Tag Archives: Oliver P. Morton

The 1864 Federal Election Campaign

October 31, 1864 – Party unity, statehood for Nevada, and recent military success worked to shift momentum in favor of President Abraham Lincoln’s reelection.

Campaign poster | Image Credit: Wikipedia.org

As the Federal elections approached, Lincoln’s chances for victory were much greater than they had been in the summer. Radical Republican John C. Fremont had dropped out of the race in September, and many Radicals and abolitionists who had supported Fremont now switched allegiances to Lincoln. This included the attendees of the National Convention of Colored Men, who gathered on the 4th in Syracuse, New York.

The convention included 144 delegates from 18 states. John S. Rock, a black attorney from Massachusetts, urged participants to support Lincoln over his Democratic challenger, George B. McClellan. Rock declared, “There are but two parties in the country today. The one headed by Lincoln is for Freedom and the Republic; and the other, by McClellan, is for Despotism and Slavery.” Prominent civil rights leader Frederick Douglass, who had opposed Lincoln’s moderate policies in the past, also voiced support for his reelection.

Meanwhile, Lincoln administration officials waged a campaign of fear designed to get voters to oppose anti-war candidates. Just a week before the early elections, Federal Judge-Advocate General Joseph Holt reported that the Sons of Liberty, an anti-war organization, was somehow being funded by the bankrupt Confederate government.

Democrats accused Holt of releasing a report filled with “absolute falsehoods and fabrications… too ridiculous to be given a moment’s credit.” Even Lincoln recognized that the Sons of Liberty was “a mere political organization, with about as much of malice (as of) puerility.” But anti-Federal conspiracies did exist (although on a much less influential level), and pro-Republican Union Leagues used this to scare voters into supporting pro-war candidates.

Early elections took place in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana on the 11th, and many believed that these would be a preview of what would happen in the rest of the states in November. Lincoln and other officials stayed near the telegraph in the War Department until after midnight awaiting returns. While waiting, Lincoln read passages from Nasby Papers, a comedic book about an uneducated Copperhead named Petroleum V. Nasby.

In the end, Lincoln and the Republican Party enjoyed more support than most expected. In Indiana, Republican Governor Oliver P. Morton won reelection, and Republicans won eight of the 11 congressional seats. Lincoln had urged Major General William T. Sherman to furlough his Indiana soldiers so they could go home and vote. Sherman responded by sending 29 Indiana regiments home, along with Major Generals John A. Logan and Francis P. Blair, Jr. (two former politicians) to urge voters to support the president and his party. Convalescing Indiana soldiers were taken from hospitals if they proved well enough to travel. This effort paid off.

In Ohio, Republicans gained 12 congressional seats and a 50,000-vote majority. The results in Pennsylvania were closer. Pennsylvania soldiers were allowed to submit absentee ballots, and when they were tallied a few days later, the Republicans won out. An editorial in Harper’s Weekly declared, “The October elections show that unless all human foresight fails, the election of Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson is assured.”

Questionable electioneering tactics helped secure these victories. Each of Lincoln’s cabinet members was required to donate $250 to Republican candidates, and each employee of the Treasury, War Department, and Postal Department was to donate five percent of his salary. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton fired 30 War Department employees for either refusing to support the Republicans or failing to show enough enthusiasm for them.

Nevertheless, the soldier vote contributed to the Republican victories more than anything else. Acknowledging this, Lincoln told the 198th New York Volunteers, “While others differ with the Administration, and, perhaps, honestly, the soldiers generally have sustained it; they have not only fought right, but, so far as could be judged from their actions, they have voted right…”

Despite his success in these three states, Lincoln still worried that the results may not be so favorable in the rest of the North. Two days after the elections, he wrote out a scorecard in which he guessed that he would win 117 electoral votes, while the “Supposed Copperhead Vote” would give McClellan 114. Lincoln included Pennsylvania in McClellan’s total, not yet aware that the soldier vote would move that state into his column. Lincoln also supposed that McClellan would win New Jersey, Illinois, and all the border states (i.e., Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri).

