Monday, May 23, 2022

William T. Sherman to George Mason Graham, July 23, 1860

LOUISIANA STATE SEMINARY, Alexandria, July 23, 1860.

DEAR GENERAL: Charles whom we sent for the mail has just returned without the mail, but had your Sunday letter which I have just read with great satisfaction. The idea of our first examination without your presence would have been truly the play of Hamlet without the Prince, but as it is I am satisfied. I had already made all the checks except that for Mr. St. Ange, who did not apply for it because I suppose I told him I wanted all persons to pay the Seminary their dues to the stores, which in his case will take a good part of his month's pay. I may be too severe a stickler in finance, but as I view the case clothing, being sold without profit, is cash and should not be allowed to stand on our books like a store account.

I have every cadet's account made up to the cent. All orders are stopped and this cash balance cannot be changed. In actually paying Jarreau in checks I exceeded your authority, but his bill necessarily entered into all the cadet's accounts, and it was important these accounts should thus be closed before the hurly-burly of the examination. In two hours of Wednesday I can pay every account and dismiss all hands. Whilst the examination progresses the Board of Supervisors can pass a few formal resolutions. One authorizing the publication in Alexandria or New Orleans of three hundred Registers. There is already a resolution authorizing me to compile and have printed one thousand regulations. Professor Smith at my suggestion wrote his uncle 5 and ascertained the cost of two thousand regulations to have been in Richmond $250. Ours is less in volume, and ought not to exceed for one thousand copies say $150, yet this expenditure had better be left blank. I think a more compact volume would be neater and more appropriate.

I have the regulations done in manuscript and bound ready for the printer; would like you to examine it though a large task; but it must be in print next November for it is wrong thus to hold young men to obedience to rules, imperfectly understood. Both Hillan and Spencer want to come back in the fall, and we might receive them on the ground of being “minors” whose acts are incomplete without the ratification of parents, and their parents both roundly disapproved their course.

I have so written to Spencer's father, but said I could not commit the Board, who might prefer a more stringent rule. I want you to frame some word – less harsh than "deserted" or "dismissed” for such cadets, who have simply quit. I am at a dead loss. “Deserted” is all the word I know that tells the story, but it may be too severe for this condition of things.

Very many of our cadets have diarrhea, owing they say to fritters and molasses for supper. They complained so much of the melted butter, that Captain Jarreau agreed to give fritters and molasses. These and melons and fruit are causes enough. We have ordered toast and tea for supper, and will discourage stale fruit and melons.

I hope they will recover this week. Otherwise they may make a sorry appearance. I bear in mind your suggestion to get Dr. Smith to have a resolution passed, asking for the quota of [arms for] 1861. The governor's silence and that of his adjutant-general look to me ominous.

I try to write plain, but it is no use. For so many years I have had clerks to copy my letters hastily and illegibly written that the habit is fixed, and I trust you will not think my seeming haste is an intentional tax on your sight and time. Where hard to read you can skip, with the knowledge that you lose nothing.


1 F. H. Smith, superintendent of Virginia Military Institute. – ED.

SOURCE: Walter L. Fleming, General W.T. Sherman as College President, p. 245-7

William T. Sherman to George Mason Graham, August 2, 1860

ALEXANDRIA, Aug. 2, 1860.

DEAR GENERAL: I came in this morning with the register complete and it is now in the hands of the printer, with a promise that it shall be done on Saturday ready for proof. I will be in again on Saturday to prove the sheets, when there will be no further cause for my delay, and therefore I will be ready to start north next Tuesday.

I have had an interview with Mr. Manning and we have gone over the regulations together. As Colonel, of course I command in a military sense all commissioned officers and cadets of the institution; as superintendent also I should have equal control or command over every person including the professors at the institution, subject always to the resolutions of the Board of Supervisors. Else I cannot be responsible. This is the only real point in which I find I differ with Mr. Manning, and this radical difference must be solved by the Board. Mr. M. tells me he has applied to the governor to call the Board together.

I can leave the regulations to be forwarded to me at Lancaster and I will have them printed at Cincinnati, or you can have them done by Bloomfield and Steel in New Orleans. But the regulations must be printed by November 1 or I am done, for in every circular I have made, this assurance was given that a copy should be placed in the hands of every cadet on arrival. It was my intention to have furnished one hundred suits of uniform clothing and all those things, like paper, blank books, etc., that I know will be needed next session, to be here Nov. 1, to be paid for out of the cadets' money.

But the Board misunderstood my purpose. I have no business at New York. To go there would cost me $150, but I feel so desirous to start next session fair and well supplied that I was willing to incur that expense.

I shall enclose all the requisitions of the several professors for text-books, stationery, etc., with my statement of articles required at the outset next session, to be by you laid before the Board of Supervisors, that they may make the necessary arrangements for the purchase. I have been foiled in every attempt heretofore made to get supplies of books and clothing here or at New Orleans, but the Board of Supervisors better experienced in such things may be more successful.

I beg to recall such part of my letter as refers to going to New York, as it would be superfluous. I will nevertheless go to Washington and try to secure the quota of arms for 1860.

If you think my presence here necessary, I can delay my departure, and I know you fully agree with me that this question of supplies is far more important than is generally supposed. All the professors look to me to procure their supplies and I have so estimated that profits just about cover the excess on hand. Cadets on arrival will need instantly near $8,000 of clothing, books, stationery, and bedding. None of these need be paid for till the cadets make their deposit, and the Seminary is only out the surplus – and the profits of say ten per cent ought to cover that.

Still this plan was the only one I could adopt. The Board has never approved or disapproved and I have gone on controlling the purchases and issues. I think now the matter ought to be done formally. Resolve that I shall do it, or that Robertson shall fill the estimates. In the divided state of feeling in this country, it is best, that business be done formally. Those views are expressed to you that they may be communicated to the Board which meets Aug. 13 by order of Governor Moore, as I see by the letter sent to Mr. Manning after I began this hurried letter.

I shall write more from the Seminary, to-morrow, and will be here Saturday and Monday. I doubt if I should leave before the Board meets, but my young folks are most crazy and they are now looking for me. Still duty first. If you think you can manage, it might be well for me to be away, but I must have control over professors. That is the point at issue.

SOURCE: Walter L. Fleming, General W.T. Sherman as College President, p. 247-9

William T. Sherman to David F. Boyd, August 5, 1860


Sir: By virtue of authority vested in me by resolution of the Board of Supervisors, I hereby delegate to you all the authority and power thereby conveyed to me, for the purpose of protecting and guarding the buildings, fences, trees, grounds and property of all kinds and descriptions belonging in any wise to this institution. I beg you will enter into charge of the same and do all things deemed by you proper to secure the end in view.

In the first place I hereby leave with you in checks and money the sum of $780.42, being my exact cash balance this day, as per cash book already deposited with you.

The merchandise book, styled journal, has an inventory of merchandise on hand. The Seminary owns a mule and cart, which with slave Henry, should be profitably employed in gathering firewood for the coming session. Two boys, Dick and Manuel, can be employed in cutting wood when not otherwise engaged.

This period of vacation is designed as the time for refurnishing the building; as we have gone over it in person and noted down in writing the exact number of tables, bookcases, and clothes presses needed, and as the carpenters are actually employed in their manufacture, I think I need say nothing further than that it would be well to see that they keep well up to time, so that they will surely be able to finish all in October.

The work under stairway should be well done.

All the boys are paid up to Aug. 1, except Dr. Smith's boy, and I will leave an amount and check for him.

