Featuring Terry Tucker performing Abraham Lincoln’s favorite song “Twenty Years Ago”
VIDEO: Abe & Henrietta – 2 Full Measures of Devotion (2) by Jim Surkamp.
October 3rd – The Day The Laughter Stopped youtu.be/fikMpMVPjM0 TRT: 17:24.
POST: Abe & Henrietta – 2 Full Measures of Devotion (2) by Jim Surkamp.
October 3rd – The Day The Laughter Stopped
civilwarscholars.com/?p=12842 3689 words.
Abe & Henrietta – 2 Full Measures of Devotion (2) by Jim Surkamp
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1_Abe & Henrietta 2 Full Measures of Devotion
October 3rd – The Day The Laughter Stopped
2_October 3rd The Day The Laughter Stopped
When the sun rose Oct. 3rd Friday,
3_President Lincoln strode out
President Lincoln strode out to review soldiers around the Antietam battle site, having nearly ascertained what he wanted most. He seemed to want to know the exact size and
4_exhortations to Gen. McClellan
condition of the army to buttress his exhortations to Gen. McClellan that McClellan should really be doing something,
5_such as taking the battle to Gen. Lee
such as taking the battle to Gen. Lee’s recuperating troops across the river – before they got off scot-free and continued to wage war.
6_being carried to Lee by Heros Von Borcke
7_left the Grove Farm just a few short hours
The news of Lincoln’s secret, unannounced visit was already being carried to Lee by Heros Von Borcke of J.E.B. Stuart’s staff who left the Grove Farm just a few short hours before Lincoln arrived there.
Gen. Lee had ordered Von Borcke to, as a pretext, take papers to McClellan and negotiate
9_the exchange of prisoners just captured
the exchange of prisoners just captured two days earlier by Stuart’s cavalry from a battle southwest of Shepherdstown. His real mission, von Borcke later wrote, was to “employ all my diplomacy to obtain a large insight into (McClellan’s) positions . . .” – which he did.
11_noted the sumptuous feast being readied
10_Von Borcke, a man of big appetites
11_noted the sumptuous feast being readied
Von Borcke, a man of big appetites, noted the sumptuous feast being readied in the front yard of the Grove Farm and was shoo’ed away back to Virginia – even as Federals were
12_from a moored, high hot air balloon
aiming spyglasses from a moored, high hot air balloon in the direction of Harper’s Ferry, Lincoln’s previous visit.
13_Confederate Col. Edwin Gray Lee
Confederate Col. Edwin Gray Lee, one of those captured by the 8th Illinois’ raid into Shepherdstown on September 25th, also brought the news of Lincoln’s visit back to his
14_mother, Henrietta Bedinger Lee
mother, Henrietta Bedinger Lee, at Bedford outside Shepherdstown. While held
15_dined attentively with George Armstrong Custer
prisoner, Lee had dined attentively with George Armstrong Custer and other officers, who were all encamped at the same Grove Farm.
16_Von Borcke would report to Generals Lee and Jackson
Von Borcke would report to Generals Lee and Jackson that the Federal army soldiers “were well dressed, and had the look of being well fed; their arms were in excellent condition; and the whole of their cantonments spoke of a high degree of military discipline.” He would note to himself: “the absence of which I had so often regretted in our own bivouacs.” – Von Borcke, p. 281.
17_After hearing Von Borcke’s report in his tent
After hearing Von Borcke’s report in his tent at Bunker Hill early on the morning of October 3rd – as Lincoln was also rising with Ozias Hatch to bed-check Federal troops near the Grove Farm – Gen. Lee must have concluded that a Lincoln visit presaged imminent movement by the large, rested and prepared Federal army. To confound any such advance and perhaps to yet have a pro-Confederate impact on the outcome of a rapidly approaching Congressional election for the North, Lee issued
18_orders to Gen. Stuart to lead 1800 cavalrymen
orders to Gen. Stuart to lead 1800 cavalrymen on a dangerous, defiant mission, to ride and loot entirely around McClellan’s army, terrorizing the populace throughout Pennsylvania and Maryland. And that Stuart did with elan from Thursday, October 9th and until they returned Sunday, October 12th.
Lincoln Sees the Army on October 3rd:
On the morning of October 3rd, Lincoln was reviewing men of the Ninth Corp under Gen.
