Henry J. (Henry Jarvis) Raymond.

Lincoln, his life and times : being the life and public services of Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth President of the United States, together with his state papers, including his speeches, addresses, messages, letters, and proclamations, and the closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 2) online

. (page 38 of 41)
Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondLincoln, his life and times : being the life and public services of Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth President of the United States, together with his state papers, including his speeches, addresses, messages, letters, and proclamations, and the closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 2) → online text (page 38 of 41)
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next night at eight o'clock, and that General Franklin and I shouH
meet in the meantime, obtain such further information as we might
need, and to do so from the staff of the headquarters of the Army
of the Potomac. Immediate orders were to be given to make the
railroad over Long Bridge._

January II. — Held a meeting with General Franklin in the morn-
ing at the Treasury building, and discussed the question of the oper-
ations which in our judgment were best under existing circum-
stances of season, present position of the forces, present condition of
the country, to be undertaken before going into the matter as to
when those operations could be set on foot. I urged that we should
now find fortifications in York River, which would require a move-
ment in that direction to be preceded by a naval force of heavy guns
to clear them out, as well as the works at West Point. That Rich-
mond was now fortified, that we could not hope to carry it by a sim-
ple march after a successful engagement, that we should be obliged
to take a siege train with us. That all this would take time, which
would be improved by the enemy to mass his forces in our front, and
we should find that we had not escaped any of the difficulties we
have now before this position, but simply lost time and money to
find those difficulties where we should not have so strong a base to
operate from, nor so many facilities, nor so large a force as we have
here, nor, in proportion, so small a one to overcome. That the war
now had got to be one of positions till v/e should penetrate the line
of the enemy. That to overcome him in front, or cut his communi-
cation with the South, would, by its moral as well as physical effect,
prostrate the enemy, and enable us to undertake any future opera-
tions with ease and certainty of success; but that, in order of time
as of importance, the first thing to be done was to overcome this
army in our front, which is beleaguering our capital, blockading the
river, and covering us day by day with the reproach of impotence,
and lowering us in the eyes of foreign nations and of our people,
both North and South, and that nothing but what is not necessary
for this purpose should go elsewhere.

General Franklin suggested whether Governor Chase, in view of
what we were charged to do, might not be at liberty to tell us where
General Burnside's expedition had gone. I went and asked him. He
told me that under the circumstances he felt he ought to do so, and
said he was destined for Newbern, North Carolina, by way of Hat-
teras Inlet and Pamlico Sound, to operate on Raleigh and Beaufort
or either of them. That General McClellan had, by direction of the
President, acquainted him with his plan, which was to go with a large
part of this Army of the Potomac to Urbana or Toppahannock, on
the Rappahannock, and then with his bridge train move directly on
Richmond. On further consultation with General Franklin, it was
agreed that our inquiries were to be directed to both cases, of going
from our present position, and of removing the large part of the
force to another base further South,


A question was raised by General Franklin, whether, in deference
to General McClellan, we should not inform him of the duty we were
ordered to perform. I said the order I received was marked "pri-
vate and confidential," and as they came from the President, our
Commander-in-Chief, I conceived, as a common superior to Gen-
eral McClellan and both of us, it was for the President to say, and
not us, and that I would consult the Secretary of the Treasury, who
was at hand, and could tell us what was the rule in the Cabinet in
such matters. The Secretary was of opinion that the matter lay
entirely with the President. We went to Colonel Kingsbury, Chief
of Ordnance of the Army of the Potomac, Brigadier-General Van
Vliet, Chief Quartermaster, and Major Shivers, Commissary of Sub-
sistence, and obtained all the information desired.

