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This webpage reproduces an article in the
Mississippi Valley Historical Review
Vol. 25 No. 4 (Mar. 1939), pp491‑504

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

p491 The Attack upon West Point during the Civil War

By Harry Williams

A popular aversion for any form of militarism was an established phase of the American scene from the early days of the republic until the nation engaged in its first great war in 1861. The same opposition that stubbornly set its face against the establishment of a standing army or any system of conscription frowned upon proposals to establish a national training school for army officers. In the cool reply of the Senate in 1796 to Washington's enthusiastic recommendation that such an institution be created, the civilian suspicion that was to characterize the American attitude toward the future West Point made its first appearance.1 Washington's plan for a military academy came to fruition during the administration of the peace-loving Jefferson, but for long the struggling institution on the banks of the Hudson attracted little attention, favorable or hostile. Successive presidents praised it and attempted to induce Congress to augment the meagre appropriations.2 The first serious attack upon the academy came during the exuberant period of the Jacksonian Democracy when the rising common man marked it as a citadel of aristocracy to be destroyed. State legislatures passed resolutions demanding the abolition of the "closed corporation," and a bill to destroy the school narrowly missed success in the House of Representatives.3 After this brief but dangerous appearance before the nation, West Point again lapsed into p492obscurity as far as popular attention was concerned. Its graduates went on garrison duty in the West, planned coast guard defenses and constructed military roads. In the Mexican War they played a prominent role, but that short and victorious struggle provoked neither appreciation of their merits nor criticism of their defects.

The Civil War, the most ambitious military project which the nation had yet undertaken, brought West Point and its graduates into the full glare of national publicity, and during the war period the school faced and weathered a series of dangerous attacks designed to destroy its existence. Hardly had hostilities commenced before enthusiastic civilian commentators in the North began to criticize the regular army officers in command of the Union forces for their seeming slowness of movement.4 The constant mass-criticism of military operations that was to be such a marked feature of the war and that was so characteristic of the prevailing American contempt for specialized training, turned its guns upon the West Point specialists as an object of particular attack. Defending the capabilities of the common man to decide the movements of the army, the most influential paper in the North later declared: "However imperfect the civil appreciation may be as to military science, common sense is an attribute which buttons and bullion do not alone confer; and common sense is quite as competent as tactical profundity to decide the questions of hastening or deferring operations against the rebels."5

During the summer months of 1861 critics of West Point carried p493on a steady attack against the school that presaged more serious action when Congress should meet in December. The assailants decried the advantages of military training, charged West Point with being an aristocratic closed corporation, and declared that the results of its training had been to convert the regular army into a mercenary mass.6 More serious for the well-being of the academy was the growing conviction of the Republican leaders that it had been a breeding place of southern sentiment and was responsible for the defection of many officers to the rebel cause.7 Secretary of War Simon Cameron gave open expression of this opinion in his first report in which he devoted considerable space to the "extraordinary treachery" displayed by the graduates of West Point and queried if this were not a result of "a radical defect in the system of education itself." The secretary argued that the academy's system of discipline made no distinction between "acts wrong in themselves and acts wrong because prohibited by special regulation," and that this substitution of "habit for conscience" had produced the traitorous officers who had joined the southern forces. Congress, asserted Cameron, should appoint a commission to examine into the educational system of West Point with a view to remedying obvious defects.8

