William D. (William Darrah) Kelley.

Speeches of Hon. William D. Kelley. Replies of the Hon. William D. Kelley to George Northrop, Esq., in the joint debate in the Fourth Congressional District online

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here find a welcome — shall here find wages for their labor — shall here find the honors of the
land open to them — shall here find the children born of their loins on the soil, the possible
candidates for the highest honor "that the American people can confer. In other words, my
fellow-citizens, let us, before we part to-night, pledge ourselves in the eyes of the nations and
the people of the world, in the presence of the God of our fathers and our God. that, rather
than surrender, we will lay down our lives — that it is the determination, unshaken and irre-
versible, of each one of us, that we will maintain and transmit for all time, one Union, one
Country, one Constitution, and one Flag for the people and land of America.

Daring the discussion, a gentleman recently connected with the army attempted a diversion
in favor of my competitor, in the nature of a flank movement, which called forth the following

Philadelphia, October ?,, 1864.

My Pear Sir: My attention has been called to a letter bearing date the 27th nit., which
you have done me the honor to address to me through the public journals, in which you say :

"Our acquaintance and all the relations that have ever existed between us are confined to
two or three accidental meetings, at one of which you were pleased to refer to the lasting
impression made upon yon. when a poor boy, by the kindness of my father, who always took
you by the hand, and gave you cheering, friendly words of encouragement and advice! Yon
were pleased to acknowledge to the son the kind and valuable influences received by you from
the father, and to proffer your friendly services whenever they would be acceptable.''

You will pardon me. General, if I limit "the relations that have existed between us" to one
casual meeting, which took place in the office and presence of my venerable and distinguished
friend, Eli K. Price, Esq. I do not remember to have had a word of intercourse with you i i
any other occasion. On that occasion 1 mentioned that our fathers had been friends, and told
you that, in the office of the prothonotary of the court of which 1 was a judge, your father
had recognized me by my likeness to his early friend, my father. That was the only time I
remember to have seen him, but I shall ever remember the pleasant words he spoke of my
father, who died during my infancy.

The public will estimate the gratitude I owe you for this pleasant incident; but it was not
to notice your personal allusion that 1 took my pen.

You then proceed to quote a few sentences from the report in The Press, of the 23d nit.,
of my remarks at the meeting in Concert Hall the evening previous, and at the conclusion of
the extract you say. '"Now, my dear sir, this statement is simply false, and, on the part of
your friend Air. Edwin M. Stanton, maliciously false."

The extract you cite is as follows: —

"It got out that the President was determined to have the army moved, and it was found
that General McClellan had no plan; and here 1 may state that we owe the Peninsula cam-
paign to those distinguished Senators, Latham, of California, and Rice, of Minnesota, and a
brigadier in the column of Joseph Hooker. General McClellan's plan was concocted by
others, and put into his hands. It was agreed on in a council of war. That plan was sub-
mitted to the President. It was submitted in the presence of Secretary Stanton. Stanton
put them through a strict course of examination. One, General Bleaker, owned that he did
not understand the plan, but would sustain it, as he thought he had to obey the mandates
of his chief. General Naglee was one of those present, and Stanton observed that he had
but one star. 'Sir,' said Mr. Stanton, 'you have no right here!' 'I am representing
General Hooker,' said he. It was afterwards found out that General Naglee was absent
without leave, and that Fighting Joe Hooker knew nothing of the council. [Applause.]"

The report from which you clip this extract does not purport to be verbatim— nor was it
full. I have, however, no special exception to take to the passage you quote. It embodies
a fair statement of my assertions as far as it goes. It refers to what occurred during the first,
week in March, 18G2, and must follow in the report, which I have not read, my statement of
the disappointment well-informed men had experienced in the last week of February.

I had told the audience of the hopes entertained by the President, the Secretary of War,
and leading members of Congress, of the success of General McClellan's proposed surprise of
the rebels on the line of Brentsville. You doubtless remember that the success of that pro-
mised movement was said by the General to depend on the fact that it was to be a surprise.
That no suspicion of his contemplated movement mighl be excited, he proposed that instead
of constructing pontoons or hauling them thither he would collect in the canal canal boats, of
which to construct a bridge across the Potomac. This he did at his leisure. All was now
ready. " If anything was wanting he had nobody but himself to blame." as he himself had
said. The morning of the eventful day arrived, and lo ! a difficulty, and a, difficulty which to
the eminent engineer commanding the army was insuperable. It had never occurred to him
to measure the outlet-lock through which the boats he had provided were to pass, and now
jusl at the critical moment, as they were some feet wider than the lock, they obstinately
refused to pass through! "Was it not vexatious ? I also told the meeting of the puerile
excuses for the failure which he offered in the presence of Hon. Benjamin Wade, of ( >hio, and
Andrew Johnson, then a Senator from Tennessee, and that he in their presence proposed to
make another efiforl to surprise the rebels over a bridge which he thoughl could be built in
ten days. Those who heard me will remember all this; and 1 am quite sure that General
McClellan, infirm as his memory appears to be, can verify all my statements.

