Thursday, December 29, 2016

Diary of Gideon Welles: Wednesday, January 28, 1863

Word comes that the Oreto has escaped from Mobile and destroyed some vessels. Our information is vague and indefinite, but I doubt not it is in the main true.

Get as yet no official report of the disaster at Galveston. Farragut has prompt, energetic, excellent qualities, but no fondness for written details or self-laudation; does but one thing at a time, but does that strong and well; is better fitted to lead an expedition through danger and difficulty than to command an extensive blockade; is a good officer in a great emergency, will more willingly take great risks in order to obtain great results than any officer in high position in either Navy or Army, and, unlike most of them, prefers that others should tell the story of his well-doing rather than relate it himself.

Thurlow Weed retires from the Evening Journal. Is this an actual or pretended retirement? I always distrust him. He is strong and cunning; has a vigorous but not an ingenuous mind. Being a lifelong partisan, he cannot abandon party even for the country's welfare, though he may strive to have them assimilate. It grieved him that so many of his old party opponents should have been invited to the Cabinet and identified with the Administration. The President quietly laughs at Weed's intrigues to exclude Chase and myself. This was in the interest of Seward, his alter ego. I remember that Seward on one occasion remarked in Cabinet, “Weed is Seward, and Seward is Weed; each approves what the other says and does.” It was not a pleasant remark to some of us, and Chase said he did not recognize the identity; while he would yield a point as a matter of favor to Mr. Seward, he would not to Weed. His ostensible reason for abandoning the field of active politics at this time and leaving the Journal is because he cannot act with his friends and support the Administration. There is intrigue, insincerity, and scheming in all this. I have no confidence in him, and he doubtless knows it. The organization of the New York Legislature has been finally accomplished. If Weed does not go for Seward for the Senate,—which is at the bottom of this movement,—he will prop Morgan. King, their best man, is to be sacrificed. I do not think Weed is moving for the Senatorship for himself, yet it is so charged. He has professedly left his old friends, but it is to carry as many as possible with him into a new combination, where he and Seward will have Dix, whom they have captured and whom they are using while D. supposes they are earnest for him.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 1: 1861 – March 30, 1864, p. 230-1

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