« PreviousContinue »
THE EXPEDITIONS OF SHERMAN AND KILPATRICK. 459
severely wounded on the field. Five guns were lost, and about a thousand men killed, wounded, and missing.
On the 3d of February, General Sherman, with a strong force, set out from Vicksburg, in light marching order, and moved eastward. Shortly after, a cavalry expedition, under General Smith, set out from Memphis, to work its way southeastward, and join Sherman somewhere on the borders of Mississippi and Alabama. By the 18th Smith had accomplished nearly one-half of his proposed march, but soon after found the enemy concentrated in superior force in his way. Finding it impossible to proceed, he fell back, destroying the bridges on the Memphis and Ohio Railroad in his retreat. There was continual skirmishing, but no decisive battle during the retreat, which lasted until the 25th, when the expedition accomplished its return to Memphis. Much damage was done to the enemy by the destruction of property, but the main object of making a junction with Sherman failed. Sherman went as far east as Meridian, almost on the borders of Mississippi and Alabama, and after destroying large quantities of the rebel stores, and breaking their means of communication, he returned to Vicksburg.
The other enterprise to which reference is made above, was a raid upon Richmond, made by a large cavalry force under General Kilpatrick. Leaving his camp on the 28th of February, he crossed the Rapidan, gained the rear of Lee's army without being discovered, and pushed rapidly on in the direction of Richmond. A detachment under Colonel Dahlgren was sent from the main body to Frederick's Hall, on the Virginia Central Railroad. The road was torn up for some distance, and then the James River Canal was struck, and six grist-mills destroyed, which formed one of the main sources of supply for the Confederate army. Several locks on the canal were destroyed, and other damage done. Dahlgren's main body then pressed onward toward Richmond, and came
within three miles of the city, when, encountering a Confederate force, it was compelled to withdraw, Dahlgren himself being killed, and a large part of his force captured. Kilpatrick, meanwhile, pressed onward to Spottsylvania CourtHouse, and thence to Beaver Dam, near where the two lines of railway from Richmond, those running to Gordonsville and Fredericksburg, cross. Here the railway was torn up, and the telegraphic line cut, and the cavalry pushed straight on toward Richmond. They reached the outer line of fortifications at a little past ten on the morning of the 1st of March, about three and a half miles from the city. These were fairly passed, and the second line, a mile nearer, was reached, and a desultory fire was kept up for some hours. Toward evening Kilpatrick withdrew, and encamped six miles from the city. In the night an artillery attack was made upon the camp, and our troops retired still farther, and on the following morning took up their line of march down the Peninsula toward Williamsburg. Several miles of railway connection of great importance to the enemy were interrupted, stores to the value of several millions of dollars were destroyed, and some hundreds of prisoners were captured, as the result of this expedition.
The relations of the war which is carried on to maintain the Republican Government of the United States, against the efforts of the slave-holding oligarchy for its overthrow, to the general interests of labor, have from time to time enlisted a good deal of the thoughts of the President, and elicited from him expressions of his own sentiments on the subject. On the 31st of December, 1863, a very large meeting of workingmen was held at Manchester, England, to express their opinion in regard to the war in the United States. At that meeting an address to President LINCOLN was adopted, expressing the kindest sentiments towards this country, and declaring that, since it had become evident that the destruction of Slavery
THE PRESIDENT TO THE WORKINGMEN OF ENGLAND. 461
was involved in the overthrow of the rebellion, their sympathies had been thoroughly and heartily with the Government of the United States in the prosecution of the war. This address was forwarded to the President through the American Minister in London, and elicited the following reply:
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, January 19, 1863. To the Workingmen of Manchester :
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the address and resolutions which you sent me on the eve of the new year. When I came on the 4th of March, 1861, through a free and constitutional election, to preside in the Government of the United States, the country was found at the verge of civil war. Whatever might have been the cause, or whosesoever the fault, one duty, paramount to all others, was before me, namely, to maintain and preserve at once the Constitution and the integrity of the Federal Republic. A conscientious purpose to perform this duty, is the key to all the measures of administration which have been, and to all which will hereafter be pursued. Under our frame of government and my official oath, I could not depart from this purpose if I would. It is not always in the power of governments to enlarge or restrict the scope of moral results which follow the policies that they may deem it necessary, for the public safety, from time to time to adopt.
I have understood well that the duty of self-preservation rests solely with the American people. But I have at the same time been aware that favor or disfavor of foreign nations might have a material influence in enlarging or prolonging the struggle with disloyal men in which the country is engaged. A fair examination of history has served to authorize a belief that the past actions and influences of the United States, were generally regarded as having been beneficial toward mankind. I have, therefore, reckoned upon the forbearance of nations. Circumstancesto some of which you kindly allude-induced me especially to expect that if justice and good faith should be practised by the United States, they would encounter no hostile influence on the part of Great Britain. It is now a pleasant duty to acknowledge the demonstration you have giveń of your desire that a spirit of amity and peace toward this country may prevail in the councils of your Queen, who is respected and esteemed in your own country only more than she is by the kindred nation which has its home on this side of the Atlantic.
