National Geographic : 1963 Jul
to the Army of the Potomac calling for even "greater efforts to drive from our soil every vestige of the presence of the invader." "My God!" exclaimed Lincoln in anguish at the word "invader." These were Americans all. That's what this war was all about. As days passed without vigorous pursuit, the commander in chief wrote the general a long, bitter letter: "... I do not believe you appreciate the magnitude of the misfortune involved in Lee's escape. He was within your easy grasp, and to have closed upon him would, in connection with our other late suc cesses, have ended the war...." This letter, written July 14, never reached Meade. Lincoln scribbled on the envelope "never sent, or signed." He may have decided, as he later remarked, "Why should we censure a man who has done so much for his country because he did not do a little more?" To Grant, victor on the great river where Lincoln had navigated flatboats, he wrote, on July 13, a letter like a tender handshake: "... I write this now as a grateful acknowl edgment for the almost inestimable service you have done the country .... I never had any faith, except a general hope that you knew better than I, that the Yazoo Pass expedition, and the like, could succeed.... I now wish to make the personal acknowledgment that you were right, and I was wrong." Grant was an odd number. Here he was, a long way from home, bagging an entire army, winning the greatest Union victory of the war thus far, clearing the Mississippi River of its last major Confederate hold, yet apparently failing to send word to Washington. [Actual ly, Grant's message was delayed; its bearer missed a boat, found a telegraph line dead.] The electrifying word that Vicksburg had fallen did not reach Washington on that espe cially glorious Fourth-nor on the fifth-nor yet the sixth. On July 7, Secretary of the Navy Welles was handed a dispatch with news from Admiral Porter at Vicksburg; that city, its de fenses, and Pemberton's army of 30,000 had surrendered to Grant and the Union Army. When Welles hurried to the White House and gave the news of the telegram, Lincoln looked down with shining face and said: "What can we do for the Secretary of the Navy for this glorious intelligence? He is al ways giving us good news. I cannot, in words, tell you my joy over this result. It is great, Mr. Welles, it is great!" All across the North the news brought forth 4 Silent cannon reflects the blush of dawn on fog-wreathed Gettysburg battlefield. NATIONALGEOGRAPHICPHOTOGRAPHERBATES LITTLEHALES© N.G.S. mass meetings and speeches, rejoicing, firing of guns, ringing of bells. In hundreds of cities large and small were celebrations with torch light processions, songs, jubilation, refresh ments. A brass band and a big crowd sere naded the President at the White House. He spoke to the crowd: "... in a succession of bat tles in Pennsylvania, near to us, through three days, so rapidly fought that they might be called one great battle on the 1st, 2d, and 3d of the month of July; and on the 4th the co horts of those who opposed the declaration that all men are created equal 'turned tail' and run." The colloquial phrase "'turned tail' and run" was as old to him as his boyhood and had the graphic edge he wished to convey. The same man who spoke in the idiom of the prairie could think and speak too in the diapasons of Old Testament prose.