always been most friendly to General Grant, and the latter
insisting that he had taken the office, not for honor or profit,
but in the general interests of the army.
As we withdrew, at the very door, General Grant said, "Mr.
President, you should make some order that we of the army are not
bound to obey the orders of Mr. Stanton as Secretary of War," which
the President intimated be would do.
No such "orders" were ever made; many conferences were held, and
the following letters are selected out of a great mass to show the
general feeling at the time:
1321 K STREET, WASHINGTON,
January 28,1868, Saturday.
To the President:
I neglected this morning to say that I had agreed to go down to
Annapolis to spend Sunday with Admiral Porter. General Grant also
has to leave for Richmond on Monday morning at 6 A.M.
At a conversation with the General after our interview, wherein I
offered to go with him on Monday morning to Mr. Stanton, and to say
that it was our joint opinion be should resign, it was found
impossible by reason of his (General Grant) going to Richmond and
my going to Annapolis. The General proposed this course: He will
call on you to-morrow, and offer to go to Mr. Stanton to say, for
the good of the Army and of the country, he ought to resign. This
on Sunday. On Monday I will again call on you, and, if you think
it necessary, I will do the same, viz., go to Mr. Stanton and tell
him he should resign.
If he will not, then it will be time to contrive ulterior measures.
In the mean time it so happens that no necessity exists for
W. T. SHERMAN, Lieutenant-General.
DEAR GENERAL: On the point of starting, I have written the above,
and will send a fair copy of it to the President. Please retain
this, that in case of necessity I may have a copy. The President
clearly stated to me that he relied on us in this category.
Think of the propriety of your putting in writing what you have to
say tomorrow, even if you have to put it in the form of a letter to
hand him in person, retaining a copy. I'm afraid that acting as a
go-between for three persons, I may share the usual fate of
meddlers, at last get kinks from all. We ought not to be involved
in politics, but for the sake of the Army we are justified in
trying at least to cut this Gordian knot, which they do not appear
to have any practicable plan to do. In haste as usual,
W. T. SHERMAN.
HEADQUARTERS ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES,
January 29, 1888.
DEAR SHERMAN: I called on the President and Mr. Stanton to-day, but
without any effect.
I soon found that to recommend resignation to Mr. Stanton would
have no effect, unless it was to incur further his displeasure;
and, therefore, did not directly suggest it to him. I explained to
him, however, the course I supposed he would pursue, and what I
expected to do in that case, namely, to notify the President of his
intentions, and thus leave him to violate the "Tenure-of-Office
Bill" if he chose, instead of having me do it.
I would advise that you say nothing to Mr. Stanton on the subject
unless he asks your advice. It will do no good, and may embarrass
you. I did not mention your name to him, at least not in
connection with his position, or what you thought upon it.
All that Mr. Johnson said was pacific and compromising. While I
think he wanted the constitutionality of the "Tenure Bill" tested,
I think now he would be glad either to get the vacancy of Secretary
of War, or have the office just where it was during suspension.
U. S. GRANT.
WASHINGTON D. C., January 27, 1868.
To the President.
DEAR SIR: As I promised, I saw Mr. Ewing yesterday, and after a
long conversation asked him to put down his opinion in writing,
which he has done and which I now inclose.
I am now at work on these Army Regulations, and in the course of
preparation have laid down the Constitution and laws now in force,
clearer than I find them elsewhere; and beg leave herewith to
inclose you three pages of printed matter for your perusal. My
opinion is, if you will adopt these rules and make them an
executive order to General Grant, they will so clearly define the
duties of all concerned that no conflict can arise. I hope to get
through this task in the course of this week, and want very much to
go to St. Louis. For eleven years I have been tossed about so much
that I really do want to rest, study, and make the acquaintance of
my family. I do not think, since 1857, I have averaged thirty days
out of three hundred and sixty-five at home.
