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Diary from November 12, 1862, to October 18, 1863
by Adam Gurowski
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October 6.—Blair, a member of the Cabinet, in a public speech delivered in Maryland, most bitterly attacks the emancipationists and emancipation. Blair is perfectly true to himself. That speech would honor a Yancey. Blair peddles for Mr. Lincoln's re-election. Blair thus semi-officially spoke for the President, and for the Cabinet. Such at least is the construction put in England on an out-door speech made by a member of the Cabinet, or else another member takes another occasion to refute the former. Mr. Splendid Chase is a member of the Cabinet, and claims to represent there the aspirations, the tendencies, and the aims of the radicals and of the emancipationists. Such a conflict between two members of the Cabinet shakes the shaky situation. What will Chase do? Nothing, or very little.

October 7.—Months, weeks and days of the most splendid weather, and Meade, the choice of the West Point clique in the army, Meade did nothing. If Meade had not, or has not troops enough, why is not Foster ordered here with all he has? Keep Fortress Monroe well garrisoned, and for a time abandon the few points in North Carolina. Destroy Lee, and then a squad of invalids will reconquer North Carolina, or that State may then reconquer itself. This, or some other combination ought to be made. I am told that more than seven hundred thousand men are now on the Paymasters' rolls. Where are they? Is it forgery or stealing? Where, oh where are the paid men? On paper or in the grave? If the half, three hundred and fifty thousand men, were well kept in hand, Lee and Bragg ought to be annihilated.

Hurrah for Lincoln and Halleck!

October 8.—From various sides I am assured that Stanton passed into the camp of Lincoln, with horse, foot and artillery. I doubt it, but—all is possible in this good-natured world. Stanton, like others, may be stimulated by the amor sceleratus of power.

October 8.—Lee's Report, containing the operations after the battle of Chancellorsville, the invasion of Pennsylvania, and his recrossing of the Potomac at Williamsport, is published now. But Lee, a true soldier, made his report in the last days of July, therefore almost instantly after the campaign was finished. Sympathizers with McClellan's essays on military or on other matters! there is another example for you, how and when such things ought to be done. Meade has not yet made his Report.

October 9.—The cautiousness of Meade and his fidelity to McClellan-like warfare are above admiration. General Buford, brave and daring, weeks ago offered to make with his cavalry a raid in the rear of Lee and destroy the railroads to the south-west—those main arteries for Virginia. The offer was vetoed by the commander of the Potomac army. Had Lee ever vetoed Stewart's raids? Lee rather stimulated and directed them.

October 10.—And the power-holders let loose their mastiffs. And the mastiffs ran at my heels and tried to tear my inexpressibles and all. And they did not, because they could not. Because my friends (J. H. Bradley,) stood by me. And the people's justice stepped in between the mastiffs and me, and I exclaim with the miller of Potsdam, "There are judges in Washington."

October 11.—I most positively learn that even Thurlow Weed urged upon the President the immediate removal of Halleck, and even Thurlow Weed could not prevail. Many and many sins be forgiven to the Prince of the Lobby, to the man who understood how to fish out a fortune in these national troubles.

October 12.Caesar morituri te salutant, say our brave soldiers to Lincoln.

The Meades and the McClellans, like most of the greatnesses of the West Point clique, have no impulse, no sense for attack, because what is called la grande guerre, that is the offensive war, was not among the special objects of the military education in West Point. This is evident by the pre-eminence given to engineering, and to the engineers who represent the defensive war; and therefore the contrast to the grande guerre. Some of our generals, as Grant, Rosecrans, Reno, Reynolds, and others, and as I hear likewise of Warren, made and make up in enthusiasm for the deficiency of the West Point education. But the majority of the educated Potomac commanders and generals were not, and are not much troubled by enthusiasm.

October 12.—In his answer to the Missouri patriotic deputation, Mr. Lincoln, with one eye at least to the re-election, proves to the observer that he, Lincoln, has not yet found out which party will be the stronger when the election shall be at the door. Mr. Lincoln has not yet made his choice between the radical, immediate emancipationists and those who wish a slow, do-nothing, successive, pro rata emancipation. Not having yet found it out, Mr. Lincoln has not yet fully decided which direction finally he has to take; and therefore he shifts a little to the right, a little to the left, and tries to hush up both parties. Our so characteristic military operations are closely connected with the vascillating policy and with the hesitation to cut the knot.

October 13.—Unparalleled in the world's history is the manner in which the war is conducted here, from May, 1861, to this day. The annals of the Asiatic, ancient, and of modern Tartar warfare, the annals of Greece, of Macedon, of Rome, the annals of all wars fought in Europe since the overthrow of the Romans down to the day of Solferino, all have nothing similar to what is done here. This new method henceforth will constitute an epoch in military un-science.

October 13.—General Meade in full and quick retreat. The most contradictory rumors and explications of this retreat; some of the explications having even the flavor of official authority. One thing is certain, that when a general who confronted an enemy at once begins to manoeuvre backwards, without having fought or lost a battle, such a general is out-manoeuvred by his enemy. O for a young man with enthusiasm, and with inspiration! Suggested to Stanton to shun the men of Williamsport, or to look for enthusiasts such as Warren.