In neighboring Maryland, an election took place to ratify a new state constitution, which included a 23rd article in the bill of rights: “All persons held to service or labor as slaves are hereby declared free.” Before the vote, Lincoln wrote influential Maryland politician Henry W. Hoffman, “I wish all men to be free. I wish the material prosperity of the already free which I feel sure the extinction of slavery would bring. I wish to see, in process of disappearing, that only thing which ever could bring this nation to civil war.”

Federal military officials were stationed at the polls to ensure that only men who had pledged loyalty to the U.S. could vote. When the votes were counted, the new constitution failed. However, Republican Governor Augustus Bradford declared that after counting the absentee soldier vote, the new constitution was approved by a vote of 30,174 to 29,799, or a majority of just 375. Only 59,973 total votes were cast, compared to 92,502 in the 1860 election.

Despite the dubious results, Marylanders who voted for the new constitution serenaded Lincoln at the White House. Referring to claims that McClellan would grant Confederate independence if elected, Lincoln told them, “I am struggling to maintain government, not to overthrow it. I am struggling especially to prevent others from overthrowing it.”

In Kentucky, Governor Thomas Bramlette tried preventing Federal military forces from influencing the election. He instructed county sheriffs to oppose Federals trying to suppress the Democratic vote, and if they could not, they were to terminate the election process because, “If you are unable to hold a free election, your duty is to hold none at all.”

Rear Admiral John A.B. Dahlgren, commanding the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, instructed Acting Master John K. Crosby to “proceed with the U.S.S. Harvest Moon under your command to Savannah River, Warsaw, Ossabaw, Sapelo, and Doboy, and communicate with the vessels there, in order to collect the sailors’ votes already distributed for that purpose. A number of ballots will be given you, in order to enable the men to vote.”

On the last day of the month, Nevada became the 36th state in accordance with a hurried act of Congress endorsed by Lincoln. The territory had less than 20 percent of the required population to become a state, but being heavily Republican, it was expected to contribute electoral votes in Lincoln’s favor.

Lincoln did not seem eager to make Nevada a state for his benefit; in fact, he exerted no influence to bring in the states being restored under his reconstruction plan (Tennessee, Louisiana, and Arkansas) for the election. But he did hope to bring Nevada into the Union because it might add enough Republican representation in Congress to pass the proposed Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery.

With or without Nevada, as October ended, Lincoln’s reelection seemed a foregone conclusion.

—–

References

Davis, Jefferson, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government: All Volumes (Heraklion Press, Kindle Edition 2013, 1889), Loc 19426-43; Denney, Robert E., The Civil War Years: A Day-by-Day Chronicle (New York: Gramercy Books, 1992 [1998 edition]), p. 473, 475; Donald, David Herbert, Lincoln (Simon & Schuster, Kindle Edition, 2011), Loc 11503-15, 11537, 11593, 11603; Foote, Shelby, The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume 3: Red River to Appomattox (Vintage Civil War Library, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Kindle Edition, 2011), Loc 11786-807, 13117-27; Fredriksen, John C., Civil War Almanac (New York: Checkmark Books, 2007), p. 505, 508-09, 516; Goodwin, Doris Kearns, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2005), p. 661-63; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 582-83, 585-86, 588, 591; McPherson, James M., Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Oxford History of the United States Book 6, Oxford University Press, Kindle Edition, 1988), p. 782-83, 804; Robbins, Peggy, Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 523-24; White, Howard Ray, Bloodstains, An Epic History of the Politics that Produced and Sustained the American Civil War and the Political Reconstruction that Followed (Southernbooks, Kindle Edition, 2012), Q464

Morgan’s Raid: The Northern Penetration

July 13, 1863 – Confederate Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan embarked on another Kentucky raid, but this time he crossed the Ohio River and invaded the North.