The congressional leaders of the radical wing of the Republican party moved upon Washington for the December meeting of Congress with the announced intention to call the administration to account for its conduct of the war, Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.George McClellan's inactivity, John C. Fremont's dismissal, the Ball's Bluff disaster, and the refusal to adopt an emancipation policy.9 The accumulated p494grievances of the radical faction broke through the barriers of party unity in that month, and the long, dramatic duel between Abraham Lincoln and his too ardent followers for the control of the war policies began.10 Lincoln's refusal, in his message to Congress, to adopt an aggressive position on the question of emancipation provoked anger and contempt in radical quarters.11 His deletion of the section in Cameron's report recommending the arming of slaves intensified their suspicions that the president had placed himself in the hands of the conservative officers and Democratic politicians who thronged McClellan's quarters.12 The mounting temper of the congressional radicals and their determination to have a voice in the establishment of war policies evidenced itself in the introduction of Lyman Trumbull's confiscation bill,13 the Shellabarger resolution directed at generals who returned fugitive slaves,14 and the refusal of the House to readopt the Crittenden resolutions.15 p495Radicals in and out of Congress attacked the conservative West Point officers who refused to use the army as an instrument of emancipation,16 and the administration for its refusal to formulate a general policy designed to destroy slavery.17 Lincoln's alliance with the conservatives and his tenderness toward slavery in the border states exasperated the radicals, but equally disturbing was the failure of the Union armies to move. The inaction of McClellan and his officers indicated to the radical mind a military plot to prevent the subjugation of the South and establish a military dictatorship.18

The radical fears of a coup d'etat by the army sprang from the conviction that the Democrats dominated the important and subordinate commands, and might turn their troops against a Republican administration. Henry Wilson asserted in the Senate that of the one hundred and ten brigadier generals in the army, eighty were Democrats. "Whenever there is a separate command," he declared, "with but one solitary exception, that command is under the control of a general opposed to the present Administration."19 George W. Julian later estimated that in p4961861 four-fifths of the major and brigadier generals were Democrats.20 In an effort to remedy this situation Senator Zachariah Chandler immediately after the opening of Congress introduced a bill creating a joint committee with power to retire any officer it judged unfit to hold a military command.21

The distrust and fear of the Democratic masters of the army was not the only goad spurring the Radicals during December. The congressional leaders had early determined that emancipation should come in the guise of military necessity, by the acts of individual commanders as they advanced into slave territory.22 Consummation of such a problem demanded officers in sympathy with the radical objective of making the war an anti-slavery crusade. With McClellan, Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Halleck, Dix, Stone, Buell, and other Democratic lights controlling the army, the Republican leaders saw little chance of achieving their cherished desires. Western radicals complained of the "infernal hold-back pro-slavery policy that now rules the army" and the Democratic officers who were afraid to "adopt a stern and straight forward course" for fear "that they will hurt somebody."23 Representative Martin F. Conway charged in the House that there was not "more than one sincere abolitionist or emancipationist among the military authorities,"24 and Joseph Medill warned Stanton, when the latter took over the war office, "You will discover scores of luke warm, half secession officers in command who can not bear to strike a vigorous blow lest it hurt their rebel friends or jeopardize the precious protectors of slavery."25

p497 The suspicion rapidly crystallized in the radical mind that West Point had not only produced the traitorous officers stigmatized by Simon Cameron in his report, but that it had instilled into all its graduates a sympathy for slavery and the aristocratic traditions of the South. The academy was linked with conservative dominance of the army and the pro-slavery beliefs of the officers.26 This conviction spurred the congressional leaders to a determined attack upon the school when on December twenty-third the committee on military affairs presented a bill in the Senate to increase the number of cadets.27

The radical attack was bitter and instantaneous. Chandler of Michigan declared for the abolition of the academy on the ground that it had produced open and secret traitors, more "within the last fifty years than all the institutions of learning and education that have existed since Judas Iscariot's time." But for West Point, "the present rebellion would never have broken out."28 Benjamin F. Wade, John Sherman, and Trumbull spoke in similar vein, denouncing the southern influence at the academy and pointing to the number of graduates who had joined the Confederate cause.29

The hostile Senators coupled the pro-slavery charge with the assertion that West Point was an aristocratic anomaly in democratic America, and that its graduates constituted a snobbish closed corporation in the army. Wade flatly declared that West Point was aristocratical, exclusive, a closed corporation, and it p498stood in the way of merit being advanced.30 William P. Fessenden, not willing to destroy the academy, nevertheless thought it lacking in an atmosphere of moral principle, the pupils "educated in a narrow, exclusive, miserable spirit," and fancying themselves as the sole possessors of military wisdom.31 Other Senators spoke of the favored few who received appointments, the caste spirit of the graduates, and the absurdity of a government school to train officers when none existed for the education of doctors, ministers, or lawyers.32

