« PreviousContinue »
man, reported that at Fort Pillow 13 April 1864 he had in thirty minutes stormed a fort manned by 700 and captured the entire garrison, killing 500. The majority of the killed were colored soldiers. The Confederate loss he put at 20 killed and 60 wounded. To this report, slightly exaggerated, Lincoln refers. On 1 May 1863, the Confederate congress had passed a joint resolution which prescribed that white officers of negro Union soldiers should “if captured be put to death or be otherwise punished at the discretion of the court.” This command was never carried out, and the Fort Pillow incident is the only record of cruelty to negro troops. The president did not retaliate. About a year before the battle of Fort Pillow Lincoln discussed with the negro orator Douglass the propriety of a retaliatory measure to the resolutions of the Confederates. Douglass says:
I shall never forget the benignant expression of his face, the tearful look of his eye, and the quiver in his voice when he deprecated a resort to retaliatory measures.
« Once begun,” said he, “I do not know where such a measure would stop.” He said he could not take men out and kill them in cold blood for what was done by others. If he could get hold of the persons who were guilty of killing the colored prisoners in cold blood the case would be different, but he could not kill the innocent for the guilty.
298 Letter to Grant. Grant was put in command of all the armies of the north in March 1864. He was invested with the rank of lieutenant general, before the civil war only twice conferred, once on Washington and once on Scott. Grant from the first was gladly allowed to take matters largely in his own hands. In reply to the letter of the president here given Grant wrote: “ From my first entrance into the volunteer service of the country to the present day I have never had a cause of complaint. I have been astonished
at the readiness with which everything asked for has been yielded, without even an explanation being asked. Should my success be less than I desire and expect the least I can say is the fault is not with you.”
Grant in his Memoirs tells a characteristic story of the way Lincoln referred to army conditions past and present. The president told him the following story: “At one time there was a great war among the animals and one side had great difficulty in getting a commander who had sufficient confidence in himself. Finally they found a monkey by the name of Jocko who said he thought he could command their army
if his tail could be made a little longer. So they got more tail and spliced it on to his caudal appendage. He looked at it admiringly and then he thought he ought to have a little more still. This was added and again he called for more. The splicing process was repeated many times until they coiled Jocko's tail around the room filling all the space. Still he called for more tail and there being no other place to coil it they began wrapping it around his shoulders. He continued his call for more and they kept on winding the additional tail round him until its weight broke him down." Grant replied: “Mr. President, I will not call for more assistance unless I find it impossible to do with what I already have.”
300 Renomination. Lincoln was renominated for president 7 June 1864. There was some opposition from both conservatives and radicals but it amounted to little. Secretary of the Treasury Chase was a rival for nomination and a dissatisfied section put up Frémont. Andrew Johnson of Tennessee was nominated for vice president. McClellan was the Democratic candidate.
802 Memorandum. The great loss of life in Grant's operations against Richmond, the arguments of Greeley who disagreed with Lincoln, the defection of Chase who resigned his office and the brilliant generalship of Lee had all caused great dissatisfaction in the country.
307 Re-election. Before election day important land and naval victories had been gained. Lincoln received 212 out of 233 electoral votes.
808 Message to congress. The great question before the country at this time was the passing of the thirteenth amendment to the Constitution by which slavery should be made impossible forever in the United States. This was passed 31 January 1865; 119 voted for it, 56 against and 8 did not vote. The issue was considered uncertain up to almost the last and the result was received by the antislavery party with the wildest demonstrations of joy. A salute of 100 guns announced the result.
318 Letter to W. T. Sherman. General W. T. Sherman took the city of Savannah after his famous march to the sea 24 December 1864. Thus the Confederate army was diminished to practically one force, that about Richmond.
814 Peace conference. Lincoln afterwards went himself to meet the peace commissioners but they seemed to desire armistice rather than peace and the conference came to nothing.
315 Draft of message to congress. This was the president's last attempt to save the south from financial ruin; it was not, however, change of opinion but death that put a stop to his efforts and placed in his stead men so much less far-seeing and considerate. At the cabinet meeting, according to Mr. Nicolay, " with the words 'You are all opposed to me,' sadly uttered, the president folded up the paper and ceased the discussion."
816 Second inaugural. This inaugural and the Gettysburg address are the high water mark of Lincoln's eloquence. The London Times called this inaugural the most sublime state paper of the century. Exactly two months later this address was read over Lincoln's grave.
820 Last public address. Lee had surrendered 9 April 1865. The president's last public utterance centres around the question before the country-reconstruction-a process that, had he lived, it is fair to suppose would have been far better and more speedily accomplished. Lincoln was assassinated on the evening of the fourteenth.
LIST OF AUTHORITIES
Abraham Lincoln: A History. 10 vols. Nicolay and Hay.
J. F. Rhodes.