Abraham Lincoln's Letter to Horace Greeley


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, September 6, 1862

Welcome to our online archive or original Civil War Harper's Weekly newspapers. We feel confident that this collection will be a valuable resource for your study and research. This information is simply not available anywhere else!

(Scroll Down to See Entire Page, or Newspaper Thumbnails below will take you to a specific page of interest)


Iron Clad

Iron Clad

Slave Colonization Plan

Lincoln's Slave Colonization Plan

Letter from Lincoln to Horrace Greeley

Lincoln's Letter to Horace Greeley


Women in the Civil War

Battle of Baton Rouge

The Battle of Baton Rouge


Reconnaissance Balloon

Army of the Potomac at Yorktown

Army of the Potomac at Yorktown

Rebel Cartoon

Rebel Cartoon

Battle of Baton Rouge

Battle of Baton Rouge


The "Essex"


The Army of the Potomac at Yorktown

Civil War Women

Civil War Women



SEPTEMBER 6, 1862.]



(Previous Page) suffering of General Corcoran—the purely patriotic ardor of Generals Meagher and Busteed—are the best guarantee of the conduct of the intelligent part of their countrymen. They see clearly that they have nothing to gain, and every thing to lose, by the success of the rebellion. Many of them belong to the hark-working population, and that is a class which the leaders of the rebellion despise. In the Confederacy, were it established, they would soon lose all political privilege, while the labor by which they lived would be brought into disgrace by the system of slavery. In the State of South Carolina, from which the insurrection sprang, there is already a property qualification for voters which would effectually exclude the immense majority of our Irish citizens who live by their own labor.

And that is the spirit of the rebellion. The men who believe in that exclusion are the men who lead this revolution. It did not begin among the poorer, hard-working class, but with men who foolishly declare that they were born to rule other men. It is exactly the spirit of the British aristocracy—the class to which our Southern aristocracy is most allied in sympathy. It is by that sympathy also that the governing classes in England so ardently wish the success of the rebellion. For it would be the triumph of the aristocratic system and the ruin of democracy.


THERE are accounts of various persons arrested for discouraging enlistment by wishing well to the rebellion, and ardently desiring that our soldiers may be captured, beaten, and killed. It would seem, as a general rule, that the mere casual expression of such sentiments by private persons might be left to the contempt which they naturally excite. But if they are addressed to those about to enlist, or who are considering the subject, then the speakers may fairly be dealt with in the discretion of the Government.

For it must be constantly borne in mind that, when we accepted war, we accepted the conditions of war. When the rebellion announced itself at Sumter there were but two methods open to us. One was to yield to it, and avoid war by surrender and the destruction of the Government. The other was to take up arms. Instinctively the nation chose war. But war is totally inconsistent with our civilization and the unrestricted enjoyment of personal and political rights. We were obliged to descend to it to save that civilization, and we must abide by its rules or we are foolish and already defeated.

The discipline of ever being the severest despotism, we were and are all submitted to it. It compasses its ends by brute force. It must have unity of sentiment, or, that being impossible, it must secure freedom from hostile criticism. It must supersede the ordinary processes of law. It must enforce measures which, to our ordinary habit, would seem most threatening. And it must do all these things, because not to do them when you are at war is to expose yourself to mortal peril.

But what is our security against the absolute destruction of those rights which war suspends? Nothing but the character of the men in whose hands the authority lies, and in that of the troops they command. In our country at this moment, if the President were disposed to abuse the enormous power confided to him, the army and the generals would be a restraint upon him. If the generals, or any one of them, were disposed to try the game of Napoleon or Cromwell, they would find themselves deserted by the army, which is not their tool, but in that case a body of fellow-citizens. If the army itself could be supposed to play the country false, they have the arms and the discipline. But the army is the people, or the representatives of the people.

The talk of the loss of our liberties, then, in which the foreign and domestic enemy so loudly indulges, is only twaddle. War, willingly accepted, is the willing renunciation of rights for a certain time and for a particular purpose. The existence of those rights is threatened by the rebellion, not by the nation. It is to save the fundamental guarantee of those rights that they are temporarily suspended, as, when your eyesight is threatened, you are doomed to temporary darkness in order to escape permanent blindness.


