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.