« PreviousContinue »
of dissolution, and already beyond the reach of resuscitation. The government had passed through the severest tests, and had emerged triumphant. There was no longer doubt in the hearts of the people, and no longer contempt among the nations of the earth. Abraham Lincoln, the humble and unobtrusive citizen, the self-educated and Christian man, had been tried, and had not been found wanting. His foes no longer denied, and his friends no longer doubted, his great ability. He was, in every sense, the first citizen of the republic; and he had taken his place among the leading rulers of the world.
Mr. Lincoln was re-inaugurated into the presidential office on the fourth of March. An immense crowd was in attendance—a crowd of affectionate friends, not doubtful of the President, and not doubtful of one another and the future, as at the first inauguration. Chief Justice Chase administered the oath of office; and then Mr. Lincoln read his inaugural address—a paper whose Christian sentiments and whose reverent and pious spirit has no parallel among the state papers of the American Presidents. It showed the President still untouched by.resentment, still brotherly in his feelings toward the enemies of the government, and still profoundly conscious of the overruling power of Providence in national affairs. The address was as follows:
“Fellow-Countrymen-At this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office, there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement somewhat in detail of a course to be pursued seemed very fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented.
“ The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself; and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.
“On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago, all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it; all sought to avoid it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war,
insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without warseeking to dissolve the Union and divide the effects by negotiation Both parties deprecated war; but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish; and the war came.
“One eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen. perpetuate and extend this interest, was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it.
Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding.
Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes his aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces; but set us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has his own purposes. Ice unto the world because of offences, for it must needs be that offences come: but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh.' If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of these offences, which in the providence of God must needs come, but which having continued through his appointed time, he now wills to remove, and that he gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offence came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always as cribe to him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may soon pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid with another drawn with the sword; as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.'
"With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and orphans. to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."
On the sixth of March, Mr. Fessenden, who had never regarded himself as permanently in the office of Secretary of the Treasury, resigned; and Hugh McCulloch of Indiana was appointed to his place. Further than this, Mr. Lincoln introduced no changes into his cabinet. The people had not only indorsed Mr. Lincoln, but they had indorsed his administration. On the eleventh of March, the President issued a proclamation, in pursuance of an act of Congress, calling upon deserters to return to their posts, and promising them pardon. The proclamation called many of the wanderers back to their duty. The draft for three hundred thousand men was commenced on the fifteenth of the same month, and every necessary measure was adopted for a continuance of the war, should the constant accumulation of federal successes fail to bring the rebellion to a close.
The affairs of the rebellion were hurrying to a crisis. In January, General Sherman started northward with his hosts; and the borders of South Carolina were reached on the thirtieth. They swept through the state, a very besom of de struction-tearing up railroads, burning bridges, living on the country, and attracting large numbers of negroes to them, to learn that they were free. Columbia was occupied on the seventeenth of February, and the public property destroyed. The arteries that fed the life of Charleston were cut, and the proud city was evacuated without the cost of a life. Though threatened often, the army marched with scarcely more ditficulty than they experienced in their march across Georgia. Fayetteville, North Carolina, was reached and occupied on the twelfth of March; and then communication was established with Generals Terry and Schofield at Wilmington, and the army received such supplies as were needed. Battles cecurred at Averysboro and Bentonville; but still the march was resistless, and the forces gathered in front, under command of General Johnston, were driven northward as the forest leaves are driven by the wind. On the twenty-second of March, Goldsboro was occupied; and there the army remained for some days, while General Sherman visited City Point, for consultation with General Grant.
The army of Sherman was aiming at Richmond. There was no doubt of that; but Lee was held to the rebel capital by Grant, and could not get away.
The grand campaign
was culminating; and, on the day that Sherman entered Goldsboro, Mr. Lincoln arrived at City Point, partly to relieve himself of official cares that had made him sick, and partly to be near operations which involved momentous consequences to the country. On the twenty-fifth of March, Lee attacked and captured Fort Stedman, but was driven out of it with terrible losses; and Mr. Lincoln visited the scene on the same day, cheered by the soldiers wherever he appeared. The day had been fixed upon for a grand review, in honor of the President; but Mr. Lincoln said: “This is better than a review.” On the twenty-eighth of March, a council of war was held on the steamer River Queen, at City Point, attended by the President and Generals Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, Meade, and Ord; and, soon afterwards, Sherman left to rejoin his army. .
New dispositions of troops had been in progress for several days; and, on the day following the council of war, the grand movement of the army of the Potomac began. Before the morning was passed, a new line of battle had been formed, whose right was on the extreme left of the former position; and here the army commenced entrenching. A sharp little fight occurred in the afternoon, without material results. On the following day, it rained; but on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Grant's whole line was engaged in a series of heavy battles; and, while these were in progress, the President remained at City Point, receiving dispatches from the field, and forwarding the substance of them to the country. Ilis first dispatch, on Saturday, reported that there had been much hard fighting that morning, in which our forces had been driven back. Later in the day, he announced that the ground had all been retaken, and that our troops were occupying the position which the rebels held in the morning: On Saturday, Sheridan and Warren met with great successes. On Sunday, the President announced “the triumphant success of our armies, after three days of hard fighting, during which the forces on both sides displayed unsurpassed valor.” At halfpast eight in the evening, Mr. Lincoln telegraphed to Mr. Stanton that, at half-past four in the afternoon, General Grant