Document: Emerentiana Bowden to Abraham Lincoln, April 23, 1864



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PastoralPastureal

The Presidential Cow

‘Twas in the dead of winter first I spied her,

Strolling about the White House, to find some solitary blade; --

Her dignity & station then unknown, I fain would chide her,

And “take her up,” or drive her to “the pound”, and advertise her “Strayed”.

An ordinary bovine animal indeed she seemed, --

A bold intruder, rambling o’er the Presidential park,

Taking “improper steps”, I thought, & little dreamed

Her Highness then was any “personage of mark”.

My route to business by the White House daily leading,

And homeward also round the crescent avenue,

Somewhere about the park, serenely feeding,

That same old cow was always sure to come in view.

One day I hailed a “body guard”, a trooper in the saddle:

“My friend, won’t Father Abraham come out & raise a row,

If some of you don’t make that animal skedaddle?”--

He smiled & said, “Why, that, sir’s, the Presidential Cow!”

Lord, now, how quick improves that grave old cow’s appearance --

The very “curves of beauty” one sees traced along her back;

Her color, that might be some little interference --

But now-a-days ‘tis no discredit to be black!

Her horns may be a little clubbed -- that’s no serious matter, --

And furthermore, she makes a fine display of rib,

But then some cynic might remark if she were fatter,

“That’s typical of all ‘her betters’ at the public crib”.

But when her face one contemplates all caviling is ended,

Especially in those fine moments when she chews her cud; --

Such cheerfulness & gravity, so exquisitely blended,

It really does a nervous man a proper sight of good.

And still that cow perambulates her favorite daily rounds;

The winter months have gone, & spring itself is nearly over;

A fresher herbage gathers on these pleasant grounds,

And literally leaves her “up to the eyes in clover”.

Somehow “the critter” gains upon one’s admiration;

She looks so wise & thoughtful, ‘tis quite possible she thinks,

And ruminates & ponders on the troubles of the nation --

And yet that she’s no copperhead, I’d bet a million drinks!

She has her stake as well as we in Grant’s approaching battle,

And doubtless hailed his coming with a feeling of relief,

Well knowing that the rebels wouldn’t have respect for cattle,

And if Lee should capture Washington, her stock would come to grief.

I wonder how she views the Baltimore convention;

(There’s no knowing who’d “hold over” under Fremont, Chase, or Little Mac)

And I reckon she would smile if she heard a’body mention

The fact that Father Abraham has got the “inside track”.

Good-bye, old cow!-- I hope you’ll hold your present rank & station,

Secure alike from Copperheads, & “rebs” & family jars,

Till Abraham shall finish up our National salvation,

And restore the dear old banner all the luster of its stars!

The within lines are “respectfully referred” to Father Abraham. They were written only for private amusement -- not for publication.

Oliver Gibbs, Jr

Clk in A. G. O.

Washington, May 4, 1864--

[Endorsed by Lincoln:]

Presidential cow
d3282000

Document: Francois de Joinville to Abraham Lincoln, May 4, 18641



1 Joinville was a French prince and member of the House of Orleans who had visited the United States in 1861-62 and written a book based upon his observations of McClellan’s Army of the Potomac. Joinville acted as chaperon for his two nephews who were on McClellan’s staff and this afforded the prince an excellent opportunity to observe the army firsthand.

Mr President

Circumstances of a purely personal nature oblige my son to renounce the [honorary?] appointment which you had been kind enough to grant him in the United States navy. He has just sent his resignation to the Secretary of the Navy.

Allow me on this occasion to express once more to you my deep sense of gratitude for all that has been done by your orders in favour of my boy.

What I had wished to obtain for him in putting him in the Naval Academy a thoroughly good naval education has been entirely accomplished.

I flatter myself that whatever may be the future of my son he will always do honour to the good [nursery?] through which he has passed.

But one thing I am certain of, is how deeply he will remain attached to the great country where he received such a generous hospitality.

As for myself, Sir, your know how I have always felt for the welfare of the United States. The unfortunate crisis you are now going through has only added to these feelings. With so many enemies around you, at home, abroad and on your very frontier, I hesitate before I speculate on the immediate future, but I preserve an entire faith in the ultimate greatness of your country.

May I see her soon united, happy and successful.

With many thanks for the kindness ever shown to me by you, I remain

Sir very respectfully

Your very obedient servant

Fr. d’Orleans

Prince de Joinville

Claremont May 4th 1864.
d3282800

Document: William H. Seward to Abraham Lincoln, May 5, 1864 [With Endorsement by Lincoln]1



1 Lincoln convened a meeting of his cabinet on May 3 and requested each member to submit a written opinion that recommended a course of action for the government to take in response to the massacre of black soldiers at Fort Pillow, Tennessee on April 12. See Lincoln to William H. Seward, May 3, 1864 and Lincoln to Cabinet, May 3, 1864.

