Inside the White House in War Times: Memoirs and Reports of Lincoln's Secretary

By William O. Stoddard; Michael Burlingame | Go to book overview

Pictures and Reports

Pictures, did you say? Memory pictures of things which took place here? What are some of the prettiest? It is not very easy to say. There are something like a million of them. There was one that came to mind, just now, from a year ago last winter. There has been, from the beginning, such a rush and crowding and grasping after appointments and promotions, and it is all but swinish, just now!

The picture? It is in the middle reception-room, below, and it is an evening brilliant with uniforms. A slender, pleasant-faced gentleman, in full uniform as a naval officer, is chatting for a moment with Mrs. Lincoln, and then he turns, with the hearty freedom of something like old personal friendship, but before he can speak, your own hand goes out to him.

"Good evening, Admiral Dahlgren. How do you do?"

"What! Is that so? I had not expected it. I had not thought--"

"The nomination went in late to-day, but it is all right, Admiral!"

"The President did it out of his own head," he says, with a face flushed with pride and surprise.

"You are thinking of the way the boy made the fiddle, and he had wood enough left to make another?"

"You are not respectful to either the admiral or Mr. Lincoln--"

"Oh, yes, I am, Mrs. Lincoln. He has chosen the best kind of timber this time--real live-oak!"

The newly made admiral is really so affected that he bows and walks away, for he has been bitterly abused and misrepresented in some quarters, and this is the President's verdict in his favor, closing the mouths of the detractors under whose attacks the gallant but sensitive sailor was writhing. You are especially pleased about it, for in the days when he commanded at the Navy Yard your visits there always carried you to the quarters for luncheon, and for a chat about guns and ships.

-127-

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