Saturday, December 10, 2016

Diary of John Hay: October 12, 1861

To-night the President went to Seward's, I with him. At the door a telegram was handed him from McClellan stating that the enemy was before him in force and would probably attack in the morning. “If they attack,” he added, “I shall beat them.” We went to Seward’s and talked of many things. Seward spoke of Lander’s restlessness and griefs at inaction; his offered resignation, and resolve to go West and begin again, — that watching the Potomac was not congenial, and other such. Gen. Scott was already fixing his orders for exactly the work he wanted to do.

Col. Scott came in with despatches from McCl., ordering Hooker’s Bladensburg Brigade in — one countermanding and one reaffirming. Scott then went out to order transportation for 6,000.

G. V. Fox came in and began to talk about the great expedition that is fitting at Annapolis. He wants, when they have sailed, to have 14,000 more men detached from the Army of the Potomac to be held in readiness awaiting the result of the expedition. If it causes a retreat of the rebels, then this additional force can be easily spared. The fleet will probably sail on Tuesday, and will have some work to do at Fernandina, Pensacola, Mobile. Gen'l Scott told Fox that 3,500 men would be enough to take Mobile, assisted by their ships. Fox himself seemed very confident that the expedition would succeed. His only nervousness was in relation to submarine batteries which modern science has rendered very destructive and entirely feasible.

Seward spoke also of Motley’s despatch which seems to contain a most cheering account of honest sympathy existing in the best class of English society towards us. Motley’s letter embraced free and cordial conversations with Earl Russell, Earl Grey, Cobden, Mr. Layard, Prince Albert and the Queen.

There was much talk of Daniel Webster, in which the financial sansouciism of the great man was strikingly prominent. Seward thought he would not live, nor Clay, a tithe as long as J. Q. Adams. The President disagreed with him, and thought Webster will be read forever.

SOURCES: Clara B. Hay, Letters of John Hay and Extracts from Diary, Volume 1, p. 42-4; Tyler Dennett, Lincoln and the Civil War in the Diaries and Letters of John Hay, p. 27-8.

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