- Historic Sites
A Rude Reception
A tall stranger, told to keep out of the general’s tent, turns out to be Lincoln
October 1955 | Volume 6, Issue 6
It transpired that the President had just arrived on the City of Baltimore , and was accompanied by his son “Tad”; Asst. Sec. of the Navy, [Gustavus Vasa] Fox; Mr. Chadwick, proprietor of the Willard Hotel, as purveyor for the party; and the Marine Band. The conversation took a wide, free-and-easy range until dinner was announced. The President was duly seated, ate much as other mortals, managed to ring in three capital jokes during the meal, and kept everybody on the lookout for others, till the party rose.
He was naturally desirous of riding to the front, so at four o’clock horses were brought up. Mr. Lincoln was mounted on Grant’s thorough-bred “Cincinnatus,” the general on “Egypt,” and “Tad,” on Grant’s black pacing pony “Jeff Davis.” Accompanied by a large proportion of the staff, and a cavalry escort, the party rode to Gen. Wright’s headquarters, where Gen. Meade and staff met them. The location commanded as good a view of Petersburg as could then be had from our lines. Maps were examined, the position of the army explained, its future operations discussed, the steeples and spires of the city observed as well as the dust and smoke would allow, national airs were played by the bands, the enemy’s works on the opposite side of the Appomattox inspected, and after a stay of an hour and a half the party started on its return to headquarters.
On the way out many persons recognized Mr. Lincoln. The news soon spread, and on the return ride, the road was lined with weather-beaten veterans, anxious to catch a glimpse of “Old Abe.” One cavalry private had known him in Illinois. Mr. Lincoln shook him by the hand, as an old familiar acquaintance, to the infinite admiration of all bystanders.