Abraham Lincoln eBook

George Haven Putnam
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 229 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln.
does now subsist his army at Winchester, at a distance nearly twice as great as you would have to do, without the railroad last named.  He now waggons from Culpeper Court House, which is just about twice as far as you would have to do from Harper’s Ferry.  He is certainly not more than half as well provided with waggons as you are....  Again, one of the standard maxims of war, as you know, is to ’operate upon the enemy’s communications without exposing your own.’  You seem to act as if this applies against you, but cannot apply it in your favour.  Change positions with the enemy, and think you not he would break your communication with Richmond in twenty-four hours?...  You are now nearer Richmond than the enemy is by the route you can and he must take.  Why can you not reach there before him, unless you admit that he is more than your equal on a march?  His route is the arc of a circle, while yours is the chord.  The roads are as good on your side as on his ...  If he should move northward, I would follow him closely, holding his communications.  If he should prevent our seizing his communications and move towards Richmond, I would press closely to him, fight him, if a favourable opportunity should present, and at least try to beat him to Richmond on the inside track.  I say ‘Try’; if we never try, we shall never succeed....  If we cannot beat him when he bears the wastage of coming to us, we never can when we bear the wastage of going to him....  As we must beat him somewhere or fail finally, we can do it, if at all, easier near to us than far away....  It is all easy if our troops march as well as the enemy, and it is unmanly to say that they cannot do it.”

The patience of Lincoln and that of the country behind Lincoln were at last exhausted.  McClellan was ordered to report to his home in New Jersey and the General who had come to the front with such flourish of trumpets and had undertaken to dictate a national policy at a time when he was not able to keep his own army in position, retires from the history of the War.

The responsibility again comes to the weary Commander-in-chief of finding a leader who could lead, in whom the troops and the country would have confidence, and who could be trusted to do his simple duty as a general in the field without confusing his military responsibilities with political scheming.  The choice first fell upon Burnside.  Burnside was neither ambitious nor self-confident.  He was a good division general, but he doubted his ability for the general command.  Burnside loyally accepts the task, does the best that was within his power and, pitted against a commander who was very much his superior in general capacity as well as in military skill, he fails.  Once more has the President on his hands the serious problem of finding the right man.  This time the commission was given to General Joseph Hooker.  With the later records before us, it is easy to point out that this selection also was a blunder.  There were

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Abraham Lincoln from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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