Friday, December 27, 2013

The Lincolns entertain officers of the Russian fleet

The Lincolns held a lavish reception for officers of the Russian Fleet which had docked in the Potomac River in Washington. The event was to recognize the support of Russia to the Union while at the dame time do discourage French and British recognition of the Confederacy.

Mr. Lincoln was also asked to comment on his Emancipation Proclamation and its status by Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society's agent, Henry C. Wright. Mr. Lincoln told Mr. Wright, "I shall not attempt or modify the emancipation proclamation, not shall i return to slavery any person who is free by the terms of that proclamation, or by any of the acts of Congress."

On Sunday, December 27, the president travels to Point Lookout in Maryland with Secretary Stanton to visit Confederate prisoners there.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The White House entertains a controversial guest

During this week, and mostly a secret occasion, the Lincoln's had a visit from Mary Lincoln's half sister, Emilie Todd Helm. What made the visit peculiar was the Emilie was the widow of Confederate General Benjamin Helm.

When Union general Daniel Sickles and New York Senator Ira Harris visited Mr. Lincoln and found out that there was an enemy among them, they were indignant.  Senator Harris and Emilie had a confrontation in which the senator reminded her that in recent battles the Union army had chased the rebels out of Chattanooga and that they ran like "scared rabbits." With that, Mrs. Helms reminded the senator that the Union had set the tone in that same fashion at Bull Run.

General Sickles insisted that the Lincolns should not have a rebel in their house. But Mr. Lincoln stood firm, replying that it was up to him to decide who could or could not visit.

Mr. Lincolon attended Frod's Theater twice this week. The first time he attended with his two secretaries, John Hay and John Nicolay and long time friend, Leonard Swett, to see "Henry IV". His second visit with Mrs. Lincoln was to attend the performance of "Merry Wives of Windsor".

Friday, December 13, 2013

The president delivered his annual state of the country message to Congress

The president's annual state of the country message to Congress was delivered to both houses on December 9. The message included news of improved conditions of national affairs as well as new treaties with foreign governments including Spain, Chile, Peru, Nicaragua, and Columbia. Additionally the U.S. had a new treaty with Great Britain regarding the suppression of African slave trade.

The president reported that the blockade was increasingly successful and that construction of new war vessels was proceeding  And while the war was still an on-gong vital concern, the president laid out his amnesty plan which included the following: allowing for amnesty for those taking the oath of allegiance, with certain exceptions; those exceptions being for Confederate government officials and those found to have been mistreating colored prisoners of war; not opposing the re-establishment governments in those states of rebellion that were operated by free people; and that Congress would have the sole power to allow those re-established governments to be admitted to Congress.

He was also feeling well enough to begin seeing visitors.


Friday, December 6, 2013

Mr. Lincoln writes his annual address to Congress

As Mr. Lincoln continued to convalesce from his ailment following his return from the event in Gettysburg (where he spoke on November 19 at the dedication of the National Cemetery) he worked on the speech he was to deliver on December 8th -- his annual address to Congress on the state of the country.

His son Tad, who had been diagnosed with scarlet fever the day Mr. Lincoln left for his trip to Gettysburg, (November 18) was beginning to feel slightly better.

Mr. Lincoln's appointments for the week were mostly cancelled or postponed. The usual line of people wanting to speak to him at the White House was curtailed.

Mr. Lincoln also presented to me a fine gold watch in recognition for what he called "my kindness and care" for the president as his unofficial personal bodyguard. I was certainly humbled by the unexpected gift.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Mr. Lincoln becomes quite ill and is quarantined by the doctor

Following his return from Gettysburg, Mr. Lincoln was quite ill.. He wass too ill to even check on the war news at the telegraph office and was confined to the sick room. When examined by the doctor, his orders were to halt all reception of visitors and ban all interference from the president's Cabinet. The doctor said he had a mild case of varioloid which is related to smallpox. He was to remain in quarantine for three weeks.

He did, however, request my presence upon my return from Gettysburg, demanding a full report of the response to his remarks.

I admitted that the reviews were mixed, but that after people read the text in the various newspapers and thought about it more, the comments had become much more positive. I also thanked him for inviting my wife Sally and her father, Stephen Logan, to the proceedings in Gettysburg.

And he presented me with an outstanding gold pocket watch for my services to him as his bodyguard and for my kindness and care for him as president. The watch has a likeness of the president engraved inside.  

Friday, November 22, 2013

President Lincoln speaks at Gettysburg

I had my hands full in Gettysburg, trying to handle all the logistics plus keep the president safe.

Mr. Lincoln arrived in Gettysburg by train on the evening of November 18 and walked to the Wills House in the diamond where he stayed overnight. In the morning, he rode a horse in the procession to the cemetery.

The featured speaker was Edward Everett, president of Harvard College. Mr. Everett went on and on and on, comparing the battle held in Gettysburg this past July to every battle in the history of the world.

When Mr. Everett was finally finished, I introduced the president. He gave brief remarks that lasted just over two minutes.  The official photographer for the event had been frustrated, as Mr. Lincoln was already seated back down before the man could arrange his photograph to take his picture. The president left after the ceremony to return to Washington.

My work after the program did not conclude until the following day. When I returned to Washington, the president was not happy with the remarks he gave. He told me "that speech will not scour." But Mr. Everett, at least, had been impressed, saying that Mr. Lincoln had said more in two minutes that he had said in two hours.

A reporter from the Washington Chronicle was also impressed, saying in his newspaper "the speech, though short, glimmered with gems, evincing the gentleness and goodness of heart peculiar to him."

Friday, November 15, 2013

Another visit to Ford's Theater is on the president's agenda

On November 9, the president and Mrs. Lincoln, again in total disregard to my previous advice, attend a play at Ford's Theater. This time the play was "Marble Heart" starring John Wilkes Booth. Booth came from a theatrical family with his father, Junius Brutus, and brother, Edwin, also acting on the stage in Shakespearean plays.

I was surprised to find out that on that same day, Mr. Lincoln had written to his friend Stephen Logan of Springfield, Illinois proposing the he and his daughter Sally Logan, my wife,  attend the dedication of the national Cemetery at Gettysburg on November 19.  I had previously planned to visit Sally in Springfield that very day, but had to cancel due to the invitation to attend the Gettysburg event as the marshal in charge.

