Tag archives: Civil War

Tredegar Iron Works

by Robert Morrison

May 6, 2013

I had a chance last week, for just a morning, to get away from Washington. For the first time, I saw the Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond, Virginia. Tredegar was the major foundry of the Confederacy. For four long years, this installation supplied the Army of Northern Virginia with artillery, cannonballs, and rifles. As we learned there, the location of the Tredegar Iron Works was a major factor in the Confederates choosing Richmond as their capital.

The events of April 2-4, 1865 are well documented and memorialized at the restored Tredegar Iron Works. There is a statue there—dedicated there in 2003—that features President Lincoln seated on a bench with his son, Tad. It commemorates the wartime visit of just one day of Lincoln to Richmond after the Confederate capital fell to Union forces. (The seated Lincoln is wearing not a bowtie, but a standard necktie. I’ve never seen Lincoln so attired. I’m sure that’s why there were scattered protests when the statue was unveiled.)

The original Mayo Bridge had burned on the night Richmond fell. Today, you can walk out over the James River on a partially restored structure that has an amazing series of quotes from people who were in Richmond during the terrible fire and drunken looting that accompanied the Confederate evacuation of the city.

Today, you can read what Mary Custis Lee, Mary Chesnut, and even Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee had to say on that historic occasion. You can read the exclamations of joy and thanksgiving from ex-slaves as they blessed the Lord and thanked Father Abraham for their liberation.

I was struck by one quote in particular: Written on the planks of the river walkway were these words of Abraham Lincoln to a jubilant crowd of freedmen:

My poor friends,’ he said, ‘you are free - free as air. You can cast off the name of slave and trample upon it; it will come to you no more. Liberty is your birthright. God gave it to you as he gave it to others, and it is a sin that you have been deprived of it for so many years…

This past week was the one hundred fiftieth anniversary not of Lincoln’s victorious one day visit to Richmond, but of his deepest dejection. The Sesquicentennial of the Battle of Chancellorsville (May 1-3, 1863) should not pass without notice from us. It was Robert E. Lee’s greatest victory.

Lincoln had issued a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation the previous September because he was advised to wait until he had a Union victory. Antietam had given him that opportunity. When the time came actually to sign the historic document, however, the Union had just suffered a grievous loss in December under commanding Gen. Ambrose Burnside at Fredericksburg. Wave after wave of bluecoats were mown down on December 13, 1862 by Gen. Lee’s troops secure behind stone defenses on Marye’s Heights. Lee memorably said then: “It is well that war is so terrible lest we grow too fond of it.”

After yet another futile effort—the infamous “Mud March” where his Union Army of the Potomac was bogged down in freezing rains, Burnside withdrew and Lincoln replaced him with Gen. Joseph “Fighting Joe” Hooker. Hooker had rashly called for a military dictatorship to remove the civilian leadership of the country. When he chose Hooker to lead the demoralized army, President Lincoln sternly told Hooker it was “in spite of this and not because of it that I have given you command.” Lincoln sagely told Hooker that only successful generals get to set up dictatorships. He asked of Hooker only one thing—victory—“and I will risk the dictatorship.”

Lincoln didn’t have to risk it long. Gen. Hooker was leaning on a column outside his Chancellorsville headquarters when a rebel artillery shot hit the column—stunning Hooker. He failed to relinquish command and led the Union to its second straight catastrophe.

Lee’s brilliant victory at Chancellorsville is still studied in military colleges around the world. He put the federals to flight. Gen. Stonewall Jackson’s corps formed the spear point that sowed panic amid the breakfasting Union soldiers, bursting out of the woodsand giving the rebel yell as many of the Yankees were still drinking their coffee.

But Lee’s greatest victory came with his most terrible loss. Stonewall Jackson was hit by friendly fire on the night of May 2, 1863 as he went out to inspect his lines. Jackson’s brother-in-law, Lt. Joseph Morrison, tried to stop the North Carolina troops from firing on their own men, to no avail. When Gen. Lee first heard that Stonewall Jackson was wounded, he knew only that the dour Presbyterian’s left arm was amputated. Even so, he said, “he has lost his left arm, but I have lost my right arm.”