Free and acrid expression of the prevailing American contempt for specialized training was voiced by the attacking Senators. Confident that the common man could master any profession in a short period, the American of the sixties could see no justification for a would‑be officer spending long years in a military school, and confident predictions asserted that the successful generals of the war would emrge from the ranks of the civilian officers. "The atmosphere, the fume of the bivouac," declared Horace Greeley, was much more likely to produce military genius than the textbooks of West Point.33 A contemporary pamphleteer, in an attack on the academy graduates holding army commands, assured his readers: "A country discovers its real heroes in the actual conflict of arms. . . . It is war, earnest and real war, and not parades or reviews, which alone can draw out a nation's spirit and its real men."34

The average civilian experienced more than a contempt for the advantages of a West Point education. He felt that the academy's curriculum definitely handicapped its graduates for the business of being successful generals. The theoretical, textbook presentation of military knowledge produced impractical, cautious officers, whose training reflected itself in the present inaction of the union armies. The academy graduates, said one civilian, were "invariably men of all theory and no execution of results," capable of constructing defensive bases, "but for p499active offensive and successful results — never."35 Another critic exclaimed, "Their caution is educated until it is hardly distinguishable from cowardice."36

Reflecting these popular civilian convictions, the civilian Senators urged the uselessness of West Point as a source of military strength for the nation. "The men who will eminently distinguish themselves in this war," cried Wade, "who will come forward and show themselves capable of commanding great armies in the field, will be men the scope of whose intellect has never been narrowed down to the rules of your military school."37 John Sherman assigned to the West Pointers the prosaic work for which they were best fitted, "to discipline, to mold, to form lines and squares, to go through the ordinary discipline and routine of a camp," but the battles would be fought and won by civilian officers wombed in the stress of actual war."38

Although the Republican Senators decried the necessity or value of a military education, they did not propose to destroy it altogether. Chandler pointed out that the University of Michigan had established a department of military instruction and recommended that other state schools follow the example. "Let the young men of the several States receive a military education at home," he declared, "and very soon a spirit of emulation will spring up among the different States, and instead of having the number specified in this bill of educated military men, every State will have as many, or more, perhaps, of educated military men, and I will guaranty that they will be well educated as these men are."39 Wade asserted that with military schools springing up all over the country and tactics being taught in the high schools, the problem of instruction in the art of war was well taken care of,40 and Sherman advised that the money spent on West Point be distributed among the state colleges to establish departments of military training.41

p500 The spirited assaults of the radical faction, coupled with the disinclination of many Senators to add to the government's expenses by voting and increased appropriation, caused the defeat of the bill. Senators who had spoken friendly words for the institution joined with its enemies to vote down the measure.42 The first Radical thrust at West Point had been successful.

The academy did not face another attack until the following year, although the radical war on McClellan assumed as one of its many phases a denunciation of the general as the incompetent embodiment of a West Point education.43 McClellan's failure to bag Lee after Antietam and the bloody repulse of Burnside at Fredericksburg again induced a popular questioning of the capabilities of the regular army officers.44 An influential Republican weekly ascribed the dearth of military competence to the West Point training of the great majority of the generals:

Not that a military education naturally unfits a man for being a great soldier. But war being an art, not a science, a man can no more be made a first-class painter, or a great poet, by professors and textbooks; he must be born with the genius of war in his breast. Very few such men are born in a century, and the chances are rather that they will be found among the millions of the outside people than in the select circle who are educated at West Point.45

