Friday, June 08, 2007

Lincoln Letter: "A Significant Find"

Lincoln Letter: "A Significant Find". CBS has this news story about a newly discovered President Lincoln letter. It was found three weeks ago in a batch of military papers stored at the National Archives in Washington, DC. In the letter, Lincoln tells his generals to pursue Lee after the Battle of Gettysburg. They did not do so and Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia got away.

By failing to finish off Lee's army, the war may have been extended by two years. It is hard to say for sure. Maybe Lee could have saved his army even if he had been pursued. Also, there were other concentrations of rebel forces throughout the south and many would have still fought on. Maybe the war would have been shortened but probably not by two years.

From the article:

The National Archives unveiled on Thursday a handwritten note by Abraham Lincoln exhorting his generals to pursue Robert E. Lee's Confederate army after the battle of Gettysburg, underscoring one of the great missed opportunities for an early end to the Civil War.

Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein describes the letter as "a significant find," reports CBS News correspondent Peter Maer.

Gettysburg, a town in southern Pennsylvania, marked the farthest northward penetration by the rebellious southern army in the 1861-65 war, which ended slavery in the United States. During three days of fighting July 1-3, 1863, the Confederates suffered 28,063 dead, injured or missing and the U.S. side 23,047.


The Pendragon said...

I'm confused though--I've always heard that Lincoln urged his generals to follow up Gettysburg and crush Lee's army at once. So is this letter really a new discovery or are they just now finding the actual letter they've heard about before?

M said...

Good question and good point. Lincoln always was pushing his generals to go after the rebels harder and I too have read that he wanted Lee crushed after Gettysburg. Maybe this is proof for what was already generally known but did not have any primary sources?