Mr. Lincoln’s attitude toward them was one of good-humored contempt. “Nothing can make me believe that one hundred thousand Indiana Democrats are disloyal,” he said; and maintained that there was more folly than crime in their acts. Indeed, though prolific enough of oaths and treasonable utterances, these organizations were singularly lacking in energy and initiative. Most of the attempts made against the public peace in the free States and along the northern border came, not from resident conspirators, but from Southern emissaries and their Canadian sympathizers; and even these rarely rose above the level of ordinary arson and highway robbery.
Jacob Thompson, who had been Secretary of the Interior under President Buchanan, was the principal agent of the Confederate government in Canada, where he carried on operations as remarkable for their impracticability as for their malignity. One plan during the summer of 1864 contemplated nothing less than seizing and holding the three great States of Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, with the aid of disloyal Democrats, whereupon it was supposed Missouri and Kentucky would quickly join them and make an end of the war.
Becoming convinced, when this project fell through, that nothing could be expected from Northern Democrats he placed his reliance on Canadian sympathizers, and turned his attention to liberating the Confederate prisoners confined on Johnson’s Island in Sandusky Bay and at Camp Douglas near Chicago. But both these elaborate schemes, which embraced such magnificent details as capturing the war steamer Michigan on Lake Erie, came to naught. Nor did the plans to burn St. Louis and New York, and to destroy steamboats on the Mississippi River, to which he also gave his sanction, succeed much better. A very few men were tried and punished for these and similar crimes, despite the voluble protest of the Confederate government but the injuries he and his agents were able to inflict, like the acts of the Knights of the Golden Circle on the American side of the border, amounted merely to a petty annoyance, and never reached the dignity of real menace to the government.
Burnside—Fredericksburg—A Tangle of Cross-Purposes—Hooker Succeeds Burnside—Lincoln to Hooker—Chancellorsville—Lee’s Second Invasion—Lincoln’s Criticisms of Hooker’s Plans—Hooker Relieved—Meade—Gettysburg—Lee’s Retreat—Lincoln’s Letter to Meade—Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address—Autumn Strategy—The Armies go into Winter Quarters
It was not without well-meditated reasons that Mr. Lincoln had so long kept McClellan in command of the Army of the Potomac. He perfectly understood that general’s defects, his want of initiative, his hesitations, his delays, his never-ending complaints. But he had long foreseen the difficulty which would and did immediately arise when, on November 5, 1862, he removed him from command. Whom should he appoint as McClellan’s successor? What officer would be willing and competent to play a better part? That important question had also long been considered; several promising generals had been consulted, who, as gracefully as they could, shrank from the responsibility even before it was formally offered them.