Monday, May 8, 2017

Diary of John Hay: March 24, 1864

I arrived at Washington this morning, finding Nicolay in bed at 7 o'clock in the morning. We talked over matters for a little while and I got some ideas of the situation from him.

After breakfast I talked with the President. There was no special necessity of presenting my papers, as I found he thoroughly understood the state of affairs in Florida, and did not seem in the least annoyed by the newspaper falsehoods about the matter. Gen. Halleck, I learn, has continually given out that the expedition was the President's and not his (Halleck’s),—so Fox tells me. The President said he has not seen Gillmore’s letters to Halleck, but said he had learned from Stanton that they had nothing to bear out Halleck’s assertion. I suppose Halleck is badly bilious about Grant. Grant, the President says, is Commander-in-Chief, and Halleck is now nothing but a staff officer. In fact, says the President, “when McClellan seemed incompetent to the work of handling an army and we sent for Halleck to take command, he stipulated that it should be with the full power and responsibility of Commander-in-Chief. He ran it on that basis till Pope’s defeat; but ever since that event he has shrunk from responsibility whenever it was possible."

SOURCES: Clara B. Hay, Letters of John Hay and Extracts from Diary, Volume 1, p. 179-80. See Michael Burlingame & John R. Turner Ettlinger, Editors, Inside Lincoln's White House: The Complete Civil War Diary of John Hay, p. 183 for the full diary entry.

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