I traveled to Gettysburg in preparation of the event. While there I received privileges from the federal telegraph office to send telegrams to Union states inviting them to send representatives to the event. I appointed dozens of assistant marshals, set up the procession route, and garnered buggies and horses for celebrities to ride during the procession from the town center to the cemetery.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Mr. Lincoln receives an invitation to speak at Gettysburg later this month

Mr. Lincoln received an invitation from Judge David Wills from Gettysburg< Pennsylvania to speak t the dedication of the National Cemetery on November 19. He was asked to give "a few appropriate remarks".

At the same time, in a separate letter to myself, Judge Wills said "there will be a civic/procession and must be someone in charge of it. We have agreed for you as the proper person and thereby extend to you an invitation to act as Marshal of this procession of the day. If you accept, which I hope you will, feel it your duty today, you will have to make all the necessary arrangements for the procession, its order, etc."

I consulted with Mr. Lincoln. He was going to accept their invitation and urged me to do the same. I responded favorably.

On November 8, the president sits for a photograph at the Mathew Brady Studios. The photographer was Alexander Gardner.

Friday, November 1, 2013

The president asks for an investigation of disloyal persons being enlisted

This week, in a letter to general John M. Schofield, Department of the Missouri, Mr. Lincoln questions the claim made that forty-two disloyal persons had been enlisted into federal service. He asks Schofield to please investigate further saying that he, the president, could find no evidence to substantiate the claims.

Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln attend a play at Ford's Theater entitled "Fanchon, the Cricket". It was a benefit performance by Maggie Mitchell. Although Grover's Theater was more the president's favorite, the fist family enjoyed theater in general. Their appearance at Ford's Theater was not as frequent as their visits to Grover's.
That may also have had to due with the fact at Ford's Theater, their presence was always noted, with the band stopping and playing "Hail to the Chief" whereas they attended more anonymously at Grover's Theater.

As state previously, I was not in favor of their theater attendance at any theater at any time. My issue was not a dislike for theater, but on the issue of his safety.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Areas in Maryland cause concern as slaves are bring taken as USCT recruits

This week the president addressed concerns over recruitment of Negroes in Maryland. Mr. Lincoln had approved their enlistment and government payment to plantation owners who allowed their slaves to enter the Union army. However, it seemed that over zealous recruiters were actually taking USCT soldiers  onto plantations and "recruiting" slaves without their consent or the consent of their owners. The situation got ugly when a plantation owner shot and killed a USCT recruiter, Lt. Ebin White, which frightened the people and produced confusion in the Patuxent Rover region.

When approached about the upcoming presidential election, Mr. Lincoln responded that "as second term would be a great honor and a great labor, which together, perhaps I would not decline, if tendered.

Friday, October 18, 2013

General Ulysses S. Grant takes command

With the federal army at Chickamauga in crisis due to the lack of food supplies, Secretary of State William Stanton personally carried orders to Ulysses S. Grant from the president calling for him to take command of the Military Division of the Mississippi and replace General Rosecrans with General George Thomas.

In addition, General Grant reopened the blocked rail lines and established what became known as the "Cracker Railroad" providing much needed supplies to the federal army.

A visitor to the White House happened to call the president "two faced" in a confrontation this week. Mr. Lincoln responded with a chuckle. "Sir. Do you think if I had two faces I would wear this one?" Enough said on that matter.

The Lincoln's, including son Tad, attended a benefit performance of the play "Macbeth" at the Grover's Theater. The performance raised over $2000 for the Sanitary Commission to tend to the needs of soldiers.

The president ended the week by calling up another 300,000 volunteers.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The president attends a grand event at the newly remodelled Grover's Theater

On October 6, the president and Mrs. Lincoln along with Secretary of State William Seward and their families attended the Grand Reopening of the Grover's New National Theater in Washington. The event drew almost two thousand people more than the capacity of the theater, and that number had to be turned away. The presidential party stayed throughout the evening, and reportedly thoroughly enjoyed the performance of Shakespeare's Othello."

The Lincoln frequented the theaters often. I was not in favor of that activity as I thought the theater offered an unsafe environment for the president. But as was the case many times before, Mr.Lincoln listened to my advice, but did not take it.

The president approved the visit of a Southern woman, Mrs. Thomas Clemsin, daughter of statesman John C. Calhoun, to visit her son, who was held prisoners at Johnson's Island, near Sandusky, Ohio.

Friday, October 4, 2013

A message of temprance is delivered to the White House

The Sons of the Temperance Society met with Mr. Lincoln in the Eat Room on September 29. The organization tried to convince President Lincoln that alcohol consumption was the reason for our recent battle defeats. The president pointed out that he had read that the rebel soldiers not only drank more than the Union boys but that their whiskey was of inferior quality.

The president listened, though it was hardly any message he needed to hear. Mr. Lincoln did not imbibe. He did take the occasion to remind me of my love for alcohol and my need to curb my bad habit. By this time I was still drinking several pitchers of whiskey on average each and every single day. I listened, but was probably not going to make any major changes due to the Temperance Society or the president's urging.

Mr. Lincoln set the date of thanksgiving by proclamation on October 3 as the last Thursday in November.

Friday, September 27, 2013

News of Chickamauga Creek is bad on two levels

The president received bad news concerning the battle at Chickamauga Creek, Tennessee where General Rosecrans was beaten badly. On receiving the news at the telegraph office, the president reacted with a rant very uncharacteristic and filled with words not normally heard by anyone. If the Confederate victory was not troubling enough news, the president also learned that his brother-ion-law, confederate general Ben Helm had been killed in the action.

Secretary of War Edwin Stanton woke Mr. Lincoln in the middle of the night and proposed that 23,000 men and nine batteries of artillery be sent to reinforce the Army of the Potomac at Chickamauga Creek. Mr. Lincoln endorsed the plan but doubted if they would arrive in time as Rosencrans men were trapped along the Tennessee River. Stanton pulled of a miracle of transportation, assigning the troops to the rails and delivering them tot he front within seven days, a trip covering a remarkable 1,159 miles.

