Page images
PDF
EPUB

his autograph letter-book by Mr. H. Sidney Everett) was as follows:

WASHINGTON, November 20, 1863. President Lincoln:

My Dear Sir:- Not wishing to intrude upon your privacy, when you must be very much engaged, I beg leave in this way to thank you very sincerely for your great thoughtfulness for my daughter's accommodation on the platform.

Permit me also to express my great admiration of the thoughts expressed by you with such eloquence and appropriateness at the consecration of the cemetery. I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion in two hours as you did in two minutes. My son, who parted from me at Baltimore, and my daughter concur in this sentiment. I remain, dear sir, most respectfully yours,

EDWARD EVERETT. I hope your anxiety for your child was relieved on your arrival.

And this is, in full, the famous

GETTYSBURG SPEECH. 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 battlefield of that war. We are met to dedicate a portion of it as a final resting-place of 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 that they have thus far so nobly carried on. 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 here gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation shall, under God, have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

vol. ii.-14

CHAPTER XIX.

1863.

Chattanooga CampaignChickamaugaMission Ridge

Knoxville-Meade and Lee-Charleston.

Rosecrans tarried long at Murfreesboro after Bragg's retreat at the beginning of the year. It was late in June when he began a flanking movement which caused the enemy to retire from Shelbyville and Tullahoma. Crossing the Tennessee River at Bridgeport and destroying the railway bridge, Bragg entered Chattanooga. Crittenden's corps, going by way of McMinnville, crossing the Cumberland Mountains and moving down the Sequatchie valley, came within shelling distance of the enemy on the 21st of August. Thomas and McCook were meanwhile busy in restoring communications and getting their troops across the river at points below the city — not fully accomplished until the 8th of September. Bragg had then left Chattanooga, disappearing southward among the hills, valleys, and thick forests that curtained his movements, and managing to create the belief that he was retreating to Rome in Georgia. Without delaying in the city, Rosecrans pushed his army forward in pursuit, and his forces were getting dangerously separated before he learned his mistake. Bragg, who was in the Chickamauga valley pre

pared to give battle, attacked Rosecrans on the morning of September 19th, and the close of that day found the contest still undecided. The purpose had been to flank Thomas on the left, getting between him and Chattanooga. During the night the Confederate right was strengthened, and reinforcements were sent to Thomas from the Union right, held by McCook, Crittenden being in the center. In the morning (20th), McCook, unable to withstand the furious advance of Hood's superior numbers, suffered a crushing defeat. There followed a hurried rush of officers and men toward Rossville; and Rosecrans in person, among others, continued on to Chattanooga. Not so was it with Thomas or his command. In one of the most gallant actions of the war, against great odds, he repelled all assaults until he was able to retire unmolested. The losses at Chickamauga during the two days show this to have been one of the deadliest struggles of the war. On the Union side 1,656 were killed and 9,749 wounded; and on the Confederate side, 2,389 killed and 13,412 wounded.

Rosecrans withdrew within the fortifications of Chattanooga, and was soon in a condition which caused much anxiety at Washington. Reinforcements were sent him from other Western armies, and two corps from the Army of the Potomac - Howard's and Slocum's under command of Hooker. These troops marched from the Rapidan to Washington, and went thence by rail via Cincinnati and Louisville to the Tennessee River, near Chattanooga making the entire journey in eight days. Grant took personal command of the army thus constituted, and Thomas succeeded to the command of

the Army of the Cumberland, in place of Rosecrans. Secretary Stanton had a conference with Grant at Louisville while on his way to Tennessee, where he assumed command on the 18th of October. The surrender of Chattanooga or a disastrous retreat had been apprehended by the Secretary before the promotion of Thomas, to whom, immediately after the Louisville interview, Grant telegraphed: “Hold the city at all hazards.” Promptly came the reply: “I will hold on till we starve.” The soldiers were suffering greatly for lack of food; a large number of animals had died of starvation; ammunition was nearly exhausted. Grant arrived at Bridgeport on the 21st, having previously sent instructions preparatory to the work before him. Hooker was sent across from Bridgeport, to advance by Wauhatchie, threatening Bragg's left, while W. F. Smith seized the heights commanding Brown's Ferry, and laid a pontoon bridge over the Tennessee at that point. These orders were promptly executed, and supplies of all kinds, which had been accumulated at Bridgeport, were now easily available at Chattanooga. This, to the unspeakable relief of the army, was accomplished without the cost of a skirmish.

Bragg, who had seemed to have all Eastern Tennessee securely in his grasp — having sent Longstreet to take Knoxville and Burnside's army — was startled by the discovery of this check. His attempts to regain control of the river communications below Chattanooga were unavailing. Grant patiently awaited the arrival of Sherman's corps, which approached by forced marches, with more or less fighting, across the country from Memphis. As a feint, this force was sent across the

« PreviousContinue »