Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Post image for Diary of Gideon Welles.

Diary of Gideon Welles.

October 13, 2013

Diary of Gideon Welles

October 13, Tuesday. No news from the front. President read this noon a dispatch from Meade, written last night, in which he says if the Rebels do not attack him to-day, he will attack them. I doubt it. He cannot do much on the offensive except under orders. As second in command or in any capacity under an intelligent superior, I think Meade would do well. He will never have another such opportunity to do the Rebels harm as when he supinely let Lee and his army cross the Potomac and escape unmolested.

The elections in Ohio and Pennsylvania absorb attention. The President says he feels nervous. No doubts have troubled me. An electioneering letter of McClellan in favor of Woodward for Governor of Pennsylvania, written yesterday, is published. It surprises me that one so cautious and intelligent as McC. should have been so indiscreet and unwise. The letter can do him no good, nor can it aid Woodward, who is a party secessionist. It is a great mistake, and must have been extorted from McClellan by injudicious partisan friends, under the mistaken idea that his personal influence might control the election. What errors prevail in regard to personal influence among party men! A good and wise man can do but little on the day of election, particularly in a bad cause. He can often aid in a good one by confirming the rightminded who are timid and may hesitate and doubt. McClellan lost balance when he wrote this letter.

Preston King spent the evening with me. Young Ulric Dahlgren called. The gallant fellow lost a leg at Gettysburg and is just recovering, so that he gets around on crutches. It is the first of his calls, and King was wonderfully interested in him — affected to tears — and listened to his modest accounts with the earnestness of a child.

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