Page images
PDF
EPUB

The Pacific Railroad and the Homestead bills were among the great measures of this Congress, not directly connected with the war.

Mr. Speaker Grow, in adjourning this Congress sine due took occasion, briefly to review the eventful days of its life. Ile said:

“We met as legislators of the Republic, on the threshhold of its most important era. Its sunshine of almost half a century was for the first time darkened with clouds. Grim-visaged war stalked through the land, which it has since drenched with blood.

“While grappling in a death struggle with this hydra-headed monster of civil discord, you have by your labors, contributed not a little to the advancement of the industrial interests, and promotion of the greatness and glory of the country. Few Congresses, if any, will hold a prouder position in its future. Though we separate with darkness lowering over the horizon, behind the clouds is the sun still shining. It seems to be a part of the plans of divine Providence, that every marked advance in civilization, must begin amid the carnage of the battle-field. Over the Marathons and through the Thermopylaes of the world's history, liberty has hewn out her victories, and the race has marched on to higher and nobler destinies.

" As the lightnings of Heaven rend and destroy, only to purify and invigorate, so freedom's cannon furrows the fields of decaying empires, and seeds them anew with human gore, from which springs a more vig. orous race, to guard the hopes and cherish the rights of mankind. The boom of cannon on the plains of Lexington shook a continent, and bore an obscure militia Colonel from the shades of Mt. Vernon to the highest pinnacle of earthy glory, to stand forever on that proud pedestal, peerless among men; while it called Stark from his granite hills, Putnam from his plow, and Greene from his blacksmith's forge, to immortal fame.

“ The iron hail beating on the walls of Sumter, again shakes a continent, and the genius of history is recording the names of those born not die. The country's martyrs in this hour of its trial will live forever. Their tombs will be the hearts of the great and good of all time; their monuments the granite hills of a nation rejoicing in freedom. Whether the night of our adversity is to be long or short, there can be no doubt of the final dawn of a glorious day; for such is the physical geography of the continent, that between the Gulf and the Lakes, there can be but one Nationality. No matter what changes may be wrought in its social organization, its territorial limits will continue the same. The

а

traditions of the past and the hopes of the future, have crystalized in the American heart the fixed resolve of one Union, one country, and one destiny,' from ocean to ocean. No human power can change that destiny, any more than it can stay the tide of the Father of waters as it rolls from the mountains to the sea:

Freedom's battle once begun,
Bequeathed from bleeding sire to son,
Though baffled oft, is ever won.

“ Better one war, though it cost countless lives and untold treasure, than a dismembered Union, with its endless border conflicts, and final anarchy and ruin. If the people between the Gulf and the Lakes cannot live together in peace as one Nation, they certainly cannot as two. This war then, must in the nature of things, be prosecuted till the last armed rebel is subdued, and the flag of our fathers is respected on every foot of American soil." *

* Congressional Globe, 3d Sess. 37 Congress, vol. 47,p. 1552–3.

CHAPTER XVIII.

THE CAMPAIGNS OF 1863 — VICKSBURG-GETTYSBURG.

OF

PLAN OF THE CAMPAIGN - THE OPENING THE MISSISSIPPI

ARKANSAS Post-Grant's CAMPAIGN AGAINST VICKSBURG GRIERSON'S RAID — Port HUDSON -CHANCELLORVILLE — LEE INVADES MARYLAND— MEADE— GETTYSBURG — THE GETTYSBURG CEMETERY — EVERETT'S ORATIONLINCOLN'S ADDRESS.

GAIN the drama shifts to the fields of contending armies,

and we now approach the turning point in the great Civil War. Up to 1863, although there had been vast expenditures of treasure and of blood, and great successes had been obtained and progress made, yet there had been such severe repulses and grievous disasters experienced by the Union armies, that the hopes of the insurgents of final success were still confident. All the great victories in the West and South West, had not opened the Mississippi. In the East, the disastrous campaigns of McClellan and Pope had been followed by the fearfully costly repulse at Fredericksburg.

It is worthy of profound reflection, that not until the President had proclaimed emancipation, and written liberty upon our banners, were those banners crowned with decisive

The proclamation issued January 1863, was the day from which success became a certainty. It was well known to those intimate with Mr. Lincoln, that he regarded the opening of the Mississippi, as the blow which would make certain the ultimate triumph of the Union arms. Like the great soldier, General Sherman, he regarded the possession of the Mississippi river, as tlie possession of America. So long as the insurgents held this great water communication, they were not and could not be subjugated. Those familiar with the President knew, that to gain possession of this river, had, from the beginning, received his most careful consideration.

success.

The campaigns in the West—the movements against forts Henry and Donelson had been planned by him, and he was determined that another season should not pass without the rebel States being cut in two by the Union army, and the Mississippi cleared of every hostile flag. We have seen how comprehensive the view he had taken of the physical necessity of the Union, as expressed in his annual message in December 1862, when he declared that the territory of the United States was adapted to be the home of “one National family, and no more.” He often dwelt upon these views, and declared that as between the great Lakes and the Gulf there were no natural boundaries; but on the contrary, the configuration of the country rendered disunion impracticable. The navigable streams, from the imperial Hudson to the continental Mississippi ran from North to South. Such, too were the ranges of the mountains. These considerations made National unity, “manifest destiny.” These causes made unity so convenient, nay, so necessary, that it would be impossible to separate the North from the South. Civilization and its wants and necessities had riveted what nature had united. Railroads, and canals, and post roads, the electric telegraph with its connecting wires had doubly bound our wide territory together.

That impartial history which shall be written when all the partialities and prejudices of the day have passed away, will record without disparagement to other sections, that the Union was saved by the North West. The great river of the republic with its State embracing arms, tributaries extending to New York,Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin, on the one side, and Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas on the other, were strong enough to hold the Union together. The North West never for one moment faltered in the struggle. In the dark hours of the contest had the President or the North West faltered, all would have been lost.

The rain which falls upon that great basin south of the

Lakes, and between the western slope of the Alleghanies and the Rocky mountains, in extent an Empire, finds its way by tributaries numerous and vast, into the great Father of Waters, and through its channels to the Gulf, and by the Gulf to the Sea. Through these vast natural channels which God created, and thereby made unity a necessity, the North west would follow with travel and trade, not under treaty, but by indefeasible right, freely, under the same flag. Woe to those who should seek to erect barriers or throw obstacles

in the way.

With these views the President and his military advisers planned the campaign of 1863. To open the Mississippi by taking Vicksburg, was the great objective point of the campaign. Mr. Lincoln, during every period of the war, was fully possessed of every important movement. He knew fully the condition of every army, and had a most intelligent appreciation of the difficulties to be encountered, and the chances of success. His room was ever full of maps and plans ; and he marked upon them every movement, and no subordinate was at all times so completely the master of the situation, as the Commander in Chief. Mr. Lincoln selected General Grant to lead what he meant should be, and what was, the decisive campaign in the West. There were those who at that time charged General Grant with habits of intoxication, and sought to shake the confidence of the President in him. “If Grant is a drunkard," said he, in

” , reply, “I wish some of my other generals would learn where he buys his liquor.”

As the year opened, the President had settled upon two great objective points in his plans of the campaign. First as stated to get complete possession of the Mississippi river and open its navigation, and thus utilize the capture of New Orleans, cutting off the rebel communication with the trans-Mississippi department, and severing the so-called Confederacy, into two parts. Second, to destroy the army of Virginia, and sieze upon the rebel Capital. Let us first follow the standard of Grant in his most difficult enterprise against Vicksburg. General John A. McClernand of Illinois had, in a written communication, early suggested the Miss

« PreviousContinue »