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The invasion took place in June; and it was accomplished so quickly, so easily, and by so great a force, that the whole country became terribly excited. The President issued a proclamation calling for one hundred thousand militia to assist in driving back the foe. The army under Hooker crossed the Potomac at about the same time with the army of Lee, and both entered Maryland together. Here General Hooker was relieved, and General Meade placed in command, who, finding the enemy advancing toward and into Pennsylvania, pushed forward with his army to dispute the movement. On the first of July, the battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania began; and it raged with terrific energy for three days. It was one of the most brilliant and terrible battles of the war. On the fifth of July, the enemy, who had been terribly punished, and saw that his invasion was a failure, retreated, and was pursued by our weary forces back to the old. position on the Rappahannock. At the close of the fighting on the third, it was evident that the enemy was whipped; and the President announced the fact on the fourth, by a dispatch sent over the whole country, stating that the news was such as to cover the army with the highest honor, and to promise a great success to the cause of the Union. With characteristic reverence, he closed by expressing his desire that on that day—the anniversary of the national independence—“He whose will, not ours, should ever be done, be everywhere remembered, and reverenced with profoundest gratitude.” Our losses in this battle, in killed, wounded and missing, amounted to twenty-three thousand men, while those of the enemy were much greater, leaving, indeed, fourteen thousand prisoners in our hands. The state of Pennsylvania, with considerate liberality, subsequently purchased a piece of land adjoining the cemetery of the town, where much severe fighting took place, as a burial ground for the loyal dead of the great battle. This place was dedicated on the succeeding nineteenth of November, in the presence of Mr. Lincoln and his cabinet, Hon. Edward Everett delivering the formal address of the occasion. The brief remarks of Mr. Lincoln, though brought into immediate com
parison with the elaborate eloquence of the venerable Massachusetts orator, were very effective, and betrayed a degree of literary ability quite unexpected to those who had read only his formal state papers. He said:
“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war.
We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here; but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us, that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that the government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Did Mr. Everett say more or better in all his pages than Mr. Lincoln said in these lines? Yet they were written after he left Washington, and during a brief interval of leisure.
The Fourth of July was further rendered memorable by the surrender of the city of Vicksburg—the stronghold of the Mississippi River-by General Pemberton to General Grant, with all his defenses and his army of thirty thousand men. After various unsuccessful operations, beginning with the year, contemplating the capture of this city, General Grant ran by the batteries with his transports, and landed far down the river, to attempt the approach of the city from the rear. Fighting all the way, and winning every battle, he reached Jackson, and then advanced westward, directly upon the doomed town. General Pemberton, in the endeavor to dispute his progress, lost at Baker's Creek four thousand men and twenty-nine
pieces of artillery. On the banks of the Big Black, the enemy gave battle again, and was again defeated, with a loss of nearly three thousand men, and seventeen pieces of artillery. Then Pemberton fell back behind his defenses, which he did not leave till, on the national anniversary, he and his army marched forth as prisoners of war, leaving behind them more than two hundred cannon, and seventy thousand stand of small-arms. Four days later, Port Hudson, which had been closely besieged by an army advancing from the south, under General Banks, surrendered with seven thousand prisoners and fifty cannon.
Thus was the confederacy cut in twain; and from that hour its cause was doomed. Not a life was lost afterwards that was not lost in the destruction and defense of a hopeless
“The Father of Waters," wrote Mr. Lincoln, in glad and poetic mood, to Mr. Conkling, “ again goes unvexed to the sea.” It was a great event, and one which might well fill the heart of the President with exultation.
These victories gave great encouragement to the loyal people of the country; and, from the day of their occurrence, there was but little doubt among them of the final triumph of the national cause. In Washington, there were great rejoicings; and of course there was a popular call upon Mr. Lincoln, who, in response to a serenade, came out, and made a brief speech. These calls were not occasions in which he delighted, and it was honest and characteristic for him to say, in beginning: “I am very glad indeed to see you to-night, and yet I will not say I thank you for this call; but I do most sincerely thank Almighty God for the occasion on which
you have called.'
