Why Was Lincoln Murdered?

By Otto Eisenschiml | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXVI The Case Against the Radicals

THE year 1864 arrived and with it a great change came over the administration. The time for dawdling was over; elections were approaching. Now was the moment to begin the war in earnest. First of all, Halleck had to be sidetracked. This was accomplished by appointing Grant lieutenant general, while the former chief of the armies was reduced to a mere figurehead and left to his own devices. By this time Lincoln himself admitted that, ever since Pope's defeat two years before, Halleck had been little more than a first-rate clerk.1 There was no stinting of men now. Stanton's biographers point with pride to Grant's testimony before the committee on the conduct of the war, given in May 1865, in which he gave credit to the Secretary of War for hearty co-operation.2 But this was only natural. The war had to come to an end some time.

Matters in the rear were not going quite so well as the Radicals had hoped. While the prolonged conflict and the hysterical outbursts of the administration press had produced a feeling of bitter hatred against the South, they had also swelled the ranks of those who wanted peace at any price. Unless a decided victory could be won in 1864, the Democrats might win the election, and all the bloodshed would go for nothing. Lincoln saw his pet plan of an overland attack on Richmond put into operation. He saw Grant lose in six weeks more men than Lee had in his entire army. After that the lieutenant general found himself almost exactly at the same spot on the James from which McClellan had

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1
Horace White, Life of Lyman Trumbull ( Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1913), p. 227
2
Flower, op. cit., p. 387

-360-

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