Saturday, April 1, 2017

Diary of Gideon Welles: Thursday, May 21, 1863

Had an early call from the President, who brought a communication from Tassara to Seward, complaining of violation of neutral rights by a small pilot-boat, having a gun mounted amidships and believed to be an American vessel, which was annoying Spanish and other neutral vessels off the coast of Cuba. The President expressed doubts whether it was one of our vessels, but I told him I was inclined to believe it was, and that I had last week written Mr. Seward concerning the same craft in answer to Lord Lyons, who complained of outrage on the British schooner Dream, but I had also written Admiral Bailey on the subject. I read my letter to the President. He spoke of an unpleasant rumor concerning Grant, but on canvassing the subject we concluded it must be groundless, originating probably in the fact that he does not retain but has evacuated Jackson, after destroying the enemy's stores.

It is pretty evident that Senator John P. Hale, Chairman of the Naval Committee of the Senate, is occupying his time in the vacation in preparing for an attack on the Navy Department. He has a scheme for a tract of land with many angles, belonging to a friend, which land he has procured from Congress authority for the Secretary to purchase, but the Secretary does not want the land in that shape. It is a “job,” and the object of this special legislative permission to buy, palpable. Hale called on me, and has written me, and I am given to understand, if I do not enter into his scheme, — make this purchase, — I am to encounter continued and persistent opposition from him.

Hale has also sent me a letter of eight closely written pages, full of disinterested, patriotic, and devoted loyalty, protesting against my detailing Commodore Van Brunt to be one of a board on a requisition from the War Department for a naval officer. Van Brunt has committed no wrong, is accused of none, but Hale doesn't like him. I replied in half a page. I will not waste time on a man like Hale.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 1: 1861 – March 30, 1864, p. 307-8

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