At the Battle of Chancellorsville, one of the Union chaplains, Thomas L. Ambrose, stayed behind with the wounded and dying men of his regiment. In his book While God is Marching On, author Steven E. Woodworth tells us how Ambrose allowed himself to be taken prisoner by Gen. Lee’s forces so that he could pray for his men.

Chaplain Ambrose walked two and a half miles to the headquarters tent of the famous cavalry Gen. J.E.B. Stuart, begging for cornmeal for his wounded. Stuart sent him on to Gen. Lee’s tent.  Lee promised Chaplain Ambrose a wagonload of cornmeal. Knowing some of his boys wouldn’t last that long, the Union chaplain hefted a fifty-pound bag of meal on his back and walked back to his camp. Another Union prisoner of war wrote of him: “He was one of God’s Saints and I regard him as one of the heroes of Chancellorsville.”

The Obama administration recently welcomed a group of atheizers who want to court martial officers and enlisted personnel who share the Gospel with others. We can only imagine the reaction of these brave, faithful Civil War soldiers on both sides to such anti-American notions. This is certainly not the freedom that Abraham Lincoln defended and for which he laid down his life.

Corporal Gooding and Captain Lipps

by Robert Morrison

February 28, 2013

More than anything else, it was courage that changed history in the Civil War. Historians have tried for a century and a half to explain this incredible outbreak of violence in the middle of a century of progress and enlightenment. Author Shelby Foote famously told the makers of Ken Burns’s PBS series, The Civil War, that we Americans had failed at the one thing we prided ourselves on: our ability to compromise. Because neither side could yield, he said, it came to war. Mary Boykin Chesnut, the great Southern lady, said in her diary that the war came “because we hated each other so.”

In today’s cultural crisis, we are seeing some of these same dangerous emotions arise. Last summer, FRC was invaded and my friend, Leo Johnson, was shot by a young man who said that we were the haters. “It’s not you, man, it’s this place. It’s what it stands for,” said the assailant as he shot Leo. Let’s check the logic on that one: He thinks we hate, so he shoots Leo.

Maybe it’s the irrationality of our day and the feeling that, in Shakespeare’s words, “the time is out joint” that drives me increasingly to the past, to find inspiration and hope from the fact that here in America we once tore ourselves apart for four bloody years and yet still managed to bind up the nation’s wounds. We are stronger for it.

One of my friends is opposed to Black History Month. He says it only perpetuates the notion of a separate history for black Americans when, in fact, black folks have been here since 1619. Blacks were here to greet my earliest immigrant ancestors. There is literally no history of the United States apart from the history of black Americans. My friend, Gordon, should know. His ancestors fought in an Indiana Colored Regiment in the Civil War.

Corporal Henry Gooding fought in the first and most famous of these Colored units, Massachusetts’ 54th Regiment. Corporal Gooding was not an ex-slave. He was what was then called a free man of color. He had apparently been educated in Upstate New York (since Massachusetts raised the first black regiment, many a young man came from other Northern and Eastern states to rally to the colors.)

On the Altar of Freedom is a collection of Corporal Gooding’s reports from his unit. In the first part of the book, the corporal manages to make even camp routine—training, drilling, cleaning, cooking, and prayer meetings—sound attractive and interesting. One day, as the 54th is on parade, proudly bearing their 1853 Enfield rifles, a large group of civilians came out from Boston to watch. “I could not but put the question to myself, when I saw so many strong, able-bodied young men, why are you not here? Why come as spectators when there is ample chance for you to become actors? I felt a mingled feeling of joy and sorrow—joy, because I felt the men who stood as actors in the scene were superior, in the eyes of all patriotic men, to those who came to see the show; sorrow, for these men who had the effrontery to come here and look patronizingly upon those who are…going to secure them a home hereafter.” He doesn’t tell us whether the onlookers are white or black. It’s sufficient to know that Henry Gooding believes they have a duty to join the great Union cause.

