LINCOLN'S DECISION to adopt emancipation as a Union war aim did not solve either his political or his military problems. To the contrary, his action alienated many northern Democrats from the war effort, failed to mollify his Republican critics, and created deep divisions both at home and within the army's ranks. At the same time, Northerners became increasingly despondent over the Union's military failures and the war's mounting death toll; desertions from the army peaked; and Union generals openly carped at one another and denounced the government.
The only bright news from the front as the new year began was General William Rosecrans's victory at Stones River in Tennessee after a ferocious two-day battle. “I can never forget,” Lincoln later told the general, that “… you gave us a hard earned victory which, had there been a defeat instead, the nation could scarcely have lived over.” But Rosecrans, resenting the president's suggestions for new movements, made no effort to follow up his victory, and gloom again gripped the northern home front, making the winter of 1862–63 the North's Valley Forge. As he approached the midpoint of his term, Lincoln confronted growing criticism over his domestic and military policies.
BY NOW LINCOLN'S daily activities followed a general routine. He was an early riser and began work before breakfast. Never much interested in food, he ate a light breakfast then returned to work in the east wing of the White House. Around one he had lunch, which he sometimes skipped. On Tuesday and Friday the cabinet met at noon. He spent the rest of the afternoon at work, going over various matters