THE rebels have pursued Union men within their lines with the ferocity of wild beasts. They have seized their property and persons: they have tortured and hung them at their mad pleasure. The story of Parson Brownlow's book inspires a feeling of the utmost abhorrence of those men in whom a blind rage at their own chimeras has extinguished humanity.

General Pope issued an order, in accordance with the universal usage of war, that his army should be subsisted upon the enemy; that is to say, that the rebels should help pay the expense of suppressing their rebellion. There was nothing unusual nor cruel in the order. The enemy and the world have the right to laugh at our feebleness, that it was so long delayed.

Jeff Davis has undertaken to retaliate upon what he calls this barbarous plan. He has denounced General Pope and his officers as felons—and is reported authentically to have confined the brave men taken at Cedar Mountain and to feed them upon bread and water.

The instinctive wish of every generous mind is that our Government should teach him, in the only way by which he can he taught, that his ferocity must be somewhat restrained. The rebels can not be dealt with as honorable men, for their conspiracy began in perjury, and they laugh honor to scorn. If they have more prisoners of rank than we, it would be folly in us to resort to extreme measures, for they would only sacrifice our own men. But if we have the most, Jeff Davis should be plainly informed that his men in our hands answered for ours in his. Every degree of severity is consonant with the duty of protecting our brave boys from his ferocity.

If it be said that this would begin a war of extermination, there is but one answer—that the responsibility must rest where it belongs. Our first duty is to our loyal fellow-citizens who have braved death for us, and have now fallen into the enemy's hands. If they are well treated by them, well. If not, let them feel it in the only way they can be made to.

If it be said that it is terrible to think of every officer of ours who falls hereafter into the enemy's power suffering a retaliatory doom, the answer is, that they do suffer it already. At this moment they are suffering it, and the sole question is, whether they shall suffer unavenged. General Buckner, the meanest of traitors, was pleasantly confined in Fort Warren. We trusted the rebels' word, sent him home for exchange, and were cheated. They have noble men of ours now, and they are thrust into cells and treated like the worst criminals; and if we subsist our troops upon the enemy, and shoot spies and secret foes, they will hang our men, their prisoners.

That they will do so there is no doubt. Therefore we must threaten nothing that we do not mean. General Pope's order should be rescinded, that the prisoners of Cedar Mountain may be treated like the others; or a general order should acquaint Davis and his men that the treatment of their prisoners taken in the field will be exactly graduated by their conduct toward ours.


IT is reported that one of our Generals said that he did not exactly understand why he was fighting on our side rather than on the other, and in fact could not honestly say that he knew what the war was about.

The General is doubtless belied, but the words imputed to him describe what was, beyond question, the feeling of many good soldiers in the Union army. The actions of many of them unconsciously show it, however honest they may be. The inexplicable pauses upon the very high-roads of success; the disappearance from the scene of men distinguished for going ahead; the victories lost by not being vigorously followed up; the delay and dilatory advance so constantly remarked—all these are signs of a want of hearty earnestness which doesn't exactly understand why it is fighting for the flag instead of against it.

No man can be victorious who does not believe in his cause. The great and successful Generals were men who had a profound faith in that if in nothing else. Julius Caesar and Napoleon Bonaparte meant success at all hazards. They knew very well why they were fighting, and what for. They had no sympathy or toleration for the enemy. Whatever and whoever it might be, the enemy was something to be destroyed in the most rapid and overwhelming manner.

In this matter we need go no further for a lesson than Jeff Davis and the rebels. They believe fully in their cause and in themselves. They will stop at nothing to secure success. Bred in a feudal and barbarous and ignorant society, they are personally brave and unscrupulous. War is natural to them. The condition of the mass of their soldiers is better in the camp than at their own homes. They have the ignorance that inflames hatred, and the ferocity that delights in brutality. They have proved themselves to be a brave, enduring, desperate enemy.

Now if you send against such men a leader who thinks that they are half right, that they have been goaded into rebellion, that their conduct is irregular but very natural, he is beaten before he marches, and his men are murdered. But it he believed the enemy to be wantonly, basely wrong; if he appreciated the utter woe and desolation and ruin that attend the war they have causelessly begun; if he understood the occasion and the purpose of their fighting, his movement would be so swift and terrible that if he were beaten it would be because victory was impossible for him.