At a cabinet meeting on May 6, each member read his opinion on the case and after receiving this advice, Lincoln began to draft a set of instructions for Stanton to implement in response to the massacre. Apparently Lincoln became distracted by other matters, such as Grant’s campaign against Lee and these instructions were neither completed nor submitted to the War Department. For the written opinions of the cabinet, see Edward Bates to Lincoln, May 4, 1864; Edwin M. Stanton to Lincoln, May 5, 1864; Gideon Welles to Lincoln, May 5, 1864; Montgomery Blair to Lincoln, May 6, 1864; Salmon P. Chase to Lincoln, May 6, 1864; and John P. Usher to Lincoln, May 6, 1864. For Lincoln’s unfinished instructions to Stanton, see Collected Works, VII, 345-46. For an account of the May 6 cabinet meeting, see Howard K. Beale ed. Diary of Gideon Welles (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1960), Vol. II, 24-25.

Sir:

The enquiry you have submitted to me requires me to assume that a large number of the colored soldiers with their white officers in the United States garrison at Fort Pillow were massacred after they had surrendered to the besieging forces.



I think that justice, humanity and the laws of war, entitled every person who thus surrendered to be regarded and treated as a prisoner of war. Neither the national safety nor the national honor will allow the Government to desist from vindicating this right. But the Government ought to proceed with prudence and frankness as well as with firmness in that vindication. Although the exparte evidence of the commission of the cruelties is deemed satisfactory, I nevertheless think that in so grave a case it is expedient to give the insurgents an opportunity to deny the charge and counteract the testimony if they can.

The insurgents may pretend some plea of provocation or retaliation to offer in justification, or at least in extenuation of the cruelties if they have been committed. It would be better to have that plea offered or waived now than to leave a door open to prevarication about it hereafter. If, after giving a hearing or fair chance for hearing on the subject, it shall then appear that the cruelties complained of were committed, and if it shall also appear that they were committed as is now fully believed without justification or extenuation, the insurgents will be under a manifest obligation to disavow them and give satisfactory pledges that they shall not be repeated hereafter. I would therefore advise that the General commanding the United States forces be instructed to state to the commanding General of the insurgents the following points: -- That this Government has learned that a number of United States colored soldiers with their white officers were massacred at the siege of Fort Pillow by the captors of the Fort. That this Government has seen no evidence which authorizes it to believe that the insurgents disavow those massacres. I think all farther questions may be delayed until a reasonable time shall have elapsed for receiving answers to these statements from the commanding General of the insurgents.

I would however give to the army of the United States an earnest of the firmness of this Government in its purpose to vindicate the right of all its members to the protection of the laws of war. To this end, I would direct that insurgent prisoners of war now in military custody equal in number and corresponding in rank to the number of United States soldiers and officers who were massacred at Fort Pillow after having surrendered as prisoners of war, be immediately set apart and held in rigorous confinement, and that notice be given to the commanding General of the insurgents that the disposition which shall ultimately be made of the prisoners so confined will depend upon the answers which shall be given by him to the statements which are mentioned.

Respectfully submitted.

William H. Seward.

Department of State,

Washington, May 4, 1864.

[Endorsed on Envelope by Lincoln:]

Cabinet Members’ opinions as

to Fort Pillow


d3284300

Document: Edward Yates to Abraham Lincoln, May 4, 18641



1 Yates was an English abolitionist and writer who had met Lincoln during a visit to the United States in 1863.

30 Compton Terrace

Islington

London May 4th/64

Honble. & Dear Sir & Friend

I trust you are quite well and that the Great Being is supporting and forwarding you in the noble career of Duty you have so wisely, I may say magnificently chosen-- The Great problem of Duty has to be worked out by all while Sin & Misery Parent & Child walk everywhere on the Earth To me the negro woman with only a solid stick, a fugitive from Slavery, protecting her baby from Wolves or worse, or crossing the Ohio on blocks of ice, is grander than Paul preaching from the Areopagus, and not less grand than Jesus of Nazareth on his mountain preaching to the thousands who paused on their road to Jerusalem to listen to one greater than the Temple And destined to evolve and place above the ruins of Ecclesias and Ecclesiastic Theologies Faith, Hope, Charity, and Love, existing first as Scientific Imprehensions, next as beloved Psychical Sentiments lastly in the sublime form of Heroic Action--

