« PreviousContinue »
He was the first public man who, during these long years of the reign of injustice, had recognized, in a slave State, the manhood of the bondman. In God's good providence their haughty oppressors will erelong be compelled, both as individuals and as States, to do the same.
Mr. Lincoln remained in Richmond two days, rode through the streets, visited the prisons and fortifications, ordered bread to be distributed to the famished rebel families left bebind, and to the freed people, and then took his departure for home.
He witnessed scenes of the most profound significance. The blackened city, the ashes of that resplendent castle in the air, the Southern Empire, the broken fetters of slavery, and heard that shout of deliverance of millions of slaves, which once to hear was worth a lifetime of labor and toil. He stood there, as Moses stood upon Mount Nebo, and gazed from the departing mists upon a bright and far-reaching future, prosperous in the reign of peace, justice, and freedom. A glad day was this for Mr. Lincoln, a memorable day in the annals of the irrepressible and ever-recurring conflicts in defense of the rights of man.
O, land, through years of shrouded nights
In triple blackness groping, Toward the far-prophetic lights
That beacon the world's hoping,
Of that transforming given
Hold fast their grip on heaven.
The Lord God's purpose throbs along
Our stormy turbulances;
By hidden recompenses.
In battle-blasted furrows,
Large peace for calm to-morrows.
For lo! the branding flails that drave
Our husks of foul self from us,
Immortal grains of promise.
In gusts of fire amid us,
The falseness which undid us.
Wherefore, O ransomed people shout!
O, banners, wave in glory!
O, drums, strike up the stury! Clang, broken fetters, idle swords !
Clap hands, O States, together! AND LET ALL PRAISES BE THE LORD's, Our Savior AND our Father!
Lieut. RICHARD REALF. RETURN TO WASHINGTON-HIS DEATH. 105
RETURN TO WASHINGTON-DEATH AND BURIAL.
R. LINCOLN remained in Richmond
two days, looking over the great fortifi
cations of that rebel stronghold, and gathering such information as might be of value in his future duties.
On his return, he stopped at City Point. “ Calling upon the head surgeon at that place, Mr. Lincoln told him that he wished to visit all the hospitals under his charge, and shake hands with every soldier. The surgeon asked if he knew what he was undertaking, there being five or six thousand soldiers at that place, and it would be quite a task upon his strength to visit all the wards and shake hands with every soldier. Mr. Lincoln answered, with a smile, he 'guessed he was equal to the task; at any rate he would try, and go as far as he could. He should never probably see the boys again, and he wanted them to know that he appreciated what they had done for their country.” Finding it useless to dissuade him, the surgeon began his rounds with the President, who walked from bed to bed, extending his hand to all, saying a few words, of sympathy to some, making kind inquiries of others, and welcomed by all with the heartiest cordiality. As they passed along, they came to a ward in which lay a rebel who had been wounded and was a prisoner. As the tall figure of the kindly visitor appeared in sight, he was recognized by the rebel soldier, who, raising himself on his elbow in bed, watched Mr. Lincoln as he approached, and, extending his hand, exclaimed, while tears ran down his cheeks: Mr. Lincoln, I have long wanted to see you, to ask your forgiveness for ever raising my hand against the old flag. Mr. Lincoln was moved to tears. He heartily shook the hand of the repentant rebel, and assured him of his good-will, and, with a few words of kind advice, passed on. After some hours, the tour of the various hospitals was made, and Mr. Lincoln returned with the surgeon to his office. They had scarcely entered, however, when a