Abraham Lincoln, Volume II eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 377 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln, Volume II.
After he has been given the benefit of all the doubt which can be suggested concerning the questions which he disposed of, the preponderance of expert authority shows a residuum of substantial certainty against him.  It is true that many civilian writers have given their judgments in favor of the President’s strategy, with a tranquil assurance at least equal to that shown by the military critics.  But it seems hardly reasonable to suppose that Mr. Lincoln became by mere instinct, and instantly, a master in the complex science of war, and it is also highly improbable that in the military criticism of this especial campaign, the civilians are generally right and the military men are generally wrong.  On the whole it is pleasanter as well as more intelligent to throw out this foolish notion of miraculous knowledge suddenly illuminating Mr. Lincoln with a thorough mastery of the art of war.  It is better not to believe that he became at once endowed with acquirements which he had never had an opportunity to attain, and rather to be content with holding him as a simple human being like the rest of us, and so to credit our common humanity with the inspiring excellence of the moral qualities displayed by him in those months of indescribable trial.

How much of expectation had been staked upon that army of the Potomac!  All the Northern people for nearly a year kept their eyes fastened with aching intensity upon it; good fortunes which befell elsewhere hardly interrupted for a moment the absorption in it.  The feeling was well illustrated by the committee of Congress, which said that in the history of this army was to be found all that was necessary for framing a report on the Conduct of the War; and truly added that this army had been “the object of special care to every department of the government.”  It occurred to many who heard this language, that matters would have gone better with the army if the political and civil departments had been less lavish of care and attention.  None the less the fact remained that the interest and anticipation of the whole loyal part of the nation were concentrated in the Virginia campaign.  Correspondingly cruel was the disappointment at its ultimate miscarriage.  Probably, as a single trial, it was the most severe that Mr. Lincoln ever suffered.  Hope then went through the painful process of being pruned by failure, and it was never tortured by another equal mutilation.  Moreover, the vastness of the task, the awful cost of success, were now, for the first time, appreciated.  The responsibility of a ruler under so appalling a destiny now descended with a weight that could never become greater upon the shoulders of that lonely man in the White House.  A solitary man, indeed, he was, in a solitude impressive and painful to contemplate.  Having none of those unofficial counselors, those favorites, those privy confidants and friends, from whom men in chief authority are so apt to seek relief, Mr. Lincoln secretively held his most important thoughts

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