To Henry W. Halleck

Major General Halleck Executive Mansion,
St. Louis, Mo. Washington, Feb. 16, 1862

You have Fort Donelson safe, unless Grant shall be overwhelmed from outside, to prevent which latter will, I think, require all the vigilance, energy, and skill of yourself & Buell, acting in full cooperation. Columbus will not get at Grant, but the the [sic] force from Bowling—Green will. They hold the Railroad from Bowling—Green to within a few miles of Donelson, with the Bridge at Clarksburg [Clarksville] undisturbed. It is unsafe to rely that they will not dare to expose Nashville to Buell. A small part of their force can retire slowly towards Nashville, breaking up the Railroad as they go, and keep Buell out of that city twenty days. Mean time Nashville will be abundantly defended by forces from all South & perhaps from here at Manassas. Could not a cavalry force from Gen. Thomas on the upper Cumberland, dash across, almost unresisted, and cut the Railroad at or near Knoxville, Tenn.? In the midst of a bombardment at Donnelson, why could not a Gunboat run up and destroy the Bridge at Clarksburg [Clarksville]? Our success or failure at Donnelson is vastly important; and I beg you to put your soul in the effort. I send a copy to Buell.



To the Senate and House of Representatives

February 15, 1862

To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States:—

The Third Section of the “Act further to promote the efficiency of the Navy,” approved 21st. December 1861, provides,

“That the President of the United States, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall have the authority to detail from the retired list of the Navy for the command of Squadrons and single ships such officers as he may believe that the good of the service requires to be thus placed in command; and such officers may, if upon the recommendation of the President of the United States, they shall receive a vote of thanks of Congress for their services and gallantry in action against an enemy, be restored to the active list and not otherwise.”

In conformity with this law Captain Louis M. Goldsborough, of the Navy, was nominated to the Senate for continuance as the Flag Officer in command of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, which recently rendered such important service to the Union in the expedition to the Coast of North Carolina.

Believing that no occasion could arise which would more fully correspond with the intention of the law or be more pregnant with happy influence as an example, I cordially recommend that Captain Louis M. Goldsborough, receive a vote of thanks of Congress for his services and gallantry displayed in the combined attack of the Forces commanded by him and Brigadier General Burnside in the capture of Roanoke Island and the destruction of Rebel Gun Boats, on the 7th., 8th. and 10th. February 1862.

Washington City, ABRAHAM LINCOLN

15 February 1862.

A joint resolution giving thanks to Louis M. Goldsborough was approved July 11, 1862; his appointment as flag officer was confirmed by the Senate on March 6.

Executive Order No. 1, Relating To Political Prisoners

[The following link will take you to another blog where you’ll find the relevant order.  This order is not in the Collected Works which is why I didn’t post it.  I don’t know why it’s not there.  Could it have, in fact, been written by Stanton? -Ed.]

American Civil War: Executive Order No. 1, Relating to Political Prisoners

To David Hunter and James H. Lane

Gen. Hunter Executive Mansion,
Leavenworth, Kansas. Washington, Feb. 10, 1862.

My wish has been,—and is, to avail the government of the services of both Gen. Hunter and Gen. Lane; &, so far as possible, to personally oblige both. Gen. Hunter is the senior officer, and must command when they serve together; though, in so far as he can, consistently with the public service, and his own honor, oblige Gen. Lane, he will also oblige me. If they can not come to an amicable understanding, Gen. Lane must report to Gen. Hunter for duty, according to the rules, or decline the service.


Although the autograph letter in the Lincoln Papers is addressed only to Hunter, the Official Records has this letter addressed to both generals. General Hunter wrote Stanton on February 1, 1862, that Lane had not accepted the appointment as brigadier general and that “on his arrival. . . he stated. . . that he was ‘my visitor as a Senator of the United States and a member of the Senate Military Committee’ . . . . I find myself compelled. . . to request that some definite character shall be given to Senator Lane. . . . I am satisfied that Senator Lane feels aggrieved and disappointed. . . at the position to which his acceptance of his commission would assign him.” Hunter also wrote Lincoln on February 4, asking that Lane be “called upon either to accept his position as Brigadier General and report for duty, or have his appointment to that position withdrawn, or be transferred to some other Department. . . .” See also Lincoln to Stanton, January 31.

