Reply to Sons of Temperance

September 29, 1863

As a matter of course, it will not be possible for me to make a response coextensive with the address which you have presented to me. If I were better known than I am, you would not need to be told that in the advocacy of the cause of temperance you have a friend and sympathizer in me. [Applause.]

When I was a young man, long ago, before the Sons of Temperance as an organization, had an existence, I in an humble way, made temperance speeches, [applause] and I think I may say that to this day I have never, by my example, belied what I then said. [Loud applause.]

In regard to the suggestions which you make for the purpose of the advancement of the cause of temperance in the army, I cannot make particular responses to them at this time. To prevent intemperance in the army is even a part of the articles of war. It is part of the law of the land—and was so, I presume, long ago—to dismiss officers for drunkenness. I am not sure that consistently with the public service, more can be done than has been done. All, therefore, that I can promise you is, (if you will be pleased to furnish me with a copy of your address) to have it submitted to the proper Department and have it considered, whether it contains any suggestions which will improve the cause of temperance and repress the cause of drunkenness in the army any better than it is already done. I can promise no more than that.

I think that the reasonable men of the world have long since agreed that intemperance is one of the greatest, if not the very greatest of all evils amongst mankind. That is not a matter of dispute, I believe. That the disease exists, and that it is a very great one is agreed upon by all.

The mode of cure is one about which there may be differences of opinion. You have suggested that in an army—our army—drunkenness is a great evil, and one which, while it exists to a very great extent, we cannot expect to overcome so entirely as to leave [have?] such successes in our arms as we might have without it. This undoubtedly is true, and while it is, perhaps, rather a bad source to derive comfort from, nevertheless, in a hard struggle, I do not know but what it is some consolation to be aware that there is some intemperance on the other side, too, and that they have no right to beat us in physical combat on that ground. [Laughter and applause.]

But I have already said more than I expected to be able to say when I began, and if you please to hand me a copy of your address it shall be considered. I thank you very heartily, gentlemen, for this call, and for bringing with you these very many pretty ladies.


To William S. Rosecrans

                                                                    Executive Mansion,
My Dear General Rosecrans              Washington, September 28, 1863.

We are sending you two small corps, one under General Howard, and one under General Slocum, and the whole under General Hooker. Unfortunately the relations between Generals Hooker and Slocum are not such as to promise good, if their present relative positions remain. Therefore let me beg,—almost enjoin upon you—that on their reaching you, you will make a transposition by which Gen. Slocum with his corps, may pass from under the command of Gen. Hooker, and Gen. Hooker, in turn, receive some other equal force. It is important for this to be done, though we could not well arrange it here. Please do it. Yours very truly A. LINCOLN

To Ambrose E. Burnside

Office U.S. Military Telegraph,
War Department,                                Washington, D.C.,
Major General Burnside                    Sep. 25. 1863

Yours of the 23rd. is just received, and it makes me doubt whether I am awake or dreaming. I have been struggling for ten days, first through Gen. Halleck, and then directly, to get you to go to assist Gen. Rosecrans in an extremity, and you have repeatedly declared you would do it, and yet you steadily move the contrary way. On the 19th. you telegraph once from Knoxville, and twice from Greenville, acknowledging receipt of order, and saying you will hurry support to Rosecrans. On the 20th. you telegraph again from Knoxville, saying you will do all you can, and are hurrying troops to Rosecrans. On the 21st. you telegraph from Morristown, saying you will hurry support to Rosecrans; and now your despatch of the 23rd. comes in from Carter’s Station, still farther away from Rosecrans, still saying you will assist him, but giving no account of any progress made towards assisting him

You came in upon the Tennessee River at Kingston, Loudon, and Knoxville; and what bridges or the want of them upon the Holston, can have to do in getting the troops towards Rosecrans at Chattanooga is incomprehensible. They were already many miles nearer Chattanooga than any part of the Holston river is, and on the right side of it. If they are now on the wrong side of it, they can only have got so by going from the direction of Chattanooga, and that too, since you have assured us you would move to Chattanooga; while it would seem too, that they could re-cross the Holston, by whatever means they crossed it going East

Lincoln endorsed the back of the second page “Not sent.”

To Mary Todd Lincoln

Mrs. A. Lincoln,                                               Washington, D.C.,
Fifth Avenue Hotel New York—                Sep. 24 1863

We now have a tolerably accurate summing up of the late battle between Rosecrans and Bragg. The result is that we are worsted, if at all, only in the fact that we, after the main fighting was over, yielded the ground, thus leaving considerable of our artillery and wounded to fall into the enemies’ hands, for which we got nothing in turn. We lost, in general officers, one killed, and three or four wounded, all Brigadiers; while according to rebel accounts, which we have, they lost six killed, and eight wounded. Of the killed, one Major Genl. and five Brigadiers, including your brother-in-law, Helm; and of the wounded, three Major Generals, and five Brigadiers. This list may be reduced two in number, by correction of confusion in names. At 11/40 A.M. yesterday Gen. Rosecrans telegraph[ed] from Chattanooga “We hold this point, and I can not be dislodged, except by very superior numbers, and after a great battle” A despatch leaving there after night yesterday says, “No fight to-day”


To William S. Rosecrans

Major Gen. Rosecrans                Washington, D.C.,
Chattanooga, Tenn.                   Sep. 23 1863

Below is Bragg’s despatch, as found [in] the Richmond papers. You see he does not claim so many prisoners or captured guns, as you were inclined to concede. He also confesses to heavy loss. An exchanged General of ours leaving Richmond yesterday says two of Longstreets Divisions, & his entire Artillery, and two of Picketts brigades, and Wies’ legion, have gone to Tennessee. He mentions no other. A. LINCOLN

To Robert A. Maxwell

Robert A. Maxwell                            Executive Mansion,
New-York                                            Washington, Sep. 23. 1863.

I hasten to say that in the State of information we have here, nothing could be more ungraceous than to indulge any suspicion towards Gen. Thomas. It is doubtful whether his heroism and skill exhibited last sunday afternoon, has ever been surpassed in the world. A. LINCOLN

To William S. Rosecrans

Major General Rosecrans                  Washington, D.C.,
Chattanooga, Tenn.                            Sep. 22. 1863 [8:30 A.M.]

We have not a word here as to the whereabouts or condition of your Army, up to a later point than Sunset Sunday the 20th. Your despatches to me of 9. A.M. and to Gen. Halleck of 2. PM. yesterday tell us nothing later on those points. Please relieve my anxiety as to the position & condition of your army up to the latest moment.