20_near the Antietam bridge, the one that Burnside’s men had
Ambrose Burnside in the area near the Antietam bridge, the one that Burnside’s men had finally taken in the final climactic hours of the Antietam battle on September 17th.
Lincoln was still keeping the staff in stitches with stories that morning, delaying the review by two hours, wrote Gen. Jacob Cox:
21_wrote Gen. Jacob Cox:
We were ordered to be under arms by eight o’clock, but it was more than two hours after that . . . The officers were very hilarious over some grotesque story which Mr. Lincoln had seasoned the conversations . . . The usual march in review was omitted for lack of time, the President contenting himself with riding along the lines formed in parade.
22_onward in the ambulance train to the heart of the fiercest fighting
23_Cornfield and along Hagerstown Pike
(Then it was onward in the ambulance train to the heart of the fiercest fighting at the Cornfield and along Hagerstown Pike, where Generals Hooker and Sumner’s men “saw the elephant” – a soldier’s term for seeing en face war’s horrors.- JS)
I was with the party of officiers invited by McClellan to accompany the President in a ride over the route which Sumner had followed in battle. We crossed the Antietam in front of Keedysville, followed the hollows and byways to the East wood, and passed through this and the cornfields which had been the scene of Hooker’s and Mansfield’s fierce fighting. – Cox, pp. 364-365.
Awaiting Lincoln along the Hagerstown Pike were calvary units including the 8th Illinois Cavlary, the unit of Abner Hard:
All the troops were ordered out to be reviewed by President Lincoln and General McClellan. The ground chosen was that part of the battlefield where Generals Hooker and Sumner had fought. Our brigade was drawn up in line near the Hagerstown
26_surrounded on all sides by numberless graves, filled with the dead
turnpike; surrounded on all sides by numberless graves, filled with the dead of the recent battles.
27_The President appeared dressed in citizen’s clothes, wearing a high crowned hat
After standing two or three hours, the review commenced. The President appeared dressed in citizen’s clothes, wearing a high crowned hat, his long, lean figure contrasting strangely with the compact form of General McClellan. As they approached, the battery belched forth its thunders in a grand salute; where, but in a few days before, it was dealing death to traitors. The
28_all returned thankfully to camp
review being ended, all returned thankfully to camp. – Hard – pp. 195-196.
Rufus Dawes of the 6th Wisconsin Volunteers, also watched from his position in line:
29_Rufus Dawes of the 6th Wisconsin Volunteers
30_The line was formed in almost the position occupied by the army
The line was formed in almost the position occupied by the army of General Lee at the opening of the battle. We had about two hundred and fifty men in our ranks at this review. Our battle flags were tattered, our clothing worn, and our appearance that of men who had been through the most trying service. Mr. Lincoln has said that he staked the question of publishing his
31_Proclamation of Emancipation
Proclamation of Emancipation upon the result of this battle. Recognizing Antietam as a victory, he had issued his preliminary paper of September 22nd, 1862, and he now visited the bloody field, where under the gracious favor of God, to whom he had appealed, we had defeated the invasion of the North, and made it possible for him to proclaim the purpose of our
32_Mr. Lincoln was manifestly touched at the worn appearance
government to emancipate all slaves in the territory that was in rebellion. Mr. Lincoln was manifestly touched at the worn appearance of our men, and he, himself, looked serious and careworn. He bowed low in reponse to the salute of our tattered flags. As I sat upon my horse in front of the regiment, I caught a glimpse of Mr. Lincoln’s face, which has remained
33_Compared with the small figure of General McClellan, who, with jaunty air and somewhat gaudy appearance
photographed upon my memory. Compared with the small figure of General McClellan, who, with jaunty air and somewhat gaudy appearance, cantered along beside him, Mr. Lincoln seemed to tower as a giant. – Dawes p. 100.
The amiable Lincoln, who had officers in stitches laughing into the night the very night before at headquarters – with his mimickry, well-honed stories, and the frantic orchestra of odd sleight of hand and flapping elbows – was subdued from absorbing the grim realities.
34_Re-boarding a cramped ambulance
Re-boarding a cramped ambulance with life long sidekick, Ward Lamon, Lincoln asked Lamon to sing him out of the gloom. Lincoln called for his favorite song “Twenty Years Ago” about a lost love. And he may have, involuntarily, recalled the beautiful voice of his
35_fiancee, Anne Rutledge
once 22-year old fiancee, Anne Rutledge, a hymn which he often asked her to sing, before she died of typhoid fever:
36_Vain man, thy fond pursuits forbear
(Verse used in video)
Vain man, thy fond pursuits forbear;
Repent, thine end is nigh;
Death, at the farthest, can’t be far:
O think before thou die.