Many radicals voiced the familiar complaint that the failure of the Union armies could be attributed to the southern sympathies of the West Point clique.46

p501 The second congressional attack upon the academy came in January, 1863, a month that in many respects was the nadir of the radical political cause. Burnside's defeat and consequent inaction created an intense popular despondency and defeatist attitude that threatened to deliver the country into the hands of the peace Democracy.47 The failure of the December attempt of the Republican Senators to force Lincoln to change the personnel of the Cabinet and army convinced the disappointed radicals that there would be no change for the better in the conduct of the war.48 Even the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation could not cheer the despondent radicals who distrusted Lincoln's sincerity and feared the document would be a cipher unless enforced by officers who really believed in its provisions.49 Too many Democrats and conservatives occupied important civil and military positions to insure the adoption of an effective emancipation program.50 In a desperate effort to shake Democratic control of the army, the Radicals, led by the congressional Committee on the Conduct of the War, pushed to a successful conclusion the court-martials of Fitz-John Porter and subjected Buell to a hostile "court of investigation," a proceeding characterized by the conservative press as a Reign of Terror.51 The alarmed Democrats p502feared that all conservative officers and friends of McClellan were to be driven from the army.52

The eager radicals, ready to use any pole that promised good fishing in the troubled waters of army politics, utilized a West Point appropriation bill to deliver another assault on the academy and at the same time smear the war records of its graduates. With Senate members announcing that constituents were flooding them with letters demanding the abolition of West Point, that body considered the appropriation measure on January fifteenth.53 Again the radical faction of the Republican party advocated the defeat of the bill and the destruction of the school. The arguments of the assailants followed much the same pattern as the attack of the preceding year.

Wade, who led the radical forces, asserted that West Point might produce efficient engineers and drill-sergeants, but "to make a commander to take charge of your army in the field, it has not one single qualification."54 Striking the same note, Trumbull criticized the emphasis that the academy curriculum placed on mathematics and the construction of fortifications. The regular army, he cried, would never win the war. "Take off your engineering restraints; dismiss . . . from the Army every man who knows how to build a fortification, and let the men of the North, with their strong arms and indomitable spirit, move down upon the rebels, and I tell you they will grind them to powder in their power."55

Again the radicals poured vials of equalitarian wrath upon the military monopoly exercised by West Point. "We do not want any Government interposition for military education any more than for any other education," said Wade. "We have advanced to a period when any gentleman, without any particular institution, can make himself master of any science that he shall p503see fit to adopt."56 Abolish West Point, prophesied the confident Ohio Senator, and capable state schools of military instruction would spring up, "divested of this objection of monopoly, of pride, of vanity, of superciliousness that overshadows your Army, and has led almost to the destruction of the activity of your Army."57

The radical foes of the academy devoted considerable time to tracing the war records of such prominent graduates as George B. McClellan, Don Carlos Buell, Fitz-John Porter, Charles P. Stone, William P. Franklin, and Henry W. Halleck. The alleged failures of these officers were laid at the door of West Point whose training had made them either incompetent or treasonable, and in many cases both. Wade flatly accused the academy of causing the rebellion. He estimated that one-half of the regular officers were disloyal, aristocratic, and incompetent, and charged that not all traitors had joined the Confederacy in 1861.58 James H. Lane of Kansas believed that if the North were defeated the cause would be the southern sympathies of her generals. As an appropriate epitaph for the fallen nation, he suggested: "Died of West Point pro-slaveryism."59

The 1863 attack met with defeat. Ten senators, among them, Wade Chandler, Trumbull, and James Harlan, voted against the appropriation, but in the twenty-nine votes recorded for it were found such respectable Republican names as Charles Sumner, Sherman, Fessenden, and James W. Grimes. Added to the p504votes of the conservative Republicans and the Democrats, they were more than enough to turn back the second Radical raid.60

After the 1863 defeat the hostile radical group never returned to the assault. The emergence into prominence of such successful West Point men as Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman, and Philip H. Sheridan, made it difficult to fix the label of incompetence upon the school. The conservative generals had for the most part fallen by the wayside, and the new officers, if not Republicans, were certainly not Democrats. The radicals no longer smarted because their hated political foes controlled the military patronage, and their fears of a McClellan or Buell marching a rebellious army on Washington largely disappeared. When the next West Point appropriation bill was introduced, a quiet Senate passed it without debate.61


The Author's Notes:

1 Washington, Eighth Annual Message, December 7, 1796, and reply of the Senate, James D. Richardson, ed., A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 1789‑1908 (Washington, 1908), I, 202‑205.

