« PreviousContinue »
WASHINGTON, July 4, 10.30 A. M. The President announces to the country that news from the Army of the Potomac, up to 10 P. M. of the 3d, is such as to cover that army with the highest honor; to promise a great success to the cause of the Union, and to claim the condolence of all for he many gallant fallen; and that for this he especially desires that on this day, He, whose will, not ours, should ever be done, be everywhere remembered and reverenced with profoundest gratitude.
The result of this battle-one of the severest and most sanguinary of the war-was of the utmost importance. It drove the rebels back from their intended invasion of Pennsylvania and Maryland, and compelled them to evacuate the upper part of the Valley of the Shenandoah, leaving in our hands nearly 14,000 prisoners, and 25,000 small arms collected on the battle-field. Our own losses were very severe, amounting to 2,834 killed, 13,709 wounded, and 6,643 missing-in all, 23,186.
During the ensuing season, a piece of ground, seventeen and a half acres in extent, adjoining the town cemetery, and forming an important part of the battle-field, was purchased by the State of Pennsylvania to be used as a national buryingground for the loval soldiers who fell in that great engagement. It was dedicated, with solemn and impressive ceremonies, on the 19th of November, 1863, the President and members of his Cabinet being in attendance, and a very large and imposing military display adding grace and dignity to the occasion. Hon. Edward Everett delivered the formal address, and President Lincoln made the following remarks :
Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, havo consecrated it for above our power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us, that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
The other great military achievement of the year, was the capture of Port Hudson and Vicksburg, and the opening of the Mississippi river throughout its entire length to the commerce of the United States. General N. P. Banks, who succeeded General Butler in command of the military department of Louisiana, reached New-Orleans, sustained by a formidable expedition from New-York, and assumed command on the 15th of December, 1862, and at once took possession of Baton Rouge. On the 21st, an expedition under General W. T. Sherman started from Memphis, passed down the Mississippi to the mouth of the Yazoo, some ten miles above Vicksburg, and on the 26th ascended that river, landed and commenced an attack upon the town from the rear. Severe fighting continued for three days, during which time our army pushed within two miles of the city; but on the 30th they were repulsed with heavy loss. On the 2d of January, General McClernand arrived and took command, and the attack upon Vicksburg was for the time abandoned as hopeless. Several forts on the Arkansas and White Rivers were taken, and an effort was subsequently made to cut a channel across the neck of land on the extremity of which Vicksburg is situated, so as to divert the channel of the Mississippi, and make Vicksburg substantially an inland town. Various attempts upon the place were made during the succeeding month, but without success. On the 30th of April, General Grant landed his forces at Bruinsburg, sixty-five miles below Vicksburg, and immediately advanced upon Port Gibson, where he was opposed by the rebel General Bowen, who was defeated, with a loss in killed, wounded, and prisoners, of 1,500 men. At Grand Gulf, ten miles above Bruinsburg, the enemy had begun to erect strong fortifications. These had been fired upon by our gunboats a few days before, under cover of which the fleet had run past. Grant having now gained the rear of this strong post, Admiral Porter, two days after the fight at Port Gibson, returned to Grand Gulf and found it abandoned. Grant's Army then marched upward toward Vicksburg, and on the 12th of May encountered the enemy again at Raymond, not far from Jackson, the capital of the State of Mississippi, and again defeated them with a loss of 800. Two days after, May 14, they were opposed by a corps of the enemy under General Joseph E. Johnston, formerly the Commander-in-chief of the Confederate army, who had been assigned to the command of the Department of the Mississippi. Johnston was defeated, and the city of Jackson fell into our hands, with seventeen pieces of artillery and large stores of supplies. Grant then turned to the west, directly upon the rear of Vicksburg. General Pemberton, the commander at that point, advanced with the hope of checking him, but was defeated, on the 16th, at Baker's Creek, losing 4,000 men and twenty-nine pieces of artillery. On the next day the same force was encountered and defeated at Big Black River Bridge, ten miles from Vicksburg, with a loss of 2,600 men, and seventeen pieces of artillery. On the 18th, Vicksburg was closely invested, and the enemy were shut up within their works, which were found to be very strong. An attempt to carry them by storm was unsuccessful, and regular siege was at once laid to the city by the land forces, the gunboats in the river cooperating. Our approaches were pushed forward with vigorous perseverance; our works, in spite of the most strenuous opposition of the garrison under General Pemberton, drawing nearer every day, and the gunboats in the river keeping up an almost constant bombardment. The enemy, it was known, were greatly straitened by want of supplies and ammunition, and their only hope of relief was that General Johnston would be able to collect an army sufficient to raise the siege by attacking Grant in his rear. This had been so strongly defended that a force of 50,000 men would have been required to make the attempt with any hope of success, and Johnston was not able to concentrate half of that number. On the morning of the 4th of July, therefore, General Pemberton proposed to surrender Vicksburg, on condition that his troops should be permitted to march out. Grant refused, demanding an absolute surrender of the garrison as prisoners of war. Upon consultation with his officers, Pemberton acceded to these terms. By this surrender about 31,000 prisoners, 220 cannon, and 70,000 stand of small arms fell into our hands. The pris. oners were at once released on parole. The entire loss of the enemy during the campaign which was thus closed by the surrender of Vicksburg, was nearly 40,000; ours was not far from 7,000.
The capture of Vicksburg was immediately followed by that of Port Hudson, which was surrendered on the 8th of July to General Banks, together with about 7,000 prisoners, fifty cannon, and a considerable number of small arms. The whole course of the Mississippi, from its source to its mouth, was thus opened, and the Confederacy virtually separated into two parts, neither capable of rendering any effective assistance to the other.
The great victories, by which the Fourth of July had been 80 signally, and so gloriously commemorated, called forth the most enthusiastic rejoicings in every section of the country. Public meetings were held in nearly all the cities and principal towns, at which eloquent speeches and earnest resolutions expressed the joy of the people, and testified their unflinching purpose to prosecute the war until the rebellion should be extinguished. A large concourse of the citizens of Washington preceded by a band of music, visited the residence of the President, and the members of his cabinet-giving them, in succession, the honors of a serenade—which the President acknowledged, in the following remarks:
FELLOW-CITIZENS: I am very glad indeed to see you to-night, and yet I will not say I thank you, for this call; but I do most sincerely thank Almighty God for the occasion on which you have called. How long ago is it, -eighty odd years since on the Fourth of July, for the first time, in the history of the world, a nation, by its representatives, assembled and declared as a self-evident truth, that all men are created equal." That was the birthday of the United States of America. Since then the Fourth of July has had several very peculiar recognitions. The two men most distinguished in the framing and support of the Declaration were THOMAS JEFFERSON and John ADAMS—the one having penned it, and the other sustained it the most forcibly in debate—the only two of the fifty-five who signed it, and were elected Presidents of the United States. Precisely fifty years after they put their hands to the paper, it pleased Almighty God to take both from this stage of action. This was indeed an extraordinary and remarkable event in our history. Another President, five years after, was called from this stage of existence on the same day and month of the year; and now on this last Fourth of July, just passed, when we have a gigantic rebellion, at the bottom of which is an effort to overthrow the principle that all men were created equal, we have the surrender of a most powerful position and army on that very day. And not only so, but in a succession of battles in Pennsylvania, near to us, through three days, so rapidly fought that they might be called one great battle, on the first second, and third of the month of July; and on the fourth the cohorts of those who opposed the Declaration that all men are created equal, “turned tail" and run. (Long continued cheers.] Gentlemen, this is a glorious theme, and the occasion for a speech, but I'am not prepared to make one worthy of the