| This Country of Ours|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|Stories from the history of the United States beginning with a full account of exploration and settlement and ending with the presidency of Woodrow Wilson. The 99 chapters are grouped under 7 headings: Stories of Explorers and Pioneers, Stories of Virginia, Stories of New England, Stories of the Middle and Southern Colonies, Stories of the French in America, Stories of the Struggle for Liberty, and Stories of the United States under the Constitution. Ages 10-14 |
LINCOLN—FROM BULL RUN TO FORT DONELSON
 IN the midst of all this confusion the new President took his seat.
The Southerners were so angry that it was feared that Lincoln would
never be allowed to become President at all, but would be killed on
his way to Washington. Yet he himself felt no fear, and he journeyed
slowly from his home to Washington, stopping at many places, and
making many speeches on the way. Day by day, however, his friends
grew more and more anxious. Again and again they begged him to change
his plans and go to Washington by some other way. But Lincoln would
not listen to their entreaties. At length, however, they became so
insistent that he yielded to them.
So instead of proceeding as he had intended, he left his party
secretly, and with one friend turned back, and went to Washington
by a different route. The telegraph wires were cut, so that had any
traitor noticed this change of plan he could not tell his fellow
conspirators. Thus all unknown Lincoln stole silently into the
capital during the night. And great was the astonishment both of
friend and foe when it was discovered that he was there.
Almost the first thing Lincoln had to do was to send relief to Major
Anderson at Fort Sumter. So vessels were laden with food and sent
off to the gallant little band.
But as soon as the Southerners heard the news they determined to
take the fort before help could arrive. Soon a terrible bombardment
began. Half a hundred cannon
 roared against the fort, shells screamed
and fell, and the walls were quickly shattered. The barracks took
fire, and after two days it became utterly impossible to resist
So Major Anderson yielded, and with his brave company marched out
with all the honours of war.
War was now begun in real earnest, although strange to say, in spite
of the terrific firing, not a life had been lost on either side.
Both North and South now began to arm. But when the President
called for troops four states scornfully refused to obey. These were
Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia, and instead of
gathering troops to help the Government they joined the Confederates.
Richmond, Virginia, was chosen as the capital and Jefferson Davis
was made President of the Confederacy, which included eleven states.
In the west of Virginia, however, the people were loyal to the Union
and it was here that the first great battles of the war were fought.
Life in this part of Virginia which lay beyond the Alleghenies was
very different from life in Eastern Virginia. Western Virginia was
not a land suitable for slaves, and for a long time the people had
desired to part from Eastern Virginia. Now during the war they had
their wish, and West Virginia became a separate state. In June,
1863, it was admitted to the Union as the thirty-fifth state.
The war which had now begun was the most terrible ever fought on
American soil. For far more even than the War of Independence it
was a war of kindred. It made enemies of comrades and brothers. Men
who had been dear friends suddenly found themselves changed into
ruthless enemies, families even were divided against each other.
For four years this bitter war lasted, and counting all battles
great and small there were at least two thousand,
 so we cannot
attempt to follow the whole course of the great struggle.
The first blood was shed, strangely enough, on the anniversary
of the battle of Lexington. On that day some
Massachusetts soldiers were passing through Baltimore, when they
were attacked by the mob. Pistols were fired from the houses,
paving stones and bricks flew about. Several of the soldiers were
killed, many more were wounded; and to protect themselves they
fired on the mob, several of whom were killed also.
The greatest leader on the Federal side was General Ulysses S. Grant,
and next to him came William T. Sherman and Philip H. Sheridan.
But it was not until the war had been going on for some time that
these soldiers came to the front, and at first all the fortune was
on the side of the South.
General Albert S. Johnston was commander-in-chief of the Southern
army by the two most famous Southern leaders were Robert E.
Lee and Thomas J. Jackson. Jackson is best known by the nickname
of Stonewall, which he received at Bull Run in
first great battle of the war.
It seemed as if the Federals were winning the battle, and some
of the Confederates were driven backward. But Jackson and his men
"See!" cried a general, "there is Jackson standing like a stone
wall!" Thus Jackson got a new name, and the Confederates won the
"It was one of the best planned battles of the war," said Sherman
afterwards, "but one of the worst fought. Both armies were fairly
defeated, and whichever stood fast the other would have run."
Less than three weeks after Bull Run, the Federals met with another
disaster at Wilson's Creek in Missouri. Here
 after a desperate
and gallant fight, they were defeated, and General Nathaniel Lyon,
their brave leader, was killed.
These defeats were a great shock to the Federals. For they had
thought that the war would be a short affair of three months or
so, and that the Southern revolt would be easily put down. Now they
knew themselves mistaken, and pulling themselves together, prepared
for a long and bitter struggle.
