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asks simply to retain the influence of a man whose Christian character is pure and consistent, who sustains religious exercises at the fort, leads a weekly prayer-meeting, and teaches a Bible class in the Sabbath School.” Mr. Lincoln replied: " That is his highest possible recommendation. Take this petition to the Secretary of War, with my approval." The result was the retention of Colonel Loomis at his post, until his services were needed in important court-martial business.
Mr. Lincoln's habits at the White House were as simple as they were at his old home in Illinois. He never alluded to himself as “President,” or as occupying “the Presidency." His office, he always designated as “this place.” “Call me Lincoln,” said he to a friend,-“Mr. President” had become so very tiresome to him. “If you see a newsboy down the street, send him up this way,” said he to a passenger, as he stood waiting for the morning news at his gate. Friends cautioned him against exposing himself so openly in the midst of enemies; but he never heeded them. He frequently walked the streets at night, entirely unprotected; and he felt any check upon his free movements as a great annoyance. He delighted to see his familiar western friends; and he gave them always a cordial welcome. He met them on the old footing, and fell at once into the accustomed habits of talk and story-telling. An old acquaintance, with his wife, visited Washington. Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln proposed to these friends a ride in the presidential carriage. It should be stated, in advance, that the two men had probably never seen each other with gloves on in their lives, unless when they were used as protection from the cold. The question of each—Mr. Lincoln at the White House, and his friend at the hotel-was, whether he should wear gloves. Of course, the ladies urged gloves; but Mr. Lincoln only put his in his pocket, to be used or not, according to circumstances. When the presidential party arrived at the hotel, to take in their friends, they found the gentleman, overcome by his wife's persuasions, very handsomely gloved. The moment he took his seat, he began to draw off the clinging kids, while Mr. Lincoln began to draw his on. “No! no! no!!' protested his friend, tugging at his gloves; “It is none of my doings: put up your gloves, Mr. Lincoln.” So the two old friends were on even and easy terms, and had their ride after their old fashion.
Let us look a little deeper into this life in the White House. The writer has before him a private letter written by a lady of great intelligence and the keenest powers of observation, from which he has the liberty to draw some most interesting materials, illustrative of Mr. Lincoln's mode of dealing with men and women, and with the questions which were presented to him for decision. They will illustrate as well his weakness, as his strength; and show, better than any direct statement, how the duties of his position had worn upon his nerves and his temper. The lady was the widow of one who had died while serving the soldiers of the state of which he was the Governor; and she had taken up his work of charity, and pursued it from the time of his death.
The lady says she was received by Mr. Lincoln after a brief delay. He was alone, in a medium-sized, office-like room, with no elegance around him, and no elegance in him. He was plainly clad in a suit of black, that fitted him poorly; and was sitting in a folded-up sort of way, in his arm-chair. At his side stood a high writing-desk and table combined; under his feet was a simple straw matting; and around him were sofas and chairs, covered with green worsted. Nothing more unpretending could be imagined. As she entered, his head was bent forward, his chin resting on his breast, and his hand holding the letter she had sent in. He made a feint of rising; and, looking out from under his eyebrows, said inquiringly: “Mrs. —?" Hastening forward, she replied:
Yes, and I am very glad to see you, Mr. Lincoln.” He took her hand, and “hoped she was well,” but gave no smile of welcome. She had come on business which interfered with his policy and plans; and she anxiously read his face, full of its lines of care and thought, and almost stern in its expression. He motioned her to a chair; and, while he was reading her letter, she continued the perusal of his features.
After he had finished, he looked up, ran his fingers through his slightly silvered brown hair, and with an air of sad severity said: “Madam, this matter of northern hospitals has been talked of a great deal, and I thought it was settled; but it seems this is not the case.
What have you got to say about it?” Simply this,” she replied, “ that many soldiers, sick in our western army on the Mississippi, must have northern air, or die. There are thousands of graves along the Mississippi and Yazoo, for which the government is responsible-ignorantly, undoubtedly; but this ignorance must not continue. If you will permit these men to come North, you, will have ten men in one year where you have got one now.”
