Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own, and his children's liberty.

Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and Let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.

- Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838
  Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois

Monday, May 04, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On May 4, 1864 & 1865

On this day in 1864 Lincoln sent a telegraph to General Sherman in Tennessee on behalf of residents complaining that 'Order No. 8' would require them to travel north of Nashville - to the rear of the army - when seeking provisions. My guess is that they feared there wouldn't be much in the way of food available behind the army, most if not all of it having already been consumed.

At this point in the war, citizens living in the vicinity of a camping army were starving or at the brink of starvation; there simply wasn't enough food available to feed thousands of men, horses, mules, livestock... and non-combatants.

The army - and citizens living in the vicinity of the marching army - competed constantly over food. Most community food, farm vegetables, livestock and horses had already been requisitioned by the army, leaving their previous owners with little recourse but to approach the army itself for food -- that, or starve.

Lincoln was continually besieged by pleas from citizens who showed up daily at the White House, asking his assistance on every issue from pardoning imprisoned husbands and sons, to desperate pleas like those offered by the residents of Tennessee.

Lincoln did his best to follow up on these requests, and intervened on the citizen's behalf whenever possible. Unfortunately there were times when the situation was simply impossible to remedy. War and starvation go hand in hand.

War Department,
Washington, D.C., May 4. 1864.

Office U.S. Military Telegraph,
Major General Sherman
Chattanooga, Tenn.

I have an imploring appeal in behalf of the citizens who say your order No. 8 will compel them to go North of Nashville. This is in no sense, an order; nor is it even a request that you will do any thing which in the least, shall be a drawback upon your military operations, but any thing you can do consistently with those operations, for those suffering people, I shall be glad of


The most interesting part of this story doesn't lie within Lincoln's telegraph to Sherman, but in Sherman's obviously frustrated reply, sent on May 5th (see Annotation):

"We have worked hard with the best talent of the country & it is demonstrated that the railroad cannot supply the army & the people too. one or the other must quit & the army don't intend to unless Joe Johnston makes us. The issues to citizens have been enormous & the same weight of corn or oats would have saved thousands of the mules whose carcasses now corduroy the roads and which we need so much. We have paid back to East Tenn. ten for one of provisions taken in war. I will not change my order and I beg of you to be satisfied that the clamor is partly a humbug & for effect, & to test it I advise you to tell the bearers of the appeal to hurry to Kentucky & make up a caravan of cattle & wagons & to come over by Cumberland Gap and Somerset to relieve their suffering friends on foot as they used to do before a railroad was built. Tell them they have no time to lose. We can relieve all actual suffering by each company or regiment giving of their savings. Every man who is willing to fight and work gets all rations & all who won't fight or work should go away and we offer them free transportation." (DLC-RTL)

On this day in 1865, Lincoln's body, having traveled halfway across the country on 'The Lincoln Special' funeral train, was finally home in Springfield, Illinois.

The day of his funeral and burial dawned hot, but clear of the rain that had plagued much of the trip. Lincoln's casket lay in state at the Hall of Representatives (inside the very room where a much younger and impassioned Abraham Lincoln had given his "House Divided" speech in 1858.)

Preperations for the funeral began shortly after 10 am:

At 10:00 A.M. the doors to the State House were closed, and Mr. Lincoln's body was prepared for burial by the undertaker and embalmer. The coffin was carried to an elegant hearse (finished in gold, silver, and crystal) lent to Springfield by the city of St. Louis. The procession was led by Major-General Joseph Hooker and followed a zigzag route from the State House, past Mr. Lincoln's home, past the Governor's Mansion, and onto the country road leading to Oak Ridge Cemetery. The hearse was followed immediately by Old Bob wearing a mourning blanket. Mr. Lincoln's only two blood relatives in attendance that day were his son, Robert, and his cousin, John Hanks. Mrs. Lincoln was still in mourning in the White House. The procession was the largest spectacle the Midwest had ever seen. Upon arrival at the cemetery, the coffin was laid upon the marble slab inside the tomb. Willie's little coffin was also placed inside the tomb. The funeral oration was given by Bishop Matthew Simpson who had been chosen over every other minister in the United States for this sad occasion. Simpson gave an extremely eloquent address. When Simpson was finished, Dr. Phineas Densmore Gurley read the benediction. The crowd then watched as the gates of iron and the heavy wooden doors of the tomb were closed and locked. It was over at last.

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