I have received several letters from the Ladies the Secretaries of the different Emancipation Societies and many from other Ladies some of the highest position in most flattering reference to the Letter I published on Slavery with a view to expose the Southern Hell--

About a fortnight back I received a letter from the Secretary of a detestable Society which exists at Manchester called the “Society for the promotion of Southern Independence”; I sent him in reply one of my Pamphlets on Slavery and at letter in which amongst many other arguments and reasonings I ventured on a simple assertion that he and all connected with the Society were Rogues or Fools; that they either lacked the Head or they lacked the Heart that I could concede to them the possession of one but not of both which drew forth a very irate reply from those gentlemen which will of course be followed by one on my part expressive of the greatest scorn & contempt--



You have now arrived at that Phase of your War which I have most dreaded-- Any one who has read and comprehended my Treatises on War will see in an instant Why-- The smaller the area of ground occupied by the Southern Armies becomes the more they will of necessity, even if they did not comprehend War, be on Interior Strategical Lines and in all probability on Interior Tactical Lines-- This will of course enable them and lead them to throw the mass or bulk of their forces on to the different separated fractions of yours one after the other and depend on the Truth of what the Great Napoleon said In modern Warfare with anything like equal armament Victory remains always with the Majority “Le Victoire reste bonjours ave gros battailons”-- If you scatter your armies in isolated divisions and the South remains concentrated on Interior Lines you will always be in a minority at the place and on the Day of Battle and you will then loose Battles which will produce a most injurious moral effect-- According to the laws of War as laid down by the highest Commanders of all Ages your course is to have the barest Garrisons necessary and you have to form one Grand Army or two at most operating on one single broad line of operations and which must go to seek its foe with a determination to Conquer or perish-- You must of course operate by directing your forces in mass that is to say as many collected together as possible into a single army or to some Town or point the less fortified the better & which the rebels are obliged by the necessity of keeping open their communications or from Political considerations and Moral weight to hold Such a point will of course be a centre of many communications & its occupation will close up great roads & rivers & shut the communication between great towns in the hands of the Rebels and what is most important compel them to take the offensive-- Thus you ought to be able to compel the rebels to fight on a day and at a place when and where they should be in a large numerical inferiority-- You are aware that tactically that is to say so soon as the two armies are in sight of one another the excellence of modern Rifles and Artillery give a decided Advantage to the defending party & it is by occupying some such point as that described -- you will compel the Rebels to take the offensive tactically You have therefore to act strategically on the offensive that you may compel the enemy to act tactically on the offensive-- To illustrate the meaning of which simply -- you are to constitute and organize one grand Army with that your are to operate along one single large line of operations your are to march that Army to some position keeping its back well turned to its base of operation from which position the Rebels from Political or other motives such as the necessity of keeping important communications open or because the occupation of it as it were cuts Rebeldom in two the rebels must try to drive your great army-- You will thus compel the Rebels to attack you they will have some open fields or a valley to cross under your fire and if you are at all equal to them they must of course be repulsed Two or three times they will probably try to pass this valley ofr field of death & the offener they do so and are repulsed the better as your loss will be comparatively light each time-- It was in this way the Battle of Waterloo was won-- Then of course you would do as the British did at that battle-- The attacking enemy having been successfully resisted for a second or third time, in all probability doubly decimated and thrown into disorder you would of course traverse the Valley or open fields between the two positions pell-mell with the enemy that is to say your front line of Battle perhaps the second will got mixed up with the Rebels the 3rd line of Battle wh: will include the reserves will be in a position to advance in perfect order and taking up new positions its artillery advancing from time to time ought to be able to search out the Rebels wherever they may be-- Napoleon said a “Victory was nothing without its fruits” & it is only by vigour & activity of pursuit that the fruits of a Victory are to be gained in such case you are to obey the dictum of Turenne2 & “strike while the iron is hot”-- It is by such means the rout & destruction of the enemy can hardly fail to be total provided he can be beaten at all-- Apart the choice of an excellent defensive position the Rules for choosing which I have placed down fully in my Treatises on Strategy and Tactics Waterloo was nothing more than the action and carrying out this argument-- All these results are set forth in my Treatises on Strategy and Tactics & I beg to forward another Copy of each to the honor of your acceptance-- If I have any Copyright of them in the U. S. if you think it worth the acceptance of the U S. Govt. I should be obliged by your offering it as a gift accompanied by the expression of my extreme respect and Good will-- The Treatises sell well here; I last week received a further cheque from the publishers; My late friend General Sir William Napier our greatest Military Historian and who had himself fought in 30 Battles for his country honoured the little compendiums with his highest approbation & so by thro’ the treatises me with his friendship wh: I esteemed most highly for I knew him to be a stubborn Enemy to vice, a steadfast friend to merit a just and faithful servant to his country I knew the honest loved his virtue & the dishonest feared his Valour for while he lived he did not shun but scorned & spurned the base & tho’ he lived under a Monarchy like his brother General Sir Charles Napier Commander in Chief of the British Armies & Conqueror of Seinde was in heart a Republican--

