The Writings of Carl Schurz/To President Lincoln, May 19th, 1861


New York, May 19, 1861.

I have just received your kind letter of the 16th instant. You will meanwhile have seen a captain of the 7th New York, one of the German regiments. The brigade is formed by the State board and consists of the 7th, 8th and 2Oth, all German regiments, and Ellsworth's Zouaves. The field-officers of the three German regiments have resolved to vote for me, unanimously, at the brigade election, and have addressed a letter to Colonel Ellsworth, informing him of their desire. All this is probably known to you. Yesterday, Major-General Dix, commanding the First Division, of which the Second Brigade forms a part, informed us, that the election will be put off ten days, according to the militia laws of this State; but the field-officers desiring to have the brigade organized at once, he intimated that this could be done, provided the four regiments were unanimous in their choice. The whole matter, according to this, depends on Colonel Ellsworth. If he will signify his acquiescence in the choice of the three regiments, either by telegram or letter to General Dix, it will facilitate matters very much. It is very important that the brigade be organized without delay; I shall then be able to take hold of matters officially and get the regiments ready for field service as a brigade in a very short time. The best way to dispose of this red-tape business, which rests like an incubus upon the military matters of this State, would be, if you would telegraph to General Dix yourself to have the thing done at once. There will then be no unnecessary delay.

As to the disposition to be made of the brigade I know I express the sentiment of the three regiments here in saying that they would be glad to be sent where there will be the first chance to do something, be it at Washington or Fortress Monroe, provided the brigade, the three regiments and Colonel Ellsworth, remain together. As far as Fortress Monroe is concerned, the difficulty about the rank seems to be removed by General Butler's promotion.

I should be glad to have some authority from you in another matter. At Hoboken, there is a battery of German artillery, all old artillerymen, fully equipped and ready for service. Major Hexamer, commanding the same, called upon me and wanted to be attached to my brigade. His battery consists of six beautiful six-pounders and will be one of the most efficient in the army. Will you have the kindness to authorise me to bring them along as part of the brigade? If so, a telegram to myself and one to the governor of New Jersey would set the thing in motion.

You would oblige me very much by advising General Dix and myself by telegraph of your desires in the matter above referred to.

To this the following informal answer was made:

If it will make no confusion, let all the German regiments be of those going to Fort Monroe. This will only, at most, transfer, and not change, the proportions going there and coming here.

May 27, 1861.