John Hunt Morgan | Image Credit: CivilWarDailyGazette.com

Morgan planned to relieve Federal pressure in Tennessee by disrupting the enemy’s supply lines in Kentucky. He originally proposed invading Indiana and riding east through Ohio and Pennsylvania before joining with General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, then still at Gettysburg. But Morgan’s superior, General Braxton Bragg, would only authorize a Kentucky raid and prohibited him from crossing the Ohio River.

On July 2, Morgan set out with 2,460 men in 11 cavalry regiments and a section of rifled guns. They struggled to cross the swollen Cumberland River and entered Kentucky near Burkeville. Major General William S. Rosecrans, commanding the Federal Army of the Cumberland at Tullahoma, Tennessee, had notified Major General Ambrose E. Burnside, commanding the Federal Department of the Ohio at Cincinnati, that Morgan was heading his way.

Burnside dispatched Federal cavalry forces under General Henry Judah, but they did not react quickly enough to stop Morgan’s advance. Elements of the two forces clashed as Morgan tried crossing the Green River on the 3rd. Morgan sustained heavy losses before riding off to find another place to cross.

The next morning, Morgan demanded the surrender of a garrison on the north bank of the Green. The Federal commander replied, “It is a bad day for surrender, and I would rather not.” Morgan attacked but was repulsed, losing 80 killed or wounded out of less than 600 men. The Federals sustained less than 30 casualties, with most only wounded. Morgan withdrew to find a different crossing, moving through Campbellsville and camping near Lebanon for the night.

Morgan’s raiders attacked the Federal garrison at Lebanon after it also refused to surrender. Brutal fighting took place from house to house within the town, and the Federals finally gave in after being pushed back to the railroad station. The Confederates took over 400 prisoners and valuable medical supplies. Morgan’s youngest brother Tom was killed in the fight, with 79 others either killed or wounded. Morgan burned the town in retribution for his brother and then moved on.

The Confederates cleared out Bardstown and captured a train on the Louisville & Nashville Railroad. They feinted north and east while the main force rode west through Garnettsville and Brandenburg. The troopers seized the steamers John T. McCombs and Alice Dean at Brandenburg, which they used to cross the Ohio River on the 8th.

The troops that Burnside dispatched to oppose Morgan did not arrive in time to stop him from entering Indiana. Morgan’s crossing blatantly violated Bragg’s orders not to go any farther north than Kentucky, but Morgan believed he could not fully divert Federal attention without invading the North. Panic spread among the nearby residents, as many feared that anti-war Copperheads would join Morgan’s raid.

Morgan’s forces reached the former Indiana capital of Corydon on the 9th, having covered an unprecedented 90 miles in 35 hours. The Confederates dispersed a large militia force, losing nearly 400 men in the process, and looted the town. Their practice of destroying everything in their path and robbing local treasuries ensured that they would get no Copperhead support.

During the pillage, Morgan ate at a local hotel and received news that Lee had been driven out of Pennsylvania. This thwarted Morgan’s plan to link with him. He resolved to continue moving east through Indiana and on into Ohio nonetheless. However, straggling and civilian opposition hindered the Confederate advance. Colonel Basil W. Duke, one of Morgan’s top commanders, later recalled:

“The country was full, the towns were full, and the ranks of the militia were full. I am satisfied that we saw often as many as 10,000 militia in one day, posted at different points. They would frequently fight, if attacked in strong position, but could be dispersed by maneuvering.”

Part of the reason for such an intense pursuit was, as Duke recalled, “The (Confederate) Provost guard had great difficulty in restraining the men from pillaging, and was unsuccessful in some instances.” It soon became “impossible to stop a practice which neither company nor regimental officers were able to aid him in suppressing. This disposition for wholesale plunder exceeded any thing that any of us had ever seen before. The men seemed actuated by a desire to ‘pay off; in the ‘enemy’s country’ all scores that the Federal army had chalked up in the South…”

On July 10, Morgan moved through Palmyra to Salem, less than 40 miles from the state capital of Indianapolis. Alarmed citizens gathered at the Bates House to hear Governor Oliver P. Morton read the latest dispatches, and over 60,000 men heeded Morton’s call for volunteers. Fearing that Indianapolis would be heavily defended, Morgan veered east at Salem and moved through Vienna before stopping at Lexington, where he spent the night at a luxurious hotel.

