tv Abraham Lincoln at City Point and Richmond CSPAN January 22, 2017 10:20am-11:30am EST
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historical park and it's about an hour and 10 minutes. noah: there are some odd themes going on here. want to knowledge, i agree with him to a great degree. i will note that for this writer, there was a case where i think to tell an important story, you find yourself moving into realms of speculation where the evidence may not exist, but the suggestion of what has happened seems reasonably solid. a lot of what i am going to be talking about is the process of this book. all of you have seen the dvds with the special features section, and i guess this is the making of this book. for me, it took me into areas i
had never gone before in terms of having to handle material. all the battle books i've read: the information, a value weight the nature of sources, try to piece it together in a way that made sense, both in terms of the topography, what we knew, and what they were saying. out of that comes the story. this particular story, the 16 days in march and april of 1865 that abraham lincoln spent in city point, took this reasonably cautious and careful historian onto increasingly thin ice. which we will discover as a top about some of the information that led me to some decisions that i think will be controversial. i want to start by throwing some numbers out.
in the last 100 years, the president of the united states have come to accept the fact that to survive in office, there needs to be some time out of the office. iran some numbers, and i'm not going to say they are exactly right, of the times when some recent presidents spent away from the white house, not doing the governments work. dwight eisenhower, for instance, spent 461 days not doing government work. lbj, 484 days. fdr, 958 days, but of course, he had more than two terms. george w. bush, it is simply a fact, spent 1020 days of his two terms not in office doing government work.
in his first term as president of the united states, abraham lincoln, by my account, spent 52 days outside of washington. many of those were business trips. he had to go out and review troops were meet with generals. to give the gettysburg address. he did have this cottage in northwest washington that they visited. a couple of points to make there. this is a little like telecommuting in that anyone who wanted to get him and washington knew where to find him and it was a short ride. the door was constantly moving. when they needed him back at the
white house, he just walked out the door, got in the carriage, and went back. he wasn't getting the benefit of the time off. here we have at the start of the second term, all of you who have seen spielberg movie know the battles he fought to get the 13th amendment, and by all accounts i have been able to find, he is in terrible shape healthwise. accounts from people who knew him, reporters writing about him. clearly, this man was at a crisis in his life. he initially was only going to spend a few days at city point and it turned into an unprecedented 16 days. i have to say that even if you are not a presidential historian or a civil war historian, the fact that the president with his
sort of track record spent 16 days, raises the question, what happened? how does it change him? did it affect him at all? this was a question i decided i needed to try and answer. i want to it knowledge there was a study published around the end of the 1970's called "abraham lincoln at city point." this is a pre-internet book. he did all the research by hand, tracked down sources, found hardcopies, did some wonderfully solid research. in a way, he set in stone the template story of city point. i've come to believe that most historians and lincoln biographers have missed the real story. i think the best historians and biographers are storytellers.
i completely acknowledge that if you are telling the story of the last weeks of lincoln's life, there is something called april 14, 1865, ford theater. it is a powerful, iconic moment in american history. i can see why many of these writers reach this odd point where lincoln leaves washington, is gone for 16 days, two more if you count travel, and then comes back. what is he going to do with it? when the big story is right there, april 14. i think for a lot of them, he was a dead man walking. with their knowledge of what was to come, it starts to affect how they evaluate what he is doing in those days. there is a template that emerged that the city point relies heavily on what i call low
hanging fruit. these are sources that were published in the years after lincoln's assassination, widely available for people who generally had credentials that connected them to the events, and these were heavily relied on in creating these template stories. when i started, my initial thought was, i will start with the template and use the new sources we have as researchers and writers to fill it in more, to add more color to it. what i didn't realize was how much i would have to change that template. how the evidence or suppositions that i made increasingly led me farther and farther away from the standard story. lincoln, up to that point, --
there's a famous quote where he admitted, "events have controlled me. i have not controlled events." when he gives his second inaugural speech, he talks about the war coming to an end, but he won't say how soon. i think when he leaves washington for city point, he still thinks he could be looking at another summer and possibly a fall of war. when he comes back, i think he realizes, like that thing in the mirror that are closer than they appear, he realizes the end of the war is closer than he thinks. it either confirms things he was going to do or opens some new things up for him.
