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 37 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 37 of 41)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

believed to be an act of justice warranted by the Constitution, I
invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor
of Almighty God!"

Mr. Lincoln adopted this sentence intact, excepting that he inserted
after the word "Constitution" the words "upon military necessity "

Thus is ended what I have long felt to be a duty I owed to th^
world — the record of circumstances attending the preparation and


issue of the third great state paper which has marked the progress
of Anglo-Saxon civilization.

First, is the "Magna Charta," wrested by the barons of England
from King John; second, the "Declaration of Independence;" ami
third, worthy to be placed upon the tablets of history, side bv side
with the two first is "Abraham Lincoln's Proclamation of Eman-






Executive Mansion, Washington, April 4, 1864.
A. G. Hodges, Esq., Frankfort, Kentucky :

My Dear Sir : — You ask me to put in writing the substance of
what I verbally said the other day, in your presence, to Governor
Bramlette and Senator Dixon. It was about as follows: —

I am naturally anti-slavery. If slavery is not wrong-, nothing is
wrong. I cannot remember when I did not so think and feel, and yet
I have never understood that the Presidency conferred upon me an
unrestricted right to act officially upon this judgment and feeling. It
was in the oath I took that I would to the best of my ability preserve,
protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. I could
not take the office without taking the oath. Nor was it my view that
I might take an oath to get power, and break the oath in using the
power. I understood, too, that in ordinary civil administration this
oath even forbade me to practically indulge my primary abstract
judgment on the moral question of slavery. I had publicly declared
this many times, and in many ways. And I aver that, to this day, I
have done no official act in mere deference to my abstract judgment
and feeling on slavery. I did understand, however, that my oath to
preserve the Constitution to the best of my ability, imposed upon me
the duty of preserving, by every indispensable means, that govern-
ment, that nation, of which that Constitution was the organic law.
Was it possible to lose the nation and yet preserve the Constitution?
By general law, life and limb must be protected; yet often a. limb
must be amputated to save a life; but a life is never wisely given to
save a limb. I felt that measures, otherwise unconstitutional, might
become lawful, by becoming indispensable to the preservation of the
Constitution, through the preservation of the nation. Right or
wrong, I assumed this ground, and now avow it. I could not feel that
to the best of my ability I had even tried to preserve the Constitu-
tion, if, to save slavery, or any minor matter, I should permit the
wreck of government, country, and Constitution, altogether. When,
early in the war, General Fremont attempted military emancipation,
I forbade it, because I did not then think it an indispensable neces-
sity. When, a little later, General Cameron, then Secretary of War.
suggested the arming of the blacks, I objected, because I did not
vet think it an indispensable necessity. When, still later, General
Hunter attempted military emancipation. I again forbade it, because
I did not yet think the indispensable necessity had come. When,
in March, and May, and July, 1862, I made earnest and successive
appeals to the Border States to favor compensated emancipation, I

70 4


believed the indispensable necessity for military emancipation and
arming the blacks would come, unless averted by that measure. They
declined the proposition, and I was, in my best judgment, driven to
the alternative of either surrendering the Union, and with it the
Constitution, or of laying strong hand upon the colored element. I
chose the latter. In choosing it, I hoped for greater gain than loss,
but of this I was not entirely confident. More than a year of trial
now shows no loss by it in our foreign relations, none in our home
popular sentiment, none in our white military force, no loss by it any
how, or anywhere. On the contrary, it shows a gain of quite one
hundred and thirty thousand soldiers, seamen, and laborers. These
are palpable facts, about which, as facts, there can be no cavilling.
We have the men; and we could not have had them without the

And now let any Union man who complains of the measure, test
himself by writing down in one line, that he is for subduing the
rebellion by force of arms; and in the next, that he is for taking
one hundred and thirty thousand men from the Union side, and plac-
ing them where they would be but for the measure he condemns.
If he cannot face his case so stated, it is only because he cannot
face the truth.

