Abraham Lincoln eBook

George Haven Putnam
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 191 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln.
and who was in command of a division of troops stationed west of Washington, and composed in part of loyal Marylanders and in part of convalescents who were about to be returned to the front, fell back before Early’s advance to Monocacy Creek.  He disposed his thin line cleverly in the thickets on the east side of the creek in such fashion as to give the impression of a force of some size with an advance line of skirmishers.  Early’s advance was checked for some hours before he realised that there was nothing of importance in front of him; when Wallace’s division was promptly overwhelmed and scattered.  The few hours that had thus been saved were, however, of first importance for the safety of Washington.  Early reached the outer lines of the fortifications of the capital some time after sunset.  His immediate problem was to discover whether the troops which were, as he knew, being hurried up from the army of the James, had reached Washington or whether the capital was still under the protection only of its so-called home-guard of veteran reserves.  These reserves were made up of men more or less crippled and unfit for work in the field but who were still able to do service on fortifications.  They comprised in all about six thousand men and were under the command of Colonel Wisewell.  The force was strengthened somewhat that night by the addition of all of the male nurses from the hospitals (themselves convalescents) who were able to bear arms.  That night the women nurses, who had already been in attendance during the hours of the day, had to render double service.  Lincoln had himself in the afternoon stood on the works watching the dust of the Confederate advance.  Once more there came to the President who had in his hands the responsibility for the direction of the War the bitterness of the feeling, if not of possible failure, at least of immediate mortification.  He knew that within twenty-four or thirty-six hours Washington could depend upon receiving the troops that were being hurried up from Grant’s army, but he also realised what enormous mischief might be brought about by even a momentary occupation of the national capital by Confederate troops.  I had some personal interest in this side campaign.  The 19th army corps, to which my own regiment belonged, had been brought from Louisiana to Virginia and had been landed on the James River to strengthen the ranks of General Butler.  There had not been time to assign to us posts in the trenches and we had, in fact, not even been placed in position.  We were more nearly in marching order than any other troops available and it was therefore the divisions of the 19th army corps that were selected to be hurried up to Washington.  To these were added two divisions of the 6th corps.

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Abraham Lincoln from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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