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LINCOLN ROOM




UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
LIBRARY



presented by
flan' on B. Pratt.



'



WASHINGTON
IN LINCOLN'S TIME



WASHINGTON
IN LINCOLN'S TIME



BY



NOAH BROOKS

AUTHOR OF "AMERICAN STATESMEN" AND "ABRAHAM LINCOLN,
AND THE DOWNFALL OF AMERICAN SLAVERY," BTC.




NEW YORK
THE CENTURY CO.

1896



Copyright, 1894, 1895, by
THE CENTURY Co.



THE OEVINNE PRESS



7



67?



CONTENTS



CHAPTER I

THE CAPITAL AS A CAMP PAGE

LINCOLN'S GREETING TO AN OLD FRIEND MILI-

TARY HOSPITALS IN THE CITY THE COMING OF
THE WOUNDED FORTIFICATIONS OF WASHINGTON

SOME FAMOUS CIVILIANS OF THE TIME ... 1

CHAPTER II*

GLIMPSES OF LINCOLN IN WAR TIME

THE CLOUDY CLOSE OF 1862 CHANGE OF COM-
MANDERS OF THE ARMY OF THE POTOMAC THE
FREDERICKSBURG DEFEAT A GLOOMY NEW YEAR'S
DAY IN WASHINGTON REVIEWING HOOKER'S ARMY

SOCIAL INCIDENTS IN WASHINGTON LINCOLN'S
POWERS OF MEMORY ..... ........ 39

CHAPTER III

AFTER THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG
THE NATIONAL CAPITAL UNDER THE INFLUENCE
OF GOOD NEWS AFTER GETTYSBURG LEE'S ES-
CAPE ACROSS THE POTOMAC AT FALLING WATERS,
MARYLAND LINCOLN'S DISAPPOINTMENT ... 81

vii



Vlll CONTENTS

CHAPTER IV

LINCOLN, CHASE, AND GEANT PAGE

AMONG THE LAWMAKERS DIFFICULT PROGRESS
OF WAR LEGISLATION LINCOLN, CHASE, AND
THEIR POLITICAL FRIENDS THE RESIGNATION
OF SECRETARY CHASE ENTER LIEUTENANT-GEN-
ERAL GRANT 97

CHAPTER V

TWO WAR-TIME CONVENTIONS
LINCOLN'S SECOND NOMINATION CONTENTION
OVER RECONSTRUCTION PLANS THE DARK DAYS
OF 1864 MOCLELLAN'S NOMINATION AT CHICAGO
CHASE ON THE SUPREME BENCH 150

CHAPTER VI

THE DEATH OF SLAVERY

LAST CASE UNDER THE FUGITIVE-SLAVE LAWS
ABOLITION OF SLAVERY IN THE DISTRICT OF
COLUMBIA COMPENSATED EMANCIPATION PAS-
SAGE OF THE THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT THRIL-
LING SCENES IN CONGRESS COLORED PEOPLE IN
STREET-CARS 197

CHAPTER VII

LINCOLN'S REELECTION

THE BEGINNING OF LINCOLN'S SECOND TERM
THE PRESIDENT'S SHREWDNESS AT HAMPTON ROADS
LINCOLN'S SECOND INAUGURATION . . 216



CONTENTS IX

CHAPTER VIII

THE CLOSE OF LINCOLN'S CAREER PAGB

CLOSING SCENES OF THE WAR DRAMA THE GREAT
TRAGEDY THE DOOM OF THE CONSPIRATORS . . 242

CHAPTER IX
LIFE IN THE WHITE HOUSE

'MID WAR'S ALARMS THE BOY OF THE WHITE
HOUSE THE PEST OF PLACE-HUNTERS LIN-
COLN'S STORIES SOME OF HIS LITERARY TENDEN-
CIES FONDNESS FOR POETRY HIS METHODICAL

