April 13, 1864
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Next telegram April 18, 1864
Washington D.C. April 13, 1864
Major General Butler,
Fort Monroe, VA
Yours in regard to Charles Crumpton
received. I have no more to say in the case.
No 1 Texm
16 Chg ExMans
Recd 930 am
Sent 940 am
This analysis makes use of a heuristic for historical thinking know as SCIM-C developed by David Hicks, Peter Doolittle and Tom Ewing. For more about this historical thinking heuristic please see [ttp://www.historicalinquiry.com http://www.historicalinquiry.com]
Summary of the telegram
This telegram was sent to Major General Benjamin Butler, commander of the Union Department of Virginia and North Carolina from President Lincoln regarding the case of Charles A. Crumpton, Colonel in the 16th Virginia Infantry, of the Confederate Forces.
The Context for this telegram
In the Spring of 1864, the Confederacy was beginning to crumble, but was not ready to fall yet. Virginia would soon be the home of Grant's Overland Campaign, which would be a war of attrition against the Confederacy, resulting in major battles such as The Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor. Major General Benjamin Butler was in command of the Department of Virginia and North Carolina, based around Fort Monroe in Virginia. Butler had a reputation as a harsh military commander, particularly by actions of his in New Orleans several years prior in which he executed a man for removing the US flag from its location, as well as major censorship of newspapers, and labeling Southern women as deserving to be treated as "prostitutes". Charles A. Crumpton was a Colonel in the 16th Virginia Infantry of the Confederate Forces.
Inferences about the telegram
Major General Benjamin Butler was a notorious figure in both the North and the South during the Civil War. He was removed from his commands numerous times, but because of political connections that he was able to maintain, he was able to hold onto his rank as well as to acquire new commands.
Lincoln was actively involved in many areas of the military while he was President. He actively pushed his commanders to be more aggressive, and had no problem engaging himself in their affairs. This also included many cases and actions regarding individuals. Considering Butler's past, as well as the fact that Charles A Crump was a Colonel in the 16th Virginia Infantry, which was present in Virginia at the time (they participated in the Battle of Cold Harbor), it is entirely possible that Crump was captured and was involved in some sort of sentencing, prisoner exchange, or the like to which Lincoln ultimately involved himself. When Lincoln states "I have no more to say on the matter", it suggests that Lincoln himself may have been pressed to intervene or lend support to one side or another regarding Crump's case.
Initial analysis by Taylor Blanton