Corporal Gooding’s letters are published in a Massachusetts newspaper under the heading of “Monitor.” A monitor is one who watches and guards. It was the name of the famous Union ironclad of 1862. From internal evidence, it seems that he had once been a sailor. He wrote poems about his travels to Muslim lands, to Scotland, England, and France. And, amazingly for that time, Corporal Gooding cites the Swiss philosopher, Vattel, one of those most referenced on human rights. Gen. Beauregard, the Confederate commander at Charleston, South Carolina, refers to Vattel in protesting Union assaults that destroyed private dwellings. Henry Gooding knows that millions of his fellow black Americans are being denied their liberty by Gen. Beauregard, so he is less than persuaded.

When Col. Robert Shaw, the white officer who led the 54th Regiment, was killed in the assault on Fort Wagner, his body is thrown in a ditch along with those of his fallen black soldiers. Gooding contrasts this unchivalrous treatment with the care Col. Shaw had taken to give a dead rebel officer a proper military burial. When his troops raise $1472 for a monument to Col. Shaw, Henry Gooding contributes, but he disagrees with its placement.

Amazingly, he writes “it would ill become us to flaunt our success by raising monuments to our fallen heroes on their soil.” Besides, he wants the Bay State to honor her favorite son. “[Massachusetts] was the first to say a black was a man, let her have the first monument raised by black men’s money, upon her good old rocks.”

This brave, literate and deeply feeling young Christian warrior, Corporal Gooding, died as a prisoner of war—in dreaded Andersonville.

The diary kept by my own ancestor, Capt. Jonas Alexander Lipps of the 50th Virginia infantry, is also a marvel. Uncle Jonas was in the Stonewall Brigade and took part in every famous battle up to May, 1864, when he was captured outside Chancellorsville.

Capt. Lipps was stabbed by a Union guard in the minutes after his capture. He pulled out the rifle and bayonet and ran it through the guard, killing him. Jonas was not harmed. The Union captain witnessed the incident and called it, rightly, self-defense.

Jonas was taken with 600 other Confederate officer prisoners and placed outside the Union batteries at Fort Morris, near Charleston, S.C., very near where Cpl. Gooding had served. In reprisal for the Confederates’ tying Union POWs to lampposts inside the city, Jonas and his brothers were tied up and subjected to “friendly fire” for 31 days.

Jonas’s diary entry tells of an amazing vision he sees while under fire.

September 21, 1864: On Morris Island the forenotes has give the particulars of the day. In good health by the help of God. Must make a note of my vision on last night more than ever experienced before in my dreams, I had a view of being at the assembly of my fathers family prayers and that I had a view of the solistial [celestial]home in heaven which I rejoiced in my sleeping dose. The view was beautiful for the hope of Mortal man. Surviving on this earth having the view death and departure of this life all viewed beautiful and inclined to go for the reward that is not made by hand of Mortal man but in his reach by humble submission before him who is able to save from all danger and the way is strait and may be found by the[h]umbleness of man by faith.

Facing death every day for a month, Jonas’s thoughts go to Heaven and his father’s house of prayer. He would not live to see his father again. Jonas at 24 died a prisoner at Camp Delaware, just three days after Appomattox.

Is this not the answer to the culture war we are in? We must struggle and prayerfully prevail, but we must remember men like Corporal Gooding and Captain Lipps, warriors on opposite sides, but both men of faith, love, and courage.

The Glory and Romance of Appomattox

by Family Research Council

April 9, 2012

When Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered on this date in 1865 to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, national legends were born. The ironies of that event astonished the country for generations. Fewer and fewer Americans can tell you what every schoolchild once knew about this event in our countrys past.