Next summer also, in fulfillment of our promise to the Sioux, I
must go to Fort Phil Kearney early in the spring, so that, unless I
can spend the next two months at home, I might as well break up my
house at St. Louis, and give up all prospect of taking care of my
For these reasons especially I shall soon ask leave to go to St.
Louis, to resume my proper and legitimate command. With great
W. T. SHERMAN, Lieutenant-General.[Inclosure]
WASHINGTON, D. C., January 25, 1868.
MY DEAR GENERAL: I am quite clear in the opinion that it is not
expedient for the President to take any action now in the case of
Stanton. So far as he and his interests are concerned, things are
in the best possible condition. Stanton is in the Department, got
his secretary, but the secretary of the Senate, who have taken upon
themselves his sins, and who place him there under a large salary
to annoy and obstruct the operations of the Executive. This the
people well enough understand, and he is a stench in the nostrils
of their own party.
I thought the nomination of Cox at the proper juncture would have
been wise as a peace-offering, but perhaps it would have let off
the Senate too easily from the effect of their arbitrary act. Now
the dislodging of Stanton and filling the office even temporarily
without the consent of the Senate would raise a question as to the
legality of the President's acts, and he would belong to the
attacked instead of the attacking party. If the war between
Congress and the President is to go on, as I suppose it is, Stanton
should be ignored by the President, left to perform his clerical
duties which the law requires him to perform, and let the party
bear the odium which is already upon them for placing him where he
is. So much for the President.
As to yourself, I wish you as far as possible to keep clear of
political complications. I do not think the President will require
you to do an act of doubtful legality. Certainly he will not
without sanction of the opinion of his Attorney-General; and you
should have time, in a questionable case, to consult with me before
called upon to act. The office of Secretary of War is a civil
office, as completely so as that of Secretary of State; and you as
a military officer cannot, I think, be required to assume or
exercise it. This may, if necessary, be a subject for further
consideration. Such, however, will not, I think, be the case.
The appeal is to the people, and it is better for the President to
persist in the course he has for some time pursued--let the
aggressions all come from the other side; and I think there is no
doubt he will do so. Affectionately, T. EWING.
LIBRARY ROOM, WAR DEPAETMERT,
WASHINGTON, D. C., January 31, 1868.
To the President:
Since our interview of yesterday I have given the subject of our
conversation all my thoughts, and I beg you will pardon my reducing
the same to writing.
My personal preferences, as expressed, were to be allowed to return
to St. Louis to resume my present command, because my command was
important, large, suited to my rank and inclination, and because my
family was well provided for there in house, facilities, schools,
living, and agreeable society; while, on the other band, Washington
was for many (to me) good reasons highly objectionable, especially
because it is the political capital of the country; and focus of
intrigue, gossip, and slander. Your personal preferences were, as
expressed, to make a new department East, adequate to my rank, with
headquarters at Washington, and assign me to its command, to remove
my family here, and to avail myself of its schools, etc.; to remove
Mr. Stanton from his office as Secretary of War, and have me to
discharge the duties.
To effect this removal two modes were indicated: to simply cause
him to quit the War-Office Building, and notify the Treasury
Department and the Army Staff Departments no longer to respect him
as Secretary of War; or to remove him and submit my name to the
Senate for confirmation.
Permit me to discuss these points a little, and I will premise by
saying that I have spoken to no one on the subject, and have not
even seen Mr. Ewing, Mr. Stanbery, or General Grant, since I was
It has been the rule and custom of our army, since the organization
of the government, that the second officer of the army should be at
the second (in importance) command, and remote from general
headquarters. To bring me to Washington world put three heads to
an army, yourself, General Grant, and myself, and we would be more
than human if we were not to differ. In my judgment it world ruin
the army, and would be fatal to one or two of us.