I add a word which was not in the verbal conversation. In telling
this tale, I attempt no compliment to my own sagacity. I claim not
to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have con-
trolled me. Now, at the end of three years' struggle, the nation's
condition is not what either party, or any man, devised or expected.
God alone can claim it. Whither it is tending, seems plain. If God
now wills the removal of a great wrong, and wills also that we of
the North, as well as you of the South, shall pay fairly for our com-
plicity in that wrong, impartial history will find therein new causes
to attest and revere the justice and goodness of God.

Yours truly,
(Signed) A. Lincoln.


The following letters were written by the President to General
Hooker soon after the latter had succeeded General Burnside in
command of the Army of the Potomac. The first was written just
after the battle of Chancellorsville, as follows : —

Washington, 2 p. m. — May 8, 1863.

General Hooker: — The news is here of the capture by our forces
of Grand Gulf, a large and very important thing. General Willich,
an exchanged prisoner just from Richmond, has talked with me this
morning. He was there when our cavalry cut the roads in that
vicinity. He says there was not a sound pair of legs in Richmond,
and that our men, had they known It, could have safely gone in and
burnt everything and brought Jeff. Davis, captured and paroled three
or four hundred men. He says as he came to City Point there was
an army three miles long — Longstreet, he thought, moving towards


Richmond. Milroy has captured a dispatch of General Lee, in which
he says his loss was fearful in his late battle with you.

A. Lincoln.

After the battle of Chancellorsville General Hooker withdrew his
forces to the north side of the Rappahannock, and received the fol-
lowing from the President: —

Executive Mansion, Washington, May 14, 1863.
My Dear Sir:— When I wrote on the 7th I had an impression that
possibly, by an early movement, you could get some advantage, from
the supposed facts that the enemy's communications were disturbed,
and that he was somewhat deranged in position. That idea has now
passed away, the enemy having re-established his communications,
regained his positions, and actually received re-enforcements. It
does not now appear to me probable that you can gain anything by
an early renewal of the attempt to cross the Rappahannock. I there-
fore shall not complain if you do no more for a time than to keep the
enemy at bay, and out of other mischief, by menaces and occasional
cavalry raids, if practicable, and to put your own army in good con-
dition again. Still, if, in your own clear judgment, you can renew
the attack successfully, I do not mean to restrain you. Bearing upon
this last point I must tell you I have some painful intimations that some
of your corps and division commanders are not giving you their
entire confidence. This would be ruinous if true, and you should,
therefore, first of all, ascertain the real facts beyond all possibility of
doubt. Yours truly,

A. Lincoln.

Both armies remained inactive till the 5th of June, when General
Hooker wrote to the President that appearances indicated an advance
by General Lee. The President answered him as follows : —

June 5, 1863.

Major-General Hooker: — Yours of to-day was received an hour
ago. So much of professional military skill is requisite to answer
it, that I have turned the task over to General Halleck. He prom-
ises to perform it with his utmost care. I have but one idea which I
think worth suggestion to you, and that is, in case you find Lee
coming to the north of the Rappahannock, I would by no means
cross to the south of it. If he should leave a rear force at Fred-
ericksburg, tempting you to fall upon it, it would fight in intrench-
ments and have you at advantage, and so, man for man, worst you
at that point, while his main force would in some way be getting an
advantage of you northward. In one word, I would not take any
risk being entangled up on the river like an ox Jumped half over a
fence and liable to be torn by dogs front and rear without a fair
chance to gore one way or to kick the other.

If Lee would come to my side of the river I would keep on the
same side and fight him, or act on the defensive, according as might
be my estimate of his strength relatively to my own. But these are
mere suggestions, which I desire to be controlled by the judgment
of yourself and General Halleck. A. Lincoln.


