Henry J. (Henry Jarvis) Raymond.

Lincoln, his life and times : being the life and public services of Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth President of the United States, together with his state papers, including his speeches, addresses, messages, letters, and proclamations, and the closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 2) online

. (page 13 of 41)
Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondLincoln, his life and times : being the life and public services of Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth President of the United States, together with his state papers, including his speeches, addresses, messages, letters, and proclamations, and the closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 2) → online text (page 13 of 41)
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the armies, and in view of the great responsibility and importance
of success, I have been astonished at the readiness with which every
thing asked for has been yielded, without even an explanation being
asked. Should my success be less than I deserve and expect, the
least I can say is, the fault is not with you.

Very truly, your obedient servant,

U. S. Grant, Lieut.-General.

The interest and anxiety with which the people .watched


for the approaching movement of the army was very deep.
Nor did it content itself with mere watchfulness. It took
the right direction of work, and from every quarter the
hands of the Government were stayed up by the willing
hearts of the people.

As one instance of the desire to help, which was uni-
versally felt, we may mention the offer of Colonel F. B.
Loomis, of New London, to garrison Fort Trumbull with
citizen soldiers for one hundred days, at his own expense,
thus releasing the veterans, by whom it was garrisoned, to
go to the front.

The President replied to this offer as follows : —

Executive Mansion, Washington, May 12, 1864..
My Dear Sir:

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communica-
tion of the 28th April, in which you offer to replace the present gar-
rison at Fort Trumbull with volunteers, which you propose to raise
at your own expense. While it seems inexpedient at this time to
accept this proposition, on account of the special duties now de-
volving upon the garrison mentioned, I cannot pass unnoticed such
a meritorious instance of individual patriotism. Permit me, for the
Government, to express my cordial thanks to you for this generous
and public-spirited offer, which is worthy of note among the many
called forth in these times of national trial.

I am, very truly, your obedient servant,

A. Lincoln.

F. B. Loomis, Esq.

It was on Monday, the 2d of May, that the forward march
of the army began, and the Rapidan was crossed without
opposition on Tuesday and Wednesday, by the fords lying
to the east of Lee's position. General Grant, recognizing
the fact that the strength of the rebellion lay not in the
fortifications of Richmond, but in the ranks of Lee's army,
aimed to place himself upon the southern communications
of that army, and by heavy blows to destroy it. And with
the very commencement of this movement he forced Lee
to leave the intrenched line behind which he had so long
faced the gathering storm, and make haste to attack his foe
before he had reached his rear. This he at once did, and
on Thursday the battles of the Wilderness began. The
character of the Ground gave every advantage to the rebels.
It was all overgrown with scrub pines, with many paths
leading through it. They knew the ground thoroughly, and


their movements could be made unseen, while the dense
woods made cavalry and artillery almost useless. Lee's first
effort was to break through our lines between our centre
under Warren and our left under Hancock, but by great
exertions this was prevented, and night came without any
substantial result. With the morning of Friday, General
Grant assumed the offensive, and the tide of battle ebbed
and flowed throughout the day. On our left, Hancock's
successes in the morning were lost again by noon, but a
heavy attack of the rebels upon him in the afternoon was
successfully repulsed. On our right no material advantage
of position was gained during the day; but the death of
General Wadsworth, who fell at the head of his men, was a
heavy loss to us, and by a furious assault, just before night,
the rebels succeeded in breaking our lines, capturing General
Thomas Seymour, and many of his men. The lines were,
however, speedily re-established. The result was on the
whole favorable to General Grant, as the rebels had failed to
thoroughly break his lines or disable him for the forward
movement which, on Saturday night, after a day of skirmish-
ing without any general engagement, he undertook, aiming
at Spottsylvania Court-House. The rebels, however, be-
coming aware of his movement, moved likewise, and, hav-
ing the shorter line, gained the position first, and held it
against our attack during the hours of Sunday, our lines
being formed about two miles and a half north of Spottsyl-
vania. Monday was a day of skirmishing, sadly marked for
us, however, by the death of General Sedgwick, who was in
command of the Sixth Corps. Night found the two armies
facing each other, each behind temporary breastworks, each
watchful, each determined.

