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ities viewed with much concern an invasion which Thomas had suffered to proceed so far. Grant had not shared Sherman's faith in Thomas. He now repeatedly urged him to act, but Thomas had his own views and obstinately bided his time. Days followed when frozen sleet made an advance impossible. Grant had already sent Logan to supersede Thomas, and, growing still more anxious, had started to come west himself, when the news reached him of a battle on December 15 and 16 in which Thomas had fallen on Hood, completely routing him, taking on these days and in the pursuit that followed no less than 13,000 prisoners.
There was a song, "As we go marching through Georgia," which was afterwards famous, and which Sherman could not endure. What his men most often sang, while they actually were marching through Georgia, was another, and of its kind a great song:
“John Brown's body lies amouldering in the grave,
Their progress was of the nature of a frolic, though in one way a very stern frolic. They had little trouble from the small and scattered Confederate forces that lay near their route. They industriously and ingeniously destroyed the railway track of the South, heating the rails and twisting them into knots; and the rich country of Georgia, which had become the chief granary of the Confederates, was devastated as they passed, for a space fifty or sixty miles broad, by the destruction of all the produce they could not consume. This was done under control by organised forage parties. Reasonable measures were taken to prevent private pillage of houses. No doubt it happened. Sherman's able cavalry commander earned a bad name, and “Uncle Billy," as they called him to his face, clearly had a soft corner in his heart for the lighthearted and light-fingered gentlemen called “bummers (a “bummer," says the Oxford Dictionary, “is one who quits the ranks and goes on an independent foraging ex
pedition on his own account"). They were, incidentally
, Sherman found, good scouts.
But the serious crimes committed were very few, judged by the standard of the ordinary civil population. The authentic complaints recorded relate to such matters as the smashing of a grand piano or the disappearance of some fine old Madeira. Thus the suffering caused to individuals was probably not extreme, and a long continuance of the war was rendered almost impossible. A little before Christmas Day, 1864, Sherman had captured, with slight opposition, the city of Savannah, on the Atlantic, with many guns and other spoils, and was soon ready to turn northwards on the last lap of his triumphant course. Lincoln's letter of thanks characteristically confessed his earlier unexpressed and unfulfilled fears.
Grant was proceeding all the time with his pressure on the single large fortress which Richmond and Petersburg together constituted. Its circuit was far too great for complete investment. His efforts were for a time directed to seizing the three railway lines which converged from the south on Petersburg and to that extent cutting off the supplies of the enemy. But he failed to get hold of the most important of these railways. He settled down to the slow process of entrenching his own lines securely and extending the entrenchment further and further round the south side of Petersburg. Lee was thus being forced to extend the position held by his own small army further and further. In time the lines would crack and the end come.
It need hardly be said that despair was invading the remnant of the Confederacy; supplies began to run short in Richmond, recruiting had ceased, desertion was increasing. Before the story of its long resistance closes it is better to face the gravest charge against the South. That charge relates to the misery inflicted upon many thousands of Northern prisoners in certain prisons or detention camps of the South. The alleged horrors were real and were great. The details should not be commemorated, but it is right to observe that the pitiable
condition in which the stricken survivors of this captivity returned, and the tale they had to tell, caused the bitterness which might be noted afterwards in some Northerners. The guilt lay mainly with a few subordinate but uncontrolled officials. In some degree it must have been shared by Jefferson Davis and his Administration, though a large allowance should be made for men so sorely driven. But it affords no ground whatever, as more fortunate prisoners taken by the Confederates have sometimes testified, for any general imputation of cruelty against the Southern officers, soldiers, or people. There is nothing in the record of the war which dishonours the South, nothing to restrain the tribute to its heroism which is due from a foreign writer, and which is irrepressible in the case of a writer who rejoices that the Confederacy failed.
