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SIXTH REPORT OF THE HISTORICAL MANUSCRIPTS
DIARY OF SALMON P. CHASE, TUESDAY, Sept. 9, 1862. to SATURDAY, September 13, 1862.
Maj. Andrews came to breakfast. Told him I had seen Secretary of War, who had assured me that Col. Crook's commission as Brigadier had been sent him.
Went to Department. Directed Commission for 10th New York district to be sent to Hyatt. Directed Mr. Rogers to proceed to New York and expedite alteration in Exchange and Custom House, and make proper contracts for the same.
Went to President's to attend Cabinet Meeting, but there was only a talk. I proposed the creation of a Department beyond the Mississippi and that Clay be placed in command, with whom Frank P. Blair should be associated; and that an Expedition should be organized to Petersburgh and afterwards to Charleston.
Genl. Van Ransellaer called
to ask my interest for him as Paymaster-General; and Mr. Carroll, to ask the same for Genl. Griffin.óWent to War Department, where Watson told me that Genl. McClellan had telegraphed expressing doubt if there was any large rebel force in Maryland, and apprehension that
their movement might be a feint. Watson dined with me. Read him Denison's letter from New-Orleans about evacuation of Baton Rouge - Butler's black Regiment - etc., etc.
in with Mr. G who had been arrested near Soldiers'
Home as a suspicious character - taken before Genl. Wadsworth, to whom he said he was known to me - sent by Genl. W. to me - identified and discharged. He is an Englishman of a Manchester House, who brought a letter from Mr. Sayard to acting Minister Stuart, by whom he had been commended to me. Riding around to gratify curiosity he had fallen into trouble.
WEDNESDAY, Sept.. 10.
Mr. Skinner at breakfast. - Soon
after Mr. Hamilton (James
A.) came, and we conversed about the condition of things. He said the Committee from New York had arrived, representing the views of the five New-England Governors who met lately; and that they would insist on the resignation of Messrs. S. and B. - I told him I thought the mission vain - that it might be useful if all the Heads of Departments were to resign, and that I was not only ready but anxious to do so, either with my associates or alone. - He criticized severely some passages in Mr. Seward's Diplomatic Correspondence - especially those in the letter of April 10, to .Mr. Adams, which concede the proposition that the Federal Government could not reduce the seceding States to obedience by conquest, and affirm that " only an imperial or despotic Government could subjugate thoroughly disaffected and insurrectionary members of the State." He said in them was the key to the whole temporizing policy, civil and military, which had been pursued. I could make no reply to this, except to say that I had never known Mr. Seward to object to any action, however vigorous, of a military nature, though his influence had been cast in favor of harmonizing the various elements of support to the Administration, by retaining Genl. McClellan in command, and by avoiding action which would be likely to alienate the Border States. I added that in his wishes of harmony I concurred; and that I credited him with good motives in the choice of
means to ends, though I could not always concur with him in judgment as to their adaptation.
After this conversation, I went to the Department and transacted the routine business. I also examined the Tax Law for insurgent States; Sent for Commissioner Boutwell; read and approved Regulations drafted by Judge Smith; and determined to overcome the difficulties in the way of putting the law into operation, arising from the omission of any appropriation for the purpose by Congress, by applying, so far as the District of South Carolina is concerned, the necessary amount from a small fund legally at my disposal.
Received letter from Birney, desiring that his brother should command Kearney's corps and sent it to the War Department with strong recommendations.
Genl. Kane called to thank me for my support to his appointmentas Brigadier; to which I answered, most sincerely, that " he was indebted for the appointment, not to my support, but to his own merits." Indeed, while I will most gladly aid merit to place, and seek it out in order to give it place, I am resolved never from sympathy or weak compliance, to help unfit persons to position. The condition of the country is too critical for it now, were it ever excusable.
At home, Mr. Hamilton told me of the interview between the New York Committee and the President. The Committee urged a change of policy. The President became vexed, and said in substance, "It is plain enough what you want, you want to get Seward out of the Cabinet. There is not one of you who would not see the country ruined, if you could turn out Seward."
