October 26, 1861: Fremont’s dismissal – NYT editorial

John C. Fremont
Fremont

The New York Times editorializes on the dismissal of Fremont — they don’t like him, but they don’t think he should be dismissed while in the battlefield, but they really think that he and Missourians have to accept the President’s orders in any case.


Gen. Fremont’s Case A Dangerous and Unwise Movement.

We abandon the attempt to ascertain whether Gen. FREMONT has been removed from his command or not. Every day brings from Washington a contradiction of the previous day’s report. The Government does not seem inclined to favor the public with any authentic information on the subject, — and we are tired of dealing with reports which mislead the Community, and excite resentments which can not but be highly injurious to the public good Gen. FREMONT is still in command of the Western Department, — in the field at the head of his troops and in active pursuit of the rebels who, at the last advices, did not seem inclined to be overtaken.

We have very freely expressed our censure of various matters connected with Gen. FREMONT’s action, which seemed to require it; — but we have been equally explicit in pointing out the injustice and impolicy of superseding him by any summary process, in his present position. We do not believe that he has been superseded; — nor that he will be until he has had time to finish the specific, work in which he is now engaged. There is not a more just and upright man in the Union than President LINCOLN, nor one from whom Gen. FREMONT or any other General has less reason to fear a hasty or unfair judgment. Mr. LINCOLN has the sole responsibility of acting in this case, and he will appreciate its importance too highly to act with rashness or from any other motives than a profound conviction of the good of the country.

Meantime, we sec in sundry quarters indications of a very dangerous spirit on this subject. The Oswego Times announces that “several prominent gentlemen in different parts of the State have been in correspondence,” — with a view of holding a mass State Convention to sustain Gen. FREMONT “against the interference of the Secretary of War.” “The people,” says the Oswego Times, “will stand by our military commanders:” That should depend — and will depend — on the fidelity of our military commanders to the Government and to their own oaths. We trust that the Times is not prepared to countenance anything like usurpation on the part of any military commander, — or to advocate rebellion against the Government because its appointment or removal of an army officer is unsatisfactory. If any such spirit is to be encouraged, and any such policy acted on, we shall see a very speedy termination of the war in the complete victory of the Southern States. Secession has no more efficient allies than men who would inculcate disaffection at home and excite collision between officers of the army and the Government which they serve.

The Times appeals to the loyal Press and asks, “Shall this Convention be held?” We vote No! It cannot do any good, and is almost certain to do very serious and possible fatal harm to the common cause. Without confidence in the Government and a loyal acquiescence in its action, we have not the slightest prospect of success in crushing this rebellion. The Government may make mistakes — it would be a miracle if it did not; — but these mistakes cannot be corrected, nor the Government guided aright in time of war, by mass meetings convened in the interest of individual officers. The great thing requisite in the Administration in the present crisis is energy, — hearty earnestness in the prosecution of the War. That may be infused into it by meetings of the people; — but the conduct of the war, — the appointment, assignment and displacement of officers, — must rest solely and exclusively with the Executive Department of the Government. Any interference with it, — any attempt to override or overrule it, — can only weaken the Government by weakening that public confidence which is essential to its support.
We trust that, for the present, at all events, Gen. FREMONT will not be disturbed in his command; — but we trust still more earnestly that whatever may be done in this respect, no loyal man will dream for a moment that he can serve the country by fomenting disaffection with the Government.

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