Saturday, April 8, 2017

Diary of Gideon Welles: Wednesday, May 27, 1863

No decisive news from Vicksburg. The public mind is uneasy at the delay, yet I am glad to see blame attaches to no one because the place was not taken at once. There have been strange evidences of an unreasonable people on many occasions during the War. Had Halleck shown half the earnestness and ability of Farragut, we should have had Vicksburg in our possession a year ago.

Admiral Foote handed me a letter from Thomas Turner, in command of the Ironsides off Charleston. Turner anticipates the withdrawal of Du Pont from the command, and thinks Foote or Dahlgren will succeed him. Is willing to continue under Foote, but not under D., who is his junior and has been promoted for his scientific attainments, and not for nautical experience or ability. These views are natural and proper enough to an old naval and social companion. But he proceeds to comment on the ironclads; speaks of the “miserable monitors,” though he admits they are admirably adapted for harbor defense; is astonished the Department should build so many; says it is to fill the pockets of the speculators. These are Du Pont's tactics. If true, the Secretary is a knave, or a blockhead the tool of knaves, and so of others connected with the Department. But the fact is, Tom Turner is a simple dupe, and merely echoes the insinuations of another, who moulds him at pleasure and is demoralizing that entire command.

Had some talk with Admiral Foote respecting Charleston. He believes the place may be taken, but does not express himself with confidence. Has great respect for Du Pont, who, I fear, will exercise a bad influence upon him, should he be given the command. Admiral Gregory is too old and has some ailments. I have great faith in the old man, but the country would not forgive me the experiment, were he selected and to fail. There would be bitter opposition to Dahlgren from some good officers as well as the Tom Turners, were he given the squadron. Could he and Foote act together, it would be the best arrangement I could make.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 1: 1861 – March 30, 1864, p. 314-5

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