The First Battles: April 1861 to February 1862

International Events

What was the public mood on New Year’s Day of 1862?

It had long been the fashion for presidents to open the White House to the public, and Lincoln decided this would be a good occasion to meet and greet his fellow Americans. Dignitaries arrived as early as 10 A.M., but the doors were opened at noon, and Lincoln commenced his talks and jokes, at which he was a true master.

The Marine Band played all afternoon, and there was an appearance of celebration, but in fact Lincoln and his Cabinet were deeply concerned. The Trent Affair was fading rapidly, but it had excited fears of a second war, and the news from the various battlefields was not at all encouraging. About the only place where Lincoln felt much security was with his beloved family and his Cabinet, which had increasingly become like a second family to him. In the Confederate capital, things were even gloomier. The Confederacy had almost nothing to celebrate; all its efforts were expended merely in keeping the situation together.


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