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he made on the 17th from a hotel balcony, on the occasion of the delivery to Governor Morton of a flag captured by Indiana soldiers at Wilmington. He said:
Fellow Citizens: — It will be but a very few words that I shall undertake to say. I was born in Kentucky; raised in Indiana, and live in Illinois, and I now am here, where it is my business to be, to care equally for the good people of all the States. I am glad to see an Indiana regiment on this day able to present this captured flag to the Governor of the State of Indiana. I am not disposed, in saying this, to make a distinction between the States, for all have done equally well.
There are but few aspects of this great war upon which I have not said or written something whereby my own views might be made known. There is one: the recent attempt of our erring brethren, as they are sometimes called, to employ the negro to fight for them. I have neither written nor made a speech upon that subject, because that was their business and not mine; and if I had a wish upon the subject, I had not the power to introduce it or make it effective.
The great question with them was, whether the negro, being put into the army, will fight for them. I do not know, and therefore cannot decide. They ought to know better than we, and do know. I have in my lifetime heard many arguments why the negro ought to be a slave; but if they fight for those who would keep them in slavery, it will be a better argument than any I have yet heard. He who will fight for that ought to be a slave. They proposed at last to take one out of four of the slaves and put him in the army; and that one out of the four who will fight to keep the others in slavery ought to be a slave himself, unless he is killed in a fight. While I have often said that all men ought to be free, yet I would allow those colored persons to be slaves who want to be; and, next to them, those white men who argue in favor of making other people slaves. I am willing to give an opportunity to such white men to try it for themselves.
I will say one thing with regard to the negro being employed to fight for them that I do know. I know he
cannot fight and stay at home and make bread, too. And as one is about as important as the other to them, I don't care which they do. I am rather in favor of having them try him as a soldier. They lack one vote of doing that, and I wish I could send my vote over the river, so that I might cast it in favor of allowing the negro to fight. They have drawn upon their last branch of resources, and we can now see the bottom. I am glad to see the end so near at hand.
It was about this time that his friend Joshua Speed had an interview with the President, of which — the last they were destined to have this account was given years after by the visitor:
He sent me word by my brother James, then in his Cabinet, that he desired to see me before I went home. I went into his office about 11 o'clock. He looked jaded and weary. I staid in the room until his hour for callers was over; he ordered the door closed, and, looking over to where I was sitting, asked me to draw up my chair. But instead of being alone, as he supposed, in the opposite direction from where I sat, and across the fire-place from him, sat two humblelooking women. Seeing them there seemed to provoke him, and he said: “Well, ladies, what can I do for you?" One was an old woman, the other young. They both commenced talking at once. The President soon comprehended them. “I suppose," said he, that your son and your husband are in prison for resisting the draft in Western Pennsylvania. Where is your petition?” The old lady replied: “Mr. Lincoln, I've got no petition; I went to a lawyer to get one drawn, and I had not the money to pay him and come here, too; so I thought I would just come and ask you to let me have my boy.” “And it's your husband you want?" said he, turning to the young woman. “Yes,” said she.
He rang his bell and called his servant, and bade him to go and tell General Dana to bring him the list of prisoners for resisting the draft in Western Pennsylvania. The General soon came, bringing a package of papers. The President opened it, and, counting the names, said: “General, there are twenty-seven of these men. Is there any differ
ence in the degree of their guilt ?" "No," said the General. “ It is a bad case, and a merciful finding.” “Well,” said the President, looking out of the window, and seemingly talking to himself, “these poor fellows have, I think, suffered enough; they have been in prison fifteen months. I have been thinking so for some time, and have so said to Stanton, and he always threatened to resign if they were released. But he has said so about other matters, and never did. So now, while I have the paper in my hand, I will turn out the flock.” So he wrote: “Let the prisoners named in the within paper be discharged," and signed it. The General made his bow and left. Then, turning to the ladies, he said: “Now, ladies, you can go. Your son, madam, and your husband, madam, is free."