I design to order merchandise from New Orleans and New York, but will be here myself when it arrives. Still should I be delayed, or should any come prematurely, store it in this large room, near the south end, leaving this office end clear.

All cadets' articles of furniture should be in the Chemical Academy, and should be looked to occasionally, as thieves might rob them very easily.

The fact is your own judgment will be better than mine in all things that may arise. All letters open – if private, up to Oct. 1, send me at Lancaster, O.; if public, answer, and copy your answers. Though your summer stay here will be lonely, I hope it may be one of health and comparative comfort, and surely I will remember in the future your sacrifice to enable us to visit our friends and families this summer.

SOURCE: Walter L. Fleming, General W.T. Sherman as College President, p. 250-1

William T. Sherman to George Mason Graham, August 12, 1860

LANCASTER, OHIO, August 12, 1860.

DEAR GENERAL: I left Alexandria in the stage on Tuesday morning, reached the wharf boat [at the mouth of Red River] that night at 1 o'clock, waited till 4 p.m. of Wednesday, when the fine boat William M. Morrison came along in which we proceeded to Vicksburg by Thursday at 3 p.m., when we took cars to Jackson [and] Cairo, reaching Cincinnati Saturday morning at 7:30 o'clock. It so happened that the train connected with a railroad taking its departure at 7:45 from a depot west of the city, whereas the daily train of our Lancaster road leaves the depot at the eastern end of the city. Therefore we had no time to traverse the city in time and I took my young charge1 to the Burnett House.

Then I began a series of inquiries as to the quickest and best mode of [reaching] my home, when I found in the same hotel Mrs. Ewing, the old lady and her son P. B. Ewing. After discussing the subject in all its bearing I concluded to leave Miss Whittington at the Burnett House, in the protection of Mrs. Ewing, to spend this Sunday there and come here by the morning quick train of Monday. Miss Whittington had been travelling two nights in the cars and readily consented, so I came up last night in the freight train arriving here about day-light and finding all my people well and hearty. They have been hanging on me all day, and I have had them on horseback and chasing ever since dinner, and have only stolen away for a few minutes to write you this.

I am amazed at the change from the pinewoods to this. I never saw such crops of corn, fruit, and vegetables. Mr. Ewing says in his whole experience, which goes back to the first settlement of Ohio he has never seen such plenty. Orchards which had been barren for eight years are now loaded with fine fruit, peaches, grapes, melons, everything in wasteful abundance. Wheat and small grain are gathered and safe. Corn is as fine as possible and beyond danger of any contingency. Hay of all kinds will be so abundant that it must go away for a market. This is not only true of Ohio, but of all the states east of the Mississippi. May it not be providential? May it not be one of the facts stronger than blind prejudice to show the mutual dependence of one part of our magnificent country on the other. The Almighty in his wisdom has visited a vast district with drought but has showered abundance on another and he has made a natural avenue between. This is a grievous fact – true it may advantage one part at the expense of the other, but next year it may be reversed.

I find as much diversity in sentiment here in politics as in the South – I shall keep aloof – only asserting that whoever is elected, be it the devil himself must be endured for the time being. Nobody will be rash enough to disturb slavery where it exists, and its extension is now only a theoretical not a practical question.

In Cincinnati I found a publishing house that will print us one thousand copies of our regulations for $105. When the manuscript is revised I will send it down, and follow it ten days thereafter to prove. I will bring them along with me.

Miss Whittington will be here to-morrow, I will take her to Georgetown (D.C.) on Wednesday. In Washington I will see about arms, equipments, and munitions. I will then go to New York and purchase books and clothing on a credit payable after November – and have them at Red River by Oct. 15. When I will meet them. If the river be navigable all right – if not, such as are absolutely necessary must be wagoned up and the rest kept in store till navigation opens.

I will not bring my family till I know that the house is done, and that Mrs. Sherman can bring with her from Cincinnati carpets, curtains, and furniture complete. Better this delay than the privation and confusion of a house ill supplied. It is our duty to foresee necessities and provide for them in advance. After my return from New York I will write in full what I have done. Mr. Ewing has just called to take me to ride and I must close. He is as active now as forty years ago and I would not be astonished if he would visit Louisiana next winter when my family comes down.

1 Miss Whittington, daughter of one of the supervisors. She was on her way to Georgetown, D.C., to school. – Ed.

SOURCE: Walter L. Fleming, General W.T. Sherman as College President, p. 254-7

William T. Sherman to David F. Boyd, August 13, 1860

LANCASTER, O. (Monday), Aug. 13, 1860.

MY DEAR FRIEND: I arrived here yesterday morning, and found my family well. I left Miss Whittington in Cincinnati with Mrs. Ewing to rest over Sunday and to come here to-day. On Wednesday I will go to Washington, and on Saturday to New York, and as soon as I make up my catalogue of books I will send it to you. My chief idea in going to New York is to elect some one person of good credit who can buy for us such books as any of us want. My only acquaintance with booksellers now is of that general character that is formed by dropping in and buying a single or couple [of] volumes. This time I will come to clear distinct terms as to purchase, commissions, credits, etc., same with clothing, and same for hats, caps, and shoes. But your five hundred dollars of books shall be purchased absolutely, paid for and shipped in all September, and I advise you to have prepared a case of shelves. The textbooks must also be bought on a credit, and then they can remain in their own boxes till issued and sold to cadets – same of clothing, shoes, hats, etc.

Now Red River will not be navigable by October 15, and I foresee trouble, but trouble only stimulates my endeavors. I will arrange that all purchases go to New Orleans; if Red River be navigable October 15, then these things to be shipped, if Red River be dry, then I will want to hire five wagons at or near the Seminary, so that on my arrival there I can conduct them to Snaggy Point, or even the Mississippi River, and haul up those things, such as bedding, textbooks, etc., which must be on hand to the hour. Therefore, if about October 1 the river be as now, unreliable, see Coats, or Baden the cooper in Pineville, or some other of that class, and tell them on my arrival October 15 I will want to hire five wagons, and for them to be prepared for an offer.

Keep the carpenters well at the tables, bookcases, and wardrobes, the woodcutters to their work, and I foresee a plain easy beginning to our critical session.

It is utterly impossible to conceive of a wider contrast than exists between the Pinewoods and where I now am. Since the first settlement of Ohio, there has been no season of such prolific yield as the present: wheat, oats, hay, fruit, corn, everything have been or are perfect. I never saw such corn fields; not a stack missing, high, strong and well-eared. If I could transfer the products of this county to Natchitoches I would prefer it to all the mines of California. Horses and cattle roll with fat. I hear this is the condition of things in all this region, and God grant it may be one of the many causes to teach men of prejudice and fanaticism of the beautiful relation that should exist between parts of the same country.

The same diversity of opinion in politics exists here as elsewhere, but Lincoln will doubtless carry this state, partly from the diversion caused by the nomination of the three adverse candidates, Douglas, Breckenridge, and Bell. Mr. Ewing tells me he was consulted about the organization of the Union Party. He advised it, but against the nomination of a candidate – intending to hold their strength in reserve, to be cast in favor of the most national of the candidates of the adverse party. He thinks this sentiment forced the Republicans to reject Seward and take Lincoln, of whom he speaks in moderately favorable terms. My brother John is in the north of this state, where a more violent anti-slavery feeling prevails, and where a moderate conservatism would be styled Dough-facism. Therefore he is radical. I shall see him this summer, but can not expect to influence him. Still, I know that even if Lincoln be elected, he will not dare do anything hostile to any section. Political majority has passed to the North, and they are determined to have it. Let us hope they will not abuse it.

