The Writings of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 6 by Abraham Lincoln
Record Explaining the Dismissal of Major John J. Key from the Military Service of the United States.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON,
September 26, 1862.
MAJOR JOHN J. KEY:
I am informed that, in answer to the question, "Why was not the rebel army bagged immediately after the battle near Sharpsburg?" propounded to you by Major Levi C. Turner, Judge Advocate, etc., you said: "That is not the game. The object is, that neither army shall get much advantage of the other; that both shall be kept in the field till they are exhausted, when we will make a compromise and save slavery."
I shall be very happy if you will, within twenty-four hours from the receipt of this, prove to me by Major Turner that you did not, either literally or in substance, make the answer stated.
[Above delivered to Major Key at 10.25 a.m. September 27th.]
At about 11 o'clock A.M., September 27, 1862, Major Key and Major Turner appeared before me. Major Turner says:
"As I remember it, the conversation was: 'Why did we not bag them after the battle of Sharpsburg?' Major Key's reply was: 'That was not the game; that we should tire the rebels out and ourselves; that that was the only way the Union could be preserved, we come together fraternally, and slavery be saved.'"
On cross-examination, Major Turner says he has frequently heard Major Key converse in regard to the present troubles, and never heard him utter a sentiment unfavorable to the maintenance of the Union. He has never uttered anything which he, Major T., would call disloyalty. The particular conversation detailed was a private one.
[Indorsement on the above.]
In my view, it is wholly inadmissible for any gentleman holding a military commission from the United States to utter such sentiments as Major Key is within proved to have done. Therefore, let Major John J. Key be forthwith dismissed from the military service of the United States.