Showing posts with label David Hunter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label David Hunter. Show all posts

Friday, November 27, 2020

Flag Officer Samuel F. Dupont to Gustavus V. Fox, May 25, 1862

Confidential 
Wabash, 25. May, 62 
Port Royal S.C. 
My Dear Mr Fox,

I arrived last evening from a weeks inspection on the Coast from Georgetown to Fernandina, taking two good looks at Charleston in Keystone State. I pushed the Gunboats into Stono! Two batteries were abandoned and I have told Marchand he must knock down the third. After much trouble about the bar we found 13 ft. This brings the military base within ten miles of C——n.

I have yr private letter and the Departments confidential one. All will be done that it is in the power of man and men to do—but do not underrate the work; all the defences for one year now have been seaward. Since Pulaski fell, which has made them shake about Sumpter, a low fort is going up on Cummings point. The middle ground is also fortified. Moultrie and Castle Pinckney strengthened, the defences on Sullivan's island are not much I think, but Ft. Johnson is the key of the position. Then you know we go into a bag, no running past, for after we get up they can all play upon us.

The landward defences are nothing—but these Soldiers are queer people to us. I had to write to Hunter to-day, that on his coming here I had, to avoid delay and circumlocution put myself in official communication with the Brigadier commanding this Division of his department—but that could no longer be and in virtue of my assimilated rank as Major Gen', he (H) must address me on all his wants &c.

I wrote to-night a private letter to Mr. Welles to give Rodgers the Naval Academy when he can be spared here. No man living is more capable or more deserving

Faithfully Yours in haste
S. F. DP. 

SOURCE: Robert Means Thompson & Richard Wainwright, Editors, Publications of the Naval Historical Society, Volume 9: Confidential Correspondence of Gustavus Vasa Fox, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, 1861-1865, Volume 1, p. 120-1

Flag Officer Samuel F. Dupont to Gustavus V. Fox, May 31, 1862

Private & Confidential 
'Wabash’ Port Royal 
June 1” 1862 
My Dear Sir

An order from Col. Harris came last night detaching Major Doughty from this ship. It had the approval of the Secretary and of course was put in immediate execution and the Major leaves in the morning.

But I have never seen this process before, and it belongs to that system of assumption of authority by the Heads of different departments to withdraw their members from the immediate control and direction of the Secretary of the Navy, a feature which has always given our Department an advantage over that of the Dept. of War. This control of the Secretary and the prestige pertaining to it, is in a measure transmitted to those who represent him on service, whether Flag Officers or Commanding Officers—and that is just where these innovations strike with a bad effect.

The approval of the Secretary, so natural for him to give, is immediately converted into an approval of the system itself, and I suppose the Chiefs of the bureaus will soon order and detach paymasters, Surgeons, Engineers, &c. It is a system of “disintegration,” building up kingdoms within a kingdom, and if not arrested will cause all to crumble some day like a brick wall, from which the mortar has been insidiously abstracted.

If this has been the usage heretofore—then please consider that I have said nothing as the French term it; but I never heard of it and it struck me unpleasantly.

I forgot to mention yesterday that the rough Cutlass in the box I spoke of was also from the Planter.

I have had her appraised by competent officers, who have fixed her value at $9000. I think the guns I sent to New York ought to be added—will you ask the Commandant of the Yard to have them appraised by the Ord. Officers?

Last night heard of Banks' affair—it will do good like Bull Run—two ships detained here with troops on board that I want elsewhere after pretending to hurry us. In case any change should be made of Gen Hunter, which I hope not, I implore that — be not left here in chf command. I say this for no personal feeling, but from the utter incompatibility of the man to fill such a place—this entre nous, tear this up.

Yrs faithfully 
S. F. DP.

SOURCE: Robert Means Thompson & Richard Wainwright, Editors, Publications of the Naval Historical Society, Volume 9: Confidential Correspondence of Gustavus Vasa Fox, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, 1861-1865, Volume 1, p. 124-5

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Diary of Gideon Welles: Tuesday, July 26, 1864

Fessenden has got out an advertisement for a new loan and an address to the people in its behalf. Am not certain that the latter is judicious. Capitalists will not as a general thing loan or invest for patriotism, but for good returns. The advertisement gives high interest, but accompanied by the appeal will excite doubt, rather than inspire confidence among the money-lenders. I am inclined to think he will get funds, for his plan is sensible and much wiser than anything of his predecessor. The idea with Chase seemed to be to pay low interest in money but high prices in irredeemable paper, a scheme that might have temporary success in getting friends and popularity with speculators but is ruinous to the country. The errors of Chase in this respect Mr. Fessenden seems inclined to correct, but other measures are wanted and I trust we shall have them.

Only Bates, Usher, and myself were at the Cabinet to day. Stanton sent over to inquire if his attendance was necessary.

There are rumors that the retreating Rebels have turned upon our troops in the valley, and that our forces, badly weakened by the withdrawal of the Sixth Army Corps, are retreating towards Harper's Ferry. This is not improbable. They may have been strengthened as our forces were weakened.

