The First Battles: April 1861 to February 1862

One Special Young Man

What was Lincoln most concerned about?

It took Lincoln weeks to adjust to the fact that the Southern states truly were in earnest, that the war was real. Even after he issued the call for 75,000 volunteers, there was some hesitation in his movements. Once he fully realized the extent of the danger, however, Lincoln proved himself a strategist of no mean ability (one confidante claimed that the president spent more time with the war maps than all of his generals combined). As a Western man, hailing from Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois—in that order—Lincoln saw the trans-Ohio battlefields as the most important. As long as the Confederates could be contained, or fought to a draw, in the East, the Union would eventually prevail in the West. On the other hand, if the Confederates gained some of the Border States, the whole war might be turned on its head.


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