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inestimable service you have done the country. I write to say a word further. When you first reached the vicinity of Vicksburg, I thought you should do what you finally did-march the troops across the neck, run the batteries with the transports, and thus go below; and I never had any faith, except a general hope that you knew better than I, that the Yazoo Pass expedition and the like could succeed. When you got below, and took Port Gibson, Grand Gulf, and vicinity, I thought you
down the river and join General Banks; and when you turned northward, east of the Big Black, I feared it was a mistake. I wish now to make the personal acknowledgment that you were right and I was wrong."
The President's praise of General Grant was the voice of the country. The capture of Vicksburg, with its preliminary battles, was the work of a great general, and one of the most brilliant feats in the history of war. The country felt that it had one man, at least, who was not only thoroughly in earnest, but who was the master of his profession.
The operations in the west were pursued with various fortunes during the year; but with final results wholly in our favor. On the fifth of January, a battle occurred at Murfreesboro, which ended in the federal occupation of the place, and the falling back of the enemy to Tullahoma, where he entrenched himself. On the twenty-fifth of June, General Rosecrans advanced, and made an attack, driving Bragg and his army back in confusion. Pursuit was made as far as practicable, and Bragg kept up his retreat until he reached Chattanooga. Rosecrans came up with him August twentyfirst, and then Bragg retired again, but, after receiving reinforcements, turned, and, on September nineteenth, made an attack upon our army. The engagement was a desperate one, inflicting severe losses upon the federal forces; but the rebels gained no permanent advantages. Burnside at Knoxville had been ordered to join Rosecrans, but had failed to do so, and, after the battle, Longstreet's corps of the rebel army was sent against him, while the enemy held his main force at or near Chattanooga. On the twenty-fifth of November, General Grant, who, having finished up his Vicksburg job, had assumed command, attacked Bragg, and utterly routed him, crowding him back into Georgia. Then Grant paid his respects to Longstreet, who was besieging Knoxville, and that General made safe his retreat into Virginia.
Mr. Lincoln, who had prayed for all these successes, referred them directly and at once to the favor of God. His announcement of the federal success at Gettysburg was accompanied by a call upon the people to remember and reverence Him with profoundest gratitude. After the fall of Vicksburg, he publicly thanked Almighty God for the event. On the fifteenth of July, he issued a proclamation, setting apart the sixth day of August to be observed as a day for national thanksgiving, praise and prayer: inviting the people to “render the homage due to the Divine Majesty, for the wonderful things he has done in the nation's behalf: and invoke the influences of his Holy Spirit to subdue the anger which has produced and so long sustained a needless and cruel rebellion; to change the hearts of the insurgents; to guide the counsels of the government with wisdom adequate to so great a national emergency; and to visit with tender care and consolation, throughout the length and breadth of our land, all those who, through the vicissitudes of marches, voyages, battles and sieges, have been brought to suffer in mind, body, or estate; and, finally, to lead the whole nation through paths of repentance and submission to the Divine Will, back to the perfect enjoyment of union and fraternal peace.” On the third of October he issued another proclamation of thanksgiving, setting apart the last Thursday of November as the day to be observed. The spirit of tender piety which this document breathed in every part, could only have come from a heart surcharged with that spirit. Still again, having heard of the retreat of the insurgent forces from East Tennessee, he issued a dispatch on the seventh of December, recommending all loyal people, on the receipt of the information, to assemble at their places of worship, “and render special homage and gratitude to Almighty God for this great advancement of the national cause.”
One of the most vexatious events of the year, to Mr. Lincoln, was the quarrel among his friends in Missouri, dating as far back as the removal of General Fremont, and not frowned upon by that General at its inception. An order of General Halleck, who succeeded General Hunter in Missouri, excluding fugitive slaves from his lines, though issued only for military reasons, helped on the discord. Then came discussions and action concerning emancipation, the parties dividing on the issue of gradual or immediate emancipation; and this was followed, or accompanied, by disagreement between the commander of the federal forces and Governor Gamble, controlling the state troops, raised originally as auxiliary to the government. General Curtis, who was in command of the department, was removed because he and Governor Gamble could not agree, and not because he had done any wrong; and General Schofield was put in his place. This offended Governor Gamble's enemies, and they remonstrated. Mr. Lincoln, in a note written at this time, said: “It is very painful to me that you, in Missouri, cannot or will not settle your factional quarrel among yourselves. I have been tormented with it beyond endurance for a month, by both sides. Neither side pays the least respect to my appeals to your reason.”
General Fremont's friends wanted him recalled, and desired him to be military governor, setting Governor Gamble aside. Deputations, committees, and independent partisans visited Washington to “torment" the President still more. Each carried back a report, and made the most of it, to feed the quarrel. During the summer of 1863, the public feeling came up to fever heat. Gradual emancipationists were denounced as traitors by the radical emancipation party, which claimed to represent the only loyal elements of the state; and, of course, gradual emancipationists retorted the charge, and assumed the claim. On the fifth of October, the President wrote a long letter, reviewing the whole case, in his own frank and lucid way.
He also sent a letter of instruction to General Schofield, in which he directed him so to use his power as “to compel the excited people there to let one another alone.” Neither the letter nor the instructions produced the slightest effect in quieting the political agitation, or softening the personal feeling which accompanied it. The department was subsequently placed under the command of General Rosecrans; and the quarrel itself died out, or ceased to attract public and presidential attention. In the President's letter to General Schofield, at the time of his appointment, he said to him: “If both factions or neither abuse you, you will probably be about right. Beware of being assailed by one and praised by the other.” Judged by his own rule in this case, the President was as nearly right as he could be, for both sides abused him thoroughly. Let it be said, however, to their credit, that, at the succeeding presidential election, both supported him, and contributed to his triumph.
The pen has been so busy with the record of the great national events with which Mr. Lincoln was directly concerned, that no space has been found for entering the White House, and witnessing the kind of life that was lived there. The closing paragraphs of the last chapter will give an intimation of some of the perplexities that attended Mr. Lincoln's daily experience. More than any of his predecessors was he regarded as the father of his people. He was so accessible that they came to him with all their troubles, from the representatives of the factions in Missouri, to the old woman who applied to him to have a sum of money
reserved from the
wages clerk in one of the departments, that he might pay her bill for board. Every man seemed to think that Mr. Lincoln could settle his little difficulty, or provide for his little want, whatever it might be. It was the story of his younger life re-enacted. He had always been a reconciler of difficulties between men; and he remarked, while in the presidential chair, that it seemed as if he was regarded as a police justice, before whom all the petty troubles of men were brought for adjustment.
In one matter—and that an important one-he differed from all who had preceded him in his office. Such an affair as a genuine cabinet consultation hardly occurred during his administration. His heads of departments were heads of departments indeed. He intended that they should do the work of their special office, and that they should be held responsible