Saturday, October 24, 2009

A FRIEND OF GEORGE PICKETT

George Pickett, who had known Lincoln in Illinois, years before, joined the Southern army, and by his conspicuous bravery and ability had become one of the great generals of the Confederacy. Toward the close of the war, when a large part of Virginia had fallen into the possession of the Union army, the President called at General Pickett's Virginia home.

The general's wife, with her baby on her arm, met him at the door. She herself has told the story for us.

" 'Is this George Pickett's home?' he asked.

"With all the courage and dignity I could muster, I replied: 'Yes, and I am his wife, and this is his baby.'

" 'I am Abraham Lincoln.'

" 'The President!' I gasped. I had never seen him, but I knew the intense love and reverence with which my soldier always spoke of him.

"The stranger shook his head and replied: 'No; Abraham Lincoln, George's old friend.'

"The baby pushed away from me and reached out his hands to Mr. Lincoln, who took him in his arms. As he did so an expression of rapt, almost divine tenderness and love lighted up the sad face. It was a look that I have never seen on any other face. The baby opened his mouth wide and insisted upon giving his father's friend a dewy kiss.

"As Mr. Lincoln gave the little one back to me he said: 'Tell your father, the rascal, that I forgive him for the sake of your bright eyes.' "

written by Charles Moore

2 comments:

Walt said...

Legend has it that Pickett's West Point appointment was secured for him by Abraham Lincoln, but this is largely believed to be a story circulated by his widow following his death. Lincoln, as an Illinois state legislator, could not nominate candidates, although he did give the young man advice after he was accepted.

In the writings she published after her husband's death, La Salle Corbell Pickett created the enduring fiction that Lincoln not only secured her late husband's appointment but that the future President took an avid interest in his Academy career as well as in his service as a Confederate officer. To support her claims, Mrs. Pickett fabricated at least two letters from the Illinois legislator to his young protege, one supposedly written before and one short1y after George's matriculation at the Academy. The general's widow was also responsible for the fiction that her husband was so grateful to Lincoln for his interest and assistance that he never permitted anyone, in his presence, to criticize his benefactor.

Mrs. Pickett went to elaborate lengths to persuade her readers that her husband and the President remained close even in the throes of civil war. She concocted and several times repeated the tale that Lincoln, visiting Richmond at the close of the conflict, stopped by the house at Sixth and Leigh, introduced himself to the general's widow, assured her that he bore no ill will toward her husband, and exchanged kisses with one-year-old Qeorge Pickett, Jr. By evoking the image of the President, whose lenient plan of Reconstruction had been thwarted by radicals in his own patty, Mrs. Pickett invested her story with mysthic properties while exploiting a reunion theme popular with her postwar audience. By the time Mrs. Pickett wrote, on the threshold of the twentieth century and after, close acquaintances of 'her soldier' and of Lincoln, who might have exposed her accounts as fabrications, were few. One who doubted the credibility of her stories was Union Major George A. Bruce, who had been in Richmond during Lincoln's April 1865 visit and who in after years contributed to the history of the war. Like other critics North and South, Bruce chose not to go public with his contention that Mrs. Pickett was perpetrating a literary fraud. He never doubted, however, that the Lincoln-Pickett relationship was a carefully crafted piece of fiction."

masterwordsmith said...

Thank you so much for sharing so much with us and broadening the scope of this post.

Take care and God bless your kind heart!

Cheers