Rode out this evening, accompanied by Mrs. Welles, and spent an hour with the President and Mrs. Lincoln at the Soldiers' Home.

The papers contain a letter from Governor Letcher stating that General Hunter gave the order for burning his (L.'s) house. I shall wish to hear from H. before believing that he could give such an order, and yet I confess I am not without apprehensions, for Hunter is not always possessed of so much prudence as one should have who holds so responsible a position. The burning of the Institute at the same place and time was not creditable to the army, and if there is any justification or ameliorating circumstances, they should be made to appear. The crude and indefensible notions of some of our people, however, are not general. Indiscriminate warfare on all in the insurrectionary region is not general, and few would destroy private property wantonly.

The New York papers are engaged in a covert and systematic attack on the Navy Department, — covert so far as the Republican or Administration press is concerned. Greeley of the Tribune is secretly hostile to the President and assails him indirectly in this way; so of the Evening Post, a paper hitherto friendly but whose publisher is under bail for embezzlement and fraud which the Navy Department would not conceal. The Times is a profligate Seward and Weed organ, wholly unreliable and in these matters regardless of truth or principle. It supports the President because it is the present policy of Seward. The principal editor, Raymond, is an unscrupulous soldier of fortune, yet recently appointed Chairman of the Republican National Executive Committee. He and some of his colleagues are not to be trusted, yet these political vagabonds are the managers of the party organization. His paper, as well as others, are in a combination with Norman Wiard and pretenders like him against the monitors. Let the poor devils work at that question. The people will not be duped or misled to any great extent by them.

There are demonstrations for a new raid into Maryland and Pennsylvania. I told the President I trusted there would be some energy and decision in getting behind them, cutting them off, and not permitting them to go back, instead of a scare and getting forces to drive them back with their plunder. He said those were precisely his views and he had just been to see and say as much to Halleck. I inquired how H. responded to the suggestion. The President said he was considering it, and was now wanting to ascertain where they had crossed the Potomac and the direction they had taken.

I apprehend it is not a large force, but a cavalry raid, which will move rapidly and create alarm. Likely they will go into the Cumberland Valley and then west, for they will scarcely take the old route to return. But these are crude speculations of mine. I get nothing from Halleck, and I doubt if he has any plan, purpose, or suggestion. Before he will come to a conclusion the raiders will have passed beyond his reach.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 86-8

Diary of Gideon Welles: Monday, August 8, 1864

Going into the War Department yesterday morning to inquire if any tidings had been received concerning Colonel Stedman of the 11th Connecticut Infantry, who was wounded, probably mortally, on Friday, I found the President with General Grant, Stanton, and General Halleck in the Secretary's room. I proposed leaving on making the single inquiry, provided they were in secret council, but the President and General Grant declared they were not, for me. Learning that poor Stedman was dead, and that some little intelligence had been received from Mobile, I soon left, for there was, it appeared to me, a little stiffness as if I had interrupted proceedings. General Grant has been to Frederick and placed Sheridan in command of the forces on the upper Potomac instead of Hunter, which is a good change, for H., though violently earnest, is not exactly the man for that command. I think him honest and patriotic, which are virtues in these days, but he has not that discretion and forbearance sufficient to comprehend rightly the position that was given him.

Mr. Seward sent me to-day some strange documents from Raymond, Chairman of the National Executive Committee. I met R. some days since at the President's, with whom he was closeted. At first I did not recognize Raymond, who was sitting near the President conversing in a low tone of voice. Indeed, I did not look at him, supposing he was some ordinary visitor, until the President remarked, “Here he is; it is as good a time as any to bring up the question.” I was sitting on the sofa but then went forward and saw it was Raymond. He said there were complaints in relation to the Brooklyn Navy Yard; that we were having, and to have, a hard political battle the approaching fall, and that the fate of two districts and that of King's County also depended upon the Navy Yard. It was, he said, the desire of our friends that the masters in the yard should have the exclusive selection and dismissal of hands, instead of having them subject to revision by the Commandant of the yard. The Commandant himself they wished to have removed. I told him such changes could not well be made and ought not to be made. The present organization of the yard was in a right way, and if there were any abuses I would have them corrected.

He then told me that in attempting to collect a party assessment at the yard, the Naval Constructor had objected, and on appealing to the Commandant, he had expressly forbidden the collection. This had given great dissatisfaction to our party friends, for these assessments had always been made and collected under preceding administrations. I told him I doubted if it had been done—certainly not in such an offensive and public manner; that I thought it very wrong for a party committee to go into the yard on pay-day and levy a tax on each man as he received his wages for party purposes; that I was aware parties did strange things in New York, but there was no law or justice in it, and the proceeding was, in my view, inexcusable and indefensible; that I could make no record enforcing such assessment; that the matter could not stand investigation. He admitted that the course pursued was not a politic one, but he repeated former administrations had practiced it. I questioned it still, and insisted that it was not right in itself. He said it doubtless might be done in a more quiet manner. I told him if obnoxious men, open and offensive opponents of the Administration, were there, they could be dismissed. If the Commandant interposed to sustain such men, as he suggested might be the case, there was an appeal to the Department; whatever was reasonable and right I was disposed to do. We parted, and I expected to see him again, but, instead of calling himself, he has written Mr. Seward, who sent his son with the papers to me. In these papers a party committee propose to take the organization of the navy yard into their keeping, to name the Commandant, to remove the Naval Constructor, to change the regulations, and make the yard a party machine for the benefit of party, and to employ men to elect candidates instead of building ships. I am amazed that Raymond could debase himself so far as to submit such a proposition, and more that he expects me to enforce it.

