Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

seemingly forgetful, for the moment, that they were not still equally available, he fulminated a threatening edict, designed to arrest this work by intimidation. It was plainly indicated that neither black soldiers nor their white officers need claim any of the immunities recognized under the laws of war. This was emphatically met by the President, in the only possible way, by orders for retaliation, issued to our armies.

General Order, No. 100, under date of April 24, 1863, promulgating general instructions for the government of our armies, “previously approved by the President,” contain the following directions, specially enjoining the protection of colored troops:

The law of nations knows of no distinction of color, and if an enemy of the United States should enslave and sell any captured persons of their army, it would be a case for the severest retaliation, if not redressed upon complaint. The United States can not retaliate by enslavement; therefore, death must be the retaliation for this crime against the law of nations.

All troops of the enemy known or discovered to give no quarter in general, or to any portion of the army, receive none.

Mr. Lincoln made these instructions more explicit and direct, in the following order issued by himself as Commander-inChief, and communicated to the entire Army, referring to this subject alone :

EXECUTIVE MANSION,

WASHINGTON, July 30, 1863. S It is the duty of every. Government to give protection to its citizens, of whatever class, color or condition, and especially to those who are duly organized as soldiers in the public service. The law of Nations, and the usages and customs of war, as carried on by civilized powers, permit no distinction as to color in the treatment of prisoners of war as public enemies. To sell or enslave any captured person, on account of his color, and for no offense against the laws of war, is a relapse into barbarism, and a crime against the civilization of the age.

The Government of the United States will give the same protection to all its soldiers; and if the enemy shall sell or enslave any one because of his color, the offense shall be punished by retaliation upon the enemy's prisoners in our possession.

It is therefore ordered, that for every soldier of the United States killed in violation of the laws of war, a Rebel soldier shall be executed ; and for every one enslaved by the enemy or

sold into slavery, a Rebel soldier shall be placed at hard labor on the public works, and continued at such labor until the other shall be released and receive the treatment due to a prisoner of war.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

How completely the Administration has been able, under the often critical and complicated situations resulting from an ex. tended blockade of our coast, from a premature concession of belligerent rights to armed Rebels by leading powers of Europe, from the constant and crafty efforts of Secession emissaries to secure a recognition of the so-called Confederacy by those powers, and from all the incidents of an unprecedented civil war, necessarily affecting our foreign relations in various ways, to maintain peace with other nations, can not be lost sight of in the excitement of military events at home. The value of this successful pacific policy-which has been attended by an increase rather than a diminution of respect abroad-can not be too highly estimated.

Not less conspicuous is the success which has attended the financial policy of the Government. This is, indeed, a marvel which would have hardly been credited in advance as possible, with the prospect of a war lengthened out beyond the period of three years, and calling into the service a million and a half of men, with all the attendant expenditures. To-day, however, Gov. ernment securities are firm; no one doubts the full payment of every dollar of the public indebtedness; every new loan is speedily taken; and no adjusted claim has long to await liquidation.

The operations of the Army and Navy, related in only the merest summary of the more prominent events, and necessarily excluding more than an allusion to much that would have required volumes to detail at large, have engrossed a great portion of the preceding pages. Could exact justice be done in such a narrative, as affecting both these branches of the service, it would clearly appear that neither has been wanting in efficient executive management, or in its proper share of the great work already accomplished. On these two strong arms of war, now so organized by the President as to secure universal confidence, must mainly depend the future issues of the grcat conflict.

[ocr errors]

CHAPTER I. A new Epoch of the War.—Lieutenant-General Grant in the East.

Campaign of the Army of the Potomac from the Rapidan to Peters. burg.-The Wilderness.-Spottsylvania Court House.-The North Anna.-Cold Harbor.-Across the James-Sheridan's Grand Raid. Sigel and Hunter in the Shenandoah Valley.-The Army of the James.-Averill and Crook in south-western Virginia.—Combined Armies before Petersburg.

THE epoch with which the third and last period of the life of Abraham Lincoln opens, in these pages, was one of grave interest to the nation. To the leaders of the rebellion, and to its friends at home and abroad, it was a time of hope. To the true men of the nation, the trust in an ultimate and signal triumph was shadowed by the dread of a more wearisome protraction of the sanguinary strife than was earlier looked for. The President, firm as ever in faith, earnest as ever in effort, anxiously watched the reorganization and remarshaling of the hundreds of thousands of brave men now placed under the control of the new general-in-chief. Not presuming to hope for an easy triumph in the coming renewal of battle, he took care that Grant should lack nothing he required, whether men or materials of war, in order that, without hindrance of any sort, he might be able to inflict mortal blows upon armed treason. A new call for two hundred thousand men had been : made on the 15th of March, and the hearty response of the several States was already furnishing constant accessions to swell the Union armies.

The main campaigns of the year 1864 were to be made by the two grand armies in the East and the West, under the respective commands of Maj.-Gens. Meade and Sherman. It was with the latter of these armies that the Lieutenant-Gen.

eral, prior to his last promotion, had exclusively served. He now joined the Army of the Potomac, giving special direction to its movements, while controlling the entire combinations of the various national forces. Widely separated as was the one main Army from the other, their advance was to be nearly simultaneous, and their movements were to be co-operative and convergent.

The chief work to be accomplished, manifestly, was the destruction of the veteran insurgent army under Lee. This army, sometimes successful, sometimes beaten, constantly renewed and skillfully commanded, had with its friends a bril. liant prestige. It was the main stay of the rebellion, the chief hope of the Richmond conspirators. Twice it had driven in the Union forces of the East upon the national capital. Twice it had invaded the States of Maryland and Pennsylvania, plundering and destroying; retiring with only such losses as were readily repaired. And after three years of severe conflict, it still held, in perhaps more formidable power than ever, the south bank of the Rapidan and the lower Rappahannock. With his headquarters at Orange Court House, and his army behind the defenses of Mine Run, Lee tenaciously held, on the 1st of May, the position from which Gen. Meade had vainly advanced to dislodge him on the 1st of December previous, prior to going into winter quarters at Stevensburg.

During the month of April, Gen. Grant was occupied with the work of augmenting and reorganizing the Army of the Potomac, and of making the necessary preparations for an active campaign. If Lee had contemplated an aggressive movement northward, his purpose was anticipated by the prompt action of the new commander confronting him. The Ninth Army Corps, under Gen. Burnside, including several colored regiments, had rendezvoused at Annapolis, as if intended for some separate movement southward. During the last week of April, this force was expeditiously marched through Washington—where it was reviewed by the President as it passed-to swell the main body now lying between the upper Rappahan. nock and the Rapidan. This large corps had as yet hardly reached the front, when the general advance commenced in

« AnteriorContinuar »