Sunday, September 29, 2013

September 21, 1863 (Wednesday): Lincoln Takes A Battle In Stride

President Abraham Lincoln

CHATTANOOGA, TENN., September 21, 1863-9 a.m.
(Received War Department 12.45 p.m.)
President of the United States:
     After two days of the severest fighting I ever witnessed our right and center were beaten. The left held its position until sunset.
    Our loss is heavy and our troops worn down. The enemy received heavy re-enforcements Saturday night. Every man of ours was in action Sunday and all but one brigade on Saturday. Our wounded large compared with the killed. We took prisoners from two divisions of Longstreet. We have no certainty of holding our position here. If Burnside could come immediately it would be well; other-wise he may not be able to join us unless he comes on west side of river.

     Major-General, Commanding.

WAR DEPARTMENT, September 21, 1863-11 a.m.
Greenville, Tenn.:
     If you are to do any good to Rosecrans it will not do to waste time with Jonesborough. It is already too late to do the most good that might have been done, but I hope it will still do some good. Please do not lose a moment.

     A. LINCOLN.

EXECUTIVE MANSION, Washington, D. C., September 21, 1863.
Major-General HALLECK:
    I think it very important for General Rosecrans to hold his position at or about Chattanooga, because if held from that place to Cleveland, both inclusive, it keeps all Tennessee clear of the enemy, and also breaks one of his most important railroad lines. To prevent these consequences is so vital to his cause that he cannot give up the effort to dislodge us from the position, thus bringing him to us, and saving us the labor, expense, and hazard of going farther to find him and also giving us the advantage of choosing our own ground and preparing it to fight him upon. The details must, of course, be left to General Rosecrans, while we must furnish him the means to the utmost of our ability. If you concur, I think he should better be informed that we are not pushing him beyond this position, and that, in fact, our judgment is rather against his going beyond it. If he can only maintain this position without more, the rebellion can only eke out a short and feeble existence, as an animal sometimes may with a thorn in its vitals.
    Yours, truly,


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 30, Part 1, Pages 147-150.

Lincoln took the calamity at Chickamagua in stride, believing the Confederates would have to come to Rosecrans to follow up their victory and that his strong defensive position would offer them little chance to continue their aggressive behavior.  He would, in this, prove to be correct. 

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