By Sunday the 12th, many of Morgan’s men had straggled and fallen out due to exhausted horses, and some were captured by pursuing civilians and militia. Nevertheless, the bulk of the force reached Sunman, 15 miles from the Ohio-Indiana border. The raiders crossed into Ohio the next day and entered Harrison, just 20 miles from Cincinnati. Federal officials declared martial law and blocked the river crossings.

Now that the armies of both Lee and Bragg were retreating, Morgan’s objective changed from destroying communications and supplies to preventing Burnside’s Federals from moving on Knoxville. However, the raid was losing its momentum as tens of thousands of volunteers joined militias to stop Morgan’s invasion.

—–

References

Brooksher, William R./Snider, David K., Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 511; CivilWarDailyGazette.com; Denney, Robert E., The Civil War Years: A Day-by-Day Chronicle (New York: Gramercy Books, 1992 [1998 edition]), p. 300, 303, 305-06, 308-09; Foote, Shelby, The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume 2: Fredericksburg to Meridian (Vintage Civil War Library, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Kindle Edition, 2011), p. 677-80; Fredriksen, John C., Civil War Almanac (New York: Checkmark Books, 2007), p. 322-29; Linedecker, Clifford L. (ed.), The Civil War A to Z (Ballantine Books, 2002), p. 186-87; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 375-76, 381-83, 385

The Murder of “Bull” Nelson

September 29, 1862 – Major General William “Bull” Nelson was shot to death by Brigadier General Jefferson C. Davis over a trivial argument.

Gen William “Bull” Nelson | Image Credit: CivilWarDailyGazette.com

The Federal Army of the Ohio enjoyed the amenities of Louisville, and officers settled old grudges. Following the horrific defeat at Richmond, Davis (no relation to the Confederate president) had been assigned to serve under Nelson and help with recruiting Louisville residents into the army. Nelson, a native Kentuckian, had a strong dislike for Indianans, calling them “uncouth descendants of ‘poor trash’ from the mountains of Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina.” Davis was from Indiana.

Davis made it clear that he did not like his new assignment, declaring, “I am a regular army officer, and will not disgrace myself by mixing with a rabble of citizens.” After two days, Nelson told Davis that he was dissatisfied with Davis’s performance. Davis, who had served with distinction at Wilson’s Creek and Pea Ridge, demanded an apology for such disrespect. Nelson refused and relieved him of duty.

Accompanied by Indiana Governor Oliver P. Morton, Davis confronted Nelson in the lobby of the Galt House, a hotel serving as Major General Don Carlos Buell’s headquarters, on the morning of the 29th. Davis again demanded an apology, to which Nelson replied, “Go away, you damned puppy.”

Gen Jefferson C. Davis | Image Credit: Wikimedia.org

Davis crumpled a hotel registration card and threw it in Nelson’s face. Nelson slapped Davis across his face and turned to go upstairs, telling a reporter witnessing the incident, “Did you hear that insolent scoundrel insult me, sir? I suppose he didn’t know me. I’ll teach him a lesson, sir.”

Davis fumed to Morton, “Did you come here to see me insulted?” He then called for a pistol, which Indiana attorney and friend Thomas Gibson provided. He followed Nelson to the staircase and hollered, “Nelson! Not another step, sir!” When Nelson turned, Davis shot him in the chest from three feet.

Nelson staggered up the stairs and collapsed in a hallway. General Thomas Crittenden rushed to Nelson’s side, asking, “Are you seriously hurt?” Nelson mumbled, “Send for a clergyman. I want to be baptized. I have been basely murdered.” Nelson, one of Buell’s most dependable commanders, died within 30 minutes.

Some witnesses called for Davis to be hanged. Others, such as Major General Horatio G. Wright, said that Davis did what was needed to settle this “matter of honor.” Buell had Davis arrested and jailed, but his services were needed to help confront the Confederates in Kentucky. With Governor Morton’s backing, Davis was released and resumed division command. He never faced justice for the murder.

