Abraham Lincoln: Letters to His Generals, 1861-1865

By Brett F. Woods | Go to book overview

CORRESPONDENCE: 18631

To General H. W. Halleck, Executive Mansion, Wash-
ington, January 1, 1863.2

Major General Halleck:

Dear Sir—General Burnside wishes to cross the Rappahannock with his army, but his grand division commanders all oppose the movement. If in such a difficulty as this you do not help, you fail me precisely in the point for which I sought your assistance You know what General Burnside’s plan is, and it is my

1 While the actual text is not included here, it should be noted that Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, as the nation approached its third year of bloody civil war. The proclamation declared “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.” Despite this expansive wording, the Emancipation Proclamation was limited in many ways. It applied only to states that had seceded from the Union, leaving slavery untouched in the loyal border states. It also expressly exempted parts of the Confederacy that had already come under Northern control. Most important, the freedom it promised depended upon Union military victory. Although the Emancipation Proclamation did not end slavery in the nation, it captured the hearts and imagination of millions of Americans and fundamentally transformed the character of the war. After January 1, 1863, every advance of federal troops expanded the domain of freedom. Moreover, the Proclamation announced the acceptance of black men into the Union Army and Navy, enabling the liberated to become liberators. By the end of the war, almost 200,000 black soldiers and sailors had fought for the Union and freedom. (National Archives 2012)

2 In the end, Halleck’s moral and official courage, however, failed the President in this emergency. He declined to give his military opinion, and asked to be relieved from further duties as general-in-chief. This left Lincoln no option, and still having need of the advice of his general-in-chief on other questions, he indorsed on his own letter, “withdrawn because considered harsh by General Halleck.” The complication, however, continued to grow worse, and the correspondence more strained. Burnside declared that the country had lost confidence in both the Secretary of War and the general-in-chief; also, that his own generals were unanimously opposed to again crossing the Rappahannock. Halleck, on the contrary, urged another crossing, but that it must be made on Burnside’s own decision, plan, and responsibility. (Nicolay 2008, 119)

-145-

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Abraham Lincoln: Letters to His Generals, 1861-1865
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Table of Contents xi
  • Editor’s Note 1
  • Civil War Chronology1 3
  • Prologue- Abraham Lincoln’s War 9
  • Strategic Perspectives- The War of 1861 13
  • Correspondence- 1861 29
  • Strategic Perspectives- The War of 1862 39
  • Correspondence- 1862 57
  • Strategic Perspectives- The War of 1863 127
  • Correspondence- 18631 145
  • Strategic Perspectives- The War of 1864–1865 215
  • Correspondence- 1864–1865 227
  • Epilogue 275
  • Works Cited 279
  • Index 289
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