I saw Roelofson in Cincinnati, and though not entirely satisfied at my not going to London he had to say that I had a right to be cautious of all new financial schemes. He will go himself to London. I hope the Board of Supervisors to meet at Alexandria to-day will not modify materially my plans, but even if they do, I will execute their plan another year, and if we find the mixed system too weak for success, I feel assured they will yield. If, however, they devise some impracticable scheme I will be disposed to hesitate to risk my comfort and reputation in a doubtful result.

SOURCE: Walter L. Fleming, General W.T. Sherman as College President, p. 257-9

Sunday, May 22, 2022

William T. Sherman to David F. Boyd, August 19, 1860

WASHINGTON, D.C., Sunday, Aug. 19, 1860.

DEAR MR. BOYD: I wrote you from Lancaster. I left there last Wednesday reached here Thursday evening deposited my charge, Miss Whittington, in the convent same day, and have been two days well employed here. I have a large acquaintance here, and was thereby enabled promptly to succeed in my undertaking of getting arms for our institution – orders are already issued for the shipment to Alexandria of 145 cadet muskets, making with 55 on hand 200 – 10 long range minnie rifles, with sabre bayonets – 10 pistols for belts – 200 cartridge boxes, bayonet scabbards, belts, etc., for 200 cadets 10 sergeant's swords and belts, 10 musicians' swords and belts and a whole lot of extra springs, screws, etc., to keep all in repair. This will give us a good outfit for 210 cadets, a number as great as we can hope for some years to come. I did want ammunition but this is not allowed by law, and I may provide some at New York, wherewith to teach the practical use of these modern long range weapons.

Of course politics here are on every tongue, but I keep aloof. I notice a few facts, which to me are far more convincing than any political platform or dogmas. All the public buildings here are being built in a style of magnificent proportions and development, which looks like increasing rather than diminishing the proportions of our country. All the hotels are cleaning and painting ready for the usual winter influx of politicians. There is no diminution in the price of property, rents, or even of negroes.

You know that money is as sensitive as the mercury and in Europe an ugly remark of Louis Napoleon will affect stocks. So would any political event here, if people believed it – but nobody believes in a secession, though they talk and write of it. Lincoln's chances of election were very good, but two events have just transpired which to me look important. In New York the Bell and Douglas parties have fused - and have made a joint elective ticket, which can cast the vote of New York for Douglas or Bell, as events may make necessary. Again Seward at Boston made another of his characteristic speeches in which he renewed his assertion of the irreconcilability of slave and free labor. Now if Lincoln remains silent as he doubtless will, the moderates will accuse him of thinking as Seward does, whereas if he does, as he should, announce his belief that our government as framed is harmonious in all its parts, he will lose the Seward wing or faction.

There have been magnificent crops made in all the Northern and Middle States and they will have in abundance, corn, hay, flour, bacon, and those thousand and one things needed at the South, and as this commercial dependence and exchange should, they no doubt will have a good effect, in showing the mutual dependence of all the parts of this vast and magnificent country, the one on the other. Whilst Lincoln loses strength in the way I have stated, Breckenridge has lost vastly by the vote of his own state, being so overwhelming against him, and the press is gradually settling into identifying him with a secession faction. Between this faction of the South and Lincoln of the North, Bell or Douglas if united as they have done in the New York may be elected by the people and that gives us four years of peace, during which I trust this ugly feeling of suspicion may subside, a consummation devoutly to be wished.

To-morrow I will commence the purchase of books and will fill out your list first. I will then see to clothing and make such arrangements that in the future we can order as we need and have the means of payment. I wish you would keep me advised at Lancaster, Ohio, of the progress of things. In boxing up the space under the stairway, have a double bolted door made to fasten to an upright stancheon, which can be taken out – this will be necessary, as we must store there large boxes, which will require a large opening. Please also have the space E of the hall boxed up for a guard room. We will need that for storage at first. In all November we will have a good many stores to receive, distribute, and issue. Your book case you will need in October, as I will direct the shipment of books in September.

SOURCE: Walter L. Fleming, General W.T. Sherman as College President, p. 259-62

William T. Sherman to David F. Boyd, August 30, 1860

LANCASTER, Ohio, Aug. 30, 1860.

MY DEAR FRIEND: I am just in receipt of your letter of 18th and Mr. Manning's enclosing the amended regulations, which I have just put up for the publisher in Cincinnati. I must send them off at once, and follow in ten days to prove them. Your experience with the register will show you that it is no easy task and it will take a slice off my visit home. One reason why I wanted them with me was because I was in New York a week, during which I could have had them printed and proved. Whereas now after traveling three weeks at heavy personal expenses, I must allow for a week at Cincinnati.

Of course I submit to a decision of the Board of Supervisors with as good a grace as possible because they have a right to govern according to their judgment. I think they mistake in giving the Academic Board, in its capacity as such, the trouble, labor, etc., of a standing court, because this in time might easily and well have been devolved on Assistant Professors or even cadets, to take and record testimony. Whereas now on every little muss the whole Academic Board must sit. As to limiting my power, at the same time it limits my responsibility, and I can let things slide and take care of themselves. But the truth is that these changes are made not for the good of the institution, but because there is a scramble for the honors supposed to be coming out of its success, and in that scramble they may lose the prize itself. Well I will have the regulations printed and will do what I can to enforce them, but of course my interest is materially lessened in its success.

I bought your books in New York and paid five hundred dollars. I had some bought in paper and will have them bound in uniform style. There will be over four hundred volumes, and substantially cover your list. I made such arrangements that we can order other books as we need them, the price to be governed by catalogue and discount according to time of payment. New York is booming full of people, and I got away lest I should be tempted to run hopelessly in debt. I could have spent fifty thousand dollars in books easier than five hundred dollars. I will enclose with this a list of books bought for you. Smith was there and made arrangements so that when Red River rises he can buy his books and chemicals and have them sent out.

I did the same for my books and instruments, but your books and all text books I ordered to be shipped by October 1, and if need be they must be hauled up from Red River mouth. I don't mind Frank's1 running off he can easily be replaced, though I do want to economize by having the drummer as clerk, for it is physically impossible for me to do the writing – though it will have to be as large again as last year. My brother John will be here to make a Republican speech tomorrow and will spend Sunday with me.

From him I shall learn the secrets of their party, of course they will carry Ohio, as the Republicans have made the question very narrow, strong, and no slavery for the territories.

I could tell you a thousand little things of interest here but truly I have been a little troubled with the reflection that I have another year of doubt and uncertainty before me. I know that you are so full of zeal to enlarge the sphere of your duties, that you will not be disposed to bother yourself with the duties of others, but you know others are not so well disposed.

I will surely return, but feel some scruples about my family, as it will involve a good deal of expense. Graham's ceasing to be vice-president will also make it more difficult for me, as the Board does not act in reason to me. Whenever I act and any family is offended they effectively reverse me. They yield to any outside pressure – and yet relieve me from none of the duties of treasurer, clerk, quartermaster, storekeeper, and general drudge, for which I was not employed. This is true and yet Manning writes me of the great confidence they have in me officially and individually. They feel that they can use me as they choose. Maybe – excuse this growl – I'll write you a letter from the sunshine and rich fields of Ohio in a day or two.

1 An employee at the Seminary.- ED.

SOURCE: Walter L. Fleming, General W.T. Sherman as College President, p. 262-4

William T. Sherman to George Mason Graham, August 30, 1860

LANCASTER, OHIO, Aug. 30, 1860.

