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

[49] N. and H. vi. 309, from MS.

[50] The act was signed by the President, March 3, 1863.

[51] Concerning the deterioration of the army, in certain particulars, see an article, “The War as we see it now,” by John C. Ropes, Scribner’s Magazine, June, 1891.

CHAPTER VII

THE TURN OF THE TIDE

The winter of 1862-63 was for the Rebellion much what the winter of Valley Forge was for the Revolution.  It passed, however, and the nation still clung fast to its purpose.  The weak brethren who had become dismayed were many, but the people as a whole was steadfast.  This being so, ultimate success became assured.  Wise and cool-headed men, in a frame of mind to contemplate the situation as it really was, saw that the tide was about at its turning, and that the Union would not drift away to destruction in this storm at any rate.  They saw that the North could whip the South, if it chose; and it was now sufficiently evident that it would choose,—­that it would endure, and would finish its task.  It was only the superficial observers who were deceived by the Virginian disasters, which rose so big in the foreground as partially to conceal the real fact,—­that the Confederacy was being at once strangled and starved to death.  The waters of the Atlantic Ocean and of the Gulf of Mexico were being steadily made more and more inaccessible, as one position after another along the coast gradually passed into Federal hands.  The Mississippi River, at last a Union stream from its source to its mouth, now made a Chinese wall for the Confederacy on the west.  Upon the north the line of conflict had been pushed down to the northern borders of Mississippi and Georgia, and the superincumbent weight of the vast Northwest lay with a deadly pressure upon these two States.

It was, therefore, only in Virginia that the Confederates had held their own, and here, with all their victories, they had done no more than just hold their own.  They had to recognize, also, that from such battlefields as Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville they gathered no sustenance, however much they might reap in the way of glory.  Neither had they gained even any ground, for the armies were still manoeuvring along the same roads over which they had been tramping and swaying to and fro for more than two years.  By degrees the Southern resources in the way of men, money, food, and supplies generally, were being depleted.  The Confederacy was like a lake, artificially inclosed, which was fed by no influx from outside, while it was tapped and drained at many points.

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