After dinner, rode to Mr. Cutts' proposing to invite Mrs. D. to ride; and was very sorry to learn from her mother that she was much indisposed. -- Went to the War Department. No satisfactory information yet from army and no satisfactory account of numbers or position of the enemy. David Taylor called with Mr. Northcutt, of Champaign, who wants to be commissary. Endorsed his paper,
Received telegram from McDowell, asking if it was not just to publish his letter. Answered, " Will see it done."
THURSDAY, Sept 11th., 1862.
weeks since Hooker drove Ewell at Bristow Station and what weeks! Ten days of battle, and then such changes, - changes in which it is difficult to see the public good! How singularly all our worst defeats have followed Administrative co no, blunders! McDowell defeated at Bull Run, because the Administration would not supersede Patterson by a General of more capacity, vigor and devotion to the cause. McClellan defeated at Richmond, because the Administration recalled Shields and forced Fremont to retire from the pursuit of Jackson, in order that McDowell's force might be concentrated at Manassas to be sent to McClellan before Richmond. Pope defeated at Bull Run because the Administration persisted in keeping McClellan in command of the Army of the Potomac, after full warning that, under his lead and influence, that army would not cooperate effectively with Pope.
After breakfast this
morning Mr. Hamilton took leave of me, and I prepared to go to Fairfax Seminary to visit Butterfield, who, according to the papers, is sick there. Before starting, however, I thought best to send Bannister to the War Department to learn if any-thing of importance had occured. He returned with a note to the effect that nothing important had come from the army but that an important question was for consideration and decision, and if I would come up he would send for Genl. Halleck and the President. Went up immediately. It rained. On arriving at the War Department, found Genl. Wright, of Penna., there, with a request from Gov. Curtin to call into active service all the able bodied men of the State. The President, Gen. Halleck and Mr. Stanton submitted the question, " What answer shall be returned to Gov. Curtin ? " - Gen. H. thought the important thing was to mass all the force possible on this side the enemy, and defeat him; and that a general arming of Pennsylvania would not be sufficiently available to warrent the vast expenses sure to be incurred. - Mr. Stanton expressed no-opinion as to defeat of the enemy from this side, but thought Gov. Curtins proposal too large to be entertained, and stated that the arms for a general arming could not be furnished.
I asked Gen. H., " What force, in
your opinion, has the enemy? " - " From the best evidence I have
- not satisfactory, but the best - I reckon the whole number in Maryland and the vicinity-of Washington, at 150,000." - " How many in Maryland?" "Two-thirds probably, or 100,000." - " What in your judgment as a soldier, are the designs of the enemy ? " - " Impossible to judge with certainty. Suppose he will do what I would do if in his place - rest, recruit, get supplies, augment force, and obtain all possible information; and then strike the safest and most effectual blow he can - at Washington, Baltimore, or Philadelphia. If not strong enough to strike a blow, he will, after getting all he can, attempt to cross into Virginia." - " You think, there is no probability of an advance into Pennsylvania at present."-- " None, unless a raid." - Upon these statements, l expressed the opinion, that, considering the situation of our troops sent out to attack the rebel army, it was not impossible that a raid, at least, would be attempted into Pennsylvania, and that Gov. Curtin was wise in making provision for it; that the proposition to arm the whole people was, however, too broad; and that I thought it would be well to authorize the Governor to call out as many troops as could be armed with the arms he reported himself as having - say 30,000. The President said he was averse to giving the order, on the score of expense; but would think of it till to-morrow.
and Secy. Stanton having left the room, I took occasion to ask Gen. Halleck what, in his judgment, were the causes of the demoralization of the troops. He replied, there were several causes; first, the incapacity of officers from inexperience, or want of ability or character; second, the want of proper discipline; third, - a political cause, the action of the late Congress in its abolition and confiscation measures, which were very distasteful to the army of the West, and, as he understood, also to the army of the Potomac. I expressed my conviction that the influ- ence of the last was exaggerated, and dropped the subject. I abandoned the idea of visiting Butterfield and returned to the Department, where I transacted usual routine business.
In the evening, called to enquire for Mrs. Douglas, taking some ----
FRIDAY, September 12.