2 Turenne was a prominent French military commander during the 17th century.

I can assure you we have very many more Republicans this side the water than you have any idea of: look at the magnificent reception we gave Garibaldi; no Emperor in the World would have been received with a millionth part the enthusiasm; I was absent in France myself but two of my nieces accepted the invitation sent to me & were duly kissed & presented with flowers as memorials they are enthusiastic Garibaldians & what is Garibaldi except the Symbol of Republicanism Horace Greely sent me a most kind letter of Introduction to your Ambassador at Constanple he was very kind to me & gave me a book he had written-- Our Ambassador too was very kind & in fact I received the greatest kindness from everybody-- I have made a most attentive investigation of the state of public feeling in Turkey Greece Italy France & Switzerland & will give you a brief résumé on which you may depend--

The Turks Arabs & all the Mahomedan tribes hate the Emperor of the French & no doubt serious war may be expected in Algeria & along the whole of Northern Africa--

The Greeks hate the Emperor of the French

1st Because he supports the Pope who the Greeks think the Greatest enemy of their Religion to which they are begotted

2nd Because the Emperor has bullied them & they have taken entirely to the British Alliance

The Italians hate the Emperor of the French with such hatred as only Italians perhaps can feel

1st Because they say he gave money to Italian soldiers to shoot Garibaldi or rather that Brigands dressed as soldiers payed with French Gold did the act of assassination (I am myself fully persuaded they are right in that)

2. Because he keeps their Capital Rome away from them & has done all he could to keep up confusion & brigandage; to disunite & enslave them instead of united & liberating them--

3 Because breaking his solemn promise he betrayed them after the Victories of Montebello Magenta & Solferino to gaining which they had most largely contributed--

4 Because the Italians are Republicans & the Emperor is the perjured destroyer of European Republicanism (The man is doing his best to be now the destroyer of American Republicanism)

The Swiss hate Napoleon because they are Republicans & good ones & know him to be the treacherous enemy of Liberty--

But what is more important than all the rest & is by the blessing of the Great Being perfectly true--

The French people & the French Army are heartily sick of Napoleon-- From long practice I speak French nearly the same as English & had excellent opportunities for acquiring information both going thro France returning & again on my late visit--

I am astounded at the state of things; I never could have beleived it-- On my saying a word about the Emperor of Mexico peasants farmers bourgeois private Soldiers & Officers go off into torrents of invective against the Emperor such as I could hardly have imagined & that in the presence of an Englishman-- Such days as those of Louis 16th & Marie Antionette may not be so distant as people suppose-- The French are a fierce fiery & haughty race & I can only look on the Emperor as sitting on the top of a Volcano in imminent danger of Eruption-- You will naturally like to know what the French themselves put forward as their principal grievances--

1 For each of the last 3 years the Conscription has been 100,000 men a year the previous maximum having been only 40,000--

2 One hundred thousand have been sent to Mexico (& the French hate sea voyages) of which only 55,000 at most remain alive--

3. That the Regiments sent to Mexico were selected as being the most Republican the most Legitimist or the most Orleanist & the & the Buonapartist regiments kept at home--

4. That Republicans Ligitimist & Orleanist Officers were unfairly exchanged into the doomed regiments

5. That the Luxury Vice & Extravagance of the Court is beyond measure of the finances of the Country are seriously suffering therefrom

6 That the turbulent policy of the Emperor is resussitating the Holy Alliance -- viz Prussia, Austria & Russia against France (there is no doubt this is quite true)-- The French don’t like to be brought without cause into a War with 3 Nations at a time & they think I beleive with justice if with 3 then with 4 fearful odds -- also Italy that makes 5 then the whole Mahometan population of Africa with Turkey 6-- A very poor look out--

I am glad Mr Stanton is no longer Minister of War because after yr kind letter I thought he might have allowed me to have gone & chatted with yr officers if I had done no good I shd certainly not have done any harm--3 I could not understand his conduct--

With the expression of my very best wishes for yrself & country

3 Lincoln had given Yates a letter of introduction to Secretary of War Stanton in 1863. Apparently this letter did not enable Yates to visit the Union Army and Yates wrote to Lincoln in May 1864 under the misapprehension that Stanton had been removed from the cabinet. See Collected Works, VI, 80-81.