In the mean time, Mr. Lincoln also sent General Joseph Hooker to relieve General Rosecrans.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Lincoln Cabinet approves suspension of writ of habeas corpus in military cases

The Cabinet met to discuss the possible suspension of habeas corpus in military matters. The judicial branch had actually been hindering the draft by using the writ. Judges had actually been throwing draft officials in jail to keep them from their duties of bring men into the service of the Union army. After much discussion, the Cabinet approved the suspension of the writ. The order for marshals to ignore the writs was finalized and announced on September 17.

The president also sent an urgent message to Governor Andrew Johnson of Tennessee to "do your utmost to get every man you can, black or white, under arms at the very earliest moment" and to "exercise such powers as may be necessary to enable the people of Tennessee to have a republican form of state government."

In his dispatch to General Halleck, the president reiterates his position on the Confederate Army, telling the general that the Army of the Potomac should have as its primary objective General Robert E. Lee's army and not Richmond.

Friday, September 13, 2013

President receives resignation letter from Union General Ambrose Burnside

President Lincoln is in receipt this week of a letter of resignation from General Ambrose Burnside. In his letter of resignation Burnside told President Lincoln that he would only remain as long as the president found it appropriate. Burnside suggested that President Lincoln "surround himself with men who have the confidence to lead the army and that he himself was not one of those men." The commander in chief refused to accept the resignation.

Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles reported on the state of the navy at the Cabinet meeting following his ten day tour of naval facilities and ships. His tour of Charleston harbor indicated "Sumter in ruins, its walls fallen in and a threatened assault on the city." But he did not expect immediate possession of the place because it was being defended with desperation, pride  and courage" that he compared to Don Quixote. He also reported that he had requested weekly updates from his naval commanders.

This week the president also sent over and approved authorization for Governor Johnson of Tennessee to being organizing a loyal state government as quickly as possible.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Criticism continues from Illinois faction

President Lincoln's frustration continues over dissatisfaction of his policies from some in Illinois. His reaction to the letter by James Conklin included the following: "You are dissatisfied with me about the Negro. You say you will not fight to free Negroes. Some of them seem willing to fight for you."

Mrs. Lincoln is spending this time visiting in Vermont. Her husband sent her a telegram as follows: "All well, and no news, except that General Burnside has Knoxville, Tennessee."

The president continues to be visited by wives and mother regarding their husbands and sons held in Confederate prisons. This week Dorcas Klaprath asked for release of her son from a hospital in which he was held as a prisoner. The president sought the help of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton on the matter, telling him to seek the satisfactory proof that the claim was legit and then make all haste to free the lad.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Mr. Lincoln sends a letter to those in Illinois who were critical of his leadership

This week Mr. Lincoln was invited to return to Illinois to address those who were critical of his actions, While declining to attend the rally, he did send a letter to defend his actions. His letter outlined three ways to attain peace, one which he said he subscribed to (force of arms), a second he would not accept (give up the Union) and the third was one he didn't think the rebels would accept (a peaceful compromise).

He added that he was also being criticized by his former neighbors for enlisted the colored soldiers. He explained in his letter that each colored man enlisted in the Union made the Union stronger and makes the rebels weaker.

Among his other dealings in the week was his decline of an invitation to attend a sword presentation ceremony honoring General George Meade.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The President reviews the work on the Capitol and visits a newly constructed fort

Work had been progressing on the dome of the Capitol building in Washington City.  When the war started, Mr. Lincoln's advisers highly recommended that the work on the Capitol be stopped. The president demanded the work continue.  He saw the building as a symbol and declared that "if the people see the Capitol dome construction is going on, it is a sign that we intend this Union shall go on." And he would not be budged on that matter.

This week the steam powered crane continued to raise materials to the workmen on the scaffolds around the building. Mr. Lincoln viewed the work that was being done. He seemed pleased at the progress that was being made.

He also traveled down by boat river to view the new fort on Rosie's Bluff. Secretary Edwin Stanton and generals Wadsworth, Martindale, Meigs and Barnard accompanied him.  They returned before nightfall.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Mr. Lincoln meets with Frederick Douglass

Mr. Lincoln met with Frederick Douglass and gave him his endorsement as a recruiter for the United States Colored Troops. It was Douglass' intent to go into the south to enlist colored soldiers and sailors. Douglass recruited his two sons for starters. Mr. Lincoln's endorsement said "Douglass is a loyal, free man, and is, hence, entitled to travel, unmolested.  We trust he will be recognized everywhere as a free man and a gentleman. Douglass suggested to the president that the colored troops needed to receive equal pay (the white soldiers got $13 while the black soldiers only got $7) and that blacks become officers (all colored regiments were led by white officers).

General George Meade visited Washington City and presented his report on the battle at Gettysburg to the president and his Cabinet.

Mr. Lincoln also watched a presentation by C.M. Spencer of the Spencer repeating rifle at Treasury Park.  Mr. Lincoln expressed that he was mightily impressed with the fine weapon.

Friday, August 9, 2013

It was time for Mr. Lincoln to deal with General Banks and Governor Seymour

This week President Lincoln wrote to General Nathaniel Banks regarding the readmission of Louisiana into the Union. Mr. Lincoln shared his views saying "I would be glad for her to make a new Constitution regarding the emancipation proclamation. If these views can give impetus to action there, I shall be glad for you to use them prudently for that object."

He also responded to New York Horatio Seymour's issue saying that the government's draft law was unconstitutional and the cause of the recent New York City draft riots. Mr. Lincoln told the governor that the war "drives every able body man he can reach into his ranks, very much as a butcher drives bullocks into a slaughter pen.  My purpose is to be just and constitutional and yet practical."

Mr. Lincoln also posed at the photography studio of Alexander and James Gardner.  The commander-in-chief had met Alexander Gardner before as he had posed for him in Sharpsburg, Maryland in October 1862 following the battle at Antietam Creek.  Mr. Lincoln and I had been posed together in one of those photographs while the president was meeting with General McClellan.

