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A Meeting with the President

From "Glimpses of Lincoln in War Time"

Mr. Lincoln’s manner toward enlisted men, with whom he occasionally met and talked, was always delightful in its bonhomie and its absolute freedom from anything like condescension. Then, at least, the “ common soldier,” who was an American citizen; after all, was the equal of the chief magistrate of the nation. One day in the latter part of March, 1863, I was at the White House with the President, and he told me to tarry for a while, as a party of Ohio soldiers who had been lately exchanged after many harassing experiences were coming to see him. It appeared that these were the survivors of what was then known as the Marietta raid. Twenty-one men from Ohio regiments of the command of General O. M. Mitchel, then in northern Alabama, were sent on a dangerous mission to destroy the railroad communications of Chattanooga to the south and east. The expedition failed, and of the original number only six returned to Washington, after incredible hardships and suffering,— one third of the party having escaped, and another fraction having been hanged as spies, the rebel authorities deciding that the fact that these men wore citizen’s clothes within an enemy’s lines put them in that category.

            The men, who were introduced to the President by General E. A. Hitchcock, then on duty in Washington, were Mason, Parrott, Pittenger, Buffum, Reddick, and Bensinger. Their names were given to the President, and, without missing the identity of a single man, he shook hands all round with an unaffected cordiality and good-fellowship difficult to describe. He had heard their story in all its details, and as he talked with each, asking questions and making his shrewd comments on what they had to say, it was evident that for the moment this interesting interview was to him of supreme importance. At that time we had great difficulty in effecting exchanges of prisoners, and General Hitchcock had compiled a series of papers of startling importance bearing on the question. The stories of these long-suffering men, and the cheerful lightness with which they narrated their courageous and hazardous deeds, impressed Mr. Lincoln very deeply. Speaking of the men afterward, he said, with much feeling, that their bearing, and their apparent unconsciousness of having taken their lives in their hands, with the chances of death all against them, presented an example of the apparent disregard of the tremendous issues of life and death which was so strong a characteristic of the American soldier.

Brooks, Noah, "Glimpses of Lincoln in War Time," The Century Magazine, Volume 49, Issue, 3, January 1895, pp 466 - 467, New York: The Century Company




Newest Material

July 17, 2007 -  Added A Federal Railroad Adventure - "Andrews Raiders"
May 10 - Added new page Civil War Era Definitions with definitions to be added as I come across them
May 9 - Added article: Our Captured Correspndent
May 9 - Added page for Prisons and Prisoners and a page for Libby Prison
May 8 - Loss of Sultana, article and biographical sketches
May  - Images of Sultana
May 7, 2007 - Steamboat Sultana pages created