I had the pleasure recently of watching a documentary written by Bill O’Reilly and narrated by Tom Hanks, titled Killing Lincoln. O’Reilly made a point of showing Lincoln walking through the streets of a decimated Richmond – once capital of the great confederacy. Lincoln sat at the desk of Jefferson Davis, who had fled the city only hours before. From that desk he was asked about the nature of attack against the still fleeing rebel soldiers, who were worn and torn and completely without any resources. They could have been killed like fish in a barrel. As for the general sentiment at the time I’m certain that would have been a most fitting end to them. But that wasn’t Lincoln’s assessment, which is why I believe he is the greatest man who probably ever lived. I applaud Mr. O’Reilly for bringing this side of Lincoln to light.
Who shall stand behind her bars and stars?
Who shall fight for Master Robert?
Wrapped in her crimson grasp he cries
“Old Glory never dies!”
Richmond lays in waste,
the path of hunger flows
over hills and valleys low.
But nothing soothes disgrace
or the damned deafening blows
Lee’s army has come to know…
Lincoln sits upon Davis’ throne,
awash in rubble and fear.
Grasping victory clearly alone
in a city full of tears.
And Captain of the Guard should ask
“How to handle the Rebs?”
Lincoln gave that solemn look
and without hesitance said:
We have wrought this terrible war
to settle a more terrible score.
Our valiant brothers in arms
have fled to field and farms.
Lest their honor shed a single tear
or bloodshed last another year,
bring their souls some hopeful cheer,
allow their cause and hearts be near,
let God and all countrymen hear,
that life and brotherhood are so dear.
With that he sat and sighed,
a great turmoil did subside.
Other men think we are all tied
but Lincoln knew deep inside…
That solitude joins each man’s path.
And so too does brotherhood.
“Let up on them, Captain.
Let up on them”
I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.
© 2012 John Richter