Abraham Lincoln, Volume I eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 286 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln, Volume I.

[164] McClellan afterward wrote that the administration “had neither courage nor military insight to understand the effect of the plan I desired to carry out.” Own Story, 194.  This is perhaps a mild example of many remarks to the same purport which fell from the general at one time and another.

[165] See remarks of Mr. Blaine, Twenty Years of Congress, i. 368.

[166] E.g., McClellan, Rep. (per Keyes), 82; Grant, Mem. i. 322; and indeed all writers agree upon this.

CHAPTER XI

MILITARY MATTERS OUTSIDE OF VIRGINIA

The man who first raised the cry “On to Richmond!” uttered the formula of the war.  Richmond was the gage of victory.  Thus it happened, as has been seen, that every one at the North, from the President down, had his attention fast bound to the melancholy procession of delays and miscarriages in Virginia.  At the West there were important things to be done; the States of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri, trembling in the balance, were to be lost or won for the Union; the passage down the Mississippi to the Gulf was at stake, and with it the prosperity and development of the boundless regions of the Northwest.  Surely these were interests of some moment, and worthy of liberal expenditure of thought and energy, men and money; yet the swarm of politicians gave them only side glances, being unable for many minutes in any day to withdraw their eyes from the Old Dominion.  The consequence was that at the East matters military and matters political, generals and “public men” of all varieties were mixed in a snarl of backbiting and quarreling, which presented a spectacle most melancholy and discouraging.  On the other hand, the West throve surprisingly well in the absence of political nourishment, and certain local commanders achieved cheering successes without any aid from the military civilians of Washington.  The contrast seems suggestive, yet perhaps it is incorrect to attach to these facts any sinister significance, or any connection of cause and effect.  Other reasons than civilian assistance may account for the Virginia failures, while Western successes may have been won in spite of neglect rather than by reason of it.  Still, simply as naked facts, these things were so.

Upon occurrences outside of Virginia Mr. Lincoln bestowed more thought than was fashionable in Washington, and maintained an oversight strongly in contrast to the indifference of those who seemed to recognize no other duty than to discuss the demerits of General McClellan.  The President had at least the good sense to see the value of unity of plan and cooeperation along the whole line, from the Atlantic seaboard to the extreme West.  Also at the West as at the East he was bent upon advancing, pressing the enemy, and doing something positive.  He had not occasion to use the spur at the West either so often or so severely as at the

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Abraham Lincoln, Volume I from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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