On July 10, 1864 Jubal Early’s men were approaching the outer suburbs of Washington and panic was seizing the city. Lincoln’s telegram to Grant does not indicate any panic on the part of Lincoln, but worry about whether Early would take the city:
July 10—2.P.M. 1864
Lieut. Gen. Grant
Your despatch to Gen. Halleck, referring to what I may think in the present emergency, is shown me. Gen. Halleck says we have absolutely no force here fit to go to the field. He thinks that with the hundred day-men, and invalids we have here, we (may possibly but not certainly) can defend Washington, and scarcely Baltimore. Besides these, there are about eight thousand not very reliable, under Howe at Harper’s Ferry, with Hunter app-roaching that point very slowly, with what number I suppose you know better than I. Wallace with some odds and ends, and part of what came up with Ricketts, was so badly beaten yesterday at Monocacy, that what is left can attempt no more than to defend Baltimore. What we shall get in from Penn. & N.Y. will scarcely [be] worth counting, I fear. Now what I think is that you should provide to retain your hold where you are certainly, and bring the rest with you personally, and make a vigorous effort to destroy the enemie’s force in this vicinity. I think there is really a fair chance to do this if the movement is prompt. This is what I think, upon your suggestion, and is not an order
Note that Lincoln merely suggests to Grant and does not command, indicating that Lincoln still had confidence in Grant as a military commander.