Book Chat
Lincoln At Gettysburg
The Words That Remade America
Garry Wills

This chat took place in the Civil War Home Chatroom on 11/28/05 and covered the Epilogue and Appendices I & II. 

11/28/2005 8:59 pm (et) ks: Then let's make it OFFICIAL. :)
Tonight we cover the Epilogue and Appendices I. and II. Epilogue is first in order and was an interesting section covering the Gettysburg Address as well as the Second Inaugural and how they together expressed the mind of Lincoln. Reactions to the Epilogue??

11/28/2005 9:03 pm (et) Basecat: Will post my vent first before my thoughts on the Epilogue. Maybe it is just me, but I Hate, and yes I used the H word, when authors are making a point, and then sum it up using a foreign language. Wills has done this quite a bit in this book, and to me it seems his audience knows French as well. I know some Spanish, some Croatian, and I brutalize the English language, but at least I try to explain myself when folks don't understand. Just HATE that crap, and have no idea why authors continue to do that, especially when writing CW books.

11/28/2005 9:04 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Some of Wills analysis of Lincoln stems from Lincoln's early years - and I can't help but think what a different man Lincoln was by the time he wrote the Gettysburg Address.

11/28/2005 9:05 pm (et) ks: Interesting. I know what you refer to Basecat. My reaction/thought process was different however. I read it and thought "Huh, must be better described in Latin, French, German, whatever." Didn't really bother me aside from the fact that I wondered if I'd have time to look up the word/phrase and read its literal translation.

11/28/2005 9:06 pm (et) Basecat: amhg..You could always see the change in the photos, but agree you can see the changes in how he wrote as well.

11/28/2005 9:07 pm (et) Basecat: ks...I bought his book, I should not have to look up his foreign language references. :)

11/28/2005 9:07 pm (et) ks: Good point, AHG. That brings to mind something I so appreciated in the Epilogue. On 180-181 there's that wonderful description of the "inner dynamics of war" from Lincoln that was written in '63...written in the year of Gettysburg. That really struck me.

11/28/2005 9:08 pm (et) ks: Spread your wings, be more FLEXIBLE and open, Basekatchka. ;) ;)

11/28/2005 9:08 pm (et) Basecat: That and the fact that finding out the Everett speech was next week, just did not make Esteban a happy hombre this evening..:)

11/28/2005 9:09 pm (et) Basecat: Epilogue also supports what I have always thought here, that he used the GB Address when writing out his second inaugural.

11/28/2005 9:10 pm (et) mobile_96: I also wish Wills had given more of the references from Lincoln's Collected works than from Fehrenbacker's book.

11/28/2005 9:11 pm (et) Basecat: Mobile...Same here. He relied too heavily on it, and am guessing he does because that is what he agreed with.

11/28/2005 9:12 pm (et) mobile_96: I checked Fehrenbacker's book on amazon and its running almost 100 bucks, kinda outa my range presently

11/28/2005 9:12 pm (et) Basecat: Other thing that struck me about the Epilogue, I would really like to do a chat on the White book on the 2nd Inaugural...but I digress.

11/28/2005 9:13 pm (et) amhistoryguy: I had the same thought Basecat.

11/28/2005 9:13 pm (et) ks: No response to his analysis of war? I thought that was fascinating. :) As Wills said, that was from a man with no illusions about war's nobility.

11/28/2005 9:14 pm (et) ks: Same thought on what? Do you mean doing a chat on the book on the 2nd Inaugural? If so...I'm in! ;)

11/28/2005 9:14 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Yes

11/28/2005 9:15 pm (et) ks: Wills states in the Epilogue:
"Lincoln's distinctive mark, one almost unique in the history of war leadership, was his refusal to indulge in triumphalism, righteousness, or vilification of the foe." Thoughts on that, anyone?

11/28/2005 9:16 pm (et) amhistoryguy: I'm not so convinced that Wills has hit upon Lincoln's analysis of war.

11/28/2005 9:16 pm (et) Basecat: ks...I don't think he tried to analyze the war, not did he try to explain it...He did not ignore it, but when he talked about it in the GB address, he alluded to it...Not making sense I know, but point am trying to make he was not real concrete about war in the speech.

11/28/2005 9:16 pm (et) CWgal: LOL! Thanks ks...just what I was in the process of typing. But you beat me to it

11/28/2005 9:16 pm (et) ks: Oh? Please elaborate there, AHG.