I further said, in substance, that this fact, following the incident of the stovepipe at
Munson's Hill and the wooden guns at Manassas, had exhausted even the President's stock
of patience; but that he had, in the kindness of his heart, determined to give General
McClellan a chance to redeem himself from utter ridicule, and had given him ten days in
' which to propose a plausible plan of a campaign. It was then thai I said he had no plan,
and that when several of the promised ten days had passed he was still without a plan.

At this point of time, my dear General, you come upon the scene, and 1 reaffirm all that I
said of you. Without attempting to reproduce the language of my address, I reaffirm this.
not on the authority of one whom ! am proud to call my friend. Hon. E. M. Stanton, but of
one whose word you ought to accept, as he was a graduate of West Point, a brigadier-general
of volunteers, and enjoyed, in an eminent degree, the confidence of General McClellan, then
Commander-in-chief of the armies of the United States.

Indeed, my dear General, he was commanding a brigade under General Hooker in Lower
Maryland, which I think was your position when you received a communication from a Demo-
cratic Senator. Mr. Latham, of California, which, though 1 cannot give you its precise
language, let you know that. General McClellan was in (lunger of removal because he had
stipulated to submit a plan of campaign within a certain number of days, and would be
removed if he did not, and requested yon to hasten to Washington. I am quite sine, my dear
General, that you will not deny this, nor that, in pursuance of that communication, you did
hasten to Washington, and were chagrined at rinding that Mr. Latham had left for New-

Nor further, that you found a letter from him awaiting you. in which he regretted that
in connection with the Pacific Mail service imperiously demanded his presence in New
York on that day. It, however, referred you to another Democratic senator, Mr. Kice, .of
Minnesota, and told you to confer freely with him, as you would have done with the writer,
as he understood the delicacy of the General's and might lie conferred with frankly

ifely. Now. I say again, that 1 am sure you will contradict none of these statements,
and ask you how my valued and honored friend, the Secretary of War, could have given me
. which were meant to be so confidential? My other assertions of how you pro-
posed the plan of the Peninsula. Campaign, and, as poll ay, "packed" a. council of
are all equally true ami well known to you. You cannot escape by artfully suggesting
that each of the twelve generals who attended that council was entitled to hut one star.
Eleven of them commanded divisions. It was called as a council of division commanders, yet
Henry M. Naglee, commander of a brigade, was there on the flimsy pretence that it was not
as easy to summon his division commander, General [looker, as it was to communicate with
him. Now, my dear General, let me ask you. in all candor, were you not reported as absent
without leave on the day on which that council met. or are the records in error'/

Perhaps I have, by this time, excited your curiosity as to the source from which I derived
such minute and accurate information. If so, I will gratify you. All this information came
to me, not, as you assume, from Hon. Edwin M. Stanton, but from you. Henry M. Naglee,
rigadier General of U. S. Volunteers. On the night of the 29th of March. 180L', you
went in the cars from Broad and Prii I to Washington. Do you not. remember the

buoyancy with which you related all this, and how T you exulted in the success of the artifice
in which you had been so prominent an actor? My dear General, your campaign had not
then b d, but now that the result is before us. do you not cower before the ghosts of

the brave thousands who were slowly murdered by the malaria of the ( liny ?

The gentlemen to whom you ad our conversation on the night of the 29th of March,

1862,^ i srs. George H. Moore and George W. Hacker, of this city, and if you revealed

your secrets so publicly thai others could not avoid hearing them, you must not wonder that
they have published them freely. 1 refer you, and any who may doubt my statement, to
Messrs. Moore and Hacker, both of whom are well known in this city.

But, sir, you have boasted to others also of the success Messrs. Latham, Pice, and your-
self had in constraining the President to retain Gen. McClellan in command. You know
Gen. Gilman Marston, and. doubtless, remember the fact that you and he travelled some time
later from Fortress Monroe to Washington together, he being at the time in command of a
regiment of New Hampshire volunteers. Do you not remember how fully you detailed to
him all the facts I have recited ? 1 do not doubt that you then spoke the truth ; the collateral
facts prove that you did. But if error there is you who are responsible. (Jen. Marston
is a brave and truthful man. 1 know him well, and cheerfully refer any of our military friends
to him for proof that you are yourself the author of the story you wantonly ascribe to the
Secretary of War, and denounce as " maliciously false."

Very respectfully, WM. D. KELLEY.

To Henry M. Naglee, late Brigadier General U. S. Volunteers.


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Online LibraryWilliam D. (William Darrah) KelleySpeeches of Hon. William D. Kelley. Replies of the Hon. William D. Kelley to George Northrop, Esq., in the joint debate in the Fourth Congressional District → online text (page 20 of 20)