Yrs. truly



Edwd Yates
d3286300

Document: Benjamin B. French to Abraham Lincoln, May 5, 1864 [With Endorsement by Lincoln]1



1 The content of this letter is revealing of public reaction to Lincoln’s April 4, 1864 letter to Albert G. Hodges.

May 5th. 1864

My Dear Sir,

I have a son Francis O. French, who is Deputy Collector in the Boston Custom House, & who has the reputation of being one of the most promising young men in that vicinity. He is a shrewd observer of men and things, & reads every thing he can get hold of. Thus situated he is likely to form correct opinions, & I think you will be pleased to read the following brief extract from a letter read by me, from him yesterday.

“One feature of the week has been the President’s letter to Mr. Hodges.

The President is immensely popular, and every expression he gives to his policy is shrewdly worded, and still so openly and frankly put that he compels popularity from those who wavered before. Radicals, even, like the “concession” -- as they call it -- of putting slavery on a par with other evil, with which his letter tersely opens. It is clear the President is not a leader of opinion, but, keeping well up with average opinion he seems to the host to direct events on whose tide he merely floats. Perhaps it is as well and safe for us that we have not a man who would strive to mould events, for few of us can name a man in whose single judgment we would trust in solving the problem that so perplexes us. There is one thing that must be cleared up and made right, and that is that the negro in uniform is a soldier of the United States and must be treated as such, both by ourselves in making payment for his services, and by an enemy that undertakes to dictate whom we shall employ.”

My son is one of your warmest supporters & admirers, & I feel a deep pride in knowing that he is so, for, if there is one thing that I hope and pray for more than any other, it is that you may again be triumphantly elected to the Presidency, to bring about which no man will strive harder than I will.

Most truly & faithfully

your friend

B. B. French

[Endorsed on Envelope by Lincoln:]

French--
d3287300

Document: Smith Pyne to Abraham Lincoln, May 5, 1864 [With Endorsement by Lincoln]1



1 Pyne was pastor at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington. Admiral Charles Wilkes, the subject of Pyne’s letter, first gained national fame in 1861 when, as captain of the U. S. S. San Jacinto, he stopped the British ship Trent in international waters and apprehended two Confederate diplomats bound for Europe. Wilkes’ action nearly led to war with Britain but cooler heads prevailed and a diplomatic agreement was reached. In 1864 Admiral Wilkes was court martialed and found guilty of insubordination for releasing correspondence with Navy Secretary Welles to the press. Wilkes was given a reprimand and suspended from the service for three years. Orville H. Browning (Wilkes’ defense counsel) and Thomas Ewing lobbied Lincoln to reduce the sentence. In December 1864 Lincoln decided to remit the remainder of Wilkes’s suspension, much to the chagrin of Secretary Welles. See Collected Works, VII, 342-43, VIII, 182; and Howard K. Beale ed. Diary of Gideon Welles (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1960), Vol. II, 203.

204 I Street May 5th 1864

My dear Sir

On my return from New York I find in the papers the sentence on Adml Wilkes-- I hope, Sir, I am only anticipating your action in this matter that such a sentence will not be confirmed by you. With regard to the publication of that letter I know that Adml Wilkes had nothing to do with it. I admit that it was unjustifiable and consider my old friend liable to censure for leaving it in anyone’s power to commit such an indiscretion. Censure but nothing more--

I have never yet made a personal demand on you. In the mediocrity of my ability and station I feel how little claim I have. Still I have done what I could for my country, and it is as much for the benefit of the public service as from my old friendship for Adml W. that I now earnestly entreat that this sentence be modified if not cancelled. If over zeal be punished in the person of Adml W, I think that at this moment the damage accruing will outweigh any vindication of discipline-- Excuse this hasty appeal as I write under the pressure of engagements, and let me hope that one more item will be added to the amount of obligation and attachment by which I have long felt myself bound to you both in your official and personal character.

I have the honor

to remain with very

sincere respect & affection

Your obdt Sevt

Smith Pyne

[Endorsed on Envelope by Lincoln:]

Admiral Wilkes.


d3287800

Document: William T. Sherman to Abraham Lincoln, May 5, 18641



1 Sherman’s General Orders No. 8, issued on April 19, 1864, stipulated that provisions would no longer be distributed to civilians at military posts located south of Nashville. The orders also prohibited the sale of provisions to civilians who were not employed by the government. Loyal Unionists in East Tennessee petitioned Lincoln that this order was too harsh and would cause many to starve. After receiving this petition Lincoln telegraphed Sherman on May 5 and asked the general if something could be done to help alleviate the suffering of the citizens in East Tennessee. See East Tennessee Citizens to Lincoln, April 23, 1864 and Collected Works, VII, 330.

