Abraham Lincoln, Volume II eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 377 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln, Volume II.

[24] The Peninsula, 188.  Swinton seems to regard it in the same light. Army of Potomac, 147.

[25] Gaines’s Mill, contested with superb courage and constancy by the Fifth Corps, under Porter, against very heavy odds.

[26] McClellan’s Report, 131, 132.  See, also, his own comments on this extraordinary dispatch; Own Story, 452.  He anticipated, not without reason, that he would be promptly removed.  The Comte de Paris says that the two closing sentences were suppressed by the War Department, when the documents had to be laid before the Committee on the Conduct of the War. Civil War in America, ii. 112.  Another dispatch, hardly less disrespectful, was sent on June 25.  See McClellan’s Report, 121.

[27] For a vivid description of the condition to which heat, marching, fighting, and the unwholesome climate had reduced the men, see statement of Comte de Paris, an eye-witness. Civil War in America, ii. 130.



As it seems probable that Mr. Lincoln did not conclusively determine against the plan of McClellan for renewing the advance upon Richmond by way of Petersburg, until after General Halleck had thus decided, so it is certain that afterward he allowed to Halleck a control almost wholly free from interference on his own part.  Did he, perchance, feel that a lesson had been taught him, and did he think that those critics had not been wholly wrong who had said that he had intermeddled ignorantly and hurtfully in military matters?  Be this as it might, it was in accordance with the national character to turn the back sharply upon failure and disappointment, and to make a wholly fresh start; and it was in accordance with Lincoln’s character to fall in with the popular feeling.  Yet if a fresh start was intrinsically advisable, or if it was made necessary by circumstances, it was made in unfortunate company.  One does not think without chagrin that Grant, Sherman, Sheridan lurked undiscovered among the officers at the West, while Halleck and Pope were pulled forth to the light and set in the high places.  Halleck was hopelessly incompetent, and Pope was fit only for subordinate command; and by any valuation which could reasonably be put upon McClellan, it was absurd to turn him out in order to bring either of these men in.  But it was the experimental period.  No man’s qualities could be known except by testing them; and these two men came before Lincoln with records sufficiently good to entitle them to trial.  The successes at the West had naturally produced good opinions of the officers who had achieved them, and among these officers John Pope had been as conspicuous as any other.  For this reason he was now, towards the close of June, 1862, selected to command the “Army of Virginia,” formed by uniting the corps of Fremont, McDowell, and Banks.[28] Fremont resigned, in a pet at having an officer who was his junior in the service placed over his head; but he was no loss, since his impetuous temperament did not fit him for the duties of a corps commander.  He was succeeded by General Sigel.  The fusing of these independent commands, whose separate existence had been a wasteful and jeopardizing error, was an excellent measure.

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