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DIARY OF SALMON P. CHASE SUNDAY, August 17, 1862 to MONDAY, Sept. 8, 1862

SUNDAY, August 17, 1862.
At home all day, except when at church.

MONDAY, Aug. 18, 1862.
Busy, except when interrupted by callers, with list of-Collectors and Asessors. Saw Chandler and Gov. Blair at President's, and closed Michigan appointments. President insisted on Stanley, to save Trowbridge's feelings, instead of Mills, whom I recommended as best man; and Chandler and Blair concurred - none of us, however, knowing Stanley.
Thurlow Weed dined with me. Parsons was at home, but had dined, and went away. After dinner, left Weed at Willard's, where I went to call on Colonels Corcoran and Wilcox, returned yesterday from their long captivity in Richmond. They had gone to dine at the President's; and I went to Mr. Cutts' and spent an hour with Mr. C. and Mrs. D.

TUESDAY, Aug. 19, 1862.
Col. Corcoran and Mr. Mellen breakfasted with me. Col. C. gave interesting particulars of rebellion, and thinks their force larger than I have supposed. He says, however, that their rolling-stock and roads are in such bad order that no more than 300 can be moved at a time.
R. G. Corwin, J. G. Gest and Rep. Steele called - all about Collectorships. Went to Department, and sent Ohio appointments to the President.
Went to Cabinet. President uneasy about Pope. He sent to War Department for telegrams. There was one from Pope, at Culpeper, retiring across Rappahannock, while the force of the enemy was beyond the Rapidan at Gordonsville; One from Burnside, at Falmouth, saying that the first division of the Army of the Potomac will reach Aquia this evening. Nothing more of immediate importance. - Troops coming in to-day - 11,000 already arrived. Money wanted for Bounties.
Returning to Department, telegraphed Cisco to negotiate three or four millions at rate not more than one per cent below market. Stock telegram states sales to-day at 53-8 to 51-2.
Closed Indiana appointments. Signed letter transmitting Pennsylvania recommendations to President. Spent much time with Weed over New-York appointments. Ely called, and I advised him to come to-morrow. Thomas Brown called, and gave interesting personal history.
Dined, at 7, with Messrs. Roselius, Cottman and Bullittonly guests, Col. Seaton, Reverdy Johnson and myself. Went to War Department. Met Stanton in the hall, and took him in my carriage to his house. He was much dissatisfied with the President's lack of decision, especially as to McClellan. Thinks Burnside too partial to McClellan to be safe.
Home. Read a little.

FRIDAY, Aug. 29, 1862.
The Secretary of War called on me in reference to Genl. McClellan. He has long believed and so have I, that Genl. McClellan ought not to be trusted with the command of any army of the Union; and the events of the last few days have greatly strengthened our judgment. We called on Judge Bates, who was not at home. Called on Genl. Halleck, and remonstrated against Gen. McClellan commanding. Secy. wrote & presented to Genl. H. a call for a report touching McC's disobedience of orders & consequent delay of support to Army of Va. Gerd. H. promised answer to-morrow morning.

SATURDAY, August 30, 1862.
Judge Bates called, and we conversed in regard to Genl. McClellan - he concurring in our judgment. Afterwards, I went to the War Department where Watson showed me a paper expressing it. I suggested modifications. Afterwards saw Stanton. He approved the modifications, and we both signed the paper. I then took it to Secy. Weller, who concurred in judgment but thought the paper not exactly right, and did not sign it. Returned the paper to Stanton.
Promised report from Genl. Halleck was not made.

SUNDAY, Aug. 31, 1862.
Much busied at Department to-day, although it is Sunday; and spent much time with the President, endeavoring to close appointments under Tax Law.
David Dudley Field called and said we had sustained a serious defeat yesterday, and that the Secretary of War wished to see me. Went to the Department and found that Genl. Pope had, in fact, been defeated partially, and had fallen back to Centreville. Fitz John Porter was not in the battle, nor was Franklin or Sumner, with whose corps the result would have probably been very different. Little fighting to-day. Clerks went out to battle-field as nurses, Mr. Harrington went with them.