Chaos everywhere; chaos in the direction of affairs, and a disgraceful chaos in the military operations. But as always, so this time, it is nobody's fault.

Fetish McClellan finally and distinctly showed his hand, and joined the Copperheads in the Pennsylvania election. McClellan is now ripe for the dictatorship of the Copperheads. Will Mr. Lincoln have courage to dismiss McClellan from the army? A self-respecting Government ought to do it. Let McClellan be taken care of by the World. Par nobile fratrum.

October 14.

Nox erat et coelo fulgebat luna sereno,

and the virtuous city of Washington enjoyed the sleep of innocence: the genius of the country was watchful. Halleck slept not. Orderlies, patrols, generals, officers, cavalry, infantry, all were on their legs. Halleck took the command in person. What a running! First in the rooms, then in the streets and on the roads, and on the bridges whose planks were taken off. And thus about the cock's crow the nightmare vanished, and Halleck, satisfied to have fulfilled his duty towards the country and towards the innocent Washingtonians, Halleck went to bed.

October 15.—Our head-quarters at Fairfax Court House. It is not a retreat. O no! It is only splendid backward manoeuvring!

As far as the Virginia campaign is concerned, the situation to-day is below that previous to the first Bull Run. Lee menacing, going we know not where; guerrillas in the rear of our army, at the gates—literally and geographically at the gates of Alexandria and of Washington. Previous to the first Bull Run, the country bled not; to-day the people is minus thousands and thousands of its children, and to see Lee twenty to thirty miles from Washington! What will be the manoeuvring to-morrow?

Warren fought well, but if Sykes was within supporting distance, why did they not annihilate the rebel corps? Two corps ought not to have been afraid to be cut off from the rest of the army distant only a few miles. Or perhaps orders exist not to bring about a general engagement? All is now possible and probable. Our great plans may not yet be ripe.

When the smoke and dust of the manoeuvring will be over, I heartily wish that our losses in the retreat may prove innocent and as insignificant as they are reported to be.

On the outside, Lee's movement appears as brilliant as it is desperate. Has not this time Lee overshot the mark? Cunctator Meade may have some lucid moment, and punish Lee for his impertinence. And every and any thing can be done with our brave boys, provided they are commanded and generaled.

In military sciences and history, it would be said that Lee has ramene tambour battant Meade under the defences of Washington. Such a result obtained without a battle, counts among the most splendid military accomplishments, and reveals true generalship.

October 17.—Meade was decided to retreat, even before Lee began to move, say the knowing ones, say the military authorities. If Meade wanted not to go to Culpepper Court-house, or to march towards the enemy, or to occupy the head waters of those rivers, then why was our army promenaded in that direction? To amuse the people? to increase losses in men and in material? Was it done without any plan? I supposed, and the country supposed, that Meade marched south to fight Lee where he would have found him; but it turns out that it was done in order to bring Lee towards Washington and towards the Potomac. What a snare!

October 17.—The electoral victory in Pennsylvania marks a new evolution in the internal polity of the country. It is the victory of the younger and better men as represented by Curtin, by Coffey, etc., over the old hacks, old sepulchres, old tricposters and over men who sucked the treasury and the people's pocket; they did it scientifically, thoroughly, and with a coolness of masters. Oh! could other States therein imitate Pennsylvania, then, the salvation of the country is certain.

October 17: Evening.—The knowing ones promise a battle for to-morrow. Yes, if Lee will. But if not, will Meade attack Lee? who I am sure will continue his movement and operation whatever these may be. We are at guessing.

Repeatedly and repeatedly it is half-officially trumpeted to the country, that this or that general selected his ground and awaits a battle. It reminds one of the wars in Italy during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. And if the general who forced backwards his antagonist, if he prefers not to attack, but continues to manoeuvre, what becomes of the select, own ground? Who ever read that Alexander, or Cesar, or Frederic, or Napoleon, or even captains of lesser fame, selected their ground? All of them fought the enemy where they found him, or by skillful manoeuvring hemmed the enemy or forced him to abandon his select position. Cases where a general can really force the antagonist to attack such a select, own ground, such cases are special, and very rare.

And so for the second time in this year, Lee shakes and disturbs our quiet in Washington. Oh why is Lee engaged on the bad and damnable side?

October 18.—A new whereas calling for three hundred thousand volunteers. The people will volunteer. Oh this great people is ready for every sacrifice. But you, O you! who so recklessly waste all the people's sacrifices, will you volunteer more brains and less selfishness?

October 18.—And when all the efforts of great men converged to the re-election and election, Lee converged towards Washington. Be the people on their guard and warned!

NOTE.—The publication of this book has occurred at a culminating period of annoyances and inconveniences which may possibly have left traces in the volume now finished. The Author's residence in Washington—unprecedented delays of the mails—scarcity of compositors—and beyond all, the confusion from unavoidable duplication of proofs, have so annoyed the Author, that it is but just to make this brief explanation and apology.

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