At the Cabinet-meeting to-day, the President brought forward specially the riot in Coles County, Illinois, and the controversy between Governor Peirpoint and General Butler, with especial reference in the latter case to affairs at Norfolk, where the military authorities have submitted a vote to the inhabitants whether they will be governed by martial law. Of course the friends of civil administration, who denied the validity of the whole proceeding, would not vote, and the military had it all as they pleased. This exhibition of popular sovereignty destroying itself pleases Butler. He claims to have found large quantities of whiskey, which he seized and sold. But all the whiskey in Norfolk is there under permits issued by himself. While Butler has talents and capacity, he is not to be trusted. The more I see of him, the greater is my distrust of his integrity. All whiskey carried to Norfolk is in violation of the blockade.
Mr. Ericsson and the newspapers are discussing the monitors. He is honest and intelligent, though too enthusiastic, and claiming too much for his invention, but the newspapers are dishonest and ignorant in their statements, and their whole purpose is to assail the Department. But the system will vindicate itself. There have been errors and mistakes in the light-class monitors. I trusted too much to Fox and Stimers, and am therefore not blameless. But I was deceived, without its being intended perhaps, supposing that Ericsson and Lenthall had a supervision of them until considerable progress had been made towards their completion. I confided in Fox, who was giving these vessels special attention, and he confided in Stimers without my being aware that he was giving him the exclusive management of them. Fox and Lenthall were daily together, and I had not a doubt that much of the consultation was in regard to them, until, becoming concerned from what I heard, I questioned Lenthall direct, when he disclaimed all responsibility and almost all knowledge of them. I then inquired clearly and earnestly of Fox, who placed the whole blame on Stimers. The latter, I heard, had quarrelled with Ericsson and had been carrying forward the construction of these vessels, reporting and consulting with no one but Fox and Admiral Gregory.
SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 81-2