This one act changed the course of Civil War

By Bill Federer

Abraham Lincoln signing Emancipation Proclamation

Abraham Lincoln signing Emancipation Proclamation

The Confederate Army was unstoppable – within weeks of winning the Civil War. General Robert E. Lee had won the Second Battle of Bull Run and was marching 55,000 Confederate troops into Maryland on Sept. 3, 1862. The Confederate Army was welcomed into Maryland as anti-Union protests had been filling Baltimore’s streets.

On Sept. 13, 1862, President Lincoln met with Rev. William Patterson, Rev. John Dempster and other Methodist, Baptist and Congregational leaders. The ministers presented Lincoln with a petition urging him to emancipate the slaves.

Lincoln told them: “I am approached with the most opposite opinions and advice. … I hope it will not be irreverent for me to say that if it is probable that God would reveal His will to others, on a point so connected with my duty, it might be supposed He will reveal it directly to me; for, unless I am more deceived in myself than I often am, it is my earnest desire to know the will of Providence in this matter. … These are not, however, the days of miracles, and I suppose it will be granted that I am not to expect a direct revelation.”

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The same day, Sept. 13, 1862, Union Private Barton W. Mitchell was drinking coffee and inadvertently noticed three cigars on the ground wrapped with a piece of paper. It was a copy off Lee’s Special Orders No. 191 addressed to Confederate General D.H. Hill revealing his plan to divide the Confederate Army.

With this information in Union hands, the South’s anticipated victory was cut short. Union General George McClellan was now able to intercept and ambush several Confederate brigades just 70 miles from Washington, D.C.

This erupted into the battle of Antietam, Sept. 17, 1862. 75,000 Union troops attacked 38,000 Confederate troops. It was the single bloodiest day of the Civil War.

Though outnumbered nearly 2 to 1, the South rallied and inflicted more than 12,400 casualties on the North, while sustaining 10,316 of their own. Since McClellan failed to make better use of his intelligence advantage, President Lincoln soon removed him from being in command.

The battle of Antietam was tactically inconclusive, but it proved costlier to the South, as they did not have the immigrants, as the North, did from which to draft new recruits.

With the urging of religious leaders, Lincoln seized the moral high ground by announcing that he would issue an Emancipation Proclamation. On Sept. 22, 1862, as reported by Secretary of the Treasury Salmon Portland Chase, President Lincoln told his cabinet after the battle at Antietam: “The time for the annunciation of the emancipation policy can no longer be delayed. Public sentiment will sustain it, many of my warmest friends and supporters demand it, and I have promised God that I will do it.”

To foreign powers, the Emancipation Proclamation changed the international perception of the war from the issue of states’ rights to the ending of slavery. As Britain and France did not want to be perceived as supporting slavery, they declined to recognize the Confederacy which was an additional blow to the South.

Three weeks after the battle of Antietam, President Lincoln met on Oct. 6, 1862, with Eliza Gurney and three other Quaker leaders, saying: “We are indeed going through a great trial – a fiery trial. In the very responsible position in which I happen to be placed, being a humble instrument in the hands of our Heavenly Father, as I am, and as we all are, to work out His great purposes, I have desired that all my works and acts may be according to His will, and that it might be so, I have sought His aid. …”

Lincoln continued: “But if, after endeavoring to do my best in the light which He affords me, I find my efforts fail, I must believe that for some purpose unknown to me, He wills it otherwise. If I had my way, this war would never have been commenced. If I had been allowed my way, this war would have ended before this. But we find it still continues; and we must believe that He permits it for some wise purpose of His own, mysterious and unknown to us. …”

Lincoln concluded: “… and though with our limited understandings we may not be able to comprehend it, yet we cannot but believe, that He who made the world still governs it.”

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Source:: World Net Daily Faith

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