The news of the movement of the army was not made
public until Friday morning. The vital importance of its
results was everywhere felt. All eyes were at once intent
upon those bloody fields, all ears eager for information of
what was going on there; and the prayers of the whole
people of the North went up to God, earnest, fervent, full
of faith, that He would bless the righteous cause.

Official bulletins were given to the public of the results
of the different days' operations as they slowly became
known. And on Tuesday morning all hearts were thrilled


with joy by the following official announcement from the
President :-

Executive Mansion, Washington, May 9, 1864.
To the Friends of Union and Liberty:

Enough is known of army operations, within the last five days, to
claim our special gratitude to God. While what remains undone de-
mands our most sincere prayers to and reliance upon Him (with-
out whom all effort is vain), I recommend that all patriots at their
homes, in their places of public worship, and wherever they may be,
unite in common thanksgiving and prayer to Almighty God.

Abraham Lincoln.

Accompanying this recommendation were published bulle-
tins of the results up to Saturday, the retiring of the rebels
from General Grant's front, and the march of our army to-
wards Spottsylvania. The news spread great joy every-
where, and that night a crowd of several thousand people
marched to the White House to serenade the President, who,
being called for, came out and spoke as follows : —

Fellow- Citizens : — I am very much obliged to you for the com- \
pliment of this call, though I apprehend it is owing more to the good
news received to-day from the army, than to a desire to see me. I
am indeed very grateful to the brave men who have been struggling
with the enemy in the field, to their noble commanders who have
directed them, and especially to our Maker. Our commanders are
following up their victories resolutely and successfully. I think,
without knowing of the particulars of the plans of General Grant,
that what has been accomplished is of more importance than at first
appears. I believe, I know (and am especially grateful to know) that
General Grant has not been jostled in ihis purposes, that he has made
all his points, and to-day he is on his line as he purposed before he j
moved his armies. I will volunteer to say that I am very glad at
what has happened, but there is a great deal still to be done. While
we are grateful to all the brave men and officers for the events of
the past few days, we should, above all, be very grateful to Almighty
God, who gives us victory.

There is enough yet before us requiring all loyal men and patriots
to perform their share of the labor and follow the example of the
modest General at the head of our armies, and sink all personal con-
sideration for the sake of the country. I commend you to keep your-
selves in the same tranquil mood that is characteristic of that brave
and loyal man. I have said more than I expected when I came
before you. Repeating my thanks for this call, I bid you good-by.

While the movement of the Army of the Potomac was
the chief point of interest, it was not the only one. On
Wednesday, May 4th, General Butler, having put his troops
on board a fleet of transports, made a rapid move up the


James River and occupied City Point and Bermuda Hun-
dred, on both sides of the Appomattox River, across which
pontoons were thrown — while General Kautz, at the head
of a strong force of cavalry, left Suffolk upon a raid on the
Petersburg and Weldon Railroad — which he succeeded in
cutting by destroying some bridges. General Butler also
succeeded in cutting the railroad between Petersburg and
Richmond, so as to prevent for a time the sending of re-
enforcements to General Lee from the forces that were south
of Richmond under Beauregard.

General Grant, meantime, had not been content with
merely pounding against Lee's front with men and with
guns, of which he was now able to employ more than in the
battles of the Wilderness. He also dispatched his cavalry
under General Sheridan round the right flank of the rebels,
on the 10th of May, which, reaching the railroads, made
an immense destruction of supplies prepared for Lee's army,
and of locomotives and cars for their transportation, and
which, on the nth, routed the rebel cavalry under General
Stuart, at Yellow Tavern, in which engagement Stuart was
killed; and, pressing on yet nearer Richmond and over the
first line of the works around the city, turned off to the
east, and crossing the Chickahominy, reached Fortress Mon-
roe with little loss, having inflicted great damage on the

The 10th and nth of May were days of hard fighting for
the Army of the Potomac, of heavy losses and partial suc-
cesses for both sides, and of attacks met and repulsed, with
the employment of all the resources of both armies; and the
dispatches which General Grant sent to Washington on the
night of the nth summed up the results as follows: —

We have now ended the sixth day of very heavy fighting. The re-
sult to this time is much in our favor. Our losses have been heavy
as well as those of the enemy. I think the loss of the enemy must
be greater. We have taken over five thousand prisoners in battle,
while he has taken from us but few, except stragglers. I propose
to fight it out on this line, if it takes all summer.

