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o LIFE OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 481
tion, and I was, in my best judgment, driven to the alternative of either surrendering the Union, and with it the Constitution, or of laying strong hand upon the colored element. I chose the latter. In choosing it, I hoped for greater gain than loss; but of this I was not entirely confident. More than a year of trial now shows no loss by it, in our foreign relations; none in our home popular sentiment: none in our white military force—no loss by it anyhow or any-where. On the contrary, it shows a gain of quite a hundred and thirty thousand soldiers, seamen, and laborers. These are palpable facts, about which, as facts, there can be no caviling. We have the men, and we could not have had them without the measure.
And now let any Union man who complains of the measure, test himself, by writing down in one line that he is for subduing the rebellion by force of arms, and in the next that he is for taking these 130,000 men from the Union side, and placing them where they would be, but for the measure he condemns. If he can not face his cause so stated, it is only because he can not face the truth.
I add a word, which was not in the verbal conversation. In telling this tale, I attempt no compliment to my own sagacity. I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me. Now, at the end of three years' struggle, the Nation's condition is not what either party or any man devised or expected. God alone can claim it. Whither it is tending, seems plain. If God now wills the removal of a great wrong, and wills also that we of the North, as well as you of the South, shall pay fairly for our complicity in that wrong, impartial history will find therein new cause to attest and revere the justice and goodness of God.
Yours, truly, A. LINCOLN.
When Mr. Lincoln's determination to employ negro soldiers first became publicly known, it encountered “conservative” opposition in the loyal States. To many, even, who hoped success from this movement, it was a doubtful experiment. The results shown in the foregoing letter, leave this no longer an open question. Prejudice has given way before demonstrated fact, until soldiers in the field and citizens at home now welcome the aid of this immense power, wrested from the enemy and added to the loyal armies.
The arch conspirator at Richmond had the sagacity to see that serious consequences were involved in this policy. Resort
ing to *i. so long potent with the men of his class, and 1
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:
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 J.INCOLN.
How completely the Administration has been able, under the often critical and complicated situations resulting from an extended 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, Government 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 great conflict.
A new Epoch of the War.—Lieutenant-General Grant in the East.— Campaign of the Army of the Potomac from the Rapidan to Petersburg.—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