to understand this, i needed to get as much detail as i could into the story. what did lincoln see? who saw him? what did he look like? what did he say? the template story is like a dotted line. there are lots of gaps in between the evidence. and some of the evidence, itself, is suspect. this was the challenge. right at the beginning, this was a tough thing for an author to run into, i ran into two problems. one of which i expected, the other which was a complete surprise. i will give myself credit for one original idea, and that was at the beginning of the process, i said, jeepers, what's in the james river, the union navy, and the union navy kept law books?
the ship that brings lincoln to city point, the river queen, does not have a logbook. the melbourne and the uss bat, a smaller boat that was assigned to escort for the river queen wherever it went whose captain had a personal commission to accompany lincoln as much as he could. that officer is john stanford barnes. there we go. barnes comes to us into articles
listed in the 1900s, in which he accounts his experiences escorting abraham lincoln. i had those and said, great. then i found the logbook. i compared it to barnes's recollection. oops. barnes is an honorable man, working with what he remembered. there were clearly some chronological problems with his recollections and some event problems. what do i do? do i throw the recollection out and rely only on the logbook, a dry recitation of fact that mrs. much of the color of barnes's
recollection? then i remembered the cannoneer. you are going to find ample quotes from an artillery man in a united states battery at gettysburg, augustus buhl, who called himself the cannoneer. it is after that that research finds he was in the unit, but posted to washington dc in the early weeks of july. he was not there himself. the first reaction is, throw him out. second reaction was, wait a
minute. he's in the unit, he's talking with guys who were there, he is clearly pulling their stories because the stories have too much veracity to have been made up and elements that can be proven as fact. i think he is now looked at in that light, and that he called together the stories and did it as his own. i said, what if i treat barnes
and the logbook that way? i will fit the barnes story into the details of the logbook. that's what i wind up doing. barnes plays a continuing role in this, but i can tell you all his actions conform to what i can prove in the logbook. the other challenge, and this was a big one. even up until today, if you read any study of lincoln at city point, there are good odds you are going to see quoted as a witness a fellow named william h
crook. self-proclaimed lincoln bodyguard. one of the things i did was culled through lots of newspapers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when lincoln lore was really popular. i cannot tell you how popular crook's recollections were. they started out as a washington post article, turn into a magazine article, and then a book. i contacted a lincoln scholar i know named wayne temple, and he said, for people who worked in the assassination and the trial after the assassination, crook is not have much credibility. he says things we can prove he is lying about. he claims to be in places, doing things that he clearly never did. that i happened to, in georgetown, find a lincoln amateur scholar's papers, and he had a folder called crook. he had gotten an interview or
found a transcript of an interview with a person who worked with crook in the latter part of the century. this person said, crook has made a career out of his presumed relationship with abraham lincoln. in that same folder, i found reference to a letter in the washington post, which i looked up. it was by another member of the lincoln staff named charles forbes. anyone who looks into lincoln's life, he was his manservant. he was so angry when the first crook articles appeared that, as far as i can tell, this is the only written element he ever contributed. this is a guy who spent time with lincoln and the white house, was his manservant, took care of him, prepared meals, all that kind of stuff.