The President, in a conversation with Blair and myself on the Wade and Davis protest, remarked that he had not, and probably should not read it. From what was said of it he had no desire to, could himself take no part in such a controversy as they seemed to wish to provoke. Perhaps he is right, provided he has some judicious friend to state to him what there is really substantial in the protest entitled to consideration without the vituperative asperity.

The whole subject of what is called reconstruction is beset with difficulty, and while the executive has indicated one course and Congress another, a better and different one than either may be ultimately pursued. I think the President would have done well to advise with his whole Cabinet in the measures he has adopted, not only as to reconstruction or re√ęstablishing the Union, but as to this particular bill and the proclamation he has issued in regard to it.

When the Rebellion shall have been effectually suppressed, the Union government will be itself again, union will speedily follow in the natural course of events, - but there are those who do not wish or intend reunion on the principle of political equality of the States. Unless they can furnish the mode and terms, and for fear they may not be successful, various schemes are projected.

The issuing of the proclamation with reasons for not signing the bill, and yet expressing his acquiescence in the policy if any of the States adopt it, is denounced as anomalous; so is the condition of the country, and so will be reunion, whenever and however it may take place. I have never asked who was the adviser and counsellor of the President in issuing the proclamation. It is sufficient that I was not. There is one who was, and how many more is not material. There may have been one, possibly two, but the project is wholly the President's.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 96-9

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Dr. Seth Rogers to his Daughter, January 20, 1863

January 20, 1863.

Gen. Hunter is in earnest about arming the blacks, so we may confidently expect the well-done to increase. The little opposition to our movement will fall to the ground so soon as we can prove our worthiness by marked success. Remember, it requires not only time but deeds, to undo the hateful lesson this Republic (!) has been so long teaching. The public heart has virus in it, and nothing but the flow of arterial blood can purify it. The innocent must suffer for the guilty.

I am beginning to find a little leisure for noting verbatim some of the individual histories of these soldiers and shall endeavor to forward them to you. The Colonel and young captain have transcribed many of their songs and hymns, but, without the music of their peculiar voices, I confess the words do not much interest me. Now and then a fine, poetical expression, but as a rule, somewhat dry, like the human skull Serg't Rivers brought me one day. Their autobiographies, on the contrary, if one has the time and patience to draw them out, are often so unique that I feel deeply interested in them.

At dress parade, tonight, the Colonel had some of my sanitary measures embodied in a general order and read by the Adjutant. One of the most important details was that each tent is hereafter to have a fire in it at evening. We have tried it long enough in James's company, to be satisfied of its utility. The men do not greatly mind the smoke and I have convinced the Colonel that it is one of the best purifiers and antiseptics we could have.

SOURCE: Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Volume 43, October, 1909—June, 1910: February 1910. p. 346

Dr. Seth Rogers to his Daughter, January 21, 1863, Evening

January 21, Evening.

Great days seem natural to us now. General Hunter has reviewed our regiment with Gen. Saxton, and the Colonel's long mourned dress coat has come, and I no longer weep in secret silence the sacrifice of mine. But we will leave coats for arms and ask you to congratulate the 1st S. C. V. on the distinction conferred by the General in visiting us before any of those in Beaufort. And was it not refreshing to hear the General in command say to our soldiers, when formed in hollow square, “Men, I am glad to see you so well, I wish we had a hundred thousand soldiers like you. Before Spring I hope we shall have fifty thousand. You are fighting for your liberty and the liberty of your families and friends. The man who is not willing to fight for his liberty is not fit to have it.” Probably I have not the exact phraseology, but it cannot differ materially. It was very impressive to us all, while the cheers that followed were stunning to us all. Then the dear, noble General Saxton, so long thwarted by pro-slavery opposition, stepped forward and informed the regiment that Gen. Hunter had this afternoon told him that fifty thousand Springfield rifles are coming to this department for the black soldiers. Then the Colonel introduced the surgeons to Gen'l Hunter and while taking him to our little hospital, I called his attention to the refusal of the Purveyor to honor any requisitions; consequently, I take another requisition to Hilton Head, countersigned by General Hunter, and we shall see with what result. . . .

SOURCE: Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Volume 43, October, 1909—June, 1910: February 1910. p. 346-7

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Dr. Seth Rogers to his Daughter, January 9, 1863

January 9, 1863.