Generals Scott and Taylor proved themselves soldiers and patriots
in the field, but Washington was fatal to both. This city, and the
influences that centre here, defeated every army that had its
headquarters here from 1861 to 1864, and would have overwhelmed
General Grant at Spottsylvania and Petersburg, had he not been
fortified by a strong reputation, already hard-earned, and because
no one then living coveted the place; whereas, in the West, we made
progress from the start, because there was no political capital
near enough to poison our minds, and kindle into life that craving,
itching for fame which has killed more good men than bullets. I
have been with General Grant in the midst of death and slaughter
when the howls of people reached him after Shiloh; when messengers
were speeding to and from his army to Washington, bearing slanders,
to induce his removal before he took Vicksburg; in Chattanooga,
when the soldiers were stealing the corn of the starving mules to
satisfy their own hunger; at Nashville, when he was ordered to the
"forlorn hope" to command the Army of the Potomac, so often
defeated--and yet I never saw him more troubled than since he has
been in Washington, and been compelled to read himself a "sneak and
deceiver," based on reports of four of the Cabinet, and apparently
with your knowledge. If this political atmosphere can disturb the
equanimity of one so guarded and so prudent as he is, what will be
the result with me, so careless, so outspoken as I am? Therefore,
with my consent, Washington never.
As to the Secretary of War, his office is twofold. As a Cabinet
officer he should not be there without your hearty, cheerful
assent, and I believe that is the judgment and opinion of every
fair-minded man. As the holder of a civil office, having the
supervision of moneys appropriated by Congress and of contracts for
army supplies, I do think Congress, or the Senate by delegation
from Congress, has a lawful right to be consulted. At all events,
I would not risk a suit or contest on that phase of the question.
The law of Congress, of March 2, 1867, prescribing the manner in
which orders and instructions relating to "military movements"
shall reach the army, gives you as constitutional Commander-in-
Chief the very power you want to exercise, and enables you to
prevent the Secretary from making any such orders and instructions;
and consequently he cannot control the army, but is limited and
restricted to a duty that an Auditor of the Treasury could perform.
You certainly can afford to await the result. The Executive power
is not weakened, but rather strengthened. Surely he is not such an
obstruction as would warrant violence, or even s show of force,
which would produce the very reaction and clamor that he hopes for
to save him from the absurdity of holding an empty office "for the
safety of the country."
This is so much as I ought to say, and more too, but if it produces
the result I will be more than satisfied, viz., that I be simply
allowed to resume my proper post and duties in St. Louis. With
great respect, yours truly,
W. T. SHERMAN, Lieutenant-General.
On the 1st of February, the board of which I was the president
submitted to the adjutant-general our draft of the "Articles of War
and Army Regulations," condensed to a small compass, the result of
our war experience. But they did not suit the powers that were,
and have ever since slept the sleep that knows no waking, to make
room for the ponderous document now in vogue, which will not stand
the strain of a week's campaign in real war.
I hurried back to St. Louis to escape the political storm I saw
brewing. The President repeatedly said to me that he wanted me in
Washington, and I as often answered that nothing could tempt me to
live in that center of intrigue and excitement; but soon came the
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE UNITED STATES,
WASHINGTON, February 10, 1868.
DEAR GENERAL: I have received at last the President's reply to my
last, letter. He attempts to substantiate his statements by his
Cabinet. In this view it is important that I should have a letter
from you, if you are willing to give it, of what I said to you
about the effect of the "Tenure-of-Office Bill," and my object in
going to see the President on Saturday before the installment of
Mr. Stanton. What occurred after the meeting of the Cabinet on the
Tuesday following is not a subject under controversy now;
therefore, if you choose to write down your recollection (and I
would like to have it) on Wednesday, when you and I called on the
President, and your conversation with him the last time you saw
him, make that a separate communication.
Your order to come East was received several days ago, but the
President withdrew it, I supposed to make some alteration, but it
has not been returned.
U. S. GRANT.[TELEGRAM.]
WASHINGTON, D. C., February 18, 1868.
Lieutenant-General W. T. SHERMAN, St. Louis.
The order is issued ordering you to Atlantic Division.
U. S. GRANT, General.[TELEGRAM]
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSOURI,
St. Louis, February 14, 1868.
General U. S. GRANT, Washington, D. C.
«- Previous | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 | View All | Next -»