Slike strani

CHAP. VIII. and mustered into the service of the United States, their

number will be credited as may be directed by Colonel Huidekoper.


From what followed we may be certain that the President did not understand the full scope and effect of the order, and when Stanton learned all the circumstances he refused to carry it out, and upon Lincoln's reiterating it, refused a second time. General Fry, who was the provost-marshal-general having special charge of such questions, thus continues his narrative:


Then Lincoln went in person to Stanton's office, and I was called there by the latter to state the facts in the

I reported to the two high officials, as I had previ. ously done to the Secretary alone, that these men already belonged to the United States, being prisoners of war; that they could not be used against the Confederates; that they had no relation whatever to the county to which it was proposed they should be credited; that all that was necessary towards enlisting them in our army for Indian service was the Government's release of them as prisoners of war; that to give them bounty and credit them to a county which owed some of its own men for service against the Confederates would waste money and deprive the army operating against a powerful enemy of that number of men, etc. Stanton said: “Now, Mr. President, those are the facts, and you must see that your order cannot be executed.” Lincoln sat upon a sofa with his legs crossed, and did not say a word until the Secretary's last remark. Then he said, in a somewhat positive tone: “Mr. Secretary, I reckon you'll have to execute the order.” Stanton replied with asperity: “Mr. President, I cannot do it. The order is an improper one, and I cannot execute it.” Lincoln fixed his eye upon Stanton, and in a firm voice, and with an accent that clearly showed his determination, he said: “Mr. Secretary, it will have to be done.” Stanton then realized that he was overmatched. He had made a

square issue with the President and been defeated, not- CHAP. VIII. withstanding the fact that he was in the right. Upon an James B. intimation from him I withdrew and did not witness his


New York surrender. A few minutes after I reached my office I re

“ Tribune," ceived instructions from the Secretary to carry out the President's order.

June 28,


It must not be assumed from the termination of the above incident that Mr. Lincoln wished either to humiliate the Secretary of War or compel him to violate his convictions of duty. In the interim between General Fry's withdrawal from the room and the Secretary's acquiescence Lincoln had doubtless explained to Stanton, with that irresistible frankness and kindness with which he carried all his points of controversy, the reasons for his insistence, which he immediately further put upon record for the Secretary's justification in the following letter to General Grant, dated September 22, 1864: “I send this as an explanation to you, and to do justice to the Secretary of War. I was induced, upon pressing applications, to authorize agents of one of the districts of Pennsylvania to recruit in one of the prison depots in Illinois; and the thing went so far before it came to the knowledge of the Secretary that, in my judgment, it could not be abandoned without greater evil than would follow its going through. I did not know at the time that you had protested against that class of thing being done; and I now say that while this particular job must be completed, no other of the sort will be authorized, without an understanding with you, if at all. The Secretary of War is wholly 1861. Ms. free of any part in this blunder."

Lincoln to





BOUT the 1st of December, 1861, Mr. Lincoln,

who saw more clearly than McClellan, then general-in-chief, the urgent necessity for some ·movement of the army, suggested to him a plan of campaign which, afterwards much debated and discussed and finally rejected, is now seen to have been eminently wise and sagacious. He made a brief autograph memorandum of his plan, which he handed to McClellan, who kept it for ten days and returned it to Mr. Lincoln with a hurried memorandum in pencil, showing that it made little impression on his mind. The memorandum and answer are so illustrative of the two men that we give them here in full, copied from the original manuscript:

If it were determined to make a forward movement of the Army of the Potomac, without awaiting further increase of numbers or better drill and discipline, how long would it require to actually get in motion ! — [Answer, in pencil:) If bridge-trains ready, by December 15th — probably 25th.

After leaving all that would be necessary, how many troops could join the movement from southwest of the river? — (In pencil,] 71,000.

How many from northeast of it? — [In pencil,] 33,000.


Suppose then that of those southwest of the river [in pencil,] 50,000— move forward and menace the enemy at Centreville ? the remainder of the movable force on that side move rapidly to the crossing of the Occoquan by the road from Alexandria towards Richmond ; there to be joined by the whole movable force from northeast of the river, having landed from the Potomac just below the mouth of the Occoquan, moved by land up the south side of that stream, to the crossing-point named; then the whole move together, by the road thence to Brentville, and beyond, to the railroad just south of its crossing of Broad Run, a strong detachment of cavalry having gone rapidly ahead to destroy the railroad bridges south and north of the point.

If the crossing of the Occoquan by those from above be resisted, those landing from the Potomac below to take the resisting force of the enemy in rear; or, if the landing from the Potomac be resisted, those crossing the Occoquan from above to take that resisting force in rear. Both points will probably not be successfully resisted at the same time. The force in front of Centreville, if pressed too hardly, should fight back slowly into the intrenchments behind them. Armed vessels and MoClellan,

Autograph transportation should remain at the Potomac landing to cover a possible retreat.

Lincoln to


General McClellan returned the memorandum with this reply:

I inclose the paper you left with me, filled as you requested. In arriving at the numbers given, I have left the minimum number in garrison and observation.

Information received recently leads me to believe that the enemy could meet us in front with equal forces McClellan nearly, and I have now my mind actively turned to- to Lincoln, wards another plan of campaign that I do not think at

Autograph all anticipated by the enemy, nor by many of our own people.



The general's information was, as usual, erroneous. Johnston reports his “effective total”


Chap. IX. at this time as about 47,000 men less than one

third what McClellan imagined it. Lincoln, however, did not insist upon knowing what the general's “other plan” was; nor did he press further upon his attention the suggestion that had been so scantily considered and so curtly dismissed. But as the weeks went by in inaction, his thoughts naturally dwelt upon the opportunities afforded by an attack on the enemy's right, and the project took more and more definite shape in his mind.

Congress convened on the 2d of December, and one of its earliest subjects of discussion was the battle of Ball's Bluff. Roscoe Conkling in the House of Representatives, and Zachariah Chandler in the Senate, brought forward resolutions for the appointment of committees to investigate and determine the responsibility for that disaster; but, on motion of Grimes of Iowa, the Senate chose to order a permanent joint committee of three Senators and four Representatives to inquire into the conduct of the war. This action was unanimously agreed to by the House, and the committee was appointed, consisting of Senators B. F. Wade, Chandler, and Andrew Johnson, and of Representatives Gooch, Covode, Julian, and Odell. This committee, known as the Committee on the Conduct of the War, was for four years one of the most important agencies in the country. It assumed, and was sustained by Congress in assuming, a great range of prerogative. It became a stern and zealous censor of both the army and the Government; it called soldiers and statesmen before it, and questioned them like refractory schoolboys. It

« PrejšnjaNaprej »