This morning, the adjutant and I, with eight oarsmen, went down to Hilton Head in our surf boat. The distance cannot be far from twelve miles and the trip is a charming one, though the shores are wanting in those rugged qualities which help to make the difference in character between the North and the South. Our black soldiers sang as they rowed — not the songs of common sailors — but the hymns of praise mingled with those pathetic longings for a better world, so constant with these people. There are times when I could quite enjoy more earthly songs for them, even a touch of the wicked, but this generation must live and die in sadness. The sun can never shine for them as for a nation of freemen whose fathers were not slaves.

My special business in going to Hilton Head was to test the honesty of a certain medical purveyor, who does not incline to honor the requisitions of the surgeon of the 1st Reg. S. C. Vol's. He has not yet heard of the popularity of the black regiments, but Uncle Samuel will teach him that, as well as a few other things. But it will be too late for him to repent in this world when he shall have learned the lesson.

The Flora – Gen. Saxton's steamer — came down from Beaufort and we were towed back by her to our camp. I met the General on the steamer and was delighted to find him in that mood over the purveyor's second refusal, which will work out a line of retributive justice. He read to me a letter just received by him from Secretary Stanton, which authorizes me to draw direct from New York. So we shall be all right within two weeks, I hope. In addition to all my other duties, I should quite like to prescribe for some of those pro-slavery scamps who disgrace the federal shoulder-straps. This particular case was polite enough to me, for which I was sorry. When Gen. (David] Hunter gets here there will be a bowing and scraping to the anti-slavery men that may awaken wickedness in my heart. . . .

I am just now busy in trying to discover the causes of such an excess of pleurisy and pneumonia in our camp, as compared with white regiments. Thus far I can only get the reiteration of the fact that negroes are more subject to these diseases than are the whites. I should be very sorry to find that their nightly “praise meetings,” or “shouts,” acted an important role in the development of these diseases, yet, thus far, our gravest cases are the most religious. It would be a sad but curious coincidence, if while the Colonel and young captain are diligently taking notes of the songs and hymns of the soldiers, the surgeon should note a marked fatality resulting from this sweet religious expression. We shall see. It is as difficult to inculcate temperance in religion here, among these sun-burned children, as to introduce it into a Methodist camp-meeting. I hope we shall not have to shut in religious expressions by military rules.

Speaking of coincidences, reminds me that I found the steward, this morning, putting up prescriptions in bits of the “ Liberator." I don't believe Mr. Garrison's editorials ever before came so near these black soldiers. I wondered if the powders would not have some magic power conveyed to them. South Carolina is getting a simultaneous doctoring of body and soul.

SOURCE: Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Volume 43, October, 1909—June,1910: February 1910. p. 341-2


Dr. Seth Rogers to his Daughter, January 13, 1863

January 13, 1863.

. . . When I sit down at evening it always seems as if there could be but one subject to write upon, the music of these religious soldiers, who sing and pray steadily from supper time till “taps” at 8.30, interrupted only by roll-call at eight. The chaplain's pagoda-like school-house is the scene of earnest prayers and hymns at evening. I am sure the President is remembered more faithfully and gratefully in prayer by these christian soldiers than by any other regiment in the army. It is one thing for a chaplain to pray for him, but quite another for the soldiers to kneel and implore blessings on his head and divine guidance for his thoughts. These men never forget to pray earnestly for the officers placed over them; such prayers ought to make us true to them.

This afternoon, for the first time, our men are getting some money — not direct from the Government, but through that constant friend to them — Gen. Saxton, who waits for Government to refund it to him. The real drawback to enlistments is that the poor fellows who were in the Hunter regiment have never been paid a cent by the Government. Without reflection, one would suppose the offer of freedom quite sufficient inducement for them to join us. But you must remember that not the least curse of slavery is ignorance and that the intellectual enjoyment of freedom cannot, by the present generation, be so fully appreciated as its material gifts and benefits. Just think how few there are, even in New England, who could bravely die for an Idea, you will see that the infinite love of freedom which inspires these people is not the same that fills the heart of a more favored race. . . .

Before breakfast this morning I stood on the shore and listened to the John Brown hymn, sung by a hundred of our recruits, as they came up the river on the steamer Boston, from St. Augustine, Fla. Our Lieut. Col. [Billings]1 went down last week for them and today we have received into our regiment all but five, whom I rejected in consequence of old age and other disabilities. It seemed hard to reject men who came to fight for their freedom, but these poor fellows are a hindrance in active service, and we might be compelled to leave them to the mercy of those who know not that “It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”

. . . I wish you could see how finely the Colonel appears in my dress coat. His was sent from Worcester quite a time before I left New England, but has never reached him. Very likely some miserable colonel of a poor white regiment appropriated it. I pity those who get so demoralized by association and wish they could have the benefit of our higher code. As I am less for ornament than for use here, I offered my coat to the Colonel, and was glad to find that Theodore [a tailor in Worcester] had applied his “celestial ” principle “ under the arms,” so that a Beaufort tailor could easily make an exact fit for the upper sphere. To sick soldiers it is unimportant whether I have one or two rows of buttons, and my handsome straps fit just as well on my fatigue coat as on the other. . . .