A leader who fights from a sense of military etiquette, and not from the profound conviction of the justice of his cause, may scientifically plan a battle and execute it by proper rules. But he will not win it against odds and the laws of the art. It is not to be supposed that in the actual shock of battle men gravely think about the philosophy of the war; and doubtless upon the field any good General does his best to win the day. But the whole character of the campaign will be determined by the General's feeling. If he believes, say in our own war, that the rebels are half right, his campaign will be half wrong. It will lack nerve and rapidity and severity. It will temporize and dally and delay. It will encourage the enemy and dishearten his own men. But if he rates the rebels at their true value as enemies of his country, of his race, and of civil society, he will smite them every where and incessantly hip and thigh, and they will know that they have to deal with a resolution as inexorable as their own.

It is for this reason that it is essential for every leader of the national arms to be as true a patriot as he is a faithful soldier. It is this earnest conviction of the justice of his cause which will make his military science available. In our Revolution General Lee was doubtless a more accomplished military man than Washington; but, the cause would have been lost had he been Commander-in-Chief, for he did not especially care about it. So it was chiefly faith in the cause, not military ability, that established the English Commonwealth.

This nation believes with all its heart in the work it is doing. Let it have for leaders only men who equally believe, and the work will be done speedily and done well.


SQUALID BEGGAR. "Pray, Sir, take pity on a miserable wretch; I have a wife and six children."

GENT. "My poor fellow, accept my heartfelt sympathy; so have I."

What is it you must keep after giving it to another? Your word.

LAMB.—An ambitious young lady was talking very loud and fast about her favorite authors, when a literary chap asked her it she liked Lamb. With a look of ineffable disgust she answered her interlocutor that she cared very little about what she ate compared with knowledge.

A country clergyman, who, on Sundays, is more indebted to his manuscript than to his memory, called unceremoniously at a cottage while Its possessor, a pious parishioner, was engaged (a daily excercise) in perusing a paragraph of the writings of an inspired prophet. "Weel, John," familiarly inquired the clerical visitant, "what's this you are about?" "I am prophesying," was the prompt reply. "Prophesying!" exclaimed the astounded divine; "I doubt you are only reading a prophecy." "Weel," argued the religious rustic, "giff reading a proechin' be preachin', is us reading a prophecy prophesying?"

A Presbyterian minister, in the reign of King William III., performing public worship in the Tron Church at Edinburgh, used this remarkable expression in his prayer: "Lord have mercy upon all fools and idiots, and particularly upon the town council of Edinburgh!"

When the regulations of West Boston Bridge were drawn up by two famous lawyers, one section was written, accepted, and now stands thus: "And the said proprietors shall meet annually on the first Tuesday of June, provided the same does not fall on Sunday."

An Englishmen in Philadelphia, speaking of the Presiidency of Washington, was expressing a wish to an American to behold him. While this conversation passed, "There he goes," replied the American, pointing to a tall, erect, dignified personage passing on the other side of the street. "That General Washington!" exclaimed the Englishmen. "Where is his guard?" "Here," replied the American, striking his bosom with emphasis.

In a cathedral, one day after service, the bellows-blower said to the organist, "I think we have done very well today." " We!" said the organist, in no small surprise at the impudence of his menial; "how can you pretend to have any merit in the performance? Never let me hear you say such a thing again," The man said nothing more at the time, but when they were next playing he suddenly intermitted in his task of inflating the organ. The organist rose in wrath to order him to proceed, when the fellow, thrusting his head out from behind the curtain, asked slyly, "Shall it be we, then?"

A farmer was elected to a corporalship in a militia company. His wife, after discoursing with him for some time on the advantage which the family would derive from his exaltation, inquired, in a doubting tone, "Husband, will it be proper for us to let our children play with the neighbors now?" One of the little urchins eagerly asked, "Are we not all corporate?" "Tut," said the mother, "hold your tongue; there is no one corporal but your father and myself."

