President Lincoln Reviews 30,000 Marching Through Washington

April 25, 1864

President Lincoln has a busy day. He goes to the nearby Willard’s Hotel. There he reviews troops commanded by General Ambrose Burnside en route to the Army of Potomac. Artist Francis B. Carpenter recalled:

The 25th of April, Burnside’s command marched through Washington, on the way from Annapolis, to reinforce the army of the Potomac. The President reviewed the troops from the top of the eastern portico at Willard’s Hotel, standing with uncovered head while the entire thirty thousand men filed through Fourteenth Street. Of course the passage of so large a body of troops through the city — presaging as’ it did the opening of the campaign — drew out a numerous concourse of spectators, and the coming movement was everywhere the absorbing topic of conversation. Early in the evening, Governor Curtin, of Pennsylvania, with a friend, came into the President’s office. As he sat down he referred to the fine appearance of Burnside’s men; saying, with much emphasis, “Mr. President, if there is in the world one man more than another worthy of profound respect, it is the volunteer citizen soldier.” To this Mr. Lincoln assented, in a quiet way, — the peculiar dreaminess of expression so remarkable at times, stealing over his face as his mind reverted to the thousands whose lives had been so freely offered upon the altar of their country, and the myriad homes represented by the thronging columns of the day’s review, in sc many of which there was henceforth to be weary watching and waiting for footsteps which would return no more.

I took this opportunity to get at the truth concerning a newspaper story which went the rounds a year or two previous, purporting to be an account of a meeting of the loyal Governors in Washington, early in the war. It was stated that the President laid the condition of the country before such a council, convened at the White House, and anxiously awaited the result. An oppressive silence followed. Curtin was represented as having” been standing, looking out of one of the windows, drumming unconsciously upon a pane of glass. Mr. Lincoln, at length addressing him personally, said: “Andy, what is Pennsylvania going to do?” Turning around, Curtin replied: “She is going to send twenty thousand men to start with, and will double it, if necessary!” “This noble response” [quoted from memory] “overwhelmed the President, and lifted the dead weight which seemed to have paralyzed all present.”

I repeated this account substantially as here given ; but both parties smiled and shook their heads. “It is a pity to spoil so good a story,” returned the President, “but, unfortunately, there is not a word of truth in it. I believe the only convocation of Governors that has taken place during the war,” he added, looking at Curtin, “was that at Altoona — was it not?”

Subsequently the two gentlemen proposed to visit my room, and Mr. Lincoln accompanied them. Sitting down under the chandelier on the edge of the long table, which ran the whole length- of the apartment, swinging back and forth his long legs, passing his hand occasionally over his brow and through his rough hair (his appearance and manner come back to me most vividly, as I write), he listened abstractedly to my brief explanation of the design of the picture. When I ceased, he took up the record in his own way. “You see, Curtin,” said he, “I was brought to the conclusion that there was no dodging this negro question any longer. We had reached the point where it

Presidential aide John G. Nicolay writes: “The President thinks it will be impossible for him to take up the Court Martial cases today. To-morrow morning at nine, however, he will endeavor to do so.” President Lincoln had been actively reviewing court martial cases for the past week.

President Lincoln writes Illinois Sanitary Commission official John R. Woods: “I regret that I cannot be present at the inauguration of your Soldiers Home this week. Accept my thanks for your kind invitation and believe me, very truly Your Obedient Servant.”

From Pennsylvania comes a report of President Lincoln’s political strength as the Republican National Convention approaches: “On Saturday last we elected two firm & unwavering Lincoln men, as our Delegates to Baltimore, & instructed them to vote accordingly.”

In our district there is no dissenting voice, and so far, as I can learn, the State will be unanimous, for your re-election. Our State Convention will be held on Thursday next, at Harrisburg.

From the House of Representative comes a resolution regarding the outspoken critic of Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase: “That the President be requested to communicate to this House whether the Hon. Francis P. Blair, Jr., representing the first Congressional District of Missouri in the present House, now hold any appointment or commission in the Military service of the United States, and if so, what that appointment or commission is, and when the said Blair accepted the same, and whether he is now acting under the authority of any such appointment or commission.”

 

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Published in: on April 25, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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