Friday, August 2, 2013

The President signs an order to protect all his soldiers from ill treatment by the rebels

Mr. Lincoln signed the Order of Retaliation (General Order #252) this week that offered "protection to citizens, of whatever class, color, or condition, and especially to those who are duly organized as soldiers in the public service. The government of the United States will give the same protection to all its soldiers and if the enemy shall sell or enslave anyone because of his color, the offense shall be punished by retaliation upon the enemy's prisoners in our possession."

The emergence of United States Colored Troops fortified the Union army at a time when battles and desertion had depleted their ranks. The idea of enlisting blacks as soldiers was not an option for the Confederacy as their official constitution said "blacks were not able to take care of themselves." 

The order was necessary after Confederate President Jefferson Davis promised to treat officers of colored troops "as criminals engaged in inciting insurrection." The Confederate Congress had followed Davis' comments by ruling that called for the execution of captured officers of black regiments and that captured black soldiers be either executed or sold back into slavery.

The president also encouraged Postmaster General Montgomery Blair to fill government job openings in Washington with war widows and disabled soldiers.  The same war that forced men into the military opened up countless jobs as clerks, teachers, nurses, and copyists. The post office started employing women as post-mistresses.

During the same week, discussions were held in regards to Union General Robert Milroy, whose forces were decimated at the battle of Second Winchester in mid-June 1863.  Milroy, who was one of the army's most least liked commanding officers, was being investigated for disobeying orders.


Friday, July 26, 2013

Tad Lincoln, the president's young son, offers aid to his busy father

A group of businessmen including a local judge from Kentucky stopped at the White House several different times to see the president. Each time they were turned away and disappointed. The president knew of their presence but had decide to not meet with them.

They were persistent.  On their return visit, they were met in the hallway by Tad Lincoln, the president's 8 year old son.  Tad had a great personality and was loved by everyone.  Tad asked the men what their asked what their business was.. When they told of their frustration upon meeting with his obviously very busy father, Tad intervened.

Asking the men to follow him, Tad went into his father's office and said, "Papa. May I introduce some friends to you?" His father said yes, of course, not knowing who those friends were. He was quite surprised to be introduced to those very men he had been trying to avoid.

When he found out he patted Tad on the head and told him he was pleased with Tad's diplomacy.  The child was not disciplined for his actions.

For my money, it was young Tad who had the run of the White House.  He pretty much could do no wrong in the eyes of his presidential father.

Friday, July 19, 2013

President Lincoln remains annoyed with General Meade and praises General Grant

Mr. Lincoln continued into the next week with the troubling thoughts of General Meade's failures. General after general had continued to disappoint him.  He wrote a dispatch to General Halleck for General Meade of his concerns saying "I was in such deep distress myself that I could not restrain some expression of it...I do not believe you appreciate the magnitude of misfortune involved in Lee's escape. He was within your easy grasp, and to have closed upon him would, in connection with our latest successes, have ended the war...Your golden opportunity is gone, and I am distressed immeasurably because of it." The letter was never sent.

When I talked to the president, he seemed more depressed than usual. At one point he said he told John Nicolay, one of his secretaries, if he had gone up to Gettysburg he could have licked them rebel boys himself.

The president also wrote an unusual dispatch to General Grant, telling his top general that the commander-in-chief had doubted Grant's plan of taking Vicksburg and wanted now to let the general know "you were right and I was wrong."  As part of that plan General Grant had actually boasted that he was going to dine in Vicksburg by celebrating the 4th of July in fine dining fashion.

The Vicksburg Daily Citizen newspaper had gotten wind of the boast and suggested that "the way to cook a rabbit was is 'to first catch the rabbit.'" When they did take the city on the 4th, Union soldiers printed the message "General Grant has caught the rabbit."

Friday, July 12, 2013

The President receives the news of the capture of Vicksburg

While basking in the huge Union victory at Gettysburg, the president is greatly annoyed that still another of his Union generals (this time General George Meade) is satisfied with pushing General Lee's army back into Virginia without attempting to destroy him in the process. Meade's telegram to Mr. Lincoln saying that he had driven the invader from our soil did not sit well with the commander-in-chief at all.

On July 7 a dispatch from General Ulysses S. Grant brought some additional joy to Washington City, as Grant announced that Vicksburg, Mississippi had also fallen.

When Mr. Lincoln appeared in the upstairs window, a band started playing and the crowd enthusiastically cheer the president.  Mr. Lincoln spoke briefly saying that it was fitting the Vicksburg victory occurred on the 4th of July when defeat came to "those who opposed the declaration that all men are created equal." He also praised the many brave soldiers who fought for the Union.

The president and his son, Tad, visited with wounded General Daniel E. Sickles who had been shot at Gettysburg. Sickle's right leg had already been amputated prior to their hospital visit where the president congratulated him on his courage and expressed regret about the injury.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Union Army's grand battle at Gettysburg

President Lincoln spent much of the week in telegraph office of the War Department looking at dispatches and following the action of the two opposing armies at Gettysburg. He spent each night on the couch near the telegraph operator with orders to be awakened if any dispatch came through. He looked painfully full of anxiety as he paced back and forth waiting very impatiently.

Finally he got the word from General Meade that General Lee has lost a full one-third of his army and would be unlikely to ever mount a major objective again.  Meanwhile Meade seemed pleased that he had pushed Lee's army out of Pennsylvania, without realizing that Mr. Lincoln intended that he pursue the enemy and perhaps end the bloody war.

The president informed the press of the news from Gettysburg, saying the action was such "as to cover that Army (the Army of the Potomac) with the highest honor."

In the midst of the upheaval in Gettysburg, Mary Lincoln was seriously injured in a buggy accident on her way to visit the Soldier's Home. She hit her head and was cut quite severely when the buggy seat, which I observed may have been sabotaged to injure the president and his family, came lose and threw her and the  driver onto the ground.

