To Henry W. Halleck

Steamer Baltimore
Major General Halleck Off Acquia Creek, Va
Sir: Nov. 27. 1862

I have just had a long conference with Gen. Burnside. He believes that Gen. Lees whole army, or nearly the whole of it is in front of him, at and near Fredericksburg. Gen. B. says he could take into battle now any day, about, one hundred and ten thousand men, that his army is in good spirit, good condition, good moral, and that in all respects he is satisfied with officers and men; that he does not want more men with him, because he could not handle them to advantage; that he thinks he can cross the river in face of the enemy and drive him away, but that, to use his own expression, it is somewhat risky. I wish the case to stand more favorable than this in two respects. First, I wish his crossing of the river to be nearly free from risk; and secondly, I wish the enemy to be prevented from falling back, accumulating strength as he goes, into his intrenchments at Richmond. I therefore propose that Gen. B. shall not move immediately; that we accumulate a force on the South bank of the Rappahanock—at, say, Port-Royal, under protection of one or two gun-boats, as nearly up to twentyfive thousand strong as we can. At the same time another force of about the same strength as high up the Pamunkey, as can be protected by gunboats. These being ready, let all three forces move simultaneously, Gen. B.’s force in it’s attempt to cross the river, the Rappahanock force moving directly up the South side of the river to his assistance, and ready, if found admissable, to deflect off to the turnpike bridge over the Mattapony in the direction of Richmond. The Pamunkey force to move as rapidly as possible up the North side of the Pamunkey, holding all the bridges, and especially the turnpike bridge immediately North of Hanover C.H; hurry North, and seize and hold the Mattapony bridge before mentioned, and also, if possible, press higher up the streams and destroy the railroad bridges. Then, if Gen. B. succeeds in driving the enemy from Fredericksburg, he the enemy no longer has the road to Richmond, but we have it and can march into the city. Or, possibly, having forced the enemy from his line, we could move upon, and destroy his army. Gen. B.’s main army would have the same line of supply and retreat as he has now provided; the Rappahanock force would have that river for supply, and gun-boats to fall back upon; and the Pamunkey force would have that river for supply, and a line between the two rivers—Pamunkey & Mattapony—along which to fall back upon it’s gun-boats. I think the plan promises the best results, with the least hazzard, of any now conceiveable.

Note— The above plan, proposed by me, was rejected by Gen. Halleck & Gen. Burnside, on the ground that we could not raise and put in position, the Pamunkey force without too much waste of time A.L.


To Carl Schurz

Gen. Carl Schurz                         Executive Mansion,
My dear Sir                                   Washington, Nov. 24. 1862.

I have just received, and read, your letter of the 20th. The purport of it is that we lost the late elections, and the administration is failing, because the war is unsuccessful; and that I must not flatter myself that I am not justly to blame for it. I certainly know that if the war fails, the administration fails, and that I will be blamed for it, whether I deserve it or not. And I ought to be blamed, if I could do better. You think I could do better; therefore you blame me already. I think I could not do better; therefore I blame you for blaming me. I understand you now to be willing to accept the help of men, who are not republicans, provided they have “heart in it.”  Agreed. I want no others. But who is to be the judge of hearts, or of “heart in it”? If I must discard my own judgment, and take yours, I must also take that of others; and by the time I should reject all I should be advised to reject, I should have none left, republicans, or others—not even yourself. For, be assured, my dear sir, there are men who have “heart in it” that think you are performing your part as poorly as you think I am performing mine. I certainly have been dissatisfied with the slowness of Buell and McClellan; but before I relieved them I had great fears I should not find successors to them, who would do better; and I am sorry to add, that I have seen little since to relieve those fears. I do not clearly see the prospect of any more rapid movements. I fear we shall at last find out that the difficulty is in our case, rather than in particular generals. I wish to disparage no one—certainly not those who sympathize with me; but I must say I need success more than I need sympathy, and that I have not seen the so much greater evidence of getting success from my sympathizers, than from those who are denounced as the contrary. It does seem to me that in the field the two classes have been very much alike, in what they have done, and what they have failed to do. In sealing their faith with their blood, Baker, an[d] Lyon, and Bohlen, and Richardson, republicans, did all that men could do; but did they any more than Kearney, and Stevens, and Reno, and Mansfield, none of whom were republicans, and some, at least of whom, have been bitterly, and repeatedly, denounced to me as secession sympathizers? I will not perform the ungrateful task of comparing cases of failure.

In answer to your question “Has it not been publicly stated in the newspapers, and apparantly proved as a fact, that from the commencement of the war, the enemy was continually supplied with information by some of the confidential subordinates of as important an officer as Adjutant General Thomas?” I must say “no” so far as my knowledge extends. And I add that if you can give any tangible evidence upon that subject, I will thank you to come to the City and do so. Very truly Your friend A. LINCOLN

To John J. Key

Major John J. Key                        Executive Mansion,
Dear Sir:                                         Washington, Nov. 24, 1862

A bundle of letters including one from yourself, was, early last week, handed me by Gen. Halleck, as I understood, at your request. I sincerely sympathise with you in the death of your brave and noble son.

In regard to my dismissal of yourself from the military service, it seems to me you misunderstand me. I did not charge, or intend to charge you with disloyalty. I had been brought to fear that there was a class of officers in the army, not very inconsiderable in numbers, who were playing a game to not beat the enemy when they could, on some peculiar notion as to the proper way of saving the Union; and when you were proved to me, in your own presence, to have avowed yourself in favor of that “game,” and did not attempt to controvert the proof, I dismissed you as an example and a warning to that supposed class. I bear you no ill will; and I regret that I could not have the example without wounding you personally. But can I now, in view of the public interest, restore you to the service, by which the army would understand that I indorse and approve that game myself? If there was any doubt of your having made the avowal, the case would be different. But when it was proved to me, in your presence, you did not deny or attempt to deny it, but confirmed it in my mind, by attempting to sustain the position by argument.

