President Lincoln Visits Army Hospitals

April 7, 1863

The weather for the Army of the Potomac remained cold for President Lincoln’s vist to the Army of the Potomac.   “During the day, the President and several of the commanders reviewed the Fifth Corps, General [George] Meade’s, and afterwards went through several military hospitals,” writes journalist Noah Brooks.  “The President, with his usual kindliness of heart, insisted upon going through all of the hospital tents of General Meade’s corps, and shaking hands with every one, asking a question or two of many of them, and leaving a kind word here and there.  It was a touching scene, and one to be long remembered, as the large-hearted and noble President moved softly between the beds, his face shining with sympathy and his voice often low with emotion.  No wonder that these long lines of weary sufferers, far from home and friends, often shed a tear of sad pleasure as they returned the kind salutation of the President and gazed after him with anew glow upon their faces.  And no wonder that when he left the camp, after his long tour through it all, that a thundering cheer burst from the long lines of men as he rode away to the chief headquarters.”

A Massachusetts soldier wrote home his observations of President Lincoln: “On the 7th of April we “fell in” about twelve o’clock, for review by the president. We stacked arms on the parade, and waited until two p. m., when he rode by accompanied by General Hooker and bodyguard, and a large staff of officers. We gave him three cheers. He looked care-worn and anxious, and we thought there must be a ‘heap of trouble on the old man’s mind.’”

On this day the Fifth corps was reviewed by the president. Whether intentionally or inadvertently, Mr. Lincoln had been furnished with a small, pony built horse about fourteen hands high. The president’s legs looked longer than ever, and his toes seemed almost to touch the ground. He wore the same solemn suit of black that he always assumed, a tall, sijk hat, a little the worse for wear, with a long, full skirted black coat.

He had neglected to strap down his pant legs while riding, and, as most of the time he was kept at a jog trot, his pants began to draw up until finally, first one white drawers leg, then the other, began to be conspicuous, with strings dangling. The hard trot had settled his tall beaver hat on the back of his head, until it had rested upon his ears, which were large and somewhat projecting, and it looked as though it had been purposely jammed down into that position. Altogether he presented a very comical picture, calculated to provoke laughter along the entire length of the lines, had it not been for that sad, anxious face, so full of melancholy foreboding, that peered forth from his shaggy eyebrows. He rode remarkably well, with a wonderfully good seat, but with a loose, swaying, undulating movement, peculiar to the Western circuit rider, whom one might see riding from town to town about that period.

Although visiting the Army of the Potomac, President Lincoln remained concerned about military operations against Confederate forces at Charleston.   Historian Gerald S. Henig wrote: “On April 7, Rear Admiral Samuel F. Du Pont led a naval assault on Charleston Harbor.  His squadron, consisting of nine vessels in all (seven of which were the single-turret monitors), was simply no match for the rebel forts in the channel…Secretary of the Navy Welles, who had lost confidence in Du Pont even before the Charleston attack, believed that the admiral’s personal inadequacies were chiefly responsible for the repulse.”

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Published in: on April 7, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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