At this moment the camp resounds with the John Brown hymn, sung as no white regiment can sing it, so full of pathos and harmony. I know you will think me over enthusiastic about these people, but every one of you would be equally so, if here. Every day deepens my conviction that if we are true to them they will be true to us. The Colonel arrives at the same conclusion. When I think of their long-suffering at the hands of the whites, and then of their readiness to forgive, I feel a reverence for the race that I did not know before coming among them. You need not fancy that I find them perfect; it has not been my fortune to find mortals of that type, — even in Worcester, — but I do find them, as a people, religious, kind hearted, forgiving and as truth loving as the average of whites, more so than the Irish of the lowest rank.
_______________

1 Col. Liberty Billings.

SOURCE: Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Volume 43, October, 1909—June, 1910: February 1910. p. 344-5

Dr. Seth Rogers to his Daughter, Sunday Evening, January 18, 1863

January 18, Sunday evening.

Such a transparent day and cool north winds make even South Carolina endurable, while it lasts, I mean. When General Hunter gets here we expect to nullify the State. . . . In our camp most curious problems present themselves, as how to keep people from scurvy without vegetables and fresh meat; how to have a good fire in tents without a fireplace, stove or ventilation; how to make bread without yeast and without oven. How to treat the sick without medicines,—how to amputate limbs without knives, — all these and many other similarly knotty questions the surgeon of the First Regiment of S. C. Vol's. has to consider, — sometimes when he ought to be sleeping. This is not said complainingly. Our men rarely complain and those jeering white soldiers who saw their firm tread in the streets of Beaufort, yesterday, must have discovered a reason for their patience, this silent waiting.

There was a Destiny in the silent, dignified bearing of our men, yesterday. I never in my life, felt so proud, so strong, so large. . . . Hurrah! Hurrah! — the Quartermaster just in with despatch from signal officer announcing arrival of the Arago, and a gun boat at Hilton head, and General Hunter has come.

SOURCE: Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Volume 43, October, 1909—June, 1910: February 1910. p. 345-6

Monday, August 10, 2020

Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes to Sardis Birchard, June 30, 1864

Camp Piatt, Ten Miles Above Charleston,
West Virginia, June 30, 1864.

Dear Uncle: — Back home again in the Kanawha Valley. Our raid has done a great deal; all that we at first intended, but failed in one or two things which would have been done with a more active and enterprising commander than General Hunter. General Crook would have taken Lynchburg without doubt. Our loss is small. [The] Twenty-third had nobody killed. My brigade loses less than one hundred. Our greatest suffering was want of food and sleep. I often went asleep on my horse. We had to go night and day for about a week to get out. We are all impressed with the idea that the Confederacy has now got all its strength of all sorts in the field, and that nothing more can be added to it. Their defeat now closes the contest speedily. We passed through ten counties where Yankees never came before; there was nothing to check us even until forces were drawn from Richmond to drive us back.

There are rumors that we are to go East soon, but nothing definitely is known. We hope we are to constitute an independent command under General Crook. We have marched, in two months past, about eight hundred miles; have had fighting or skirmishing on over forty days of the time.

My health, and my horse's (almost of equal moment) are excellent.

Send letters to the old direction, via Charleston, for the present.

Sincerely,
R. B. Hayes.
S. Birchard.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 477

Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes to Sophia Birchard Hayes, June 30, 1864

Camp [piatt], Ten Miles Above Charleston,
West Virginia, June 30, 1864.

Dear Mother: — We got safely back to this point yesterday after being almost two months within the Rebel lines. . . . We have had a severe and hazardous campaign and have, I think, done a great deal of good. While we have suffered a good deal from want of food and sleep, we have lost very few men and are generally in the best of health. . . . General Crook has won the love and confidence of all. General Hunter is not so fortunate. General Averell has not been successful either. We had our first night's quiet rest all night for many weeks.

Dr. Joe went to Ohio with our wounded yesterday and will see Lucy. He has been a great treasure to our wounded.

We have hauled two hundred [wounded men] over both the Blue Ridge and the Alleghenies and many smaller mountains, besides crossing James River and other streams. Our impression is that the Rebels are at the end of their means and our success now will speedily close the Rebellion.

Affectionately,
R. B. Hayes.
Mrs. Sophia Hayes.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 477-8

Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes to Lucy Webb Hayes, July 2, 1864


Charleston, Camp Elk, July 2, 1864.

Dearest: — Back again to this point last night. Camped opposite the lower end of Camp White on the broad level bottom in the angle between Elk and Kanawha. My headquarters on one of the pretty wooded hills near Judge Summers.

Got your letter of 16th. All others gone around to Martinsburg. Will get them soon. Very much pleased to read about the boys and their good behaviour.

Dr. Joe went to Gallipolis with our wounded, expecting to visit you, but the rumors of an immediate movement brought him back. We now have a camp rumor that Crook is to command this Department. If so we shall stay here two or three weeks; otherwise, only a few days, probably.