The following Telegram received at Washington, 1115 A M. May 5 1864.

From Chattanooga

Dated, May 5 1864.

We have worked hard with the best talent of the Country & it is demonstrated that the railroad cannot supply the army & the people too, one or the other must quit & the Army don’t intend to unless Joe Johnston makes us. The issues to citizens have been enormous & the same weight of corn or oats would have saved thousands of the mules whose carcasses now corduroy the roads and which we need so much. We have paid back to East Tenn. ten for one of provisions taken in war. I will not change my order and I beg of you to be satisfied that the clamor is partly a humbug & for effect, & to test it I advise you to tell the bearers of the appeal to hurry to Kentucky & make up a caravan of cattle & wagons & to come over by Cumberland Gap and Somerset to relieve their suffering friends We on foot as they used to do before a railroad was built Tell them they have no time to lose, We can relieve all actual suffering by each company or regiment giving of their Savings, every man who is willing to fight and work gets all ration, & all who won’t fight or work should go away and we offer them free transportation.

W. T. Sherman

Maj. Gen.
d3288300

Document: Edwin M. Stanton to Abraham Lincoln, May 5, 18641



1 Lincoln convened a meeting of his cabinet on May 3 and requested each member to submit a written opinion that recommended a course of action for the government to take in response to the massacre of black soldiers at Fort Pillow, Tennessee on April 12. See Lincoln to William H. Seward, May 3, 1864 and Lincoln to Cabinet, May 3, 1864.

Washington City,

May 5th 1864

Sir:


Upon the question propounded to my consideration by you, I have the honor to submit the following opinion:

First: That of the rebel officers now held as prisoners by the United States, there should be selected by lot a number equal to the number of persons ascertained to have been massacred at Fort Pillow, who should be immediately placed in close confinement as hostages, to await such further action as may be determined.

Second: That Generals Forrest and Chalmers,2 and all officers and men known, or who may hereafter be ascertained to have been concerned in the massacre of Fort Pillow, be excluded by the Presidents Special Order, from the benefit of his amnesty, and also that they by his order be exempted from all privilege of exchange or other rights as prisoners of war, and shall, if they fall into our hands, be subjected to trial, and such punishment as may be awarded for their barbarous and inhuman violation of the laws of war towards the officers and soldiers of the United States at Fort Pillow.

2 Nathan Bedford Forrest and James R. Chalmers

Third: That the rebel authorities at Richmond be notified that the prisoners so selected, are held as hostages, for the delivery up of Generals Forrest and Chalmers and those concerned in the massacre at Fort Pillow, or to answer in their stead, and that in case of their non delivery within a reasonable time, to be specified in the notice, such measures will be taken in reference to the hostages by way of retributory punishment for the massacre at Fort Pillow, as are justified by the laws of civilized warfare.

Fourth: That after the lapse of a reasonable time, for the delivery up of Forrest, Chalmers, and those concerned in the massacre, the President proceed to take against the hostages above selected, such measures as may, under the state of things then existing, be essential for the protection of union soldiers from such savage barbarities as were practised at Fort Pillow, and threatened at other places, and to compel the rebels to observe the laws of civilized warfare in respect to the soldiers and officers in the United States service.

Fifth: That the practise of releasing without exchange or equivalent, rebel prisoners taken in battle, be discontinued, and no such privilege or immunity be extended to rebels, while our prisoners are undergoing ferocious barbarity, or the more horrible death of starvation.

Sixth: That precisely the same rations and treatment, be from henceforth practised in reference to the whole number of rebel officers, remaining in our hands, that are practised against either soldiers or officers in our service, held by the rebels.

My reasons for selecting the officers instead of privates, for retaliatory punishment, are: First, because the rebels have selected white officers of colored regiments, and excluded them from the benefit of the laws of war, for no other reason than that they command special troops, and that having thus discriminated against the officers of the United States service, their officers should be held responsible for the discrimination, and Second, because it is known that a large portion of the privates in the rebel Army are forced there by conscription, and are held in arms by terror, and rigorous punishment from their own officers. The whole weight of retaliatory punishment therefore, should in my opinion be made to fall upon the officers of the rebel army, more especially as they alone are the class whose feelings are at all regarded in the rebel states, or who can have any interest or influence in bringing about more humane conduct on the part of the rebel authorities.

