"Of course there was nothing remarkable in this interview, but it was one of the chief events of my life...." Recalling his experiences in Battery B, 4th US Artillery, the author recalls traveling with a squad of 40 detached artillerymen to transport captured Confederate cannon from the Battle of Cedar Creek. Upon arrival at Washington, the Congressman from his district introduced him to the President:
"This is a fighting boy, Mr. President," he said. "He is a veteran all the way from Fredericksburg, and has just been up in the Valley with Sheridan, attending to Mr. Early!"
Mr. Lincoln looked at me with an expression of mingled kindness and drollery on his homely face, took me by the hand, and said: "Where is your mustache? A veteran ought to have a mustache!"
I said I had "been trying to raise one, but it wouldn't grow."
"How old are you son?"
"Nineteen years, sir."
"How long have you been in the army?"
"Over two years, sir."
"How many battles have you been in -- what ones?"
So I began to go over the list, from Fredericksburg to Cedar Creek, and when I got to the end he said, "That is a very long record for such a short boy!"
There were 15 or 20 people looking on, and they all laughed at this, Major Generals included. Mr. Lincoln was so much taller than I was, that I had to look almost straight up at him, and he seemed to be much amused at my self-possession and the precision of my replies to his questions....
"This trouble will soon be over, my son. Then you must come and see me again. I will have more time to talk with you them. I always love to talk with our soldier boys. Bless you all--every one! Good morning."
I remember that I was much struck with his way of referring to the war as "this trouble." ...Of course there was nothing remarkable in this interview, but it was one of the chief events of my life....
Illustration by George Yost Coffin for The National Tribune, 1890.
Article The National Tribune., February 20, 1890, page 2.