Friday, November 30, 2012

The president meets with Major General Burnside

The president met with Major General Ambrose Burnside aboard the steamer "Baltimore" at Aquia Creek, Virginia and prior to Burnside's attack on Fredericksburg.

During the meeting, President Lincoln suggested a plan of attack. He told Burnside that the attack should be three pronged.  One prong being from Pamunkey and Port Royal, Virginia. The second attack would come from the south side of the Rappahannock, while the third assault would come from Burnside's main force crossing at Fredericksburg.

Both Burnside and Halleck rejected the idea as they both thought the president's plan would delay the attack.

Mr. Lincoln returned to Washington.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Lamon's problems with fugitive slaves comes to a head

The fugitive slave law was causing problems with my position as U.S. Federal Marshal of the District of Columbia. The fugitives were trafficked into the district jails, under my responsibility. They were considered contrabands of war and were therefore forfeited by their owners.  Maryland slave owners wanted full recognition of their legal property.

The basis of much of my problems was General James S. Wadsworth, who commanded the Military District of Washington. Wadsworth and I never once had seen eye to eye.

I complained to President Lincoln about Wadsworth. The president called for a compromise. Each slave would be held in my jail for 24 hours. And then if the military discovered the slave was the property of a rebel owner, he would be released to me and given military protection.

Wadsworth was upset. The president responded by transferring Wadsworth into combat on November 19. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Major General Burnside's plan to attack the rebels is approved

The new commander, Major General Ambrose Burnside, issued a plan to attack the Confederate army during this week.  The plan was intended to confuse General Robert E. Lee by making it look like the Army of the Potomac was attacking General Longstreet's troops,while instead crossing the Rappahannock River and attack Fredericksburg.  Burnside's 120,000 Union soldiers were awaiting the president's approval. Mr. Lincoln liked the plan and gave the go ahead saying in a telegram sent by General in Chief Henry Halleck "He (the president) thinks it will succeed if you move rapidly; otherwise not."

Unfortunately, while General Halleck wired the approval for the action, he failed to order the needed pontoon boats for the army to cross the river.  The army was halted on the wrong side of the river and had to wait. In the meantime, the Confederates bolstered their position at Fredericksburg.

The president was also the guest of the Navy Department, going with Secretaries Chase and Seward to witness the demonstration of the Hyde rocket on November 14. The rocket, developed by Joshua Hyde, contained a war head and an adjustable timed fuse.  Lt. Commander Mitchel set up the demonstration by placing the rocket in a perforated cylindrical iron launching tube. Instead of firing, the rocket exploded in the tube. The president and secretaries miraculously were not injured in the accident.  the Hyde rocket project was scrapped.  

Friday, November 9, 2012

General George McClellan is relieved of is command

After many frustrations with General George McClellan including his failed Peninsular Campaign and his failure to chase General Lee following the battle at Sharpsburg on September 17, Mr. Lincoln relieved the general of his command. In his General Order #182, the president stated "General McClellan thinks he is going to whip the rebels by strategy, and the army has got the same notion. They have no idea that this war is to be carried on and put through by hard, tough fighting."

With that the president gave the command to Major General Ambrose Burnside. Burnside had been offered the command previously and had turned it down due to his personal friendship and loyalty to General McClellan. This time he declined again until he was told if he didn't accept, General Hooker would become the commanding officer of the Army of the Potomac. That sealed the deal, because General Burnside hated General Hooker.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The president discusses his spiritual thoughts on the war

At a prayer meeting held at Mr. Lincoln's office in the White House, the president prays "If I had had my way, this war would never have been commenced, but we find it still continues: and we must believe that He permits it for some wise purpose of his own, mysterious and unknown to us." The meeting was at the suggestion of Eliza Gurney, whose husband was an English Quaker.

Previously he had said that both parties of the war claim that they were doing the will of God. Mr. said "Both may be, and one must be wrong. God can not be for and against the same thing at the same time."

President Lincoln had always believed that he was "an instrument of Providence."