The Writings of Abraham Lincoln Vol. 1-7


iSpeech

A. LINCOLN, President.

ORDER TAKING MILITARY POSSESSION OF RAILROADS.
WAR DEPARTMENT, May 25, 1862.

Ordered: By virtue of the authority vested by act of Congress, the
President takes military possession of all the railroads in the
United States from and after this date until further order, and
directs that the respective railroad companies, their officers and
servants, shall hold themselves in readiness for the transportation
of such troops and munitions of war as may be ordered by the military
authorities, to the exclusion of all other business.

By order of the Secretary of War.
M. C. MEIGS

TELEGRAM TO SECRETARY CHASE.

WAR DEPARTMENT, May 25, 1862.

SECRETARY CHASE, Fredericksburg, Virginia:

It now appears that Banks got safely into Winchester last night, and
is this morning retreating on Harper's Ferry. This justifies the
inference that he is pressed by numbers superior to his own. I think
it not improbable that Ewell, Jackson, and Johnson are pouring
through the gap they made day before yesterday at Front Royal, making
a dash northward. It will be a very valuable and very honorable
service for General McDowell to cut them off. I hope he will put all
possible energy and speed into the effort.

A. LINCOLN.

TELEGRAM TO GENERAL R. SAXTON.

WAR DEPARTMENT, May 25, 1862.

GENERAL SAXTON, Harper's Ferry:

If Banks reaches Martinsburg, is he any the better for it? Will not
the enemy cut him from thence to Harper's Ferry? Have you sent
anything to meet him and assist him at Martinsburg? This is an
inquiry, not an order.

A. LINCOLN.

TELEGRAM TO GENERAL R. SAXTON.

WAR DEPARTMENT, May 25, 1862. 6.30 P.M.

GENERAL SAXTON, Harper's Ferry:

One good six-gun battery, complete in its men and appointments, is
now on its way to you from Baltimore. Eleven other guns, of
different sorts, are on their way to you from here. Hope they will
all reach you before morning. As you have but 2500 men at Harper's
Ferry, where are the rest which were in that vicinity and which we
have sent forward? Have any of them been cut off?

A. LINCOLN.

TELEGRAM TO GENERAL R. SAXTON.

WAR DEPARTMENT, May 25, 1862.

GENERAL SAXTON, Harper's Ferry:

I fear you have mistaken me. I did not mean to question the
correctness of your conduct; on the contrary1 I approve what you have
done. As the 2500 reported by you seemed small to me, I feared some
had got to Banks and been cut off with him. Please tell me the exact
number you now have in hand.

A. LINCOLN.

TELEGRAM TO GENERAL G. B. McCLELLAN.
[Sent in cipher.] WAR DEPARTMENT, WASHINGTON CITY, D. C., May 25,1862. 8.30 P.M.

MAJOR-GENERAL McCLELLAN:

Your despatch received. General Banks was at Strasburg, with about
6,000 men, Shields having been taken from him to swell a column for
McDowell to aid you at Richmond, and the rest of his force scattered
at various places. On the 23d a rebel force of 7000 to 10,000 fell
upon one regiment and two companies guarding the bridge at Front
Royal, destroying it entirely; crossed the Shenandoah, and on the
24th (yesterday) pushed to get north of Banks, on the road to
Winchester. Banks ran a race with them, beating them into Winchester
yesterday evening. This morning a battle ensued between the two
forces, in which Banks was beaten back into full retreat toward
Martinsburg, and probably is broken up into a total rout. Geary, on
the Manassas Gap railroad, just now reports that Jackson is now near
Front Royal, With 10,000, following up and supporting, as I
understand, the forces now pursuing Banks, also that another force of
10,000 is near Orleans, following on in the same direction. Stripped
here, as we are here, it will be all we can do to prevent them
crossing the Potomac at Harper's Ferry or above. We have about
20,000 of McDowell's force moving back to the vicinity of Front
Royal, and General Fremont, who was at Franklin, is moving to
Harrisonburg; both these movements intended to get in the enemy's
rear.

One more of McDowell's brigades is ordered through here to Harper's
Ferry; the rest of his force remains for the present at
Fredericksburg. We are sending such regiments and dribs from here
and Baltimore as we can spare to Harper's Ferry, supplying their
places in some sort by calling in militia from the adjacent States.
We also have eighteen cannon on the road to Harper's Ferry, of which
arm there is not a single one yet at that point. This is now our
situation.

If McDowell's force was now beyond our reach, we should be utterly
helpless. Apprehension of something like this, and no unwillingness
to sustain you, has always been my reason for withholding McDowell's
force from you. Please understand this, and do the best you can with
the force you have.

A. LINCOLN.

HISTORY OF CONSPIRACY OF REBELLION

MESSAGE TO CONGRESS.

