To George B. McClellan

April 9. 1862

Major General McClellan.

My dear Sir.

Your despatches complaining that you are not properly sustained, while they do not offend me, do pain me very much.

Blencker’s Division was withdrawn from you before you left here; and you knew the pressure under which I did it, and, as I thought, acquiesced in it—certainly not without reluctance.

After you left, I ascertained that less than twenty thousand unorganized men, without a single field battery, were all you designed to be left for the defence of Washington, and Manassas Junction; and part of this even, was to go to Gen. Hooker’s old position. Gen. Banks’ corps, once designed for Manassas Junction, was diverted, and tied up on the line of Winchester and Strausburg, and could not leave it without again exposing the upper Potomac, and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. This presented, (or would present, when McDowell and Sumner should be gone) a great temptation to the enemy to turn back from the Rappahanock, and sack Washington. My explicit order that Washington should, by the judgment of all the commanders of Army corps, be left entirely secure, had been neglected. It was precisely this that drove me to detain McDowell.

I do not forget that I was satisfied with your arrangement to leave Banks at Mannassas Junction; but when that arrangement was broken up, and nothing was substituted for it, of course I was not satisfied. I was constrained to substitute something for it myself. And now allow me to ask “Do you really think I should permit the line from Richmond, via Mannassas Junction, to this city to be entirely open, except what resistance could be presented by less than twenty thousand unorganized troops?” This is a question which the country will not allow me to evade.

There is a curious mystery about the number of the troops now with you. When I telegraphed you on the 6th. saying you had over a hundred thousand with you, I had just obtained from the Secretary of War, a statement, taken as he said, from your own returns, making 108,000 then with you, and en route to you. You now say you will have but 85,000, when all en route to you shall have reached you. How can the discrepancy of 23,000 be accounted for?

As to Gen. Wool’s command, I understand it is doing for you precisely what a like number of your own would have to do, if that command was away.

I suppose the whole force which has gone forward for you, is with you by this time; and if so, I think it is the precise time for you to strike a blow. By delay the enemy will relatively gain upon you—that is, he will gain faster, by fortifications and re-inforcements, than you can by re-inforcements alone.

And, once more let me tell you, it is indispensable to you that you strike a blow. I am powerless to help this. You will do me the justice to remember I always insisted, that going down the Bay in search of a field, instead of fighting at or near Mannassas, was only shifting, and not surmounting, a difficulty—that we would find the same enemy, and the same, or equal, intrenchments, at either place. The country will not fail to note—is now noting—that the present hesitation to move upon an intrenched enemy, is but the story of Manassas repeated.

I beg to assure you that I have never written you, or spoken to you, in greater kindness of feeling than now, nor with a fuller purpose to sustain you, so far as in my most anxious judgment, I consistently can. But you must act. Yours very truly



To Henry W. Halleck and Don C. Buell

General Halleck Washington, D.C.,
St. Louis, Mo.: December 31, 1861.

General McClellan is sick. Are General Buell and yourself in concert? When he moves on Bowling Green, what hinders it being re-enforced from Columbus? A simultaneous movement by you on Columbus might prevent it. A. LINCOLN.

(Similar despatch to Buell same date.)

Halleck replied January 1, 1862, “I have never received a word from General Buell. I am not ready to co-operate with him. Hope to do so in few weeks. . . . Too much haste will ruin everything.” Buell replied on the same date, “There is no arrangement between General Halleck and myself. I have been informed by General McClellan that he would make suitable disposition for concerted action. . . .”

To David Hunter

Executive Mansion, Washington,
Major General Hunter. Dec. 31, 1861.

Dear Sir: Yours of the 23rd. is received; and I am constrained to say it is difficult to answer so ugly a letter in good temper. I am, as you intimate, losing much of the great confidence I placed in you, not from any act or omission of yours touching the public service, up to the time you were sent to Leavenworth, but from the flood of grumbling despatches and letters I have seen from you since. I knew you were being ordered to Leavenworth at the time it was done; and I aver that with as tender a regard for your honor and your sensibilities as I had for my own, it never occurred to me that you were being “humiliated, insulted and disgraced”; nor have I, up to this day, heard an intimation that you have been wronged, coming from any one but yourself. No one has blamed you for the retrograde movement from Springfield, nor for the information you gave Gen. Cameron; and this you could readily understand, if it were not for your unwarranted assumption that the ordering you to Leavenworth must necessarily have been done as a punishment for some fault. I thought then, and think yet, the position assigned to you is as respo[n]sible, and as honorable, as that assigned to Buell. I know that Gen. McClellan expected more important results from it. My impression is that at the time you were assigned to the new Western Department, it had not been determined to re-place Gen. Sherman in Kentucky; but of this I am not certain, because the idea that a command in Kentucky was very desireable, and one in the farther West, very undesireable, had never occurred to me. You constantly speak of being placed in command of only 3000. Now tell me, is not this mere impatience? Have you not known all the while that you are to command four or five times that many?

