2012-01-12 / Living

THIS WEEK IN THE CIVIL WAR

Lincoln’s outspoken war secretary resigns

President Abraham Lincoln’s outspoken war secretary, Simon Cameron, a canny old-time political boss from Pennsylvania, resigns the all-important Cabinet post on Jan. 14, 1862.

Known for bold and even aggressive views on war measures, Cameron had drawn the ire of others in the Cabinet and departs amid angry complaints about his guidance of the federal War Department. Three days after being eased out by the Lincoln administration, Cameron will be appointed to a diplomatic post in distant Russia.

In Cameron’s place, Lincoln appoints Edwin Stanton, a capable administrator, as his new war secretary. The Cleveland Plain Dealer of Ohio hails Stanton’s appointment as “The Right Man in the Right Place.” It adds the appointment has given “great pleasure” to many in Washington. “They have confidence in his energy and pluck, and believe he will push on the war,” the newspaper reports.

Also this week, a Union expedition is clearing gale-force storms off Hatteras Inlet, intent on clearing Confederate forces from Roanoke Island close to North Carolina’s Outer Banks — part of a Navy strategy to take command of the sounds and inland waterways behind the islands that blockade runners have been using to supply the Confederate forces based in Richmond, Va.

This week in 1862 also sees a reported attempt to blow up a Union military hospital just across the Potomac River from Washington in Alexandria, Va. The Associated Press, in a Jan. 9, 1862, dispatch, reports “a barrel had been secreted in the cellar filled with powder and projectiles and a fuse was found extending from there to the stable. But this fact was fortunately discovered by the guard” and a slow-burning fuse was put out before the explosives could detonate.

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