HABITS 276

CHAPTER X

THE LAST GRAND REVIEW

A STRIKING AND MEMORABLE MILITARY PAGEANT
THE FINAL MARCH OF GRANT'S AND SHERMAN'S
ARMIES THROUGH THE NATIONAL CAPITAL SOME
OF THE FEATURES OF THE PARADE A NOTE OF
PEACE AT LAST 307

INDEX . . 325



WASHINGTON
IN LINCOLN'S TIME



WASHINGTON IN LINCOLN'S TIME



CHAPTEE I

THE CAPITAL AS A CAMP LINCOLN'S GEEETING TO
AN OLD FEIEND MILITARY HOSPITALS IN THE
CITY THE COMING OF THE WOUNDED FORTIFI-
CATIONS OF WASHINGTON SOME FAMOUS CIVIL-
IANS OF THE TIME

I WENT to Washington in 1862 as correspondent
of the " Sacramento Union," then the great news-
paper power of the Pacific coast. I remained there
until after the close of the Civil War, and saw
the beginning of the stormy presidential career of
Andrew Johnson. During that momentous and
interesting period of our national history I wrote
newspaper letters nearly every day; and these,
preserved in volumes of scrap-books, with other
materials carefully kept, form the basis of the
following reminiscences :

Several years before the war, while I was a resi-
dent of Illinois, I had made the acquaintance of
Abraham Lincoln, then regarded as a " rising prairie
lawyer," and living in Springfield. I had met him
at political assemblages, and he had occasional busi-



2 WASHINGTON IN LINCOLN'S TIME

ness errands to the town of Dixon, Lee County,
where I lived. We formed an acquaintance which
later grew into something like intimacy, although
it should be said that Mr. Lincoln did not have in-
timate friends, unless we except a very few who,
like Edward D. Baker, were among his earliest as-
sociates and companions.

Naturally, my first thought, on arriving in Wash-
ington in 1862, was to see how far the President
resembled the Lincoln of Illinois before the war.
The change in his personal appearance was marked
and sorrowful. On the Sunday after my arrival
in Washington I took a long look at him from
the gallery of the New York Avenue Presbyterian
Church. His eyes were almost deathly in their
gloomy depths, and on his visage was an air of pro-
found sadness. His face was colorless and drawn,
and newly grown whiskers added to the agedness
of his appearance. When I had seen him last in
Illinois, his face, although always sallow, wore a
a tinge of rosiness in the cheeks, but now it was
pale and colorless.

Hearing from a friend that I was in the city, he
immediately sent word that he would like to see me,
" for old times' sake " ; and nothing could have been
more gratifying than the cordiality and bonhomie
of his greeting when I called at the White House.
"Do you suppose I ever forget an old acquain-
tance I I reckon not," he said, when we met.

Washington was then a military camp, a city of
barracks and hospitals. The first thing that im-
pressed the newly arrived stranger, especially if he
came, as I did, from the shores of the Peaceful Sea,



WASHINGTON IN LINCOLN'S TIME 3

where the waves of war had not reached, was the
martial aspect of the capital. Long lines of army
wagons and artillery were continually rumbling
through the streets; at all hours of the day and
night the air was troubled by the clatter of gallop-
ing squads of cavalry ; and the clank of sabers, and
the measured beat of marching infantry, were ever
present to the ear. The city was under military gov-
ernment, and the wayfarer was liable to be halted
anywhere in public buildings, or on the outskirts
of the city, by an armed sentry, who curtly asked,
" What is your business here ? " Army blue was
the predominating color on the sidewalks, sprinkled
here and there with the gold lace of officers. In
the galleries of the Senate and House of Represen-
tatives, especially during the cold weather, when
the well- warmed Capitol was a convenient refuge
for idle people, great patches of the light blue
of military overcoats were to be marked among
more somber colors of the groups of visitors. It
was contrary to army regulations to supply sol-
diers with liquors, and in most bar-rooms cards were
conspicuous, bearing the legend, " Nothing sold to
soldiers." At some of the drinking-places, as if to
soften the severity of this dictum, was displayed
an artistically painted group of the three arms of
the military service, over which were printed the
words, " No liquors sold to."