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2 Madison, Seventh Annual Message, ibid., I, 566; Monroe, Seventh Annual Message, ibid., II, 212; John Q. Adams, First and Fourth Annual Messages, ibid., II, 305‑306, 417; Jackson, First Annual Message, ibid., II, 456.

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3 For action of the Ohio legislature, see Journal of the Senate of Ohio, 32 Gen. Assemb., 1 Sess., 805. For the Congressional criticism, Congressional Debates, 24 Cong., 2 Sess., 1119, 2072‑2075. The movement of the Jacksonian period is briefly discussed in Lloyd Lewis, Sherman, Fighting Prophet (New York, 1932), 43.

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4 Governor John A. Andrew to Montgomery Blair, April, 1861, William E. Smith, The Francis Preston Blair Family in Politics (New York, 1933), II, 16; H. F. French to Benjamin F. Butler, May 5, 1861, Benjamin F. Butler MSS. (Library of Congress); Joshua R. Giddings to his daughter, May 16, 1861, Joshua R. Giddings-George W. Julian MSS. (Library of Congress); Beman Brockway to Horace Greeley, August, 1861, Horace Greeley MSS. (Library of Congress); Gustave Koerner to Lyman Trumbull, July 29, 1861, Lyman Trumbull MSS. (Library of Congress). For contemporary depreciations of the popular impatience for rapid aggressive movements, see the letter of Senator James W. Grimes to citizens of Burlington, Iowa, August 17, 1861, William Salter, James W. Grimes (New York, 1876), 147‑150; Captain Henry Hall, Eighth Connecticut Volunteers, Henry Hall MSS. (possession of Mr. A. C. Hall, Washington, D. C.); Washington National Intelligencer, October 24, 1861; and Nathaniel P. Banks to Benjamin F. Butler, June 25, 1861, Butler MSS.

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5 New York Tribune, December 13, 1861.

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6 Boston Daily Advertiser, in National Intelligencer, July 1, 1861, for a description of the attacks and a defense of the academy; New York Tribune, August 27, article by contributor, September 1, letters of contributor; Hamilton Fish to Fessenden, July 19, 1861, William P. Fessenden MSS. (Library of Congress).

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7 Entry of July 7, 1861, William H. Russell, My Diary North and South (New York 1863), 146, describing a breakfast conversation of Henry Wilson and others.

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8 "Report of the Secretary of War," Senate Executive Documents, 37 Cong., 1 Sess., I, no. 1, pp27‑28. The "Report of the Board of Visitors of Military Academy," bitterly critical of the academy, was included in Cameron's report, ibid., 29‑36.

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9 For sample comments of the radicals condemning the administration's war policy, see Benjamin F. Wade, Facts for the People (Cincinnati, 1864); New York Tribune, October 28, 29, 30, 1861; Joshua R. Giddings, home letter, October 27, 1861, Giddings-Julian MSS.; James W. Grimes to Mrs. Grimes, November 10, 1861, Salter, Grimes, 153‑154; Thaddeus Stevens to his nephew, November 6, 1861, Thaddeus Stevens MSS. (Library of Congress). Senator Grimes broached the project of a congressional inquiry into the conduct of war, "to probe the sore spots to the bottom," and begged Fessenden to take the lead in the attack. Grimes to Fessenden, November 13, Salter, Grimes, 156‑157. This proposal resulted in the establishment in December of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War.

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10 Conservative fears of the coming struggle and appeals to the radicals were voiced in J. F. Speed to Joseph Holt, November 28, 1861, Joseph Holt MSS. (Library of Congress); National Intelligencer, December 2, 1861; New York Times, December 5, 1861; New York Evening Post, December 5, 1861; Senator Collamer, interview with Boston Daily Advertiser in National Intelligencer, December 6, 1861.

