Stanton: The Life and Times of Lincoln's Secretary of War

By Benjamin P. Thomas; Harold M. Hyman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XV
A TOWER OF STRENGTH

DANA'S PREDICTION that the only way Lee could now harass the North was by means of raiding parties was accurate. Gray raiders broke loose in the Shenandoah Valley once again in the first week of July. Bald, stooped Confederate general Jubal Early commanded the raiders, but beyond this there was little reliable information. Stanton was taking all possible emergency measures, but he desperately needed accurate intelligence.

On July 8, Hitchcock called on Halleck. He was alarmed by the danger to the capital represented by Early's thrust, but Halleck was calm and passive. At Stanton's behest, Halleck had warned Grant of the situation, but Grant had recommended no course of action. Thinking it unwise to leave decisions affecting the safety of Washington to Grant far down in Virginia, Hitchcock hurried to see Stanton and repeated his forebodings. The Secretary calmly told him that everything was in Grant's hands.

Hitchcock was far from satisfied, and he decided to see Lincoln. He found him more depressed than he had ever seen him, "indeed quite paralyzed and wilted down," but nevertheless the President repeated what Halleck and Stanton had said. Hitchcock warned that if Stonewall Jackson were alive and in command of the rebel raiders, Washington would fall within three days. There was nothing to stop him. Stanton had told Lincoln the same thing, Hitchcock later learned. But neither of them could move the President. Hitchcock concluded that Lincoln, having been criticized before for interfering in tactical movements, had resolved to keep hands off Grant, and Stanton was obeying this decision.

The rebels crossed the Potomac. Lincoln, now spending every free

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