Mr. Lincoln, quite occupied, did at least assign a nurse to watch over her and sent a telegram to his son Robert, away at Harvard College, to come home to care for her.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Mr. Lincoln finally resolves the General Hooker dilemna

After several weeks of trying to prod General Joseph Hooker into action and attack of Lee's army, Hooker wired Mr. Lincoln that he was not able to comply with his orders at Harpers Ferry. Hooker's usual excuse that he was outnumbered was getting old, but he used it again in this communique. He claimed due to "an enemy in my front of more than my number..I am unable to comply...and with the means at my disposal, and earnestly request that I may at once be relieved." It seemed likely to Hooker that Mr. Lincoln would not comply. However the president did comply, relieving General hooker of command and assigning General George Meade as the new commander of the Army of the Potomac.

In Meade, Mr. Lincoln would have a Pennsylvanian who would likely have to soon defend his home state against an impending invasion by General Robert E. Lee's entire army.  Mr. Lincoln explained the move quiet eloquently by saying of Meade "He will fight well on his own dunghill."

The move to replace Hooker was the third removal of a commanding officer in less than two years by the commander-in-chief who was continually frustrated by his generals.

On the subject of having his generals always being outnumbered in the field, Mr. Lincoln was asked how many troops the rebels could field in battle. He answered quickly "1,200,00 according to my best authority."

The questioner was astonished. He asked Mr. Lincoln where that number came from.

Mr. Lincoln pointed out "You see all of our generals when they get whipped say the enemy outnumbered them from three of five to one, and I must believe them. Don't you see it? It is as plain as a nose on a man's face. At the rate things are now going with the great amount of speculation and small crop of fighting, it will take a long time to overcome 1,200,000 rebels in arms."

Friday, June 21, 2013

The President continues to prod General Hooker into decisive action against General Lee

For the second straight week. communications between the president and General Joseph Hooker were of prime concern.  General Hooker, it seemed to Mr. Lincoln, looked like defensive maneuvering, when Mr. Lincoln was demanding more substantive offensive action. President Lincoln wired Hooker saying that his actions "seem to abandon the fair chance now presented of breaking the enemy's long and necessarily slim line, not stretched from the Rappahannock to Pennsylvania."

General Halleck was at the same time also showing his lack of confidence in General Hooker. Halleck, who was Hooker's superior, also despised Hooker and the feeling was mutual.  Yet the president needed them to both support his actions as commander-in-chief.

At this week's Cabinet meeting, Secretary Salmon P. Chase asks President Lincoln to consider an attempt to capture Richmond.  Mr. Lincoln rejects the idea.

Mr. Lincoln reminded me on June 20 that my boyhood home in Berkeley County, Virginia was now in the new state of West Virginia. He said West Virginia became the 35th state, a Union state supporting Mr. Lincoln.  They had split off from their home state of Virginia. I was proud, but was not certain my brothers, who were fighting for the Confederacy, were celebrating on that particular day.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Lincoln's dream and telegrams to General Hooker

The President had a bad dream about his son Tad this week. Tad and his mother were visiting Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Tad had taken his pistol described as "big enough to snap caps...but no cartridges or powder". Because of the dream, Mr. Lincoln wired Mary and told her "think you better put Tad's pistol away. I had an ugly dream about him."

Much of the president's military correspondence for the week were back and forth between Mr. Lincoln and General Joseph Hooker. Mr. Lincoln reminded General Hooker in a telegram on June 10 that "I think Lee's Army and not Richmond is your true objective point."

Several days later he reminded Hooker that "so far as we can make out here, the enemy have General Milroy surrounded at Winchester and General Tyler at Martinsburg...if the head of Lee's army is at Martisnburg and the tail of it on Plank road between Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, the animal must be very slim somewhere. Could you not break him?"

Friday, June 7, 2013

President Lincoln reopens the Chicago Times newspaper

Two major concerns confronted President Lincoln. One was General Burnside's censuring and closing down the prestigious and most influential Chicago Times newspaper on June 1. The newspaper and its pro-Democratic editor, had criticized Burnside's arrest of former Ohio Congressman Clement Vallandigham for his alleged treasonous remarks.

Politicians in Illinois, Mr. Lincoln's home state, were furious with the newspaper's closing and pressured the president to act swiftly to overturn the decision. And the president did just that -- revoking the order that had closed the newspaper. Mr Lincoln also commented "I can only say that I was embarrassed with the question between what was due to the military service on the one hand, and the Liberty of the Press on the other."

The president's second concern was questions from his Cabinet concerning General Grant. Mr. Lincoln had watched seven months go by with Vicksburg still in Confederate hands and General Grant no where to be found. While Mr. Lincoln was still confident, the Cabinet wanted to know what was going on. They suggested General banks join General Grant.  A telegram was sent asking Grant about Banks. When the president got a reply, he was informed that General Banks was tied up in a siege of Port Hudson and could only join General Grant when that campaign was successful.    

Friday, May 31, 2013

General Ambrose Burnside offers to resign

On May 29, President Lincoln received a telegram from General Ambrose Burnside, offering his resignation.
Burnside had been told that his recent arrest of former Ohio Congressman Clement Vallandigham had caused some embarrassment to the president. Mr. Lincoln did not accept Burnside's offer.

The following day, U.S. Senator Charles Sumner (Massachusetts) and his committee from New York met with the president. They offered that they were confident they could raise a force of 10,000 black soldiers for the U.S. Colored troops if General John Fremont could command them. Mr. Lincoln said he would be pleased to receive not 10,000 but ten times ten thousand and that he would protect them and receive them into service to help complete his task of finishing the war.

Mr. Lincoln and Congressman Sumner also discussed problems associated with organizing and raising colored troops in the North. Sumner had known the problem that raising 2,000 men to fill the 54th and 55th Massachusetts had presented. Only a few more than 400 black men had enlisted. The regiments both had to recruit in other states to fill their ranks with their primary source being Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Several prominent black leaders were recruited to help with enlistment of colored soldiers including Frederick Douglass and Martin R. Delany.

Friday, May 24, 2013

President Lincoln finally receives good news from the front

On May 22, President Lincoln is elated receiving a telegram from the front announcing that General Ulysses S. Grant had begun a siege on Vicksburg, MS. Grant had recently taken the Mississippi capital at Jackson. He had defeated two rebel armies. And now his men were attempting to break through the entrenchments at Vicksburg.

Lincoln called Grant's campaigns for the month of May "one of the most brilliant in the world."