DEAR GENERAL: I wrote you and Mr. Whittington from Washington of my entire success in procuring a full and ample supply of arms. Thence I went to New York, where Smith joined me from Norfolk and there I purchased clothing for next term, books for Mr. Boyd's library, text-books, and very little for my department of engineering. These will not be needed for some time, so I confined myself to selecting instruments, books, etc., with prices so that I can order them, with a foreknowledge of cost. I left New York on Sunday arrived here Tuesday and yesterday, Wednesday, received from Mr. Boyd the budget of regulations amended.

I was in hopes that the Board would forbear another year, and if we had failed to realize our promises, that then the change would be applied, whilst admitting our entire success, they clip my wings, and make me occupy the unhandy position of servant to the Board of Supervisors, and Academic Board at the same time. I know well your opinion, but regret that you saw proper to resign the vice-presidency, because the Board will confer it on some one else, who may still further complicate two incompatible systems into one, and make a hotch potch that may not only defeat the original design, but bring reproach on all connected with it.

Nevertheless I will have these regulations printed and will come down in October. I feel more embarrassment on the score of the removal of my family. I shall not attempt it till I know that Red River is navigable, for I must procure furniture and supplies for the new house. These will cost me near two thousand dollars, a sum I cannot afford to risk at this era of my life.

Manning's letter to me expresses great confidence in my administration, but you know that a simple paragraph of the regulations changed may initiate an impracticable system1 that no one man can enforce, and that sooner or later may result in my downfall. Of course as a prudent man I ought to look ahead as far as possible. I doubt if the cadets would submit to Vallas's government, though some native of Louisiana could steer the middle channel now adopted better than I can. Vallas has a way of hinting and insinuating that is peculiarly offensive, and I doubt if Smith will teach a class under him. If Vallas has no assistance, and Smith refuse to teach a class under Vallas, we will be at a dead lock the first day of our next session.

My wife and children are all well and comfortably placed, and I hate to move them, though Mrs. Sherman having despaired of my ever living here at Lancaster is willing to go south.

1 The regulations were amended for the purpose of giving the faculty more independence of the superintendent as well as a voice in the control of academic affairs and in matters of discipline. Dr. Vallas was the principal advocate of this policy. – ED.

SOURCE: Walter L. Fleming, General W.T. Sherman as College President, p. 264-6

George Mason Graham: Memorandum, [Summer of 1860]

Mr. Manning's whole course of conduct, his verbal profession to the contrary notwithstanding, shows a deep rooted hostility, embittered by personal pique, to the military government and character of this school. To the superintendent he seems to have a badly concealed personal, sectional, political antipathy. I have tried to shut my eyes to this, and to think differently, but the conviction is irresistible. The sneering tone and manner in which he said to me last winter, when I submitted to his inspection my draft of an act for the organization and government of the Seminary as a State Military Academy, “he is to be a Colonel, is he!" was alone enough to satisfy me of this, without the one thousand other evidences that he has given.

How inconsistent with the dignity, gravity, caution, and circumspection which should surround him in his character, as a member of the Board of Supervisors, is his boasting declaration in the Board, that he had advised Dr. Vallas orally, and in writing, to disobey an order of the superintendent, thus striking at the very roots of all government, of any kind whatever, in the institution! And then telling us that he had that morning insulted Dr. Vallas for not following his advice.

His added remark that now that he had found he was wrong he must apologize to Dr. Vallas is no palliation for so total a want of every attribute becoming a member of the Board of Supervisors. His declaration that he was ignorant of the existence of the regulation under which the superintendent issued the order to the professors which he advised Dr. Vallas to disobey, is no palliation.

It is his duty to know the regulations. He had the regulations in his possession for more than a month last winter, when he took advantage of my courtesy and confidence in placing them in his hands for his perusal, and refused to deliver them up when I wrote to the superintendent to call on him for them for the purpose of taking them with him to New Orleans. . . to have printed ready for the use of the school on 1st January last.

So far from apologizing to Dr. Vallas, as he had said in the Board he should have to do for speaking to him so insultingly as he said he had done in the forenoon, I am informed by gentlemen who were on the outside of the hall, that on the night of 31st July that he spoke to both Dr. Vallas and the superintendent in regard to matters pending before the Board in a most imperious and dictorial tone and manner, amounting in the whole to a prohibition to them to take any further step in regard to those matters in opposition to his wish, although all that they had done was simply in compliance with instructions to them from the Board of Supervisors. But as Mr. Manning was not present at the session of the Board at which these instructions had been given they had not received the imprimatur of his sic volo, sic jubeo.

As to Mr. Manning not understanding the impropriety of his course towards Dr. Vallas until after he was in the session of the Board on Tuesday afternoon, he was first met on his arrival there on Monday forenoon by another professor to whom he expressed his surprise at seeing him in his uniform. That professor explained to him the authority of the superintendent for issuing the order to the professors to wear their uniform at the examination, and the propriety of their doing so. Mr. Manning and myself had had a similar conversation at his office several days before. So that he understood the whole thing [before] he met Dr. Vallas, and before he came into the session of the Board on either Monday or Tuesday afternoons – and it all only strengthens my conviction that the whole thing was only intended as a lever with which to impair the authority, influence, and usefulness of the superintendent with a view to producing as soon as possible a dissolution of his connection with the institution, and the overturning of its practical, utilitarian, and military character, and establishing on its ruins a high sounding program for a grand university of empty halls, for that programme requires a larger acquaintance with Latin and Greek before a young man can enter it, than the most of our southwestern young men have acquired when they leave college.

Dr. Smith has never concealed his opposition to the military character of this institution, but only relaxed it under the influence of a conviction of its popularity. He has said openly “it will break down in a year or two, and then we'll take hold of it and make something out of it.” The fullest meeting of the Board that we have ever had has after ample discussion, declared with only two dissenting voices that this shall be "a Literary and Scientific Institution under a Military System of Government on a Programme and plan similar to that of the Virginia Military Institute at Lexington.” The people of the state have sanctioned, and the legislature has ratified it.

Doctor Smith and Mr. Manning have both admitted to me that they believed it was the popular idea. Is it right in them then – shall they be permitted to continue to pursue this step-father course towards this institution of undermining it in this stealthy manner by giving it every side blow that their position enables them to inflict on it? For I warn gentlemen now, who desire to maintain the present character of the school, but yet who may be carried away by other considerations to vote for these measures, that that will be the inevitable result of them. Let them not then say hereafter that they would not have voted for them if they had thought that such would be the result. I tell them now that these are but the entering wedge, blow after blow on which will be struck, until the present superintendent of the institution is driven from it, the friends of its present form of government around this Board either entirely withdrawn, under the influence of that power behind the throne which is so manifestly anxious to have itself considered greater than the throne itself, or else reduced to so helpless a minority as to form no obstacle to the designs of its stepfathers on this institution.

But I have too much confidence in the present governor of the state not to hope and believe that he will not countenance any measures calculated to frustrate the wish of the people, or to impair the usefulness to them of this institution. I claim as much right to speak to and of the present governor as any other man in the state – all my interests are in it - my manhood's life has been spent here, my children are born here - what of property I possess has been acquired here. On another, but in my estimation inferior, score I claim to stand in that respect on a footing of perfect equality with any other citizen of the state. I voted to place him in his present position, and I recommended every other man that I could to do the same thing. I have known him longer, with one exception, than any other member of this Board – for thirty-one years I have watched his course with kindly interest, and there is no man in the state who feels less unpleasantly than I do at the success and prosperity with which a kind providence has rewarded the exertion of his energies. I repeat then that I have too much confidence in the present governor to believe that what I am satisfied are the misguided designs of Dr. Smith and Mr. Manning in regard to this institution, will meet with his approbation, and I trust that the members of this Board will not suffer themselves to be influenced by any outside considerations to vote for measures of so fatal a tendency to the success and the usefulness of this institution.

