Book Chat
Lincoln's Sanctuary
Abraham Lincoln and the Soldier's Home
Matthew Pinsker

This chat took place in the Civil War Home Chatroom on 02/06/06 and covered Chapters 7, 8, & 9

2/6/2006 9:05 pm (et) ks: Well then... :) Tonight's reading focused upon the time spent by Lincoln at the Soldier's Home during the year 1864. The first chapter we cover is "Present at Fort Stevens". Any thoughts pertinent to this section be now in order.

2/6/2006 9:08 pm (et) ks: I found the beginning paragraphs concerning redecoration during that time period to be interesting. ;) I don't DO wallpaper. The thought of papering 8 out of 14 rooms 'whelmed me. ;)

2/6/2006 9:08 pm (et) ks: For shotgun's benefit...that's Chapter 7 - "Present at Fort Stevens"

2/6/2006 9:09 pm (et) Babs: Trouble with reading books is that it always leads to other books I want to read. Seems like there is one about the defense D.C. during the war. This chapter started me thinking about reading that.

2/6/2006 9:09 pm (et) mobile_96: Well, she did hire a professional to do it.

2/6/2006 9:12 pm (et) mobile_96: Could just see the look on Abe's face if she told him He was going to do wallpaper.

2/6/2006 9:12 pm (et) ks: I don't think you could even pay me to do that, mobile. ;) I do appreciate Pinsker including information on what all was done for a "few thousand" dollars. All that wall papering, floor and window washing, paint touch-ups, new grass matting (cooler than carpet, or so it says), newly recovered chairs and sofas and lot of other STUFF like 3 "extra fine blankets".

2/6/2006 9:13 pm (et) ks: Babs, in the case of Lincoln material, that's sure the situation anyway. Every Lincoln book we've read has easily and quickly led to quite a few others that interest me.

2/6/2006 9:14 pm (et) Babs: Do you think that the statement about Lincoln being the only president under fire is true? Meant to do some research on the Whiskey Rebellion and Madison during the War of 1812.

2/6/2006 9:15 pm (et) ks: I don't know. BTW that was a fact that Basecat wanted to see mentioned. As thorough as the research seems to have been for this book, I tend to believe it if Pinsker says so...and he did.

2/6/2006 9:15 pm (et) mobile_96: I have heard that Lincoln was the only one quite often.

2/6/2006 9:15 pm (et) Babs: KS, I am reminded that I have a book about the Lincoln sons that I bought back when we read the bio of Mary.

2/6/2006 9:16 pm (et) ks: Rather hard for me to imagine that there was so much Confederate activity so close to the Lincolns at the Soldier's Home, yet they stayed there so long.

2/6/2006 9:16 pm (et) Babs: I will give Pinsker that.

2/6/2006 9:17 pm (et) ks: ...from Basecat
Pinsker is right on target when he describes the chaos that was going on in DC as Early's boys approached the Capitol. What caused the mass hysteria was the fact that the size of Early's army was doubled and at times tripled in the many estimates of his Army by those in DC. The true version is that Early suffered quite badly at the Battle of Monocacy due to heavier than expected casualties in what was Gen. Lew Wallace's finest hour as a soldier. Early's force was depleted even more, by stragglers falling out of the line of march as they neared DC. Weather had a lot to do with it, as the campaign took place during a heat wave, which at the time was hotter than usual for average temps in that area. As for Abe being told to get down while in the fort, Am sure it happened but it can not be made certain that it was Holmes who said that. Am guessing he was one of many who told him to get down.

2/6/2006 9:19 pm (et) Babs: Of course other presidents were under fire BEFORE they were president. i.e. McKinley, Garfield, Hayes. Yet another book to read.

2/6/2006 9:20 pm (et) Babs: Not sure if Abe was brave or fool hearty.

2/6/2006 9:22 pm (et) mobile_96: First time I'd heard the story about 'Aunt Betty'

2/6/2006 9:22 pm (et) ks: Taking Base's thoughts a bit further, both sides were miscalculating what they faced in terms of number of enemies. Capital residents had to have been in state of high anxiety. Had either of you seen a map of D.C.'s wartime defenses previously??

2/6/2006 9:24 pm (et) mobile_96: Saw one a while back but relating it to the soldiers home brought it close to home here.

2/6/2006 9:25 pm (et) ks: Wasn't familiar with that story either, mobile. Sad account too with her life savings being torn to bits when her home was demolished. Interesting twist with Lincoln testimony leading to a rejection of the plea for restitution.

2/6/2006 9:26 pm (et) ks: I do wish I had access to the map in a LARGER image. ;) Even my magnifying reading glasses weren't of much help.

2/6/2006 9:26 pm (et) Babs: I think I saw this same map years ago.

