Whether a soldier was Union or Confederate in his loyalties during the Civil War, there was not a unified reaction to Abraham Lincoln's preliminary or official Emancipation Proclamation. The individual reaction varied on either side of this struggle, both north and south of the Mason-Dixon Line.
President Lincoln's Government seems to have exercised its ingenuity to dispel any such delusion. Its acts demonstrate clearly that the purpose is to subjugate us, confiscate our property, and emancipate our slaves. To attain this end the plainest provisions of the Constitution have been disregarded ?It has been superseded by the most odious despotism. If doubt can have lingered in the mind of any of this point it must be removed by President Lincoln's proclamation of the 22d instant. He not only declares his purpose to emancipate our slaves, but commands his officers, civil, military, and naval, to recognize and maintain their freedom.
- Major General Samuel Jones, Department of East Tennessee, September 30, 1862
The paramount causes which have controlled and influenced my conduct and opinions were love for the Union and an unshaken confidence that we had the best Constitution and Government in the world; but of all the acts of despotism of which the civil war in which we are now engaged has been the prolific source there is not one which in the slightest-degree equals the atrocity and barbarism of Mr. Lincoln's proclamation, At one blow it deprives all the citizens of the slave States without distinction of the right to hold slaves, a right guaranteed by the very Constitution he pretends to uphold.
If you would save yourselves from a species of carnage unexampled in the history of North America, but unequivocally invited in Mr. Lincoln's proclamation, let every man who is able to fight buckle on his armor, and without awaiting the slow and tedious process of conscription, at once volunteer to aid in the struggle against him.
- Honorable Thomas A. R. Nelson to the People of East Tennessee, October 3, 1862.
Sister, you may think the above a singular confession for a Federal soldier but it is true. I enlisted to fight for the Union and the Constitution but Lincoln puts a different construction on things and now has us Union men fighting for his Abolition Platform, and this making us a hord [sic] of Subjugators, house burners, negro thieves, and devastators of private property.
- John T. Harrington, 22nd Kentucky Union Infantry Regiment, January 9, 1863
The boys are willing to fight for the Constitution, the glorious old Constitution, under which we have acquired such a high position among the "nations on earth," and if the abolition of slavery comes as a natural result of the war, all right, but if it is the intention of the Government [to] wage the war especially for the abolition of slavery, they are down on it.
- An anonymous soldier in the 81st Indiana, Daily Ledger, New Albany, Indiana.
It is difficult to see how they [the Confederates] can get out of the state without being utterly routed, if not utterly destroyed. Lincoln's emancipation proclamation makes them utterly desperate and if crushed now will never rise again here.
- Surgeon Stephen O. Himoe, 15th Wisconsin Infantry, letter to his wife about the battle of Perryville, Kentucky, October 10, 1862.
Kentucky Lincoln Heritage Trail
1809 Abraham Lincoln born at Sinking Spring farm, in present-day Larue County, Kentucky.
1816 Lincoln family moved from Kentucky.
1841 Abraham Lincoln visited his friend Joshua Speed at Farmington, the Speed family plantation, in Louisville, Kentucky.
1842 Abraham Lincoln married Mary Todd of Lexington, Kentucky.
1847 The Lincoln family visited Lexington, Kentucky, en route to Abraham's only term in Congress.
1860 Abraham Lincoln elected President of the United States in November.
1865 Abraham Lincoln assassinated at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C.
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