Met at the President's in the evening at eight o'clock. Present the
same as on the first day, with the addition of the Postmaster-Gen-
eral, Judge Blair, who came in after the meeting had begun the dis-
cussion. I read the annexed paper, marked (A), as containing both
General Franklin's and my own views, General Franklin agreeing
with me, in view of time, &c, required to take this army to another
base, that the operation could best now be undertaken from the pres-
ent base, substantially as proposed. The Postmaster-General opposed
the plan, and was for having the army, or as much of it as could be
spared, go to York River or Fortress Monroe, either to operate
against Richmond, or to Suffolk and cut off Norfolk, that being in
his judgment the point (Fortress Monroe or York) from, which to
make a decisive blow; that the plan of going to the front from this
position was Bull Run over again, that it was strategically defective
as was the effort last July, as then we would have the operations
upon exterior lines, and that it involved too much risk; that there
was not as much difficulty as had been supposed in removing the
army down the Chesapeake; that only from the Lower Chesapeake
could anything decisive result against the army at Manassas; that to
drive them from their present position by operating from our present
base would only force them to another behind the one they now
occupy, and we should have all our work to do over again. Mr.
Seward thought if we only had a victory over them, it would answer,
whether obtained at Manassas, or further South. Governor Chase
replied, in general terms, to Judge Blair, to the effect that the moral
power of a victory over the enemy in his present position would be
as great as one elsewhere, all else equal ; and the danger lay in the
probability that we should find, after losing time and millions, that
we should have as many difficulties to overcome below as we now
have above.

The President wished to have General Meigs in consultation on
the subject of providing water transportation, and desired General
Franklin and myself to see him in the morning, and meet again at
three o'clock p. m. the next day.

January 12. — Met General Franklin at General Meigs's. Conversed
with him on the subject of our mission at his own house. I ex-
pressed my views to General Meigs, who agreed with me in the
main as to concentrating our efforts against the enemy in front by
moving against him from our present position. As to the time in


which he could assemble water transportation for thirty thousand
men, he thought in about from four to six weeks.

Met at the President's. General Meigs mentioned the time in
which he could assemble transports as a month to six weeks. The
general subject of operations from the present base was again dis-
cussed, General Meigs agreeing that it was best to do so, and to con-
centrate our forces for the purpose. The President and Mr. Seward
said that General McClellan had been out to see the President, and was
looking quite well ; and that now, as he was able to assume • the
charge of the army, the President would drop any further proceed-
ings with us. The general drift of the conversation was as to the
propriety of moving the army further South, and as to the destina-
tion of Burnside's expedition. The Postmaster-General said that if
it was the intention to fight out here (Manassas), then we ought to
concentrate. It was suggested and urged somewhat on the President
to countermand, or to have General McClellan countermand, General
Burnside's expedition, and bring it up to Acquia. The President was,
however, exceedingly averse from interfering, saying he disliked
exceedingly to stop a thing long since planned, just as it was ready
to strike. Nothing was done but to appoint another meeting the
next day at 11 o'clock, when we were to meet General McClellan,
and again discuss the question of the movement to be made. &c, &c.

January 13, Monday. — Went to the President's with the Secretary
of the Treasury. Present, the President. Governor Chase, Governor
Seward. Postmaster-General. General McClellan, General Meigs,
General Franklin, and myself, and I think the Assistant Secretary of
War. The President, pointing to a map. asked me to go over the
plan I had before spoken to him of. He, at the same time, made a
brief explanation of how he came to bring General Franklin and
General McDowell before him. I mentioned, in as brief terms as
possible, what General Franklin and I had done under the President's
order, what our investigations had been directed upon, and what
were our conclusions, giving as nearly as I could the substance of
the paper hereto annexed, marked (B), referring to going to the
front from our present base in the way I have hereinbefore stated,
referring also to a transfer of a part of the armv to another base fur-
ther south; that he had been informed that the latter movement could
not be commenced under a month to six weeks, and that a movement
to the /ront could be undertaken in all of the present week. General
Franklin dissented only as to the time I mentioned for beginning
operations in the front, not thinking we could get the roads in order
by that time. I added, commence operations in all of the week, to
which he assented.

I concluded my remarks by saying something apologetic in explana-
tion of the position in which we were, to which General McClellan
replied somewhat coldly, if not curtly: "You are entitled to have any
opinion you please!" No discussion was entered into by him what-
ever, the above being the only remark he made.

