Monday, May 1, 2017

Diary of Gideon Welles: Saturday, June 6, 1863

Am unhappy over our affairs. The Army of the Potomac is doing but little; I do not learn that much is expected or intended. The failure at Chancellorsville has never been satisfactorily explained. Perhaps it cannot be. Some of the officers say if there had been no whiskey in the army after crossing the Rappahannock we should have had complete success. But the President and Halleck are silent on this subject.

How far Halleck is sustaining Grant at Vicksburg I do not learn. He seems heavy and uncertain in regard to matters there. A further failure at V. will find no justification. To-day he talks of withdrawing a portion of the small force at Port Royal. I am not, however, as anxious as some for an immediate demonstration on Charleston. There are, I think, strong reasons for deferring action for a time, unless the army is confident of success by approaches on Morris Island. Halleck is confident the place can be so taken. But while he expresses this belief, he is not earnest in carrying it into effect. He has suddenly broken out with zeal for Vicksburg, and is ready to withdraw most of the small force at Port Royal and send it to the Mississippi. Before they could reach Grant, the fate of Vicksburg will be decided. If such a movement is necessary now, it was weeks ago, while we were in consultation for army work in South Carolina and Georgia.

Halleck inspires no zeal in the army or among our soldiers. Stanton is actually hated by many officers, and is more intimate with certain extreme partisans in Congress — the Committee on the Conduct of War and others — than with the Executive Administration and military men. The Irish element is dissatisfied with the service, and there is an unconquerable prejudice on the part of many whites against black soldiers. But all our increased military strength now comes from the negroes. Partyism is stronger with many in the Free States than patriotism. Every coward and niggardly miser opposes the War. The former from fear, lest he should be drafted; the latter to avoid taxes.

The examination at the Naval School has closed, and the practice ship, the Macedonian, sails to-day. The report of the board is highly commendatory of the school. I have, amidst multiplied duties, tried to make the school useful, and have met with opposition and obstruction when I should have had support.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 1: 1861 – March 30, 1864, p. 323-5

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