That same week, Mr. Lincoln met with more than two dozen one-legged Union soldiers in the East Room of the White House. The veterans from St. Elizabeth's hospital each received a handshake from the president who was deeply moved by their dedication and courage. Chaplain J. C. Richmond who accompanied the men commented "These maimed heroes, sir, are eloquent without uttering a word. The limbs that are absent speak more loudly that the arms and legs that are here."

The president also visited three army hospitals in the Washington DC vicinity and talked to over 1,000 soldiers who were convalescing there.

On May 22, the Bureau of United States Colored Troops also came into existence. This enabled black soldiers to be received for the first time officially into the Union army as soldiers. Several prior black regiments, including the 54th Massachusetts, had already been formed.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Troubles abound with a former Congressman from Ohio

On May 12, the president learned that in the Union loss in battle at Chancellorsville, Confederate General Stonewall Jackson had died.

He also had to deal with the arrest of former Ohio Congressman Clement Vallandigham by General Burnside. Vallandigham had said Lincoln's war was a war of "freedom of blacks and enslavement of the whites" and that the war would only come to conclusion when the Union troops deserted en masse and proceeded to "hurl King Lincoln from his thrown."

When Vallandigham applied for a writ to be released, Lincoln suspended the writ. Judge H.H. Levitt denied the motion in the case. Lincoln said Judge Levitt's denial equaled at least three victories in the field. On May 19, the president commuted Vallandigham's jail term by banishing him to the Confederacy. At least temporarily, the former Congressman would be out of the limelight.

During the same week, Mr. Lincoln went with Secretary Seward and Secretary Stanton to the Navy Yard and then onto a ship which would carry them down the Potomac River to inspect the Union troop transports.

Friday, May 10, 2013

President troubled by news of defeat at Chancellorsville

President Lincoln received the news badly of Hooker's retreat and the recent defeat of the union army at Chancellorsville. This had followed on the heels of the defeat at Fredericksburg.

Lincoln's friend, Noah Brooks, who was with the president when the telegram arrived said he had never seen Mr. Lincoln was "so broken, so dispirited, and so ghostlike."

The president paced the room at the telegraph office, Brooks reported, saying "My God. My God. What will the country say!"

Mr. Lincoln corresponded with General Hooker saying "the recent movement of your army is ended without effecting its object...what next? have you already in your mind a plan wholly or partially formed? If you have, prosecute it without interference from me. If you have not, please inform me, so that I, incompetent as I may be, can try to assist in the formation of some plan for the army."

Friday, May 3, 2013

President is concerned with operations at Chancellorsville

President Lincoln spent much time this week in the telegraph office concerned over telegrams from the battle raging at Chancellorsville. His telegram to General Butterfield asked "Where is General Hooker? Where is General John Sedgwick? Where is Stoneman?"

The response he received was as follows: "General Hooker is at Chancellorsville. General Sedgwick with 15,000 to 20,000 men is on the road to Chancellorsville. General Stoneman has not been heard from."

General Hooker had told the president that he had no concern about the Confederates -- his only concern being the weather. President Lincoln consulted with a weather "expert" Francis Capen. Capen had assured that there would be no rain until at least April 30 or May 1. After experiencing rain for a ten hour period prior to those dates, the president dismissed Capen.


Friday, April 26, 2013

West Virginia statehood is approved

On April 20, after a long wait, the citizens of western Virginia were granted statehood, to take affect on June 20, 1863.

The Senate and House had passed the legislation. The Senate bill was passed in July of 1862. The House bill was finally passed in December of 1862. President Lincoln had signed the statehood bill on December 31, 1862. But the citizens still had to ratify the legislation due to the addition of the Willey Amendment addressing gradual emancipation of slavery. The citizens had overwhelmingly ratified the changes by a public vote, and now the citizens awaited Mr. Lincoln's approval.

I stood proudly beside the president when he made the announcement.  I had been born in Summit Point, Virginia and raised in Mill Creek (now Bunker Hill), Virginia. Both were now part of the newly formed and now newly approved state of West Virginia.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The president may have returned to meet with General Hooker

Mr. Lincoln met with Washington Mayor Richard Wallach and members of the school authority. The group was asking the president's support for offering scholarships to the service academies for students of the public schools in the District of Columbia.

Troubled by the news that Charleston, South Carolina, had still not fallen, President Lincoln implored Read Admiral Samuel DuPont and General David Hunter to stay the course and continue to pursue the objective of victory in Charleston.

The president had entered into a contract with Bernard Kock for the immigration of persons of African extraction to the Republic of Haiti. On April 16 the president cancelled that contract.

President Lincoln and General Henry Halleck left Washington for the day on April 19, returning late in the same evening. There was speculation that he had returned to Aguia Creek to meet again with General Joseph Hooker.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Mr. Lincoln gets a surprise kiss from a princess

While at General Hooker's headquarters, from April 5 to April 10, the president was embarrassed by an incident in camp.  A member of General Hooker's staff, General Daniel Sickles had an Austrian prince on his staff. The prince's wife was in attendance, and kiss the president  during the reception line. Reporter Noah Brooks, who was apart of the official presidential party, reported on the scene as follows: "As soon as he could collect himself and recover from his astonishment, the President thanked the lady, with evident discomposure, whereupon some of the party made haste to explain that Princess Salm-Salm had laid wager with one of the officers that she would kiss the President."

The president reviewed four infantry corps of about 60,000 men. He rode horseback to visit troops who were convalescing. The presidential party return to Washington aboard the "Carrie Martin" arriving around midnight on April 10.

The president learned on April 12 from a dispatch from Rear Admiral Samuel F. DuPont that the siege of Charleston had failed.


Friday, April 5, 2013

The presidential party calls on General Hooker

Mr. Lincoln agrees to meet with General Joseph Hooker at the mouth of the Aquia Creek on the morning of 5 April. The presidential party included Mrs. Lincoln, their son Tad, Attorney General Edward Bates, California journalist Noah Brooks, Dr. Henry, and Captain Medorem Crawford.  They  left the Naval Yard in Washington around 5 p.m.on April 4 and traveled on board the steamer "Carrie Martin" stopping near Indian Head Maryland due to a snow squall. They celebrated Tad's 10th birthday aboard the ship.