A barrister observed to a learned brother in court that he thought his whiskers were very unprofessional. "You are right," replied his friend; "a lawyer can not be too barefaced."

In the newspaper account of an inquest held on the body of a glutton, who died by devouring part of a goose, the verdict suffocation was printed, with more truth than was intended, stuffocation.

A parson who had a scolding wife one day brought home a brother clergyman to dinner. Having gone into a separate apartment to talk to his spouse about the repast, she attacked and abused him for bringing a parcel of idle fellows to eat up their income. The parson, provoked at. her behavior, said, in a pretty loud tone, "If it were not for the stranger, I would give you a good drubbing." "Oh!" cried the visitor, "I beg you will make no stranger of me."

A sponger was reproached one day for dining so often among his friends. "What would you have me to do?" answered he; "I am pressed to do it." "True," answered Monk Lewis, "there is nothing more pressing than hunger."

An exquisitely-dressed young gentleman, after buying another seal to dangle about his delicate person, said to the jeweler that "he would-ah like to have-ah something engraved on it-ah, to denote what he was." "Certainly, certainly; I will put a cipher on it," said the tradesman.

Old Mrs. Darnley is a pattern of household economy. She says she has made a pair of socks last fifteen years by merely knitting new feet to them every winter, and legs every other winter.

The three most difficult things are—to keep a secret, to forget an injury, and to make good use of leisure.

An Irishman once observed that mile-stones were kind enough to answer your questions without giving you the trouble to ask them.

Why is the circulation of the blood sometimes suspended? Because it attempts to circulate in vein.


When is a man likely to be completely sewed up? When he feels a stitch in his site.

Why is it wrong to speak the truth? Because there is sin in sincerity.



GENERAL McCLELLAN left Fortress Monroe with a large portion of his army on the 21st inst. His destination was Aquia Creek, where he arrived on 22d with a portion of his army. Fitz John Porter's corps, which sailed from Harrison's Landing some time since, is with Pope. General Burnside and his army are at or near Fredericksburg.


General Pope has fallen back from Culpepper to the north bank of the Rappahanock, followed by the enemy in great force. From Wednesday, 20th, up to Saturday, 23d, there had been almost constant fighting till along the Rappahannock from where the Orange and Alexandria Railroad crosses up to Sulphur Springs, and thence eastward to Warrenton and Catlett's Station. On Wednesday there was only a single skirmish, the rebels driving back our pickets, but retiring before a cavalry charge. On Thursday five rebel regiments had a contest with Siegel's advance, and suffered pretty severely. On Friday they got to work in earnest, and the fight raged hotly all day along the river, the enemy trying to cross. They did not succeed. On the contrary, part of Siegel's men crossed, but did not endeavor to hold position. On Saturday an artillery duel began at four o'clock, and lasted nearly all day, the enemy still working up along the river to turn our flank. The loss of life is of course unknown, but it can not be very large on either side, as there were few close encounters. The prisoners on either side can not be very numerous; 200 taken by our army have arrived at Washington. The boldest dash of the enemy was that made by Stuart's cavalry upon Catlett's Station, where they succeeded in capturing General Pope's papers and money. At latest dates all was again quiet along the lines.


Hon. Horace Greeley:

DEAR SIR,—I have just read yours of the 19th, addressed to myself, through the New York Tribune. If there be in it any statements or assumptions of fact which I may know to be erroneous, I do not now and here controvert it. If there be in it any inference which I believe to be falsely drawn, I do not now and here argue against it. If there be perceptible in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, I

waive it, in deference to an old friend, whose heart I have always supposed to be right.

As to the policy I "seem to be pursuing," as you say, I have not meant to leave any one in doubt. I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored, the nearer the Union will be "the Union as it was."

If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree wish them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it. And if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that. What I do about slavery and the colored race I do because I believe it helps to save this Union. And what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the came; and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shell try to correct errors when shown to be errors, and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.

I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty, and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men every where could be free. Yours,   A. LINCOLN.


