I came across an anecdote about Lincoln meeting General George Pickett’s wife and baby, and thought I would share it.
It was found in the book “The Heart of a Soldier: The Intimate Letters from General George E. Pickett to his Wife,” and is told by “Sally,” his wife.
The story takes place immediately after the fall of Richmond when Mrs. Pickett was in the house alone with their baby. Though understandably nervous, she answered a knock at the door with the young child in her arms.
When the tall, bearded stranger asked her if George Pickett resided there, she told him, yes, but that he wasn’t home. The stranger replied that he knew that, but he just wanted to see the place. Then he told her, “I am Abraham Lincoln.”
When she exclaimed, “The president?” he shook his head and said, “No, ma’am. No ma’am. Just Abraham Lincoln, George’s old friend.” (Lincoln had been the one to get Pickett an appointment at West Point).
Mrs. Pickett then told him she was George Pickett’s wife and that the child in her arms was his baby. Here is the rest of the tale in her own words:
“My baby pushed away from me and reached out his hands to Mr. Lincoln, who took him in his arms. As he did so, an expression of rapt, almost divine, tenderness and love lighted up the sad face. It was a look that I have never seen on any other face. My baby opened his mouth wide and insisted upon giving his father’s friend a dewy, infantile kiss. As Mr. Lincoln gave the little one back to me, shaking his finger at him playfully, he said: ‘Tell your father, the rascal, that I forgive him for the sake of that kiss and those bright eyes.'”
Picturing that stern, sad face brightening at the actions of a child, left an indelible image in my mind the first time I read this passage many, many years ago. I hope it does the same for you.