SOURCE: Walter L. Fleming, General W.T. Sherman as College President, p. 266-70

David F. Boyd to William T. Sherman, August 30, 1860

Alexandria, Aug. 30, 1860.

SIR: . . . Altho' nothing new has transpired here, still I had better drop you a line to say that everything is going on well. Floyd has nearly finished the tables, and I think there is no doubt of his making, in proper time, all the shelves or presses, and also fixing the stairway. He has worked faithfully since you left. I will see, too, that Mills fixes the partitions. He is now busily at work at the professors' houses, and though he seems a little behindhand with them, he can still complete them in time. You know that carpenters have had a poor chance to get lumber this summer, as the drought and scarcity of water have stopped what St. Ange calls the sewing machines.

I have kept the negro boys constantly getting wood, within your Seminary enclosure. A good deal has been cut and hauled, but the timber is so heavy that you can scarcely miss it. I have perhaps had cut down more of the pine trees than you wished, and I believe it would be well to cut them all down at once. In the winter we occasionally have some terrific blows, and when once a pine forest has been thinned out, it is so easy for those left standing to come down. Ledoux and Poussin offer to hire a boy apiece. What say you? I think they might be profitably employed.

Cooper has not yet put up the chimneys, as you directed, but he makes such a fair promise that they will be fixed soon, that I am inclined to wait with him a little longer. Have no fears about them, for either he shall fix them or they shall be run up with sheet iron.

I have bargained with a carpenter to put up my bookcase, and it shall be ready. By the way, we have commenced begging for books, maps, etc., for a library. Can't you do something in Ohio? How do you think it would do to have a circular letter printed and sent over the state, calling on the public to send us all books and specimens of minerals and fossils that they can spare? If you write a short letter to that effect in your capacity as superintendent, I think I could get it printed in Alexandria free of charge, and it might meet with much success. Politics is beginning to wax pretty warm.

Bell's prospects are brightening fast, and there is no doubt of his carrying this state. My own impression is (and I am sorry to say it), that Breckenridge will carry but one Southern State, and that is South Carolina. Nor would he carry that state if the vote were submitted to the people. Bell's party is very strong all over the South, and even Douglas has many more supporters than the blind advocates of Breckenridge can see.

Whilst I deprecate the unfortunate split at Charleston and Baltimore, and think the territorial question entirely illtimed, still as the issue has been thrust upon us, and I believe Breckenridge's views to be correct although they may never meet with a practical application, I shall vote for him. If we who approve his views fail to support him, then the people of the North would say that the South disapproves those views, when really a large majority of us think it hard that there should be any law which either expressly or impliedly denies us equal rights with our northern brethren to the common property of the whole union. We don't wish to appear on the statute books as inferiors.

I am beginning to think that Lincoln will not be elected. If he should be, there is no telling what trouble we may have. I do not believe any state will formally secede, but disunion might be brought about in many ways. In many places in the South, whoever accepts or hold office under Lincoln will be lynched. He (Lincoln) will of course attempt to enforce the laws; that attempt will be resisted, and once the strife is begun God only knows where it will stop. What is the use of that Republican Party? As you say, slavery will always go where it pays, in spite of Sewardism, and it will never go where it does not pay, in spite of Yanceyism. Let the law of nature say you shall not take your slave here or there, but let not a clause of the Constitution, or an enactment of Congress, say it. It then becomes a threat hurled by one section at the other, and threats ill-become the people of a union. But whatever be the result of the election, let us hope there will be no disunion. Rather, like Governor Wise, radical as he is, let us settle our troubles in the union and not out of it.

The burning of the towns in Texas has produced much excitement here, and a negro was arrested near Nacogdoches, Tex., who said that among other towns to be burnt soon was Alexandria, La.; consequently a guard is stationed to watch for the coming incendiary, and no doubt Bootjack (Biossat) and Co.1 will be much disappointed if he doesn't make his appearance.

I have received several letters making applications for admission of cadets, and others asking for information. General Graham's unfortunate publication last fall – that only five could be admitted from each senatorial district - is still injuring us; and we have no money with which to advertise, I begged Boyce to publish in his paper next Monday an article enlightening the public on that point, muskets, etc., with the request that all the city and parish papers publish it, and he promised to do his part.

[P.S.] The crops here are almost a total failure. Very little corn and sugar, and only about one-third the usual crops of cotton will be raised. Suppose there is disunion, will they keep all the corn north of Mason's and Dixon's fence?

Don't think of the river being in boating order in October. I will see to the wagons.

1 Editors of local newspapers. – ED.

SOURCE: Walter L. Fleming, General W.T. Sherman as College President, p. 270-3

Thursday, May 19, 2022

George Mason Graham: State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy, published September 1, 1860

We are informed that Col. Sherman has succeeded in procuring at Washington a large number of Minnié rifle-muskets made especially for the use of cadets, together with other arms and accoutrements, so that he can now fully equip a corps of two hundred and fifty cadets.

That looks like getting the sons of Louisiana ready for any emergency of Civil War or servile insurrection that may arise; the thanks of the people of the state are due Colonel Sherman for his promptness and efficiency, not only in this important matter, but in everything that pertains to the good of the Seminary.

We also learn that steps are being made to secure Bragg's famous “Buena Vista Battery,” which gave the Mexicans “a little more grape,” and the presidency to General Taylor. Colonel Bragg generously offers to purchase it for the Seminary if the authorities at Washington can be induced to part with it.1

While speaking of the Seminary, we should correct a wrong impression in regard to the admission of cadets for next session. It is generally believed that no one can be admitted who has not obtained, before the beginning of a session, a special appointment from the superintendent; this is not so. The session commences the first of November, and anyone between fifteen and twenty-one years of age, with a knowledge of the primary English branches, who presents himself in person at the Seminary may be received as a cadet.

It is already known that there will be a large number of cadets next session, and probably more will apply for admission than the building can accommodate. We would then advise those who wish to reap the advantages of the Seminary, not to fail but to be present by the first of November, else the opportunity might be lost.

We will also warn the public not to judge of the course of study by that of any other military institution, where very little attention is paid to literary studies. The Board of Supervisors of the Seminary[,] being firmly of the opinion that a thorough study of language is one of the best means of mental discipline and development, has determined that every facility shall be given for literary culture. Hence there will be taught a very extensive course of ancient and modern languages.

As the Seminary educates free of cost, one cadet from each Parish and four from the city of New Orleans, we hope the city and Parish papers will join us in laying the above facts before the public.

