- War


Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life

Cassius M. Clay Battalion defending the White House, April 1861. Courtesy of the National Archives.
Abraham Lincoln, like so many others, underestimated the cost of the war ahead. Both North and South were confident they could easily win the struggle. Each misjudged the other’s determination.

The first years of the war were full of horror and frustration. Union forces appeared incapable of sustaining a successful campaign. The Confederate army, with fewer resources, had repelled Union advances and maintained a threat against Washington, D.C. Amid so many deaths and so little progress, many of Lincoln’s closest allies questioned his ability to oversee the war.
"The Prest. is an excellent man, and in the main wise; but he lacks will and purpose, and I greatly fear he, has not the power to command."
—Attorney General Edward Bates, December 31, 1861