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George Haven Putnam
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 191 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln.
lines had been broken and the army disorganised, there was nothing that could prevent the national capital from coming into the control of Lee’s army.  The surrender of Washington meant the intervention of France and England, meant the failure of the attempt to preserve the nation’s existence, meant that Abraham Lincoln would go down to history as the last President of the United States, the President under whose leadership the national history had come to a close.  But the Federal lines were not broken.  The third day of Gettysburg made clear that with equality of position and with substantial equality in numbers there was no better fighting material in the army of the grey than in the army of the blue.  The advance of Pickett’s division to the crest of Cemetery Ridge marked the high tide of the Confederate cause.  Longstreet’s men were not able to prevail against the sturdy defence of Hancock’s second corps and when, on the Fourth of July, Lee’s army took up its line of retreat to the Potomac, leaving behind it thousands of dead and wounded, the calm judgment of Lee and his associates must have made clear to them that the cause of the Confederacy was lost.  The army of Northern Virginia had shattered itself against the defences of the North, and there was for Lee no reserve line.  For a long series of months to come, Lee, magnificent engineer officer that he was, and with a sturdy persistency which withstood all disaster, was able to maintain defensive lines in the Wilderness, at Cold Harbor, and in front of Petersburg, but as his brigades crumbled away under the persistent and unceasing attacks of the army of the Potomac, he must have realised long before the day of Appomattox that his task was impossible.  What Gettysburg decided in the East was confirmed with equal emphasis by the fall of Vicksburg in the West.  On the Fourth of July, 1863, the day on which Lee, defeated and discouraged, was taking his shattered army out of Pennsylvania, General Grant was placing the Stars and Stripes over the earthworks of Vicksburg.  The Mississippi was now under the control of the Federalists from its source to the mouth, and that portion of the Confederacy lying to the west of the river was cut off so that from this territory no further co-operation of importance could be rendered to the armies either of Johnston or of Lee.

Lincoln writes to Grant after the fall of Vicksburg giving, with his word of congratulation, the admission that he (Lincoln) had doubted the wisdom or the practicability of Grant’s movement to the south of Vicksburg and inland to Jackson.  “You were right,” said Lincoln, “and I was wrong.”

On the 19th of November, 1863, comes the Gettysburg address, so eloquent in its simplicity.  It is probable that no speaker in recorded history ever succeeded in putting into so few words so much feeling, such suggestive thought, and such high idealism.  The speech is one that children can understand and that the greatest minds must admire.

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