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dren are in heaven, and I can say that I can see the hand of my Heavenly Father in it. I did not love Him so much before my affliction as I do now."
“How has that come about ?"
“God is my Father, and I know that He does everything well. I trust Him."
“Did you submit fully under the first loss ?”
“Oh no, not wholly; but as one after the other went, I did submit, and am very happy.”
“I am glad to hear that. Your experience will be a help to me.”
The young life faded away, and the heart-broken father stood beside the coffin, looking for the last time upon Willie's face.
“ Mr. Lincoln,” said the nurse, “ a great many people are praying for you to-day.”
“I am glad to hear that. I want them to pray for me. I need their prayers; and I will try to go to God with my sorrow. I wish I had that childlike faith you speak of. I trust God will give it to me. My mother had it. She died many years ago. I remember her prayers ; they have always followed me. They have clung to me through life." (0)
When all that was mortal of his child was laid to rest, the President went on with his duties for one week. On the succeeding Thursday he shut out all visitors, and gave way to his grief. Again, when the day came, his doors were closed. The old-time melancholy was taking possession of him, increasing as the weeks went by.
Little did Rev. Francis Vinton, rector of Trinity Church, New York, know, when he entered the cars for a visit to friends in Washington, how divine Providence was going to use him. He was acquainted with Mrs. Edwards, sister of Mrs. Lincoln, who was in Washington. He also had met Mrs. Lincoln, who, learning he was in the city, informed him in regard to the melancholy of the President. He visited the White House.
"Mr. President,” said Mr. Vinton, “it is natural that you should mourn for your son-one whom you so tenderly loved; but is it not your duty to rise above the affliction? Your duties are to the living. They are far greater than those of a father to his son. You are at the head of the nation-a father of the people ; and are you not unfitting yourself for a right exercise of the responsibility that God has laid upon you? You ought not to mourn for your son as lost—that is not Christianity, but heathenism. Your son is above. Do you not remember that passage in the Gospels, “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living?"
The President is sitting on the sofa, listening as if dazed.
“ Alive! alive! Do you say that Willie is alive? Pray do not mock me.”
He rises and looks with intense earnestness at Mr. Vinton. “Yes, Mr. Lincoln, alive. Jesus Christ has said it.” He clasps the clergyman in his arms. “ALIVE! alive!” he exclaims. Tears are rolling down his cheeks.
“Yes, Mr. Lincoln, it is one of God's most precious truths. You remember that the Sadducees, when questioning Jesus, had no other conception than that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were dead and buried; but Jesus said, 'Now that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, when he called the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For He is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto Him.' God has taken your son from you for some good end — possibly for your good. Doubt it not. I have a sermon upon this subject which possibly may interest you.”
“Please send it to me, Dr. Vinton," said the President, as the interview closed.
The sermon came. Mr. Lincoln was so impressed by its treatment of the Resurrection and Immortality that he read it again and again, and caused it to be copied. No longer was Thursday a day for seclusion. With unwonted cheerfulness he took up the burden of the nation. The thought that in the radiant future he would once more clasp his boy in his arms made his sorrow easier to bear than ever before, (") and he cheerfully turned his thoughts to the affairs of the nation.
The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad had been closed by the burning of the bridge at Harper's Ferry, and the destruction of the company's shops
and engines at Martinsburg. The President was very anxious that the railroad should once more be opened. McClellan informed him that he contemplated a grand strategic movement, which would result, he was confident, in the capture of the Confederate troops at Winchester and the reopening of the road. He would put down a pontoon-bridge at Harper's Ferry, which would deceive the enemy, they thinking it was only for a temporary purpose; but the real, substantial bridge would be the mooring of a line of boats which he was having built, and a bridge laid upon them. The President was delighted.
“A glad surprise awaits the country, which will restore the confidence of the people in McClellan,” he said to a member of the Cabinet.
“Do you really think so ?”
“Yes. He has left no loop-hole for escape. He has said to Stanton and myself that if this move fails he will have nobody to blame but himself." (")
General Hooker, with a body of troops, at the same time was to cross the Potomac below Washington and capture the batteries on the Virginia side.
On the day fixed for the surprise, a little before midnight, a telegram was received by the President, dated at Sandy Hook, February 26, 10.30 P.M. :
“The bridge was splendidly thrown by Captain Duane, assisted by Lieutenants Babcock, Reese, and Cross. It was one of the most difficult operations of the kind ever performed. I recommend Captain Duane to be made a major by brevet, for his energy and skill in this matter ; also Lieu:enants Babcock, Reese, and Cross, of the corps of engineers, to be captains by brevet.”