—–

References

CivilWarDailyGazette.com; Denney, Robert E., The Civil War Years: A Day-by-Day Chronicle (New York: Gramercy Books, 1992 [1998 edition]), p. 219; Foote, Shelby, The Civil War, A Narrative: Fort Sumter to Perryville (New York: Vintage Books, 1958), p. 715; Fredriksen, John C., Civil War Almanac (New York: Checkmark Books, 2007), p. 216; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 272; Longacre, Edward G., Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 206-07; Stanchak, John E., Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 523; Street, Jr., James, The Struggle for Tennessee: Tupelo to Stones River (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 54; Wert, Jeffry D., Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 414-15

The Newburgh Raid

July 17, 1862 – This evening, Confederate Captain Adam R. Johnson led 35 partisans out of Henderson, Kentucky, to raid the Federal arsenal across the Ohio River at Newburgh, Indiana.

Johnson considered himself the leader of an irregular Confederate force in accordance with the Confederate Partisan Ranger Act. However, his men were civilians, and neither he nor his men wore military uniforms, making them outlaws in Federal eyes. Johnson had been dispatched to Henderson by Colonel Nathan Bedford Forrest to deliver a message. He stayed after its delivery and recruited men for his cause.

Johnson planned to break into the Newburgh arsenal, a two-story brick warehouse on the riverfront, and bring the weapons back to Kentucky before Federal troops at nearby Evansville could react. The only troops defending Newburgh were Federal soldiers convalescing at the Exchange Hotel, which had been converted to a hospital. To Johnson’s good luck, the telegraph line between Newburgh and Evansville was not working at the time.

While scout Robert M. Martin led 24 men east of Newburgh to create a diversion, Johnson and two Confederates rowed across the Ohio and seized the arsenal. Eight soldiers manned two cannon trained on the town from the Kentucky side of the river.

“Cannon” overlooking Newburgh | Image Credit: Wikipedia.org

Newburgh residents immediately realized that their arsenal had been taken. Johnson, expecting Martin’s men to cover his withdrawal, entered the hotel and captured the local Federal commander. Johnson held off the town’s defenders by showing them the two cannon and threatening to “shell this town to the ground.” The Federals did not know that the “cannon” were actually stovepipes set on wagon wheels and axles.

Johnson’s men loaded the arsenal weapons onto waiting skiffs, covered by Martin’s troops and the “cannon.” A Federal gunboat and troop transport unexpectedly blocked the Confederates’ return, prompting Johnson and two men to fire on the convoy to prevent a troop landing, wounding two Federals. Believing they faced a large force, the Federals withdrew, and Johnson’s Confederates returned to Henderson.

Newburgh became the first northern town to be captured by Confederates in the war. Johnson earned the nickname “Stovepipe” for this operation and received a promotion to colonel from General Braxton Bragg. Indiana Governor Oliver P. Morton, shocked by the seemingly effortless raid, telegraphed Washington to send reinforcements.

Within three days, 1,000 Federal troops had arrived and were conveyed down the Ohio by Commander Alexander M. Pennock’s fleet of steamers and tugs. The Federals crossed the Ohio, occupying Henderson and other border towns in northern Kentucky while recovering some of the stolen weapons.

The Federals did not find Johnson’s raiders, but Pennock received “the gratitude with which the citizens of Indiana and of this locality will regard the prompt cooperation of yourself and your officers in this emergency, which threatened their security.” Johnson’s raid bolstered military recruitment in Indiana and demonstrated the need for more border patrols.

—–

References

Denney, Robert E., The Civil War Years: A Day-by-Day Chronicle (New York: Gramercy Books, 1992 [1998 edition]), p. 195-96; Fredriksen, John C., Civil War Almanac (New York: Checkmark Books, 2007), p. 183-84; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 242; Stanchak, John E., Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 395, 524-25; Wikipedia: Newburgh Raid

Lincoln Leaves Springfield

February 11, 1861 – President-elect Abraham Lincoln and Mrs. Mary Todd Lincoln left their hometown of Springfield, Illinois on their long journey to Washington, D.C.

