Diary of Gideon Welles

October 18, Saturday. The ravages by the roving steamer 290, alias Alabama, are enormous. England should be held accountable for these outrages. The vessel was built in England and has never been in the ports of any other nation. British authorities were warned of her true character repeatedly before she left. Seward called on me [...]

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October 17, Friday. The question of traffic at Norfolk was discussed in Cabinet. General Dix has, I see, made some headway. Stanton wanted to transfer the whole subject of permits for army supplies and intercourse to General Dix. Chase thought there should be leave granted for return cargoes also. I requested, if there was to [...]

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October 15, Wednesday. General Dix came to see me in relation to the blockade of Norfolk. Says Admiral Lee is extremely rigid, allows no traffic; that the people of Norfolk are suffering, though in his opinion one half the people are loyal. The place, he says, is in the military occupation of the Government and [...]

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October 9, Thursday. Letter to Senator Fessenden in regard to dismissal of Preble, stating the case, — the fault, .the dismissal, and the impossibility of revoking it without injury to the service. The subject is a difficult one to handle. His friends believe he has great merit as an officer, when he has but little, [...]

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October 2, Thursday. Admiral Du Pont arrived to-day; looks hale and hearty. He is a skillful and accomplished officer. Has a fine address, is a courtier with perhaps too much finesse and management, resorts too much to extraneous and subordinate influences to accomplish what he might easily attain directly, and, like many naval officers, is [...]

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October 1, Wednesday. Called this morning at the White House, but learned the President had left the city. The porter said he made no mention whither he was going, nor when he would return. I have no doubt he is on a visit to McClellan and the army. None of his Cabinet can have been [...]

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September 30, Tuesday. Little of importance at the Cabinet-meeting. The President laid before us the address of the loyal Governors who lately met at Altoona. Its publication has been delayed in expectation that Governor Bradford of Maryland would sign it, but nothing has been heard from him. His wife was here yesterday to get a [...]

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September 29, Monday. Seward brought me to-day a long dispatch from Dudley, consul at Liverpool. Although his fears were somewhat simulated, I saw he was really excited and alarmed. He is easily frightened. I therefore talked on general subjects, but he turned away, said there were terrible combinations in Europe to break the blockade, that [...]

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September 27, Saturday. Governor Tod[1] called on me to-day. Is hopeful and earnest. Thinks delay is necessary. His confidence in McClellan is unimpaired, and in the President it is greatly increased. Has full, unwavering confidence the country will be extricated and the Union maintained. The Republican State Convention of New York, which met at Syracuse, [...]

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September 26, Friday. At several meetings of late the subject of deporting the colored race has been discussed. Indeed for months, almost from the commencement of this administration, it has been at times considered. More than a year ago it was thrust on me by Thompson and others in connection with the Chiriqui Grant, a [...]

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September 25, Thursday. Had some talk to-day with Chase on financial matters. Our drafts on Barings now cost us 29 percent. I object to this as presenting an untrue statement of naval expenditures, — unjust to the Navy Department as well as incorrect in fact. If I draw for $100,000 it ought not to take [...]

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September 24, Wednesday. Secretary Smith called this morning. Said he had just had an interview with Judge- Advocate Turner, who related a conversation which had taken place between himself (T.) and Colonel Key, one of Halleck's staff. T. had expressed to K. his surprise that McClellan had not followed up the victory last week by [...]

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September 23, Tuesday. Received a letter from Commodore W. D. Porter stating his arrival in New York after many signal exploits, — capturing the ironclad steamer Arkansas, running Bayou Sara, etc. Charges from Admirals Farragut and Davis, accusing him of misrepresentation and worse, have preceded his arrival. The War Department has sent me an inexcusable [...]

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September 22. A special Cabinet-meeting. The subject was the Proclamation for emancipating the slaves after a certain date, in States that shall then be in rebellion. For several weeks the subject has been suspended, but the President says never lost sight of. When it was submitted, and now in taking up the Proclamation, the President [...]

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September 20, Saturday. Am troubled by Preble's conduct. There must be a stop put to the timid, hesitating, and I fear sometimes traitorous course of some of our officers. Tenderness, remonstrance, reproof do no good. Preble is not a traitor, but loyal. An educated, gentlemanly officer of a distinguished family and more than ordinary acquirements, [...]

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September 19, Friday. Am vexed and disturbed by tidings from the squadron off Mobile. Preble, by sheer pusillanimous neglect, feebleness, and indecision, let the pirate steamer Oreto run the blockade. She came right up and passed him, flying English colors. Instead of checking her advance or sinking her, he fired all round, made a noise, [...]

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September 18, Thursday. The last two or three days have been pregnant with rumors and speculations of an exciting character. Some officials on the watch-towers, sentinels and generals, have been alarmed; but on the whole the people have manifested a fair degree of confidence and composure. We have authentic news that a long and sanguinary [...]

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September 16. Chase called on me this morning. Wishes a secret concerted attack on Richmond. Says Stanton will furnish 10,000 men. Told him we would do all that could be expected of the Navy in a sudden movement, but doubted if a military expedition could be improvised as speedily and decisively as he supposed. He [...]

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September 15. Some rumors yesterday and more direct information to-day are cheering to the Union cause. McClellan telegraphs a victory, defeat of the enemy with loss of 15,000 men, and that "General Lee admits they are badly whipped." To whom Lee made this admission so that it should be brought straight to McC. and telegraphed [...]

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September 13. The country is very desponding and much disheartened. There is a perceptibly growing distrust of the Administration and of its ability and power to conduct the war. Military doubts were whispered on the Peninsula by McClellan's favorites before his recall, and when he was reinstated public confidence in the Administration throughout the country [...]

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September 12, Friday. A clever rain last night, which I hope may swell the tributaries of the upper Potomac. A call from Wilkes, who is disturbed because I press him so earnestly. Told him I wished him off as soon as possible; had hoped he would have left before this; Rebel cruisers are about and [...]

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September 10, Wednesday. Colonel Marston of New Hampshire, who has been with the Army of the Potomac for a year, called on me to-day. Says he has no confidence in McClellan as a general; thinks him neither brave nor capable; expresses distrust of the integrity and patriotism of other generals also. Marston is not a [...]

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September 8, Monday. Less sensation and fewer rumors than we have had for several days. The President called on me to know what we had authentic of the destruction of the Rebel steamer in Savannah River. He expressed himself very decidedly concerning the management or mismanagement of the army. Said, "We had the enemy in [...]

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September 7. The report prevalent yesterday that the Rebels had crossed the upper Potomac at or near the Point of Rocks is confirmed, and it is pretty authentic that large reinforcements have been added. Found Chase in Secretary's room at the War Department with D. D. Field. No others present. Some talk about naval matters. [...]

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September 6, Saturday. We have information that the Rebels have crossed the Potomac in considerable force, with a view of invading Maryland and pushing on into Pennsylvania. The War Department is bewildered, knows but little, does nothing, proposes nothing. Our army is passing north. This evening some twenty or thirty thousand passed my house within [...]

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