There was a special Cabinet-meeting at 9 A.M. on the subject of A. H. Stephens's mission. Seward came prepared with a brief telegram, which the President had advised, to the effect that Stephens's request to come to W. was inadmissible, but any military communication should be made through the prescribed military channel. A copy of this answer was to be sent to the military officer in command at Fortress Monroe by the Secretary of War, and the Secretary of the Navy was to send a copy to Admiral Lee. The President directed Mr. Seward to go to the telegraph office and see that they were correctly transmitted. All this was plainly prearranged by Seward, who has twice changed his ground, differing with the President when Chase and Stanton differed, but he is finally commissioned to carry out the little details which could be done by an errand boy or clerk.
The army news continues to be favorable. Lee is on the retreat, and Meade in hot pursuit, each striving to get possession of the passes of the Potomac.
A note from Wilkes stating he had reached home, and would have reported in person but had received an injury. A letter is published in one of the papers, purporting to be from him at Havana, written by himself or at his instigation, expressing a hope that Lardner, his successor, will be furnished with men and more efficient vessels. I hope so too. Wilkes has not had so large a force as I wished; he could not under any circumstances have had so large a squadron as he desired. To say nothing of the extensive blockade, Farragut's detention through the winter and spring before Vicksburg was unexpected, and the operations before Charleston have been long and protracted.
The papers this evening bring us the speeches of the two Seymours, Horatio and Thomas Henry, on the Fourth at New York. A couple of partisan patriots, neither of whom is elated by Meade's success, and whose regrets are over Rebel reverses.
SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 1: 1861 – March 30, 1864, p. 362-3