To Oliver P. Morton

Washington, D.C. Sep. 29, 1861

His Excellency Gov. O. P. Morton: Your letter by the hand of Mr. Prunk was received yesterday. I write this letter because I wish you to believe of us (as we certainly believe of you) that we are doing the very best we can. You do not receive arms from us as fast as you need them; but it is because we have not near enough to meet all the pressing demands; and we are obliged to share around what we have, sending the larger share to the points which appear to need them most. We have great hope that our own supply will be ample before long, so that you and all others can have as many as you need. I see an article in an Indianapolis newspaper denouncing me for not answering your letter sent by a special messenger two or three weeks ago. I did make what I thought the best answer I could to that letter. As I remember, it asked for ten heavy guns to be distributed, with some troops, at Lawrenceburgh, Madison, New-Albany and Evansville; and I ordered the guns, and directed you to send the troops if you had them.

As to Kentucky, you do not estimate that state as more important than I do; but I am compelled to watch all points. While I write this I am, if not in range, at least in hearing of cannon-shot, from an army of enemies more than a hundred thousand strong. I do not expect them to capture this city; but I know they would, if I were to send the men and arms from here, to defend Louisville, of which there is not a single hostile armed soldier within forty miles, nor any force known to be moving upon it from any distance.

It is true, the Army in our front may make a half circle around Southward, and move on Louisville; but when they do, we will make a half circle around Northward, and meet them; and in the mean time we will get up what forces we can from other sources to also meet them.

I hope Zollicoffer has left Cumberland Gap (though I fear he has not) because, if he has, I rather infer he did it because of his dred of Camp Dick Robinson, re-inforced from Cincinnati, moving on him, than because of his intention to move on Louisville, But if he does go round and re-inforce Buckner, let Dick Robinson come round and re-inforce Sherman, and the thing is substantially as it was when Zollicoffer left Cumberland Gap. I state this as an illustration; for in fact, I think if the Gap is left open to us Dick Robinson should take it and hold it; while Indiana, and the vicinity of Louisville in Kentucky, can re-inforce Sherman faster than Zollicoffer can Buckner.

You requested that Lt. Col. Wood, of the Army, should be appointed a Brigadier General I will only say that very formidable objection has been made to this from Indiana. Yours very truly A. LINCOLN


To Orville H. Browning

Private & confidential.
Hon. O. H. Browning Executive Mansion Washington
My dear Sir Sept 22d 1861.

Yours of the 17th is just received; and coming from you, I confess it astonishes me. That you should object to my adhering to a law, which you had assisted in making, and presenting to me, less than a month before, is odd enough. But this is a very small part. Genl. Fremont’s proclamation, as to confiscation of property, and the liberation of slaves, is purely political, and not within the range of military law, or necessity. If a commanding General finds a necessity to seize the farm of a private owner, for a pasture, an encampment, or a fortification, he has the right to do so, and to so hold it, as long as the necessity lasts; and this is within military law, because within military necessity. But to say the farm shall no longer belong to the owner, or his heirs forever; and this as well when the farm is not needed for military purposes as when it is, is purely political, without the savor of military law about it. And the same is true of slaves. If the General needs them, he can seize them, and use them; but when the need is past, it is not for him to fix their permanent future condition. That must be settled according to laws made by law-makers, and not by military proclamations. The proclamation in the point in question, is simply “dictatorship.” It assumes that the general may do anything he pleases—confiscate the lands and free the slaves of loyal people, as well as of disloyal ones. And going the whole figure I have no doubt would be more popular with some thoughtless people, than that which has been done! But I cannot assume this reckless position; nor allow others to assume it on my responsibility. You speak of it as being the only means of saving the government. On the contrary it is itself the surrender of the government. Can it be pretended that it is any longer the government of the U.S.—any government of Constitution and laws,—wherein a General, or a President, may make permanent rules of property by proclamation?

