were formed, and performances were given by the men, and the army on the south side of the Potomac
lived its own life as if it were hundreds of miles away from Washington
, as many of its members devoutly wished it was. The men learned many old-soldier tricks.
of these was reported to me by a colonel of my division, with an air of great disgust.
Some of his companies lived in huts built by themselves.
The huts were two in number, on both sides of the company parade ground-half of the company sleeping in each hut. At reveille some dozen of the men would turn out, and when the roll was called the remainder would answer to their names from their beds in the huts, and stay in bed until breakfast time.
But, although the army was improving, the nervousness of the administration and Congress, caused by the delay and the alarming sickness of General McClellan
, continually increased.
On Friday evening, January 10th, 1862, I received a dispatch from the Assistant Secretary of War
, informing me that the President
wished to see me at eight o'clock that evening, if I could safely leave my command.
I went to Washington
, and arrived at the White House
at eight o'clock. I was received in a small room in the northeast corner of the house, and found the President
, Secretaries Seward
, the Assistant Secretary of War
, and General McDowell
The President was in great distress over the condition of the country.
He complained that he was abused in Congress for the military inaction; that, notwithstanding the enormous amount of money which had been spent, nothing was doing East or West; that there was a general feeling of depression on account of the inaction; and that, as he expressed it, the bottom appeared to be falling out of everything.
He was exceedingly sorry for the sickness of General McClellan
He was not allowed to see him to talk over military matters, and he wanted to produce some concerted action between Generals Halleck
, who did not appear to pull together.
He could, of course, do nothing with the Western
armies; they were out of his reach; but he thought that he could, in a very short time, do something with the Army of the Potomac, if, he were allowed to have his own way, and had sent for General McDowell
and me so that he might have somebody to talk to on the subject.
In fact, he wanted, he said, to borrow
the Army of the Potomac from General McClellan
for a few weeks, and wanted us to help him as to how to do it. He complained of the rise of gold, of the unreasonableness of Congress, of the virulence of the press, and, in general, told us all that depressed him, in a plain, blunt way that was touching to a degree.
told us that an