Abraham Lincoln eBook

George Haven Putnam
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 229 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln.
like Greeley, whose influence and support it was, of course, all important to retain.  Greeley’s absolute ignorance of military conditions did not prevent him from emphasising with the President and the public his very decided conclusions in regard to the selection of men and the conduct of campaigns.  In this all-perplexing problem of the shaping of campaigns, Lincoln had to consider the responsibilities of representative government.  The task would, of course, have been much easier if he had had power as an autocrat to act on his own decisions simply.  The appointment of Butler and Banks was thought to be necessary for the purpose of meeting the views of the loyal citizens of so important a State as Massachusetts, and other appointments, the results of which were more or less unfortunate, may in like manner be traced to causes or influences outside of a military or army policy.

General Frank V. Greene, in a paper on Lincoln as Commander-in-chief, writes in regard to his capacity as a leader as follows: 

“As time goes on, Lincoln’s fame looms ever larger and larger.  Great statesman, astute politician, clear thinker, classic writer, master of men, kindly, lovable man,—­these are his titles.  To these must be added—­military leader.  Had he failed in that quality, the others would have been forgotten.  Had peace been made on any terms but those of the surrender of the insurgent forces and the restoration of the Union, Lincoln’s career would have been a colossal failure and the Emancipation Proclamation a subject of ridicule.  The prime essential was military success.  Lincoln gained it.  Judged in the retrospect of nearly half a century, with his every written word now in print and with all the facts of the period brought out and placed in proper perspective by the endless studies, discussions, and arguments of the intervening years, it becomes clear that, first and last and at all times during his Presidency, in military affairs his was not only the guiding but the controlling hand.”

It is interesting, as the War progressed, to trace the development of Lincoln’s own military judgment.  He was always modest in regard to matters in which his experience was limited, and during the first twelve months in Washington, he had comparatively little to say in regard to the planning or even the supervision of campaigns.  His letters, however, to McClellan and his later correspondence with Burnside, with Hooker, and with other commanders give evidence of a steadily developing intelligence in regard to larger military movements.  History has shown that Lincoln’s judgment in regard to the essential purpose of a campaign, and the best methods for carrying out such purpose, was in a large number of cases decidedly sounder than that of the general in the field.  When he emphasised with McClellan that the true objective was the Confederate army in the field and not the city of Richmond, he laid down a principle which seems to us elementary

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Abraham Lincoln from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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