White House Reflects on Tennessee Victory

February 17, 1862

Even as the Army of the Potomac remained stalled, victories in the West gave hope some comfort.   The ever-optimistic William O. Stoddard one of the handful of aides that assisted Lincoln during the Civil War, wrote: “The victories achieved by the Union forces, by land and water, are of value, not only for their direct bearing upon the military success of this prolonged campaign, but also because they set the Government and its war policy in the true light before the people.  The long delay, the careful preparation, the patient waiting for ‘the inevitable hour,’ are all at last vindicated; and the dullest can see that the President and his advisers have been right, and those who assailed them wrong.”

Stoddard argued that the victories show that there was a Lincoln Administration plan for prosecuting the war: “Sketched in outline long ago by the trained and experienced genius of Scott; completed in its details by the President, and the wise men who have been his councillors; and carried into triumphant effect by the skill, daring and perseverance of our generals and our citizen soldiery.”

According to another presidential aide, John G. Nicolay, President Lincoln placed great faith in the fighting capabilities of his fellow Illinois residents:  “Talking over the surrender, and the gallant behavior of the Ills. Troops, the Prest said: ‘I cannot speak so confidently about the fighting qualities of the Eastern men, or what are called Yankees – not knowing myself particularly to whom the appellation belongs – but this I do know – if the Southerners think that man for man they are better than our Illinois men, or western men generally, they will discover themselves in a grievous mistake.’”

Published in: on February 17, 2012 at 12:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

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