Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton on December 26, 1862 written from the Executive Mansion in Washington, D.C. Lincoln wrote about his displeasure hearing the news that Confederate General John Hunt Morgan captured an isolated Union garrison of 2,000 men at Hartsville, Tennessee.
The Union debacle in Hartsville was the byproduct of Union General William S. Rosecrans’s Stones River Campaign, which moved the Army of the Cumberland out of Nashville in pursuit of Confederate General Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee. On December 7, 1862, Morgan ambushed four Union regiments at the Cumberland River crossing at Hartsville, resulting in the capture of over 1,800 Union troops. Upon learning of the news, a displeased Lincoln wrote, “What on earth an isolated Brigade was doing there I cannot conceive…” The regiments were soon paroled. In this letter to Stanton, written the day after Christmas, Lincoln recommends that the recently paroled troops from the 104th Illinois Infantry be allowed to return home.