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How is war going? Why take Richmond? Just a city - "Grant will NOT do."
letter, McIlvaine, Chase, Civil War
McIlvaine, Charles Petit, "Letter to S.P. Chase" (1863). Charles Pettit McIlvaine Letters. 343.
Can you send me a copy of your report and that of the sec’ of war and navy?
Cincinnati Jan 9, 1863
My dear Mr. Chase,
No business, no request, no nothing in this letter, but only I want some comfort about the affairs and prospects of the country - and I thought perhaps you can administer to me. Is there any light? The victory at [Murfeesborough] is glorious to the conduct of our brave army - but the fearful slaughter, there and at Fredericksburgh and since, I fear, at Vicksburgh; and one does not see that things are [?]ing towards some great result. At least I do not see; and hoping that perhaps you do, hence this note. Pardon me if I express an opinion about military matters, but I have always believed that the great concentration of our strength upon the taking of Richmond was a mistake - and not worth the sacrifices it has cost. My idea has been and is - take the coast and the West - and the East will be then an easy conquest - meanwhile be threatening Richmond all the while as if we were going to take it. If our seat of Gov’t were not where it is - so near Richmond - that [news] would have been more generally taken. Richmond is of little importance to us. When it falls - we have not taken [?] or any thing but itself - and the gratification of having compelled the Rebel Gov’t to pack up and go somewhere else. It has no such identification with the Confed. Gov’t as Wash. has with that of the U.S.
Another opinion - Grant will not do and ought never to have been put in high command. He will make some work yet, such as that which through his negligence was so near taking place at Shiloh. What has he done in evidence of any general’s help? I have yet to see the man who has been under him who has any confidence in his ability, industry, discretion or sobriety. He is brave and that is about all. But having us a Gen. without other qualities, may be of more harm than cowardice. In these parts, he is [?]ly spoken of as one who is too often “liquorised” to be capable of fortifying his trust. Once let a Gen. give evidence of intemperance, [?], and I would [?] him [?]. Do you think much of Helleck? I do not ask an answer. But --- Never mind. It is not for me to say - only that I expect very little efficiency, [?], large-heartedness, and just advancement of the best men for the wants of the cause, from him. Grant is said to be one of his favorites - or one in which he relies. I am so glad you did not leave the Treasury - when of course, if you [?] yourself, your ease of mind or any selfish desire, you would rejoice to be delivered from the awful burden of the present office. Good, honest, dear old Mr. Whittleby has gone. The troubles of the country can no more distort his rest. My affectionate remembrance to Mr. R[?].
Your affectionate friend,
Charles P. McIlvaine