A Patriot and a Statesman~February 1864~the 28th & 29th

A Patriot and a Statesman

The month finishes with plenty of politicking. Lincoln is endorsed by the New Jersey legislature and the New York Times while the President himself deals in a gentlemanly fashion with a potential rival from his own Cabinet. Lincoln makes a choice which will change the war as he nominates Ulysses Grant for the rank of lieutenant-general. A Federal cavalry raid begins a thrust at Richmond, a raid which will lead to disaster and scandal. Confederate soldiers and Union sympathizers experience hard times.

Lincoln & his two secretaries

Lincoln & his two secretaries


February 28– Sunday– New York City– “And we now wish to place upon record our sense of the country’s obligation to you as a patriot and a statesman. When you entered upon the duties of your high office – and its fearful responsibilities might have appalled any heart – we relied upon your discretion, your honesty of purpose and your patriotism. Nor were we deceived. After three years of war we find Delaware and Maryland, Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri firmly inside the Union lines. Arkansas and Louisiana are gained to us and lost to the Confederacy. . . . . With feelings akin to affection we regard the patience with which you have endured the anxieties and burdens of your position; the courage where has always risen with every danger that threatened us. We admire the fidelity with which you have sustained and proclaimed those principles when underlie every free Government, and which alone can make this nation again what it was hut now – the admiration of man and the wonder of the world. Without any disparagement of the true men who surround you, and whose counsel you have shared, believing bar yon are the choice of the people whoso servants and firmly sat shed that they desire and intend to give you four years for a policy of peace, we present your name as the man for President of the American people in 1864.” ~ Open letter signed by Republican members of the New Jersey Legislature, printed in today’s New York Times.

February 28– Sunday– Rapidan River, Virginia– A force of 3500 Federal cavalry troopers under the command of Judson Kilpatrick cross the river and begin an attempt to raid Richmond.

February 28– Sunday– in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia– “My health is fine at this time and I am living just well enough, but it will not be so long, for we have orders to start back to Orange [County] day after tomorrow morning. It will get me all over for I am nearly barefooted and there is no chance to draw any shoes. . . . . You say I must get a furlough. There is no chance for me now and no trying to do unless I could furnish a recruit, and I see no chance for that. There are six or seven to go yet before it starts around the second time and then all will draw together I learn so any chance is a long ways off yet.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Marion Hill Fitzpatrick to his wife Amanda.

February 29– Monday– New York City– “No war news, except that our unlucky Army of the Potomac is said to be executing a movement. . . . . I fear that army is paralyzed by the McClellanism impressed on it when it was organized two years ago.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

George Templeton Strong

George Templeton Strong

February 29– Monday– New York City– “President Lincoln has the same popular hold upon it everywhere. New-Hampshire and Connecticut in the extreme East declare for his renomination with the same emphasis that Iowa and California do in the extreme West. The conservative Unionism of New-Jersey has spoken as strongly for him as the radical Unionism of Kansas. Border-State Maryland, with its tens of thousands of slaves, has delivered itself with the same earnestness as Minnesota, where a slave has never breathed. It is impossible to perceive any difference, throughout the length and breadth of the loyal States, in the heartiness of this popular desire for Mr. Lincoln’s reelection. . . . . It is not difficult to understand this decided purpose of the people. It comes from two causes – confidence in the man and a regard to the necessities of the situation. Mr. Lincoln is preeminently a man of the people. His humble origin, his plain habits, his unaffected manners, his Saxon speech, his transparency of character, his thorough devotion to duty, his sterling sense, his sagacity in apprehending the necessities of the situation and in adapting means to ends, his singular combination of boldness with prudence . . . . Very few public men in American history have possessed it in an equal degree with Abraham Lincoln. . . . . The American people, in a time of danger, are not only able to manage their affairs with the same good sense, but it would be impossible for them to do otherwise, without undoing their entire nature. They are too practical to give up a certainty for an uncertainty; to exchange, in a great juncture, proved ability and fidelity for qualities, however promising, that have never been tested. . . . The concern of the people is not whether their President has been, here or there, a little too conservative, or a little too radical, but whether he is fulfilling his tremendous task of putting down the rebellion. They see that this is done, and, therefore, they stand firmly by him.” ~ New York Times.

February 29– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “I nominate Ulysses S. Grant, now a major-general in the military service, to be lieutenant-general in the Army of the United States.” ~ Special message from President Lincoln the Senate. [Before Grant, only George Washington and Winfield Scott had ever held this highest rank in the U S Army.]

General Grant

General Grant

February 29– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “I communicate to the Senate herewith for its constitutional action thereon, the articles of agreement and convention made and concluded at the city of Washington on the 25th day of the present month by and between William P. Dole, as commissioner on the part of the United States, and the duly authorized delegates of the Swan Creek and Black River Chippewas and the Munsees or Christian Indians in Kansas.” ~ Message from President Lincoln, seeking ratification of agreements made with several groups of Native Americans.

February 29– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “I would have taken time to answer yours of the 22nd instant sooner, only that I did not suppose any evil could result from the delay, especially as, by a note, I promptly acknowledged the receipt of yours, and promised a fuller answer. Now, on consideration I find there is really very little to say. My knowledge of Mr. Pomeroy’s letter having been made public came to me only the day you wrote; but I had, in spite of myself, known of its existence several days before. I have not yet read it, and I think I shall not. I was not shocked or surprised by the appearance of the letter, because I had had knowledge of Mr. Pomeroy’s committee, and of secret issues which, I supposed, came from it, and of secret agents who, I supposed, were sent out by it for several weeks. I have known just as little a these things as my friends have allowed me to know. They bring the documents to me, but I do not read them; they tell me what they think fit to tell me, but I do not inquire for more. I fully concur with you that neither of us can justly be held responsible for what our respective friends may do without our instigation or countenance and I assure you, as you have assured me, that no assault has been made upon you by my instigation, or with my countenance. Whether you shall remain at the head of the Treasury Department is a question which I will not allow myself to consider from any standpoint other than my judgment of the public service, and, in that view, I do not perceive occasion for a change.” ~ Letter from President Lincoln to Treasury Secretary Salmon P Chase.


February 29– Monday– Cleveland, Tennessee– “I was detailed, by the General commanding, to open an office in this place to receive and examine applications, and endeavor partially to relieve the universal want from our meager supply of army stores. As the wants of the army had to be the first consideration, it left but little to relieve the wants of destitute citizens, but we have been giving them what little could be spared. This country has been so completely ravaged by the rebels that those who were in good circumstances have nothing left with which to aid their needy neighbors—all are destitute. Most of those who have been applicants for aid are females, and nearly all of them have husbands, sons or brothers in the Union army, either in Nashville or Knoxville, or in the vicinity of those places. . . . If the little supply we are giving them is cut off, as it probably must be, very soon, I see nothing but starvation before many of these poor people. They cannot long live here . . . . Let me say that the Unionism of these people has been proved in the fire.” ~ Report from Reverend W. G. Kephart, Chaplain 10th Iowa Infantry.

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