The National Archives building in Washington proclaims its purpose in stone. It was built to house evidences of the glory and romance of our history. Increasingly, its not just the evidences of our American past that are dismissed, but the very idea of glory and romance that is denied.

Get real, we are told. But Appomattox is real. A nation that tore itself apart for four bloody years conducted a surrender ceremony marked by not a single act designed to humiliate a defeated rebellion.

How bloody? Today, we speak of 9/11 in hushed tones. Or at least we should. A nation of almost 300 million lost 2,975 on that terrible September day. It was the worst act of domestic terrorism in our history. Millions of Americans learned that they knew someone who died that day, or at least knew a relative of one of the dead.

Imagine how much more horrible it would be for a nation of just 35 million to lose 630,000 lives. Add to that suffering of tens of thousands of young men maimed for life in battles that, as The Civil War narrator David McCullough tells us, were fought in 10,000 places throughout America.

You would think a thirst for vengeance would overcome some of the Union soldiers. They had marched through Virginia for four years. Many had seen their brothers, or best friends, blown to pieces by rebel artillery.

My great-great uncle, Capt. Jonas Lipps, fought in the Stonewall Brigade. He was taken prisoner by Union forces outside of Spotsylvania Courthouse in May, 1864. One of his Union guards lunged at him with a bayonet. Jonas jumped back, but was stabbed through the fleshy part of his arm. He pulled out the bayonet and ran the guard through, killing him with his own bayonet.

When other Union soldiers rushed to kill Jonas, the captain of the guards ordered them to cease: That rebel captain is unarmed; he was only defending himself. Leave him alone. Jonas survived the day, only to die a year later in a POW camp, just days before Appomattox and peace. But this story especially the evidence of justice and mercy shown by the captain of the guard should strengthen us today.

Appomattox was not the final event of the Civil War. Union Gen. William T. Sherman was still vigorously pursuing Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston through the Carolinas.

But Lees surrender meant that Johnstons defeat, and soon that of other Confederate forces, was only a matter of time.

At sea, amazingly, the CSS Shenandoah would continue to destroy Union commerce and raid Yankee whalers long after Appomattox. Without reliable communications, this feared Confederate warship would fight on for months. Only in November, 1865, did the Shenandoah end her struggles in Liverpool, England.

U.S. Grant had respect for Robert E. Lee, but he did not hold him in awe. Bobby Lee! Bobby Lee! Grant had once growled at his generals. Im tired of hearing about Bobby Lee. Youd think he was about to turn a somersault and land in our campfires. I want to know what we are going to do. Grant always believed the best defense was a good offense.

Grants drive to destroy Lees army was a brutal, costly affair. Grant had ordered a charge at Cold Harbor, Virginia, that cost 7,000 Union lives in 20 minutes. Twenty years later, in his justly famous Personal Memoirs, he would express regret for ever having given that order.

Grant had to live with being called a butcher. Its a strange charge, since Robert E. Lee is never called a butcher. Lee had sacrificed, proportionately, more of his brave young men than Grant had.

It would be wonderful if every American could go to Appomattox. It is especially beautiful there in springtime. The blossoms testify to new life and rebirth.

I had the privilege five years ago of taking a class of FRC interns to Appomattox in the spring. They had come from as far away as California.

I had not fully realized how remote this little Virginia village is. Leaving Appomattox, we headed toward Richmond. A heavy spring rain turned the dirt roads to mud. It was the same road Gen. Lee must have traveled after Appomattox.

I remember pressing intern Nathan Macy about the GPS route. Fearing that we were lost, I asked Nathan to double-check. He did and assured me we were on the correct road. Well, I told Nathan, Gen. Lee only came here once. And he was being chased.

Like a Pistol Shot at Lincoln Cottage

by Robert Morrison

April 15, 2011

I was furiously scribbling notes as author James Swanson lectured last night at the Lincoln Cottage. He was speaking about his wonderful new book, Bloody Crimes: The he Chase for Jefferson Davis and the Death Pageant for Lincolns Corpse. The room was filled with listeners paying rapt attention as the sun set over the home where Abraham Lincoln drafted the Emancipation Proclamation. Last night was the anniversary of Lincolns assassination in 1865. One year ago, I was at the Newseum, also taking notes as James Swanson lectured on his earlier book, Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincolns Killer.