Now and again, just after some great battle near
at hand, like that of Fredericksburg, or Chancellors-
ville, or Grant's long struggles in the Wilderness,
the capital afforded a most distressful spectacle.
Then, if at no other time, the home-staying citi-



4 WASHINGTON IN LINCOLN'S TIME

zen realized something of the horrors of war. The
Washington hospitals were never empty, but at
such times they were crowded with the maimed
and wounded, who arrived by hundreds as long as
the waves of sorrow came streaming back from the
fields of slaughter. One occasionally met a grim
procession of the slightly wounded coming up from
the railway station at Alexandria or the steamboat
landing from Aquia Creek. They arrived in squads
of a hundred or more, bandaged and limping, rag-
ged and disheveled, blackened with smoke and
powder, and drooping with weakness. They came
groping, hobbling, and faltering, so faint and so
longing for rest that one's heart bled at the piteous
sight. Here and there were men left to make their
way as best they could to the hospital, and who
were leaning on the iron railings or sitting wearily
on the curbstones; but it was noticeable that all
maintained the genuine American pluck in the
midst of sorrow and suffering. As a rule, they
were silent and unmurmuring ; or if they spoke, it
was to utter a grim joke at their own expense.

At the height of the war there were twenty-one
hospitals in and about Washington. Some were
in churches, public halls, the Patent Office, and
other public buildings ; but many were temporary
wooden structures built for this special purpose.
One of the representative hospitals was that of
Harewood, erected by the government on the pri-
vate grounds of W. W. Corcoran, in the outskirts
of the city. There was a highly ornamented barn
filled with hospital stores, clothing, and sanitary
goods. A long row of cattle-sheds was boarded



WASHINGTON IN LINCOLN'S TIME 5

in and transformed into a hospital bakery. The
temporary buildings constructed by the govern-
ment were one story high, arranged in the form
of a hollow square, row within row, and kept very
neat and clean. At most of the hospitals the female
nurses were supplied by the Roman Catholic Sisters
of Charity and the Protestant Sisters of Mercy,
working side by side.

At first the United States Sanitary Commission
was charged with the duty of examining all nurses,
male and female, before they were permitted to enter
the service; but later a board of competent persons,
organized by Miss Dorothea Dix, was authorized
by the Secretary of War to perform this highly
responsible duty.

The Sanitary Commission, whose labors can never
be overestimated or overpraised, was supported by
money and supplies from every loyal State in the
Union. It organized an independent system of
transportation, and was able, when a sudden emer-
gency arose on a battle-field, to anticipate the gov-
ernment service by many hours with medical stores,
bandages, lint, chloroform, and other requisites for
the suffering wounded whose primary operations
were attended to on the field. This was one of the
many ways in which private enterprise and private
means supplemented the authorities, whose ma-
chinery was inadequate to the sudden needs of war.
In the memorable week after the battle of Antie-
tam, twenty thousand dollars of the gold of Cali-
fornia were thus expended for the relief of the men
who suffered by the casualties of war.

In Washington we always looked for the regu-



6 WASHINGTON IN LINCOLN'S TIME

lar and inevitable flood of strangers that poured
into the city from the North after any great battle
fought in the fields of Virginia. This was one of
the fixed features of the strange life of the national
capital. These people came in quest of friends
who had been taken to the hospitals, or perhaps
left dead on the field. It was easy to recognize
them by their anxious and distressed faces, their
strangeness in the city, and their inquiries for hos-
pitals or the shortest routes to scenes made cele-
brated by some life-destroying fight. Occasionally
a detail of clerks was made from some one of the
executive departments of the government for the
first aid to the wounded on battle-fields not too far
from Washington. These hospital stewards were
volunteers, sent to the front for fifteen days each,
to get their first military experience of army dis-
cipline and regulations.

