Friday, July 26, 2013

Tad Lincoln, the president's young son, offers aid to his busy father

A group of businessmen including a local judge from Kentucky stopped at the White House several different times to see the president. Each time they were turned away and disappointed. The president knew of their presence but had decide to not meet with them.

They were persistent.  On their return visit, they were met in the hallway by Tad Lincoln, the president's 8 year old son.  Tad had a great personality and was loved by everyone.  Tad asked the men what their asked what their business was.. When they told of their frustration upon meeting with his obviously very busy father, Tad intervened.

Asking the men to follow him, Tad went into his father's office and said, "Papa. May I introduce some friends to you?" His father said yes, of course, not knowing who those friends were. He was quite surprised to be introduced to those very men he had been trying to avoid.

When he found out he patted Tad on the head and told him he was pleased with Tad's diplomacy.  The child was not disciplined for his actions.

For my money, it was young Tad who had the run of the White House.  He pretty much could do no wrong in the eyes of his presidential father.

Friday, July 19, 2013

President Lincoln remains annoyed with General Meade and praises General Grant

Mr. Lincoln continued into the next week with the troubling thoughts of General Meade's failures. General after general had continued to disappoint him.  He wrote a dispatch to General Halleck for General Meade of his concerns saying "I was in such deep distress myself that I could not restrain some expression of it...I do not believe you appreciate the magnitude of misfortune involved in Lee's escape. He was within your easy grasp, and to have closed upon him would, in connection with our latest successes, have ended the war...Your golden opportunity is gone, and I am distressed immeasurably because of it." The letter was never sent.

When I talked to the president, he seemed more depressed than usual. At one point he said he told John Nicolay, one of his secretaries, if he had gone up to Gettysburg he could have licked them rebel boys himself.

The president also wrote an unusual dispatch to General Grant, telling his top general that the commander-in-chief had doubted Grant's plan of taking Vicksburg and wanted now to let the general know "you were right and I was wrong."  As part of that plan General Grant had actually boasted that he was going to dine in Vicksburg by celebrating the 4th of July in fine dining fashion.

The Vicksburg Daily Citizen newspaper had gotten wind of the boast and suggested that "the way to cook a rabbit was is 'to first catch the rabbit.'" When they did take the city on the 4th, Union soldiers printed the message "General Grant has caught the rabbit."

Friday, July 12, 2013

The President receives the news of the capture of Vicksburg

While basking in the huge Union victory at Gettysburg, the president is greatly annoyed that still another of his Union generals (this time General George Meade) is satisfied with pushing General Lee's army back into Virginia without attempting to destroy him in the process. Meade's telegram to Mr. Lincoln saying that he had driven the invader from our soil did not sit well with the commander-in-chief at all.

On July 7 a dispatch from General Ulysses S. Grant brought some additional joy to Washington City, as Grant announced that Vicksburg, Mississippi had also fallen.

When Mr. Lincoln appeared in the upstairs window, a band started playing and the crowd enthusiastically cheer the president.  Mr. Lincoln spoke briefly saying that it was fitting the Vicksburg victory occurred on the 4th of July when defeat came to "those who opposed the declaration that all men are created equal." He also praised the many brave soldiers who fought for the Union.

The president and his son, Tad, visited with wounded General Daniel E. Sickles who had been shot at Gettysburg. Sickle's right leg had already been amputated prior to their hospital visit where the president congratulated him on his courage and expressed regret about the injury.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Union Army's grand battle at Gettysburg

President Lincoln spent much of the week in telegraph office of the War Department looking at dispatches and following the action of the two opposing armies at Gettysburg. He spent each night on the couch near the telegraph operator with orders to be awakened if any dispatch came through. He looked painfully full of anxiety as he paced back and forth waiting very impatiently.

Finally he got the word from General Meade that General Lee has lost a full one-third of his army and would be unlikely to ever mount a major objective again.  Meanwhile Meade seemed pleased that he had pushed Lee's army out of Pennsylvania, without realizing that Mr. Lincoln intended that he pursue the enemy and perhaps end the bloody war.

The president informed the press of the news from Gettysburg, saying the action was such "as to cover that Army (the Army of the Potomac) with the highest honor."

In the midst of the upheaval in Gettysburg, Mary Lincoln was seriously injured in a buggy accident on her way to visit the Soldier's Home. She hit her head and was cut quite severely when the buggy seat, which I observed may have been sabotaged to injure the president and his family, came lose and threw her and the  driver onto the ground.

Mr. Lincoln, quite occupied, did at least assign a nurse to watch over her and sent a telegram to his son Robert, away at Harvard College, to come home to care for her.