he was so incensed at crook's memoirs that he wrote a short letter that said, mr. cook is wrong when he said he traveled to city point with abraham lincoln in march of 1865. he said, i did. crook further states he was down there until april 1 when mary lincoln travels back to washington and he came back with her. he says when marilyn can turn around and came back, crook came with them. once again, i am stuck with this fact that some of the best stories of lincoln at the time are through crook. i accepted the fact that crook did what buhl did. he started talking to everyone and spding time with lincoln and began culling some of their stories into his own narrative of the event. this is where the ice is getting thin under my feet and i can hear the cracking. where i can confirm there was a reasonable witness their, and i think the likeliest candidate, lincoln had in army servant who collected this afterwards. wherever i could do that, i decided to stay with it. we will see what happens there. i would like to say that i think the most important change in the world right now that i think will change civil war writing and history is the availability of large newspaper archives
online with search engines. i used it extensively, and i will give you two examples of how it helped me with this book. in each case, they led me to the item. i was doing a search on lincoln and city point as the terms, and what pops up was a social page from a winnipeg, canada newspaper. they were covering the reception for the u.s. council. the local woman, the campbell family was quite powerful in that part of the world at the time, was the hostess. she read a letter from her father, who was a contract surgeon in the union army during the civil war, who wrote to her about going to city point in 1865 and meeting general grant and abraham lincoln. that was the extent of the reference. i said, ok. i tracked dr. buck back and found three ontario archives with luck papers.
i contacted the archivists. him sweated out a week or two waiting for the response, and got nothing, nothing, nothing. but in the course of doing all that searching, i also come across a genealogical site for the campbell-buck family. i contacted that archivist and got the message saying, we've got a folder marked dr. buck archives and i got a copy. i think you have all seen some of these movie makings up or they spend two days shooting that unfold as 30 seconds in the movie. it may be two lines, but to me, we had the story of lincoln at fort wadsworth. we had a relatively accessible artillery man, and i was able to add a second line. it fills in with more certainty
a moment and lincoln's time at city point. to me, it was well worth all the trouble, and i can tell you, i think that i don't believe any other lincoln or 1865 book uses dr. buck's letter, that i only found through the newspapers. this is one where i am going out of the speculative but wound up getting the evidence i really needed. anyone who does cursory research and to lincoln at that time will look at the washington newspapers around the time he leaves washington on march 24 to see what they are saying about him. there is a notice in the papers on the 23rd saying that lincoln is about to take a trip down to city point, and they list the passengers who are going to be on the river queen. including on that list were were two u.s. treasury officials. when the river queen gets there, they are not on board. at that point, i am showing my age on my computer, but you know
how you take the file to the trash bin? i think at this point the note was moved to the trash bin because come up for whatever reason, they didn't travel with lincoln. i was doing other things, i come across the archive of lincoln papers at the library of congress. i was looking through the headers and logs, and i'll be 23rd of march, i saw a message to abraham lincoln. i opened it up, and it said, "we have decided not to travel down with you. we will take the revenue cutter and meet you while you are down there." i said, ok, take it out of the trash bin and put it on the active file. from a chicago newspaper, again, thank you search engines, i found washington bureau notes that said, treasury officials had just returned from their visit to city point. i had the date he had come back. i knew from the log books how long it took the river queen to get down to city point, so i figured things out and had a window of the morning of one particular day where it is possible that they were likely all in the same place at the same time.