Convalescents who had been discharged from
the hospitals and who were not fit for military duty
were assembled at a rendezvous in Alexandria,
known as Camp Convalescent. This camp eventu-
ally became so crowded with the vast numbers of
those who had been discharged from the hospitals
or were stragglers from the army, that its con-
dition was properly characterized as "infamous."
More than ten thousand men, some of whom in
the depth of winter were obliged to sleep on the
cold ground, under canvas shelter and without fire
or suitable covering, were massed together there,
in the company of healthy reprobates who were
"bummers," deserters, and stragglers the riffraff
of the Federal and Confederate armies. There






WASHINGTON IN LINCOLN'S TIME 7

were two of these curious improvised institutions
Camp Convalescent and Camp Straggle both
of which were crammed full.

One of the most unique hospitals in Washington
was that organized in the museum of the Patent
Office. Each alcove was a well ventilated and
lighted ward. The tesselated marble floors were
covered here and there with clean matting, and the
general aspect of the place was pure and neat.
The President and Mrs. Lincoln, accompanied by
Mrs. Doubleday (wife of General Abner Doubleday)
and myself, were once visiting the Patent Office
hospital, and the two ladies, being a little in ad-
vance, left us lingering by the cot of a wounded
soldier. Just beyond us passed a well-dressed lady,
evidently a stranger, who was distributing tracts.
After she had gone, a patient picked up with
languid hand the leaflet dropped upon his cot, and,
glancing at the title, began to laugh. When we
reached him, the President said : " My good fellow,
that lady doubtless means you well, and it is hardly
fair for you to laugh at her gift."

"Well, Mr. President," said the soldier, who
recognized Mr. Lincoln, " how can I help laughing
a little? She has given me a tract on the * Sin of
Dancing,' and both of my legs are shot off."

President Lincoln, who loved to hear stories of
the soldiers and their humorous pranks, told me of
a soldier who was being carried to the rear in a
severe engagement, seriously wounded, and likely to
die. He espied a sutler woman with leathery-look-
ing pies, driving her trade on " the dubious verge of
battle fought." The bleeding soldier grinned at the



8 WASHINGTON IN LINCOLN'S TIME

woman, and said: "Say, old lady, are those pies
sewed or pegged?"

The Washington of the war was a very differ-
ent city from the present stately capital. Before
the war the city was as drowsy and as grass-grown
as any old New England town. Squalid negro
quarters hung on the flanks of fine old mansions,
and although in the centers of this " city of mag-
nificent distances" there were handsome public
buildings, with here and there a statue or some
other work of art, the general aspect of things was
truly rural. The war changed all that in a very
few weeks. Temporary hospitals and other rude
shelters arose as if by magic on every hand. The
streets were crowded by night and day, and the
continual passage of heavily loaded quartermas-
ters' trains, artillery, and vehicles of kinds before
unknown in Washington, churned the unpaved
streets into muddy thoroughfares in winter, or cut
them deep with impalpable dust in summer. It
was a favorite joke of Washingtonians that " real
estate was high in dry weather, as it was for the
most part all in the air."

Over the flats of the Potomac rose the then unfin-
ished white obelisk of the Washington monument,
a truncated cone ; and in the weather-beaten sheds
around its base were stored the carved and orna-
mented blocks that had been contributed to the
structure by foreign governments, princes, poten-
tates, and political and social organizations. On its
hill rose the unfinished dome of the Capitol, whose
bare ribs were darkly limned against the sky. It
was a feeling of pride, or perhaps of some tenderer



WASHINGTON IN LINCOLN'S TIME 9

sentiment, that induced the government to insist
that work on the Capitol should go on in the midst
of the stress and strain of civil war, just as though
nothing had happened to hinder the progress of
the magnificent undertaking. It is no metaphor
to say that the sound of the workman's hammer
never ceased on that building, even in the dark
times when it was not certain that "Washington
was safe." The completion of the pediments of
the House and Senate wings went on without de-
lay during all these perilous times. The colossal
statue of Freedom which now adorns the apex of
the central dome (designed by Crawford and cast
in bronze by Clark Mills) was at first set up on a
temporary base in the Capitol grounds, where it
was an object of curiosity and interest to visitors.