It should be clear I am a great admirer of this writers work. But in his lecture, Swanson offered an observation that stunned me as much as if he had fired John Wilkes Booths bulldog derringer above our heads:

He said: I regard Thomas Jefferson as the biggest hypocrite in American History.

What a terrible statement. And worse, the audience members nodded their approval of this stunning statement. From the Obama stickers proudly displayed on most of the newer luxury cars in the parking lot, I knew this was a pretty liberal crowd.

My first response to James Swanson, this serious Lincoln scholar is that Abraham Lincoln didnt think that. Lincoln said this:

All honor to Jeffersonto the man who, in the concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people, had the coolness, forecast, and capacity to introduce into a merely revolutionary document, an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times, where it continues to stand as a rebuke and a stumbling block to the very harbingers of reappearing tyranny and oppression.

If the Great Emancipator thought that, it might be worthwhile to know why. Young Thomas Jefferson was distraught when fellow delegates to the Second Continental Congress cut out of his draft of the Declaration of Independence a stinging indictment of King George III. The king had repeatedly vetoed colonial attempts to end the African Slave Trade. Jefferson told Franklin his draft had been mutilated.

Jefferson didnt stop there. As a congressman, he offered an amendment that would have banned slavery from all U.S. territory west of the Appalachian Mountains. That bill failed by just one vote. Heaven itself was silent in that awful moment, Jefferson later wrote in anguish.

It wasnt a total loss, however, The Northwest Ordinance did pass Congress and it did contain a ban on slavery north of the Ohio River. But the failed Jefferson measure was far more extensive than even this great charter of freedom.

Jeffersons only book, Notes on Virginia, was published while he served as our ambassador in France. In it, Jefferson denounces slavery as tyranny, as a school for tyranny that corrupts the slaveholder as much as it debases the slave. Jefferson argues powerfully that slavery is morally wrongand tells us he trembles for his country when he reflects that God is just and His justice cannot sleep forever. [It should be candidly admitted that Jefferson also introduces some of the worst language on racial differences in this book. Decades later, black inventor and author Benjamin Banneker took Jefferson to task for these writings, and rightly so.]

Still, in the Notes on Virginia, Thomas Jefferson tells us, almost as an aside, that Northerners though they have few slaves among them, are great carriers of slaves to others.

Lincoln surely had read those words. They are chilling. Jefferson does not morally condemn his northern countrymen, but we should all know what his terrible words mean.

William Wilberforce campaigned for twenty years to get rid of the Slave TradeJefferson called it that execrable trafficin the British Empire. Jefferson fully supported his efforts.

The film Amazing Grace shows Wilberforce standing on the dcck of the slave ship Madagascar. He tells Londoners that this ship left West Africa with six hundred slaves and arrived in the British West Indies seven weeks later with only two hundred slaves surviving.

The worst Southern plantation in the bondsmans two hundred fifty years of unrequited toil could not have written such a record of horror. Novelist Patrick OBrien has his famous Captain Jack Aubrey respond to teasing from his best friend Stephen Maturin that Lucky Jack is getting fat. You know I cant swim here, Stephen, these are slave waters.

What does that mean? It means the slave traders regularly threw overboard living and dead Africans—and the sharks gathered.

This is what they call the horrors of the Middle Passage. Those were not Southerners manning those slave ships. They were Yankees from New England.

Reading those words, Lincoln would have known they were true. This is doubtless why, Lincoln, almost alone among Northern men, never plays the Pharisee. He is not self-righteous in his opposition to slavery.

Jefferson the President urged Congress to move early to ban the Slave Trade. In one of the unfortunate compromises necessary to gain ratification of the Constitution, Congress had to wait twenty years from adoption to ban the African Slave Trade.