As the month began, Lincoln continued preparing for his inauguration on March 4. In so doing, he reiterated that while he did not object to compromise efforts, some issues would not be open for negotiation. Lincoln sent advisors to Republican congressmen in Washington to deliver Lincoln’s views. Lincoln also wrote to his Secretary of State-designate William H. Seward, serving out his term as a U.S. senator from New York:

“I say now, however, as I have all the while said, that on the territorial question—that is, the question of extending slavery under the national auspices,—I am inflexible. I am for no compromise which assists or permits the extension of the institution on soil owned by the nation. And any trick by which the nation is to acquire territory, and then allow some local authority to spread slavery over it, is as obnoxious as any other.”

Around the same time Horace Greeley, editor of the influential New York Tribune, published an editorial excoriating Lincoln for asserting that the southern states should not be allowed to secede:

“Lincoln’s latest speech contained ‘the arguments of the tyrant—force, compulsion, and power.’ ‘Nine out of ten people of the (North)’ are opposed to forcing South Carolina to remain in the Union. ‘The great principle embodied by Jefferson in the Declaration is… that governments derive their just power from the consent of the governed.’ Therefore, if the southern States want to secede, ‘they have clear right to do so.’”

On the 6th, the Lincolns held a farewell reception in their Springfield home for friends, politicians, and people flocking from throughout the country. Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln stood together in their first-floor parlor and welcomed some 700 guests from 7 p.m. until midnight. According to the Baltimore Sun, the guests comprised “the political elite of Illinois and the beauty and fashion of the area.” A reporter noted, “Mrs. Lincoln’s splendid toilette gave satisfactory evidence of extensive purchases during her late visit (last month) to New York.” The New York press called the reception “the most brilliant affair of the kind witnessed here in many years.”

Lincoln spent the next few days finalizing plans to stop at various cities on his train ride to Washington, as the family moved from their home to a hotel. On the 11th, over 1,000 people gathered in an early morning rain to bid farewell to the Lincolns at Springfield’s Great Western Station. Lincoln shook hands and spoke with friends and neighbors in the station waiting room before boarding the train at 7:55 a.m.

Springfield's Great Western Railroad | Image Credit: jfk50.blogspot.com

Springfield’s Great Western Railroad | Image Credit: jfk50.blogspot.com

Surrounded by family, friends, secretaries, politicians, and military officers, Lincoln addressed the crowd from the platform of his private car:

“Here I have lived a quarter of a century, and have passed from a young to an old man. Here my children have been born, and one is buried. I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of the Divine Being, who ever attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail. Trusting in Him, who can go with me, and remain with you and be everywhere for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well. To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell.”

The train made several stops on its eastward trek into Indiana, where Lincoln spoke to cheering crowds. The train stopped for the day at Indianapolis, where 34 cannon representing the 34 states roared upon its arrival. Governor Oliver P. Morton met Lincoln, and a throng of 20,000 people escorted the party to the Bates House. Lincoln delivered his first speech since the election from the balcony. He declared, “It is your business to rise up and preserve the Union and liberty, for yourselves, and not for me.”

Lincoln voiced opposition to “coercion,” an example of which would be if an army marched into South Carolina without prior consent of its people. But he asked if it would be coercion “if the Government, for instance, but simply insists upon holding its own forts, or retaking those forts which belong to it?” If that was coercion, then “the Union, as a family relation, would not be anything like a regular marriage at all, but only as a sort of free-love arrangement.” Most spectators supported Lincoln’s speech.

Lincoln resumed his journey on his 52nd birthday by traveling from Indianapolis to Cincinnati, Ohio, with various stops along the way. Among his brief statements to welcoming crowds, he urged the people to stay true to themselves and the Constitution.

