Temple Place

Sunday Dec. 7. 62

My dear travellers –

You have solved the
mystery at last by your letter of the 25th
with journal from Hyêres & we rejoice
to learn that you have got in to real warm
weather & comfortable quarters withal.
Nothing I should like better than to be
with you, for we have just got a pretty deep
snow and really cold weather is just setting
in, I do not love it, you know, little
as I suffer from it in comparison.
- The most important event of the week
is one of family interest, Mr. Cabot was
struck with paralysis a few days ago,
affecting one entire side, & though reco-
vering since some slight power of
motion, the chances, at his time of life
are, of course against him. His mind
is said now to be clear, and Sam thinks
the brain is not affected, & therefore that
he may recover completely. But this I
do not believe. He's more likely to be
like Mrs. Torrey's case. - As for military
movements there is not a scrap of in-
telligence worth recording, except that
Banks himself, with the residue of his ex-
pedition, has actually sailed from N.Y.-
I note too the sailing from Fortress Munroe,
with sealed orders, of seven transports &
some gunboats, about the same time.-
probably part of the same expedition.
The secret of its destination has been tho-
roughly kept,- Texas, Florida, the James
River, Charleston, have all been sug-

gested, and plausible reasons assigned for each. One
place that I have not seen suggested in the newspapers strikes me
as more probable than either,- that is North Caro-
lina,- with the view of joining the force
already there, which would make a
pretty formidable army, & threatening
Richmond from that side. The putting
to sea of the transports at lately anchored off
Fortress Munroe, filled with troops, seems
to negative the idea that Banks is bound
either to Norfolk or the James River.
He may however, I should suppose
easily penetrate when a landing is
once effected at Roanoke, or its neighborhood,- far enough into No. Car.
to cooperate with the force already at
Suffolk in a movement on Petersburgh,
threatening Richmond on that side; on
joining the force now at Newbern,
he might be strong enough to advance
to Goldsboro, cutting the line of the main
Southern R.R., & pushing on, if strong e-
eno', perhaps to Raleigh, & to threate-
ning Richmond from the rear. I can
not help thinking some such move-
ment as this against Richmond, or
at least endangering it, of far greater
present importance than any more
distant operation & therefore more likely. A serious threat
on the opposite side of the rebel capital,
could not but have the effect of draw-
ing off part of Lee's army from the
neighborhood of the Rappahannoc, and
give the main army under Burnside an excellent chance to demolish Lee. It
is difficult to account for Burnside's
long inactivity, after every allow-
ance for the deficiency's of the Quarter
Master Gen. against whom complaints
are now very loud,- except on the
supposition that he is waiting for
somebody else. The last story against
the powers at Washington is, that Burn-
side has discovered that nine out of
ten of the bomb-shells sent him will
not explode! At any rate, there stand
the two armies still, shivering on the banks
of the Rappahannoc. Neither moves;- un-
less, as is said one day & denied the
next, Lee has already thrown back part of his
force nearer towards Richmond,
So as to be ready to act on either side,
as the case may require. It is also re-
ported, & is probably true, that Jackson
has wholly withdrawn from the Shenan-
doah region, leaving only a few flying
skirmishers here & there, & has effected a
junction with Lee.- The beginnings
of Congress, the Reports of the Departments,
& the proceedings of the several Court
Martials going on at Washington chiefly
occupy attention. Halleck's Report is a
renewed attack upon McLellan,- to
whose dilatoriness in moving the his
army, under peremptory orders, from
the James River to Aquia Creek, he,
to shift responsibility from himself, attributes, by insinuation at least,
the defeat of Pope. But it is curious to see how McLellan, keeping perfect silence
against all attacks, is constantly re-
lieved from one charge after another
by incidental pieces of evidence, which
turn up out of the very proceedings
intended to operate against him. Halleck's reports for
instance, make very plain the origin
of his going over to the side of McLellan's
enemies. They differed entirely in their
views of certain military points. Mc-
Lellan was bent on pursueing his attack
on Richmond from the point where he was in James
River, & was confident of success, if he
could have sufficent reinforcements.
& believed that to be the true mode of securing Washington.
Halleck thought, on the other hand, that
the safety of Washington required that
Pope should be strengthened- that the two
armies must be united, neither being
strong eno' to withstand the whole force
of the enemy alone,- & that danger to
Washington precluded the sending of
Burnside to McLellan, & that the alter-
native was the drawing of McLellan's
army, as well as Burnside's, to Pope. In-
cidentally he appends a letter from McLellan with
his answer,- the former protesting, respectfully, but
