Slike strani
[ocr errors]

from the Capital to the battle-field, was notified that he would be expected to make some remarks. Retiring a short time, he prepared the following address, which for appropriateness, comprehension, grasp of thought, brevity, beauty, the sublime in sentiment and expression, has scarcely its equal in English or American literature.

When Everett had concluded his oration, the tall, homely form of Lincoln rose; simple, rude, majestic, unconscious of himself, he slowly adjusted his spectacles, and drew from his pocket a manuscript and commenced reading. Before the first sentence, commencing “Four score and seven years

ago" was completed, the words arrested attention, and instantly the magnetic influence of a grand idea uttered by a synıpathetic nature pervaded the vast assembly:

“Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new Nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

“Now, we are engaged in a great civil war testing whether that Nation, or any Nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that

We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that Nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

“But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate - we cannot consecrate — we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us, that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion, that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this Nation, under God, shall bave a


new birth of freedom; and that Government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” *

These twenty lines contain more than many a volume. There is nothing finer in Fisher Ames' oration on the death of Washington, nor in the masterly address of Daniel Webster, in laying the corner stone of the Bunker Hill Monument. There, above the remains of those who died that the Nation might live, he renewed the high resolve that the dead should not have died in vain; that this Nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that a Government “ of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Everett's oration was a polished specimen of consummate oratorical skill. It was perfectly committed to memory, and pronounced without a note. Yet it was so cold, artistic, and secured such admiration for the orator, as to make the audience at times, forget even the dead, to admire his well turned periods, but it did not deeply touch the heart.

When Mr. Lincoln uttered the words " the world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here,” he seemed so absorbed in the heroic sacrifices of the soldiers, as to utterly forget himself, but his hearers were fully conscious that he was the greatest actor in all the drama, and that he was uttering words which would live as long as the language. The magnetism of those who heard him, extended to the vast crowds beyond the reach of his bice, and tears, and sobs, and cheers, spoke the emotions which deeply moved the assemblage, with grand, patriotic, heroic thoughts, the sublime in action and sentiment.

Closing, he turned to Mr. Everett, and congratulating him on his success, the orator gracefully replied: “Ah! Mr. Lincoln, how gladly I would exchange all my hundred pages, to have been the author of your twenty lines.”

[merged small][ocr errors]






HE battle of Gettysburg was in its results one of the

most decisive of the war. The slaveholder's army, elated by their victory at Chancellorville, invaded Maryland and Pennsylvania, with the most lively hopes of transferring the war to the soil of the free States. They were, as they boasted, about to water their horses in the Susquehanna and the Delaware. The rich granaries and the prolific pastures of Pennsylvania and New Jersey were now about to afford them abundant supplies. The vast stores, the wealth and the plunder of the great Northern cities, were passing vividly before the gloating imaginations of the soldiers of the invaders.

The savage threats made by Jefferson Davis at Stevenson, Alabama, on his way to Montgomery to assume the Presidency of the confederacy,* when he said: “We will carry the war where it is easy to advance,--where food for the sword and torch wait our army in the densely populated cities,” were now, they believed, about to be realized. This proud and arrogant host was met on the hills of Gettysburg and hurled back, never again in force to cross the border.

* Greely's American Conflict, vol. 1, page 415.

The losses on both sides were very severe; the entire Union loss was 2,834 killed, 13,790 wounded and 6,643 missing. Total 23,267. The slaveholder's army lost much more heavily. 4,500 dead were buried by the Union troops, 26,500 of their wounded troops were taken, besides 13,621 prisoners. Total 44,621.

The three day's fighting at Gettysburg had nearly exhausted the ammunition of Lee. His troops began to withdraw on Saturday, July 4th, and at dark Saturday night the remains of his army were nearly all in motion, retiring by South Mountain and Waterloo Gap. He reached Hagerstown on Monday. On Tuesday his advance had gone six miles south of that place. General Meade lost by inactivity a grand opportunity of annihilating the army of Lee. He did not start himself in pursuit of Lee until after the sixth ; and, as he says, on the 12th of July, he was again in front of the enemy, but no immediate attack was made. General Halleck justly says: “Instead of attacking Lee in this position, with the swollen waters of the Potomac in his rear, without any means of crossing his artillery, and when a defeat must have caused the surrender of his entire army, he was allowed to construct a pontoon bridge, with lumber collected from canal boats and the ruins of wooden houses."* “ The 13th,” says Meade, “was occupied in reconnoisance of the enemy's position and preparations for an attack; but on advancing on the morning of the 14th it was ascertained that he had retired the night previous by Falling Waters, and the ford at Williamsport.” Some prisoners were taken, but the pursuit was not vigorous enough to be at all decisive. July 14th, General Meade telegraphed to General Halleck that “the enemy are all across the Potomac.”

When this dispatch was read to the President, he could not entirely restrain his impatience. He said : “ It seems as though General Meade, like others, was satisfied in driving the rebel army across the Potomac. Is not the south side as much our country as the other ?" But then he immediately added in substance, “Meade has fought a great battle and won

[ocr errors]

* See Halleck's Report, 1862.

a great victory for the country, and perhaps there are reasons for his delays unknown to us."

Lee retired to the Rapidan, and the Union army took position on the line of the Rappahannock.

The two decisive events of 1863, the fall of Vicksburg and the victory of Gettysburg, have been more fully described than is consistent with the general plan of this work in regard to military operations, because those events marked the triumphs of the Union cause in the East, and in the West.

Let us now return to that mountainous middle country, where love of the Union and the old flag was tested by suffering and persecution never surpassed in any land-Middle


General Rosecrans, after the battle of Stone River near Murfeesboro', encamped near the latter place. On the 3d of February, the rebels under Wheeler, Forrest and Wharton, invested Fort Donelson, held by Colonel Harding of Illinois, and demanded its surrender. Although having only a single regiment, he had not the least idea of surrender, but gallantly defended the post against repeated assaults of greatly sų. perior numbers, and finally beat off the assailants with a loss to them equal to his whole command. General Rosecrans did not commence a forward movement, until the 25th of June. IIis long delay, his failure to attack Bragg while it was supposed he had weakened his army to aid Vicksburg, had not been satisfactory either to Halleck or the Secretary of War. By a series of skilful movements he then compelled the rebel commander Bragg to retreat across the Cumberland mountains upon Chattanooga, which was strongly fortified. On the 16th of August he was again in motion, and advanced across the Cumberland mountains, Chattanooga being the objective point. The army successfully crossed the Tennessee in the face of the enemy. By skilful maneuvering and marches, and occupying the gaps of the mountains, he compelled the evacuation of Chattanooga. Meanwhile, General Burnside, who had been sent to the West, had occupied without any serious resistance East Tennessee.

On the 23d of September, the 11th and 12th army corps

« PrejšnjaNaprej »