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11 John G. Nicolay and John Hay, eds., Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln (New York, 1905), VII, 28‑60, for the message. For the radical reaction, New York Tribune, December 4, 1861; New York National Anti-Slavery Standard, December 14, 1861; C. H. Ray to Lyman Trumbull, December 6, 1861, Trumbull MSS.; Grant Goodrich to Trumbull, December 5, 1861, ibid.; S. Ford to Trumbull, December 5, 1861, ibid.; J. H. Bryant to Trumbull, December 8, 1861, ibid.

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12 Pierce, Sumner, IV, 46; New York Tribune, Washington Correspondence, December 10, 1861; National Anti-Slavery Standard, December 14, 1861; J. H. Bryant to Lyman Trumbull, December 5, 1861, Trumbull MSS.; J. Russell to Trumbull, December 17, 1861, ibid.

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13 Congressional Globe, 37 Cong., 2 Sess., 1, 18‑19; National Intelligencer, December 3, 1861; James G. Blaine, Twenty years of Congress, from Lincoln to Garfield . . . (Norwich, 1884), I, 374‑375; W. G. Suethard to Lyman Trumbull, December 6, 1861, Trumbull MSS.; J. Barber to Trumbull, December 8, 1861, ibid.; H. W. Blodgett to Trumbull, December 21, 1861, ibid.

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14 National Intelligencer, December 4, 1861; Cong. Globe, 37 Cong., 2 Sess., 8.

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15 Cong. Globe, 37 Cong., 2 Sess., 15; National Intelligencer, December 5, 1861.

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16 Edward L. Pierce, Memoir and Letters of Charles Sumner (Boston, 1894), IV, 38‑39; Smith, Blair Family, II, 130; Cong. Globe, 37 Cong., 2 Sess., 33‑34; National Intelligencer, December 10, 12, 1861; New York Tribune, December 20, 1861; George Nourse to Lyman Trumbull, December 21, 1861, Trumbull MSS.; James Terrel to Trumbull, December 4, 1861, ibid.; E. Etheridge to Andrew Johnson, December 19, 1861, Andrew Johnson MSS. (Library of Congress). The officers singled out for criticism were Generals Halleck and Charles F. Smith.

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17 New York Tribune, December 10, 11, 1861; Cong. Globe, 37 Cong., 2 Sess., 78, for speech of Representative Thomas D. Eliot; report of Eliot's speech, National Intelligencer, December 13, 1861; Thaddeus Stevens to G. Smith, December 14, 1861, Stevens MSS.; General David Hunter to Lyman Trumbull, December 9, 1861, Trumbull MSS.

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18 Gustave Koerner to Lyman Trumbull, December 12, 1861, Trumbull MSS.; G. Nourse to Trumbull, December 21, 1861, ibid.; R. H. Kettler to Trumbull, December 22, 1861, ibid.; J. W. Schaffer to Trumbull, December 24, 1861, ibid.; B. W. Reynolds to Trumbull, December 16, 1861, ibid.; M. Sutliff to Trumbull, December 7, 1861, ibid.; Cong. Globe, 37 Cong., 2 Sess., 110‑111, for speech of Senator James H. Lane of Kansas; report of Lane's speech, National Intelligencer, December 17, 1861; New York Tribune, December 14, 16, 1861, editorials calling for action; R. L. Stanford to Andrew Johnson, December 31, 1861, Johnson MSS.; Robert B. Warden, Account of the Private Life and Public Services of Salmon Portland Chase (Cincinnati, 1874), 392, reports from Chase's diary, December 12, 1861, describing the hope of Senator Chandler to put Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.McDowell in McClellan's place.

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19 Speech of December 23, 1861, Cong. Globe, 37 Cong., 2 Sess., 164.

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20 George W. Julian, Speech on Political Questions (New York, 1872), 202‑204; Harper's Weekly (New York), VI, January 25, 1862, p50; Salmon P. Chase to John Young, October 27, 1862, Jacob W. Schuckers, Life and Public Serves of Salmon Portland Chase (New York, 1874), 458.

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21 Cong. Globe, 37 Cong., 2 Sess., 49, 69; National Intelligencer, December 13, 1861.

