December 29, Tuesday. Seward was not at the meeting of the Cabinet. Chase avoids coming in these days. Blair is ill. There has been some vicious legislation in Congress, which I at one time supposed was inadvertent but which I begin to think was not wholly without design. The maritime towns, from which we draw most of our seamen, are to be allowed no credit in the draft for men who enlist in the Navy. Of course the local authorities and public opinion in those communities are opposed to naval enlistments, which, with the high military bounties, are telling on the naval service. We need at least five thousand of the sailors who have been enticed by high bounties and the causes alluded to into the army. They are experts, can discharge seamen’s duty; landsmen cannot fill their place. Having received the bounty, they would prefer reentering the Navy, but the law has given the power to [allow them to] do so into the hands of the Secretary of War, and he is disposed to show his authority by refusing to yield up these sailors to their proper trade and calling. The President can order the transfer, but he dislikes to interfere with and overrule Stanton. Wilson, Chairman of the Military Committee, acts with Stanton; Hale, Chairman of the Naval Committee, is indifferent; Congress hesitates; and the result is our vessels are not manned, the service is crippled, and the country must suffer.