4. The Second Election of Lincoln: 1864. Having the general for whom he had long sought, Lincoln could now be in military matters little more than the most intelligent onlooker; he could maintain the attitude, congenial to him where he dealt with skilled men, that when he differed from them they probably knew better than he. This was well, for in 1864 his political anxieties became greater than they had been since war declared itself at Fort Sumter. Whole States which had belonged to the Confederacy were now securely held by the Union armies, and the difficult problem of their government was approaching its final settlement. It seemed that the war should soon end; so the question of peace was pressed urgently. Moreover, the election of a President was due in the autumn, and, strange as it is, the issue was to be whether, with victory in their grasp, the victors should themselves surrender.
It was not given to Lincoln after all to play a great part in the reconstruction of the South; that was reserved for much rougher and much weaker hands. But the lines on which he had moved from the first are of interest. West Virginia, with its solid Unionist population, was
pedantic point, for there might have been great trouble if the courts had later found a constitutional flaw in some negro's title to freedom. But the correctness of Lincoln's view hardly matters. In lots of little things, like a tired man who was careless by nature, Lincoln may perhaps have yielded to influence or acted for his political convenience in ways which may justly be censured, but it would be merely immoral to care whether he did so or did not, since at the crisis of his fate he could risk all for one scruple. In an earlier stage of his controversies with the parties he had written: “From time to time I have done and said what appeared to me proper to do and say. The public knows it all. It obliges nobody to follow me, and I trust it obliges me to follow nobody. The Radicals and Conservatives each agree with me in some things and disagree in others. I could wish both to agree with me in all things; for then they would agree with each other, and be too strong for any foe from any quarter. They, however, choose to do otherwise, and I do not question their right. I, too, shall do what seems to be my duty. I hold whoever commands in Missouri or elsewhere responsible to me and not to either Radicals or Conservatives. It is my duty to hear all; but at last I must, within my sphere, judge what to do and what to forbear."
In this same month of July, after the Confederate General Early's appearance before Washington had given Lincoln a pause from political cares, another trouble reached a point at which it is known to have tried his patience more than any other trouble of his Presi. dency. Peace after war is not always a matter of substituting the diplomatist for the soldier. When two sides were fighting, one for Union and the other for Independence, one or the other had to surrender the whole point at issue. In this case there might appear to have been a third possibility. The Southern States might have been invited to return to the Union on terms which ad. mitted their right to secede again if they felt aggrieved. The invitation would in fact have been refused. But, if
it had been made and accepted, this would have been a worse surrender for the North than any mere acknowledgment that the South could not be reconquered; for national unity from that day to this would have existed on the sufferance of a factious or a foreign majority in any single State. Lincoln had faced this. He was there to restore the Union on a firm foundation. He meant to insist to the point of pedantry that, by not so much as a word or line from the President or any one seeming to act for him, should the lawful right of secession even appear to be acknowledged. Some men would have been glad to hang Jefferson Davis as a traitor, yet would have been ready to negotiate with him as with a foreign king. Lincoln, who would not have hurt one hair of his head, and would have talked things over with Mr. Davis quite pleasantly, would have died rather than treat with him on the footing that he was head of an independent Confederacy. The blood shed might have been shed for nothing if he had done so. But to many men, in the long agony of the war and its disappointments, the plain position became much obscured. The idea in various forms that by some sort of negotiation the issue could be evaded began to assert itself again and again. The delusion was freely propagated that the South was ready to give in if only Lincoln would encourage its approaches. It was sheer delusion. Jefferson Davis said frankly to the last that the Confederacy would have “independence or extermination," and though Stephens and many others spoke of peace to the electors in their own States, Jefferson Davis had his army with him, and the only result which agitation against him ever produced was that two months before the irreparable collapse the chief command under him was given to his most faithful servant Lee. But it was useless for Lincoln to expose the delusion in the plainest terms; it survived exposure and became a danger to Northern unity.
Lincoln therefore took a strange course, which generally succeeded. When honest men came to him and said that the South could be induced to yield, he proposed