By the ioth of June Lee's forward movement was well developed.
The President's views as to the proper course to be pursued by our
army remained as before, and he sent the following letter expressing
them : —

Washington, D. C, June 10, 1863.
Major-General Hooker: — Your long dispatch of to-day is just re-
ceived. If left to me, I would not go south of the Rappahannock
upon Lee's moving north of it. If you had Richmond invested to-
day you would not be able to take it in twenty days; meanwhile
your communications, and with them your army, would be ruined. 1
think Lee's army and not Richmond, is your true objective point
If he comes towards the Upper Potomac, follow on his flank, and
on the inside track, shortening your lines while he lengthens his.
Fight him, too, when opportunity offers. If he stays where he is,
fret him and fret him. A. Lincoln.

Lee's advance was to the northwest, through the Valley of the
Shenandoah. His advance was heard of far down that valley while
yet his rear was near Fredericksburg, and on the 14th the President
wrote to General Hooker as follows : —

Washington, D. C, June 14, 1863.
Major-General Hooker: — So far as we can make out here, the
enemy have Milroy surrounded at Winchester, and Tyler at Martins-
burg. If they could hold out a few days, could you help them? If
the head of Lee's army is at Martinsburg and the tail of it on the
plank-road between Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, the animal
must be very slim somewhere; could you not break him?

A. Lincoln.


The following brief letter, written during the first Presidential can-
vass, shows what were Mr. Lincoln's views in regard to the action
of the Southern States in the event of his election : —

Springfield, III., August 15, i860.

My Dear Sir: — Yours of the 9th, enclosing the letter of Hon. John
Minor Botts, was duly received. The latter is herewith returned
according to your request. It contains one of the many assurances
I receive from the South, that in no probable event will there be
any very formidable effort to break up the Union. The people of
the South have too much of good sense and good temper to attempt
the ruin of the Government rather than see it administered as it was
administered by the men who made it. At least, so I hope and be-

I thank you both for your own letter and a sight of that of Mr.
Botts. Yours very truly,

A. Lincoln.

John B. Fry, Esq.


In August, 1861, Governor Magoffin, of Kentucky, urged the re-


moval by the President of the Union troops which had been raised
and were encamped within that State.
To this request he received the following reply : —

Washington, D. C, August 24, 1861.
To His Excellency B. Magoffin, Governor of the State of Kentucky.

Sir:— Your letter of the 10th instant, in which you urge the re-
moval from the limits of Kentucky of the military force now organ-
ized and in camp within that State, is received.

I may not possess full and precisely accurate knowledge upon this
subject, but I believe it is true that there is a military force in camp
within Kentucky, acting by authority of the United States, which
force is not very large, and is not now being augmented.^

I also believe that some arms have been furnished to this force by
the United States.

I also believe that his force consists exclusively of Kentuckiansi
having their camp in the immediate vicinity of their own homes, and
not assailing or menacing any of the good people of Kentucky.

In all I have done in the premises, I have acted upon the urgent
solicitation of many Kentuckians, and in accordance with what I
believe, to be the wish of a majority of all the Union-loving people
of Kentucky.

While I have conversed on the subject with many eminent men of
Kentucky, including a large majority of her members of Congress, I
do not remember that any one of them, or any other person, except
your Excellency and the bearers of your Excellency's letter, has
urged me to remove the military force from Kentucky or to disband
it. One other very worthy citizen of Kentucky did solicit me to
have the augmenting of the force suspended for a time.

Taking all the means within my reach to form a judgment, I do
not believe it is the popular wish of Kentucky that the force shall be
removed beyond her limits, and, with this impression, I must re-
spectfully decline to remove it.

I most cordially sympathize with your Excellency in the wish to
preserve the peace of my own native State, Kentucky, but it is with
regret I search for, and cannot find, in your not very short letter,
any declaration or intimation that you entertain any desire for the
preservation of the Federal Union.

Abraham Lincoln.

to count gasparin.

