Abraham Lincoln, Volume II eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 309 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln, Volume II.

[69] N. and H. ix. 40.

[70] I Samuel xxii. 2.

[71] See, more especially, McClure, Lincoln and Men of War-Times, chapter on “Lincoln and Hamlin,” 104-118.  This writer says (p. 196) that Lincoln’s first selection was General Butler.

[72] Further illustration of this unquestionable fact was furnished by the volunteer mission of Colonel Jaquess and Mr. Gilmore to Richmond in July.  N. and H. vol. ix. ch. ix.

CHAPTER X

MILITARY SUCCESSES, AND THE REELECTION OF THE PRESIDENT

It is necessary now to return to military matters, and briefly to set forth the situation.  No especial fault was found with General Meade’s operations in Virginia; yet it was obvious that a system quite different from that which had hitherto prevailed must be introduced there.  To fight a great battle, then await entire recuperation of losses, then fight again and wait again, was a process of lingering exhaustion which might be prolonged indefinitely.  In February, 1864, Congress passed, though with some reluctance, and the President much more readily signed, a bill for the appointment of a lieutenant-general, “authorized, under the direction and during the pleasure of the President, to command the armies of the United States."[73] All understood that the place was made for General Grant, and it was at once given to him by Mr. Lincoln.  On March 3 the appointment was confirmed by the Senate.  By this Halleck was substantially laid aside; his uselessness had long since become so apparent, that though still holding his dignified position, he seemed almost forgotten by every one.

Grant came to Washington,[74] arriving on March 8, and there was induced by what he heard and saw to lay aside his own previous purpose and the strenuous advice of Sherman, and to fall in with Mr. Lincoln’s wishes; that is to say, to take personal control of the campaign in Virginia.  He did this with his usual promptness, and set Sherman in command in the middle of the country, the only other important theatre of operations.  It is said that Grant, before accepting the new rank and taking Virginia as his special province, stipulated that he was to be absolutely free from all interference, especially on the part of Stanton.  Whether this agreement was formulated or not, it was put into practical effect.  No man hereafter interfered with General Grant.  Mr. Lincoln occasionally made suggestions, but strictly and merely as suggestions.  He distinctly and pointedly said that he did not know, and did not wish to know, the general’s plans of campaign.[75] When the new commander had duly considered the situation, he adopted precisely the same broad scheme which had been previously devised by Mr. Lincoln and General McClellan; that is to say, he arranged a simultaneous vigorous advance all along the line.  It was the way to make weight and numbers tell; and Grant had great faith in weight and numbers; like Napoleon, he believed that Providence has a shrewd way of siding with the heaviest battalions.

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