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22 Lyman Trumbull to M. C. Lea, November 5, 1861, Trumbull MSS.; Horace White, Lyman Trumbull (Boston, 1913), 171‑172; Charles Sumner to John Jay, November 10, 1861, Pierce, Sumner, IV, 49.

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23 J. W. Schaffer to Lyman Trumbull, December 24, 1861, Trumbull MSS.; S. Sawyer to Trumbull, December 18, ibid.

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24 Cong. Globe, 37 Cong., 2 Sess., 83; report of Conway's speech, National Intelligencer, December 13, 1861.

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25 Joseph Medill to Edwin M. Stanton, January 21, 1862, Edwin M. Stanton MSS. (Library of Congress).

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26 "I feel the sentiment among the old army officers to be that the more human chattels a man owns, the more he is the gentleman. A strong Southern sentiment has always held the army the navy."º Colonel R. C. Watkins to Lyman Trumbull, January 9, 1862, Trumbull MSS.; J. K. Dubois to Trumbull, January 13, 1862, ibid.; H. H. Hood to Thaddeus Stevens, January 8, 1862, Stevens MSS.

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27 Cong. Globe, 37 Cong., 2 Sess., 162.

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28 Ibid., 164‑165.

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29 Ibid., 162, for Wade's remarks; page 163 for Sherman's; page 200 for Trumbull's. The latter spoke on January 7, 1862, when the debate was renewed. The academy was defended from the charge of disloyalty by Grimes and Wilson. Grimes asserted that while 262 graduates had joined the Confederacy, 681 had remained loyal. See his Senate speech, ibid., 200‑201. For Wilson's defense see ibid., 163, 164. Wilson later presented figures to show that while 197 West Point officers, out of a total of 820, had resigned their commissions, 178 of these were natives of southern states. Ibid., 37 Cong., 3 Sess., 324. For a similar estimate, see Frank Leslie's Illustrated Weekly Newspaper (New York), XVI, October 24, 1863, p67.

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30 Cong. Globe, 37 Cong., 2 Sess., 162‑164.

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31 Ibid., 165.

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32 Ibid., 200 for Trumbull's remarks, 202 for James R. Doolittle's, 204 for Timothy O. Howe's.

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33 New York Tribune, December 14, 1861.

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34 Charles Ellet, Military Incapacity and What It Costs the Country (New York, 1862), 10. Ellet's pamphlet appeared in the press during December, 1861.

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35 W. G. Wheaton to Lyman Trumbull, January 9, 1862, Trumbull MSS.

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36 C. E. Peck to Lyman Trumbull, February 15, 1862, ibid.; P. A. Allaire to Trumbull, December 10, 1861, ibid.

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37 Cong. Globe, 37 Cong., 2 Sess., 164.

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38 Ibid., 163.

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39 Ibid., 165.

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40 Ibid., 164.

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41 Ibid., 202.

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42 Ibid., 206.

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43 William E. Doster, Lincoln and Episodes of the Civil War (New York, 1915), 182. For a radical analysis of the influence of West Point on McClellan and his subordinates, see editorial in Leslie's Weekly, XV, October 4, 1862, "Moderation in War is Imbecility." The writer asserted, "A stout heart will do more to make a good general than all the lessons of West Point or the diagrams of Jomini."

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44 "The truth is now apparent to all the world that we have everything requisite to success, save a General. We have the men and material but 'nairy' great military leaders! Such beings are made by God himself — and not at West Point." John Irons to Lyman Trumbull, December 20, 1862, Trumbull MSS. Volunteer officers complained to their Congressmen of the arrogance and pro-slavery sympathies of the regulars. Colonel G. T. Allen to Trumbull, December 16, 1862, ibid.; General John Palmer to id., December 20, 1862, ibid.

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45 Harper's Weekly, VI, January 17, 1863, p34.

