Friday, December 9, 2016

Diary of John Hay: October 10, 1861

To-night I went over to McClellan’s quarters with the Tycoon and Seward. Lander was with us part of the way. Lander was gasconading a little. He said he would like a good place to die in with a corporal's guard, to set the nation right in the face of the world after the cowardly shame of Bull Run. The President, as Lander walked off, said: — “If he really wanted a job like that, I could give it to him. Let him take his squad and go down behind Manassas and break up their railroad.” Seward said he disbelieved in personal courage as a civilised institution. He had always acted on the opposite principle, — admitting you are scared, and assuming that the enemy is. If this matter had been managed on his basis, it would have been arranged satisfactorily before now.

We came to McClellan’s quarters and met in the telegraph office a long and awkward youth who spoke in a high-pitched and rapid tone to Seward, “We are just in from a ride of all day.” Seward introduced him to me as Capt. Orleans. He went up-stairs to call McClellan, and the President said quietly: “One doesn't like to make a messenger of the King of France, as that youth, the Count of Paris, would be, if his family had kept the throne.”

McClellan came hurriedly in and began to talk with the President. They discussed the events of to-day and yesterday. McClellan was much pleased at the conduct of his men — no rowdyism or plundering to-day. He was merely to-day finishing yesterday's work. The rest of this week will be used in the same way. Says the President: —“We have gained a day on our sea expedition. The vessels will leave on the 14th, it is thought, instead of the 15th.”

As we left, McClellan said: — “I think we shall have our arrangements made for a strong reconnoissance about Monday, to feel the strength of the army. I intend to be careful and do as well as possible. Don't let them hurry me is all I ask.” “You shall have your own way in the matter, I assure you,” said the President, and went home.

SOURCES: Clara B. Hay, Letters of John Hay and Extracts from Diary, Volume 1, p. 40-2; Tyler Dennett, Lincoln and the Civil War in the Diaries and Letters of John Hay, p. 26-7.

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