earnestly, against the withdrawing of his army
from Harrisons Landing, & even entreating him
to recall that order, assigning reasons which at
least make a very strong case. Halleck was
obliged to publish this for the sake of publishing
his answer, which gives his reasons for insisting
on the withdrawal. They are strong ones & I am not
sure that they were not such as mustshould have prevailed.
But at any rate McLellan's judgement on this part
of the case is thus incidentally brought to light,& places him, so far, very favorably before
the public. On the other hand, Halleck does not
state any of the circumstances which go to account
of delay in the movement,- as the further cor-
respondence probably would. He simply states
the date of the his order, & the date of the
McLellan's movement,
leaving it to be inferred that the delay was
unreasonable & without without excuse, & then, somewhat disinge-
nuously, states, by way of contrast, the date
of his order to Burnside, & the date of his move-
ment,- which was immediate. The difference
of the two cases was, that Burnside was at
Newport News, in transition merely, with his
tranports before him, & no enemy near,
waiting merelyfor orders to proceed either up
the James River, or up the Potomac, as the order
might be.- McLellan's encampment on the
other hand was a fixed one, with an army
five times as large as Burnside's required to
move with sick, wounded, siege guns & great collections of things in the face of the enemy, & through
the enemy's country. Such a movement re-
quired vast previous arrangement & great
caution,- Burnside's none at all.- Another
piece of evidence comes out incidently on
the trial of Gen. Fitz John Porter,- a letter from Mc-
Lellan to that Gen. urging him in the most earnest
terms to render all possible aid to Gen. Pope,-
a letter exactly of a piece with his more recent appeals
to the army to stand by Burnside. The pretence
of McLellan's assailants has always been that
he threw obstacles in the way of Pope & influen-
ced his favorite generals to hold back.-
Thus "little Mac" continues to come out brighter
& brighter, just as fast as anything authentic
appears; & whenever he comes to make his
own exposé, as he probably will some timeor other, tho' not till it can do no harm to the cause I have little doubt that it will
be clearly shown that his plans were al-
ways interfered with, & overruled or marred
by sideways blows, from the time of his being
deprived of the general command of the
armies. Halleck indeed takes care to re-
lieve himself from the responsibility
of all consequences of acts that had occured before he
was made chief in command- as he
has a right to do. All our misfortunes
of the eastern campaign are very plainly
consequences of the two grand mistakes
made by the Admn before Halleck had any-
thing more to look after than his own Western Dept.
-viz. 1. dividing the command in Virga
2. stopping recruiting & omitting to
provide any reserve for reinforce-
ments of at any point that was found to
need it. For both these the Abolition clique
is responsible as the Presidents advisers
to whom he yielded. To this must be added, I sup-
pose, a small honest conceit, which led
him to think it was his duty, & within his
capacity to "run the machine himself"
- quoting, as I do, words that are attributed
to him. I presumed he had got cured of that,
so far as the military part of the general
machine is concerned, when he made
Halleck his overseer of that Department.
But one never knows whether it is Halleck's
will, or Stanton's, or the President's, or that of
the radical clique which at times seeming
to control the Prest., which causes a par-
ticular movement or appointment. There
is at least a sad want of unity of purpose
& all seems to indicate that the President him-
self, with many excellent qualities, is notso strong a man as I at one time took him
for. The gradual emancipation scheme of his mes-
sage is, I presume, his own deliberate
judgment; & if it could be made effectual
my conclusion is that it is a good one,
if not the only one, to relieve the country-
fully & finally from its difficulties.-
His immediate emancipation proclamation, on
the other hand, I believe was altered merely
as a quietus to radical pressure. But
what shall we say to the combination
of these two schemes, so utterly inconsis-
tent, with each other? He seems to me,
by his message, to treat his former pro-
clamation as a thing of which wld have
no practical consequence. If the slaves
are to be made free on the 1st of Jan. by
his own military act why propose to
Congress a scheme that which will require
a year or two at least, merely to put
the machinery in motion, which
is to accomplish their freedom on,
or at some time before, the year
1900? Yet in his message, he alludes to the pro-
clamation as if he really expected to act upon
it on the 1st of Jan. - The Treasury's Report is
clear, well written, & frank- but financiers
differ greatly as to his banking scheme. The Bank
interest will of course to be opposed to it. Mr.
Chase seems to be startled by the effect of his paper
money system, & while laboring to show that it
is not a depreciated currency, but that the high