You wrote one thoughtless sentence, complaining of Lincoln for failing to protect our unfortunate prisoners by retaliation. All a mistake, darling. All such things should be avoided as much as possible. We have done too much rather than too little. General Hunter turned Mrs. Governor Letcher and daughters out of their home at Lexington and on ten minutes' notice burned the beautiful place in retaliation for some bushwhackers' burning out Governor Pierpont [of West Virginia.]

And I am glad to say that General Crook's division officers and men were all disgusted with it.

I have just learned as a fact that General Crook has an independent command or separate district in the Department of West Virginia, which practically answers our purposes. We are styled the "Army of the Kanawha," headquarters in the field.

I have just got your letter of June 1. They will all get here sooner or later. The flag is a beautiful one. I see it floating now near the piers of the Elk River Bridge.

Three companies of the Twelfth under Major Carey are ordered to join the Twenty-third today — Lieutenants Otis, Hiltz and command them, making the Twenty-third the strongest veteran regiment. Colonel White and the rest bid us goodbye today. What an excellent man he is. I never knew a better.

You use the phrase "brutal Rebels." Don't be cheated in that way. There are enough "brutal Rebels" no doubt, but we have brutal officers and men too. I have had men brutally treated by our own officers on this raid. And there are plenty of humane Rebels. I have seen a good deal of it on this trip. War is a cruel business and there is brutality in it on all sides, but it is very idle to get up anxiety on account of any supposed peculiar cruelty on the part of Rebels. Keepers of prisons in Cincinnati, as well as in Danville, are hard-hearted and cruel.

Affectionately,
R.
Mrs. Hayes.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 478-9

Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes to Sophia Birchard Hayes, July 2, 1864

Charleston, West Virginia, July 2, 1864.

Dear Mother: — We got back here yesterday. I find a letter from you [of] June 11. No doubt others are on the way from Martinsburg — the point to which all our letters were forwarded for some weeks.

I am glad you are back at Columbus again and in tolerable health. We have had altogether the severest time I have yet known in the war. We have marched almost continually for two months, fighting often, with insufficient food and sleep, crossed the three ranges of the Alleghenies four times, the ranges of the Blue Ridge twice, marched several times all day and all night without sleeping, and yet my health was never better. I think I have not even lost flesh.

We all believe in our general. He is a considerate, humane man; a thorough soldier and disciplinarian. He is hereafter to have the sole command of us. I mean, of course, General Crook. General Hunter was chief in command, and is not much esteemed by us. . . . I think Colonel Comly will get home a few days. His health has not been very good during the latter part of our campaign.

I hope you will not be overanxious about me. What is for the best will happen. In the meantime I am probably doing as much good and enjoying as much happiness here as I could anywhere. — Love to all. I knew you would like Mrs. Platt.

Affectionately, good-bye,
R.
P. S. — I expect to remain here a fortnight or more.


Mrs. Sophia Hayes.


SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 479-80

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Major David Hunter to Abraham Lincoln, October 20, 1860

Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, 
Oct. 20th 1860.— 
Private and 
Confidential. 

Dear Sir: Your success and safety being identified with the great Republican cause, the cause of peace, union and conservatism; must be my apology for addressing you.— 

On a recent visit to the east, I met a lady of high character, who had been spending part of the summer among her friends and relatives in Virginia. She informed me that a number of young men in Virginia had bound themselves, by oaths the most solemn, to cause your assassination, should you be elected. Now Sir, you may laugh at this story, and really it does appear too absurd to repeat, but I beg you to recollect, that on “the institution” these good people are most certainly demented, and being crazy, they should be taken care of, to prevent their doing harm to themselves or others.— Judicious, prompt and energetic action on the part of your Secretary of War, will no doubt secure your own safety, and the peace of the country, 

I have the honor to be, 
Very Sincerely, 
Your mo. ob. 
David Hunter, 
U. S. Army— 
Hon. A. Lincoln, 
Springfield, Ill. 

P. S. I had the pleasure of meeting you in early days at Chicago, and again at the great Whig Convention at Springfield in 1840. 

SOURCE: Lincoln, Abraham. Abraham Lincoln papers: Series 1. General Correspondence. 1833 to 1916: David Hunter to Abraham Lincoln, Saturday,Warns of assassination plot. 1860. Manuscript/Mixed Material. https://www.loc.gov/item/mal0407400/.

Abraham Lincoln to Major David Hunter, October 26, 1860

Private & confidential
Springfield, Ills. Oct. 26. 1860
Maj. David Hunter

My dear Sir: Your very kind letter of the 20th. was duly received, and for which, please accept my thanks. 

I have another letter from a writer unknown to me, saying the officers of the Army at Fort Kearney, have determined, in case of Republican success, at the approaching Presidential election, to take themselves, and the arms at that point, South, for the purpose of resistence to the government. While I think there are many chances to one that this is a hum-bug, it occurs to me that any real movement of this sort in the army would leak out and become known to you. In such case, if it would not be unprofessional, or dishonorable (of which you are to be judge) I shall be much obliged if you will apprize me of it. 

