December 26, 1864: Lincoln Sends a Thank You Note

Over the last week people have paid much attention to William T. Sherman’s December 22, 1864, letter to Abraham Lincoln, presenting the president with the city of Savannah. Much less attention is paid to Lincoln’s response of December 26, penned the day after he received Sherman’s note. Yet it, too, merits our attention.

Here’s the first page:


… and the second page:

Here’s a close reading of the text:

Do you agree with the analysis?



4 thoughts on “December 26, 1864: Lincoln Sends a Thank You Note

  1. Bert December 26, 2014 / 4:45 am

    Firstly, thanks for posting this series – it’s been great to relive these events as they unfolded exactly 150 years ago.

    I don’t recall Lincoln being “fearful” (a bit anxious, sure) when Sherman headed for the Atlantic, and thought he was just masterfully choosing words here to contrast the great obstacles with the great success gained. Sort of another variation on the, ‘You were right and I was wrong’ theme re Grant at Vicksburg.

    And, is it generally accepted by historians that “those who sat in darkness” refers to Davis (as claimed in the analysis, 5:50-6:25)? Thinking of Lincoln the Master Politician, I can’t help wonder if he was seeing Sherman’s success as political capital (no pun intended) for an upcoming battle in Washington a month later. That is, those who opposed the 13th Amendment might be those in darkness who’d be easier to win over now. Just a thought…

  2. leo December 26, 2014 / 7:24 am

    This is fantastic! While I cannot speak to the analysis in any real depth, it does make a lot of sense to me as someone who dabbles in history purely for the enjoyment of it, and this really adds another dimension to my understanding of Abraham Lincoln beyond the basics covered in a history class.

    Thanks for posting this!

  3. BillF December 26, 2014 / 6:49 pm

    “But what next?” This is Lincoln once more asking his generals to see what he sees, that the job is not finished, and to keep pushing until the South can take no more. I do believe that he has faith in Grant, though, due to his next comment. I also liked the fact that he acknowledged Thomas’ victory.

  4. James F. Epperson December 26, 2014 / 7:32 pm

    I liked the analysis. I’m sure some holes could be poked in it, and it would be interesting to read those “second opinions.”

    Who did this?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s