Abraham Lincoln, Volume I eBook

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

[32] Ford, Hist. of Illinois, 82-86.

[33] Ford, Hist. of Illinois, 55, 86, 88,104; Herndon, 103; N. and H. i. 107; Lamon, 124, 230.

CHAPTER II

THE START IN LIFE

In Illinois during the years of Lincoln’s boyhood the red man was retiring sullenly before the fatal advance of the white man’s frontier.  Shooting, scalping, and plundering forays still occurred, and in the self-complaisant reminiscences of the old settlers of that day the merciless and mysterious savage is apt to lend to the narrative the lively coloring of mortal danger.[34] In the spring of 1832 a noted chief of the Sacs led a campaign of such importance that it lives in history under the dignified title of “the Black Hawk war.”  The Indians gathered in numbers so formidable that Governor Reynolds issued a call for volunteers to aid the national forces.  Lincoln, left unemployed by the failure of Offut, at once enlisted.  The custom then was, so soon as there were enough recruits for a company, to elect a captain by vote.  The method was simple:  each candidate stood at some point in the field and the men went over to one or another according to their several preferences.  Three fourths of the company to which Lincoln belonged ranged themselves with him, and long afterward he used to say that no other success in life had given him such pleasure as did this one.

The company was attached to the Fourth Illinois Regiment, commanded by Colonel Samuel Thompson, in the brigade of General Samuel Whiteside.  On April 27 they started for the scene of conflict, and for many days endured much hardship of hunger and rough marching.  But thereby they escaped serious danger, for they were too fatigued to go forward on May 12, when the cavalry battalions rode out gallantly, recklessly, perhaps a little stupidly, into ambush and death.  It so happened that Lincoln never came nearer to any engagement than he did to this one of “Stillman’s Run;” so that in place of military glory he had to be content with the reputation of being the best comrade and story-teller at the camp fire.  He had, however, an opportunity to do one honorable act:  the brief term of service of the volunteers expired on May 27, and most of them eagerly hastened away from an irksome task, without regard to the fact that their services were still much needed, whereas Lincoln and some other officers reenlisted as privates.  They were made the “Independent Spy Battalion” of mounted volunteers, were given many special privileges, but were concerned in no engagement, and erelong were mustered out of service.  Lincoln’s certificate of discharge was signed by Robert Anderson, who afterward was in command at Fort Sumter at the outbreak of the rebellion.  Thus, late in June, Lincoln was again a civilian in New Salem, and was passing from war to politics.

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