Breakfasted alone. After breakfast went to Department, putting carelessly in my pocket a roll of papers, consisting, in part, of some sheets of an Account of McClellan's Course till the junction of the Army of the Potomac with that of Virginia, and of others containing the first draft of my journal of the 10th., and in part of the 11th. On reaching the Treasury, I was a little alarmed on missing a roll; and still more annoyed when, on sending Thomas and Mr. Plant to look along the street and at the house, nothing could be found of it. What if it should fall into the hands of somebody who will make public what is not designed for publication, but simply in memoriam?
Fortunately the roll was picked up in the street and brought to me.
interest occurred at the Department to-day. Expenses are enormous, increasing instead of diminishing; and the ill succesess in the field have so affected Government Stocks that it is impossible to obtain money except on temporary deposit, and these deposits very little exceed --- We are
forced, therefore, to rely on the increased issue of U. S. Notes, which hurts almost as much as it helps; for the omission of Congress to take any measures to restrict bank-note circulation, makes the issue of these notes a stimulant to its increase so that the augmentation of the currency proceeds by a double action and prices rise proportionably. It is a bad state of things, but neither the President, his counsellors nor his commanding general seem to care. They rush on from expense to expense and from defeat to defeat, heedless of the abyss of bankruptcy and ruin which yawns before us - so easily shunned yet seemingly so sure to engulf us. May God open the eyes of those who control, before it is too late!
Went over to the War Department about two. Found that no important intelligence of rebel movements had been received. The Secretary informed me that he had heard from Genl. H. that the President is going out to see Gerd. McClellan; and commented with some severity, on his humiliating submissiveness to that officer. It is, indeed humiliating; but prompted, I believe, by a sincere desire to
serve the country, and a fear that, should he supersede McClellan by any other commander, no advantage would be gained in leadership, but much harm in the disaffection of officers and troops. The truth is, I think, that the President with the most honest intentions in the world, and a naturally clear judgment and a true, unselfish patriotism, has 'yielded so much to Border State and negrophobic counsels that he now finds it difficult to arrest his own descent towards the most fatal concessions. He has already separated himself from the great body of the party which elected him; distrusts most those who most represent its spirit; and waits--For What?
Before I left the Department, the Secretary kindly promised me a Paymastership for W. D. Bickham; which will, when given, be a great satisfaction to a very worthy friend. We talked also of Port Royal and matters there. I advised the removal of Brannan, who is hostile to the plans of the Department and the measures of Seaton. He said he would be ordered to the North; but did not seem inclined to talk much about it.
Speaking of the number of rebels, he said he thought it could not exceed 100,000 men; but that his judgment was founded upon possibilities of supplies and transportation not on reports.
President's, and spoke to him of leave of absence to Cameron. He referred me to Seward, to whom I went, and was informed that leave was sent by last steamer. We talked on many things Barney's appointments, conduct of the war,
etc, etc,--Engaged to go together tomorrow, and urge expedition to Cn. - He said some one had proposed that the President should issue a Proclamation, on the invasion of Pennsylvania, freeing all of the Apprentices tices of that State, or with some similar object. I thought the jest ill-timed.
Judge Adams (6th. Auditor), Mr. Burnan (of Kentucky Legislature, now a refugee from his home) and Mr. Case, (formerly of Patriot., now of Portland, Me.) dined with me. The Kentucky Slaveholders were more against Slavery than the Northern Conservatives. Strange, yet not strange!
In the evening, Maj. D. Taylor,
Mr. O'Harra, and Mr. Cooke called.
later Mr. Cummings. General talk and not very profitable. Cooke
and O'Harra want introduction to Genl. Mitchell for Pitt, Cooke and O'Harra, who want to buy cotton at Port Royal. - Col. Kane called and left note about McDowell. - Mr. Cummings talked about "Bulletin" - about the removal of one of the Editors from Custom House - about support to himself for Assembly - about distribution of stamps etc. - I got tired.
SATURDAY, 13, 1862.
Breakfasted alone. What has become of Mr. Skinner? Went to Department and attended to some matters of routine.
