those two rivers had been regarded as public right of ways.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Mr. Lincoln Gets Involved in the Trent Affair

Late last month, James Mason and John Slidell, two rebel diplomats sailed on the British mail steamer The Trent in an atempt to travel to France and England to try to get their support for the Confederacy. The envoys were prepared to convince the countries, who had already declared their neutrality,  that the Confederate States were a separate country rather that a loose confederation of rebellious states.

The Trent carried the two envoys first to Havana, Cuba and then prepared for sailing across the ocean. The union sloop San Jacinto intercepted The Trent on November 8 and captured the two men. Mason and Slidell were sent to New York where they were incarcerated at Fort Lafayette.

The British complained about the seizure. Mr. Lincoln consulted with Edward Bates, the Attorney General. Bates assured the president that the seizure of the Confedereate diplomats was legal.

Mr. Lincoln worried that the incident would bring the two foreign powers into the war, something he feared. He could not afford an international incident.

While the Queen continued to insure him of Britain's neutrality, the president had gotten reports from his staff that there was considerable evidence that Britain was desperate to get cotton from the South. It was believed that Britain was willing to run the blockade for the cotton, bringing guns and other supplies into rebal ports for an exchange of items that the rebels were desperate to receive.

Friday, November 11, 2011

As the President's Bodyguard, I Was Heavily Armed

Anyone who questioned my ability to guard President Lincoln didn't know me. At 6'4" and 260 pounds, my usual arsenal of weapons included two Cold .44 pistols, two Bowie knives, a set of brass knuckles, a black jack and a sword in the handle of my cane.  My fists were also weapons that I used frequently.

My weaknesses were hard luck stories, being too generous and extravagent, and lack of foresight. I always lived in the present. I told my daughter Dollie "not to be afraid of anything except smallpox and cats -- and that I could smell a cat in a room."

I recently had a incident in a dark alley in Washington City where I tried to arrest a man involved in a fight. The participants were told to stop that I was a federal police officcer. I showed my badge. One man stopped the other didn't. I told him three times he was under arrest. He came forward. I punched him in the facewith my fist. He was taken away by the medics. he never regained consciousness and later died.

I told Mr. Lincoln that I felt badly at how the event went down. He asked if I identied myself and showed my badge. I told him I had done both. The president told me next time to pick up a stick and use that, as it may not have hurt as much as the blow delivered by my fist.

Friday, November 4, 2011

General Fremont is Relieved of His Duties

The fued between President Lincoln and General John Fremont came to a head this week. In spite ot Fremont's victory at Lexington, the president was tired of Fremont's contuned attempts to emanciapte Missouri's slaves, in defiance of Mr. Lincoln's position on the matter, caused Fremont's dismissal. General David Hunter was assigned to take Fremont's place as commander of the division of Missouri.

Almost simultaneously, General Winfield Scott resigned his command of the U. S. Army, saying it was in the best interest of the country that he do so. The crusty old general who was a veteran of the war of 1812, the Blackhawk War, the Seminole War and the Mexican war and was now 75 years old, had been receiving criticism from the radicals in Congress. General McClellan was also very critical of General Scott. Ironically, Mr. Lincoln appointed General George McClellan to take Scott's duties as commander of the Union forces. The president praised General Scott's faithful service to the Union.

Mr. Lincoln also appointed a three man military commission to examine the financial affairs of the western department. Those appointed included Joseph Holt of Kentucky, David Davis of Illinois and Thomas Benton of Missouri. Judge Davis had been the circuit court judge for Mr. Lincoln and myself for the 8th circuit of Illinois.