I know, and deeply deplore the sufferings which the workingmen at Manchester, and in all Europe, are called to endure in this crisis. It has been often and studiously represented that the attempt to overthrow this Government, which was built upon the foundation of human rights, and to substitute for it one which should rest exclusively on the basis of
human slavery, was likely to obtain the favor of Europe. Through the action of our disloyal citizens, the workingmen of Europe have been subjected to severe trials, for the purpose of forcing their sanction to that attempt. Under the circumstances, I cannot but regard your decisive utterances upon the question as an instance of sublime Christian heroism, which has not been surpassed in any age or in any country. It is indeed an energetic and reinspiring assurance of the inherent power of truth, and of the ultimate and universal triumph of justice, humanity, and freedom. I do not doubt that the sentiments you have expressed will be sustained by your great nation, and on the other hand, i have no hesitation in assuring you that they will excite admiration, esteem, and the most reciprocal feelings of friendship among the American people. I hail this interchange of sentiment, therefore, as an augury that whatever else may happen, whatever misfortune may befall your country or my own, the peace and friendship which now exist between the two nations will be, as it shall be my desire to make them, perpetual.
The workingmen of London held a similar meeting at about the same time, and took substantially the same action. President made the following response to their address :
EXECUTIVE MANSION, Feb. 2, 1863.
To the Workingmen of London :
I have received the New Year's Address which you have sent me, with a sincere appreciation of the exalted and humane sentiments by which it was inspired.
As these sentiments are manifestly the enduring support of the free institutions of England, so I am sure also that they constitute the only reliable basis for free institutions throughout the world.
The resources, advantages, and powers of the American people are very great, and they have consequently succeeded to equally great responsibilities. It seems to have devolved upon them to test whether a government established on the principles of human freedom, can be maintained against an effort to build one upon the exclusive foundation of human bondage. They will rejoice with me in the new evidences which your proceedings furnish, that the magnanimity they are exhibiting is justly estimated by the true friends of freedom and humanity in foreign countries.
Accept my best wishes for your individual welfare, and for the welfare and happiness of the whole British people.
On the 21st of March, 1864, a committee from the Workingmen's Association of the city of New York waited upon the
THE PRESIDENT TO THE WORKINGMEN OF NEW YORK. 463
President and delivered an address, stating the general objects. and purposes of the Association, and requesting that he would allow his name to be enrolled among its honorary members. To this address the President made the following reply:
Gentlemen oF THE COMMITTEE:-The honorary membership in your association, as generously tendered, is gratefully accepted.
You comprehend, as your address shows, that the existing rebellion means more and tends to do more than the perpetuation of African slavery—that it is, in fact, a war upon the rights of all working people. Partly to show that this view has not escaped my attention, and partly that I cannot better express myself, I read a passage from the message to Congress in December, 1861:
"It continues to develop that the insurrection is largely, if not exclusively, a war upon the first principle of popular government, the rights of the people. Conclusive evidence of this is found in the most grave and maturely considered public documents, as well as in the general tone of the insurgents. In those documents we find the abridgement of the existing right of suffrage, and the denial to the people of all right to participate in the selection of public officers, except the legislative, boldly advocated, with labored argument to prove that large control of the people in government is the source of all political evil. Monarchy itself is sometimes hinted at as a possible refuge from the power of the people. "In my present position I could scarcely be justified were I to omit raising a warning voice against this approach of returning despotism.
"It is not needed, nor fitting here, that a general argument should be made in favor of popular institutions; but there is one point with its connections, not so hackneyed as most others, to which I ask a brief attention. It is the effort to place capital on an equal footing, if not above labor, in the structure of government. It is assumed that labor is available only in connection with capital; that nobody labors unless somebody else, owning capital, somehow by the use of it induces him to labor. This assumed, it is next considered whether it is best that capital shall hire laborers, and thus induce them to work by their own consent, or buy them, and drive them to it without their consent. Having proceeded so far, it is naturally concluded that all laborers are either hired laborers, or what we call slaves. And, further, it is assumed that whoever is once a hired laborer, fixed in that condition for life. Now there is no such relation between capital and labor as assumed, nor is there any such thing as a free man being fixed for life in the condition of a hired laborer. Both these assumptions are false, and all inferences from them are groundless.
"Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. Capital has its riglits, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights. Nor is it denied that there is, and probably always will be, a relation between capital and labor, producing mutual benefits. The error is in assuming that the whole labor of a community exists within that relation. A few men own capital, and that few avoid labor themselves, and, with their capital, hire or buy another few to labor for them. A large majority belong to neither class--neither work for others, nor