Page images
PDF
EPUB

In the lat

June, Chirleston was attacked, without success. ter part of April, Forts Jackson and St. Philip, below New Orleans, were assalled by the fleet under Commodore Farragut, and so far disalbed that they were passed. As a consequence, New Orleans fell into our hands, all the rebel troops fleeing the city. This affair was equally brilliant in its execution and important in its results, and encouraged the government as much as it distressed and discouraged its foes. Fort Pulaski, guarding the entrance to Savannah, was also taken, and that port effectually shut up.

While these much desired, though hardly expected, successes attended the operations at the mouth of the Mississippi, events of equal importance were in progress on its tributaries. At the West movements were on a gigantic scale. The capture of Forts Henry and Donelson on the Cumberland River drew the enemy out of Bowling Green and Nashville, and gave us Columbus. General Price was driven out of Missouri. Island Number Ten and Forts Pillow and Randolph all fell into our hands, and then our forces occupied Memphis. A combination of all the rebel armies at Corinth surprised our troops at Pittsburg Landing, under General Grant, on the morning of April sixth, with overwhelming numbers, and drove them back to the protection of our gunboats; but on the following day, through the opportune arrival of General Buell, with his forces, the rebels were pushed back into retreat, with terrible losses, leaving our victorious army almost as badly punished as themselves. The victory was so decided that Mr. Lincoln was moved to issue a Proclamation of Thanksgiving, in which he also recognized the other victories that have been chronicled. The people were called upon to "render thanks to our Heavenly Father for these inestimable blessings," and were also desired to "implore spiritual consolation in behalf of all those who have been brought into affliction by the casualties. and calamities of civil war."

The rebels fell back to Corinth, and, remaining there a few days, retired to Grenada. A powerful effort of General Bragg to invade Kentucky, made later in the season, for the purpose

mainly of gathering reinforcements, encouraging the secession spirit, and collecting supplies, was a failure, in nearly every point; and, after a battle at Terryville, he retreated. General Rosecrans was attacked at Corinth by a powerful confederate force, but he repulsed the rebels with great loss. At the very last of the year, there was a severe fight at Murfreesboro which resulted favorably to our arms; and the new year of 1863 found a great advance made toward the entire redemption of Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri, from the presence of rebel armies and the prevalence of rebel influence.

CHAPTER XXIII.

WHILE these operations, pursued upon a most gigantic scale, for crushing the rebellion and defending the national existence were in progress, Mr. Lincoln was taking every opportunity, personally and through his generals, to assure the people of the South that he meant them no ill. No father ever dealt more considerately and carefully with erring children than he did with those who had determined to break up the government. On the twenty-fifth of July, he issued a proclamation, in pursuance of a section in the confiscation act, passed by Congress a few days previously, warning all persons to cease participating in the rebellion, and adjuring them to return to their allegiance to the government, on pain of the forfeitures and seizures provided by the act.

There had been men-and there continued to be throughout the war-who believed, or pretended to believe, that peace and Union could be won without war-that friendly negotiation would settle everything. There never was any basis for these fancies, except in rebel desires to embarrass the government, or in party policy among those opposed to the administration, or in the hearts of simple men who believed that reason and common sense had a place in the counsels of the rebel leaders. From the beginning of the rebellion to the end, there was not a time in which peace could have been procured, short of an acknowledgment of the independence of the confederate rebel states, as events have proved. Mr. Lincoln understood this, and understood better than the

country generally the desperate men with whom he had to deal; yet he never repelled those who thought they had found some way to peace besides the bloody way. Late in 1862, a period which showed decided advantages won by the Union forces, regarded as a whole, Fernando Wood, the man who, as Mayor of New York, had advocated the separate secession of that metropolis and its erection into a free city, wrote Mr. Lincoln a letter, stating that, on the twenty-fifth of November, he was reliably advised that "The southern states would send representatives to the next Congress," provided that a full and general amnesty should permit them to do so. Mr. Wood urged his point with ardent professions of loyalty, and with arguments drawn from Mr. Lincoln's inaugural; but Mr. Lincoln passed by his arguments and exhortations, and, in a reply dated December twelfth, said that the most important part of his (Wood's) letter related to the alleged fact that men from the South were ready to appear in Congress, on the terms stated. "I strongly suspect your information will prove to be groundless," said Mr. Lincoln; "nevertheless, I thank you for communicating it to me. Understanding the phrase in the paragraph above quoted, 'the southern states would send representatives to the next Congress,' to be substantially the same as that 'the people of the southern states would cease resistance, and would re-inaugurate, submit to, and maintain, the national authority, within the limits of such states, under the Constitution of the United States,' I say that in such case the war would cease on the part of the United States, and that if, within a reasonable time, a full and general amnesty were necessary to such an end, it would not be withheld."

Mr. Wood thought the President ought to make an effort to verify his (Wood's) statement, by permitting a correspondence to take place between the rebels, and gentlemen "whose former political and social relations with the leaders of the southern revolt" would make them good media for the purpose, the correspondence all to be submitted to Mr. Lincoln. The latter, however, knew Mr. Wood, and knew that he bore

no good-will to him, or his administration, or the country; and he told him that he did not think it would do any good to communicate what he had said to the South, either formally or informally, for they already knew it. Neither did he think it the time to stop military operations for negotiations. If Mr. Wood had any positive information, he should be glad to get it; and such information might be more valuable before the first of January than after it. At this, Mr. Wood was filled with "profound regret;" and proceeded to read Mr. Lincoln a solemn lecture on his Constitutional obligations, which, doubtless, made a profound impression upon the mind of the President, as he was not known, in a single instance, to be unmindful of those obligations afterwards. The kernel of this nut was in the words: "Your emancipation proclamation told of punishment. Let another be issued, speaking the language of mercy, and breathing the spirit of conciliation." Mr. Wood was interposing on behalf of his southern friends, to prevent a final proclamation of emancipation; and he knew this was to come on the first of January, and that Mr. Lincoln's allusion to that date was a gentle hint to him that the executive purposes were undisturbed and that he was understood.

But we are getting ahead of great events which were destined to have a radical influence upon the war, upon the sentiments and sympathies of Christendom, upon the social institutions of the country, and the destinies of a race. Mr. Wood's allusion to the emancipation proclamation touched a document and an event of immeasurable importance; and to these we now turn our attention.

Mr. Lincoln had tried faithfully, in accordance with his oath of office and his repeated professions, to save the Union without disturbing a single institution which lived under it. He had warned the insurgent states of a measure touching slavery that their contumacy would render necessary. had besought the border slave states to take themselves out of the way of that impending measure. He had braved the criminations and the impatience of his friends for his tender

He

« PreviousContinue »