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

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

"CHAPTER XXIX
CLING TO THE OLD "ORIFICE"

MORE THAN anything else, Stanton was concerned about Ellen's reaction to all this. He feared that her strong views might find expression in some way permanently damaging to their life together. This was the one price which he would not pay for continuing on at the war office.

On Monday night, the twenty-fourth, Stanton realized that he might be in for a long siege and that he must make some housekeeping preparations. He sent Sergeant Koerth to the Stanton home for a supply of food, clothing, blankets, and pillows. The sergeant, arriving there, received an unexpected reception. In her anger with her husband for disregarding his personal and family interests, and from her frantic fear for his safety, Ellen refused to send the linens and food. She told Koerth to convey her insistence to Stanton that he quit the Department, resign the disputed portfolio, and come home.

Koerth returned empty-handed. When he reported to Stanton on Ellen's reaction, the Secretary smiled and said: " Koerth, go to your own house and bring blankets, pillows, and such cooking utensils as we may need." In the predawn darkness Koerth fulfilled his mission. He then stopped at a farmers' market near the Capitol to purchase meat and vegetables.

Stanton was delighted when he saw the food. Suddenly ravenously hungry, he prepared an Irish stew. The sun rose as he put it over the fire which had been burning all night. Watching the flames, Stanton and the sergeant succumbed to the exhaustion that gripped them both and fell asleep. In the full light of the morning Stanton suddenly wakened. " Koerth! Koerth! Wake up, man," he shouted, "the stew is burning!" But they were too late to save the meal. Ruefully the Secretary

-595-

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