MAY 16, 1862

TO THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

The insurrection which is yet existing in the United States and aims
at the overthrow of the Federal Constitution and the Union, was
clandestinely prepared during the Winter of 1860 and 1861, and
assumed an open organization in the form of a treasonable provisional
government at Montgomery, in Alabama on the 18th day of February,
1861. On the 12th day of April, 1861, the insurgents committed the
flagrant act of civil war by the bombardment and the capture of Fort
Sumter, Which cut off the hope of immediate conciliation.
Immediately afterward all the roads and avenues to this city were
obstructed, and the capital was put into the condition of a siege.
The mails in every direction were stopped and the lines of telegraph
cut off by the insurgents, and military and naval forces which had
been called out by the government for the defense of Washington were
prevented from reaching the city by organized and combined
treasonable resistance in the State of Maryland. There was no
adequate and effective organization for the public defense. Congress
had indefinitely adjourned. There was no time to convene them. It
became necessary for me to choose whether, using only the existing
means, agencies, and processes which Congress had provided, I should
let the government fall at once into ruin or whether, availing myself
of the broader powers conferred by the Constitution in cases of
insurrection, I would make an effort to save it, with all its
blessings, for the present age and for posterity.

I thereupon summoned my constitutional advisers, the heads of all the
departments, to meet on Sunday, the 20th day of April, 1861, at the
office of the Navy Department, and then and there, with their
unanimous concurrence, I directed that an armed revenue cutter should
proceed to sea to afford protection to the commercial marine, and
especially the California treasure ships then on their way to this
coast. I also directed the commandant of the navy-yard at Boston to
purchase or charter and arm as quickly as possible five steamships
for purposes of public defense. I directed the commandant of the
navy-yard at Philadelphia to purchase or charter and arm an equal
number for the same purpose. I directed the commandant at New York
to purchase or charter and arm an equal number. I directed Commander
Gillis to purchase or charter and arm and put to sea two other
vessels. Similar directions were given to Commodore Dupont, with a
view to the opening of passages by water to and from the capital. I
directed the several officers to take the advice and obtain the aid
and efficient services, in the matter, of his Excellency Edwin D.
Morgan, the Governor of New York, or in his absence George D. Morgan,
William M. Evarts, R. M. Blatchford, and Moses H. Grinnell, who were
by my directions especially empowered by the Secretary of the Navy to
act for his department in that crisis in matters pertaining to the
forwarding of troops and supplies for the public defense.

The several departments of the government at that time contained so
large a number of disloyal persons that it would have been impossible
to provide safely through official agents only for the performance of
the duties thus confided to citizens favorably known for their
ability, loyalty, and patriotism.

The several orders issued upon these occurrences were transmitted by
private messengers, who pursued a circuitous way to the seaboard
cities, inland across the States of Pennsylvania and Ohio and the
northern lakes. I believe by these and other similar measures taken
in that crisis, some of which were without any authority of law, the
government was saved from overthrow. I am not aware that a dollar of
the public funds thus confided without authority of law to unofficial
persons was either lost or wasted, although apprehensions of such
misdirection occurred to me as objections to those extraordinary
proceedings, and were necessarily overruled.

I recall these transactions now because my attention has been
directed to a resolution which was passed by the House of
Representatives on the 30th day of last month, which is in these
words:

"Resolved, That Simon Cameron, late Secretary of War by investing
Alexander Cummings with the control of large sums of the public money
and authority to purchase military supplies without restriction,
without requiring from him any guaranty for the faithful performance
of his duties, when the services of competent public officers were
available, and by involving the government in a vast number of
contracts with persons not legitimately engaged in the business
pertaining to the subject-matter of such contracts, especially in the
purchase of arms for future delivery, has adopted a policy highly
injurious to the public service, and deserves the censure of the
House."

Congress will see that I should be wanting equally in candor and in
justice if I should leave the censure expressed in this resolution to
rest exclusively or chiefly upon Mr. Cameron. The same sentiment is
unanimously entertained by the heads of department who participated
in the proceedings which the House of Representatives have censured.
It is due to Mr. Cameron to say that although he fully approved the
proceedings they were not moved nor suggested by himself, and that
not only the President, but all the other heads of departments, were
at least equally responsible with him for whatever error, wrong, or
fault was committed in the premises.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

TELEGRAM TO GENERAL G. B. McCLELLAN.

WASHINGTON, May 26, 1862. 12.40

MAJOR-GENERAL McCLELLAN:

We have General Banks's official report. He has saved his army and
baggage, and has made a safe retreat to the river, and is probably
safe at Williamsport. He reports the attacking force at 15,000.

A. LINCOLN, President.

TELEGRAM TO GENERAL I. McDOWELL.

WAR DEPARTMENT, May 26, 1862. 1 P.M.

MAJOR-GENERAL McDOWELL, Falmouth, Virginia:

Despatches from Geary just received have been sent you. Should not
the remainder of your forces, except sufficient to hold the point at
Fredericksburg, move this way--to Manassas Junction or Alexandria?
As commander of this department, should you not be here? I ask these
questions.