General Franklin said, that, in giving his opinion as to going to
York River, he did it knowing it was in the direction of General
McClellan's plans.

I said that I had acted entirelv in the dark.


General Meigs spoke of his agency in having us called in by the

The President then asked what and when anything could be done,
again going over somewhat the same ground he had done with Gen-
eral Franklin and myself.

General McClellan said the case was so clear a blind man could
see it, and then spoke of the difficulty of ascertaining what force he
could count upon; that he did not know whether he could let Gen-
eral Butler go to Ship Island, or whether he could re-enforce Gen-
eral Burnside. Much conversation ensued, of rather a general char-
acter, as to the descrepancy between the number of men paid for and
the number effective.

The Secretary of the Treasury then put a direct question to Gen-
eral McClellan, to the effect as to what he intended doing with his
army, and when he intended doing it. After a long silence, General
McClellan answered that the movement in Kentucky was to precede
any one from this place, and that that movement might now be
forced. That he had directed General Buell, if he could not hire
wagons for his transportation, that he must take them. After another
pause, he said he must say he was very unwilling to develop his
plans, always believing that in military matters the fewer persons
who were knowing to them the better; that he would tell them if he
was ordered to do so. The President then asked him ; >f he had
counted upon any particular time; he did not ask what that time
was, but had he in his own mind any particular time fixed, when a
movement could be commenced. He replied he had. "Then," re-
joined the President, "I will adjourn this meeting."

Exhibit A.

Memoranda on which to base an opinion, required by the President,
as to when the Army of the Potomac can assume offensive opera-

The time of moving depends on whether the army is in whole, or.
in great part, to be removed by water to another base of operations
to the south; or, whether it is to move against the enemy now im-
mediately in its front. General Franklin favored the first, and I
inclined to the second.

Inquiries were directed in each case.

1st. — If the base is to be changed to York River, as has been sug-
gested, the advance would have to be accompanied by a fleet with
heavy guns, to silence the batteries in York River and the works at
its head, and to keep the river from being obstructed as is the Po-
tomac at this time.

To organize such a fleet I should think would require more time
than the present state of affairs would permit.

To land the force this side of York River with a view to turn the
head of it at West Point would require additional land transporta-
tion, and a heavy additional item for the means to pass the rivers
(perhaps in face of an enemy) between the point of debarkation and
Richmond, which is supposed as the objective point in such a cam-


As Richmond is fortified, a siege train and materials would be
required. . . , ,

In considering the quantity of land transportation required to move
on Richmond from any point of debarkation this side of York River,
it should be kept in mind that at this season in this climate the roads
are heavy; and, when used by large trains of artillery or baggage,
impassable, unless corduroyed, and, as the army could not move on
only one road, to make several would take time, which would be
improved by the enemy to mass forces in the front. It would be
difficult, if not impossible, to conceal from the enemy our point of
landing; and he is at this time expecting us at York, where he has
already a considerable force, and to which, from Richmond, he has
a railroad upon 'which to bring re-enforcements, and a railroad com-
munication to Acquia Creek and his main force at Manassas. It
would therefore be necessary to land, in the first place, with a heavy
force, to avoid the disaster of being overwhelmed and driven into
the bay.

The Chief of the Quartermaster's Department at the headquarters
of the Army of the Potomac, Brigadier-General Van Vliet estimates
that with every exertion, anc taking canal-boats, brigs, &c, &c, to
be found in the waters of the Chesapeake and Delaware, he could
assemble transportation, for thirty thousand men, in about twenty
days from the time he should receive the order. Nothing is on hand
save what is in current use here on the Potomac. The above estimate
does not include any land transportation for the troops after their
debarkation, nor any for the horses of the cavalry, but only for the
troops and their baggage and subsistence.

The Assistant Secretary of War, I understand, is of opinion that all
the available means of water transportation would be fully taxed to
provide for even twelve thousand men.

In view of the difficulties mentioned, and unforeseen delays, always
sure to happen, I do not think a move by water of so large a force
as I deem necessary could be counted upon under a month.

