Monday, June 26, 2017

Diary of Gideon Welles: Thursday, July 16, 1863

It is represented that the mob in New York is about subdued. Why it was permitted to continue so long and commit such excess has not been explained. Governor Seymour, whose partisans constituted the rioters, and whose partisanship encouraged them, has been in New York talking namby-pamby. This Sir Forcible Feeble is himself chiefly responsible for the outrage.

General Wool, unfitted by age for such duties, though patriotic and well-disposed, has been continued in command there at a time when a younger and more vigorous mind was required. In many respects General Butler would at this time have best filled that position. As a municipal and police officer he has audacity and certain other qualities in which most military men are deficient, while as a general in the field he is likely to accomplish but little. He, or any one else, would need martial law at such a time, and with such element, in a crowded and disorderly city like New York. Chase tells me there will probably be a change and that General Dix will succeed General Wool. The selection is not a good one, but the influences that bring it about are evident. Seward and Stanton have arranged it. Chase thinks McDowell should have the position. He is as good, perhaps, as any of the army officers for this mixed municipal military duty.

Lee's army has recrossed the Potomac, unmolested, carrying off all its artillery and the property stolen in Pennsylvania. When I ask why such an escape was permitted, I am told that the generals opposed an attack. What generals? None are named. Meade is in command there; Halleck is General-in-Chief here. They should be held responsible. There are generals who, no doubt, will acquiesce without any regrets in having this war prolonged.

In this whole summer's campaign I have been unable to see, hear, or obtain evidence of power, or will, or talent, or originality on the part of General Halleck. He has suggested nothing, decided nothing, done nothing but scold and smoke and scratch his elbows. Is it possible the energies of the nation should be wasted by the incapacity of such a man?

John Rodgers of the Weehawken was here to-day. He is, I think, getting from under the shadow of Du Pont's influence.

Mr. Hooper and Mr. Gooch have possessed themselves of the belief — not a new one in that locality — that the Representatives of the Boston and Charlestown districts are entitled to the custody, management, and keeping of the Boston Navy Yard, and that all rules, regulations, and management of that yard must be made to conform to certain party views of theirs and their party friends.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 1: 1861 – March 30, 1864, p. 372-4

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