Thursday, June 29, 2017

Diary of John Hay: October 11, 1864

. . . I was mentioning old Mr. Blair’s very calm and discreet letter of October 5 to the President to-day contrasting it with Montgomery’s indiscretions; and the President said:— “Yes, they remind me of ———. He was sitting in a bar-room among strangers who were telling of some affair in which his father, as they said, had been tricked in a trade, and he said, ‘that's a lie!’ Some sensation. ‘What do you mean?’ ‘Why the old man ain't so easy tricked. You can fool the boys but ye can't the old man.’”

. . . . At eight o'clock the President went over to the War Department to watch for despatches. I went with him. We found the building in a state of preparation for siege. Stanton had locked the doors and taken the keys up-stairs, so that it was impossible even to send a card to him. A shivering messenger was passing to and fro in the moonlight over the withered leaves who, catching sight of the President, took us around by the Navy Department and conducted us into the War Office by a side door.

The first despatch we received contained the welcome intelligence of the election of Eggelston and Hays in the Cincinnati district. This was from Stager at Cleveland who also promised considerable gains in Indiana, made good a few minutes after by a statement of 400 gain in Noble County. Then came in a despatch from Sanford stating we had 2500 in the city of Philadelphia and that leading Democrats had given up the State. Then Shellabarger was seen to be crowding Sam Cox very hard in the Columbus district, in some places increasing Brough’s colossal vote of last year.

The President, in a lull of despatches, took from his pocket the Nasby papers, and read several chapters of the experiences of the saint and martyr, Petroleum V. They were immensely amusing. Stanton and Dana enjoyed them scarcely less than the President, who read on, con amore, until nine o'clock. At this time I went to Seward’s to keep my engagement. I found there Banks and his wife; Cols. Clark and Wilson, Asta Buruaga and Madame. . . . . Dennison was also there. We broke up very early. Dennison and I went back to the Department.

We found the good Indiana news had become better, and the Pennsylvania had begun to be streaked with lean. Before long the despatches announced with some certainty of tone that Morton was elected by a safe working majority. The scattering reports from Pennsylvania showed about equal gains and losses. But the estimates and the flyers all claimed gains on the Congressmen.

Reports began to come in from the hospitals and camps in the vicinity, the Ohio troops about ten to one for Union, and the Pennsylvania less than three to one. Carver Hospital, by which Stanton and Lincoln pass every day, on their way to the country, gave the heaviest opposition vote, —about one out of three. Lincoln says, — “That's hard on us, Stanton, — they know us better than the others.” Co. K, 150th P. V., the President's personal escort, voted 63 to 11 Union.

I am deeply thankful for the result in Indiana. I believe it saves Illinois in November. I believe it rescues Indiana from sedition and civil war. A copperhead Governor would have afforded a grand central rallying point for that lurking treason whose existence Carrington has already so clearly demonstrated. . . . I should have been willing to sacrifice something in Pennsylvania to avert that calamity. I said as much to the President. He said he was anxious about Pennsylvania because of her enormous weight and influence, which, cast definitely into the scale, would close the campaign, and leave the people free to look again with their whole hearts to the cause of the country.

SOURCES: Clara B. Hay, Letters of John Hay and Extracts from Diary, Volume 1, p. 233-6; Michael Burlingame and John R. Turner Ettlinger, Editors, Inside Lincoln’s Whitehouse: the Complete Civil War Diary of John Hay, p. 238-41

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