To move against the enemy in front, we have thirteen divisions, of
about ten thousand men each, and General Banks's Division at Fred-

There is for this force four thousand four hundred wagons ready
for service.

If we use the railroads out of Alexandria, and connect them ever
the Long Bridge with the Baltimore Railroad, about two thousand
of these wagons and ten thousand animals may be dispensed with,
certainly for the present.

Of artillery there is sufficient (three hundred and fifty pieces).

Of artillery ammunition there is sufficient to begin with, good for
all but New York regiments. Twelve thousand three hundred and
forty new Austrian and fifteen to twenty thousand rifles in New
York; ammunition for the latter, none for the former.

Spall-arms ammunition sufficient to commence with.

Siege train: — ten ten-inch mortars, with ammunition; five thirty-
two-pound howitzers, with troops.

Shelter tents and stretchers, forty-three thousand.

From the foregoing it seems to me the army should be ready to


move in all of next week. The main difficulty, I think, is in its yet
incomplete organization, which could soon be remedied.

(Signed) I. McDowell, Brigadier-General.

January 10, 1862.


President Lincoln addressed the following letter to General Mc-
Clellan after the latter had landed his forces on the Peninsula in the
spring of 1862. It relates to several points in which the General's
action had already excited a good deal of public uneasiness, and
been made the subject of public comment: —

Fortress Monroe May 9, 1862.

My Dear Sir: — I have just assisted the Secretary of War in form-
ing the part of a dispatch to you, relating to army corps, which dis-
patch, of course, will have reached you long before this will. I wish
to say a few words to you privately en this subject. I ordered the
army corps organization not only on the unanimous opinion of the
twelve generals of division, but also on the unanimous opinion of 1
every military man I could get an opinion from, and every modern
military book, yourself only excepted. Of course, I did not on rny
own judgment pretend to understand the subject. I now think it
indispensable for you to know now your struggle against it is re-
ceived in quarters which we cannot entirely disregard. It is looked
upon as merely an effort to pamper one or two pets, and to perse-
cute and degrade their supposed rivals. I have had no word from
Sumner, Heintzelman, or Keyes. The commanders of these corps
are of course the three highest officers with you, but I am constantly
told that you have no consultation or communication with them; that
you consult and communicate with nobody but Fitz John Porter, and
perhaps General Franklin. I do not say these complaints are true
or just; but, at all events, it is proper you should know of their ex-
istence. Do the commanders of corps disobey your orders in any-

When you relieved General Hamilton of his command the other
day, you thereby lost the confidence of at least one of your best
friends in the Senate. And here let me say, not as apnlicable to you
personally, that Senators and Representatives speak of me in their
places as they please without question; and that officers of the army
must cease addressing insulting letters to them for taking no greater
liberty with them. But to return, are you strong enough, even with
my help, to set your foot upon the neck of Sumner, Heintzelman,
and Keyes, all at once? This is a practical and very serious question
for you. Yours truly,

A. Lincoln.


Allusion is made in the preceding pages to warnings which reached


the Government at various time, of plots on foot against the lives
of the President and other eminent officials. In reply to a letter of
this kind from Hon. John Bigelow, then American Consul at Paris,
Mr. Seward, the Secretary of State, wrote as follows: —

Department of State, Washington, July 15, 1864.
* * * There is no doubt that, from a period anterior to the
breaking out of the insurrection, plots and conspiracies for the pur-
pose of assassination have been frequently formed and organized, and
it is not unlikely that such a one as has been reported to you is now
in agitation among the insurgents. If it be so, it need furnish no
ground for anxiety. Assassination is not an American practice or
habit, and one so vicious and so desperate cannot be engrafted into
our political system. This conviction of mine has steadily gained
strength since the civil war begun. Every day's experience confirms
it. The President during the heated season occupies a country house
near the Soldiers' Home, two or three miles from the city. He goes
to and from that place on horseback night and morning unguarded.
I go there unattended at all hours by daylight and moonlight, or
starlight, and without any light.

