Wednesday, December 19, 2012

December 19, 1862

December 19, 1862: In Washington, a cabal of Republicans from the House and Senate, believing still that William Seward is the de facto president and really runs the Administration, call for Seward’s resignation in the wake of the disaster at Fredericksburg. Those who were supporters of Salmon P. Chase, the Secretary of the Treasury—who seemed to be fostering some of the rancor against Seward---called for only a partial re-structuring of the Cabinet. In the midst of this, Seward submits his formal resignation, and will not be mollified. Lincoln then calls a Cabinet meeting, and reads the group’s resolutions to them. He then contrives to have the Cabinet meet with the cabal, which Sec. Chase opposes, lest his role be discovered. This evening, nine senators meet with the Cabinet, minus Seward. As the discussion goews forward, Chase if forced to admit that Seward contributes many things to the administration—and the tide turns against him. The senators leave, feeling betrayed by Chase, and no action is taken against Seward. Chase, in embarrassment, submits his own resignation also. Lincoln refuses to accept either one, reasoning that the "public interest does not admit of it." There is no more talk about the Administration collapsing.

—Jenkin Lloyd Jones, a Wisconsin artilleryman in the Union army with Grant in Mississippi, writes in his journal of a pleasant day of unseasonable weather:
Near Oxford, Friday, Dec. 19. Bright and sunny. The delightful weather succeeded in enticing most of the boys from their well worn decks and cribbage boards, bringing them out in ball playing, pitching quoits, etc. Tallied for an interesting game of base ball.

—Pres. Jefferson Davis of the Confederacy has been visiting Chattanooga, Tennessee, conferencing with Gen. Joseph Johbnston on what to do about the situation in the West. Davis wants Bragg to send troops to Pemberton to defend Mississippi, Vicksburg in particular, whereas Johnston opposes this, arguing that the Confederacy will lose Tennessee as a result. He argues that all available troops in Arkansas, under the overall command of Gen. Theophilus Holmes (and which includes the army recently beaten at Prairie Grove under Hindman) should be sent to reinforce Pemberton. Johnston’s command authority, however, does not extend across the Mississippi, and so he cannot insist on this point. On this date, Davis prepares to travel by rail to Vicksburg to confer with Pemberton.

—George Templeton Strong writes in his journal of the Fredericksburg disaster, revealing increasing public rancor against Stanton and even Lincoln:
Our loss at Fredericksburg is crawling up to 17,000. It is generally held that Stanton forced Burnside to this movement against his earnest remonstrance and protest. Perhaps Stanton didn’t. Who knows? But there is unversal bitter wrath against him throughout this community, a deeper feeling more intensely uttered than any I ever saw prevailing here. Lincoln comes in for a share of it. Unless Stanton be speedily shelved, something will burst somewhere. The general indignation is fast growing revolutionary. The most thorough Republicans, the most loyal Administration men, express it most fiercely and seem to share the personal vindictiveness of the men and women whose sons or brothers or friends have been uselessly sacrificied to the vanity of the political schemes of this meddling murderous quack. His name is likely to be a hissing, till it is forgotten, and the Honest Old Abe must take care lest his onw fare no better. A year ago we laughed at the Honest Old Abe’s grotesque genial Western jocosities, but they nauseate us now. If these things go on, we shall have pressure on him to resign and make way for Hamlin [the Vice President]. . . .

No comments:

Post a Comment