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.