The early light of the next morning brought results yet
more in our favor; for with the break of day, Hancock, now
on our right, fell like a thunderbolt upon the rebel intrench-
ments, and stormed over them, capturing several thousand


prisoners, including two generals, together with thirty or
forty cannon, only eighteen of which, however, he was able
to hold. For Lee, stung to the quick by this deadly blow,
gathered all his forces to retake the position, and five des-
perate charges upon it during the day covered the ground
with dead and wounded, until, when the battle was over,
nearly a thousand rebel dead lay within an acre or two of
ground in front of the works. The utmost exertions of the
rebels were in vain, however, and they sullenly withdrew to
another position. A storm now set in and enforced quiet
on both sides for several days. During this time General
Butler moved forward towards Fort Darling, but on the 16th
day of May he met with a heavy blow from tne rebels, who
took advantage of a fog to make a successful attack, driving
him from the railroad and forcing him to return to his lines
at Bermuda Hundred. General Sigel, too, who had marched
down the Shenandoah Valley, was met by a superior force
under General Imboden, and driven back with a loss of five
guns. General Kautz, however, with his cavalry, having
returned from his first successful raid, set out upon a second
one towards the Danville road, which he also succeeded in
injuring to some extent.

The Government strained every nerve to send forward re-
enforcements to General Grant, and on the 18th the fighting
in front of Spottsylvania was renewed. On the 19th the reb-
els inflicted a heavy loss upon our rig-fit by making an un-
expected attack, in which some of our newly arrived regi-
ments suffered severely. This was an attempt of the rebels
to cut our communications, but they failed entirely in doing

They had, however, by this time thrown up intrenchments
of so formidable a character that General Grant determined
again to make a flanking movement by the left.

The movement was at once perceived by General Lee, and
when our forces arrived at the North Anna river, the rebels
were already there. They were not, however, able to pre-
vent our forces from crossing the river, and inflicting a
severe blow upon the enemy in the crossing. After crossing,
however, the main body of Lee's army was discovered to
have taken so strong a position between the North and
South Anna rivers, that General Grant* again deemed it wise


not to make a direct attack, but to repeat his flanking move-

The army was accordingly withdrawn without loss from
Lee's front on the night of Thursday, May 26th, and, moving
again by the left, crossed the Pamunkey, but was again con-
fronted by the rebel army, which, after some severe fighting,
again made a stand at Coal Harbor. While here, one corps
of General Butler's army, under General Smith, was trans-
ferred to the Army of the Potomac. Thus re-enforced, a
violent but unsuccessful attack was made upon the rebel in-
trenchments on the 3d of June, and, after heavy losses, the
attack was abandoned. Repeated efforts, however, on the
part of the rebels, to turn our left, and to break up the com-
munication which had been formed with the White House,
on the Pamunkey river, also failed as signally. And both
armies thus remained for several days, watching each other
sleeplessly, and each preferring to receive rather than to
make an attack.

Other co-operative movements went on during all this
time. In Western Virginia, General Averill had made quite
a successful raid upon the railroads. In the Shenandoah
Valley, where General Hunter had taken command in place
of General Sigel, our forces won a brilliant victory at Pied-
mont over the rebels under Generals Jones and Imboden, the
former of whom was killed. Hunter captured one thousand
five hundred prisoners and three guns; and, forming a junc-
tion with Crook and Averill, pushed on towards Lynchburg,
which, however, he was unable to reach. An unsuccessful
attack was made by General Butler's forces upon Petersburg
on the 10th of June.