At Cincinnati, Lincoln delivered a rambling speech before a large reception for him at the Burnet House. He told the crowd that their greeting “could not have occurred in any other country on the face of the globe, without the influence of the free institutions which we have increasingly enjoyed for three-quarters of a century… I hope that while these free institutions shall continue to be in the enjoyment of millions of free people of the United States, we will see repeated every four years what we now witness… I hope that our national difficulties will also pass away.” Lincoln also assured a delegation of German-Americans that he would not wait until the last moment to divulge his course of action regarding the national crisis.

The Lincoln train reached the Ohio capital at Columbus on the 13th, where Lincoln received a telegram informing him that Congress had confirmed his victory in the presidential election by officially approving the electoral college vote count. Brevet Lieutenant General Winfield Scott had mobilized troops in Washington in case secessionists tried preventing the votes from being counted, but there was no interference.

In Columbus, Lincoln seemed to ignore reality in a speech to the Ohio legislature, saying:

“I have not maintained silence from any want of real anxiety. It is a good thing that there is no more than anxiety, for there is nothing going wrong. It is a consoling circumstance that when we look out there is nothing that really hurts anybody. We entertain different views upon political questions, but nobody is suffering anything.”

The large celebration for Lincoln in Columbus included a reception at the home of Governor William Dennison, and an elaborate military ball.

The next day, the Lincolns left Columbus for Pittsburgh, with the president-elect delivering brief speeches at the stops in between. At Pittsburgh, Lincoln addressed a crowd in the rain on the 15th. Ignoring the state of affairs, Lincoln declared that “there really is no crisis except an artificial one!… If the great American people will only keep their temper, on both sides of the line, the troubles will come to an end…”

Lincoln then traveled to Cleveland through a snowstorm, where a large crowd and cannon fire greeted him. He said, “I think that there is no occasion for any excitement. The crisis, as it is called, is altogether an artificial crisis…” The train left Cleveland on the 16th and moved into New York State, where Lincoln spoke before the largest crowd on the trip so far. He told them that “you, as a portion of the great American people, need only to maintain your composure.”

The Lincoln train moved on to Buffalo on the 17th, then to the state capital at Albany the next day. Lincoln addressed several crowds, and various politicians boarded the train at the different stops. At Albany, Lincoln addressed a joint session of the New York legislature: “It is true that while I hold myself without mock modesty, the humblest of all individuals that have ever been elevated to the presidency, I have a more difficult task to perform than any one of them.”

Several dignitaries escorted Lincoln as the train left Albany on the 19th. After more short stops, the party arrived in New York City. An estimated 250,000 people greeted Lincoln as he rode to the Astor House. He admitted to a crowd that he had avoided offering specifics on his upcoming policies, preferring to wait until he could speak officially. In a short speech at the Astor House, Lincoln vowed he would never “consent to the destruction of the Union… unless it were to be that thing for which the Union itself was made.”

The next day, Lincoln met with people and groups in New York City, including Mayor Fernando Wood. Lincoln told the mayor, “There is nothing that can ever bring me willingly to consent to the destruction of the Union… So long, then, as it is possible that the prosperity and the liberties of the people can be preserved in the Union it shall be my purpose at all times to preserve it.” The Lincolns dined with Vice President-elect Hannibal Hamlin, and Lincoln later attended Giuseppe Verdi’s 1859 opera, Un Ballo in Maschera (A Masked Ball).

The journey continued the following day.

—–

Sources

  • Angle, Paul M., A Pictorial History of the Civil War Years (New York: Doubleday, 1967), p. 30-32
  • Donald, David Herbert, Lincoln (Simon & Schuster, Kindle Edition, 2011), Loc 5677-88, 5710, 5742
  • Goodwin, Doris Kearns, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2005), p. 306-10
  • Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 31-33, 35-40
  • Ward, Geoffrey C., Burns, Ric, Burns, Ken, The Civil War (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990), p. 27, 28-30
  • White, Howard Ray, Bloodstains, An Epic History of the Politics that Produced and Sustained the American Civil War and the Political Reconstruction that Followed (Southernbooks, Kindle Edition, 2012), Q161