MONDAY, Sept. 1st, 1862.
This has been an anxious day. An Order appears declaring command of his corps in Burnside; of that portion of the Army of the Potomac not sent forward to Pope, in McClellan; of the Army of Virginia and all forces temporarily attached, in Pope; of the whole, in Halleck. Reports from Pope's Army state that its losses are heavy, but in good spirits - confirm that neither Franklin nor Sumner arrived, - and that McClellan failed to send foward ammunition.
On suggestion of Judge Bates, the remonstrance against McClellan, which had been previously signed by Smith, was modified; and having been further slightly altered on my suggestion, was signed by Stanton, Bates and myself, and afterwards by Smith. Weller declined to sign it, on the ground that it might seem unfriendly to the President - though this was the exact reverse of its intent. He said he agreed in opinion and was willing to express it, personally. This determined us to await the Cabinet meeting to-morrow.
Meantime, McClellan came up on invitation of Halleck, and held personal conference with him and the President. Soon after, a rumor pervaded the town that McClellan was to resume his full command. Col. Key called at my house and told me that he supposed such was the fact.

TUESDAY, Sept. 2, 1862.
Cabinet met, but neither the President nor Secretary of War were present. Some conversation took place concerning Generals. Mr. F. W. Seward (the Secretary of State being out of town) said nothing. All others agreed that we needed a change in Commander of the Army. Mr. Blair referred to the report [support?] he had constantly given McClellan, but confessed that he now thought he could not wisely be trusted with the chief command. Mr. Bates was very decided against his competency, and Mr. Smith equally so. Mr. Weller was of the same judgment, though less positive in expression.
After some time, while the talk was going on, the President came in, saying that not seeing much for a Cabinet meeting to-day, he had been talking at the Department and Head Quarters about the War. The Secretary of War came in. In answer to some inquiry, the fact was stated, by the President or the Secretary that McClellan had been placed in command of the forces to defend the Capital - or rather, to use the President's own words, he " had set him to putting these troops into the fortifications about Washington," believing that he could do that thing better than any other man. I remarked that this could be done equally well by the Engineer who constructed the Forts; and that putting Genl. McClellan in command for this purpose was equivalent to making him second in command of the entire Army. The Secretary of War said that no one was now responsible for the defense of the Capital; - that the Order to McClellan was given by the President direct to McClellan, and that Genl. Halleck considered himself relieved from responsibility although he acquiesced, and approved the Order; - that McClellan could now shield himself, should anything go wrong, under Halleck, while Halleck could and would disclaim all responsibility for the Order given. The President thought Genl. Halleck as much responsible as before; and repeated that the whole scope of the Order was, simply, to direct McClellan to put the troops in the fortifications and command them for the defense of Washington. I remarked that this seemed to me equivalent to making him Commander in Chief for the time being, and that I thought it would prove very difficult to make any substitution hereafter, for active operations, - that I had no feeling whatever against Genl. McClellan; - that he came to the command with my most cordial approbation and support; - that until I became satisfied that his delays would greatly injure our cause, he possessed my full confidence; - that after I had felt myself compelled to withdraw that confidence, I had (since the President, notwithstanding my opinion that he should, refrained from putting another in command) given him all possible support in every way, raising means and urging reinforcements; - that his experience as a military commander had been little else than a series of failures; - and that his omission to urge troops forward to the battles of Friday and Saturday, evinced a spirit which rendered him unworthy of trust, and that I could not but feel that giving the command to him was equivalent to giving Washington to the rebels. This and more I said. Other members of the Cabinet expressed a general concurrence but in no very energetic terms. (Mr. Blair must be excepted but he did not dissent.)
The President said it distressed him exceedingly to find himself differing on such a point from the Secretary of War and Secretary of the Treasury; that he would gladly resign his plan; but he could not see who could do the work wanted as well as McClellan. I named Hooker, or Sumner, or Burnside - either of whom. I thought, would be better.
At length the conversation ended and the meeting broke up, leaving the matter as we found it.
A few Tax Appointments were lying on the table. I asked the President to sign them which he did, saying he would sign them just as they were and ask no questions. I told him that they had all been prepared in accordance with his directions, and that it was necessary to complete the appointments. They were signed, and I returned to the Department.

The getting the Army into the works and making general arrangements, went on to-day. Genl. McClellan assumed the command and returned to his old Head Quarters, as if the disastrous expedition of near eight months had been only the absence of a few days, unmarked by special incident; and, with the same old Staff, except the French Princes, Mr. Astor and Mr. Gantt, he went out as of old, to visit the fortifications and the troops. - Pope came over and talked with the President, who assured him of his entire satisfaction with his conduct; assured him that McClellan's command was only temporary; and gave him some reason to expect that another army of active operations would be organized at once, which he (Pope) would lead.
In my Department nothing especial occurred; but the expenses are becoming enormous.

THURSDAY, Sept. 4, 1862.
McDowell came over to-day and gave me a circumstantial account of the recent battles attributing our ill success to the conduct of McClellan in not urging forward reinforcements, and especially to the conduct of Porter and his division on the day of the last battle. He stayed all night.