On the 12th of June, General Grant, having become. con-
vinced that nothing coul be gained by a direct attack upon
General Lee, followed up his plan of -imine to strike Lee's
southern communications by leaving his front and again
marching by the left to the James river, which he crossed
upon a pontoon bridge, below City Point, and immediately
moved forward to the attack upon Petersburg. Again, how-
ever, General Lee, having the inside lines to move upon, was
a few hours in advance of our troops, and, while several
forts were taken on the outer lines of defences, with thirteen
cannon and some prisoners, in which the colored troops


especially distinguished themselves, the inner lines were
found to be too strong, and our army settled itself down to
the siege of Petersburg.

General Sherman's movement upon Atlanta was made at
the same time as that of the Army of the Potomac. His
army was superior in numbers to that which was opposed
to it, but the rocky heights which were held by General John-
ston were so strong that General Sherman did not waste his
strength by attacking them in front, but by a series of mas-
terly flank movements he compelled the rebel army to retreat
successively from Buzzard's Roost, from Dalton, and from
Resaca, at which latter place there were, however, two days
of heavy fighting on the 14th and 15th of May, resulting in
the capture of both guns and prisoners by our troops, the
retreat of Johnston across the Oostenaula river, and the
capture without serious opposition of Rome and Kingston,
some sixty miles further on towards Atlanta. At Rome,
large quantities of provisions were captured, and large ma-
chine-shops were destroyed. Johnston's retreat had been
too rapid to allow of his doing much damage to the railroad
along which his army was falling back towards Atlanta; and
whatever damage he was enabled to do was at once repaired,
and the railroad was put into use to supply our armies in
their advance.

The Altoona Mountains were the scene of the next stand
made by the rebels. General Sherman continued the flank-
ing system, and moved towards Dallas, where, however, he
was met by the rebels, who attacked McPherson's Corps on
the 28th of. May, and met a disastrous repulse, losing some
two thousand five hundred killed and wounded and eight
hundred prisoners. This movement having drawn the rebels
from their position at the pass of the Altoona Mountains, it
was occupied and held by our cavalry, becoming at once, as
General Sherman said, "as useful to us as it was to the
enemy," and the rebels took up a new position at Kenesaw
and Lost Mountain. Efforts were made by them, while
Sherman was advancing towards this position, to interfere
with his communications, and some damage was done to the
railroad by rebel cavalry, which was, however, speedily
driven off. A more discouraging affair, however, was the
defeat of a heavy expedition, which set out from Memphis


under command of General Sturges, by the rebel General
Forrest, on the ioth of June. The requirements of General
Sherman's position w re not, however, so great but that he
was able at once to make arrangemfnts to repair this dis-
aster. Like General Grant, he was not "jostled from his
plans" by these outside manoeuvres ; ny more than by the
direct blows of the rebel army, and by the 18th of June, when
Grant stationed himself before the works of Petersburg after
his march of a hundred miles and his many battles, Sherman
had arrived before the rebel works at Kenesaw Mountain
after a similar march of fighting and flanking the enemy
over something more than a hundre miles of territory.

Both of these movements are now recognized as having
been splendid successes. But it is not to be denied that
from the time of the commencement of the siege of Peters-
burg there was a growing fueling of doubt and anxiety in
the country in reference to the operations of the army of
the Potomac. It had been often announced that Lee's army
was cut to pieces and fleeing in disorder, an J yet that army
had thus far, by repeated stands, been able to prevent Grant
from breaking through its lines. Even Petersburg was de-
clared to have been taken by assault on the first attack; and
yet it was found that, instead of this, our armv was not able
at once to draw its lines around the place far enough to cut
off" the Weldon Railroad. The losses of the army were
greatly exaggerated by the opposition, the difficulties of its
position magnified, the lack of water ani the dust and heat
were dilated upon, and even the visit which the President
paid to the army on the 22d of June was dwelt upon as an
event showing that the difficulties of the situation were great,
if not insuperable.

The army, however, did not look at it in that light. The
President's visit was for them a gratification, not a cause for
anxiety, and they cheered him, as he rode along the lines,
with a heartiness which expressed their confidence in him
and in the leaders whom he had gdven them. ' The Presi-
dent's confident expressions as to the state of affairs on his
return went far to encourage the country; for the people
had already come in great measure to have that abounding
confidence in Mr. Lincoln which displayed itself so wonder-
fully during the rest of his life. He appreciated in his turn


the confidence which the people felt in him. "I do my best
to deserve this," said he to a friend, "but I tremble at the
responsibility that devolves upon me, a weak, mortal man,
to serve such a great and generous people in such a place
as I hold, in such an awful crisis as this. It is a terrible
responsibility; but it has been imposed upon me without my
seeking, and I' trust Providence has a wise purpose for me to
fulfil by appointing me to this charge, which is almost too
much for a weak mortal to hold."

