Richard Yates to Abraham Lincoln


Richard Yates to Abraham Lincoln


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Executive Department

Springfield Ills May 16th 1861

His Excellency

A Lincoln

President U.S.A.


My duty to the

People of Illinois as her Chief Executive officer

is my apology for Troubling you with these unsoli

cited suggestions, which the Hon "John A Mc

Clernard has kindly undertaken to deliver.

Peculiarly exposed as Illinois is to the casualties

of the existing Civil War it is natural that she

should feel solicitous in regard to its conduct

and operations, hence from the first she has not

ceased to regard the non occupation of the

salient points on the Upper and the Main Mifs

ifsippi near Cairo with the deepest concern,

among these places may be Clafsed Birds Point

and New Madrid both in Mifsouri and Col

umbus or Hickman or perhaps both in Kentucky.

The occupation of these places by the enemy

would effectually countervail all that has been

done under federal auspices at Cairo. Moreover

it would enable the enemy to bring the war

upon the borders of Illinois one of the most loyal

States in the Union while in the other hand the

the occupations of these places by federal

Troops would not only cover Cairo as a base

of Military Operations but afford a line of

Posts covering any advance movement that

might be made from that point upon the South,

with these places in their pofsesion, and fortified

with Batteries Commanding the Mifsifsippi it

appears to me that it would be quite practicable

for them suddenly to fall upon Memphis and

take it by surprize, this I think might be

made the bloodlefs achievement of an adequate

force rapidly pafsing from Cairo upon Memphis

and with Memphis in their hands, in my

opinion the fate not only of the Mifsifsippi River

but of the Mifsifsippi Valley would be Virtually

determined, Certainly that of Tennefsee and


Whilst deprecating any policy that would

invite attack upon Cairo by limiting the Operat

ions at that Point to the simple object of defence

I would in part for the reasons given respectfully

but earnestly urge your Excellency to Cause the

places named immediately to be occupied by

adequate Military forces. if other reasons for

such a Measure were required they might

be found in the unceasing threats against

Cairo emanating from the reputed rebels

in Memphis or if not in them in the bloody

tragedies lately enacted in St Louis or if not

in them at least in the Military bill

lately pafsed by the Mifsouri Legislature

which in ignoring all federal obligations

and investing the Governor of that state

with dictatorial powers is a virtual de

claration of War against the United States

and particularly the bordering loyal States

these latter occurrences happening either

upon or near the border of Illinois threaten

her with the most serious Complications and

prompt me, to ask and expect of your Ex

cellency timely and effectual measures of

precaution against their Consequences

The bearer of this Communication who is

well known to you is familiar with the

matters herein treated of and will be able

to elucidate them by more ample discufsion

an opportunity for which I trust you will

be pleased to vouchsafe to him

Respectfully Yours

Richd Yates

Copy to Lincoln

as to


Brdr points &c

Not sent



Percent Completed




Original Format



“Richard Yates to Abraham Lincoln ,” Chronicling Illinois, accessed July 8, 2020,