1 The battery was not obtained. – ED.

SOURCES: Walter L. Fleming, General W.T. Sherman as College President, p. 273-5; “State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy,” The Constitutional, Alexandria, Louisiana, Saturday, September 1, 1860, p. 2

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Diary of Gideon Welles: Thursday, May 18, 1865

Notice is given to-day of a grand parade of the armies of the Potomac, of the Tennessee, and Georgia, etc., etc., to take place on Tuesday and Wednesday next. This interferes with our proposed trip, which has so often been deferred. But there is no alternative. It will not do to be absent on such an historic occasion.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 307

Diary of Gideon Welles: Friday, May 19, 1865

Preston King tells me he has a letter from Senator Dixon, speaking of me in very complimentary terms and expressing a wish that I may continue in the Cabinet, assuring K. that this is the sentiment of all parties in Connecticut. The President is not yet prepared to complete the Amnesty Proclamation, nor to issue the order for the reëstablishment of the authority of the local State governments. Our North Carolina friends have not arrived. Seward was to-day in the State Department, and the President with the rest of us went to his room. I noticed that his old crony and counterpart, Thurlow Weed, was with him as we entered. Seward was gratified and evidently felt complimented that we called. Was very decisive and emphatic on the subject of a proclamation declaring the Rebel vessels pirates and also a proclamation for opening the ports. Both these measures I had pressed rather earnestly; but Stanton, and Speed under Stanton's prompting, had opposed, for some assumed technical reason [?], the first, i.e. declaring the Rebel vessels pirates, and McCulloch the last, opening the ports. I was, therefore, pleased when Seward, unprompted, brought them both forward. I suggested that the proclamation already issued appeared to me to be sufficient, but I was glad to have his opinions on account of the opposition of Speed.

Received a telegram this P.M. from Commander Frailey and one from Acting-Rear-Admiral Radford, stating that the former, in command of the Tuscarora, had convoyed to Hampton Roads the William Clyde, having on board Jeff Davis, Stephens, etc.

This dispatch, addressed to me, Stanton had in his hand when I entered his room, whither he had sent for me. The telegraph goes to the Department of War, where it has an office, and I before have had reason to believe that some abuse — a sort of an espionage — existed. Half apologizing for an obvious impropriety, he said the custody of these prisoners devolved on him a great responsibility, and until he had made disposition of them, or determined where they should be sent, he wished their arrival to be kept a secret. He was unwilling, he said, to trust Fox, and specially desired me to withhold the information from him, for he was under the Blairs and would be used by them, and the Blairs would improve the opportunity to embarrass him.

I by no means concur in his censures or his views. Fox, like Stanton, will sometimes confide secrets which he had better retain, but not, I think, when enjoined. The Blairs have no love for Stanton, but I do not think he has any cause of apprehension from them in this matter.

He wished me to order the Tuscarora to still convoy and guard the Clyde, and allow no communication with the prisoners except by order of General Halleck or the War Department, — General Halleck, Stanton has ordered down from Richmond to attend to this business, — and again earnestly requested and enjoined that none but we three — himself, General Grant, and myself — should know of the arrival and disposition of these prisoners. I told him the papers would have the arrivals announced in their next issue.

Stanton said no word could get abroad. He had the telegraph in his own hands and could suppress everything. Not a word should pass. I remarked he could not stop the mails, nor passenger-boats, and twenty-four hours would carry the information to Baltimore and abroad in that way. Twenty-four hours, he said, would relieve him.

Stanton is mercurial, - arbitrary and apprehensive, violent and fearful, rough and impulsive, — yet possessed of ability and energy. I, of course, under his request, shall make no mention of or allusion to the prisoners, for the present. In framing his dispatch, he said, with some emphasis, the women and children must be sent off. We did not want them. “They must go South,” and he framed his dispatch accordingly. When he read it I remarked, “The South is very indefinite, and you permit them to select the place. Mrs. Davis may designate Norfolk, or Richmond.” “True," said Grant with a laugh. Stanton was annoyed, but, I think, altered his telegram.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 307-9

Diary of Gideon Welles: Saturday, May 20, 1865

Stanton informed me this P.M. that Halleck had gone from Richmond to Fortress Monroe and he wished certain persons, whom he named, should be sent in a naval vessel to Fort Warren, certain others to Fort Delaware, others to Fort McHenry. He still urged secrecy, but in less than an hour our regular dispatches by mail stated the facts. Others also had them.

General Sherman is here. I have not yet met him, but I understand he is a little irate towards Stanton and very mad with Halleck. This is not surprising, and yet some allowance is to be made for them. Sherman's motives cannot be questioned, although his acts may be. Stanton was unduly harsh and severe, and his bulletin to General Dix and specifications were Stantonian. Whether the President authorized, or sanctioned, that publication I never knew, but I and most of the members of the Cabinet were not consulted in regard to the publication, which was not in all respects correct. General Grant, who as unequivocally disapproved of Sherman's armistice as any member of the Administration, was nevertheless tender of General Sherman, and did not give in to the severe remarks of Stanton at the time.1


1 At a later period President Johnson assured me that Stanton's publication was wholly unauthorized by him, that he knew nothing of it until he saw it in the papers. We were all imposed upon by Stanton, who had a purpose. He and the Radicals were opposed to the mild policy of President Lincoln, on which Sherman had acted, and which Stanton opposed and was determined to defeat. — G. W.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 309-10

Diary of Gideon Welles: May 22 & 23, 1865

On the 22d and 23d, the great review of the returning armies of the Potomac, the Tennessee, and Georgia took place in Washington. I delayed my proposed Southern trip in order to witness this magnificent and imposing spectacle. I shall not attempt at this time and here to speak of those gallant men and their distinguished leaders. It was computed that about 150,000 passed in review, and it seemed as if there were as many spectators. For several days the railroads and all communications were overcrowded with the incoming people who wished to see and welcome the victorious soldiers of the Union. The public offices were closed for two days. On the spacious stand in front of the Executive Mansion the President, Cabinet, generals, and high naval officers, with hundreds of our first citizens and statesmen, and ladies, were assembled. But Abraham Lincoln was not there. All felt this.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 310

Diary of Gideon Welles: May 24, 1865

 I went with Postmaster-General Dennison and a portion of our families and a few friends on board the Santiago de Cuba, one of our fast vessels of about fourteen hundred tons, on a trip to Savannah. The late President had suggested to me some weeks before his death that he would be pleased to go on such an excursion to Charleston, and visit Dahlgren, who was, with him, a favorite. Subsequent events and his protracted visit to the upper waters of the James and Richmond altered this plan, and might have defeated it, even had his life been prolonged.

His death postponed and seemed at times likely to defeat it altogether, but after repeated delays we on this day embarked and went down the Potomac. Of the voyage and its incidents I make here brief mention, for what is written is penned after our return, and from memory chiefly.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 310-1

Diary of Gideon Welles: May 25 & 26, 1865

The day was fine and our sail down the river exceedingly pleasant. When I arose on the following morning, the 25th, we had passed Cape Henry and were at sea. The wind was strong from the southeast and the sea rough, with one or two smart storms of rain. Most of the passengers and some others were sick this and the following day, when we passed Cape Hatteras and Frying-Pan Shoals. Unexpectedly to myself, I was not seasick.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 311

Diary of Gideon Welles: [Saturday], May 27, 1865

On the morning of Sunday, the 27th [sic],1 we were off Charleston Bar, waiting the tide and a pilot. Admiral Dahlgren came down in a tug and brought the fleet pilot, who took us in. Fort Sumter, whose ruins were prominent, we passed, and Morris and Sullivan's Islands, with their batteries, and anchored the Santiago near the town.


1 Sunday was the 28th.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 311

Diary of Gideon Welles: [Sunday], May [28], 1865

 Mrs. Welles, who had not left her bed after retiring on the 24th on the lower Potomac, was brought upon deck and had a bed under the awning. The day was delicious, the air balmy, and she, as did all of us, enjoyed the scene. Our whole company, with the exception of Mrs. Welles and Mrs. Howard, went on shore and dispersed in squads over the city. With Dahlgren and a few others, I went to the Rebel navy yard and thence to the citadel and various parts of the city. Late in the afternoon we took carriages which were politely furnished by General Hatch, and rode through the principal streets and into the suburbs, visiting the cemeteries, etc.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 311-2

Diary of Gideon Welles: Monday, May 29, 1865

[W]e took a morning ride, Mrs. Welles being able to go with us, and drove about the place. Returning to the wharf, we took a tug, visited the Pawnee, and then went to Sumter, Moultrie, Fort Johnston, etc. The day was beautiful and all enjoyed it.

