President Lincoln Saddened by Battle of the Wilderness

May 8, 1864

Indiana Congressman Schulyer Colfax remembered: “The morning after the bloody battle of the Wilderness, I saw him walk up and down the Executive Chamber, his long arms behind his back, his dark features contracted still more with gloom; and as he looked up, I thought his face the saddest one I had ever seen. He exclaimed: ‘Why do we suffer reverses after reverses! Could we have avoided this terrible, bloody war! Was it not forced upon us! Is it ever to end!’ But he quickly recovered, and told me the sad aggregate of those days of bloodshed. Of course it is perfectly well known that the battle of the Wilderness, however, then claimed as a drawn battle, was, on the contrary, a bloody reverse to our arms, our loss in killed and wounded along being fifteen thousand more than the Confederates.   Hope beamed on his face as he said, ‘Grant will not fail us now; he says he will fight it out on that line, and this is now the hope of our country.’ An hour afterward, he was telling story after story to congressional visitors at the White House, to hide his saddened heart from their keen and anxious scrutiny.”

Presidential aide John G. Nicolay writes home: “We have been in another week of terrible suspense. Grant began moving last Wednesday morning, and beyond learning that he had succeeded in last Wednesday morning, and beyond learning than he had succeeded in crossing the Rapidan without serious opposition, we were without any information from him for two or three days. And indeed we know comparatively little yet of his operations, beyond the fact that he has fought one or more severe battles, and which information we pick up from the dispatches of others.”

Published in: on May 8, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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