Early in the Civil War, wounded from both the Union and Confederate lines were brought to a federal hospital near Washington, D.C. President Lincoln arrived. He visited not just the Union soldiers — but also the Southern soldiers. To Lincoln, they all of them were Americans.
Lincoln kept that perspective throughout the war. The secessionists WERE Americans. Their states WERE American states. The country was going through rebellion, but Lincoln never conceded that the rebels were Southerners only — they were Americans. In fact, President Lincoln never recognized the Confederate States of America. He wouldn’t negotiate with anybody from the CSA on the basis of one country with another. The Lincoln administration never recognized the Confederate government. They were NOT another government — they all of them were Americans.
Lincoln kept this perspective all through the war. In his mind, it was still one country. After the Battle of Gettysburg, Gen. Meade reported to the President, “We have driven the enemy from our land.”
Lincoln replied, What do you mean — we have driven the enemy from our land. It’s ALL our land!
I’ve been thinking about these items in relation to the question about whether the graves of Confederate soldiers in our national and state parks would still be decorated with the Stars & Bars.
Why not decorate their graves with the Stars & Stripes?
Lincoln never thought of them as other than Americans.