At a later date, very soon, indeed, before the assassination of the
President and the horrible attempt upon his own life, Air. Seward
received the following communication from our consul in London.
It was upon the strength of these letters that the consultation was
held to which allusion is made in the preceding page : —

United States Consulate, London, March 17, 1865.
My Dear Sir: — I herewith enclose for your perusal two private
letters received this week from "B," my secret agent in France. On
receiving the first, dated March 12th, I immediately wrote to him
for a more full statement of all he knew about its contents. I stated
to him that the story seemed very improbable; that if they intended to
resort to such diabolical modes of warfare, they could find instru-
ments enough near at hand to serve them in such a capacity, and
have their work done or attempted more speedily than it could be
by sending assassins from Europe; that the assassins would be sure
to forfeit their o.wn lives, &c. At the same time I could not shut out
from my mind the idea that the starving of our prisoners, shooting
and torturing them, the hotel burnings, the piracies, the hanging of
Union men in the insurgent States, the murdering of prisoners of
war in cold blood after surrendering, and their manifold acts of
cruelty, rendered the purposes named not only probable, but in har-
mony with their character and acts. My letter brought the further
explanation contained in the second letter of the 14th inst. You per-
ceive the statement of B. rests on the declaration of , or a man

who now goes by that name. He is a business agent of the rebels,
and has the confidence of the leaders to as great an extent perhaps
as anyone employed by them, or anyone under their direction. He
travels most of the time from place to place, giving directions and
superintending the purchase and shipments of war material. B. has
travelled much with him, and seemed to have his entire confidence.


I do not think would make such a revelation to B. unless he

believed it well founded. If they are to come out openly as profes-
sional assassins, it is not at all probable that the distinguished per-
sons named are the only ones selected for their vengeance, or that
our Chief Magistrate, or General Grant, are left out of their role.
The dangers they see to them in the calm forbearance, the inflex-
ible justice and firm determination of President Lincoln, will not be
overlooked by them.

According to my request, a full description of the man calling
himself Clark is given in the second letter. Johnston is unknown to
"B." If Clark has really set forth on such a mission, he will prob-
ably attempt to make his way into Sherman's camp as a private sol-
dier, and attempt the deed during an engagement when Sherman is
under fire.

- Whether there is any actual foundation for what is set forth in the
letters or not, I think it not my duty to withhold them, for fear it
may be only another added to the thousand false rumors which have
got into circulation. I send you all I have been able to learn on the
subject, that you may act as you deem expedient in the case. Per-
mit me to express my earnest desire, whatever may be the wish of i
the rebels in regard to you, and I dare say they are the worst that
fiendish brains can entertain, that your valuable life may long be
spared to your friends and the service of the Republic.
I remain, dear sir, most truly yours,

F. H. Morse.

Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State.

P. S. — Please regard B's letter as strictly confidential, I mean as
far as the name of the writer is concerned.

Paris, Sunday, March 12, 1865.
My Dear Sir: — I wrote you on Friday eve late, in hopes it would
reach you at your hotel last evening. I have learned only an hour
since, that on "Tuesday or Wednesday a steamer will be in waiting at
Belisle, or the island of Oleron (the last named some forty miles
off the mouth of Bordeaux Erie) with war material and supplies for
the rams; most of the stuff is from Hamburg, reshipped on board of
an English steamer, which has been chartered for the purpose. She
is a Newcastle steamer, and said to be very swift. I must com-
municate at once with Walker at Ferrol. Two desperate characters
have just left here (on Wednesday, I believe, but not sure), one
for the North and the other for the South; one of them I know;
he has been loafing here for some time, hard up. His name is
Clark, the other Johnston, but to the best of my knowledge I had
never seen him, he having been here only a few days. Their object
is the assassination of Sherman and Mr. Seward. Clark is to join
Sherman's army and accomplish his deed. The other goes direct
to Washington, and the first opportunity that offers kill Mr. Seward.
Their expenses are paid, and if successful in the accomplishment

Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondLincoln, his life and times : being the life and public services of Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth President of the United States, together with his state papers, including his speeches, addresses, messages, letters, and proclamations, and the closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 2) → online text (page 38 of 41)