At the beginning of 1861 Wool was appointed one of New York's representatives to the abortive Peace Conference, and as a northern Democrat, he announced his intention to be "an independent member" of the conference "with an uncompromising determination to preserve the Union" and to avert the outbreak of the Civil War. The war came anyway, and Wool (as the fourth-ranking officer in the army and junior in years of service only to Scott) immediately moved the headquarters of the Department of the East from Troy to New York City, where he assumed responsibility for mobilization, war contracts, and supplies.
Wool's burst of activity was based on his assumption that he was the logical candidate for active command of the Federal army in the war. However, on 1 May 1861 Wool was reprimanded by Secretary of War Simon Cameron for exceeding his responsibilities, and it became quickly evident that Wool would be given no major field command.
Allen C. Guelzo, "Wool, John Ellis," American National Biography Online, February 2000, http://www.anb.org/articles/04/04-01074.html.