Monday, June 5, 2017

Diary of John Hay: May 22, 1864

. . . . Butler is turning out much as I thought he would — perfectly useless and incapable for campaigning. He quarrels with Gillmore and Smith, and makes rather a nuisance of himself.

I said to the President to-day that I thought Butler was the only man in the army in whom power would be dangerous. McClellan was too timid and vacillating to usurp; Grant was too sound and coolheaded and too unselfish; Banks also; Fremont would be dangerous if he had more ability and energy.

“Yes,” says the Ancient; “He is like Jim Jett’s brother. Jim used to say that his brother was the damnedest scoundrel that ever lived, but in the infinite mercy of Providence he was also the damnedest fool.”

SOURCES: Clara B. Hay, Letters of John Hay and Extracts from Diary, Volume 1, p. 195-6 which dates this entry as May 21; see Michael Burlingame & John R. Turner Ettlinger, Editors, Inside Lincoln’s White House: The Complete Civil War Diary of John Hay, p. 197-8 for the full diary entry and dates it as May 22.

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