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Friday, June 22, 2012

Note: the Regiment remained in camp near Gaines Mills

With Chaplain Benjamin De Costa having long been absent from camp due to illness, the Episcopal Chaplain of another regiment extended an invitation to the 18th to attend services at 10 a.m.. Colonel James Barnes didn't order mandatory attendance, but was hopeful at least half the Regiment would avail themselves of the opportunity. "Not many attended, however, as the reading of the Episcopal lessons is what we have listened to all winter...I often hear [the men] say they should like to attend an old styled prayer meeting at home, or a good sermon."

What President Lincoln and Secretary of War Stanton needed, according to one officer, was a sermon on the necessity of reinforcing the Army of the Potomac. "Our ranks are daily decreasing from sickness and exposure, all from want of reinforcements." Unless those troops, particularly those assigned to Irwin McDowell, were funneled to the Peninsula it was likely the Army would remain stationary, particularly since the Confederates "greatly outnumber us, and are daily throwing up trenches and batteries right opposite our army."

That apparent lack of support for the General Commanding, the officer charged, could be squarely placed at the feet of "the Abolitionists in Congress," who had "a great deal to do with this," and were "purposely protracting the war in order to render emancipation necessary." McClellan's critics would have dismissed 1st Lt. Stephen Weld's thoughts as pure nonsense. They, on the other hand, were suspicious that McClellan's handling of the army was only part of his grand design to eventually manuever himself into the White House. One thing that Weld was certain of, aside from the sun rising in the morning, was not only that McClellan "would not accept the Presidency if it were offered to him," but at war's end "a history of these facts will come out, which will fully vindicate McClellan and show up Stanton and Co. in their true light."


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