He appreciated not only this confidence in him, but the
whole character of the people. "Such a people," said he,
"can never fail ■ and they deserve, and will receive, the proud-
est place in the history of nations." It seems sad to think-
that he could not have lived to see how speedily the fulfil-
ment of his prophecy approached.

General Grant's purpose was to extend his lines south-
ward, cutting off as speedily as possible the railroads which
led from Petersburg to the south ; and by the cavalry arm
destroying the other railroads leading to Richmond, thus
isolating it from the South. In pursuance of this plan Sheri-
dan with his cavalry destroyed a large portion of the rail-
roads between Richmond and Gordonsville, returning to the
White House, and there opening communications again with
General Grant; and Wilson, on the south, cut the Weldon
Railroad, and, reaching Burkesville, did serious damage also
to the Danville road. The first move of the army, however,
towards the Weldon road resulted disastrously; and Wilson,
on his return from his raid, was set upon at Ream's Station,
and had to cut his way through with heavy loss, by the aid
of a diversion effected by the Sixth Corps, which was sent
to his relief. General Hunter, too, was unable to capture
Lynchburg, and, falling short of ammunition, was compelled
to retreat into Western Virginia by the Valley of the Kana-

Amid these various movements, Congress adjourned on
the 4th of July.

The feeling at its adjournment was not buoyant, but tend-
ing to depression; and, just before it separated, a resolution
was passed, requesting the President to appoint a day of


fasting and prayer. Accordingly, on the 7th of July, he
issued the following proclamation : —

By the President of the United States.

Whereas, the Senate and House of Representatives at their last
session adopted a concurrent resolution, which was approved on the
second day of July instant, and which was in the words following,

That the President of the United States be requested to appoint a
day of humiliation and prayer by the people of the United States,
that he requset his constitutional advisers at the head of the Execu-
tive Departments to unite with him, as Chief Magistrate of the na-
tion, at the City of Washington, and the members of Congress and
all magistrates, all civil, military, and naval officers, all soldiers,
sailors, and marines, with all loyal and law-abiding people, to con-
vene at their usual places of worship, or wherever they may be,
to confess and to repent of dieir manifold sins, to implore the com-
passion and forgiveness of the Almighty, that if consistent with His
will, the existing rebellion may be speedily suppressed, and the su-
premacy of the Constitution and laws of the United States may be
established throughout all the States; to implore Him, as the Su-
preme Ruler of the world, not to destroy us as a people, nor suffer
us to be destroyed by the hostility or connivance of other nations,
or by obstinate adhesion to our own counsels which may be in con-
flict with His eternal purposes, and to implore Him to enlighten the
mind of the nation to know and do His will, humbly believing that
it is in accordance with His will that our place should be main-
tained as a united people among the family of nations; to implore
Him to grant to our armed defenders, and the masses of the people,
•that courage, power of resistance, and endurance necessary to secure
that result ; to implore Him in His infinite goodness to soften the hearts,
enlighten the minds, and quicken the conscience of those in rebel-
lion, that they may lay down their arms, and speedily return to their
allegiance to the United States, that they may not be utterly de-
stroyed, that the effusion of blood may be stayed, and that unity
and fraternity may be restored, and peace established throughout all
our borders.

Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United
States, cordially concurring with the Congress of the United States,
in the penitential and pious sentiments expressed in the aforesaid
resolutions, and heartily approving of the devotional design and pur-
pose thereof, do hereby appoint the first Thursday of August next
to be observed by the people of the United States as a day of na-
tional humiliation and prayer.

Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondLincoln, his life and times : being the life and public services of Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth President of the United States, together with his state papers, including his speeches, addresses, messages, letters, and proclamations, and the closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 2) → online text (page 13 of 41)