Reflect, thou hast a soul to save;
Thy sins, how high they mount!
What are thy hopes beyond the grave?
How stands that dark account?
Death enters, and there’s no defense;
His time there’s none can tell;
He’ll in a moment call thee hence,
To Heav’n, or down to hell.
(Verse used in video)
Thy flesh, perhaps thy greatest care,
Shall into dust consume;
But, ah! destruction stops not there;
Sin kills beyond the tomb.
37_His deep recesses had a basement in the twilight beside Anne Rutledge
His deep recesses had a basement in the twilight beside Anne Rutledge’s grave, where Lincoln once said, “Here my heart is buried also.” This song – among the most sacred – stayed through time and helped inspire him to give his last full measure of devotion.
Lamon remembers that three-mile ride to Bakersville to the north:
38_Lamon remembers that three-mile ride
Mr. Lincoln had said to me, “Lamon, sing one of your little sad songs,” — I knew well what Mr. Lincoln meant by “the little sad songs.” The sentiment that prompted him to call for such a song had its history, and one of deep and touching interest to me. One “little sad song ” — a simple ballad entitled “Twenty Years Ago”— was, above all others, his favorite.
Many a time, in the old days of our familiar friendship on the Illinois circuit, and often at the White House when he and I were alone, have I seen him in tears while I was rendering, in my poor way, that homely melody. The late Judge David Davis, the Hon. Leonard Swett, and Judge Corydon Beckwith were equally partial to the same ballad. Often have I seen those great men overcome by the peculiar charm they seemed to find in the sentiment and melody of that simple song.
“Twenty Years Ago”
(Performed and interpreted on video by Terry Tucker)
40_I’ve wandered to the village, Tom
I’ve wandered to the village, Tom
I’ve sat beneath the tree
Upon the schoolhouse playing ground
Which sheltered you and me
But none were there to greet me, Tom
And few were left to know
That played with us upon the grass
Some twenty years ago
41_The spring that bubbled ‘neath the hill
(Verse not used)
The spring that bubbled ‘neath the hill
Close by the spreading beech
Is very low; ’twas once so high
That we could almost reach
And kneeling down to get a drink
Dear Tom, I started so
To see how much that I was changed
Since twenty years ago
42_Near by the spring, upon an elm
(Verse not used)
Near by the spring, upon an elm
You know I cut your name
Your sweetheart’s just beneath it, Tom
And you did mine the same
Some heartless wretch had peeled the bark
‘Twas dying sure but slow
Just as that one, whose name was cut
Died twenty years ago
43_My lids have long been dry, dear Tom
My lids have long been dry, dear Tom
But tears came in my eyes
I thought of her I loved so well
Those early-broken ties
I visited the old churchyard
And took some flowers to strew
Upon the graves of those we loved
Some twenty years ago
44_Some now are in the churchyard laid
Some now are in the churchyard laid
Some sleep beneath the sea
But few are left of our old class
Excepting you and me
And when our time shall come, dear Tom
And we are called to go
I hope they’ll lay us where we played
Just twenty years ago
45_Just twenty years ago
Lincoln and his party eventually arrived at the camp site of Gen. Franklin’s Sixth Corps near Bakersville. The soldiers in review watched him closely.
46_site of Gen. Franklin’s Sixth Corps near Bakersville
Col. Joshua Chamberlain, later a great hero of Maine, recalled:
47_we were sure to see him, slow-riding through camp
Always after a great battle, and especially disaster, we were sure to see him, slow-riding through camp, with outward or inward-searching eyes, questioning and answering heart. We could see the deep sadness in his face, and feel the burden on his heart, thinking of his great commission to save this people, and knowing that he could do this no otherwise than he had been doing, . . . the devotion, the sufferings and the thousand deaths, of those into whose eyes his were looking. How he shrunk from the costly sacrifice we could see; and we took him into our hearts with answering sympathy, and gave him our pity in return. – Chamberlain, pp. 73-74. (327-328).
48_the entourage bumpily returned to the Grove Farm
Then Lincoln and McClellan, Lamon and the entourage bumpily returned to the Grove Farm after a very long, hot, and dusty day.
49_after a very long, hot, and dusty day
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