2/6/2006 9:28 pm (et) ks: For me the best chuckle of the chapter came with reading Mary Lincoln's scolding of Stanton and her saying that if she'd had a few ladies with her, the Rebels wouldn't have been permitted to get away. ;)

2/6/2006 9:28 pm (et) ks: Anything else on Chapter 7?

2/6/2006 9:28 pm (et) mobile_96: There are 2 maps in the Atlas of the defenses around Washington.

2/6/2006 9:29 pm (et) Babs: It's the only one I ever found that has "Hall's Hill" on it. I was looking for it because a gg uncle was there for the winter 61-62.

2/6/2006 9:29 pm (et) ks: Which atlas, mobile?

2/6/2006 9:29 pm (et) Babs: KS, I liked that bit too.

2/6/2006 9:29 pm (et) mobile_96: Official records Atlas.

2/6/2006 9:30 pm (et) mobile_96: Still need a glass to examine, but much better than one in this book.

2/6/2006 9:31 pm (et) ks: Then I've got it. That's one HUGE and heavy book. Once I get it wedged beside the bookcase, I'm not too likely to pull it out again. Some book we were reading I was actually taking that atlas to bed with me. BJ objected for some reason or other. ?? ;) ;)

2/6/2006 9:31 pm (et) Babs: Is that part of the set of official records. My library has the set. Would I likely find the atlas with it?

2/6/2006 9:31 pm (et) ks: I mean I was taking the HUGE book as reference for the other book.

2/6/2006 9:32 pm (et) mobile_96: Mine stays on the kitchen table, comes off about twice a year,

2/6/2006 9:33 pm (et) ks: I don't know. I have the book apart from the ORs. B&N or some such book store had a lovely copy displayed that the family couldn't resist gifting me with.

2/6/2006 9:33 pm (et) Babs: Since Shotgun is archiving this I will refrain from making any rude comments about your habits.

2/6/2006 9:34 pm (et) ks: So you're saying that kitchen table doesn't see much action for eating, mobile? :) Either that or you're asking for some new markings on the maps.

2/6/2006 9:34 pm (et) ks: LOL! Such restraint, Lady Babs. ;) Best move on...Chapter 8 - Damned in Time & in Eternity

2/6/2006 9:34 pm (et) Babs: He uses chili peppers for bookmarks.

2/6/2006 9:36 pm (et) Babs: The poor peacocks!

2/6/2006 9:36 pm (et) mobile_96: About half the table is books and mags, other half is for eating, when not reading.

2/6/2006 9:37 pm (et) ks: Really some fascinating accounts of meetings with important figures that took place at the Soldier's Home during this time period. While I've read about the events of this period in 1864 previously, it adds something to think of the meetings take place outside of the White House. Previously, I just assumed...

2/6/2006 9:38 pm (et) mobile_96: Same here KS, never thought he had meetings away from his office.

2/6/2006 9:39 pm (et) Babs: Seems as though some of those meetings were impromptu and not of his choosing.

2/6/2006 9:42 pm (et) ks: Believe I'll post here the quote from which the chapter title comes. It's a quote from Lincoln where he denounces the idea of turning away from the goal of abolishing slavery. :There have been men who have proposed to me to return to slavery the black warriors of Port Hudson & Olustee to their masters to conciliate the South. I should be damned in time & eternity for so doing. It was he firm belief that one could NOT "concilliate [sic] the South".

2/6/2006 9:42 pm (et) mobile_96: Or due to sudden events.

2/6/2006 9:43 pm (et) ks: So true, Babs. We've read of a number of meeting forced upon him by people who just showed up and insisted they have access and his attention. Poor, exhausted fellow in carpet slippers comes trudging again to do his duty (and then some).

2/6/2006 9:43 pm (et) mobile_96: The actions of the former slaves sure changed his opinion of them.

2/6/2006 9:43 pm (et) ks: Any favorite Lincoln quote from these chapters? *she asked with one of her own in mind* :)

2/6/2006 9:44 pm (et) ks: Changed his opinion and made him passionate in his new found beliefs.

2/6/2006 9:45 pm (et) mobile_96: If they had been unmanageable and unable to actually fight, then don't think he would have changed his views quite so much.

2/6/2006 9:46 pm (et) Babs: I'm just fixated on the image of Abe untangled the wood weights on the peacocks.

2/6/2006 9:47 pm (et) mobile_96: I have always found that mercy bears richer fruit than strict justice.

