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.

March 15, 2014

Diary of Gideon Welles

March 15, Tuesday. At the Cabinet the principal subject was the issue of a new proclamation, calling for a new draft of 200,000 men in consequence of the Navy draft and other demands. There are about 800,000 men in the field, among them some sailors drawn into the army by improper legislation, and the reckless, grasping policy of the army managers, who think less of the general welfare than of narrow and selfish professional display. It did not seem to me that the call was necessary or even expedient, but I perceived it had been determined upon by Halleck, Seward, and Stanton, and that the President had yielded his acquiescence, and opposition was useless. Blair said nothing. Usher gave a slow but affectedly earnest affirmative. Seward said the object was to compel certain Democratic localities to furnish their proportion, and it was desirable to take advantage of the current which was setting in strong for enlistment. The movement did not strike me favorably.

Henderson, the Navy Agent at New York, and Parke Godwin called this evening. He was disturbed by the Olcott investigations, wanted to consult and advise with me, hoped I would be frank. Thought himself injured by newspaper articles and by Olcott’s proceeding. Wished to know what charges or specifications there were against him. I told him I was in no condition to impart information or give advice, or sufficiently informed as to what had taken place to make any statement, even if it was proper, to him; that, if he had done right or nothing wrong, he need be under no apprehension; that his name was much mixed up with certain corruptionists and contractors who were under arrest, and against whom appearances were very bad; that he, better than I, or any one, knew how much there was in all this and whether there was any cause for censure or complaint. He averred there was no cause of complaint against him, — that he was guilty of no wrong. Made inquiries about Olcott, and told of improper and insinuating interrogations put to witnesses, that were unjust to him (H.). I told him I knew nothing of those matters; that I had heard of a most impolitic and reprehensible conversation in the sleeping-car between Olcott and others with him, as to his business and as to persons implicated. Told him O. was an attaché of the War Department, loaned to us for the occasion.

It was my object to listen, and to communicate nothing of the very little I knew of the investigation, and I made them aware of this. I remember that many names were mentioned and some of them, without explanation, were in the shade, but that I was confident some who were thus implicated could explain the transactions satisfactorily.

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