For some months, however, after Bull Run and Wilson's Creek no
battle of importance was fought. Then in the beginning of 1862 the
war was carried into Kentucky where a stern fight for the great
navigable rivers which flow through the state began. For just as in
the War of Independence the holding of the Hudson Valley had been
of importance so now the holding of the Mississippi Valley was of
importance. If the Mississippi from Cairo to New Orleans could be
strongly held by the Federals, the Confederacy would be cut in two,
and thus greatly weakened. "The Mississippi," said Lincoln, "is
the backbone of the rebellion; it is the key of the whole situation."
But to get possession of this key was no easy matter. Early in
February two forts on the river Tennessee were taken by the Federals
under General Grant. Then they marched upon Fort Donelson, a large
and very strong fort on the Cumberland river. At the same time
Commander Andrew H. Foote sailed up the river with a little fleet
of seven gunboats to assist the army.
The weather was bitterly cold, and as the soldiers lay round the
fort tentless and fireless, a pitiless wind blew, chilling them
to the bone, and making sleep impossible. Foote with his gunboats
had not yet arrived, but in the morning the attack on land was begun.
Up the hill to the fort the Federals swept, only to be driven back
by the fierce Confederate fire. Again and again they charged. Again
and again they were driven back, leaving the
hill-  side strewn with
dead and dying. At length the dry leaves which covered the hillside
took fire. Choked by the smoke, scorched by the flames the men
could advance no more, and they sullenly retreated for the last
time. The attack had failed.
That night the gunboats arrived, and soon the bombardment from the
river began. But the firing from the fort was so fierce and well
placed that before long two of the boats were disabled, and floated
helplessly down the stream, and the others too withdrew till they
were out of range of the Confederate guns.
There was joy that night in Fort Donelson. By land and water the
Federals had been repulsed. The Confederates felt certain of victory.
But the Federals were by no means beaten, and next morning they
renewed the fight as fiercely as ever. Yet again the Confederates
swept all before them, and the right wing of the Federal army was
driven from its position and scattered in flight. Victory for the
Confederates seemed certain.
During this fight Grant had not been with the troops, for he had
gone down the river to consult with Foote, who had been wounded
the day before. About noon he returned, and when he heard of the
disaster his face flushed hotly. But he was a man who rarely lost
his temper, or betrayed his feelings. For a minute he was silent,
crushing some papers he held in his hand. Then in his usual calm voice
he said, "Gentlemen, the position on the right must be retaken."
And retaken it was.
General Charles F. Smith led the assault. He was an old soldier
who had fought under Zachary Taylor in Texas where "Smith's light
battalion" had become famous. White haired now, but still handsome
and erect, he rode this day in front of his troops, once and again
 head to cheer them onward. Bullets whizzed and screamed
about him, but he heeded them not.
"I was nearly scared to death," said one of his men afterwards,
"but I saw the old man's white moustache over his shoulder, and
Hotter and hotter grew the fire, and the men hesitated and wavered.
But the old general knew no fear. Placing his cap on the end of
his sword, he waved it aloft.
"No flinching now, my lads," he cried. "This is the way. Come on!"
And on they came, inspired by the fearless valour of the old soldier.
And when at length they had triumphantly planted their colours on
the lost position no efforts of the enemy could dislodge them.
Meanwhile another division under General Lew Wallace dashed up
another hill with splendid élan, and when night fell although the
fort was still untaken it was at the mercy of the attackers.
Supperless and fireless the Federals cheerfully bivouacked upon
the field, for they well knew that the morrow would bring them
victory. But within the fort there was gloom. Nothing was left
but surrender. It would be impossible to hold out even for half an
hour, said General Buckner, the best soldier, although the youngest
of the three generals in command. The other two generals agreed,
but declared that they would not stay to be made prisoner. So in
the night they silently crept away with their men.
Early next morning General Buckner, left alone in command, wrote
to Grant proposing a truce in order to arrange terms of surrender.
Grant's answer was short and sharp. "No terms except unconditional
and immediate surrender can be accepted," he said.
Bitter indeed were the feelings of the Confederate leader when
he received this reply. But there was nothing left to
 him but to
accept the terms. He was hopelessly outnumbered, and to fight longer
would only mean the throwing away of brave lives uselessly. So he
accepted what seemed to him the "ungenerous and unchivalrous terms"
which Grant proposed, and surrendered the fort with all its guns
and great stores of ammunition, and fourteen thousand men.
Up to this time Grant had hardly been heard of. He was a soldier
indeed, and had fought in the Mexican War. But eight years before
the outbreak of the rebellion he had left the army. During these
years he had tried in many ways to make a living, but had succeeded
in none, and at the beginning of the war he was almost a ruined
man. Now he became famous, and his short and sharp "unconditional
surrender" was soon a watchword in the Northern army. His initials
too being U. S. he became henceforth known as Unconditional Surrender
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