Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Diary of John Hay: Wednesday, January 20, 1864

On arriving at Hilton Head yesterday afternoon I found that Gen. Gilmore’s Headquarters were now at Hilton Head. I went on shore, met Col. Smith, and made an appointment to be presented to Gen. G. later. Took tea at the Port Royal House and was told by the gentlemanly proprietor that I had better forage on my friends for a bed. Was presented to the General and delivered my letter to Gen. G. He seemed perplexed rather, and evidently thought he was expected to undertake some immediate military operation to effect the occupation and reconstruction. He dwelt on the deficiency of transportation in the Department and the immobility of his force for the purposes of land attack. He has only now after great efforts succeeded in mounting a regiment of infantry for cavalry service, etc., etc. I told him it was not the President's intention to do anything to embarrass his military operations; that all I wished from him was an order directing me to go to Florida and open my books of record for the oaths; as preliminary to future proceedings.

He said we would speak farther of it. Meanwhile I will wait for my papers delayed at New York.

SOURCES: Clara B. Hay, Letters of John Hay and Extracts from Diary, Volume 1, p. 156-7; for the entire diary entry see Tyler Dennett, Editor, Lincoln and the Civil War in the Diaries and Letter of John Hay, p. 155-6.

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