I do not say Congress might not with propriety pass a law, on the point, just such as General Fremont proclaimed. I do not say I might not, as a member of Congress, vote for it. What I object to, is, that I as President, shall expressly or impliedly seize and exercise the permanent legislative functions of the government.

So much as to principle. Now as to policy. No doubt the thing was popular in some quarters, and would have been more so if it had been a general declaration of emancipation. The Kentucky Legislature would not budge till that proclamation was modified; and Gen. Anderson telegraphed me that on the news of Gen. Fremont having actually issued deeds of manumission, a whole company of our Volunteers threw down their arms and disbanded. I was so assured, as to think it probable, that the very arms we had furnished Kentucky would be turned against us. I think to lose Kentucky is nearly the same as to lose the whole game. Kentucky gone, we can not hold Missouri, nor, as I think, Maryland. These all against us, and the job on our hands is too large for us. We would as well consent to separation at once, including the surrender of this capitol. On the contrary, if you will give up your restlessness for new positions, and back me manfully on the grounds upon which you and other kind friends gave me the election, and have approved in my public documents, we shall go through triumphantly.

You must not understand I took my course on the proclamation because of Kentucky. I took the same ground in a private letter to General Fremont before I heard from Kentucky.

You think I am inconsistent because I did not also forbid Gen. Fremont to shoot men under the proclamation. I understand that part to be within military law; but I also think, and so privately wrote Gen. Fremont, that it is impolitic in this, that our adversaries have the power, and will certainly exercise it, to shoot as many of our men as we shoot of theirs. I did not say this in the public letter, because it is a subject I prefer not to discuss in the hearing of our enemies.

There has been no thought of removing Gen. Fremont on any ground connected with his proclamation; and if there has been any wish for his removal on any ground, our mutual friend Sam. Glover can probably tell you what it was. I hope no real necessity for it exists on any ground.

Suppose you write to Hurlbut and get him to resign.Your friend as ever A. LINCOLN

To Simon Cameron

Hon. Sec. of War Executive Mansion Sept. 18. 1861

My dear Sir: To guard against misunderstanding I think fit to say that the joint expedition of the Army and Navy agreed upon some time since, and in which Gen. T. W. Sherman was and is to bear a conspicuous part, is in no wise to be abandoned, but must be ready to move by the first of, or very early in, October. Let all preparations go forward accordingly. Yours truly A. LINCOLN

To Gideon Welles

Hon. Sec. of Navy. Executive Mansion Sept. 18, 1861

My dear Sir To guard against misunderstanding I think fit to say that the joint expedition of the Army and Navy, agreed upon some time since, and in which Gen. T. W. Sherman was, and is to bear a conspicuous part, is in nowise to be abandoned, but must be ready to move by the first of, or very early in October. Let all preparations go forward accordingly. Yours truly

[ See the same letter to Cameron]

To Winfield Scott

September 17, 1861

Will Lieut. Gen. Scott please consider, and inform me what can be, and ought to be done as a recognition of the gallantry of the officers who fought with Gen. Lyon at Wilson’s creek?

Sep. 17. 1861. A LINCOLN

To Winfield Scott

Executive Mansion,
Washington, D.C.,
Lieutenant-General Scott: September 16, 1861.

My dear Sir: Since conversing with you I have concluded to request you to frame an order for recruiting North Carolinians at Fort Hatteras. I suggest it be so framed as for us to accept a smaller force—even a company—if we cannot get a regiment or more. What is necessary to now say about officers, you will judge. Governor Seward says he has a nephew (Clarence A. Seward, I believe) who would be willing to go and play colonel and assist in raising the force. Still, it is to be considered whether the North Carolinians will not prefer officers of their own. I should expect they would. Yours very truly, A. LINCOLN.

To Robert Anderson

Genl. R. Anderson [September 16, 1861]

Louisville, Ky. from Washington

From what you telegraph to-day, I think you better take active command in Kentucky at once. War Department will telegraph you about arms to-morrow. A. LINCOLN