The presidential party arrived at the mouth of the creek at 10 a.m. and took a special train to Falmouth, Virginia and to General Hooker's headquarters. While there they reviewed about 10,000 Union cavalry soldiers. Mrs. Lincoln spent her first night sleeping in a tent, quite a daunting experience, no doubt for herself. Her son, Tad, at the same time, was loving every minute of his soldering experience.

 President Lincoln has set April 30, 1863 as a national day of humiliation, sating and prayer.

Philadelphia artist Martin was commissioned to paint a full-length formal portrait of President Lincoln and his two sons.

Friday, March 29, 2013

General Sherman does not accept the president's intervention

This week, General William T. Sherman got in a powerful dispute with newspaper reporter, Thomas Knox, of the New York Herald.  Knox had reportedly followed General Sherman's army to Chickasaw and printed an account disparaging Sherman's sanity. Knox also revealed General Sherman's troop strength. Sherman had Knox arrested. The reporter was banished from Sherman's army when found guilt of disobeying an order.

President Lincoln thought it necessary to have the New York Herald's support. He revoked Knox's court marshal and said he would allow Knox to return to Sherman's army upon authority of General Ulysses S. Grant. General Grant relayed the proposal to General Sherman. Without mincing any words at all, General Sherman said, "Come with a sword or a musket in your hand...and I will welcome you...but come as you now a representative of the press...and my answer is, 'Never'."

In a move called "bold" by some, Mr. Lincoln notified Tennessee military Governor Andrew Johnson that it was alright to organize Negro soldiers. Johnson was governor of a slave state and owned slaves himself. Mr. Lincoln said "the colored population is the great available and yet unavailed of, force for restoring the Union. The bare sight of fifty thousand armed, and drilled black soldiers on the banks of the Mississippi, would end the rebellion at once."

Friday, March 22, 2013

Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln tour the Patent Office

Mr. and Mrs.Lincoln take a rare respite from the crowded and often hectic White House to take a tour of the Patent Office.  Mrs. Lincoln contributes several presents they have received to the office collection of unique treasures including ones from the King of Siam and the Tycoon of Japan.  A suit of armor was among them.

The president declares for the public sale of lands in the Territory of Washington and the states of Michigan and Kansas. Those sales had been provided for in the federal law.

It is announced that the president has secured treaties for commerce and transportation with the Republic of Liberia.

The Cabinet continued their meetings on  the subject of privateering. Privateering had become a major problem for the Union navy and private merchant ships that we being stopped and boarded by private vessels, armed by the Confederacy. It was a highly profitable venture for the privateers, and caused hardships for Union vessels intent on blockading the southern ports.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Mr. Lincoln criticizes the British in their role of providing ships to the Confederacy

I had the privilege of being in consult this week with Mr. Lincoln and Attorney General Edward Bates regarding the pending execution of Augustus Ford who had been convicted of manslaughter in the death of a Baltimore man, A. Barklie Kyle.

Mr. Lincoln approved that Secretary of State William H. Seward notify Lord Lyons of Britain that the U.S. would no longer allow the British to built ships and slip them out of her ports for use by the Confederate States of America.

The president forwarded to the Senate new treaties that had been worked out in recent meetings between Mr. Lincoln and tribal leaders of the Chippewa Indian nation.

Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln attended the play "King Henry IV" at the Washington Theater on March 13. As his personal body guard, I was not happy to see the president attend any theatrical performance. I thought the theater was a very unsafe place for him.  As usual, he thought my concerns were unfounded and ridiculous.

Friday, March 8, 2013

President Lincoln signs the country's first draft into law

With Congress winding down, Mr. Lincoln needed to spend the last evening of the session signing bills. He was up until almost midnight on March 3 to do just that.

The Enrollment Act, which was the first actual draft in the United States, was necessary legislation. Many of the initial two year enlistees and most of the nine month enlistees from the 1862 Militia Act had come to the end of their term.  Enlistments were down considerably as Union armies actions in the field had be disappointing.

His other signing was even more controversial as he suspended Habeas Corpus in certain areas of the country. The debate was whether Congress or the president had the right to suspend Habeas Corpus. The president had decided that it was up to the commander-in-chief.

In other legislation also signed, Mr. Lincoln approved the establishment of the National Academy of Sciences and approved the use of public lands in Kansas to be used for the development of the railroad and the telegraph.    

Friday, March 1, 2013

The president meets with the western Virginia delegation regarding military protection

The president met this week with a group from western Virginia who were seeking statehood and military protection from the government. Francis H. Pierpont, newly elected Governor of the Restored and Reorganized government of Virginia has requested Mr. Lincoln's help in the form of a letter telling Mr. Lincoln, "I have not at my command sufficient military force to suppress this rebellion and violence. The Legislature cannot be convened in time to act in the premises; it therefore becomes my duty as Governor of this Commonwealth to call on the Government of the United States for aid to repress such rebellion and violence.I therefore earnestly request that you will furnish a military force to aid in suppressing the rebellion, and to protect the good people of this Commonwealth from domestic violence."

Mr. Lincoln also approves a measuring calling for the establishment of a national system of banks. The measure, called officially the National Currency Act, attempted to establish a single national currency. The federal government would issue and print the currency and issue it to banks proportional to the amount of capital deposited with the comptroller of the currency at the Treasury Department.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The president meets with the head of the Naval Ordinance Department

This week Mr. Lincoln met several times in consult with John H. Dahlgren concerning a possible attack on Charleston, South Carolina. Dahlgren was the chief of the Union Navies ordinance department and had designed and patented several important naval guns. Dahlgren has also recently been appointed as  commandeer of the South Atlantic Blockading squadron designed to keep blockade runners from gaining entrance to and exit from southern ports.

Mr. Lincoln also petitioned for Congress to elevate Dahlgren to Rear Admiral, which they did in a move that was made retroactive to February 7.

The president declined an invitation to preside at the U.S. Sanitary Commission with the House of Representatives. Major General Winfield Scott and General Ambrose Burnside did appear and speak at the event.

The president did spend considerable time meeting with and speaking to tribal chiefs of the Chippewa Indians.