Mr. Lincoln could not see the logic of this. Shrugging his shoulders, and smiling in his peculiar, quizzical way, he said: “If your reasoning were correct, your argument would be a good one. I don't see how sending one sick man North is going to give us ten well ones.” The lady replied: “You understand me, I think.” “Yes, yes,” said he, “I understand you; but if they go North they will desert, and where is the difference?” Her reply was: “Dead men cannot fight, and they may not desert.” “A fine way to decimate the army!” exclaimed the President. 6 We should never get a man back-not one-not one.” “Pardon me,” responded the lady, “but I believe you are mistaken. You do not understand our people. They are as true and as loyal to the government as yourself. The loyalty is among the common soldiers, and they are the chief sufferers.” Almost contemptuously Mr. Lincoln replied: “This is your opinion !
” The reader will see in this exhibition of petulance, evidence that the President was conscious of being undermined in his predeterminations. “Mrs. " said he, earnestly, “How many men of the army of the Potomac do you suppose the government was paying at the battle of Antietam ? and how many men do you suppose could be got for active service at that time?” She replied: “I know nothing of the army of the Potomac, except that it has made some noble sacrifices.”
“ Well, but give a guess,” persisted the President. “Indeed, I cannot,” was her answer. He threw himself awkwardly around in his chair, with one leg over the arm, and spoke slowly: “This war might have been finished at that time, if every man had been in his place who was able to be there; but they were scattered here and there over the North-some on furloughs, and in one way and another gone, so that, out of one hundred and seventy thousand men, whom the government was paying, only eighty-three thousand could be got for action. The consequences, you know, proved nearly disastrous.” The President paused for a response, and it came. “It was very sad; but the delinquents were certainly not in northern hospitals, nor were they deserters from northern hospitals, for we have had none: so your argument is not against them,
The President appreciated this logic thoroughly, and replied: “Well, well; you go and call on the Secretary of War, and see what he says.” He then took the lady's letter, and wrote on the back: “Admit Mrs.
Listen to what she says. She is a lady of intelligence, and talks sense. A. Lincoln.” “May I return to you, Mr. Lincpln?” she inquired. “Certainly,” said he, gently; and then the lady found her way to Mr. Stanton's office, and was listened to and treated with great respectfulness and kindness. She was told by the Secretary that he had sent the Surgeon-general to New Orleans, with directions to come up the river, and visit all the hospitals. Mrs. ----- had no faith in these inspections, and told him so-told him, further, that no good to the western soldiers had ever resulted from them. She also indicated what she believed to be the reasons for the favorable reports from the southern hospitals, that had uniformly been made. “I” believe," said she, “that it is because the medical authorities know that the heads of departments are opposed to establishing hospitals so far from army lines, and report accordingly. I wish this could be over-ruled. Can nothing be done?"
Nothing until the Surgeon-general returns,” he replied. Personally, he expressed himself in favor of hospitals in every
northern state, but he had to be guided by the medical authorities.
She bade him “good morning," and returned to the President. No one was waiting, and at the invitation of the messenger she passed directly into the President's room. She found a gentleman engaged in conversation with the President, but neither noticed her entrance." Taking a seat at a distance from the two gentlemen, she waited her opportunity. The visitor handed a paper to Mr. Lincoln. He looked it over carelessly, and said: “ Yes, that is a sufficient indorsement for anybody: what do you want?” The reply was not heard ; but the promotion of some person in the army was strongly urged. She heard the sarcastic words from the applicant: “I see there are no vacancies among the Brigadiers, from the fact that so many Colonels are commanding brigades.”
At this, the President threw himself forward in his chair in such a way as to expose to the lady the most curious, comical expression of features imaginable. He was looking the man squarely in the face; and, with one hand softly patting the other, and the funny look pervading every line of his countenance, he said: “My friend, let me tell you something about that. You are a farmer, I believe; if not, you will understand me. Suppose you had a large cattle-yard, full of all sorts of cattle--cows, oxen and bulls,—and you kept killing and selling and disposing of your cows and oxen, in one way and another, taking good care of your bulls. By and by you would find out that you had nothing but a yard full of old bulls, good for nothing under heaven. Now it will be just so with the army, if I do n't stop making Brigadier-generals.”
The man was answered, and he tried to laugh; but the effort was a feeble one. Mr. Lincoln laughed, however, enough for both parties. He laughed all over, and laughed his visitor out of the room.
The lady stepped forward; and, as Mr. Lincoln motioned her to a chair, he inquired what the Secretary of War had said to her. She gave him a full account of the interview, and added: “I have nowhere to go but to you.” He replied,