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Lincoln's Sanctuary
09-06-2015, 10:02 AM (This post was last modified: 09-06-2015 10:05 AM by Eva Elisabeth.)
Post: #1
Lincoln's Sanctuary Matthew Pinsker

Since I couldn't word it better I picked out the following passages from the Amazon reviews that to me perfectly nail and describe the most outstanding features of this book:

The First "Camp David" (love the headline!) - by Mark from Freehold:

"I found the writing style enjoyable, the research accurate and detailed while not at all overbearing, and the information very interesting. There are still very little details of the Lincoln's day to day activities at the Soldier's Home...The author uncovered letters and diaries of the soldiers and visitors who were around the Lincoln's at this time and from these sources has discovered a wealth of information. The book parallels each of the decisive war time decisions made by Lincoln, and shows how his daily commute to the Soldiers Home from the White House and back, and the relaxing time spent with his family during summer nights and weekends, helped to shape some of his actions and achievements.
I recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about Lincoln the person, with an interest in his politics and Civil War presidency."

Jonathan Lupton wrote:

"It reads quickly and well, yet also provides decent insight into the Lincoln presidency and the role played by the Soldiers' Home, the presidential retreat. The book operates on many levels at once. It provides insight into the history of the Soldiers' Home, perspectives from the soldiers who guarded the Lincoln family there, and astute analysis of the president's day-to-day life during long summers at the Soldiers Home. The author does an excellent job of weighing and balancing historical information, artfully blending into the text his own assessment of different accounts' accuracy.The most memorable part of this book is the incident of Fort Stevens, where Lincoln could not resist the temptation to view skirmishing between Union forces and Jubal Early's rebel raiders in July of 1864. The author separates legend from reality in this fascinating account of the only time a sitting American president has witnessed combat.
Not a comprehensive biography of Lincoln, this title uses its limited theme to full advantage: by focusing on a narrow spectrum of the Lincoln story, he is able to bring the reader closer to the real man, his family, and his times than many other full-length biographies have ever done."

Finally I would like share one of Lincoln's anecdotes he told at this very place, that I find to be an inspiration:

Although they liked the President, his guards at the Soldiers' Home thought they would be better used in the line of battle. In the early summer of 1864 when the Army of the Potomac was heavily engaged with General Robert E. Lee's Confederate army, some soldiers complained to Lincoln about not fighting on the front line and asked for a transfer. Lincoln, stating that while he preferred not to have a guard, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton insisted upon it, then admonished the men: "You boys remind me of a farmer friend of mine in Illinois, who said he could never understand why the Lord put the curl in a pig's tail. It never seemed to him to be either useful or ornamental, but he reckoned that the Almighty knew what he was doing when he put it there...I don't think I need guards, but Mr. Stanton...thinks I do, and it is in his Department, if you go to the front he will insist upon others coming from the front to take your place. It is a soldier's duty to obey orders without question, and in doing that you can serve your country as faithfully here as at the front, and I reckon it is pleasanter and safer here than there." (O - source for this incident : Stimmel: "Personal Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln", p. 26-27.)

"The Almighty knew what he was doing when he put it there" - I've some times in life complained about misfortunate circumstances, only happening to me, of course, that later turned out to develop into something good, even better than my original ideas. Insight by hindsight...
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09-07-2015, 05:29 AM
Post: #2
RE: Lincoln's Sanctuary
Thanks for mentioning this book, Eva. One thing I liked about the book is that it contained information backing up Ward Hill Lamon's story that someone took a shot at Lincoln as he was riding alone to the Soldiers' Home in August of 1864. I am sure other books have this information, too, but previously I had not remembered seeing anything other than Lamon's account. Pinsker writes:

"About eleven o'clock one night, Private John W. Nichols of Company K was on guard duty at the large gate on the edge of the institution's grounds when he heard a rifle shot and then witnessed the "bareheaded" president riding quickly on horseback toward his cottage. Private Nichols asked the president about his missing hat and was told that "somebody had fired a gun off at the foot of the hill" which frightened Lincoln's horse and then led to a struggle to regain control that had "jerked his hat off." Concerned, Nichols recalled years later that he and another member of the company went down the twisting driveway toward the main road where they discovered the president's signature silk plug hat with a bullet hole through the crown. The next day Nichols claimed that he returned the item to the president, who assured him "rather unconcernedly" that the whole episode was the product of "some foolish gunner" and that he wanted the matter "kept quiet."

Nichols' account was originally published in the Wheeling Register, and reprinted in the April 6, 1887, edition of the New York Times.

Since I don't always trust Lamon's memory I was happy to see his story was corroborated.
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09-10-2015, 12:36 AM (This post was last modified: 09-10-2015 12:38 AM by LincolnToddFan.)
Post: #3
RE: Lincoln's Sanctuary
Eva, I am so happy that you have had a chance to read this wonderful book. It made me glad to know that AL had this one place he could retreat to during his traumatic years in office, and that he and Mary could find a little peace there.

I loved "Lincoln's Sanctuary". I found the personal, eyewitness recollections of Sgt. Charles Derickson particularly fascinating with his insights into the relationship of Lincoln and his wife at the Soldier's Home.
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