Lincoln. Mary. Robert. War.

Presidential History Blog

The Lincoln family early in his administration.

Of all the decisions Abraham Lincoln was obliged to make during his administration, few were as personally difficult as his son’s participation in the Army.

Robert’s Story

Young Robert Todd Lincoln sincerely wanted to enlist.

Robert Todd Lincoln had just entered Harvard when his father was inaugurated in March, 1861. Within weeks, Fort Sumter was attacked, and the new President called for 75,000 volunteers. At the outset, everyone believed the so-called “war” would be a big brouhaha: a battle fought, some unfortunate casualties, and cooler heads would prevail to settle the problems.

The battle was fought, the casualties staggered the imagination, nobody went back to the table, and nothing was resolved other than more battles and unthinkable casualties. Robert Lincoln diligently attended to his studies, but many of his Harvard classmates were enlisting in the Union Army. The President and First Lady continually…

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