To George B. McClellan

Major Genl. McClellan Executive Mansion,
My dear Sir— Washington, Feb, 8, 1862

Have you any farther news from the West?

Have you heard from the Canal-boats?

Have you determined, as yet, upon the contemplated movement we last talked of? Yours truly A. LINCOLN

McClellan replied on the same day “Saturday Evng,” “I had a long conversation with Genl Hooker about the roads etc in the region we were speaking of, & would beg until Monday morning to give a final opinion. I have not yet heard from the canal boats above. The experiment of arranging the two will be completed on Monday, when I can make the necessary calculations with exactness. I have nothing new from Halleck or Buell tonight. . . .”. Lincoln’s plan to use canal boats coupled together to form a bridge across the Potomac at Liverpool Point (near Harpers Ferry) proved impossible when the boats proved to be too wide by some four or six inches to permit their passage through the lift lock.

Stay of Execution for Nathaniel Gordon

February 4, 1862

Abraham Lincoln,

President of the United States of America,

To all to whom these Presents shall come Greeting:

Whereas, it appears that at a Term of the Circuit Court of the United States of America for the Southern District of New York held in the month of November A.D. 1861, Nathaniel Gordon was indicted and convicted for being engaged in the Slave Trade, and was by the said Court sentenced to be put to death by hanging by the neck, on Friday the 7th. day of February, A.D. 1862;

And whereas, a large number of respectable citizens have earnestly besought me to commute the said sentence of the said Nathaniel Gordon to a term of imprisonment for life, which application I have felt it to be my duty to refuse;

And whereas, it has seemed to me probable that the unsuccessful application made for the commutation of his sentence may have prevented the said Nathaniel Gordon from making the necessary preparation for the awful change which awaits him:

Now, therefore, be it known, that I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America, have granted and do hereby grant unto him, the said Nathaniel Gordon, a respite of the above recited sentence, until Friday the twenty-first day of February, A.D. 1862, between the hours of twelve o’clock at noon and three o’clock in the afternoon of the said day, when the said sentence shall be executed.

In granting this respite, it becomes my painful duty to admonish the prisoner that, relinquishing all expectation of pardon by Human Authority, he refer himself alone to the mercy of the common God and Father of all men.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto signed my name and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.


Done at the City of Washington, this Fourth day of February A.D. 1862, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-sixth.

By the President: ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

WILLIAM H. SEWARD Secretary of State.

To George B. McClellan

Executive Mansion,
Major General McClellan Washington, Feb. 3, 1862.

My dear Sir: You and I have distinct, and different plans for a movement of the Army of the Potomac—yours to be down the Chesapeake, up the Rappahannock to Urbana, and across land to the terminus of the Railroad on the York River—, mine to move directly to a point on the Railroad South West of Manassas.

If you will give me satisfactory answers to the following questions, I shall gladly yield my plan to yours.

1st. Does not your plan involve a greatly larger expenditure of time, and money than mine?

2nd. Wherein is a victory more certain by your plan than mine?

3rd. Wherein is a victory more valuable by your plan than mine?

4th. In fact, would it not be less valuable, in this, that it would break no great line of the enemie’s communications, while mine would?

5th. In case of disaster, would not a safe retreat be more difficult by your plan than by mine? Yours truly A. LINCOLN

[Memorandum accompanying Letter of President to General McClellan, dated February 3, 1862]

1. Suppose the enemy should attack us in force before we reach the Ocoquan, what? In view of the possibility of this, might it not be safest to have our entire force to move together from above the Ocoquan.

2. Suppose the enemy, in force, shall dispute the crossing of the Ocoquan, what? In view of this, might it not be safest for us to cross the Ocoquan at Colchester rather than at the village of Ocoquan? This would cost the enemy two miles more of travel to meet us, but would, on the contrary, leave us two miles further from our ultimate destination.

3. Suppose we reach Maple valley without an attack, will we not be attacked there, in force, by the enemy marching by the several roads from Manassas? and if so, what?