Tag Archives: David Tod

The Resignation of Salmon P. Chase

June 30, 1864 – Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase submitted his fourth letter of resignation, but this time President Abraham Lincoln surprised him by accepting.

Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase | Image Credit: Wikimedia.org

There had long been tension between Lincoln and Chase. The Radical Republicans had backed Chase for president over Lincoln, but an embarrassing situation was averted when Chase quietly ended his candidacy and Lincoln was nominated earlier this month for a second term. But in May, Chase expressed some regret at not trying harder to wrest the presidential nomination from Lincoln. Ever since Chase had been Lincoln’s rival in the contest for the Republican presidential nomination in 1860, he believed himself intellectually and morally superior to the president.

But troubles plagued Chase’s Treasury Department. The new taxes and tariffs were not enough to fund the war, and Chase could not get reauthorization to hire financier Jay Cooke to sell more war bonds. Printing paper money not backed by gold caused rampant inflation, and reports of corruption in the selling and trading of confiscated southern cotton abounded.

Chase blamed political enemies for highlighting these problems, especially the influential Blair family. Congressman Francis P. Blair, Jr., a staunch Lincoln ally, had excoriated Chase in the House of Representatives for mismanaging the department, and Chase condemned Lincoln for not distancing himself from the Blairs.

In late June, John J. Cisco resigned from the highly important post of assistant Federal treasurer in New York City. Chase proposed to replace Cisco with Maunsell B. Field, a man who knew little of finance but was loyal to Chase. New York politicians, including both U.S. Senators Edwin D. Morgan and Ira Harris, opposed the appointment, with Morgan giving Lincoln a list of three alternatives.

Lincoln wrote to Chase on the 28th, “I cannot, without much embarrassment, make this appointment.” Explaining the political dilemma that it would cause, Lincoln forwarded Morgan’s list to him and asked, “It will really oblige me if you will make a choice among these three.”

Chase requested a personal meeting to discuss the matter, but Lincoln declined “because the difficulty does not, in the main part, lie within the range of a conversation between you and me. As the proverb goes, no man knows so well where the shoe pinches as he who wears it.” Lincoln also noted that he had approved most of Chase’s other recommendations in the past, even when they caused “great burden” among political rivals.

Refusing to pick any of Morgan’s three choices, Chase persuaded Cisco to stay in his post. Chase then tendered his resignation a fourth time, adding, “I shall regard it as a real relief if you think proper to accept it.” Although Lincoln had refused it three times before, he astounded Chase by replying:

“Your resignation for the office of Secretary of the Treasury sent me yesterday is accepted. Of all I have said in commendation of your ability and fidelity I have nothing to unsay; and yet you and I have reached a point of mutual embarrassment in our official relations which it seems cannot be overcome, or longer sustained, consistently with the public service.”

At the same time, Lincoln sent this message to Chase and submitted the name of Ohio Governor David Tod to replace Chase as head of the Treasury Department to the Senate. The anti-Lincoln press immediately panned the move, with the New York Herald opining that Tod knew “no more of finances than a post.”

The message to the Senate arrived first, prompting Finance Committee Chairman William P. Fessenden to ask Chase in a meeting, “Have you resigned? I am called to the Senate and told that the President has sent in the nomination of your successor.”

Stunned, Chase later wrote of Lincoln’s response in his diary, “I had found a good deal of embarrassment from him; but what he had found from me I could not imagine, unless it has been caused by my unwillingness to have offices distributed as spoils or benefits, with more regard to the claims of divisions, factions, cliques, and individuals, than to fitness of selection.”

What Chase failed to understand was that Lincoln merely kept him in the cabinet to prevent him from openly opposing his presidency. Now that Lincoln had secured the nomination for a second term, Chase’s usefulness had run out.

Members of the Senate Finance Committee, many of whom supported Chase, called on Lincoln to protest his removal. Lincoln showed them all four of Chase’s resignation letters, explaining that this had been coming for some time. Some still complained, but none insisted on reinstating Chase.

Lincoln also refused the senators’ urgings to withdraw Tod’s name as treasury secretary. But Tod declined the job due to poor health, prompting Lincoln to then nominate Fessenden. No Republican could object to him, even Chase, who called the appointment “a wise selection.”

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References

CivilWarDailyGazette.com; Denney, Robert E., The Civil War Years: A Day-by-Day Chronicle (New York: Gramercy Books, 1992 [1998 edition]), p. 431; Donald, David Herbert, Lincoln (Simon & Schuster, Kindle Edition, 2011), Loc 10790-833; Foote, Shelby, The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume 3: Red River to Appomattox (Vintage Civil War Library, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Kindle Edition, 2011), Loc 9642-62; Fredriksen, John C., Civil War Almanac (New York: Checkmark Books, 2007), p. 463; Goodwin, Doris Kearns, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2005), p. 631-33; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 530

Morgan’s Northern Raid: Surrender

July 26, 1863 – Confederate Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan and his cavalry troopers surrendered to Federal officials after a month-long raid through Indiana and Ohio.

John Hunt Morgan | Image Credit: CivilWarDailyGazette.com

Morgan had embarked on a raid through Kentucky to disrupt Federal supply lines. He violated direct orders not to cross the Ohio River when he invaded Indiana and then rode east into Ohio. Morgan initially targeted Cincinnati for attack, but because the city was the headquarters of Major General Ambrose E. Burnside’s Department of the Ohio, Morgan feared it would be heavily defended. So part of his force demonstrated at Hamilton, north of the city, while the rest bypassed it in a grueling night ride on the 14th and into the 15th. Colonel Basil W. Duke, one of Morgan’s top lieutenants, recalled:

“It was a terrible, trying march. Strong men fell out of their saddles, and at every halt the officers were compelled to move continually about in their respective companies and pull and haul the men who would drop asleep in the road–it was the only way to keep them awake. Quite a number crept off into the fields and slept until they were awakened by the enemy.”