11/28/2005 9:17 pm (et) CWgal: ks I think that statement showed Lincoln's humbleness and almost a Christ-like character in his forgiveness.

11/28/2005 9:17 pm (et) ks: Okay, his analysis of the PROCESS societies indulge in which leads to war. That's better stated.

11/28/2005 9:18 pm (et) Basecat: Gal...Publicly, I would agree with that, but privately, he sure wanted to win...and made his points very clear to his various army commanders.

11/28/2005 9:19 pm (et) amhistoryguy: I think Wills has picked out the examples of Lincoln supporting Wills analysis - Lincoln signing cotton passes, buying cotton to sell on the European market for example might indicate less concern about the common soldier for instance.

11/28/2005 9:20 pm (et) ks: Made that point clear to his commanders, but refused "to indulge in triumphalism, righteousness, or vilification of the foe." still stands. Doesn't it, Base?

11/28/2005 9:20 pm (et) Basecat: That it does ks...and you can see how that rubbed off on Grant after the surrender.

11/28/2005 9:21 pm (et) CWgal: Win the war? Sure he did. He said he would do anything to preserve the Union. But, in preserving that Union that included his not "vilification of the foe"

11/28/2005 9:22 pm (et) ks: I'm not understanding how what you typed there at odds with Lincoln's description of the process leading to war, ahg.

11/28/2005 9:22 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Not saying that Lincoln was profiteering or anything like that - only that Wills choice of quotes does not necessarily indicate Lincoln's definitive analysis.

11/28/2005 9:22 pm (et) ks: How what you typed there IS at odds, I meant.

11/28/2005 9:24 pm (et) Basecat: Gal...He sure vilified some of his own Generals. :) There in lies the problem with me when dealing with Abe and the South, as the South never gave him a chance when he was first elected.

11/28/2005 9:24 pm (et) ks: Definitive? Okay, it's not. But I don't recall Wills saying it was. I was very impressed with the Lincoln quote on the process leading up to war and how hostilities...what was the wording...."ratchet up" and drive others to surpass.

11/28/2005 9:26 pm (et) mobile_96: I agree KS.

11/28/2005 9:26 pm (et) CWgal: I am not sure I follow you Base. If you are saying what I think, then I would just say that Lincoln was a bigger man by forgiving those who rejected him.

11/28/2005 9:27 pm (et) amhistoryguy: The process leading up to hostilities I have no problem with, "He would give no signals of flexibility," I'm not so sure of.

11/28/2005 9:28 pm (et) ks: Couldn't help but reflect on other wars when reading what Wills says about war being a cover for other crimes and how the longer it goes on, the more it outraces any rational purpose. BTW I'm not saying I'm in agreement there. Just found it very thought provoking.

11/28/2005 9:28 pm (et) Basecat: Gal...That's what I am saying...See...I told you my English sucked..;)

11/28/2005 9:30 pm (et) Basecat: Point I picked up was his speech after the compromise of 1850 was dissolved...and what lurked ahead because of that. That and his tirade against the Mexican War.

11/28/2005 9:30 pm (et) CWgal: Never Base. I just see Lincoln like I said, this humble Christ like figure in his forgiveness. He understood the greater purpose of this long war. Reconciliation was the key to restoration of the Union. Or maybe it wasn't so much a restoration as it was a solidifying of the individual states to become that UNION!

11/28/2005 9:31 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Very well stated CWgal !

11/28/2005 9:31 pm (et) ks: Forgave and sought ways to use his pardoning and amnesty powers. :) The quote from Hay about that was least for me. "I was amused at the eagerness with with the President caught at any fact which would justify him in saving the life of a condemned soldier. He was only merciless in cases where meanness or cruelty were shown."

11/28/2005 9:32 pm (et) Basecat: ks...The one that sticks out with me, was the soldier who deserted, then reenlisted...and to paraphrase better he fights then we execute him.

11/28/2005 9:33 pm (et) CWgal: We all know that reconstruction would have been totally different had Lincoln lived. I sometimes wonder if the ongoing animosity a hundred years later would have ceased to exist.

11/28/2005 9:35 pm (et) mobile_96: Hard to say Gal, racism was pretty strong in the North also, still not ideal today.

11/28/2005 9:35 pm (et) ks: ? But he said "let him fight INSTEAD of shooting him."

11/28/2005 9:35 pm (et) CWgal: That is true mobile.

