Monday, December 12, 2016

Diary of John Hay: October 22, 1861

This has been a heavy day. Last night Col. Baker was killed at Leesburg at the head of his Brigade. McClellan and the President talked sadly over it. McClellan said, "There is many a good fellow that wears the shoulder-straps going under the sod before this thing is over. There is no loss too great to be repaired. If I should get knocked on the head, Mr. President, you will put another man immediately into my shoes." "I want you to take care of yourself," said the President.

McClellan seemed very hopeful and confident — thought he had the enemy, if in force or not. We left him making arrangements for the morrow. (During this evening's conversation, it became painfully evident that he had no plan, nor the slightest idea of what Stone was about).

To-night we went over again. Mc was at Poolesville. Telegraphs that loss is heavy and that troops behaved well. All right in that quarter.

At Seward’s to-night the President talked about Secession, Compromise, and other such. He spoke of a committee of southern pseudo-unionists coming to him before Inauguration for guaranties, etc. He promised to evacuate Sumter if they would break up their Convention, without any row or nonsense. They demurred. Subsequently he renewed proposition to Summers, but without any result. The President was most anxious to prevent bloodshed.

I never heard secession made more absurd than by the conversation of to-night; Seward, Chase, Kennedy and Bishop McIlvaine.

To-day Deputy-Marshal came and asked what he should do with process to be served on Porter in contempt business. I took him over to Seward, and Seward said:

“The President instructs you that the Habeas Corpus is suspended in this city at present, and forbids you to serve any process upon any officer here." Turning to me: "That is what the President says, is it not, Mr. Hay?" "Precisely his words," I replied; and the thing was done.

SOURCES: Clara B. Hay, Letters of John Hay and Extracts from Diary, Volume 1, p. 46-7; Tyler Dennett, Lincoln and the Civil War in the Diaries and Letters of John Hay, p. 30-1.

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