I am really sorry for the pain the case gives you, but I do not see how, consistently with duty, I can change it. Yours, &c.


To William L. Vance

Mr. W. L. Vance                       Executive Mansion,
Sir:                                              Washington, Nov. 22, 1862.

You tell me you have in your hands some two hundred and seventy thousand dollars of “Confederate Scrip” which was forced upon Union men of Kentucky, in exchange for supplies, by the rebels during their late raid into that State; and you wish government authority for you to take this Scrip into the Cotten-States, exchange it for cotten if found practicable, and to bring the cotten out.

While I have felt great anxiety to oblige you, and your friends, in this matter, I feel constrained to decline it. It would come to something, or it would come to nothing—that is, you would get cotten for the Scrip, or you would not. If you should get none, the effort would have been a useless failure. If you should get any, to precisely that extent, this government would have aided in giving currency to this Scrip—that is, men seeing that the Scrip would bring cotten, would gladly give produce for the scrip; and hence a scramble for it, as for gold would ensue. If your two hundred and seventy thousand dollars, was to be the sole instance, I would gladly risk it. But it would not be the beginning, or, at most, only the beginning. Having begun, I could not stop. What I had done for some, I must do for others. All that sort of Scrip now in Kentucky, and much not yet in Kentucky, would find it’s way into Union-hands and be presented under the rule. We all know how easily oaths are furnished, when required, in transactions of this sort. And the thing would become even broader yet. Men who have been robbed out-right by the rebels, without even receiving scrip would appeal, (and with quite as equitable a case) to be permitted a means of indemnity, by leave to go in and bring out cotten. This would run till at length I should have to abandon all restraint, or put a stop to what it is now much easier to not begin.

To Nathaniel P. Banks

Executive Mansion,
My dear General Banks Washington, Nov. 22, 1862.

Early last week you left me in high hope with your assurance that you would be off with your expedition at the end of that week, or early in this. It is now the end of this, and I have just been overwhelmed and confounded with the sight of a requisition made by you, which, I am assured, can not be filled, and got off within an hour short of two months! I inclose you a copy of the requisition, in some hope that it is not genuine—that you have never seen it.

My dear General, this expanding, and piling up of impedimenta, has been, so far, almost our ruin, and will be our final ruin if it is not abandoned. If you had the articles of this requisition upon the wharf, with the necessary animals to make them of any use, and forage for the animals, you could not get vessels together in two weeks to carry the whole, to say nothing of your twenty thousand men; and, having the vessels, you could not put the cargoes aboard in two weeks more. And, after all, where you are going, you have no use for them. When you parted with me, you had no such idea in your mind. I know you had not, or you could not have expected to be off so soon as you said. You must get back to something like the plan you had then, or your expedition is a failure before you start. You must be off before Congress meets. You would be better off any where, and especially where you are going, for not having a thousand wagons, doing nothing but hauling forage to feed the animals that draw them, and taking at least two thousand men to care for the wagons and animals, who otherwise might be two thousand good soldiers.

Now dear General, do not think this is an ill-natured letter—it is the very reverse. The simple publication of this requisition would ruin you. Very truly your friend A. LINCOLN

To George F. Shepley

Hon. G.F. Shepley                     Executive Mansion,
My dear Sir                                 Washington, Nov. 21. 1862.

Your letter of the 6th. Inst. to the Secretary of War has been placed in my hands; and I am annoyed to learn from it that, at it’s date, nothing had been done about congressional elections. On the 14th. of October I addressed a letter to Gen. Butler, yourself and others upon this very subject, sending it by Hon. Mr. Bouligny. I now regret the necessity of inferring that you had not seen this letter up to the 6th. Inst. I inclose you a copy of it, and also a copy of another addressed to yourself this morning, upon the same general subject, and placed in the hands of Dr. Kennedy. I ask attention to both.

I wish elections for Congressmen to take place in Louisiana; but I wish it to be a movement of the people of the Districts, and not a movement of our military and quasi-military, authorities there. I merely wish our authorities to give the people a chance—to protect them against secession interference. Of course the election can not be according to strict law—by state law, there is, I suppose, no election day, before January; and the regular election officers will not act, in many cases, if in any. These knots must be cut, the main object being to get an expression of the people. If they would fix a day and a way, for themselves, all the better; but if they stand idle not seeming to know what to do, do you fix these things for them by proclamation. And do not waste a day about it; but, fix the election day early enough that we can hear the result here by the first of January. Fix a day for an election in all the Districts, and have it held in as many places as you can. Yours very truly A. LINCOLN

To George F. Shepley

Hon G.F. Shepley               Executive Mansion,
Dear Sir.                               Washington, Nov. 21. 1862.

Dr. Kennedy, bearer of this, has some apprehension that Federal officers, not citizens of Louisiana, may be set up as candidates for Congress in that State. In my view, there could be no possible object in such an election. We do not particularly need members of congress from there to enable us to get along with legislation here. What we do want is the conclusive evidence that respectable citizens of Louisiana, are willing to be members of congress & to swear support to the constitution; and that other respectable citizens there are willing to vote for them and send them. To send a parcel of Northern men here, as representatives, elected as would be understood, (and perhaps really so,) at the point of the bayonet, would be disgusting and outrageous; and were I a member of congress here I would vote against admitting any such man to a seat. Yours very truly A. LINCOLN