Mr. Seward to Mr. Cameron.

No. 13.]

Sir: Your despatch of August 19 (No. 8) has been received. It relates chiefly to your application for temporary leave of absence. That leave was granted in my despatch, No. 10, of the 6th instant.

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At the time when your application was received here the efficiency of our armies had been impaired in a vigorous though eminently successful campaign. It soon became probable, and more lately it unhappily was proved, that we must fail in the pending movement upon Richmond. Such a disappointment was not unlikely to be followed by positive disasters, the extent of which could not be foreseen. That failure was sure to encourage the emissaries of insurrection in Europe, and the public mind too readily yielded to apprehensions of intervention in some form which must increase the national embarrassment. Under these circumstances, popular remedies were suggested and urged upon the President. Chief among them was some form of Executive manifesto or declaration of a determination to make the war more energetic, severe, sanguinary, and destructive in the insurgent States. At the same moment a change long clamored for in the insurgent councils was adopted there, namely, that of withdrawing their armies from their own region, and rapidly throwing them forward upon not this capital alone, but the loyal States of Maryland, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. For the moment the war on our part, which had until now been an aggressive one, was to be one of defence, attended with all the alarms and apparent if not real dangers of invasion.

The President, in this emergency, decided to bring together the armies of the Potomac and Virginia, and consolidate them on some line in that State between this capital and Richmond; to re-enforce and augment not only that consolidated army but also all the other forces at his command with six hundred thousand men, to be raised as volunteers, with a draft, if necessary, and be thus prepared to meet and, with promptness and without display of words, to roll back the tide of invasion and complete the war by a vigorous campaign on the coasts, on the Mississippi, and through the mountain passes of eastern Tennessee.

The disasters which were threatened in Virginia actually occurred. The insurgents drove the army of Virginia back upon the line of fortifications and the capital, but not without losses probably equal to our own. They then advanced from Manassas to the fordable passes of the Potomac, crossed that river and entered Frederick, and invited Maryland to rise up and join the treasonable confederacy. There they threatened equally Washington, Baltimore, and Pennsylvania. In like manner they gathered forces in Kentucky, in the rear of the army of General Buell, who was investing Chattanooga, and advanced towards the Ohio river, thus threatening the loyal States of Ohio and Indiana, which lie on the north bank of that river. The insurrectionary congress recently assembled approved these aggressive movements, and solemnly proclaimed a purpose to carry the war into the loyal States and inflict upon them, with increased severity, all the rigors of desolating warfare.

Under such changed circumstances, which could not have been foreseen when you applied for leave of absence, the President thought the national interests required the watchful care of all our trusted representatives in Europe, and he thought it might be especially unfortunate if the mission at St. Petersburg were left without the presence of a minister of the highest grade and authority known in the diplomatic service. Hence his reluctance to accede to your wishes. It is now hoped that your absence will not be productive of injury to the public service.

Having thus related the military events culminating in the invasion of the loyal States, it is only just that I should bring the narration down to this point. The volunteers are coming in as freely as was expected. More than seventy thousand have reached this city; ten thousand or more are in Baltimore and its vicinity. Sixty thousand have joined the army of the west, and the whole proposed augmentation will be rapidly effected. The [Page 460] insurgents have receded and are retiring from their late advance towards the Ohio. General McClellan has just met the invaders of Maryland and driven them back towards the Potomac. The loyalty of Maryland has not been disturbed, and Pennsylvania is freed from the apprehensions of danger. With steadiness of purpose, prudence in council, and activity and energy of execution on the part of our commanders, great advantages may be derived from recent misfortunes, and the recklessness of the insurgents may result in the speedy ruin of their always desperate cause.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


Simon Cameron, Esq., &c., &c., &c.