Charles A. Dana is a seldom mentioned figure in wartime incidents, though he became an internal spy for Secretary of War Edwin Stanton and monitored Grant’s early activities in the western theater of war. When Jefferson Davis was placed in irons in Fortress Monroe, it was Dana who wrote the order. In the prewar period, Dana was a member of the utopian Brook Farm commune in Massachusetts, and encouraged Karl Marx to contribute to Horace Greeley’s Tribune. Dana later admitted that the entire power of the War Department was utilized to ensure Lincoln’s reelection in 1864.
Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.org The Great American Political Divide
Fake News and Collusion
“White-haired and long faced, [Secretary of War Simon] Cameron was turning army procurement into a fish fry for manufacturers of his native Pennsylvania. Not a word of criticism, however, came from the [New York] Tribune, normally freighted to the water’s edge with brickbats for public officials suspected of mischief . . . Part [of editor Horace Greeley’s reason] was due to the fact that Cameron, in an early draft, proposed a favorite Greeley scheme of arming escaped slaves.
Part of it, however, mirrored the touching understanding between the war minister and his favorite news-gatherer [the Tribune’s Samuel Wilkeson]. Wilkeson would send Cameron a clipping of one of his more flattering articles on the existing management of the war, and Cameron would respond in a way that counted, by dropping a note to the telegraph censor and requesting that Wilkeson’s dispatches be sent through untouched.
[The] New York Herald ferretted out of an investigation of Cameron’s contracts a story which charged the Washington correspondent [Wilkeson] and two of the Tribune’s commercial and financial writers had secured the charter of a Connecticut gun manufacturer and submitted a bid to supply the government with 25,000 muskets at twenty dollars apiece.
Wilkeson (whose name was twisted by the Herald to Wilkinson) had supposedly used his influence to have the Ordnance Department hurry matters along. The Tribune denied that any of its men had owned any part of the contract in question; Wilkeson admitted to an act of “disinterested kindness” and nothing more, but soon thereafter left Washington for the army.
[Cameron in January 1862 was replaced with Edwin M.] Stanton, [and who] almost as soon as he was installed art his desk, wrote to Charles A. Dana, the managing editor, confiding that his mission tended toward the same end as that of the paper.
In an early entanglement over a censored dispatch Stanton admitted that he and Dana were of “one heart and mind” in the cause of victory. He meant it, apparently, for Dana subsequently left Greeley’s payroll and, under the title of Assistant Secretary of War, ventured afield to keep an eye on various headquarters for Stanton.”
(Reporters for the Union, Bernard A. Weisberger, Little, Brown and Company, 1953, excerpts pp. 175-178)