Went to Navy Department with Gov. Seward, according to appointment, about expedition to Charleston. Examined chart with Secretary Weller and Asst. Secy. Fox. Learned that the " Ironsides and Passaic" will be ready for sea by the 1st. October; which is more than two weeks longer than Mr. Weller gave me to understand ten days ago. Fox thinks that James Island ought to have been held and that Hunter was wrong in withdrawing our force from it; but it is now commanded by our gunboats, so that a landing upon it is easy, and a force of 10,000 or 15,000 men would suffice for the reduction of Charleston. A land force, however, would have to act mainly independently of the naval,--and no naval force but ironclads could act with any efficiency because, the harbor being a cal de sac, wooden vessels entering it to bombard the town, would be exposed to fire from all sides, and could not pass and repass the enemy's batteries, as at Port Royal, and, by motion, make the enemy's fire comparatively ineffectual. Ironclads, however, such as the "Passaic" and the "Ironsides" could go right into the harbor, with little or no risks, and destroy the Forts, batteries and the town itself, if not surrendered. After all, it seemed to me that it would contribute greatly to the certainty of the result if a land force should be organized, and I determined to confer with the Secretary of War on the subject, as soon as possible. No time should be lost in making every arrangement for such overwhelming blows, just as soon as the ironclads are ready, as will effectually annihilate the possibility of rebel success.
Navy Department, we went to Head Quarters where we found Genl. [Cullom] who said: " We have got whipped again. We have just received a telegram that the rebels have defeated our people in Fayette County, Va., and are driving them down the Kanawha. The trouble is that our men won't fight." The style of remark did not suit me, but it is too common among our generals. In my opinion, the soldiers are better than the officers. - Genl. Halleck came in, and we asked the situation. There was nothing new, he said, except confirmation that Burnside drove the rebels out of Frederick yesterday, and had renewed the fight to-day. Heavy firing had been heard from the direction of Harpers Ferry and the Frederick and Hagerstown roads. We left Head Quarters, and I returned to the Department.
Gave O'Harra and Pitt Cooke letter of introduction to Genl. Mitchell. Visited Mr. Clarke's sealing and trimming machine for the ones and twos and found them a perfect success; and the ones and twos are sealed and trimmed by machinery, attended by the most part by women, with such prodigious advantage to the Government, that it seems difficult to imagine that coining, except in large masses, can be of much utility hereafter.
Cooke writes that he has visited New York and conversed with Bankers; and thinks that $10,000,000 in Gold will be gladly deposited at 4%. I think that, in this way, all the Gold needed can be obtained at very small cost and without affecting the market in any way. If it succeeds, it will form not the least remarkable chapter in the history of the financial success which has attended me thus far.
Katie and Nettie, and to Horton ---- to Katie, advising her
not to return immediately, - to Horton about Pope.
In the evening,
went to Willard's to call on Genl. Schenck, but did not
see him. Met Weed, and went to his room and talked of sundry
matters. He says I have done as well in the New York
appointments as was possible, and advises k-are as to
the securities taken; which advice I think very He thinks the
time has come for vigorous measures South; and is
for freeing the slaves, and arming them as far as useful, without noise or excitement. He saw Hunter in New York; who says that if he had been sustained, he would have emasculated the rebellion in South Carolina before now - which he seemed to believe and which I believe absolutely.
Went to War Department. Telegraph men told me that telegraph was built to Point of Rocks and several miles beyond the Monocacy towards Frederick, and that heavy continuous firing was heard, by the operator of the former place, from the direction of Harpers Ferry, till between three and four this afternoon; and that firing, though not so heavy, was also heard from the direction of Middleton, between Frederick and Hagerstown. There was also a rumor that we had captured a large wagon-train, with considerable number of prisoners. The inference from the firing heard is that an attack has been made on Harpers Ferry by a large rebel force, and a stout defense with unknown result; and that a less important conflict has taken place between the advance under Burnside and the rebel rear falling back towards Hagerstown on Harpers Ferry, (probably the former) and that the rebels have been worsted.
Got. Curtin yesterday states that a reliable gentleman of Maryland who had opportunities to converse freely with officers of the rebel army, says that the rebel force in Maryland is 190,000, and the other side of the Potomac 250,000 - in all 440,000. This is a specimen of information collected and believed!.
Came home and
Cooke called with Mr.
Davis, General Birney's partner, who wants him made a Major General
with command of Kearney's corps. I think this should be done. We
must advance all our Republican officers who have real merit, so as
to counterpoise the too great weight already given to Democratic officers, without
much merit. They have been more pushed than the Republicans
and we have been more than just - more than generous
even - we have been lavish towards them. It is time to
change the policy.
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