Yours very truly 
A. LINCOLN 

SOURCE: Roy P. Basler, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 4, p. 132

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Captain Charles Francis Adams, Jr., to Charles Francis Adams Sr., August 5, 1864

H.Q. Cav’y Escort, A. of P.               
Before Petersburg, August 5, 1864

*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

PHYSICALLY, since I last wrote, I'm glad to say I have picked up amazingly. I have at last shaken off my jaundice and have recovered a white man's looks, my appetite is amazing and I am building up. In fact I have weathered my danger and do not look for any further trouble. Ward Frothingham too has been sent home. His regiment was smashed all to pieces in the assault the other day. The Colonel, Gould, had a thigh shattered, the Lieutenant Colonel killed, and so on. As for Ward, it was the hardest kind of work helping him, for he could n't help himself. Finally however he was sent down to City Point and there gave Dalton my note, and Dalton had him shipped to New York before he could make up his mind as to whether he wanted to go there or not. So he's safe and at home.

Here since I last wrote, too, Burnside has exploded his mine and we have again just failed to take Petersburg. The papers, I see, are full of that mishap and every one is blaming every one, just as though it did any good to cry and quarrel over spilled milk. I did not see the mine exploded, though most of my officers did and they describe it as a most beautiful and striking spectacle — an immense column of debris, mixed with smoke and flame, shooting up in the form of a wheat sheaf some hundred and fifty feet, and then instantly followed by the roar of artillery. At first, and until ten o'clock, rumors came in very favorably — we had carried this and that and were advancing. At about ten I rode out to see what was going on. The fight then was pretty much over. I rode up to the parallels and dismounted and went towards the front. The heat was intense and they were bringing in the wounded, mostly blacks, in great numbers. Very little firing was going on, though occasionally shot went zipping by. Very speedily I began to be suspicious of our success. Our soldiers didn't look or act to my mind like men who had won a victory. There was none of that elation and excitement among the wounded, none of that communicative spirit among the uninjured which always marks a success. I was very soon satisfied of this and so, after walking myself into a tremendous heat and seeing nothing but a train of wounded men, I concluded that I didn't like the sound of bullets and so came home.

My suspicions proved correct. As you know we had been repulsed. How was it? In the papers you'll see all kinds of stories and all descriptions of reasons, but here all seem to have settled down to certain results on which all agree, and certain others on which all quarrel. It is agreed that the thing was a perfect success, except that it did not succeed; and the only reason it did not succeed was that our troops behaved shamefully. They advanced to the crater made by the explosion and rushed into it for cover and nothing could get them out of it. These points being agreed on then begins the bickering. All who dislike black troops shoulder the blame onto them — not that I can find with any show of cause. They seem to have behaved just as well and as badly as the rest and to have suffered more severely. This Division, too, never had really been under fire before, and it was a rough breaking in for green troops of any color. The 9th Corps .and Burnside came in for a good share of hard sayings, and, in fact, all round is heard moaning and wrath, and a scape-goat is wanted.

Meanwhile, as I see it, one person alone has any right to complain and that person is Grant. I should think his heart would break. He had out-generaled Lee so, he so thoroughly deserved success, and then to fail because his soldiers wouldn't fight? It was too bad. All the movements I mentioned in my last turned out to be mere feints and as such completely successful. Deceived by Grant's movement towards Malvern Hill, Lee had massed all his troops in that vicinity, so that when the mine exploded, the rebels had but three Divisions in front of the whole Army of the Potomac. Grant ordered a rapid countermarch of his cavalry from Malvern Hill to the extreme left, to outflank and attack the enemy at daylight, simultaneously with the assault in front. The cavalry did not reach here until the assault had failed. The march was difficult, but it was possible and it was not accomplished. Whose fault was this? Then came the assault, which was no assault, and once more Lee, completely outgeneraled, surprised and nearly lost, was saved by the bad behavior of our troops as in June, and on the same ground and under the same circumstances, he was almost miraculously saved by the stubborn bravery of his own. I find but one satisfaction in the whole thing. Here now, as before in June, whether he got it or no, Grant deserved success, and, where this is the case, in spite of fortune, he must ultimately win it. Twice Lee has been saved in spite of himself. Let him look to it, for men are not always lucky.

If you are curious to know where I myself place the blame, I must freely say on Burnside, and add, that in my own opinion I don't know anything about it. For the whole thing, Burnside's motions and activities deserve great credit. While others were lying idle, he was actively stirring round to see what he could do. The mine was his idea and his work, and he carried it through; no one but himself had any faith in it. So far all was to his credit. Then came the assault. Grant did his part of the work and deceived Lee. Burnside organized his storming column and, apparently, he couldn't have organized it worse. They say the leading brigade was chosen by lot. If so, what greater blunder could have been committed? At any rate a white brigade was put in to lead which could not have been depended on to follow. This being so, the result was what might have been expected. In such a case everything depended on the storming party; for, if they would lead, the column would follow. Volunteers might have been called for, a picked regiment might have been designated; but, no, Burnside sent in a motley crowd of white and black, heavy artillery and dismounted cavalry, and they wouldn't come up to the scratch. So endeth the second lesson before Petersburg.