The following letter addressed by President Lincoln to the Count
de Gasparin, one of the warmest friends of the United States in Europe,
who had written to the President concerning the state of the country
will be read with interest:

Executive Mansion, Washington, August 4, 1862.
To Count A. de Gasparin :

Dear Sir: — Your very acceptable letter dated Orbe, Canton de
Vaud, Switzerland, 18th of July, 1862, is received. The moral
effect was the worst of the affair before Richmond, and that has run


its course downward. We are now at a stand, and shall soon be ris-
ing again, as we hope. I believe it is true that, in men and material,
the enemy suffered more than we in that series of conflicts, while it
is certain he is less able to bear it.

With us every soldier is a man of character, and must be treated
with more consideration than is customary in Europe. Hence our
great army, for slighter causes than could have prevailed there, has
dwindled rapidly, bringing the necessity for a new call earlier than
was anticipated. We shall easily obtain the new levy, however. Be
not alarmed if you shall learn that we shall have resorted to a draft for
a part of this. It seems strange even to me, but it is true, that the Gov-
ernment is now pressed to this course by a popular demand. Thou-
sands who wish not to personally enter the service, are nevertheless
anxious to pay and send substitutes, provided they can have assur-
ance that unwilling persons, similarly situated, will be compelled to
do likewise. Besides this, volunteers mostly choose to enter newly
forming regiments, while drafted men can be sent to fill up the old
ones, wherein man for man they are quite doubly as valuable.

You ask, "why is it that the North with her great armies so often
is found with inferiority of numbers face to face with the armies of
the South?" While I painfully know the fact, a military man, which
I am not, would better answer the question. The fact I know has
not been overlooked, and I suppose the cause of its continuance lies
mainly in the other fact that the enemy holds the interior and we the
exterior lines; and that we operate where the people convey informa-
tion to the enemy, while he operates where they convey none to us.

I have received the volume and letter which you did me the honor
of addressing to me, and for which please accept my sincere thanks.
You are much admired in America for the ability of your writings,
and much loved for your generosity to us and your devotion to lib-
eral principles generally.

You are quite right as to the importance to us for its bearing upon
Europe, that we should achieve military successes, and the same is
true for us at home as well as abroad. Yet it seems unreasonable
that a series of successes, extending through half a year, and clearing
more than a hundred thousand square miles of country, should help
us so little, while a single half defeat should hurt us so much. But
let us be patient.

I am very happy to know that my course has not conflicted with
your judgment of propriety and policy. I can only say that I have
acted upon my best convictions, without selfishness or malice, and
that by the help of God I shall continue to do so.

Please be assured of my highest respect and esteem.

A. Lincoln.



The transfer of General McClellan's army from the Potomac,
where it lay in front of the rebels at Manassas, was a movement of


so much importance, and has given rise to so much controversy,
that we append, for its further elucidation, a memorandum made by
Major-General McDowell of the private discussions which pre-
ceded it. .

A copy of this memorandum was given by General McDowell in
the spring of 1864, to Mr. Raymond, and by him, some months after-
wards, submitted to the President. The manuscript was returned
by the latter, with the following indorsement: —

I well remember the meetings herein narrated. See nothing for
me to object to in the narrative as being made by General McDowell,
except the phrase attributed to me "of the Jacobinism of Congress,"
which phrase I do not remember using literally or in substance, and
which I wish not to be published in any event.

A. Lincoln.

October 7, 1864.

The following is the


January 10, 1862. — At dinner at Arlington, Virginia. Received a
note from the Assistant Secretary of War, saying the President
wished to see me that evening at eight o'clock, if I could safely
leave my post. Soon after, I received a note from Quartermaster-
General Meigs, marked "Private and confidential," saying the Presi-
dent wished to see me. Note herewith.

Repaired to the President's house at eight o'clock P. m. Found
the President alone. Was taken into the small room in the north-
east corner. Soon after, we were joined by Brigadier-General
Franklin, the Secretary of State, Governor Seward, the Secretary of
the Treasury, and the Assistant Secretary of War. The President
was greatly disturbed at the state of affairs. Spoke of the exhausted
condition of the Treasury; of the loss of public credit; of the Jacob-
inism in Congress; of the delicate condition of our foreign relations;
of the bad news he had received from the West, particularly as con-
tained in a letter from General Halleck on the state of affairs in
Missouri; of the want of co-operation between General Halleck and
General Buell; but, more than all, the sickness of General McClellan.