A. LINCOLN.

TELEGRAM TO GENERAL McCLELLAN.

WASHINGTON, May 26, 1862.

MAJOR-GENERAL GEORGE B. McCLELLAN:

Can you not cut the Alula Creek railroad? Also, what impression have
you as to intrenched works for you to contend with in front of
Richmond? Can you get near enough to throw shells into the city?

A. LINCOLN, President.

TELEGRAM TO GENERAL J. C. FREMONT.

May 27.1862. 9.58 P.M.

MAJOR-GENERAL FREMONT:

I see that you are at Moorefield. You were expressly ordered to
march to Harrisonburg. What does this mean?

A. LINCOLN.

TELEGRAM FROM SECRETARY STANTON
TO GOVERNOR ANDREW.

WASHINGTON, May 27, 1862.

GOVERNOR ANDREW, Boston:

The President directs that the militia be relieved, and the
enlistments made for three years, or during the war. This, I think,
will practically not be longer than for a year. The latest
intelligence from General Banks states that he has saved nearly his
whole command with small loss.

Concentrations of our force have been made, which it is hoped will
capture the enemy.

EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War.

TELEGRAM FROM SECRETARY STANTON
TO GENERAL J. C. FREMONT,

WASHINGTON, May 28, 1862

MAJOR-GENERAL FREMONT, Moorefield

The President directs you to halt at Moorefield and await orders,
unless you hear of the enemy being in the general direction of
Rodney, in which case you will move upon him. Acknowledge the
receipt of this order, and the hour it is received.

EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War.

TELEGRAM TO GENERAL I. McDOWELL.

WASHINGTON, May 28, 1862.

GENERAL McDOWELL, Manassas Junction:

General McClellan at 6.30 P.M. yesterday telegraphed that Fitz-John
Porter's division had fought and driven 13,000 of the enemy, under
General Branch, from Hanover Court-House, and was driving them from a
stand they had made on the railroad at the time the messenger left.
Two hours later he telegraphed that Stoneman had captured an engine
and six cars on the Virginia Central, which he at once sent to
communicate with Porter. Nothing further from McClellan.

If Porter effects a lodgment on both railroads near Hanover
Court-House, consider whether your forces in front of Fredericksburg
should not push through and join him.

A. LINCOLN.

TELEGRAM TO GENERAL G. B. McCLELLAN.

WASHINGTON, May 28, 1862.

MAJOR-GENERAL McCLELLAN:

What of F.J. Porter's expedition? Please answer.

A. LINCOLN.

TELEGRAM TO GENERAL I. McDOWELL.

WASHINGTON. May 28, 1862. 4 P.M.

GENERAL McDOWELL, Manassas Junction:

You say General Geary's scouts report that they find no enemy this
side of the Blue Ridge. Neither do I. Have they been to the Blue
Ridge looking for them.

A. LINCOLN.

TELEGRAM TO GENERAL I. McDOWELL.

WASHINGTON, May 28, 1862. 5.40 P.M.

GENERAL McDOWELL, Manassas Junction:

I think the evidence now preponderates that Ewell and Jackson are
still about Winchester. Assuming this, it is for you a question of
legs. Put in all the speed you can. I have told Fremont as much,
and directed him to drive at them as fast as possible. By the way, I
suppose you know Fremont has got up to Moorefield, instead of going
into Harrisonburg.

A. LINCOLN.

TELEGRAM TO GENERAL G. B. McCLELLAN

WASHINGTON May 28, 1862. 8.40 P.M.

MAJOR-GENERAL McCLELLAN:

I am very glad of General F. J. Porter's victory. Still, if it was a
total rout of the enemy, I am puzzled to know why the Richmond and
Fredericksburg railroad was not seized again, as you say you have all
the railroads but the Richmond and Fredericksburg. I am puzzled to
see how, lacking that, you can have any, except the scrap from
Richmond to West Point. The scrap of the Virginia Central from
Richmond to Hanover Junction, without more, is simply nothing. That
the whole of the enemy is concentrating on Richmond, I think cannot
be certainly known to you or me. Saxton, at Harper's Ferry informs
us that large forces, supposed to be Jackson's and Ewells, forced his
advance from Charlestown today. General King telegraphs us from
Fredericksburg that contrabands give certain information that 15,000
left Hanover Junction Monday morning to reinforce Jackson. I am
painfully impressed with the importance of the struggle before you,
and shall aid you all I can consistently with my view of due regard
to all points.

A. LINCOLN.

TELEGRAM FROM SECRETARY STANTON
TO GENERAL FREMONT.

WASHINGTON, May 28, 1862.

MAJOR-GENERAL JOHN C. FREMONT, Moorefield:

The order to remain at Moorefield was based on the supposition that
it would find you there.

Upon subsequent information that the enemy were still operating in
the vicinity of Winchester and Martinsburg, you were directed to move
against the enemy.

The President now again directs you to move against the enemy without
delay. Please acknowledge the receipt of this, and the time
received.

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