met with these two. they were in charge of implementing one of the lincoln administration's strange policies having to do with trading with the south. early in the war, once the connecting lines north and south were cut, the textile industry in new england was starting to hit the panic button because the sources of cotton they needed were being cut off. under a lot of pressure, the government came up with an
they were too involved in implementing this policy. it seemed very logical that that's what they would talk to lincoln about. i can't think they would have gotten together and talked about something else. at that point in time, i felt comfortable enough the evidence i had to posit the meeting, which no other biographer has taken note of, and when i thought it happened. there is one site i used a lot in this, called
fultonhistory.com. it is an archive of largely upstate new york newspapers. it turns out that risely was a favorite son of new york. i thought he had added some thousand numbers of news papers and ran my search again. from the "freedonia sensor" from 1865, they printed a letter from him. he was talking about meeting with lincoln at city point. the other details all fall into place. like it actually said, i've got
to go talk to grant. grant hated that policy. as a general, he hated anything that penetrated his lines with people he couldn't control. when risley was explaining why the policy was important, he made it clear the final say was grant, and grant made it clear he wasn't going to approve. it got a little heated at times. lincoln turned to him and said, in a couple of days, it is not going to matter. grant had been slowly sharing with him details of his plan of a coming offensive. here is a case where following these clues and allowing for
issues of corruption of memory over time, i had what i saw was solid evidence of the meeting, the subject, and actions that took place. it is still a piece of the lincoln story that had never been touched on before. now, you have been very good staring at it. let's see if we can get you to stare at some pictures. let's start with captain barnes. that is how he looked at about the time he wrote his memoirs. i had some questions about him, and i have to say, i am not a genealogist. i roughed out an abbreviated family tree. i did some searches and found a speech given at a new england cultural event by a woman who was the great-granddaughter of john barnes. she was a watercolorist. from the state watercolor society website, i got her addressed and sent her a note, and she was a direct descendent of john stanford barnes. she put me in contact with the barnes family, who provided me with this picture. they told me he wrote a second memoir. the reason no one ever found it is because he only distributed it to his family, although one
copy got into the new york historical society in new york city. he called it -- egotistophy of a rolling stone that gathered moss for the amusement of his family. [laughter] researching abraham lincoln, i doubt you will find that. it was his military career of the civil war preceding city point. any barnes family numbers who happen to hear or see this, there is powerful evidence that at the time he was there, he wrote letters to his wife. why this is important is because
of mary lincoln. some of the worst stories about mary lincoln come out of lincoln's time at city point. you can trace them back to two sources, horace porter and adam but go. their attitude towards mary lincoln is like some quarters and outwards hillary clinton. she was not acting as the wife of a martyred president should have acted. she was not carrying herself as the wife of the great martyred president should. they pulled out the stops when it came to making her look bad. i will also notes that at that point, both men were part of the u.s. grant political family, and by making mary lincoln looked terrible, they made julia grant looks saint-like. they were killing a couple of birds with a stone.
i was skeptical to the degree of animus that you will find in recollections and the boudeaux recollections which are easily located. the barnes family had never heard of the letters. they passed the word around their immediate circle. i am convinced that on some shelf in some distant family relative are these letters that will be the truest portrait of mary lincoln at this point in time that we could ever come across. they would have been -- clearly, by the time he wrote his memoirs, barnes had read -- boudeaux had read his porter. gentlemen believe gentlemen. it was an echo of those, and i am not convinced it is true in the sense of what he actually experience. let's see.
all right, here we go. the gentleman on the far left for me, right for you, leaning on his arm like that, that is another figure who plays an important role when lincoln is at city point. i am positing he is largely ignored by most biographers and historians. his name is samuel, a military telegrapher. he was u.s. grant's personal military telegrapher. he had all the codes. he was one smart son of a gun. you had to be to read coded messages at the time. it wasn't just a question of
making a letter substitution. there were false letters and documents, codewords. edward stanton could be referred to as mars. as a result, it took an awful smart guy, good with puzzles, to decipher these messages that came through. which i suggest is a challenge for anybody writing battle histories with an encoded message are involved, figuring out the time lag. it may be said it arrived at 3:00, but it is not out of the question that the general doesn't see the thing for an hour and a half before they get the codewords straightened out. when grant goes to the front on the 28th of march, he sent him back to be abraham lincoln's personal telegraphic assistant. he wrote articles that appeared in the "new york sun." there's a substantial portion it recounts his time with abraham lincoln.