The rebel Congress met in Richmond on the 18th instant, on which occasion Jeff Davis submitted his annual message. He leads off in his usual hypocritical style, and then alludes to the Federal Government as "robbers," "assassins," etc., ad infinitum. He next speaks of and recommends retaliatory measures to meet the late laws recently passed by the Federal Government; recommends the issue of more rebel treasury shinplasters, and alludes to the building of rebel war vessels "at home and abroad." The resolutions introduced in the rebel House are highly significant of the future policy of the rebel government.


Hon. Jamey F. Robinson was inagurated Governor of Kentucky, in the hall of the House of Representatives, at Frankfort, on the 18th inst., the Senate and its officers being present. Mr. Robinson made a speech. He possesses the entire confidence of the Union party of Kentucky. D. C. Wickliffe is to be the Secretary of State, and James W. Tate is to be Assistant-Secretary. The Senate, by unanimous vote, re-elected Hon. John F. Fisk Speaker of that body.


Energetic measures have been adopted in the West to put a stop to the raids of the marauding and predatory bands of rebels in Kentucky and Tennessee. Ten Indiana regiments, besides cavalry and artillery, have already gone into Kentucky, the infantry having practical field-generals acting as colonels. It appears certain that the citizens of the West are no longer to be put into a constant state of terror by the wild and rapid movements of a few guerrillas.


The Mayor of Henderson, Kentucky, is said to have gone over to the rebels and taken service in their army. His property has been seized, and a new election ordered. All the members of the City Council were arrested for refusing to take the oath of allegiance, but they were subsequently released upon resigning, and giving bonds in five thousand dollars each not to aid or countenance the rebels.


Front St. Louis it is stated that General Rosecrans, with 30,000 or 40,000 men, started from Corinth on Wednesday toward the southwest, with a prospect of having a brush with the rebels under Price at Tupelo, Mississippi, on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad. Corinth is still strongly protected.


It has been at last determined to razee and cover with iron the war steamer Niagara.


General Corcoran arrived in this city on 23d, and met with a most enthusiastic reception. The streets were crowded with spectators, and it was asserted by many that the assemblage greatly outnumbered the crowd that was gathered together on the celebration of the Atlantic cable or at the reception of the Prince of Wales.

General Corcoran has declined formally to receive the proffered banquet of the Common Council of New York, and, for the present at least, an invitation to visit Boston.


Governor Sprague has called an extra session of the Rhode Island Legislature, to convene on August 20. The reasons are thus assigned in the preamble of his proclamation: Whereas, the large bounties given by the several citizens and towns in this state for volunteers, for the purpose of avoiding a draft, is producing dissatisfaction among the troops now in the field; and whereas, this system of overbidding by each town, in its haste to relieve itself from a draft, is a most pernicious one, and is creating a large debt which is equally divided among the people of the State, when the cause for which it is incurred is that of all its citizens, for the preservation of their common country; and whereas, an undue haste has also been manifested by some of our people to render themselves exempt under the law from doing military duty.


A dispatch from St. Paul, Minnesota, states that the Indians in Meeker County, in that State, have attacked the whites in the town of Acton, and killed several persons, including men, women, and children. Several persons are also reported to have been massacred at the Lower Agency. The cause alleged is exasperation at the non-reception of the money due them from the Government.


An important military order has been issued in New Orleans, by which all the inhabitants of that city have been deprived of their private arms, for the reason that at the battle of Baton Rouge it was discovered that numbers of the inhabitants of the latter city had been found among the slain on the battle-field. They had joined the rebel ranks.


Charles Ingersoll has been arrested for treasonable or discouraging remarks, made at the Democratic meeting in Philadelphia on Saturday last. Mr. Ingersoll, in his speech, denounced President Lincoln and the Government in pretty strong terms, and accused them of disregarding the Constitution, and of being the most corrupt of any in the world. He also stated that our debt was heavier than that of any other nation, and one that had the least prospect of ever being paid.


Secretary Seward has written a letter to the British Charge d'Affairs to the effect that foreigners who have not taken out their full papers are not subject to draft.



THE Tuscarora, which put into Queenstown lately in the prosecution of her task of watching pirates, has been ordered off by the British officials.



The St. Petersburg Journal asserts that the Russian Cabinet desires to sec the present conflict ended by prudent and honorable compromise, but does not wish to see the country divided.




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