A serious objection against the release of prisoners or war who apply to be enlarged, is that they belong to influential families, who through representatives in Congress, and other influential persons, are enabled to make interest with the government. They are the class who, instead of receiving indulgence, ought, in my opinion, to be made to feel the heaviest burthens of the war brought upon them by their own crimes.3

3 At a cabinet meeting on May 6, each member read his opinion on the case and after receiving this advice, Lincoln began to draft a set of instructions for Stanton to implement in response to the massacre. Apparently Lincoln became distracted by other matters, such as Grant’s campaign against Lee and these instructions were neither completed nor submitted to the War Department. For the written opinions of the cabinet, see Edward Bates to Lincoln, May 4, 1864; William H.
Seward to Lincoln, May 5, 1864; Gideon Welles to Lincoln, May 5, 1864; Montgomery Blair to Lincoln, May 6, 1864; Salmon P. Chase to Lincoln, May 6, 1864; and John P. Usher to Lincoln, May 6, 1864. For Lincoln’s unfinished instructions to Stanton, see Collected Works, VII, 345-46. For an account of the May 6 cabinet meeting, see Howard K. Beale ed. Diary of Gideon Welles (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1960), Vol. 2, 24-25.

I have the honor to be

Very respectfully

Your Obedient Servant

Edwin M Stanton

Secretary of War.


d3288800

Document: Gideon Welles to Abraham Lincoln, May 5, 18641



1 Lincoln convened a meeting of his cabinet on May 3 and requested each member to submit a written opinion that recommended a course of action for the government to take in response to the massacre of black soldiers at Fort Pillow, Tennessee on April 12. See Lincoln to William H. Seward, May 3, 1864 and Lincoln to Cabinet, May 3, 1864.

Navy Department,

May 5th 1864.

Sir:--


I have not seen or heard the evidence which has been taken in regard to the massacre of our soldiers at Fort Pillow after they had surrendered. It being an admitted fact, however, that there was such butchery, prompt and decisive measures should be taken to prevent its recurrence. It is difficult to say how this is to be done.

We hear in various ways that the rebels intend to give no quarter to the colored soldiers in the Union ranks, but that an indiscriminate slaughter of them shall take place whenever a victory is obtained by the rebels, as at Fort Pillow. Such a vindictive warfare towards a whole race, will unavoidably provoke retaliation by the race proscribed. The persecuted will become equally unrelenting towards their persecutors and if not checked a war of extermination will be the consequence. No human effort will be wholly able to restrain the barbarous slaughter of the blacks on the one hand and rebels on the other after it shall have been once inaugurated. It must, therefore, be prevented at the outset. If not stopped the consequences will be terribly retributive on those who introduced it, as well as cruel to the negroes.

The government should, therefore, interpose, and spare no exertions to prevent a repetition of the outrage. The officer in command and such others as are known to have participated with him should be held accountable for the murders and punished accordingly. We cannot rely upon the rebel authorities doing this; still it should be required of them and also a disavowal of the barbarous policy. The rebel leaders will hardly assume the responsibility of justifying these murders. In the absence of definite information as to whether the policy of granting no quarter to the colored soldiers in the Union armies is recognized and approved by the rebel authorities, it is advisable to proceed deliberately but decisively. Opportunity should be given to the rebels to disavow and disclaim the massacre at Fort Pillow. This disavowal should be promptly made. In the event of neglect or refusal no remedy presents itself to my mind but that of placing in close custody one or more of the rebel officers to be held accountable, and if necessary, to be punished for this inhumanity. It is the duty of the government to protect its soldiers from butchery when captured, no matter what may be their color, or where their residence. In interposing its authority to shield the negro who surrenders and in striving to restrain the rebels within the limits of civilised warfare, the Union armies, whites as well as blacks may become involved in this merciless conflict, though I trust by a wise, firm and judicious policy such a result may be avoided and a repetition of the massacre at Fort Pillow be prevented.

I would therefore suggest--

1. That the rebel authorities be called upon to avow or disavow the policy of killing the negro soldiers in the Union army after they shall have surrendered.

2. That they be required to bring to punishment the officers in command of the rebel forces at Fort Pillow at the time of the massacre.

3. In the event of refusal to punish the officer who was in command or a disavowal of the policy of killing Union soldiers after they have surrendered, that rebel officers be taken into close custody and held accountable for the conduct of the War by the rebels on humane and civilised principles.