i think you'll find this missing in most accounts of this. ok, hmm. i'll hold off for a minute there. let's do this. i heard from a lincoln biographer who asked to see an advance copy of this. he told me he was impressed enough with some of my sources that he has gone online and changed the online version of his multivolume biography. i said, it's easy, because i was only working on 16 days. i felt i had to answer some questions that a historian working on lincoln's life or the broader span could ignore. when lincoln travels on april 4,
1865, from city point to richmond, he goes from the river queen and changes over to what is universally called the admirals barge. i said, ok, what's the admirals barge? what i could glean from the nasal -- the naval specialist at the national archives was that it was whatever both the admiral used. one of them suggested i get hold of the model builder at a naval museum nearby. i contacted him and said, here's what i know. we know from accounts that when lincoln arrives on april 4, he
is met by the recorder, who notes the full entourage, and mentions there are 12 sailors with lincoln at the time. i said, we have 12 rowers rowing, and i identified the members who carlton said were with lincoln. these guys were on board, including tad lincoln. i said, what can you do for me? he looked at the ship complement, figured out the likely candidate, and there it is. that is a four scale figure in the rear. two guys per oar. you can see the back where the
vip sat. i expect that had would have sat between a couple of the rowers. he said, by the way, you're missing one guy. someone has got to steer the dam ship. when the boat grounds in richmond, he stays with the boat. you don't want everyone to come back. that's why he is not counted by carlton. so we have yet another body there.
there you have the admirals barge. because of admiral porter's multiple recollections of this event, and others that change, you are going to find some accounts that say that lincoln was rowed by marines. marine historians universally said, not in their job descriptions. not something they would have done. in a way, you are right. the admiral's crew was trained to be smart, smooth, efficient, quickly answering commands, resourceful. 12 marines would have been going in circles on the james river. the second point is you are going to find alternate descriptions of the armament that lincoln's escort was carrying. some say carbines, some say bayonets. sailors on board a ship would not have bayonets. they've got knives on them. they might have cutlasses, but no bayonets.
marines, i talk to the marine historians, and they said these guys would have been kitted out as light infantry. this is going to play into something i will talk about in a little bit, which is having to do with what i think happened on april 5, 1865. how my doing? ok. where did lincoln land? this pontoon bridge was not there on april 4, 1865. the area to the right is probably where he came to shore. you are going to see some accounts that mention the fact that, i am sad to say, the national geographic channel retelling of bill o'reilly's carefully researched -- [laughter] unbelievably authentic -- [laughter] history of the lincoln
assassination -- what gets me is when they come up with details that says this shows you i know what i am talking about. he has lincoln coming ashore and the sign says, rockets landing. that was the basic wharf of richmond, about a mile further east. admiral porter makes it clear that they wrote past there. he was going to stop there, but it was covered with smoke. he thought he would find the shorelines with union soldiers. not a one. he rose past this point, get some rapids, turns around and says this is the first point he saw where he could land the boat.
there was a footbridge. this is where the lincoln party lands. 17th and dock street, i think. mike gorman, a ranger at richmond, is the one who figured this out, and he gives a tour that starts down there and walks you up there. but anyway, there you are. here is the president of the united states landing and a captured enemy capital right there. changes the story a little bit. let's see. i wanted very much for the pictures to be new to you. those of you who have looked at various pictures of lincoln, i think you have seen the basic ones that are used. because of my newspaper research, i have got to tell you that around the end of the 19th and early 20th century, not a february went by when newspapers
didn't turn pages over to lincoln reminiscences, coverage, stories, william h crook memoirs, they were all there. often, there were original drawings there, and i like them enough that i used to them. this is from one such. this is lincoln on march 26 reviewing troops at petersburg. again, it's an image that i think really caught the moment, because the troops clearly had an electric response to seeing the commander in chief, and he, in turn, was energized by them. by all accounts, the cheers were humongous, hats in the air, waving, it was a communion of spirit between their commander and the men. i think this captured some of it. lincoln in richmond, and i'm going to move two ahead here -- lincoln became so enshrined in mythology that it is just loaded with things that historians have repeated for years.
i think, if you look at any lincoln book, you will see lithographs that look like a graph of christ entering jerusalem. there is a historic centerpiece of lincoln with a light shining on him and the adulation crowds around him. i found this in a newspaper -- gosh, if i got a nickel for every time i said newspaper. we would call it a graphic novelization of lincoln's life that appeared in serial form in the newspaper. this was the panel. i liked it a lot because these guys look like they are scared, and look at lincoln, how grim he looks. admiral porter there, clutching his sword.