I have been, and am sincerely your friend; and if, as such, I dare to make a suggestion, I would say you are adopting the best possible way to ruin yourself. “Act well your part, there all the honor lies.” He who does something at the head of one Regiment, will eclipse him who does nothing at the head of a hundred. Your friend as ever, A. LINCOLN

Major General Hunter’s endorsement on the envelope containing Lincoln’s letter is as follows: “The President in reply to my `ugly letter.’— This letter was kept on his table for more than a month, and then sent by a private conveyance, with directions to hand it to me only when I was in a good humor!!!!.—” Hunter’s letter of December 23, 1861, is in part as follows: “I am very deeply mortified, humiliated, insulted and disgraced. . . . I am sent here [Fort Leavenworth] into banishment, with not three thousand effective men under my command, while one of the Brigadiers, General Buell, is in command of near one hundred thousand men in Kentucky. The only sin I have committed is my carrying out your views in relation to the retrograde movement from Springfield. . . . So it appears that I have been deprived of a command, suitable to my rank, for presuming to answer. . . official questions put to me by the Secretary of War. . . for in no other way was I connected with the Fremont troubles. . . .”

To the Senate and House of Representatives

December 30, 1861

To the Senate and House of Representatives:

I transmit to Congress a correspondence which has taken place between the Secretary of State and authorities of Great Britain and France, on the subject of the recent removal of certain citizens of the United States from the British mail-steamer Trent, by order of Captain Wilkes, in command of the United States war-steamer San Jacinto. ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

Washington, December 30, 1861.

To John F. Lee

Judge Advocate Executive Mansion
My dear Sir: Dec. 21. 1861

A lady is here saying she is the wife of Capt. or Lieut. Robert Hunter, lately cashiered from the regular Army by a court martial. If you have a transcript of the record, I will thank you to send it to me, to be returned in due time. Yours truly A. LINCOLN

To the Senate and House of Representatives

December 20, 1861

To the Senate and House of Representatives:

I transmit to Congress a letter from the Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Commission appointed to represent the interests of those American citizens who may desire to become exhibitors at the Industrial Exhibition to be held in London in 1862, and a Memorial of that Commission, with a report of the Executive Committee thereof, and copies of circulars announcing the decisions of Her Majesty’s Commissioners in London, giving directions to be observed in regard to articles intended for exhibition, and also of circular forms of application, demands for space, approvals, &c., according to the rules prescribed by the British Commissioners.

As these papers fully set forth the requirements necessary to enable those citizens of the United States who may wish to become exhibitors to avail themselves of the privileges of the Exhibition, I commend them to your early consideration, especially in view of the near approach of the time when the Exhibition will begin.

Washington, 20th. Decr., 1861. ABRAHAM LINCOLN

To Alexander II

December 18, 1861

Abraham Lincoln

President of the United States of America,

To His Majesty Alexander II

Emperor and Autocrat of all the Russias,

&c., &c., &c.

Great and Good Friend: I have received the letter which Your Imperial Majesty addressed to me on the 21st. of October last, informing me that Her Imperial Highness the Grand Duchess Olga Teodorowra, Spouse of Your Majesty’s well beloved brother, His Imperial Highness the Grand Duke Michel Nicolaewitsch was happily delivered of a son on the 4th. of that month who has received the name of Michel.

I pray Your Majesty to accept my cordial congratulations upon this event, and to be assured that I take a lively interest in all that concerns the happiness and prosperity of Your Imperial House:

And so I recommend Your Imperial Majesty and Your Royal Family to the protection of the Almighty. Your Good Friend.

Washington, 18th. Decr. 1861 ABRAHAM LINCOLN

By the President

WILLIAM H. SEWARD Secretary of State