The bridge was not composed of canal-boats, but ordinary pontoons. The officers thus recommended had stood upon the shore and told the soldiers belonging to the engineer's corps to take the boats from the wagons, launch them in the river, paddle and anchor them, and lay the stringers and planking. No Confederates were near, no picket looking on from the Virginia side. The despatch went on:
“We have 8500 infantry, eighteen guns, and two squadrons of cavalry on the Virginia side. I have examined the ground, and seen that the troops are in proper position and are ready to resist an attack. Burns's brigade will be here in a couple of hours and will cross at daybreak. Four more squadrons of cavalry and several more guns pass here. Reports that G. W. Smith, with 15,000 men, is expected at Winchester.”
The town of Winchester is between twenty and thirty miles from Sandy Hook. There were no Confederate troops between the two points and only a small force at Winchester. The despatch continued :
“We will attempt the canal-boat bridge to-morrow. The spirit of the troops is most excellent. They are in a mood to fight anything." ("?)
It was an inspiriting message. At last McClellan was doing something. Just what he intended to accomplish after getting the troops across the river the President did not know, except, possibly, to make Hooker's work easier down-stream. He read the telegram and retired for the night, happy in the thought that a portion of the army was in motion. There was no telegram upon his table when the President sat down
to work the next morning. The forenoon passed without furFeb. 27.
ther information. The afternoon waned, but neither the President nor Secretary Stanton had received any news from Sandy Hook.
General Marcy, chief of staff to McClellan, who had been left in Washington to carry out his orders, at one o'clock received this despatch:
“Do not send the regular infantry until further orders. Give Hooker directions not to move until further orders."
Two hours later came the following to Marcy:
"The difficulties here are so great that the order for Keyes's movement must be countermanded until the railway bridge is finished, or some more permanent arrangement made. It is impossible to supply a large force here.”
"It was not the canal-boat bridge, but the burnt railroad bridge, to which the despatch referred. The railroad was open from Sandy Hook to Washington and Baltimore. The troops of General Keyes had been taken thither in the cars; the canal was intact, yet the 10,000 men could not, according to the information, be supplied with food.
The pontoons for the permanent bridge had been built on the banks of the canal. General McClellan was an engineer; he had constructed railroads, and was familiar with practical engineering; but his forethought did not provide for a measurement of the lift-locks of the canal by which the boats were to be taken to Harper's Ferry. A startling despatch came to Secretary Stanton:
“The lift-lock is too small to permit the canal-boats to enter the river, so that it is impossible to construct the permanent bridge as I intended. I shall probably be obliged to fall back upon the safe and slow plan of merely covering the reconstruction of the railroad. This will be done at once, but it will be tedious. I cannot, as things now are, be
sure of my supplies for the force necessary to seize Winchester, which is probably reinforced from Manassas. The wiser plan is to rebuild the railroad bridge as rapidly as possible, and then act according to the state of affairs.”
Secretary Stanton was amazed. He telegraphed :
“If the lift-lock is not big enough, why cannot it be made big enough? Please answer immediately."
A little before midnight he received a reply:
"It can be enlarged, but entire masonry must be destroyed and rebuilt and new gates made; an operation impossible in the present state of water, and requiring many weeks at
The railroad bridge can be rebuilt niany weeks before this could be done." We do not know why McClellan did not say that the boats had been built four inches wider than the locks, for such was the case.
Stanton telegraphed :
“I propose to occupy Charlestown and Bunker Hill, so as to cover the rebuilding of the railways."
Through the day the President waited for a telegram, pacing the floor at times, absorbed in thought. The long-looked-for despatch came from McClellan :
"It is impossible for many days to do more than supply the troops now here and at Charlestown. ... I know that I have acted wisely, and that you will cheerfully agree with me when I explain."
Such the outcome of the movement that was to surprise and gratify the country. With a sinking heart Mr. Lincoln retired to his chamber, but not to sleep. He was carrying the burden of the nation.
McClellan marched with a strong force to Charlestown, but found no enemy, and returned to Washington. He did not call upon the President.
The conversation between Mr. Lincoln and Captain Ericsson resulted in the building of an iron-clad vessel on a plan totaily different from any ever constructed. The craft was launched at Brooklyn, January 30th, and instead of sinking, as many had predicted, drew less water by several inches than Ericsson had calculated. Day and night the hammers were ringing. The Union spies at Norfolk informed the Navy Department of the rapid progress made by the Confederates towards completing the Merrimac. The Monitor was also being hurried to completion.
Captain Fox called upon the President. “I do not expect the Mer