The President said he was in great distress, and, as he had been to
General McClellan's house, and the General did not ask to see him.
and as he must talk to somebody, he had sent for General Franklin
and myself, to obtain our opinion as to the possibility of soon com-
mencing active operations with the Army of the Potomac.

To use his own expression, if something was not soon done, the
bottom would be out of the whole affair; and, if General McClellan
did not want to use the army, he would like to "borrow it," provided
he could see how it could be made to do something.

The Secretary of State stated the substance of some information he
considered reliable, as to the strength of the forces on the other side,
which he had obtained from an Ens-lishman from Fortress Monroe.
Richmond. Manassas, and Centreville. which was to the effect that
the enemy had twenty thousand men under Huger at Norfolk, thirty


thousand at Centreville, and, in all, in our front an effective force, ca-
pable of being brought up at short notice, of about one hundred and
three thousand men— men not suffering, but well shod, clothed, and fed.
In answer to the question from the President, what could soon be
done with the army, I replied that the question as to the when must
be preceded by the one as to the how and the where. That, sub-
stantially, I would organize the army into four army corps, placing
the five divisions on the Washington side on the right bank. _ Place
three of these corps to the front, the right at Vienna or its vicinity,
the left beyond Fairfax Station, the centre beyond Fairfax Court-
House, and connect the latter place with the Orange and Alexandria
Railroad by a railroad now partially thrown up. This would enable
us to supply these corps without the use of horses, except to distrib-
ute what was brought up by rail, and to act upon the enemy without
reference to the bad state of country roads.

The railroads all lead to the enemy's position. By acting upon
them in force, besieging his strongholds, if necessary, or getting
between them, if possible, or making the attempt to do so, and press-
ing his left, I thought we should, in the first place, cause him to
bring up all his forces, and mass them on the flank mostly pressed —
the left— and, possibly, I thought probably, we should again get
them out of their works, and bring on a general engagement on
favorable terms to us, at all events keeping him fully occupied and
harassed. The fourth corps, in connection with a force of heavy guns
afloat, would operate on his right flank, beyond the Occoquan, get
behind the batteries on the Potomac, take Aquia, which, being sup-
ported by the Third Corps over the Occoquan, it could safely at-
tempt, and then move on the railroad from Manassas to the Rappa-
hannock. Having a large cavalry force to destroy bridges, I thought
by the use of one hundred and thirty thousand men thus employed,
and the great facilities which the railroads gave us, and the compact
position we should occupy, we must succeed by repeated blows in
crushing out the force in our front, even if it were equal in numbers
and strength. The road by the Fairfax Court-House to Centreville
would give us the means to bring up siege mortars and siege ma-
terials, and even if we could not accomplish the object immediately,
by making the campaign one of positions instead of one of maneu-
vres, to do so eventually, and without risk. That this saving of
wagon transportation should be effected at once, by connecting the
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad with the Alexandria roads by running
a road over the Long Bridge. That when all this could be com-
menced, I could better tell when I knew something more definite as
to the general condition of the army.

General Franklin being asked, said he was in ignorance of many
things necessary to an opinion on the subject, knowing only as to
his own division, which was ready for the field. As to the plan of
operations, on being aslced by the President if he had ever thought
what he would do with his army if he had it, he replied that he had,
and that it was his judgment that it should be taken — what could be
spared from the duty of protecting the capital — to York River to
operate on Richmond. The question then came up as to the means
at hand of transporting a large part of the army by water. The


Assistant Secretary of War said the means had been fully taxed to
provide transportation for twelve thousand men. After some further
conversation, and in reference to our ignorance of the actual condi-
tion of the army, the President wished we should come together the

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 37 of 41)