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Proposal of President Lincoln, Seward and Chase that McIlvaine go to England to try to influence the British toward the Northern cause. Meeting with General Scott.
letter, McIlvaine, Du Bois, son-in-law, Civil War
McIlvaine, Charles Petit, "Letter to G.W. Du Bois" (1861). Charles Pettit McIlvaine Letters. 232.
Cincinnati Oct. 31, 1861
My dear Sir,
I have recd your letter in which you specify the points in which the regulations concerning Chaplains should be [informed]. They all seem to me very judicious & important & practicable, except in point of legislation. I returned last week from the East wither I had been to attend the Bd of Missions, the Ev. R. Soc. &c. On my way back, I spent a week at Wash. being there the day of the sad & insensible affair of the Potomac as I was the day of the Bull Run affair. While there I attended a meeting of Chaplains in Dr. Butler’s Ch. Some 35 were present & it was a devoutl & solemn meeting. I addressed them.The bye it was the consideration of their duties & what could be done to give them better opportunities of usefulness. A Committee was appointed to wait in the Sec. of War &c. about some points, & I (Chairman of the meeting) was requested to be its Chairman. We went first to the Sec. at war. He was just going to a Cabinet Meeting. We then went to Gen. [?] & first had a long convention in his office with Col. [Townsend] one of his staff who is an earnest [chamber] Episcopalian. He made it evident that nothing was to be expected from legislation. Congress & the Cabinet have not interest enough in the matter to take it up. We then had a long talk with Mr. Gen. [?] & the interest we could ask of him after his representation, was an advising order to the whole army, conveying such points with are we predicted. He said he would think of it & see what he could do. The whole Chaplain System ^ in our army ^ is parochial. Officers choose the Chaplain as the vestry chose a Rector. Law] is kept out as much as possible. The Chaplains in this defendent to a sad degree on the Commanding officer. A bad Colonel may as you have mentioned an instance, make his office useless.
Dear [Mary] has sent us several of your letters written the best of last of Sept. & in Oct. One also came to me, which I sent to Mr. Chase because of its information concerning Gen. [?], in which he takes interest. I have been much interested in your letters & doings & hard life’s labours. You have seen hard & most trying times & scares & not a little danger. The worst aspect of war you have seen. That you have been enabled to keep your mind in so much peace, that in such scenes & with so little sympathy among such persons & so far awy from home, you have been enabled to keep up so much heart & courage & cheerfulness & energy; that your spirits have not sunk, that your energies have not slackened; that you have been enabled to do so much for the sick & suffering, & to day yourself so much for them, that you have gained so entirely the respect & affection of your officers & war, under such circumstances is a matter of the greatest thankfulness & encouragement. I don’t think anyone else would have done so much. Laws has done it, under God’s grace. Now the question whether you should leave that Regt. I had a letter from Capt Grange of the Regt. (Requiter) at Columbus, saying he thought there was but little prospect of your being chosen there, for while there are several Episcopalians among the officers, + uhe is most desirous of getting you, the Col. who is a Presb. favours a Mr. Day [(Prabm)] who has been there + preached + the officers were well pleased. It will go as the Col. desires I suppose. About Col. [?] Regt. then. If you present Regt. is to go with Winter Quarters in W. Va. I should say resign, because the life would be too hard & exposing for the opportunity of usefulness. Better return to your congregation. The question is first whether you have not had enough of army life & it would not be better to return to your parish, as we have no prospect of getting any one whom they will support to go there for the period of your absence. Between the 11th + Col. [?] Regt I cannot advise; as I do not know any thing of the letter. It would depend very much on whether the [Wh] is to remain on &c. except that with [Prezable] or [Dc Villan] for colonel you can expect no and in your duties. on the whole I think I should prefer Col. [?].How wonderfully your health has been preserved. I will here leave the question of what you ought to do, till I get to Chillicothe whither I go tomorrow to meet Bp. Bedell who is visiting at [Manetta] & where I have telegraphed to meet [?] me tomorrow. But I cannot spend Sunday there as that is engaged at Delaware. We shall look now every day for important news from the Coast expedition & a simultaneous movement on the Potomac. I have had a remarkable proposition made me while I was a tWash. by the Pres. Mr Seward + Mr. Chase [?] I would go to Engld. & without seeming to do so, or to have such an object place myself in such society and usually go into there & endeavour by conversation to influence the English mind as to our cause. I [?] that if I want, I was to take Nain with me & her expenses be [borne] by Govt as well as were. I had made up my mind to go & Nain & Anna was to go also, but I was not very comfortably assured of the duty, & had no agreeable feelings about it & only saw it as duty to the country & was praying that if it were not God’s will, it might be prevented when a telegram came to-day, from Mr. [Chase], saying that further action is delayed by the Cabinet for 10 or 12 days, by which I understand that in that time some important events will take place which will settle the prospect of usefulness. I don’t want to go & if the Lord prevent I should not murmur. Don’t speak of it. The plea is for [John’s] family to come into our house & make one family during my absence. Now I wait till I can write from Chillicothe.
Chillicothe Friday night-
Got here at noon. Bp. Bedell unable to meet me, leave tomorrow at 8 a.m. by stage for Columbus to get the train for Delaware where I have an appt. for Sunday. [Feasted] on your letter. God bless & reward you, my dear sir [son] for your [?] benevolence to the poor men. The record is on hihg to the praise of the glory of God’s grace. Mamy had a letter from you to-day [deled] Monday, then [on] Friday. I never saw here look better. She has a brave noble spirit. The darling children are pretty well. [emmy] & George & [Byden] look very well.
My opinion is that if your Regt goes into winter quarters in [Va] you should either resign & [resecure] your parish or take the Chaplancy of Col. [?] Regt. With a Regt so reduced, your usefulness in winter quarters would be very much lessened - those quarters being in West Va. besides the greater difficulty of absences from your family in winter when communications are the more difficult. The parish is very suffering & no prospect of a supply. Only a single man could come & we know not where he is. The Lord bless you my dear & most beloved sir. Your affectionate Father