As to the future, expect no light from me. I do not expect that anything will be done here for six weeks to come. Grant must hold his own, defend Washington and see what Sherman can accomplish, before he really attempts anything heavy here. The news from Sherman is so good, and Hood seems so completely to be playing our game that I think the rebel strength in that region bids fair to be used up. Lee can hold us in check, but, unless we blunder egregiously, he cannot replenish his ranks, and by autumn Grant can resume operations with deadly effect from this base. This I fear is the best view which can be taken of the present attitude of affairs. We have been so unfortunate here and our military lights about Washington — Hunter, Wallace, Halleck, Sigel and the rest — have made such a mess of our affairs in their region, that I don't see but what the army here must, for the present, be reduced to one purely of observation. . . .

As to my new regiment, I see myself gazetted but have as yet received no commission or official announcement. Meanwhile I am maturing my plans for the regiment and shall develop them in a somewhat stately paper distinguished by unusual ability even for me and addressed to Governor Andrew, the which I shall tackle as soon as I have disposed of you. For the rest, I wait here and kill time. There is nothing more for me to do here. This squadron is as contented, as well disciplined and in as good order as I know how to put it, and accordingly I must move or stand still. . . .

SOURCE: Charles Francis Adams, A Cycle of Adams Letters, 1861-1865, Volume 2, p. 170-5

Abraham Lincoln to Lieutenant-General Ulysses S. Grant, July 10, 1864 — 2:30 p.m.

WASHINGTON, July 10, 1864 2.30 p.m.
Lieutenant-General GRANT:

Your dispatch to General Halleck referring to what I may think in the present emergency is shown me. General Halleck says we have absolutely no force here fit to go to the field. He thinks that with the 100-days' men and invalids we have here we can defend Washington, and scarcely Baltimore. Besides these there are about 8,000, not very reliable, under Howe, at Harper's Ferry, with Hunter approaching that point very slowly, with what number I suppose you know better than I. Wallace, with some odds and ends and part of what came up with Ricketts, was so badly beaten yesterday at Monocacy that what is left can attempt no more than to defend Baltimore. What we shall get in from Pennsylvania and New York will scarcely be worth counting, I fear. Now, what I think is that you should provide to retain your hold where you are, certainly, and bring the rest with you personally, and make a vigorous effort to destroy the enemy's force in this vicinity. I think there is really a fair chance to do this if the movement is prompt. This is what I think, upon your suggestion, and is not an order.

A. LINCOLN,                       
President of the United Slates.

SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 37, Part 2 (Serial No. 71), p. 155

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Diary of Gideon Welles: Tuesday, June 28, 1864

We have bad news from Sherman to-day. Neither Seward, Chase, nor Stanton was at the Cabinet-meeting. The President, like myself, slightly indisposed.

Mrs. General Hunter was at our house this evening and has tidings of a favorable character from her husband, who is in the western part of Virginia. Has done great mischief to the Rebels, and got off safely and well. This small bit of good news is a relief, as we are getting nothing good from the great armies.

Gold has gone up to 240. Paper, which our financiers make the money standard, is settling down out of sight. This is the result of the gold bill and similar measures, yet Chase learns no wisdom. We are hurrying onward into a financial abyss. There is no vigorous mind in Congress to check the current, and the prospect is dark for the country under the present financial management. It cannot be sustained.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 61

Friday, July 17, 2020

Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes to Lucy Webb Hayes, Sunday, June 12, 1864

Lexington, Rockbridge County, June 12 (Sunday), 1864.

Dearest: — I just hear that a mail goes tomorrow. We captured this town after an artillery and sharpshooter fight of three hours, yesterday P. M. My brigade had the advance for two days and all the casualties, or nearly all, fell to me. [A] first lieutenant of [the] Fifth Virginia killed and one private; three privates of [the] Thirty-sixth killed and ten to fifteen wounded. [The] Twenty-third had no loss. Very noisy affair, but not dangerous.

This is a fine town. Stonewall Jackson's grave and the Military Institute are here. Many fine people. Secesh are not at all bitter and many are Union.

I am more pleased than ever with General Crook and my brigade, etc., but some things done here are not right. General Hunter will be as odious as Butler or Pope to the Rebels and not gain our good opinion either. You will hear of it in Rebel papers, I suspect.

Weather fine and all our movements are successful. The Rebels have been much crippled already by our doings. We are probably moving towards Lynchburg. If so you will have heard of our fortunes from other sources before this reaches you.

I got a pretty little cadet musket here which I will try to send the boys. Dear boys, love to them and the tenderest affection for you. — Good-bye.

[R. B. Hayes.]
Mrs. Hayes.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 474

Diary of Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes: Friday, June 17, 1864

Colonel White's brigade cleaned out Rebels handsomely to [within] three miles of Lynchburg. The next day [the] Rebels [inside the] works [were] re-inforced. [There was] skirmishing and fighting but no general attack. [At] 8:30 P. M., we back out via Liberty Road, [Hunter's attempt to capture Lynchburg having proved a failure].

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 475