Monday, December 9, 2013

November 19, 1863

November 19, 1863

---At Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, a ceremony is held to dedicate the Soldier’s Cemetery on Cemetery Hill.  In attendance are Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, William Seward, the Secretary of State, and other dignitaries.  The keynote address is given by Edward Everett of Massachusetts, a famed orator and former U.S. Congressman, Senator, and Secretary of State---and also Governor of Massachusetts and President of Harvard.  Everett had even run for Vice President on the Constitutional Union ticket in 1860.  
Nov. 19, 1863, showing the dignitary's stand, and Lincoln's head barely visible, hatless, left center.

Everett speaks for over 2 hours, regaling the crowd by comparing the present struggle to the Peloponnesian Wars, the English Civil Wars, and the American Revolution, in addition to many other epic struggles for freedom---among other topics.  After Everett’s speech, Lincoln, asked to add “a few appropriate remarks,” stands and reads his speech:
An artist's rather romanticized conception of Lincoln's speech.
    Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

    Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

    But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

President Abraham Lincoln

Afterward, a silent field of spectators convinces Lincoln (according to some sources) that his speech was a failure.  The Chicago Times offers this criticism: "The cheek of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly, flat and dishwatery utterances of the man who has to be pointed out to intelligent foreigners as the President of the United States."  The London Times remarks that "The ceremony was rendered ludicrous by some of the sallies of that poor President Lincoln."

Others present argue that the crowd was silenced because they were stunned by the power and eloquence of the speech.  Edward Everett tells Lincoln, "I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes."  (The President was reported to have read the speech very slowly, and more likely took three minutes.)

Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, one of Lincoln’s strongest supporters, afterward wrote: "That speech, uttered at the field of Gettysburg . . . and now sanctified by the martyrdom of its author, is a monumental act. In the modesty of his nature he said 'the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here; but it can never forget what they did here.' He was mistaken. The world at once noted what he said, and will never cease to remember it."
Unidentified Union soldier
---Near Knoxville, Tennessee, Longstreet’s troops have pushed Burnside’s forces inside of their defenses around the city, and the Rebels begin to build siege lines and approaches.

---Union artilleryman Jenkin Lloyd Jones, with the 6th Battery, Wisconsin Artillery, has marched from Bridgeport, Alabama to Lookout Mountain on the outskirts of Chattanooga.  He writes in his diary about their position:

Came in sight of Lookout Ridge about 4 P. M., and at sundown we were directly under the enemy’s line, their picket fires burning brightly not more than half a mile off. Did they but have the artillery they could soon shell us out. The roads are very bad, filled with slough holes some of which were bridged. 8 P. M. halted nearly an hour to allow the pioneer corps to repair the roads. Most of the boys made coffee. Hard-tack very scarce. I had none since dinner. After the roads were fixed we moved out and marched about four miles right under the point of the guns which could not be brought to bear on us. We passed by Joe Hooker’s headquarters. It was a very beautiful evening, bright moonlight, and pleasant marching. Came into camp at 11:30 P. M., our horses having nearly given out. When the wagons came up we fed horses and drew crackers, but I was not as hungry as sleepy, so I laid down in the open air with Point Lookout frowning in full view, on which is a battery of heavy guns that at any moment could hurl terror to our Corps.

(In fact, the Confederates have posted one battery on the crest of Lookout Mountain, but they are only field pieces, and their barrels cannot be depressed far enough to hit the Union camps below.)

---Robert Knox Sneden, a soldier in the Union Army and a talented mapmaker, is once again in the field on the staff of Gen. French, commander of the III Corps of the Army of the Potomac, recounts in his diary the opening moves of the Mine Run Campaign in Virginia:

A strong cavalry reconnaissance . . . report that Lee is now entrenching  strongly against Mine Run, which is an affluent of the Rapidan River . . . between Jacob’s Mill Ford and Germanna Ford.  It runs south, though a valley bordered on both sides by gradual slopes, with here and there a farm house. . . . The position at Mine Run was well chosen for defense.  Its natural strength is of a formidable character, being a succession of ridges overlooking the northern bank by which an enemy must approach.

No comments:

Post a Comment