price of gold is owing to other causes, he mani-
festly does not with to pursue the system fur-
ther if he can help it, except to the extent of
substituting a U.S. currency for that of the
Banks. At any rate he has got to raise in
some way nearly 300 millions to carry us along to
the 1st of July, & double that sum at least for theyear following, if the war lasts so long on the same scale.
He exposes the necessity of the case fairly, &
shows that, even should the present scale of
expense continue till July 1, '64, the total
debt then would be far short of 2000
millions, which has been represented to be
the amount of the debt now, by the political
opponents of the Admn.- and he shows great
cause to believe that even this enormous
sum would not be beyond the resources of
the country on long loans. As to the best means
of effecting such large loans he makes suggestions,
but leaves it to Congress to work out the problem.
He will have to meet the market of course;
unless he runs into the more ruinous system
of multiplying paper money. It is worthy of re-
mark however that the disclosures of the
report do not as yet materially affect the
price of Govt. securities; i.e. do not seem,
to shake the domestic credit of the Govt.-
So far as any questions have yet been raised
in the Ho. of Reps., by way of attack, the Admn.
seems to command about two to one in
votes. But I do not think that anything has
yet been presented which fairly tests the
relation of the Conservatives to the Radicals.
I fear the latter will keep a large majority, at
least a sufficient one for all working pur-
poses. But in the Senate it is said it will be
otherwise. At any rate the Radicals have
only three months more to work mischief-
in. The majority in the next Congress will cer-
tainly be the other way. The danger then
will be of a different kind, the machine
is certainly rather ricketty in its working;
but I believe on the whole we shall rule &
go, as we have so often before. The
three months of ultra Republican rule
ought to do much towards settling the
merely military questions- and certainlymust settle the question of immediate
emancipation as a war measure.
If as the Sumnerites assume, the
four millions of negroes are all going
to rush to arms on our side as soon
as the 1st of Jan. comes & all the rebel
armies are going to rush home to
take care of their negroes, that certainly
will settle the matter one way. our army
& navy will have little in that case to
oppose them. If on the other hand, not
a solitary nigger flees as I believe, except where
he has one of our soldiers along side
of him to protect him, that certainly
must settle the matter the other way. I
do not see how even the abolitionists,
out of the lunatic hospital, can get
in that case get over the determina-
tion that immediate emancipation
is not a practical idea. That done
with, we may hope to make some real
progress in the legitimate objects of the
war, and towards a peace on terms that
will reduce the rebellion without abso-
lutely revolutionizing either South
or North. Dark & difficult it all is,
but not hopeless. The South must suffer
terribly this winter,- & perhaps the bulk
of their people will be tired enough of
the war to be ready to give up the notion of
secession, if they find they can save
their negroes. The North of course, Abolitio-
nists excepted, will ask no more,- and
possibly some scheme of distant emancipa- tion, similar to the President's, may
be gradually worked through, the South
having it the modus operandi entirely in their own hands:
this to quiet the abolitionists, & satisfy the
conscience of the world, and prevent
any future quarrels about slavery. But all
this is remote speculation,- & events move
so rapidly that the idea of today is knocked
in the head by the fact of tomorrow. The only cer-
tain thing is that military success is indis-
pensable to the working out of the problem fa-
vorably for the north on any theory. I hope
for that soon in some quarter.

Tuesday Dec. 9 There is a report that a por-
tion of Burnside's army has crossed the Rap-
panoc at some distance from Fredericksburgh. If
true, it is a flanking movement, which may
lead to a battle. Both armies must be suffering
terribly from the weather. I see 6 of our sentinels
reported frozen to death, & 7 more disabled from the
same cause. -There is a good deal of move-
ment going on in the Southwest- our armies
advancing, & the rebels retiring. We have
got some ways into No. Mississippi, and
there seems to be a gathering there for battle.
The large movements look promising. On
the other hand we hear of another disgraceful
surrender, by a detached body of troops, at
one point either in Tenessee or Missippi.
-Our foreign relations seem from the published
correspondance to have been, & still to be, stan-
ding on rather [illegible] ground. What Louis Nap.
really intends is of course always a mystery.
He must have known of course, or might
easily have known, before-hand, that his Medi-
ation scheme would not be accepted by England
& Russia, and when declined, why does he pub-
lish it?

Affectionately yrs &c.,
W.H.G.

21.1 cm x 13.5 cm

From the William Howard Gardiner letters