Diary of Gideon Welles

August 20, Wednesday. Memo. Soon after hostilities commenced, in the spring or summer of 1861, a letter from William D. Porter to his son was published. The son had joined the Rebels, and so informed his father, who wrote him he thought he had committed a mistake. But, having taken this step, he advised him [...]

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August 18, Monday. Had a call to-day from an old schoolmate at Cheshire, now a chaplain in the army, Joseph H. Nichols. Invited and had him to tea with me and talked over school-boy days. It is thirty-five years or over since we have met, though not unfrequently in the same place. Sent Commodore Wilkes [...]

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August 17, Sunday. Called this morning on General Halleck, who had forgotten or was not aware there was a naval force in the James River cooperating with the army. He said the army was withdrawn and there was no necessity for the naval vessels to remain. I remarked that I took a different view of [...]

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August 16, Saturday. With the President an hour or two this A.M., selecting candidates from a large number recommended for midshipmen at the naval school. Finished a set of instructions for our naval officers in matters relating to prize captures and enforcing the blockade. Mr. Seward sent me a few days since in the name [...]

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August 15, Friday. Received yesterday a note from Chase that the President proposed to change two of the nominees under the new tax law in Connecticut. Called on the President, and stated to him I did it as a duty, that duty alone impelled me. He said he fully believed it, and was glad to [...]

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  August 12, Tuesday. I called early this morning on the Secretary of State touching a communication of his of the 8th inst. which I received yesterday, in which I am directed in the name of the President to give instructions of an extraordinary character to our naval officers, instructions which I do not approve, [...]

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August 11, Monday. A busy day, reading and preparing dispatches. State Department is sensitively apprehensive that our naval officers will not be sufficiently forbearing towards Englishmen. The old error, running back to the commencement of difficulties, when the Rebels were recognized as belligerents, and a blockade was ordered instead of closing the ports. We are [...]

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  August 10, 1862, Sunday. The last two days have been excessively warm. Thermometer on the north porch at 100 on each day. A slight breeze from the west makes this day somewhat more comfortable. News unimportant from the army, and but little from the Navy. Shall have something exciting within a few days. Sensation [...]

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NAVY DEPARTMENT, Washington, April 5, 1861. Capt. SAMUEL MERCER, Commanding U.S.S. Powhatan, New York: SIR: The United States steamers Powhatan, Pawnee, Pocahontas, and Harriet Lane will compose a naval force, under your command, to be sent to the vicinity of Charleston, S. C. for the purpose of aiding in carrying out the objects of an [...]

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