again, i am not saying it is historically correct, but to me, it are conveys the tenseness of the early part of this. porter realizes he had made a mistake. an officer said later he should have boarded himself up where the boat landed, sent somebody on shore to get some help. instead, partly because lincoln is getting impatient, the press into town and start fighting their way through there.
you can see the sailors, and i think those are more accurate representations of the types of weapons they would be carrying. that was the final selling point for me. i really like that, and i was glad -- a photo restorer in the washington area, these were two panels he knit together and cleaned up. ok, all right. let me do some odds and ends here. one thing i learned was going through these various postwar lincoln stories, if there was ever a moral attached to the story, i immediately treated it with care. when they are telling lincoln stories with morals attached, it means the story is getting changed so the moral works. but there was a lincoln story that i initially -- one of the stories you will see reproduced time and time again in the late 19th and early 20th century is lincoln and the kittens. when lincoln is at city point in the telegraph office, three kittens abandoned by their mother, lincoln takes them onto
his lap and is caressing them and taking care of them. as a result, it is a great moral story. here's the leader of the most powerful nation of the world who has seen some of the worst fighting, and he can still find the time to take care of these kittens. i said, ahh. i found a may, 1865 letter in a hospital newspaper published in washington that tells the kitten story. i said, i surrender. it happened. so i've got it in the book. another story i had a big problem with, and again, when i tell you the story, you can say oh, right.
i think, if i have time, lincoln, at the end of his visits, spends a lot of quality time at the field depot hospital on the last day he is there. in the midst of this meeting wounded and maimed soldiers, he takes a break. someone points out a woodpile and an ax, and the account says the president took the ax and split the wood. i said, uh-uh, no no no. this can't be true. then i came across a letter from a doctor who wasn't there in person, but arrived an hour after lincoln left. he said they are all telling the story of the ax.
then i stumbled across a press release from the abraham lincoln library. they have the ax. and they've got a letter of authentication from the doctor in charge of the hospital at the time like in was there that says yes, this is the ax abraham lincoln used to cut wood while he was visiting the field depot hospital. i initially threw it out but had to go back to the trash bin and get it out. from my perspective, and i am only looking at 16 days, so i don't have the depth of knowledge, the exchanges throughout this are complementary, pleasant, even joking at times.
at one point, stanton says, here's hoping i will see the next message from you headlined richmond, virginia. another point, when he learns that lincoln had gone into petersburg, he said, do you think it's right that a commander in chief should put his life on the line that way, whereas a general is expected, i urge you, you are too important for this. lincoln said, it's fine, i'm going to richmond next. let me talk about -- i would like to suggest that during this time at city point, lincoln broke important new ground in the office of the president, and he did almost by accident. when grant goes to the front, at this point in time, the war department had a system in place
for sending "official dispatches to the press." the government was mum on what happened. the press relied on its reporters and, as it turns out, con artists. in a famous case around the time of gettysburg, a con artist put out a proclamation that lincoln said he war is going so badly, i have got to immediately draft 4000 men. that is because he invested gold low and wanted to sell high, and he knew if there is a panic, gold would go up, and he could sell and make a profit. two newspapers bought it and published the story. others, when they checked with the war department, said, huh? the war department came up with an official way of doing this. as best i can determine, the officers wrote reports that they knew would be widely transmitted, so they are couched in a way that doesn't give any confidence but speaks to general
actions. they would be sent to the war department, typically stanton would have put a header and tail on it, and it would have gone out to associated press. two or three days later, small newspapers across the country are carrying these dispatches. somebody, and i think it was beckwith, suggested to lincoln, why don't you tell the country this? so lincoln starts annotating the messages. these are not profound bits of information. there often very workmanlike. general grant sent the following to me, kind of thing. they go out to the country that way. this was a hit. when you start to be asked when you start to see the newspapers publishing it, the headlines start to read, "official dispatch from president lincoln," "a war bulletin from the president," or, the one i liked the most, "the president for the people." for the first time, the president of the united states was reporting to the american people about the progress of the war. to my mind, this was unprecedented.
