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.