When the bronze doors of the Capitol arrived, it
was suggested by a Congressional humorist S. S.
Cox that they be strapped on the back of the
Grenius of Freedom, and the combination be known
as a representation of a female Samson carrying off
the gates of Graza, which, he said, " would be scrip-
tural, if not classic," and would dispose of two
monumental works for which, apparently, no im-
mediate use was possible.

As a matter of record, it may be said that the
effigy of Freedom was finally put in its present
place on the top of the lantern of the dome of the
Capitol on December 2, 1863. The statue was con-
structed in sections, and the head and shoulders
of the bronze figure in one section were drawn
upward from the foot of the dome by a wire cable
running through a lofty pulley ; then, being swung



10 WASHINGTON IN LINCOLN'S TIME

lightly over the gleaming torso, it was settled into
place, a few strokes of a hammer rang out on
the air, and the thing was done. Then a star-
spangled banner was hoisted to the top of a flag-
staff that rose above the statue, and one hundred
guns, fired from the East Park, near the Capitol,
saluted the end of the work. The Capitol was
finished. Thereupon an unbleached son of free-
dom sprang out from the crowd below and shouted,
"Three cheers for the Goddess of Liberty!" which
were given with a hearty good will. The function
was simple enough; but the completion of the
building which was begun in the time of Daniel
Webster was a significant event in the history of
the republic. Of course artists and artisans con-
tinued to labor on the Capitol during the war, and
long afterward ; but the figure of Liberty, designed
and ordered during the administration of Jefferson
Davis in the War Department, was placed in posi-
tion on the apex of the national Capitol while
Davis was in arms against his government; and
the sound of ax and hammer did not cease while
the conflict lasted.

This was in the third year of the war, when
the Confederate flag could no longer be seen waving
from the Virginia heights across the Potomac ; but
for months before this the flag of the Union float-
ing over the Capitol had been challenged by the
stars and bars still visible on the other side of the
river. And later in the war, when Early came dash-
ing up to our gates, we saw for a brief season the
same defiant colors.

The line of circumvallation about Washington



WASHINGTON IN LINCOLN'S TIME 11

was eventually made very strong. Within the Dis-
trict of Columbia there were about forty forts, mak-
ing a complete circle around the capital, their guns
being trained to sweep every road or possible route
leading into the city. Bine-pits were cut from point
to point, making a continuous line of defense. If
the wayfarer or visitor desired a view of something
of real war, other than that which might be had in
the painful glimpses of dying and wounded brought
from battle-fields, or of the grim lines of artillery
and troops marching through Washington, a mili-
tary pass, secured after many difficulties, would en-
able him to inspect the frowning line of fortifica-
tions that inclosed Washington as with a wall.

It is impossible in these days, so remote from the
excitements of the Civil War, to give readers of
this later generation any adequate idea of the
uneasiness that pervaded Washington, or of the
morbid sensationalism which characterized the con-
versation and conduct of the loyalists who were
constantly haunted by suspicions of secret plotting
all about them. One evening, while I was sitting
with the President in his cabinet, Professor Henry,
then in charge of the Smithsonian Institution, came
in for a social chat with the President. The con-
versation ran upon various unimportant themes,
and presently a card was brought in by the door-
keeper, who said that the man in waiting was ex-
tremely urgent to see the President, as he had
matters of pressing importance to communicate.
He was brought into the room, and proved to be a
modest shopkeeper whose home was not far from
the Smithsonian Institution. Glancing uneasily at