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46 J. K. Dubois to Lyman Trumbull, December 30, 1862, Trumbull MSS.; T. Maple to id., December 25, 1862, ibid.; remarks of Wade and Fessenden to the Republican Senatorial caucus and to Lincoln when the Senators attempted to force Lincoln to remodel his cabinet after Fredericksburg, Francis Fessenden, Life and Public Services of William Pitt Fessenden (Boston, 1907), I, 231‑236, 240‑243.

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47 Joseph Medill to Schuyler Colfax, Ovando J. Hollister, Life of Schuyler Colfax (New York, 1886), 203; W. Scott to John Sherman, December 18, 1862, John Sherman MSS. (Library of Congress); diary of Congressman William P. Cutler, entry of December 16, 1862, Julia P. Cutler, Life and Times of Ephraim Cutler, with Biographical Sketches of Jervis Cutler and William Parker Cutler (Cincinnati, 1890), 296‑297; General John Palmer to Lyman Trumbull, December 19, 1862, Trumbull MSS.

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48 Congressman Charles Sedgwick to John M. Forbes, December 22, 1862, Sarah F. Hughes, Letters and Recollections of John Murray Forbes (Boston, 1899), I, 344‑346; William Pitt Fessenden, home letter, Fessenden, Fessenden, I, 253.

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49 Leslie's Weekly, XV, January 17, 1863, p258; New York Journal of Commerce, in Detroit Free Press, January 7; Illinois State Register, January 13, 1863, in Arthur C. Cole, "Lincoln and the Illinois Radical Republicans," Mississippi Valley Historical Review, IV (1918), 427.

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50 Cutler's diary, Cutler, Cutler, 297‑298; Fessenden, home letters, January 10, Fessenden, Fessenden, I, 265‑266, January 18, p266.

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51 Harper's Weekly, VI, January 3, 1863; New York World, January 19, 1863; Utica Telegraph, in Detroit Free Press, January 30, 1863; Boston Post, February 2, 1863; New York Herald, January 19, 1863. For the Porter court martial, see House Exec. Docs., 37 Cong., 3 Sess., no. 71. For the Buell hearing, see War of the Rebellion, A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington, 1891‑1901), Series I, Vol. 16, pt. 1.

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52 New York Herald, January 27, 1863; New York World, January 26, 1863.

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53 Cong. Globe, 37 Cong., 3 Sess., 329, remarks of Grimes and Trumbull; Salter, Grimes, 209‑210.

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54 Ibid., 324.

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55 Ibid., 330.

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56 Ibid., 326.

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57 Ibid., 326. A system of military instruction to supersede West Point was proposed by General Franz Sigel, a civilian officer. In a letter to Trumbull congratulating him on the January attack, Sigel recommended the establishment of academies at Boston, Cincinnati, and Chicago, equal in status and training to West Point. Such a system would "destroy the monopoly of West Point, effect a good competition and enable the Government to bring even into the regular army a liberal element, counterbalancing thereby the aristocratic and conservative element of the West Point school." Sigel to Lyman Trumbull, January 22, 1863, Trumbull MSS.

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58 Cong. Globe, 37 Cong., 3 Sess., 324, 325, 326, 327; ibid., 329‑330, for Trumbull's charges of the same nature.

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59 Ibid., 328‑329. For a contemporary defense of West Point, see Detroit Free Press, January 21, 1863. One supporter of the academy said: "The aim is to force the resignation or procure the removal of these patriotic generals of conservative instincts, and put in their place a lot of rabid politicians, who are guiltless of a West Point education." New York Journal of Commerce in Detroit Free Press, January 29, 1863.

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60 Cong. Globe, 37 Cong., 3 Sess., 334. Sherman's change of vote may be explained by the advance in rank and prestige achieved by his brother, a West Point graduate. Fessenden, while critical of the academy, had never desired its destruction. Grimes, as chairman of the Senate Committee on Naval Affairs, generally defended both Annapolis and West Point. In general the radical vote against the academy was concentrated in the Northwest and western states, while eastern Republicans tended to give it their support. The influence of sectionalism is apparent.

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61 Cong. Globe, 38 Cong., 2 Sess., 426, January 26, 1865.


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