FRIDAY, Sept. 5, 1862.
The President, at Cabinet meeting, read Pope's Report, which strongly inculpates McClellan, Porter, Franklin and Griffin; and asked opinion as to its publication. All against it on the score of policy under existing circumstances. President stated that Porter, Franklin and Griffin would be relieved from command and brought before a Court of Inquiry; and also, I think, that the Order had been made.
The President had previously, at the Department, told me that the clamor against McDowell was so great that he could not lead his troops unless something was done to restore confidence; and proposed to me to suggest to him the asking for a Court of Inquiry. I told him I bad already done so, and would do so again. So, availing myself of a Messenger from Genl. Pope who came during the meeting, I sent a note to McDowell, asking him to come over. He accordingly came in the evening, and I suggested the matter to him. He thought it hard to make the demand when there were no charges. I told him I thought he could assume the charge made by the Michigan officer who, when dying, scrawled a letter saying he died a victim to Pope's imbecility and McDowell's treachery. He reflected, and then said he would make the demand. He staid again all night.

SATURDAY, Sept. 6.
Genl. and Mrs. Worthington breakfasted with me; - also Genl. McDowell and Mr. Haven
After Breakfast, Genl. McDowell read me the draft of his letter, which I thought excellent, but suggested one or two modifications which he adopted. I then went to the Department.
Soon after, the President came in, and asked what McDowell had determined to do. I told him. "Where is the letter?" He took it, intending to have it copied I suppose. "Well, it ought to be done immediately; for the corps must march, and Genl. Halleck feels that he must be relieved, at all events, from command. Where can he be found? " - " I cannot tell. An orderly, no doubt, can find him." The President went away, and, later in the day, I heard that Genl. McDowell had been relieved at his own request. He came in himself, afterwards, stating the fact and adding. "I did not ask to be relieved - I only asked for a court." I explained as well as I could, and he left me.
Afterwards, I started to War Department, but meet Seward, who said Stanton was not there. Went to President's, where Stanton was. He spoke of McDowell's letter, and praised it in the strongest terms.
Mr. Barney came this morning about the labor contract in New York, about which quite a difference of opinion and interest exists one or two of our most influential journals being concerned in its continuance. The question was, whether the Contract, by its own terms, was not limited to three years, and whether an extension of it beyond that time would be, in reality, a new Contract. Doubting on the point, I referred it to the Attorney-General, who returned an answer expressing a decided opinion that the Contract was so limited and could not be extended without a new Contract. - Before receiving this opinion, I telegraphed Mr. Field to come on, if he desired to say anything further!
In the evening, Genl. Pope came in. He expressed strong indignation against Fitz-John Porter and McClellan, who bad, as he believed, prevented his success. He wanted his Report published, as an act. of justice to himself and his army. I stated my objection to present publication, on the ground of injury to service at this critical time; but said that a General Order, thanking his army for what they had done ought to be promulgated. He said this would be satisfactory, (partially so, at least) but that Halleck would not publish one. I said, I would see the President and urge it.
(Mr Barney and others also called, - B. having declined invitation to breakfast, but said he would come at nine, to meet Field who telegraphed he would come and call at that hour.  - ) Maj. Andrews came in and spoke so of Col. Crook, that I agreed to ask that he be make Brigadier-General. Major Andrew wrote a statement of what Crook did in Western Virginia.

SUNDAY, Sept. 7, 1862.
Mr. Field called after breakfast, and proposed to go to War Department, and we went together. Met Gutowski, who denounced what he called military usurpation, saying that Franklin's corps, marching out cheered McClellan. Found Stanton, Pope and Wadsworth uneasy on account of critical condition of affairs. Spoke to Stanton about Crook, and he promised to give him a Commission. Saw Halleck and he approved.
Went to President's, and spoke of general Order commending Pope's Army. He thought it due, and said he would speak to Halleck. Coming home met McDowell and I. C. H. Smith. Smith came home with me and spoke of battles, - eulogizing in strong terms both Pope and McDowell. (Referring to my omission to reply to his letter of a year ago, I explained it 4s well as I could.) Field and Barney came, and I sent for Harrington. Had a long talk about Labor Contract, and dissatisfaction of our friends with Mr. Barney. So far as I could see the dissatisfaction was unreasonable. I said I could not hold the contract to be continuing, unless the Attorney-General should reverse his opinion, of which there was too little probability to warrant postponement of action, and so virtual continuance, until his review of his decision. Said I would gladly oblige party friends, but not at the expense of any breach of public duty. Field and Barney left together, and soon after Harrington.
Received to-day telegram from Paymaster-General of New-York: "Cannot forward troops for want of means to pay State bounty. Will you exchange smaller U. S. Notes for 1000s. and 500s., to enable State to do it? " - Answered "Yes! Be as prompt in sending your troops;" and sent necessary directions to Mr. Cisco.
In the afternoon, McDowell called to say Good-bye. The Court of Inquiry demanded by him had been postponed, and he had fifteen days leave of absence. He went away feeling very sad indeed.
In the night, a large part of the army moved northward, following the force already sent forward to meet the rebels invading Maryland. Generals Burnside, Hooker, Sumner and Reno in command (Burnside chief) as reported.

