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but I never have forgotten it. It was about a ship on fire, and I want to hear it again.”(0)
The song was sung. The look of care and anxiety which had settled upon his face gave place to the old - time smile. He thanked them heartily for the pleasure they had given him.
“You must come over into Virginia and sing to the soldiers,” said a chaplain of a New Jersey regiment.
“Certainly. Go by all means, only don't sing any secession songs, said the Secretary of War.
With a pass from McClellan the vocalists made their way to Alexandria. The soldiers were delighted.
John G. Whittier for thirty years had been writing songs of Freedom. He was waiting for the deliverance of the land from the curse of slavery — biding God's time. His soul was stirred with indignation as he read the proclamation of McClellan: that there should be no interference with slavery (see p. 265). Fremont's proclamation freeing slaves in Missouri aroused his enthusiasm. It had been set aside by the President. The poet recalled a hymn written by Martin Luther"A Strong Fortress is our God." His soul burst forth:
“We wait beneath the furnace blast,
The pangs of transformation;
Hot burns the fire
That from the land
This was sung by the Hutchinsons.
Some of the soldiers had enlisted solely to fight for the restoration of the Union; others wanted to annihilate the institution which had caused the war. Again the music:
“In vain the bells of war shall ring
Of triumph and revenges,
But blest the ear
That rings the knell
A hiss-a long, loud, venomous hiss-from the surgeon of the regiment. “You do that again and I'll put you out!" shouted the officer of the day. Cheers, hisses, and uproar followed. A few hours later a despatch came over the wires :
“By direction of Major-general McClellan, the permit given to the Hutchinson Fam. ily to sing in the camps and their pass to cross the Potomac are revoked, and they will not be allowed to sing to the troops.”
The vocalists returned to Washington, and called upon their oldtime friend, Secretary Chase.
“I would like to take Whittier's hymn into the Cabinet meeting. I never have seen it before, and I doubt if the members of the Cabinet are familiar with it,” he said. He thereupon read it to the President.
“I don't see anything very bad about that. If any of the commanders want the Hutchinsons to sing to their soldiers, and invite them, they can go,” said Mr. Lincoln. (0)
Little did McClellan comprehend what would be the outcome of his revocation of the pass given to the Hutchinsons. Throughout the North it was interpreted as an indication that his sympathies were with the slave-holders. People sent letters to members of Congress, urging them to use their influence with the President to secure his removal. Mr. Lincoln listened patiently to their complaints, but made no promises.
There was much dissatisfaction with Mr. Cameron, Secretary of War. He had made extravagant contracts. The inactivity of the army was attributed partly to a lack of energy in the War Department. The time had come for a change. His resignation was accepted, and he was sent as Minister to Russia. Whom should the President appoint in his stead? Those who knew what service Edwin M. Stanton had rendered the country when in Buchanan's Cabinethow true he had been to the Union; how he had confronted John B. Floyd, Jacob Thompson, Howell Cobb, and the other conspiratorspresented his name to the President. Edwin M. Stanton! Was it not he who treated Mr. Lincoln rudely in Cincinnati? (see p. 162). Would the President be willing to appoint a man to a responsible position with whom he must have daily conferences, who had all but insulted him on a former occasion? Yes. He would appoint him. True, Mr. Stanton was rude, and had a quick temper-could be hard, cold,
insulting; but the life of the nation was at stake, and he would use him in his effort to save the country.
“ Are you going to be Secretary of War?” It was an old-time friend who put the question to Mr. Stanton.
“What will you do?” The friend had in mind the scene between Lincoln and Stanton at Cincinnati.
“Do? I intend to accomplish three things: I will make Lincoln President of the United States; I will force that man McClellan to fight or throw up; and last, but not least, I will pick Lorenzo Thomas up with a pair of tongs and drop him out of the nearest window." (0)
Mr. Stanton had come to the conclusion that McClellan was ignoring the authority of his superior—that his appointments were his favorites and pets, who were ready to subserve his personal interests and further his aspirations.