Increasing Federal resistance compelled Morgan to move east of Cincinnati to try re-crossing the Ohio back into Kentucky. Federal troops and local militia in pursuit on land and water began closing in. Confident that the threat had passed, the Chicago Tribune reported on the 16th, “John Morgan’s raid is dying away eastward, and his force is melting away as it proceeds. Their only care is escape and their chances for that are very slight.”

Morgan passed Pomeroy, 150 miles east of Cincinnati, where he clashed with Federal troops for the first time. He next stopped at Chester to wait for the increasing number of stragglers to catch up. Morgan knew that a Federal cavalry force under General Edward Hobson was pursuing from the west, but he did not know that another cavalry force under General Henry Judah was approaching from the south. Also, a fleet of gunboats patrolled the Ohio to prevent Morgan from crossing.

Morgan hoped to cross the Ohio into West Virginia at Buffington Island, but his troopers did not get there until nightfall, and by then rains had swollen the river and 300 Federal troops guarded the fords. Morgan resolved to fight his way through the next day, unaware that gunboats led by the ironclad U.S.S. Moose under Lieutenant Commander Leroy Fitch held the Ohio.

The Confederates moved to attack on the morning of the 19th, but the Moose fired two rounds that sent many of them running, leaving their artillery behind. Judah’s cavalry then attacked from the south, surprising Morgan and pushing back his advance guard. Hobson’s troopers came next from the west, and the combined Federal force nearly surrounded Morgan’s raiders.

The Confederates formed a line shaped in a right-angle to fight off both Hobson and Judah while under fire from the gunboats. While Duke and Colonel Adam “Stovepipe” Johnson led the defense, Morgan and about 700 men slipped away to the north. Duke and Johnson tried to follow, but the gunboats closed in and blocked their path with heavy fire. The Federal horsemen then attacked and routed the remaining Confederates.

Map of Morgan’s Raid | Image Credit: Wikipedia.org

The Federals killed or wounded 120 raiders and captured 700, including Duke and Morgan’s brothers Richard and Charlton. Johnson and 300 raiders escaped by swimming across the river. The prisoners were taken to Cincinnati, and most were then shipped to Camp Douglas, a Confederate prisoner of war compound, in Chicago. Hobson and militia from Ohio and Pennsylvania continued pursuing Morgan and the remnants of his command.

Morgan moved northeast along the Ohio in search of another river crossing. He tried at Hockingport, but a Federal brigade led by Colonel (and future U.S. president) Rutherford B. Hayes stopped him, taking another 200 prisoners. After another two days of constant riding and exhaustion, Morgan resolved to try crossing the Ohio at Blennerhassett Island, near Parkersburg. Burnside received word that General Lew Wallace’s brigade was waiting for Morgan there, with Federal pursuers just five miles behind the raiders.

After a brief rest on the 24th, Morgan confused the Federals by suddenly veering east toward Cadiz. They then destroyed the railroad yard at Hopedale. President Abraham Lincoln telegraphed Burnside, “What, if anything, do you hear further from John Morgan?”

Burnside replied, “Just now we have conflicting reports as to Morgan’s whereabouts. One report places him within 10 miles of Cadiz Junction, and the other between Antrim and Hendrysburg. (General James) Shackelford is close after him, and we will try to have forces in his front, whichever report is correct.”

Morgan’s surviving troopers rode northward along the right bank of the Ohio River. While seeking an escape under close pursuit, Morgan fought near Steubenville and Springfield. Each skirmish weakened Morgan’s already depleted force.

Finally, Morgan and his remaining 364 men, exhausted and surrounded, surrendered at New Lisbon, near the Pennsylvania border. Morgan initially surrendered to a militia captain with the understanding that he would be paroled and sent home, but General Shackelford soon arrived and informed Morgan that he and his men would be held in confinement.

This marked the first and only Confederate invasion of Indiana and Ohio. Since their unauthorized raid began, Morgan’s Confederates had traveled over 700 miles, damaged railroads at 60 points, destroyed 34 bridges, captured some 6,000 Federal troops, diverted 14,000 more from other assignments, and prompted the raising of 120,000 militia. The raiders averaged 20 hours a day in the saddle after crossing the Ohio River. However, while the raid generated sensational headlines in newspapers and temporarily diverted Federal attention from Tennessee, many (including his superior, General Braxton Bragg) considered it an unnecessary waste of Confederate soldiers.

Burnside wanted Morgan and his raiders treated as prisoners of war, but Ohio Governor David Tod insisted they be treated as outlaws and confined in the Ohio State Penitentiary at Columbus. Morgan and some of his men escaped from that prison in November and returned to Kentucky, where he resumed wreaking havoc among the Federals.

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References

Brooksher, William R./Snider, David K., Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 511; CivilWarDailyGazette.com; Denney, Robert E., The Civil War Years: A Day-by-Day Chronicle (New York: Gramercy Books, 1992 [1998 edition]), p. 309-12; Foote, Shelby, The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume 2: Fredericksburg to Meridian (Vintage Civil War Library, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Kindle Edition, 2011), p. 681-83; Fredriksen, John C., Civil War Almanac (New York: Checkmark Books, 2007), p. 330, 332-35; Linedecker, Clifford L. (ed.), The Civil War A to Z (Ballantine Books, 2002), p. 186-87; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 387-89, 391; White, Howard Ray, Bloodstains, An Epic History of the Politics that Produced and Sustained the American Civil War and the Political Reconstruction that Followed (Southernbooks, Kindle Edition, 2012), Q363