Friday, February 15, 2013

P.T. Barnum's famous "Tom Thumb" visits the White House

On February 13, one day after the president's birthday, and after almost a year in mourning their son Willie's death, Mrs. Lincoln came down to the main floor of the White House wearing a pink gown. Her mourning clothes had been discarded.  Comments around the house included surprise and delight.

The occasion was a formal reception for the president and First Lady and attended by about 50 guests, to meet General Tom Thumb and his bride Lavinia. General Thumb, actually Charles Sherwood Stratton, was a midget who had been discovered by showman Phineas T. Barnum. Barnum toured the 25 inch tall man around the world as part of his side-show.  At age 23, Tom Thumb had married another midget, Lavinia Warren.

It was quite a site to see Mr. Lincoln, at 6'4", bending over and shaking hands with their very tiny guests. Their guests spent the night at the White House, leaving the following morning.


Friday, February 8, 2013

President Lincoln opens the White House doors to most anyone

President Lincoln continued to meet with nearly everyone and anyone who stood in line at the door of the White House to speak to him. Many were seeking political appointments or favors such as the appointment to the Naval Academy or West Point. I feared someone would harm him in the process, but he insisted that it was every citizen's right to speak to the president about any of their concerns. Mr. Lincoln was not an easy man to guard, as he had less regard for his personal safety than anyone.

The president decline an invitation from Indiana Governor Oliver Morton to meet with Peace Democrats in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. They were attempting to set up a Northwest Confederacy. Although the two were friends and Mr. Lincoln knew that Morton was leading his state in hardy support to save the Union, he also knew that Morton was ruthless.  Mr. Lincoln called Morton "at times the shrewdest person I know."

The president also received a petition from Crafts J. Wright to raise and train a regiment of Negro troops in Cincinnati  Ohio. Mr. Lincoln was hesitant to support the idea, as he was fearful that the four Border states would secede if Negro soldiers were included in the Union army.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Mr. Lincoln reminds General Hooker of past transgressions

The president assigns Major General Joseph Hooker to replace General Ambrose Burnside who had just resigned. The president chided General Hooker because Mr. Lincoln knew that General Hooker had been critical of Burnside's command. In a letter, Mr. Lincoln told General Hooker "you thwarted him as much as you did a great wrong to the country and to a most meritorious and honorable brother....beware of brashness, but with energy, and sleepless vigilance, go forward and give us victories."

Mr. Lincoln also encourage Congress to send the proper congratulatory tribute to Acting Rear Admiral David Porter for his leadership in the recent capture of Fort Hindman in Arkansas.

My wife Sally and I searched throughout the city for a house that would suit her lavish tastes and satisfy her need to position herself as a person of means, even on my salary.  We finally purchased a home at 410 F. Street North that she claimed would suit. I knew if Sally Lamon was not happy, there was no chance in my being happy.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Fighting Joe Hooker takes command of the Army of the Potomac

On January 24, 1863, President Lincoln posed for a photograph by Alexander Gardner who worked for the Matthew Brady Studio.  It was not the first photograph Mr. Gardener had taken. Mr. Gardner had captured the president in several photographs in October 1862 while the commander in chief was visiting with General George McClellan in Sharpsburg, Maryland.

The following day, President Abraham Lincoln relieved Major General Ambrose Burnside from command, following his crushing defeat at Fredericksburg and his ill famed "mud march". In his place, Lincoln appointed General Joe Hooker at the commander of the Army of the Potomac.  "Fighting Joe" as he was called,  had recently mentioned that the government needed a dictator. Knowing this, the president told General Hooker "it was not for this, but in spite of it, that I have given you the command. Only those generals who gain successes can set up dictators. What I now ask is military success, and I will risk the dictatorship."

Friday, January 18, 2013

General Dix rejects the idea to garrison colored troops

The president wrote to General John Dix, commander of forces at Yorktown and Fortress Monroe, asking that he garrison colored troops under his command.  In his letter, the commander in chief wrote: "I therefore will thank you for your well considered opinion whether Fortress Monroe and Yorktown, one or both, could not, in while or in part, be garrisoned by colored troops, leaving the white forces now necessary at those places to be employed elsewhere."

 General Dix responded that he didn't think that such an important post should "be confined to any other class than the white population". Although the Emancipation Proclamation had allowed emancipated slaves to "garrison and defend forts, stations and other places and to man vessels of all sorts," in this instance that was not to be.

President Lincoln signed a resolution this week that concerned military pay.  Congress approved the issuance of $100 million for payment to the army and navy. The problem had been that payments had been withheld due to other matters needing attention. From now on the troops would be paid regardless of the fact that the government had been over issuing government bonds and bank notes which had caused the problems.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Grant's anti-Jewish order is overturned by the president

President Lincoln this week revoked General Grant's December 1862 order to expel Jews from Tennessee. Grant had been frustrated by Jewish businessmen who were selling to southern merchants. Grant thought he revenue received by the south in these dealings would be used to purchase guns his men would have to face in battle.

President Lincoln chided General Grant, saying that while he had not any problem at all with Grant's expelling traitors and even Jewish peddlers, he did object to the total indictment of "an entire religious class, some of whom are fighting within our ranks."

The news was received that General William Rosecrans had won a Union victory at Murfreesboro, TN. the president sent a telegram to his commander saying "God bless you, and all with you. Please tender to all and accept for yourself the nation's gratitude for yours, and their skill, endurance, and daunting courage."

Friday, January 4, 2013

The president issues the Emancipation Proclamation

On December 29, President Lincoln passed out copies of his Emancipation Proclamation for their final review. Two days later, he signed the bill into law creating the new loyal Union state of West Virginia.

On January 1, the president released his Emancipation Proclamation. The executive order by the president as part of his constitutional authority called for all slave in the state of rebellion to be forevermore free. The ten states that the order affected included Virginia, South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and North Carolina.

It also ordered the army to treat all slaves as free men. Prior to that date, the army treated the fugitive slaves as Contrabands.

His preliminary proclamation issued on September 22, 1863 had ordered immediate emancipation of slaves in all states that did not return to the Union by January 1, 1863.