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Banks, Nathaniel Prentiss (1816-1894) to Samuel Hooper

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02689 Author/Creator: Banks, Nathaniel Prentiss (1816-1894) Place Written: Washington, D.C. Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 27 September 1862 Pagination: 10 p. : docket ; 20.5 x 13 cm.

Summary of Content: Banks, commander of the Military District of Washington, Army of the Potomac, discusses the furlough of Private Sherrin of the 2nd Massachusetts (Banks appealed for Sherrin's furlough on behalf of Hooper, and the furlough was denied). Mentions many mutual acquaintances, including Mr. Whittemore, Mr. Haver, and Colonel Lincoln, who taught Banks to love sherry. Comments on Civil War leadership: "What the Country most needs is a change. Not in men Nor in measures, but in the management of affairs- It is not important that we are better or worse in the way we are going- The country requires a change in the direction 'by the head of column-' to give vigor & efficiency to our government. I see this more in the army, than in other branches of public administration." Criticizes a lack of unification between government and military in Union forces, writing "We have too much intellect... as a nation to be destroyed by inanity or division." Discusses the Emancipation Proclamation and the superiority of Northern troops. Thanks Hooper for wine from Hooper's cellar. Docketed on the top of the last page. Written on Head Quarters, Defences of Washington stationery.

Background Information: Hooper was a United States Representative from Massachusetts 1861-1874.

Full Transcript: 27.th September 1862.

My Dear Sir,

I saw the Secretary this morning, immediately upon the receipt of your letter. and pressed him in your behalf for the furlough of Private Sherrin ...of the 2d Mass: He says it is impossible for him to grant a furlough now: that he has been obliged to deny them constantly, but hopes soon to effect exchanges for the greater part of the paroled prisoners. Those captured in May should have been included in the late exchange. It is possible they are but upon inquiry at the Adjutant Generals Office I could [2] find no evidence of that fact. I am sure if the Secretary could grant the furlough it would be done upon your application.
There seemed to be nothing in this case to distinguish it specially from the mass of cases presented. Sherrin could not lotto a commission until exchanged.
The letters you refer to have given me no trouble. I am only too happy to aid any of your friends, that you may refer to me. Mr Whttemore called to day, He had found his son, without difficulty. Mr Haver I have not seen but shall be most [3] happy to serve him if in my power. I grieve that the old enemy is at the door of our friend Colonel Lincoln but his, is after all, one of the least of the ills of our day. He has none. in the time of battle, to look after, and he would not much gain by the exchange of the "ills he has" for the wet ground, cold nights and hard fare even of a Major General. I am glad he and you still retain "confidence & regard."
Nothing delights me more. I often think I forfeit all claims to either by my inexcusable deficiencies in correspondence, but my memory is green. Even if my pen is reluctant - Give the Colonel, My best regards. - He taught me [4] to love Sherry, and I remember his kind approval of some of my poor acts as among the pleasantest incidints of my life -
Our affairs are improved but not changed. What the Country most needs is a change, not in men nor in measures, but in the mangement of affairs - It is not important that we are better or worse in the way we are going -
The country requires a change in the direction "by the head of column" [struck: to] to give vigor & efficiency to our Governent. I see this more in the army, than in other branches of public administration. There is a tendency towards dissolution rather than to the concentration of power. The grasp of the government upon [5] the army is lighter & less controlling than it was three months since. This demoralization will increase with its strength I fear, and if so, the way out of our difficulties is not clear - The rebel prisoners say they beat us because they are superior in numbers. and their generals are united. With us it seems as if we were not only divided in purpose, but that disagreement was our choice, rather than our neccessity, I suppose, the meeting of the Governors, at Altona, was, well intended but it was an act, not within the scope of our own system of governt which embarrasses confuses & divides the People, who have still in the North [struck: and] [inserted: as in] the South a sort of fealty to both state & national governments [6] and if it results in any measure characteristic of the meeting and decisive in character will produce evil as a precedent as well as division in action. It was just in such an organzation organzation and confusion of honest [inserted: minds] that the rebellion began. I should be glad to see indications or promise of a greater concentration of opinion and power. It must come by and by, we have too much intellect and vitality as a nation to be destroyed by inanity or division - There is not much dissension of a substantial nature in the minds of the Northern People, now - When they see, they see the necessity for united thoght and [7] action they will come - That is my hope - That is my trust - I wait patiently because I am sure it is on the way to us, and when it comes, then we shall see the End. Then [struck: too] [inserted: we] shall be great. - too great to be bothered by other nations - First God - then the American People.
While to my mind the interests of the People & the Permanent govt are drifting [to]ward - a little - the interests of the hour - or of administration so to speak, do not much suffer. The Proclamation will not make trouble - so far as it does anything it will do good. It answers an universal demand in which differences were as to methods rather than as to [strikeout] objects. In Finance I dont see that much trouble can come to us at present. It was a good thing said by a western soldier in that he didn't think there [8] could be any settlement of our affairs until the universal nigger was made a legal tender. The indifference of Maryland to the Rebel cause and the Enthusiasm of Pennsylvania has satisfied the South that if the war lasts ten or twenty years, the fight is still to be on their soil. And the battles on the Potomac, which in one sense were un[qualified] victory over superior forces, have dispelled all illusions about our capacity for fighting - I have no doubt, & the south will yet confess it, that Northern soldiers will make the best troops the world ever saw. I do not doubt the Northern Elections will be favorable. The opposition is not wise enough to do harm. The Proclamation can do no harm, and all parties will endorse it.
What then have we to fear? Just this: if we continue the coming campaign as that of the last, we shall come to grief. If on the other hand we concentrate [9] our troops, new and old, and overwhelm the enemy by superior numbers as by superior valor, as we easily can before another year, - although it may not be suppressed - the rebellion will be shorn of its proportions, so that every friend or foe, will feel that its end is near - I never saw results more clearly nor a more direct method of attaining them, But it requires as much a change of policy as it does improvements in the fortunes of the day -
My health is much improved Since my stay in Washington and the greater part of my strength I owe to the quiet & comfort of your Home. [10] [inserted: Gen Banks Washington 27th.. Sept:r 1862] I feel greatly indebted to your courtesy in giving me the privilege - Both Boutwell & myself agree that to accept your offer of access to the wine cellar would be an abuse of your generous Hospitality, and I think your stock will not be greatly reduced - I was obliged to draw upon it for a bottle of Chateaux Magaux - Count Eurowski being our guest at dinner, and we without wine I exposed [struck: my] [inserted: my] want of cultivation by asking if Chateaux Margaux was not a claret and recd the information in return that the vineyard had been purchasd by the father of the Spanish Minister here very lately for five million dollars - Present my regards to Colonel Lincoln and all friends - I shall write to Mrs Hooper - at Lenox, - You may look for further operations on the Potomac soon. Twenty Regiments new troops move to day & tomorrow for McClellan from this point } very truly yours
This is not for publication } N. P. Banks
Honorable Saml. Hooper.
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People: Banks, Nathaniel Prentiss, 1816-1894
Hooper, Samuel, 1808-1875

Historical Era: Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877

Subjects: Army of the PotomacCivil WarMilitary HistoryUnion ForcesUnion GeneralAlcoholGovernment and CivicsEmancipationEmancipation ProclamationAfrican American HistorySlaveryConfederate States of AmericaWashington, D.C.

Sub Era: The American Civil War

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