12 WASHINGTON IN LINCOLN'S TIME

the President's two visitors, whom he evidently did
not know, he said his business was very important
and should be kept secret. The President assured
him that Professor Henry and myself were to be
trusted with any business of state, however secret
it might be; and he genially encouraged his visitor
to speak out without fear of being betrayed in case
the weighty matter which he carried in his mind
was of an explosive character. The man then went
on to say that he had frequently observed lights
shown from one of the towers of the Smithsonian
Institution late at night. He had noticed that these
lights invariably made their appearance about the
same time (at midnight), and he was confident that
the person displaying them was carrying on a con-
traband correspondence with the rebels by means
of signals. The President, with great gravity,
closely examined the witness, but elicited nothing
more from him than the fact that the lights were
actually shown.

The President said, " Do you suspect anybody in
the Smithsonian Institution?"

" No," replied the witness, " I do not know any-
body inside of that institution. But I have heard
that Professor Henry is a Southern man and a rebel
sympathizer."

With that the President turned to Professor
Henry, and, with admirable command of counte-
nance, said, " This is Professor Henry ; perhaps he
will be able to answer for himself." The look of
dismay on the countenance of the visiting witness
was so comic that the President could not re-
strain his laughter. Professor Henry, who was



WASHINGTON IN LINCOLN'S TIME 13

somewhat disturbed by this expression of suspicion
on the part of the well-meaning but mistaken Union-
ist, very briefly disposed of his tale. He explained
that the scientific instruments used to ascertain the
direction and force of the wind, temperature, etc.,
were examined at certain hours of the day and
night for the purpose of taking their record, and
that the supposed signal-light in the Smithsonian
tower was the lantern carried to the observatory at
midnight by the attendant who made those obser-
vations. Somewhat crestfallen, the visitor with-
drew, the President thanking him for his vigilance
and well-meant promptness in reporting this inci-
dent, and adding, as the man departed, "If you
should see any indications of a rebel conspiracy in
Washington, you will do the country real service by
reporting at once to headquarters."

The frequent appearance in Washington of pa-
roled rebel officers, who usually wore their own
uniform with evident pride and pleasure, and some-
times with a swagger, generally threw loyalists into
a fever of excitement. More than once I saw ultra-
loyal newsboys or boot-blacks throw a lump of mud,
or a brickbat, at the passing Confederate. One of
these officers, a Lieutenant Grarnett, being on pa-
role, sent in his card to Representative Wickliife,
of Kentucky, and was by him introduced upon the
floor of the House, where he attracted attention, as
well as indignation, from the members present. Pres-
ently a wave of excitement seemed to sweep over
the galleries, the spectators being visibly affected
by the appearance of an officer in full Confederate
uniform sitting on one of the sofas of the House of



14 WASHINGTON IN LINCOLN'S TIME

Representatives. This was intensified when a door-
keeper spoke to the visitor, who rose from his seat,
gave a profound and sweeping bow, and withdrew
to the outer corridor. It appeared that the door-
keeper had told the Confederate that it was con-
trary to the rules of the House for him to be present.
One of the most interesting side incidents of the
war during the winter of 1862-63, in Washington,
was the court-martial that tried General Fitz-John
Porter for alleged disobedience of orders. Another
interesting and attractive military tribunal was that
convoked at the request of General McDowell to
inquire into the conduct of that officer after General
McClellan assumed command of the Army of the
Potomac. The mean little room in which the court
of inquiry was held was usually crowded whenever
any prominent general officer was summoned before
it. About the middle of December, 1862, General
McClellan, who not long before had been relieved
from command of the Army of the Potomac, was a
" star witness " before the court. There was a great
rush of sightseers, anxious to see " Little Mac," to
hear his voice, and to feel the magnetism of his
presence. So great was the crowd of visitors that
the single orderly who kept the door was at his wit's
end to provide a channel of ingress for the ex-com-


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