Another very characteristic utterance of Mr. Lincoln, in connection with these events, was a letter written to General Grant, July thirteenth, in which he took occasion to acknowledge that results had confirmed the General's judgment rather than his own:
“My Dear General: I do not remember that you and I ever met personally. I write this now as a grateful acknowledgment for the almost inestimable service you have done the country. I write to say a word further. When you first reached the vicinity of Vicksburg, I thought you should do what you finally did-march the troops across the neck, run the batteries with the transports, and thus go below; and I never had any faith, except a general hope that you knew better than I, that the Yazoo Pass expedition and the like could succeed. When you got below, and took Port Gibson, Grand Gulf, and vicinity, I thought you should go down the river and join General Banks; and when you turned northward, east of the Big Black, I feared it was a mistake. I wish now to make the personal acknowledgment that you were right and I was wrong."
The President's praise of General Grant was the voice of the country. The capture of Vicksburg, with its preliminary battles, was the work of a great general, and one of the most brilliant feats in the history of war. The country felt that it had one man, at least, who was not only thoroughly in earnest, but who was the master of his profession.
The operations in the west were pursued with various fortunes during the year; but with final results wholly in our favor. On the fifth of January, a battle occurred at Murfreesboro, which ended in the federal occupation of the place, and the falling back of the enemy to Tullahoma, where he entrenched himself. On the twenty-fifth of June; General Rosecrans advanced, and made an attack, driving Bragg and his army back in confusion. Pursuit was made as far as practicable, and Bragg kept up his retreat until he reached Chattanooga. Rosecrans came up with him August twentyfirst, and then Bragg retired again, but, after receiving reinforcements, turned, and, on September nineteenth, made an attack upon our army. The engagement was a desperate one, inflicting severe losses upon the federal forces; but the rebels gained no permanent advantages. Burnside at Knoxville had been ordered to join Rosecrans, but had failed to do so, and, after the battle, Longstreet's corps of the rebel army was sent against him, while the enemy held his main force at or near Chattanooga. On the twenty-fifth of November, General Grant, who, having finished up his Vicksburg job, had assumed command, attacked Bragg, and utterly routed him, crowding him back into Georgia. Then Grant paid his respects to Longstreet, who was besieging Knoxville, and that General made safe his retreat into Virginia.
Mr. Lincoln, who had prayed for all these successes, referred them directly and at once to the favor of God. His announcement of the federal success at Gettysburg was accompanied by a call upon the people to remember and reverence Him with profoundest gratitude. After the fall of Vicksburg, he publicly thanked Almighty God for the event. On the fifteenth of July, he issued a proclamation, setting apart the sixth day of August to be observed as a day for national thanksgiving, praise and prayer: inviting the people to "render the homage due to the Divine Majesty, for the wonderful things he has done in the nation's behalf: and invoke the influences of his Holy Spirit to subdue the anger which has produced and so long sustained a needless and cruel rebellion; to change the hearts of the insurgents; to guide the counsels of the government with wisdom adequate to so great a national emergency; and to visit with tender care and consolation, throughout the length and breadth of our land, all those who, through the vicissitudes of marches, voyages, battles and sieges, have been brought to suffer in mind, body, or estate; and, finally, to lead the whole nation through paths of repentance and submission to the Divine Will, back to the perfect enjoyment of union and fraternal peace.” On the third of October he issued another proclamation of thanksgiving, setting apart the last Thursday of November as the day to be observed. The spirit of tender piety which this document breathed in every part, could only have come from a heart surcharged with that spirit. Still again, having heard of the retreat of the insurgent forces from East Tennessee, he issued a dispatch on the seventh of December, recommending all loyal people, on the receipt of the information, to assemble at their places of Worship, “and render special homage and gratitude to Almighty God for this great advancement of the national cause.'
One of the most vexatious events of the year, to Mr. Lin