Lorenzo Thomas was adjutant-general of the army. Stanton, however, did not pick him up with a pair of tongs, for he remained in office through the war.
General George H. Thomas had marched through mud and storm, and won a victory. If the Union and Confederate troops in Kentucky could make marches in midwinter, why could not those around Washington? Mr. Lincoln could wait, but the time had come when waiting was no longer a virtue. There was no sign of a movement. As commander in-chief, as head of the nation, he would take matters in his own hands. Without consulting any member of his Cabinet, he wrote a military order. The 22d of February would be the anniversary of the birth of George Washington - a day to awaken patriotic fervor. He directed a general movement of all the land and naval forces to be made on that day. All officers would be severally held to their strict and full responsibility for its prompt execution.
That McClellan might have some definite line for action, a second order was issued directing him to provide for the safety of Washing
ton, and then move to gain the railroads leading south from
Manassas. But McClellan wanted instead to take the army to Annapolis, down Chesapeake Bay, then up the Rappahannock to Urbana, and from thence march to York River.
These the questions written out by the President:
“If you will give me satisfactory answers to the following questions I shall gladly yield my plan to yours:
"First.—Does not your plan involve a greatly larger expenditure of time and money than mine?
“Second.—Wherein is victory more certain by your plan than mine?
“Third.—Wherein is victory more valuable by your plan than mine?
“ Fourth.-In fact, would it not be less valuable in this: that it would break no great line of the enemy's communication, while mine would?
“Fifth. In case of disaster, would not a retreat be more difficult by your plan than mine?”
General McClellan did not answer the President's questions, nor acknowledge the receipt of the letter. He sent a long communication to Mr. Stanton, in which he set forth the advantages of a move
ment by water to Urbana, from whence he could march into Richmond, but made no allusion to any letter from the President, or to the questions asked. Railroad trains at that moment were speeding from Manassas loaded with supplies for the Confederate army. Jefferson Davis had read the order of President Lincoln. General Johnston had read it. They comprehended its meaning. They knew that with only a little more than 40,000 troops, the Union army of 150,000 could easily seize the railroad south of Manassas. More than 5,000,000 pounds of food had been accumulated, all of which was sent south of the Rapidan.
There was a general at Cairo, also a commodore, who had no desire to wait until February 22d before moving. “General Grant and myself,” wrote Commodore Foote to General Halleck, "are of the opinion that Fort Henry can be carried by four gunboats and troops."
“From Fort Henry," wrote General Grant, “it will be easy to oper. ate either on the Cumberland, twelve miles distant, on Memphis, or Columbus."
Fort Henry was on the Tennessee River, near the line between Kentucky and Tennessee. Fort Donelson was on the Cumberland.
Admiral Foote, with four gunboats, attacked Fort Henry and
compelled its surrender. A week passed and 14,000 prisoners were captured at Fort Donelson by General Grant. This movement forced the Confederates to evacuate Kentucky. The victories electrified the country.
President Lincoln had been called from the retirement of his home in the capital of Illinois to the executive mansion of the nation. He could find no time for study or contemplation. His oldest son, Robert, was in Harvard University, but Willie and “Tad” made the White House ring with their joyous shouts. (*) They connected the many bellwires, so when one was pulled every bell in the house began to tinkle. They slid down the balusters, and made themselves at home in every apartment.
When the President entered the breakfast - room they climbed into his lap, pulled his ears, ran their fingers through his hair.
Both boys were seized with sickness. In addition to the weight of public cares came anxious days and sleepless nights to the President. How could he sleep when he saw that Willie was to be taken from him? “Why is it? Why is it? This is the hardest trial of my life," he said to the nurse. “Have you ever had any such trial ?” he asked.
“Yes, Mr. Lincoln. I am a widow. My husband and my two chil