Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Diary of Gideon Welles: Friday, May 13, 1864

The army news is interesting and as well received as the great loss of life will permit. Hancock has made a successful onset and captured Edward Johnson and two other generals, with about fifty other officers and four thousand prisoners, thirty pieces of cannon, etc. General Sheridan, with his cavalry, has got in rear of Lee and destroyed about ten miles of railroad, captured two trains, and destroyed the depot of Rebel supplies at Beaver Dam. Our troops are in good heart and everything looks auspicious for the republic. Many valuable lives have been offered up for the Union, and many a Rebel has fallen. I dwell not on particulars. The public press and documents will give them. The tidings have caused joy to the patriotic everywhere, but among the intense partisans, known as Copperheads, it is obvious there is no gratification in the success of the Union arms. It is painful to witness this factious and traitorous spirit, but it plainly shows itself.

I saw Governor Morgan yesterday respecting his circular. He says he sent it out in self-defense; that, while he knew I would stand by him in resisting a postponement of the convention, he was not certain that others would, should things by any possibility be adverse. He says the answers are all one way, except that of Spooner of Ohio, who is for a postponement. This is indicative of the Chase influence.

To-night Governor Morgan informs me that the hall in which the convention is to meet has been hired by the malcontents, through the treachery and connivance of H. Winter Davis, in whom he confided. He called on me to advise as to the course to be pursued. Says he can get the theatre, can build a temporary structure, or he can alter the call to Philadelphia. Advised to try the theatre for the present.

Admiral Shubrick says Admiral Du Pont is writing a book in vindication of himself; that he (Shubrick) and other friends of Du Pont have counselled him against such a course, but without effect; that he is under the control of H. Winter Davis, etc., etc. The subject gives me no concern or disquietude. If Du Pont desires to vindicate or explain his acts, or to assail mine or me personally, I shall not regret his proceeding. His great mistake is in overestimating his own personal consequence and undervaluing his country. Vanity and the love of intrigue are his ruin.

Mr. Representative Gooch of the Charlestown, Massachusetts, district, has undertaken, with a few other interested spirits, to discuss the management of the navy yard, and has had much to say of the rights of the citizens and of the naval gentlemen. Wants the civilians to control the yard. In all matters of conflict between the government and the mischievous element of the yard, Mr. Gooch sides against the government. This morning he called on me to protest against Admiral Smith and the naval management of the yard. After hearing his complaints I remarked that the difficulties at that yard were traced mainly to Mr. Merriam, and antagonisms got up between civilians and naval officers had their origin with him and his associates. He wished me to order a restoration of all appointments in certain departments to Merriam, which I declined, but told him I would select two masters instead of leaving the employment of workmen with the Chief Engineer.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 29-31

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