These crude and immatured suggestions -- unsatisfactory to myself for a question of such grave importance -- are submitted without having yet seen the evidence taken by the committee or heard the explanations of the rebels -- both of which are necessary -- as well as more deliberate reflection before coming to a final conclusion on a subject of such responsibility.2



2 At a cabinet meeting on May 6, each member read his opinion on the case and after receiving this advice, Lincoln began to draft a set of instructions for Stanton to implement in response to the massacre. Apparently Lincoln became distracted by other matters, such as Grant’s campaign against Lee and these instructions were neither completed nor submitted to the War Department. For the written opinions of the cabinet, see Edward Bates to Lincoln, May 4, 1864; William H. Seward to Lincoln, May 5, 1864; Edwin M. Stanton to Lincoln, May 5, 1864; Montgomery Blair to Lincoln, May 6, 1864; Salmon P. Chase to Lincoln, May 6, 1864; and John P. Usher to Lincoln, May 6, 1864. For Lincoln’s unfinished instructions to Stanton, see Collected Works, VII, 345-346. For an account of the May 6 cabinet meeting, see Howard K. Beale ed. Diary of Gideon Welles (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1960), Vol. 2, 24-25.

Very Respectfully,

Your obdt servt.

Gideon Welles

Secretary of the Navy.
d3289200

Document: Montgomery Blair to Abraham Lincoln, May 6, 18641



1 Lincoln convened a meeting of his cabinet on May 3 and requested each member to submit a written opinion that recommended a course of action for the government to take in response to the massacre of black soldiers at Fort Pillow, Tennessee on April 12. See Lincoln to William H. Seward, May 3, 1864 and Lincoln to Cabinet, May 3, 1864.

Washington, May 6, 1864

Dear Sir;

There are two reasons which would prevent me from ordering the execution of prisoners, man for man, in retaliation for the masacre at Fort Pillow.



First: That I do not think the measure would be justified by the rules of civilized warfare even in a contest between alien Enemies.

Second: Because, even if allowable in such a contest, it would not be just in itself or expedient in the present contest.

I shall not be able for want of time to dwell on either of these propositions and have not been able to make any extended research to sustain myself by authority in respect to the first -- nor is it necessary, ch: 18, p.445 of Hallecks treatise & authorities there cited being conclusive I will dismiss the consideration of that point therefore by saying that if we have not felt authorized to retaliate on the Indians for the masacre’s of our white citizens or soldiers by the masacre of prisoners taken from them in the fight or to execute them afterwards, why should we take a different course with the Confederates for the masacre of our Soldiers black or white

But in dealing with this or any other business we should aim to be just-- Now, I maintain that it would not be just to execute the common soldiers of the Confederate army to retaliate for such enormities as that at Fort Pillow.-- I think it can be demonstrated both by the history of the manner in which the rebellion was precipitated and by the course of events during the continuance, that the mass of the people at the South and of the Army have but little share in the guilt and should not be held responsible for its horrors-- It would not be just therefore to masacre or to execute them after capture.-- It would not be politic if not just -- and I believe it would be playing into of the hands of the rebel chiefs for us to take this course-- They see, as we do, how little the hearts of this class of their people are in the war by the numerous desertions which take place from their armies and by the readiness with which they return to their allegiance wherever there is the least assurance of protection-- They no doubt hope that if we retaliate by the execution of their common soldiers for their masacres that they can inflame this class of their people & soldiers against the people & cause of the Union. I should therefore direct all measures of retaliation against the class which is alone responsible for this cruel butchery.

And the inclination of my mind is to pursue the actual offenders alone in such cases as the present.-- To order the most energetic measures for the capture and the most summary punishment when captured.

The nature of the crime is such as sooner or later to insure the punishment of the offenders-- They cannot escape by flying to foreign lands for all civilized nations will aid in bringing them to punishment. A proclamation or order that the guilty individuals are to be hunted down, will have far greater terrors and be far more effectual to prevent the repetition of the crime than the punishment of parties not concerned in that crime-- [


Directory: mss -> mal -> maltext -> rtf orig
rtf orig -> Document: Ohio and Illinois General Assemblies, Resolutions for Gradual Emancipation of Slaves, 1824 and 1825
rtf orig -> Document: Alexander K. McClure to Abraham Lincoln, June 30, 1863
rtf orig -> Document: Thomas Corwin to Abraham Lincoln, September 6, 1864
rtf orig -> Document: Harriet Chapman to Abraham Lincoln, January 17, 1865
rtf orig -> Document: Mary C. W. Wadsworth to Abraham Lincoln, July 4, 1864 [With Endorsement by Lincoln]
rtf orig -> Document: Isachar Zacharie to Abraham Lincoln, April 25, 1863
rtf orig -> Document: Abraham Lincoln to Mary Mann, April 5, 1864 [Draft]
rtf orig -> Document: Edwin M. Stanton to Abraham Lincoln, November 18, 1863
rtf orig -> Document: Jesse K. Dubois and Ozias M. Hatch to Abraham Lincoln, September 16, 1863 Springfield Sept 16. 1863
rtf orig -> Document: Joseph Butler to Abraham Lincoln, January 10, 1861


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