President Jefferson in December 1806 called upon Congress in his State of the Union Message to act and act soon. Dont wait until January 1, 1808, he pleaded. Pass the ban now so that slave ships will not even start for America if they know they will arrive after the cutoff date.

Jefferson denounced the Slave Trade as a violation of the human rights of unoffending Africans. That is the strongest anti-slavery language used by any president prior to Abraham Lincoln.

And it inspired both Lincoln and the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Douglass honored Jefferson and powerfully quoted him, saying one hour of American slavery was worse than all the ages of British oppressions.

Yes, it is true that Jefferson failed to free the nearly two hundred human beings he held in slavery throughout his long life. Monticello was deeply in debt and Jefferson was unable to extricate himselfas the Great Washington had donefrom the serpents coils.

When I took our many FRC interns to Monticello for years, I would stand on Mr. Jeffersons lawn and make the point that George Will was wrong. Thomas Jefferson lived as free men ought to live, Will famously wrote. No, I would say, John Adams lived as free men ought to live. He never freed his slaves because he never had any.

Still, I honor Jeffersons memory as the man who powerfully taught us all why slavery was wrong, and who banned the African Slave Trade.

My question to James Swanson and to those pleasant folks chatting over wine and cheese at Lincoln Cottage is this:

If Thomas Jefferson was a hypocrite for denying two hundred human beings their inalienable right to liberty, what are we when every day in America we deny three thousand human beings unborn children—their right to Life?

O Moody Tearful Night—April 14-15, 1865

by Robert Morrison

April 15, 2011

Author James L. Swanson could not have chosen a better place, a better time to discuss his wonderful book, Bloody Crimes: The Chase for Jefferson Davis and the Death Pageant for Lincolns Corpse. He appeared last night on the anniversary of Lincolns assassination at the Lincoln Cottage, located on the grounds of Washingtons Soldiers Home. This beautifully restored Victorian summer home was a refuge for Abraham, Mary, and Tad Lincoln for three summers1862, 1863, and 1864while they occupied the White House. They first sought quiet and solitude there following the death of their beloved 11-year old son, Willie.

James Swansons book is a gem. He takes us on the long, last mournful way of the Lincoln Funeral Train throughout its 1,600-mile journey from Washington to Springfield.

Even for many of us Civil War buffs and Lincoln students, Swansons book is a goldmine of information. With a novelists keen eye for detail, Swanson even takes us behind the scenes in the White House as the autopsy is conducted on the presidents 64 body. Skilled surgeons take out his brain. Weighing it, they are surprised to find it is of normal size. The author doesnt like Mary Lincoln much. Swanson details her irrationality, her extravagant grief, her grasping for money, and the fact that she never comes out of her darkened room for the funeral, or even to view her husbands embalmed body.

We are there at the train station early on the morning of Friday, April 21st as the body of the slain president is escorted from the Capitol where it had lain in state. It was Lincoln who decreed that the Capitol dome should be completed, despite the fiery trial of civil war, as a symbol of Union. Philip Reid had been a slave when he showed architects and builders how carefully to uncrate the Statue of Freedom. By an Act of Congresssigned by Abraham LincolnPhilip and all his black brothers and sisters in the capital were free when that 19-foot statue was finally raised to the pinnacle.

We can almost hear the hissing of the locomotive and see the jets of steam cover the tracks as they lift the presidents coffin onto the special train. It is decorated with flags of the Union, with the presidential seal, and with black crepe. Waiting for his fathers coffin to be brought on board is the smaller coffin of Willie, the Lincolns 11-year old son whose body rested in Oak Hill cemetery for the past three years.

One million Americans viewed Lincolns body as it wended its way home. Seven million came out to lay flowers on the tracks and to watch, hat in hand, as the presidential train passes by. Nothing like this had ever happened in America before. It was as if the entire North had come out to weep and mourn for the first president to be assassinated. They wept as well for the three hundred fifty thousands soldiers in blue who had died defending the Union. Those soldiers and their surviving brothers gave their commander-in-chief the name Father Abraham. They also gave him their votes in 1864.