he continued to do this for a number of days. and, in fact, when he gives his so-called last speech, among the things he mentions to the crowd was how please he was to have brought the good news of general grant's progress to you. we don't see this again until the fireside chats of fdr where the president is speaking directly to the people. he was using the mass media of the time to put himself as the face of what is happening. these are inconsequential lines,
which is why i know most historians ignore it. one observer at the time said, lincoln regarded himself as a public servant no less when he issued that paper, the emancipation proclamation, then when he sat at city point telegraphic dispatches to the country announcing the progress of general grant. i put to you that at this point, lincoln, almost by accident, has dramatically added something to the office of the presidency of the united states by doing this. it is not me saying this, it is the people on the receiving end of this.
i think i have time for one story. i will do two stories. [laughter] noah: the thinnest ice i walk on comes with my reconstruction of what happens on april 5, 1865. the template story says lincoln spends the morning on board, meet with judge campbell and a provost man named ripley, and then heads back to washington. there are times that, i am trying to be the conduit of information, but you have to step back and say, wait a minute here's abraham lincoln a hundred feet off shore of the confederacy. he is an early riser. he doesn't meet these guys until about 10:00. is he going to sit on board and
twiddle his thumbs? it made no sense that he would be so docile on that day. i started getting little pieces of information. on the day before this happened, when admiral porter realized what a mess he had gotten into by pushing lincoln into richmond, he writes that he vowed that if lincoln ever went ashore again he would have an escort of marines. the logbook reports that on the morning of april 5, a detail of 24 marines was made up to escort president lincoln. fact number one. number two, thanks to this paper research, i found two navy officers, aaron vanderbilt and silas terry, who at the time of their passing, their compliments were noted in their obituary. each of them said they had the honor of a company president lincoln when he went into richmond.
we know from the account, these are not the guys in the admiral's barge. it would have made since the admiral porter would have shared the glory among his junior officers. these guys were both officers. they never made a word of this in their lifetime. they weren't capitalizing on the association. vanderbilt becomes an important shipping magnate. silas terry retires from the navy with the rank of rear admiral. these are real people. they each say they most rubber when there are company in lincoln when he visited richmond. beckwith mentioned the visit. then admiral porter left at least three significant memoirs of lincoln's visit to richmond.
you can tell there is a problem, because each one gets better than the next area more detail, more incidents, more dialogue. he starts mixing up the facts. sometimes they are sailors, sometimes they are marines. i said, wait a minute. what if he is confusing two days? so i untangled the porter and pulled the marine part out, stuck it in, and to my mind, it fit. so those become the elements that i am convinced -- clearly, nothing significant happened, so i posit he would have wanted to go see the burned district, which makes sense. this is one area, i get along great with mike gorman, a fine historian who has done great
work researching lincoln's visit to city point. i do not believe that on april 4, as some accounts say, that the crowds swelled to thousands. to some extent, i think this is a white man's talking to a white audience about african-americans. this telegraph summons them from the far corners of the city to come down and see abraham lincoln. i don't believe that is really feasible, in my mind. anybody that could have heard the cheering within earshot probably came to see what it was about. i doubt it was more than a few hundred, at most. i think the next day, there are thousands, because the word has finally spread. you read admiral's account, when he says the crowds are getting
too big, i said ok, that's it. let me end, and i will end. in my humble opinion, one of the great moments of the lincoln presidency happens on april 8, 1865. on his insistence, he goes to the depot field hospital, which at that point, is holding about 6000 wounded soldiers. it is a sort of accumulation of second core, fifth corps, ninth corps hospitals. a sort of accumulation of second corps, fifth corps, ninth corps, hospitals. he gets there, and the officials try to give him the five cent tour. he says no, i came here to take by the hand the men who have achieved our glorious victories. and for the next few hours, he
goes from ward to ward to ward. those that are ambulatory lineup, sometimes circular or straight. i have read accounts that when people are meeting, there is much apt to bow to each other as shake hands. lincoln shakes hands with all of them. my brave boys, the end of the war will be near. he goes to every ward, greets everyone, then he goes to the wards where the nonambulatory people were. he talks to them. this is a tremendous act. i know during the war he visited hospitals in washington, but not on this scale and not with this degree of personal connection on such a scope. i think this is a man who finally accepts that the war is ending, he is making his amends,
if you will, to the sacrifices that brought his victory. he can't do it in words, he needs to do it in deeds, and the deeds he picks are to go to the field hospital. every man, all 5000 to 6000 of them, he has a handshake and a word. probably on the same words -- often the same words, but corps hospital by corps hospital, and this is family affecting for me -- profoundly affecting for me about abraham lincoln. i want to do right a book which resets this story in a whole different way. you now know where i am weakest in terms of speculation, but i made reasonable judgments throughout.
