Wrote Con. Washburne, “There are some things which I wish to say to you in my own vindication”

Mar 22 1862 Wrote Congressman Washburne, “I have received two or three letters from you which I have not answered, because, at the time they were received either your brother or Rowley were about writing.  I am now getting nearly well and ready for any emergency that may arise.  A severe contest may be looked for in this quarter before many weeks, but of the result feel no alarm.

“There are some things which I wish to say to you in my own vindication, not that I care one straw for what is said, individually, but because you have taken so much interest in my welfare that I think you entitled to all facts connected with my acts.

“I see by the papers that I am charged with giving up a certain number of slaves captured at Fort Donelson!

“My published order on the occasion shows that citizens were not permitted to pass through our camps to look for their slaves.  There were some six or seven negroes at Donelson who represented that they had been brought from Ky. to work for officers, and had been kept a number of months without receiving pay.

“I see the credit of attacking the enemy by the way of the Tennessee and Cumberland is variously attributed!  It is little to talk about it being the great wisdom of any Gen. that first brought forth this plan of attack.

“Our gunboats were running up the Ten. and Cumberland rivers all fall and winter watching the progress of the rebels on these works.  Gen. Halleck no doubt thought of this route long ago and I am sure I did.  As to how the battles should be fought, both McClelland and Halleck are too much of soldiers to suppose that they can plan how that should be done at a distance.  This would presuppose that the enemy would make just the moves laid down for them.  It would be a game of Chess; the right hand against the left determining before hand that the right should win.

“The job being an important one, neither of the above Generals would have entrusted it to an officer who they had not confidence in.  So far I was highly complimented by both.

“After getting into Donelson, Gen. Halleck did not hear from me for near two weeks.  It was about the same time before I heard from him.  I was writing every day and sometimes as often as three times a day.  Reported every move and change, the condition of my troops &c.  Not getting these, Gen. Halleck very justly became dissatisfied and was, as I have since learned, sending me daily reprimands.  Not receiving them, they lost their sting.  When one did reach me, not seeing the justice of it I retorted and asked to be relieved.  Three telegrams passed in this way, each time ending by my requesting to be relieved.  All is now understood however and I feel assured that Gen. Halleck is fully satisfied.  In fact he wrote me a letter saying that I could not be relieved and otherwise quite complimentary.  I will not tire you with a longer letter but assure you again that you shall not be disappointed in me if it is in my power to prevent it.”

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 4, p 408-9

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