The young woman ran across to him and began to kneel. He took her by the elbow and said, impatiently: “Get up, get up; none of this.” But the old woman walked to him, wiping with her apron the tears that were coursing down her cheeks. She gave him her hand, and looking into his face, said: “Good-by, Mr. Lincoln; we will never meet again till we meet in heaven.” A change came over his sad and weary face. He clasped her hand in both of his, and followed her to the door, saying as he went: “With all that I have to cross me here, I am afraid that I will never get there; but your wish that you will meet me there has fully paid for all I have done for you."
We were then alone. He drew his chair to the fire and said: Speed, I am a little alarmed about myself; just feel my hand.” It was cold and clammy. He pulled off his boots, and, putting his feet to the fire, the heat made them steam. I said overwork was producing nervousness. "No," said he, “I am not tired.” I said: Such a scene as I have just witnessed is enough to make you nervous.” “How much you are mistaken,” said he ; “I have made two people happy to-day; I have given a mother her son, and a wife her husband. That young woman is a counterfeit, but the old woman is a true mother.”
A few days after this the President, accompanied by Mrs. Lincoln, visited the headquarters of General Grant
at City Point. * Here he also met Generals Meade, Sherman, Sheridan, and Ord; and held a consultation with these chiefs on the 27th of March, in which the final plans were concerted or reviewed for closing the war. He remained some days in that quarter, watching military movements, and on occasion sending bulletins to Secretary Stanton.
Sherman was back at Goldsboro on the 30th, ready to advance against Johnston, who had collected his forces near Smithfield, to resist a movement on Raleigh or an attempt of his adversary to join Meade. The Lieutenant-General, amid all discouragements and delays which worried impatient people, had held Lee's army in close quarters at Petersburg and Richmond. The means of the Confederates had sensibly shortened day by day; desertions were increasing; an attempt to replenish the rank and file by arming slaves had kindled contention without any gain of soldiers; supplies had become distressingly uncertain and meager. Financially the Confederacy had gone to wreck. Still there was no surrender. Sherman had made no long stay at Savannah. Moving into the interior of South Carolina and across its northern border, he had extended the zone of his devastating march toward Richmond. Johnston, doing his best, rather pursued than resisted the invading army in the broad sweep of its progress. Grant, designing to cut the last communications with Richmond by rail and canal, had no difficulty now in finding the right man for the work. Sheridan, at Winchester, awaited the order to strike. Another branch of the general campaign planned by the LieutenantGeneral was an expedition under Canby, aided by Wilson's cavalry and by Thatcher's gunboats, to get possession of Mobile — the city itself, since Farragut's capture of the harbor forts, having still been occupied by the enemy. The operations immediately under the eye of Grant were to culminate before the successful conclusion of the Alabama campaign, which quickly followed.
* Leaving Washington on the 23d of March, he did not return until the oth of April.
Sheridan, starting with ten thousand mounted men, had passed through Staunton on the 2d of March, and entered Charlottesville next day without opposition. After spending ten days in this region, destroying Confederate resources, - manufactories, depots of supplies, railway tracks, bridges,- he continued his work elsewhere until Lee's outer communications were all effectually broken save by the Danville and the Lynchburg railways, which cross each other at Burkesville, about fifty miles from Petersburg. On the 25th, Lee had made a desperate but useless attempt to cut a way of exit through the Federal lines at Petersburg, sacrificing Richmond to save his main army and to gain a chance of joining Johnston and crushing Sherman. Already preparations had been made for an advance of Meade's left on the 29th, assisted by two of Ord's divisions, brought across the James. Sheridan, moving still farther out, reached Dinwiddie Courthouse on the evening of that day. Through the night and the following day there was a pouring rain, but Sheridan continued steadily to drive an opposing force until it passed behind intrenchments at Five Forks, where, on the ist of April,