Swanson describes the progress of the funeral train as a ribbon of flame spooling out across the land.

James Swanson not only gives us a loving and heartbreaking picture of the Lincoln Funeral Train, he also brings Confederate President Jefferson Davis back from the dead and may single-handedly rescue him from obscurity.

The author challenged his Lincoln Cottage audience to consider America in 1858, just two years before the meteoric rise of Illinois Star of the West. If Americans had been asked to guess who the next president would be in 1858, Sen. Jefferson Davis of Mississippi would not have seemed a dark horse. West Pointer, hero of the Mexican War, outstanding Secretary of War, Congressman and Senator, Davis had traveled extensively in the North and was respected throughout the Union.

But Jefferson Davis had also demanded a federal slave code for the territories. When Northern anti-slavery men refused that demand, first the Democratic Party broke up, then the Union itself was put in mortal danger.

Our hearts are engaged for Jefferson and Varina Davis as their beloved son Joe falls from a porch at the Confederate White House in Richmond. Jeff, Jr., the little boys brother, cries out in anguish: but God will not wake Joe. That was 1864. Imagine what a wrenching experience it must have been to order the evacuation of Richmond a year later, and leave your sons body behind.

Varina Davis comes through as a true Southern lady, faithful, brave, and intelligent. She supports her husband loyally. Never does she embarrass him, as poor unstable Mary Lincoln repeatedly does Abraham.

When federal troopers finally capture Jefferson Daviss fleeing party of thirtyhe once had thousands in his entouragehe is subjected to gross indignities. By this time, Lincoln has been dead for two weeks. Instantly, despicable lies spread throughout the country: Davis has been taken prisoner dressed in womens clothes. Vengeful President Andrew Johnson stands by as Jefferson Davis is taken to Fort Monroe.

Might this bad mans malice toward one actually have saved Daviss life? We know that many embittered Southerners revered Robert E. Lee and blamed Jefferson Davis for their defeat. And theres a good case for that idea. Swanson informs us that two hundred people were lynched in the North for gloating at Lincolns death. Might there have been even more in the South who hated Davis?

Daviss dignity in captivityand his rage at being manacledwon him respect North and South. He soon became a martyr to the Lost Cause. His wifes tireless efforts to free him bore fruit in 1867.

Swansons book gives us Daviss long life after Appomattox. Its an amazing American story. Daviss train trip as a frail old man elicits an overwhelming outpouring of emotion in the South. He was manacled for us, is the sign on his train.

Swanson tells us he is a Lincoln man through and through and in this, his loving tribute to the Lincoln Funeral Train, he certainly proves it. But he shows that you can love and revere Lincolns memory and still respect Jefferson Davis.

I never before had such respect for the man who was described by Sam Houston as cold as a serpent and proud as Lucifer. Swanson does give us more than a hint of the great issues that led to 620,000 American deaths. When Jefferson Davis is urged to head for Texas to continue the rebellion, he says he cannot go through his home state of Mississippi. Every Negro in the state knows me, he tells his fellow Confederates. For sure, the former slaves knew him as a kindly, Christian man.

But the fact that they would readily turn him over to Federal forcesand he knew thatproves that slavery was hardly the positive good for black people that John C. Calhoun and his successor Jefferson Davis said it was. Lincoln had demolished that line of argument. Though volumes have been written to prove the good of slavery, Lincoln said, but we seldom see a man seek the good of it by becoming a slave himself.

James Swanson in this excellent book, and in his earlier work, Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincolns Killer, gives us a vivid portrait of those tumultuous times. The Civil War Sesquicentennial on which we are embarked commemorates the 150th anniversary of those defining days. James Swansons work is indispensable. He takes us through that moody, tearful night of the Lincoln assassination and beyond.