February 27, Saturday. A very busy day, and I am very indifferently well to discharge the mass of business; but got through with it before 5 P.M. Am surprised that I do not commit more serious mistakes. Received the charges and specifications against Wilkes. Convened the court, or ordered it to be convened, on the 9th. Am sorry to be compelled to do this, but there is no alternative.
Sedgwick calls about the prize law which Judge Sprague and Dana have got up. In the main it is pretty well done, but needs some amendments.
Seward told me in a whisper that we had met a serious reverse in Florida. It is [not] mentioned in the papers. This suppressing a plump and plain fact, already accomplished, because unfortunate, is not wise. The Florida expedition has been one of the secret movements that have been projected, I know not by whom, but suspect the President has been trying a game himself. He has done such things, and, I believe, always unfortunately. I may be wrong in my conclusions, but his secretary, John Hay, was sent off to join the forces at Port Royal, and this expedition was then commenced. Admiral Dahlgren went off on it without orders from me, and had only time to advise me he was going. Though he has general directions to cooperate with the army, he would not have done this but from high authority.