Sunday, July 2, 2017

Diary of Gideon Welles: Thursday, July 23, 1863

I had a call on Monday morning from Senator Morgan and Sam J. Tilden of New York in relation to the draft. General Cochrane was present during the interview and took part in it. The gentlemen seemed to believe a draft cannot be enforced in New York.

Am feeling anxious respecting movements in Charleston Harbor. It is assumed on all hands by the people and the press that we shall be successful. I am less sanguine, though not without hopes. Fort Wagner should have been captured in the first assault. The Rebels were weaker then than they will be again, and we should have been as strong at the first attack as we can expect to be. Gillmore may have been a little premature, and had not the necessary force for the work.

Whiting, Solicitor of the War Department, has gone to Europe. Is sent out by Seward, I suppose, for there is much sounding of gongs over the mission instituted by the State Department to help Mr. Adams and our consuls in the matter of fitting, or of preventing the fitting out of naval vessels from England. This Solicitor Whiting has for several months been an important personage here. I have been assured from high authority he is a remarkable man. The Secretary of War uses him, and I am inclined to believe he uses the Secretary of War. This fraternity has made the little man much conceited. Mr. Seward, Mr. Chase, and even the President have each of them spoken to me of him, as capable, patriotic, and a volunteer in the civil service to help the Government and particularly the War Department.

I have found him affable, anxious to be useful, with some smartness; vain, egotistical, and friendly; voluble, ready, sharp, not always profound, nor wise, nor correct; cunning, assuming, presuming, and not very fastidious; such a man as Stanton would select and Seward use. Chase, finding him high in the good graces of the President and the Secretary of War, has taken frequent occasion to speak highly of Solicitor Whiting. My admiration is not as exalted as it should be, if he is all that those who ought to know represent him.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 1: 1861 – March 30, 1864, p. 380-1

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