March 21, Monday. Wilson returned from New York on Saturday. Called to-day and made report in case of the contractors. Says the evidence is strong and conclusive against them; will be ready with charges and specifications in about a week. I told him it was my wish there should be a speedy trial; I also desired that the wives and counsel of the prisoners might visit them. Whiting, Solicitor of the War Department, called. My letter to the Secretary of War, requesting him to direct Whiting to give this Department his assistance and advice in criminal transactions was objectionable. The Secretary could not direct him, and he would not communicate with the Secretary because the word “direct” was in the note. Told him the mere misuse of a word should not be permitted to embarrass a public measure. That I was willing to substitute another word. He said he would prepare something to meet the case. Tells me that Seward refers questions to him, some affecting Navy captures. This is an eye-opener. The two are cunning, but they expose each other.
Tom (Thomas G. Welles, son of the Secretary) has gone with Admiral Dahlgren to Fortress Monroe after the body of his son Ulric, expected from Richmond.