Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 8.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.

To Winfield S. Hancock [1]

Office U.S. Military Telegraph,
Major Gen. Hancock, War Department,
Winchester, Va. Washington, D.C., March 22. 1865.

Seeing your despatch about Gen. Crook, and fearing that, through misapprehension, something unpleasant may occur, I send you below two despatches of Gen. Grant, which I suppose will fully explain Gen. Crook's movements. A. LINCOLN

Page  371


[1]   ALS, DNA WR RG 107, Presidential Telegrams, I, 379. Major General George Crook had been in command of the Department of West Virginia when he was captured at Cumberland on February 21, 1865. On March 20, Edward D. Townsend notified Crook: ``Your exchange has been effected. The general-in-chief directs that you immediately return to command of your department. . . .'' (OR, I, XLVI, III, 59). On March 21, Major General Winfield S. Hancock telegraphed Halleck: ``I learn to-night . . . that Major-General Crook has assumed command of the Department of West Virginia, with headquarters at Cumberland. The headquarters of the department are at this place, and I am in command by the assignment of the President. I have no other official knowledge of General Crook's being in this division. I have ordered him, if he has assumed command, to replace matters as he found them, and report at Frederick, Md., in arrest, and will prefer charges against him as soon as practicable.'' (Ibid., p. 69).

Townsend replied to Hancock on the same day: ``The Secretary of War directs that Maj. Gen. George Crook be immediately relieved from command of the Department of the Cumberland and ordered to report in person without delay to Lieutenant-General Grant for assignment to a command. . . .'' (Ibid.).

Crook relinquished command on March 22, and Hancock ordered him in obedience to orders from the Secretary of War to report to Grant (ibid., p. 85).

The two telegrams from Grant which Lincoln forwarded to Hancock as indicated above were: (1) to Townsend, March 18: ``Please notify General Crook that his exchange has been effected, and order him back to his department. As soon as he goes on duty I will have him relieved and ordered at once to command the cavalry of the Army of the Potomac'' (ibid., p. 28); and (2) to Stanton, March 21: ``I would recommend relieving Crook from command of his department and ordering him to command the cavalry of the Army of the Potomac. . . .'' (Ibid., p. 61).

Hancock's reply to Lincoln's telegrams was received at 11:20 A.M. on March 22: ``There can be no trouble in Genl Crooks' case if he has observed my order to restore matters as he found them and to proceed to Frederick in arrest. Where my order suspending his arrest, and ordering him to report to Lt Genl Grant will reach him. According to just military principle I could pursue no other course, & there will be no delay on my part in the execution of the order of the Department to send General Crook to City Point'' (DLC-RTL).