There was both sadness and gratification in witnessing the devastation of the city and the deplorable condition of this seat of the Rebellion. No place has suffered more or deserved to have suffered more. Here was the seat of Southern aristocracy. The better blood — the superior class, as they considered themselves — here held sway and dictated the policy, not only of Charleston but of South Carolina, and ultimately of the whole South. The power of association and of exclusiveness has here been exemplified and the consequences that follow from the beginning of evil. Not that the aristocracy had more vigorous intellects, greater ability, for they had not, yet their wealth, their ancestry, the usage of the community gave them control.

Mr. Calhoun, the leading genius and master mind of the State, was not one of the élite, the first families, but was used, nursed, and favored by them, and they by him. He acknowledged their supremacy and deferred to them; they recognized his talents and gave him position. He pandered to their pride; they fostered his ambition.

Rhett, one of the proudest of the nobility, had the ambition of Calhoun without his ability, yet he was not destitute of a certain degree of smartness, which stimulated his aspirations. More than any one else, perhaps, has he contributed to precipitating this Rebellion and brought these terrible calamities on his State and country. The gentlemanly, elegant, but brilliantly feeble intellects of his class had the vanity to believe they could rule, or establish a Southern empire. Their young men had read Scott's novels, and considered themselves to be knights and barons bold, sons of chivalry and romance, born to fight and to rule. Cotton they knew to be king, and slavery created cotton. They used these to combine other weak minds at the South, and had weak and willing tools to pander to them in certain partisans at the North.

The results of their theory and the fruits of their labors are to be seen in this ruined city and this distressed people. Luxury, refinement, happiness have fled from Charleston; poverty is enthroned there. Having sown error, she has reaped sorrow. She has been, and is, punished. I rejoice that it is so.

On Monday evening we left for Savannah, but, a storm coming on, the Santiago put into Port Royal, having lost sight of our consort. It had been our intention to stop at this place on our return, but, being here, we concluded to finish our work, and accordingly went up to Beaufort. Returning, we visited Hilton Head and Fort Welles on invitation from General Gillmore.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 312-3

Diary of Gideon Welles: Tuesday, May 30, 1865

[W]e proceeded up the Savannah River, and, on reaching the city, were provided with carriages to examine it and the environs. Savannah has suffered less from war than Charleston, and, though stricken, has the appearance of vitality if not of vigor.

We drove out to Bonaventura, the former possession of Tatnall, which has been converted into a cemetery. The place has an indescribable beauty, I may say grandeur, impressing me beyond any rural place I have visited. Long rows of venerable live oaks, the splendid and valuable tree of the South, festooned with moss, opened up beautiful vistas and drives. The place I can never forget.

I called on General Grover, in company with Admiral Dahlgren, and had half an hour's interesting conversation on the condition of affairs in Georgia and the South generally. General Birge of Connecticut called on us at the boat, where we also met Samuel Cooley of Hartford, an old and familiar acquaintance.

Mrs. Jefferson Davis was at the Pulaski House. She had accompanied her husband to Fortress Monroe, and been ordered South when he was committed to the Fortress. The vessel in which she came had been in sight of ours a considerable portion of the day before we reached Charleston, and was in that harbor when we arrived there, but left and arrived here before us.

We took our departure on the afternoon of Tuesday and passed down Thunderbolt Inlet to Wassaw Sound, going over the ground where the Weehawken captured the Atlanta. This Southern coast is a singular network of interior navigable waters interlacing each other, of which we knew very little before this Civil War. The naval men seemed to be better informed as regards the coast of Europe than their own country.

The sun had set when we reached Savannah River, and it was dark when we left. Most of the company were importunate to visit Havana, but I thought it not best, and the steamer therefore turned homeward.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 313-4

Diary of Gideon Welles: May 31 – June 7, 1865

We had calm and delightful weather. Were amused as persons on shipboard usually are. Off the entrance to Cape Fear we had some fishing. Saw and signalled a steamer on the inside near Fort Caswell, which came out to us. Two or three Treasury agents were on board, and Judge Casey of the Court of Claims, who is here, I surmise, like many others, for speculation.

During the night we were serenaded by a fine band, which had come off in a steamer. We ascertained in the morning that it was General Hawley and staff in an army boat, they having come down from Wilmington to meet us. By invitation we went on board with them and proceeded up the Cape Fear to Wilmington. The Santiago was directed to proceed around Smith's Island opposite to Fort Fisher and await us. The beach for some distance was strewn with wrecks of blockade-runners, — or, more modestly and correctly speaking, several were beached. Our jaunt to Wilmington was pleasant, and our ride through various streets exceedingly warm. We returned early in order to visit Fort Fisher by daylight. These formidable defenses, which we finally captured, have given me exceeding annoyance for several years. The War Department and military, so long as Halleck controlled, had no comprehension of the importance of capturing this place, and by so doing cutting off Rebel supplies.

We stopped a few hours at Fortress Monroe and walked round on the ramparts. Jeff Davis was a prisoner in one of the casemates, but I did not see him.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 314-5

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Brigadier-General Rutherford B. Hayes to Lucy Webb Hayes, April 8, 1865

NEW CREEK, (WEST) VIRGINIA, April 8, 1865.

DEAREST:— The glorious news is coming so fast that I hardly know how to think and feel about it. It is so just that Grant, who is by all odds our man of greatest merit, should get this victory. It is very gratifying too that Sheridan gets the lion's share of the glory of the active fighting. The clique of showy shams in the Army of the Potomac are represented by Warren. We do not know the facts, but I suspect Warren hung back, and after the Potomac fashion, didn't take hold with zeal when he found Sheridan was to command. So he was sent to the rear! General Crook wrote me the day before the battle that the men were in superb condition and eager for the fray, but that some of the generals were half whipped already. No doubt he meant Warren. Crook commanded the advance of Sheridan's attack. No doubt his strategy had much to do with it.

Personally, matters are probably as well as they could be, considering that we are in the hands, as Joe says, of the Yankees. The fall of Richmond came the day before we all left Camp Hastings. We had a glorious time. All the men gathered, all the bands; Chaplain Collier and I talked. I did not then of course say good-bye, but I said about all I would have said if just parting. The Thirty-sixth is about as near to me, the officers possibly more so, than the Twenty-third. I am in a command of all sorts now, a good regiment of cavalry, the old Pennsylvania Ringgold Cavalry, two batteries of Ohio men, one of them Captain Glassier's (the old Simmonds Battery), one of the veteran West Virginia regiments (Second Veterans), and a lot of others of less value. It was intended to send me in command of about five thousand men, quite a little army, by mountain routes towards Lynchburg. We are still preparing for it, but I have no idea now that we shall go. I wish to remain in service until my four years is up in June. Then I shall resign or not, as seems best. If matters don't suit me, I'll resign sooner.

Now, if things remain here in statu quo, would you like (to) come here? It is a most romantic spot. I have Captain Nye and Lieutenant Turner of Thirty-sixth as part of my staff, Charley Smith, Billy Crump, and two other Twenty-third men as orderlies. We have speedy communication by rail and telegraph and with a little more company it would be very jolly.