11/28/2005 9:36 pm (et) Basecat: Was paraphrasing ks...object being He would rather he fight then being killed by his say so.

11/28/2005 9:36 pm (et) amhistoryguy: "Don't Shoot That Boy," and "Civil War Justice" provide statistics that indicate Lincoln's tendencies toward pardon and reduced sentences. Very interesting reads.

11/28/2005 9:37 pm (et) Basecat: Just to add...Stanton had a major problem with Abe being so lenient.

11/28/2005 9:37 pm (et) mobile_96: But no doubt, the south didn't help itself in reconstruction by spending all their time in finding ways to keep the freedmen under their thumb.

11/28/2005 9:38 pm (et) ks: Racism was "pretty strong" all over. And I thought the phrasing of slavery being an "American Slavery" and an offense ascribed to the WHOLE nation was something else pretty incredible from the President.

11/28/2005 9:38 pm (et) CWgal: I agree ks.

11/28/2005 9:38 pm (et) Basecat: ks...One of the few "Northerners" that ever admitted it was a national problem...OUR problem.

11/28/2005 9:41 pm (et) ks: I found myself reading tonight's sections and wishing that those who are trying now to portray Lincoln in such a negative light and in terms of being such a racist...I kept wishing THEY were reading about the GA and 2nd Inaugural in detail.

11/28/2005 9:42 pm (et) Basecat: ks...Problem with that ilk, they read those two speeches, and come up with very different ways showing what he meant, according to their thought.

11/28/2005 9:42 pm (et) mobile_96: Think it would really change their minds KS?

11/28/2005 9:42 pm (et) ks: Really amazed to read about how the 2nd Inaugural complements and completes the Gettysburg Address. Certainly not something I'd given any thought to before this read. Other thoughts on the Epilogue before we move on?

11/28/2005 9:42 pm (et) ks: Probably not, mobile. :) But I would at least have the satisfaction of knowing they'd read some material that MIGHT make a different impression. ;)

11/28/2005 9:43 pm (et) ks: Agree with you there, Basecat. Too often I've read quotes from "that ilk" and wondered how in the WORLD they came to a conclusion.

11/28/2005 9:44 pm (et) Basecat: ks...Main reason why I guess those 2 speeches are on the walls inside the Lincoln Memorial...To me the 2nd inaugural is an update of the GB Address.

11/28/2005 9:45 pm (et) ks: It most certainly IS, Basecat. And I didn't realize it until I read about it in this book.

11/28/2005 9:46 pm (et) ks: No pain, no gain...or something like that. ;) How about Appendix I. What Lincoln Said: The Text...which text, whose text, and what others SAID were in his text....

11/28/2005 9:47 pm (et) mobile_96: Is the real message behind door No 1, 2, 3 or 5.

11/28/2005 9:48 pm (et) Basecat: Reading Appendix one to me was like what it must feel to have ones appendix taken out. Painful, long, and how did I get myself in this situation. :) Would have preferred he talked more about the known copies that exist, than waxing on about which pencil mark was made by a pencil etc. Boring, IMHO.

11/28/2005 9:49 pm (et) ks: Good GRIEF!! Didn't this section make you wish you'd been there with a video cam so you could set everyone straight? The speculation and theories were something to read. :)

11/28/2005 9:49 pm (et) mobile_96: A head scratcher, thats for sure.

11/28/2005 9:51 pm (et) Basecat: One thing I gleaned from this, if you want to go see the copy in the Library of Congress, I guess you can inspect it with a librarian by your side. Other than that...snoozeville here.

11/28/2005 9:51 pm (et) mobile_96: Base, I understand Wills investigating like he did, I've used a microscope studying markings on stamps, trying to figure what position it occupied on a sheet.

11/28/2005 9:52 pm (et) Basecat: Mobile...Did not have a problem with his investigating, but he sure took a dragged out way to describe what he found.

11/28/2005 9:52 pm (et) amhistoryguy: It kind of re emphasized the importance of the speech to me. It became so important even then, that EVERY word needed to be correct. The brevity probably contributed to what was actually said resulting in discrepancies.

11/28/2005 9:53 pm (et) ks: The thought that, if people wanted another copy of the speech that Lincoln himself might have to copy it amused me. Base, I didn't snooze here. It's that detail of who fought where from what unit enfilading what regiment that puts me in a coma. ;) This I rather enjoyed. And to think that possibly Lincoln revised a later copy by what the NEWSPAPERS reported him as having said blew my mind.