MONDAY, Sept. 8, 1862.
Jay Cooke came to breakfast, after which we talked financial matters. He thought gold could be easily obtained on deposit at 4%; and that, by and by, on a more favorable turn of affairs, 5-20s could be negotiated. Clay came in and Cooke left. Clay and I rode towards Department in wagon. Clay said he had made up his mind to take Department and that the President and Stanton were willing he should take that beyond the Mississippi. " Would I go with him to see Halleck? " "Certainly." Halleck received us kindly but was unwell. Showed no favor to the new Department project.
Returned to Department and attended to general business. Nothing of special financial moment. Barney came in, and said that Stanton and Wadsworth had advised him to leave for New York this evening, as communication with Baltimore might be cut off before to-morrow. He would be governed by my advice. Told him I did not think the event probable, but he had best govern himself by the advice received.
After he had gone, Genl. Mansfield came in, and talked very earnestly about the necessity of ordering up, from Suffolk. 1st. Delaware and 3 and 4 New York, trained and disciplined now 14 months, each 800 strong, say 2,400 men; and from Norfolk 19th Wisconsin and 48th. Pennsylvania, say 1,600 men; leaving at Suffolk, Forey's Brigade of four diminished Regiments, say 1,800 men in all, late of Shield's division,-11th. Pennsylvania Cavalry (a full and good Regi- ment) say 900 men; - and Dodge's Regiment of mounted Rifles except one Company; and at Norfolk, 99th. New-York, and one Company of Dodge's, sufficient for military police. He favored leaving Keyes and Peck at Yorktown. - He said the defences of the city were weak on the Eastern side; and that there ought to be at least 65,000 good men to hold it if McClellan is defeated - to improve victory if he is successful - He referred to old times. Was in Texas the Winter before the Rebellion broke out. Saw Twiggs who hated him because he was on Court-Martial. Was then told by officer in Council of War of K. CT. C. that Floyd and Cobb in Cabinet and Jeff. Davis and Breckinridge, were members. In this Council of War, Orders were given to seize Navy Yards, Forts, etc. while its members were yet Cabinet officers and Senators. The Order of the K. G. C. ramified throughout the South. First offered services to Juarez, who refused them because too dangerous. They then plotted the invasion of Cuba, which failed. Then declared themselves Protectors of Southern Rights and levied a contribution upon all planters and slaveholderssome giving $5 and some $10, and some more or less. In this way they got large sums and commenced operations. They designed to seize Washington and inaugurate Breckenridge; and in reference to this Mason wrote Faulkner advising him not to resign--this letter being now in Seward's possession. This plot only failed through the bringing of troops to Washington, and the unwillingness of leaders to make a bloody issue so early.  - He spoke of Genl. Scott. Said he had not treated him well - had placed McDowell in command over the river last year, superseding himself, and when he had asked for explanation he simply replied that his orders bad been given. He felt himself wronged, but did his duty to the best of his ability. He was afterwards treated badly by Genl. Wool who did not like him, though he treated him civilly. Had lately been in command at Suffolk (an insignificant post) until summoned here to Court of Inquiry. Wanted active employment but was unable to get any. Had sent for his horses, and proposed to visit all the fortifications around the city on his own account. - I was a good deal affected by the manifest patriotism and desire to do something for his country manifested by the old General; and could not help wishing that he was younger and thinking that, perhaps, after all, it would have been better to trust him.
After the General left, went to War Department, where found the President, Stanton and Wadsworth. The President said he had felt badly all day. Wadsworth said there was no danger of an attack on Washington, and that the men ought to be severely punished who intimated the possibility of its surrender. The President spoke of the great number of stragglers he bad seen coming into town this morning; and of the immense losses by desertion.
Returned home. Maj. Andrews and others called.


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Annual Report of the American Historical Association; Volume II; Washington, Government Printing Office; 1903

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