“But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate—we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Having safely crossed the Potomac, the Confederate army continued its retreat without halting to the familiar camps in central Virginia it had so long and valiantly defended. Meade followed with alert but prudent vigilance, but did not again find such chances as he lost on the fourth of July, or while the swollen waters of the Potomac held his enemy as in a trap. During the ensuing autumn months there went on between the opposing generals an unceasing game of strategy, a succession of moves and counter-moves in which the opposing commanders handled their great armies with the same consumate skill with which the expert fencing-master uses his foil, but in which neither could break through the other’s guard. Repeated minor encounters took place which, in other wars, would have rated as heavy battles; but the weeks lengthened into months without decisive results, and when the opposing armies finally went into winter quarters in December, 1863, they again confronted each other across the Rapidan in Virginia, not very far south of where they lay in the winter of 1861.
Buell and Bragg—Perryville—Rosecrans and Murfreesboro—Grant’s Vicksburg Experiments—Grant’s May Battles—Siege and Surrender of Vicksburg—Lincoln to Grant—Rosecrans’s March to Chattanooga—Battle of Chickamauga—Grant at Chattanooga—Battle of Chattanooga—Burnside at Knoxville—Burnside Repulses Longstreet
From the Virginia campaigns of 1863 we must return to the Western campaigns of the same year, or, to be more precise, beginning with the middle of 1862. When, in July of that year, Halleck was called to Washington to become general-in-chief, the principal plan he left behind was that Buell, with the bulk of the forces which had captured Corinth, should move from that place eastward to occupy eastern Tennessee. Buell, however, progressed so leisurely that before he reached Chattanooga the Confederate General Bragg, by a swift northward movement, advanced into eastern Kentucky, enacted the farce of appointing a Confederate