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American Antiques, Abraham Lincoln - Inspiration to Battle Hymn of The Republic

Mar 23, 2008
It was the darkest times for the North in the five year long American Civil War. President Lincoln could not find a superior officer who would take the charge to the enemy.

In contrast, to the great advantage of the out manned and out gunned South was the decision of the most brilliant graduate at West Point Academy, Robert E. Lee to be drummed out of West Point to join the South. Lee felt a loyalty to his native Virginia that he could not refuse.

For the next half of the war and more, the masterful strikes, retreats and maneuvers led by Lee kept a far superior northern force at it's wits end.

At the top of the heap of those wits was the President. In contrast, the Senior Union General was often heard speaking that the nation needed a dictator, and he had just the candidate in mind, and it was not President Lincoln.

At university, we studied that letter Lincoln wrote to that General, and it is a masterpiece of putting an arrogant fool in his place, and reminding him that first he must give victories. Only then should we talk about his dictatorship. He did not give victories, and in later terms showed himself to be all hat and no cattle. He resigned, followed by other losing generals.

Until that soon famous, wonderful drunkard, Ulysses S. Grant began to punch amazing victories down the Mississippi and especially his masterful taking of Vicksburg, which earned him another amazing letter from Lincoln. Grant then smashed his way across Tennessee.

By then the armies of General Sherman were pounding their way across the south. I have driven that route from Atlanta to the Atlantic to follow Sherman's March to the sea. In a ten mile swath few buildings survived.

But locals will tell you which few towns survived, and they had names of northern Presidents such as Madison and Monroe. Here the townsfolk had gathered on the edge of town and greeted the testosterone driven soldiers with torches.

The townsfolk showed their northern connections and with pleads of mercy and loyalty Sherman allowed his thousands of vengeful soldiers to pass on through quietly. These are magnificent towns of mansions for the plantation owners and exist as if from another time zone, or a movie lot of millionaires rows.

Sherman reached the coast, and then sacked and burned his way back up towards Richmond. The North had to make the brutal point that slavery was over and a new order was coming. If only Lincoln could have lived to supervise that.

However, before those triumphs,back at the parade ground in Washington. Imagine these broken men, mostly wounded, all exhausted, trying to put on a brave face for America, at a very perilous hour. These tired, brave men limped by the Presidential Review Stand, dignitaries all around.

And they sang their tribute to the man who had given his life and who really triggered the Civil War, John Brown. It was their camp fire tribute to the first to die to free the slaves, and it was so rudimentary yet so solemn in the tune that President Lincoln mused out loud that it was a shame that such an inspiring tune did not find itself accompanied with more noble words.

And, in the middle of the night, that now famous wife of a minister who had overheard the words of Lincoln awoke and sat upright. She jotted down the words of the Battle Hymn of the Republic. And that same tune of the body of John Brown lies a mouldering in the grave, brought us Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory of the Coming of The Lord. And Glory Glory, what a hell of a way die, become Glory, Glory, Hallelua, The Saints Go Marching On.

Those men saw themselves as broken and about ready to die for no good purpose perhaps, and what a hell of a way to die, being blown apart by cannon shot. But she saw these fine men as noble warriors fighting for a just cause and that God would surely soon welcome them, of that she had no doubt.

And back then, so did President Lincoln, and that new song inspired many. It rather choked me up when I read that. I hope it does you too. I hope that you, like I, find these incidents affecting the evolution of America insightful and inspiring, as I have.
About the Author
Derek Dashwood loves the combining of science into the humanities to measure happiness and bliss.Love and understanding is central as you know, and you can see history here at
American Heritage Antiques
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