2/6/2006 9:48 pm (et) ks: Loved that one where Lincoln was recounting tales of the 1858 Lincoln/Douglas debates and a Democratic orator during the campaign who warned listeners that if the Republicans won, then "darkies" would soon be allowed to vote. The speaker pointed out a white and a black man in the crowd, asking each which senatorial candidate he'd vote for if he could. The white man answered Douglas, but the black man said "I would vote for Mass Lincoln." "Now...what do you think of that," the Democrat has asked rhetorically. According to Lincoln, an old farmer then cried out, "I think the darkey showed a damd sight of more sense than the white man." :)

2/6/2006 9:48 pm (et) Babs: Mobile, That's true. Their conduct changed many people's opinions far more than speechifying could do.

2/6/2006 9:48 pm (et) amhistoryguy: enters the chatroom.

2/6/2006 9:48 pm (et) ks: That's quite an image all right, Babs. :)

2/6/2006 9:49 pm (et) mobile_96: Was interested in the scene of Stanton playing mumble-the-peg, and sitting on the ground to do so.

2/6/2006 9:50 pm (et) ks: That was unusual and new, wasn't it, mobile. Stanton, the "gloomy and peculiar" actually relaxed and played games? Wow....

2/6/2006 9:51 pm (et) ks: We probably need to skedaddle into Chapter 9 - "Whatever is, is right" which deals with events leading up to the election as well as the election itself. Your thoughts??

2/6/2006 9:51 pm (et) mobile_96: A real man under all that gloom and doom.

2/6/2006 9:52 pm (et) ks: A real man when allowed to be one, or so I'd think.

2/6/2006 9:53 pm (et) ks: ...from the absent Oradellian...
Thoughts on Chapter deal with the events leading to his run for President again in 1864, and how very different Presidential Campaigns were done back then when compared to what goes on today. Hard for me to imagine Abe really not doing any campaigning, and from the book you get the real sense of foreboding that all in his camp felt as the Election came closer. Did not know he had invited his friends Speed and Gillespie to the Soldier's home that summer, and can see how that visit lifted up his spirits during that long summer. You can also see Abe becoming stronger on the freedom of the Blacks, and IIRC, this was the time of the war that he started to get the process going for an amendment to the Constitution ending slavery forever. You can also see how strongly he felt about the War Democrats maybe going over to support Little Mac's run for the office as well, telling them that the democratic platform as constituted by that party, would not win the war, and would just return things to the status quo.

2/6/2006 9:57 pm (et) Babs: I hate how divided our country is now (If only everyone would think like me.). I can't imagine the toll that stress must have taken on everyone as the war dragged on year after year.

2/6/2006 9:57 pm (et) mobile_96: Not surprised by the alcoholism from the former soldiers at the home.

2/6/2006 9:58 pm (et) Babs: Interesting that so many were foreign born. Makes sense though.

2/6/2006 9:59 pm (et) mobile_96: Would have thought the ratios would be closer to the actual makeup of the armies.

2/6/2006 9:59 pm (et) ks: Babs, it's amazing that the country came back together as it has and truly AMAZING that an election was actually successfully pulled off during that time of war. Of course as Lincoln said, "if the rebellion could force us to forego, or postpone a national election it might fairly claim to have already conquered or ruined us."

2/6/2006 10:00 pm (et) Babs: Pinsker explains that the foreign born were less likely to have families to care for them.

2/6/2006 10:00 pm (et) mobile_96: Would have been a lot better if re-construction had actually worked a lot better than it did.

2/6/2006 10:01 pm (et) mobile_96: KS, A well taken point that many neo-confederates miss when talking about Lincoln the dictator.

2/6/2006 10:02 pm (et) Babs: Mobile, There s a huge "what if". Booth certainly did the south more harm than good.

2/6/2006 10:02 pm (et) ks: Interesting section dealing with McClellan and the Peace Democrats.

2/6/2006 10:03 pm (et) ks: I agree, mobile. But some of those people ("those people") have their minds made up and don't care to actually know any of the facts that don't support their notions or agenda.

2/6/2006 10:03 pm (et) ks: What do you guys think? Booth's actions officially sanctioned by the CSA? Yes/No

2/6/2006 10:04 pm (et) Babs: Maybe, but probably not

2/6/2006 10:04 pm (et) mobile_96: I don't think so.

2/6/2006 10:05 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Original kidnapping plan yes, assassination no.

2/6/2006 10:06 pm (et) ks: If so, certainly not by a people with a clear vision of what actual harm they were doing in trying to remove the man....IMHO.

2/6/2006 10:07 pm (et) mobile_96: That's for sure KS.

2/6/2006 10:07 pm (et) ks: Please continue to add your thoughts on Chapter 9 or wherever those thoughts take you. ;) I have a call from my boss to handle and probably should be logging off VERY soon anyway. 2 days in Topeka start early tomorrow. ;)

2/6/2006 10:08 pm (et) ks: BTW we'll finish up next week. I know it's a very small amount to read, but didn't want to finish out this week. We'll do it NEXT week with Basecat and hopefully Vickie as well.