11/28/2005 9:54 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Kind of surprised that Wills did not include Rev. Stockton's rather lengthy prayer.

11/28/2005 9:54 pm (et) mobile_96: Mine too KS, first time I'd ever heard this.

11/28/2005 9:55 pm (et) mobile_96: Same here amhg.

11/28/2005 9:55 pm (et) Basecat: OK...will say something positive, and shows how different the world is today...we here and see speeches all of the time, and yet back then...only 4 correspondents were there to write down exactly what he said...Can understand why Abe would revise what the newspapers reported him as saying.

11/28/2005 9:55 pm (et) ks: Have you read the prayer elsewhere, AHG?

11/28/2005 9:57 pm (et) ks: Only 4 correspondents and if they consulted his handwritten text it wouldn't matter as he may have departed from same....whoa. I was IN to this section. ;)

11/28/2005 9:57 pm (et) mobile_96: Maybe they got parts of it wrong, and he only 'fixed' it.

11/28/2005 9:58 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Yes, Rev. Stockton's prayer can be found at -

11/28/2005 9:58 pm (et) mobile_96: Wonder if they compared notes afterwards.

11/28/2005 9:59 pm (et) ks: Maybe. Who knows? I'll just have to wait for my time with that "time bubble", mobile. ;) Anything else on Appendix I.? If not, it's on to Appendix II. Where He Said It: The Site.

11/28/2005 10:01 pm (et) Basecat: As for the in agreement with the Harrison theory, and hard to believe that the podium would have been in the center of the newly dug graves.

11/28/2005 10:02 pm (et) ks: So Basecat IS there a marker at the site where Harrison says Lincoln would have been standing?

11/28/2005 10:02 pm (et) ks: That section became confusing to me. I'm not complaining. Still found it interesting. Nothing some time to walk in the cemetery won't solve. :)

11/28/2005 10:03 pm (et) Basecat: ks...Hate to say it, but was there all last weekend, and only walked around in there after dark. BTW...always have had a problem with the fence that separtes the 2 cemeteries...but that's just me.

11/28/2005 10:05 pm (et) ks: Was that a YES, NO or a "I don't know."??

11/28/2005 10:07 pm (et) Basecat: Can take you folks back there and show you where the site is...and it is very accessible from the Evergreen Cemetery Gate.

11/28/2005 10:08 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Looking at the photos in Frassanito, it seems evident that the podium is not among the graves. Also found it amusing that there was a sign at the civilian cemetery, it had been there before the battle, that proclaimed that the discharge of weapons would be punished to the full extent of the law.

11/28/2005 10:08 pm (et) ks: Okay. Lovely. I'll take you up on it. :) But is there a marker at the site?

11/28/2005 10:08 pm (et) Basecat: amhg...Sign was there before the battle.

11/28/2005 10:09 pm (et) Basecat: ks...Next time I am down there, I will look, and know I will be down there prior to Muster 2006.

11/28/2005 10:10 pm (et) amhistoryguy: That's what is amusing about the sign Basecat.

11/28/2005 10:11 pm (et) ks: Have seen the sign pointed out in some publication. Don't have Frassinito, so it wasn't there. Very ironic.

11/28/2005 10:12 pm (et) Basecat: amhg...LOL...and soldiers who found themselves up there made mention of the irony of the sign when they saw it.

11/28/2005 10:15 pm (et) ks: To finish this book will require reading 50-some pages. Basecat, you can FINALLY read Everett's text. Are we in agreement to finish this puppy next week?

11/28/2005 10:15 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Let's do it !

11/28/2005 10:15 pm (et) Basecat: amhg....My yours the wrong way...This is what happens when I skim.

11/28/2005 10:16 pm (et) CWgal: I am ks.

11/28/2005 10:16 pm (et) mobile_96: No problem here.

11/28/2005 10:16 pm (et) Basecat: all for finishing next week. Both books, and then all will be assigned a short paper on what they did over the Holiday break on Sundays and Mondays..;)

11/28/2005 10:17 pm (et) ks: Then it's a PLAN. Finish reading for next week. Vickie, you try to find that nice calm, quiet, warm corner. Okay? ;)

11/28/2005 10:18 pm (et) Vickie: I certainly will ks :-) Looking forward to reading Everett's speech