Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Diary of Gideon Welles: Friday, June 26, 1863

The conduct and course of Admiral Du Pont leaves no doubt on my mind that he intends to occupy a position antagonistic to the Department. Fox, who has been his special friend, is of the same opinion. He suggested to me yesterday that the capture of the Fingal presented to me a good opportunity to give Rodgers credit, and in turning the subject over, we both concluded that the letter might be so framed as to detach him, and perhaps others whom the Admiral has sought to attach to and make part of his clique. Fox caught the points earnestly and brought me his ideas in the rough form of a letter. His views were very good and I embodied them in a congratulatory commendation to Rodgers on his services.

Rumors are rife concerning the army. If Hooker has generalship in him, this is his opportunity. He can scarcely fail of a triumph. The President in a single remark to-day betrayed doubts of Hooker, to whom he is quite partial. “We cannot help beating them, if we have the man. How much depends in military matters on one master mind! Hooker may commit the same fault as McClellan and lose his chance. We shall soon see, but it appears to me he can't help but win.”

A pretty full discussion of Vallandigham's case and of the committee from Ohio which is here, ostensibly in his behalf, but really to make factious party strength. Blair is for letting them return, — turning him loose, — says he will damage his own friends. The President would have no objections but for the effect it might have in relaxing army discipline, and disgusting the patriotic sentiment and feeling of the country, which holds V. in abhorrence.

Blair assures me that Seward and H. Seymour have an understanding, are acting in concert. Says Stanton is beholden to Seward, who sustains him. Both he denounces. They are opposed to putting McClellan in position, fearing he will be a formidable Presidential candidate. Their conduct is forcing him to be a candidate, when he has no inclination that way. The tendency of things, B. thinks, is to make McClellan and Chase candidates, and if so, he says, McC. will beat C. five to one. He tells me he visited McC. last winter with a view of bringing him here to take Halleck's place. The President was aware of his purpose. McC. assured him he had no Presidential aspirations; his desire was to be restored to his old military position. When B. returned from his successful mission to New York he found his plans frustrated, and the President unwilling to give them further consideration. Satisfied that Seward, whom he had made a confidant to some extent, had defeated his purpose, he embraced the first favorable opportunity, when returning in Seward's carriage on the night of the 3d of March from the Capitol, to charge Seward with not having acted in good faith in the transaction. B. says Seward sunk down in the corner of the carriage and made no reply.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 1: 1861 – March 30, 1864, p. 344-5

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