i think it is an important story. i hope you have a chance to read it and buy it for yourself. thank you very much. [applause] noah trudeau: questions? >> [indiscernible] noah trudeau: thank you very much. i just threw this presentation together pretty quickly. i am at lincoln and richmond. one, two. yes, this is a depiction of -- i think it speaks a little bit of the intense personal interaction of the moment. this is postwar, so add whatever you want to the inflation, but this to me looks like an honest portrait. he did indeed by all accounts go to the bed and talk to the individual soldiers that were there. i recount to incidences, one of whom died certainly after lincoln leaves, and another. in the postwar years when the veterans were giving the
recollections, the few that were there gave their words. i did an interview on npr about the book. bless her heart, there was a retired librarian in new hampshire whose great-great-grandfather was in one of the units and have written about it in a letter. she transcribed the letter. that was included in there. [indiscernible] >> when you speak of lincoln in the hospital -- >> [indiscernible] >> when you speak of lincoln visiting the patient's in the hospital, is that at city point
or across the water in brock's? noah trudeau: that was the steele depot which was about two miles south and east of pinpoint. it is on the city point side, not part of city point, but it is nearby it. he went out to the rocks to sort of think about things. i guess you got to come all the way up front here. >> so you speak of the security that accompanied lincoln. where was lafayette baker, the self proclaimed personal security guard of abraham lincoln who liked to be everywhere and was there before he went down to city point, then shows up when it comes to chasing booth and everything,
the assassination? where was he at this point? noah trudeau: i can only tell you -- the question is lafayette baker, who proclaims himself lincoln's bodyguard, where is he at this time? all i can tell you is the two military men assigned to protect the president work charles penrose and john sandford barnes. each was told to be with the president wherever he goes if you can. neither did, but penrose came ashore at richmond. barnes follow the admiral's barge after him. those were military. there would have been a guard on the wharf, but they would have changed on the ship. it was really it. anybody else? all right, down there. >> i looking for a connection between your top and girardi's. you talked about the 28th of march.
on the 31st of march, there was a very confusing exchange of telegrams where it was clear people were sending telegrams and had not received a telegram sent two hours before. that may have contributed to the warrens eventually being sacked. noah trudeau: as a lead up to five forks, the confusion in the union high command between grant, mead, and warren, reflected in a crisscrossing of telegraphic messages to a certain amount of misunderstanding among the parties. is that your summary? clearly that happened. i don't know if you can blame back. he wasn't a miracle worker. grant fairly felt he had sufficient coverage to let back
go. lincoln would not have known the difference. but beck was the one sent to be with lincoln. i don't think beck played a role in that happening, but it is an interesting point. anybody else? thank you. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> interested in american history tv? visit our website, c-span.org/history. you can see our upcoming schedule or watch a recent program. american artifacts, road to the , rewind, lectures, and more. >> public officials, people who
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