Love to all. Affectionately,

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 572-3

Brigadier-General Rutherford B. Hayes to Sophia Birchard Hayes, Sunday, April 9, 1865

NEW CREEK, (WEST) VIRGINIA, April 9 (Sunday), 1865.

DEAR MOTHER:— The good news is coming so fast and so much of it that I hardly know how to think or feel about it. I expect to see no more fighting with any part of my command, and in all quarters the severe fighting must, I think, soon cease. I was assigned to the command of an independent expedition through the mountains towards Lynchburg some days ago. We are still preparing for it, but I now think it will not go. In the meantime my headquarters are temporarily at this place. I do not much care where I am during the short time I shall probably now remain in the army. I want to stay a little while longer until the smoke of these great events blows away enough to let us see what the Rebels will try to do next. I expect to see many of them give up, but the Rebel organization will hold on I suspect some time longer. My four years is up in June; after that I feel at liberty to resign. Sooner if matters [don't (?)] suit. Write me at this place for the present.

Affectionately, your son,

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 573

Brigadier-General Rutherford B. Hayes to [Judge William Johnston?], April 10, 1865


DEAR JUDGE:— I am told that my application for leave has come back without approval. I am sending it again today. At this rate it will be ten days before I see it again. The War Department wants to know my business. They mustn't be too crotchety or I'll get naughty on their hands.

I hope this cruel war is over. I shall resign probably in about six weeks.


SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 574

Brigadier-General Rutherford B. Hayes to Sardis Birchard, April 12, 1865


DEAR UNCLE:— I am just beginning to fully realize and enjoy our great victories. I am more glad to think my fighting days are ended than I had expected. Grant deserves his great victory. Crook, too, had a conspicuous place. It was his immediate command which captured the wagon train, Armstrong guns, prisoners, etc., which figure so largely in Sheridan's reports.

I am still preparing for my expedition, but I am confident it is given up and will never be undertaken; it is rendered useless. I think it not improbable that there will be an extra session of Congress; if so, I go out of service then, of course. I am pretty

I well pleased with matters now. Pecuniarily, I shall gain by staying in service as long as possible. That consideration aside, I am ready to quit now almost any time. Address me at this place.


SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 574

Brigadier-General Rutherford B. Hayes to Lucy Webb Hayes, April 12, 1865


DEAREST:— I wonder if you feel as happy as I do. The close of the war, “home again,” darling and the boys and all to be together again for good! And the manner of it too! Our best general vindicated by having the greatest victory. General Crook too. Did you see, it was his immediate command that captured so much, which Sheridan telegraphs about — the wagons, Armstrong guns, etc., etc.? All most gratifying.

My expedition into the mountains will no doubt be given up, although we are still preparing.

I am well satisfied with present matters personally, and think I am rather fortunate, all things considered. I decide nothing at present. I wish you to be ready to join me on very short notice. It is not likely I shall send for you, but I may do so any day if you would like to come.

My notion is that an extra session of Congress soon is likely thing to occur. That will be known in a week or two. Love to all. “So much.” As ever


P. S. — My pictures being in demand, I have got another.


SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 574-5

Dr. Joseph T. Webb to Maria Cook Webb, April 13, 1865

Winchester, April 13, 1865

It must be pleasant to those worthies who put on so much style to reflect that while there was fighting to be done here in this valley, Sheridan and Crook were here; now that the fighting has been transferred to Richmond, they (the worthies) are sent here and Crook and Sheridan taken off down there. It's all style and airs — very offensive to sensible people, but as the war is about over, it matters but little who commands. Were there an enemy in our front, I should not fancy our generals. As it is they are very good for fuss and feathers, great on revers, etc.,— about all they are suited for.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 575

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Diary of Brigadier-General Rutherford B. Hayes: Saturday, April 15, 1865—8 a.m.

New Creek. Startled by report that Lincoln, Seward and were assassinated. Somehow felt it was true.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 575

Brigadier-General Rutherford B. Hayes to Sardis Birchard, April 16, 1865


DEAR UNCLE:— I am in receipt of yours of the 11th. My mountain expedition is given up. If I go at all from here, it will be directly up the valleys to occupy Staunton. In any event, I think I shall see no more active campaigning.

I have been greatly shocked by the tragedy at Washington. At first it was wholly dark. So unmerited a fate for Lincoln! Such a loss for the country! Such a change! But gradually, consolatory topics suggest themselves. How fortunate that it occurred no sooner! Now the march of events will neither be stopped nor changed. The power of the Nation is in our armies, and they are commanded by such men as Grant, Sherman, and Thomas, instead of McClellan, Hooker, or, etc., etc. Lincoln's fame is safe. He is the Darling of History evermore. His life and achievements give him titles to regard second to those of no other man in ancient or modern times. To these, this tragedy now adds the crown of martyrdom. Sincerely,


SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 575-6

Brigadier-General Rutherford B. Hayes to Lucy Webb Hayes, April 16, 1865

NEW CREEK, WEST VIRGINIA, April 16 (Sunday), 1865.

DEAREST:— When I heard first yesterday morning of the awful tragedy at Washington, I was pained and shocked to a degree I have never before experienced. I got onto the cars, then just starting, and rode down to Cumberland. The probable consequences, or rather the possible results in their worst imaginable form, were presented to my mind one after the other, until I really began to feel that here was a calamity so extensive that in no direction could be found any, the slightest, glimmer of consolation. The Nation's great joy turned suddenly to a still greater sorrow! A ruler tested and proved in every way, and in every way found equal to the occasion, to be exchanged for a new man whose ill-omened beginning made the Nation hang its head. Lincoln for Johnson! The work of reconstruction requiring so much statesmanship just begun! The calamity to Mr. Lincoln; in a personal point of view, so uncalled for a fate! so undeserved, so unprovoked! The probable effect upon the future of public men in this country, the necessity for guards; our ways to be assimilated to those of the despotisms of the Old World.—And so I would find my mind filled only with images of evil and calamity, until I felt a sinking of heart hardly equalled by that which oppressed us all when the defeat of our army at Manassas almost crushed the Nation.

But slowly, as in all cases of great affliction, one comes to feel that it is not all darkness; the catastrophe is so much less, happening now, than it would have been at any time before, since Mr. Lincoln's election. At this period after his first inauguration; at any of the periods of great public depression; during the pendency of the last Presidential election; at any time before the defeat of Lee, such a calamity might have sealed the Nation's doom. Now the march of events can't be stayed, probably can't be much changed. It is possible that a greater degree of severity in dealing with the Rebellion may be ordered, and that may be for the best.

As to Mr. Lincoln's name and fame and memory, all is safe. His firmness, moderation, goodness of heart; his quaint humor, his perfect honesty and directness of purpose; his logic, his modesty, his sound judgment, and great wisdom; the contrast between his obscure beginnings and the greatness of his subsequent position and achievements; his tragic death, giving him almost the crown of martyrdom, elevate him to a place in history second to none other of ancient or modern times. His success in his great office, his hold upon the confidence and affections of his countrymen, we shall all say are only second to Washington's; we shall probably feel and think that they are not second even to his.

My mountain expedition is at an end. If I go on any more campaigning, it will be an easy march to occupy some point on the Central Virginia Railroad — Staunton or Charlottesville. I anticipate, however, an early call of an extra session of Congress. In any event, I shall probably not see any more active service.

I enclose my good-bye to my old First Brigade.* I now regard the order separating us as not unfortunate. It must have been soon, and could not have been in a better way.

Direct your letters to this point — Second Brigade, First Division, Department West Virginia. — Love to all.


* See “Life,” Vol. I, p. 269, footnote.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 576-7