« AnteriorContinuar »
of military glory dazzled his peace-loving eyes, nor did any murderous purpose lurk in his soul; and, when he finally came to the conclusion that war was inevitable, it was with a sadness like that which must have wrapped the brow of Abraham in gloom ere he offered up his beloved Isaac; or like that which deepened the lines of sorrow and bade the tears glisten on His face who bowed himself over Jerusalem, mourning the desolation that must come upon her for her disobedi
Lincoln was no party-man; or, if he ever had been, the exigencies of the times, or rather the providence of God, which was preparing him for those times, bade him rise above mere party-limits.
When he had borne the heavy burdens of two warcursed years, his language was that of a wisdom which showed a discrimination based on integrity of purpose. Said he in May, 1863, with characteristic plainness and accuracy of speech, “The dissensions between Union men in Missouri are due solely to a factious spirit which is exceedingly reprehensible. The two parties ought to have their heads knocked together. Either would rather see the defeat of their adversary than that of Jefferson Davis. We are in civil war. In such cases, there is always a main question ; but, in this case, that question is a perplexing compound, — union and slavery. It becomes a question not of two sides merely, but of at least four sides, even among those who are for the Union, saying nothing of those who are against it: thus those who are for the Union with, but not without, slavery; those for it without, but not with; those for it with or without, but prefer it with ; and those for it with or without, but prefer it without."
And, with a wisdom which could only have come from above, Lincoln guided the Ship of State month after month, year after after year, carefully avoiding Scylla on the one hand, and Charybdis on the other. Men could not always see this; and more than one sought for a lifepreserver, deeming shipwreck inevitable. But though the wild waters heaved tumultuously, and the huge breakers lifted their crested heads, and filled the ear of every listener with their tremendous voice, “deep calling unto deep" in the hour of our nation's dismay, yet calmly and steadily the hand of God's appointed pilot grasped the helm; and the eye of Abraham Lincoln glanced only from the needle that indicated the path of justice, to the star that rose in the East, and heralded the day of freedom.
The parricidal hands of Southern traitors were at last raised against their father-land; and at "3.20, A.M., of the 12th of April, 1861, Major Anderson was duly notified that fire would be opened on Fort Sumter in one hour. Punctual to the appointed moment, the roar of a mortar from Sullivan's Island, quickly followed by the rustling shriek of a shell, gave notice to the world that the era of compromise and diplomacy was ended; that the slaveholders' confederacy had appealed from sterile negotiations to the last argument' of aristocracies as well as kings. Another gun from that island quickly repeated the warning, waking a response from battery after battery, until Sumter appeared the focus of a circle of volcanic fire. Soon the thunder of fifty heavy breaching-cannon, in one grand volley, followed by the crashing and crumbling of brick, stone, and mortar around and above them, apprised the little garrison that their stay in those quarters must necessarily be short.” *
And reluctantly the brave defenders of the star
* Greeley's “ History."
spangled banner were compelled to surrender. We all know the story of Fort Sumter. Every loyal heart acknowledged Major Anderson a hero and a patriot; and when, on Monday morning, April 15, 1861, President Lincoln issued his first proclamation,* calling for the country's defenders, there came a universal “ Amen" to the call.
"COME TO THE RESCUE!' The cry went forth
Through the length and breadth of the loyal North;
Bring me my right good sword instead;'
Governors and legislatures vied with each other in proffers of men and money to the Government. The Governor of Rhode Island, who was not a Republican, not only promptly raised the quota of men required, but actually led it to Washington and to the battle-field. The same feeling of self-sacrificing patriotism nerved the heart and arm of privates as well as officers.
" Among the privates in Rhode Island's first regiment was one worth a million dollars, who destroyed the passage-ticket he had bought for a voyage to Europe on a tour of observation and pleasure, to shoulder his musket in defence of his country and her laws.” *
* Şen Chapter VIII.
Mrs. Caroline A. Mason,
On marched the loyal soldiers of New England to defend the Capitol of their country. As Gov. Andrew said to the Mayor of Baltimore, “Their march through New York was triumphal.” But "bloody Baltimore" chose to re-enact the scenes of the 19th of April, 1778; and on the 19th of April, 1861, —
" The streets our soldier-fathers trod
Blushed with their children's gore:
In Baltimore ? "
The blood of Massachusetts patriots crimsoned the stones of Baltimore ; # and as the news came back to the New-England States, it was as if the "fiery cross” had been lighted, and passed from hand to hand, calling anew to battle the clans of freemen who were ready to rally for liberty and law.
Gen. Butler (Cour de Lion), with the dauntless Eighth Massachusetts, ably seconded by the New-York Seventh, followed in the sanguinary wake of the Sixth Massachusetts, whose blood, as in the days of Revolutionary struggle, was the first to be shed for liberty; and soon the Capitol was in safety from the threatening parricides of the South.*
* Greeley's "History,' &c.
† Bayard Taylor. | Their death called forth the historic telegram from Gov. Andrew to Mayor Brown: “I pray you to cause the bodies of our Massachusetts soldiers, dead in Baltimore, to be laid out, preserved in ice, and tenderly sent forward by express to me. All expenses will be paid by the Commonwealth.” Their early martyrdom in the dear cause of Liberty unsheathed many a sword that else had remained in its scabbard, and awoke the music of many a poet's lyre. Said one (Mary Webb), with prophetic utterance,
"Peace to their ashes, they sleep well,
Our Massachusetts dead, who fell
But the first blood was not the last; and the pride of New-England homes was mown down upon many a battle-field, as we all know too well, during these troublous times. Ellsworth and Lyon and Baker were early laid in patriot-graves. Bull Run, Ball's Bluff, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, and many a battle-field besides, call up the memories of the loved and lost, who bravely gave their lives for their country: we think of gallant Dix who died exclaiming, “The Iowa Third never surrenders !” of the brave young captain Derby, who led his men undauntedly, till he
"By the wayside fell and perished;"
of the heroic chaplain Fuller, who felt that he “must do something for his country," and shouldered a musket in her defence : we think of many, many brave, true hearts that throb no more on earth, — all fallen victims to the relentless war which has scourged our nation into a repentance of its vilest sin; and we feel as if President Lincoln needed to have “the spirit of wisdom, and counsel, and of ghostly strength" given to him, almost “ without measure," that he might know how to deal with the various problems which came up to be solved by him. Gen. Butler aided to solve one, when he pronounced the slaves of the rebels " contraband of war."
Our arms knew victory, and knew also disaster. It
* While our country had a Judas in the person of every rebel chief, it was not without its Peter. " An officer who called at the White House during the dark days when Washington was isolated, and threatened from every side, and said to Mr. Lincoln, 'Every one else may desert you, but I never will,' two days after absconded, and became afterward a Confederate major-general.”