"Confederate Veteran's mention of Delawarean, Samuel B. Hearn, and his Confederate Compatriots"

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    The road to Washington was soon covered, but bitter was their disappointment to learn at the White House that the President was not there, but at his summer retreat, "The Soldiers' Home", in the suburbs of the capital. Time was precious, the lives of three men hung in the balance, the President must be reached without delay, and at all speed the party hurried to "The Soldiers' Home" and aroused the inmates. In response to a message that a party from Baltimore wished to interview on a matter of importance, the President sent word that he would soon come down. Presently, the tall figure of the Chief Magistrate appeared at the head of the stairway, clad in decidedly scant attire, and holding a candle high over his head. Mr. Lincoln was just about descending the stairs when made aware of the presence of ladies in the party, whereupon he beat a retreat and soon reappeared in more appropriate apparel. Joining his visitors, he inquired the object of their call, whereupon the spokesman of the party proceeded to give an outline of the case, with which the president was, of course, in a general way familiar. Having had his say, he then presented Mr. and Mrs. Gittings. The latter at once engaged in an eloquent appeal for the lives of the prisoners, Mr. Lincoln paying close attention to all she had to say. He then inquired a Mrs. Gittings whether the Secretary of War had had been seen, and was told that all appeals had been made in vain.

   The conversation now took a new turn, and the President continued; "Pardon me, madam; are you not a Southern woman?"

   Mrs. Gittings, fully equal to the occasion, replied: "Yes, Mr. President. I am the daughter of Thomas Ritchie, of Richmond, whose name and reputation are well known to you."

   Just now it must have dawned upon Mr. Lincoln that the woman so earnestly pleading before him was none other than the erstwhile befriender of Mrs. Lincoln in 1861. As the interview preceded, it was made clear that the Gittings' family had not escaped the espionage of the Federal authorities in their endeavors of the past three years to repress the disloyal element in Baltimore. It was equally evident that the President had not lost sight of the Gittings family during this period. That he was fully conversant with Mrs. Gittings's political attitude in the community was attested by his next statement: "Madam, I have heard that you sympathizers are keenly active for the Southern cause, and, further, that you are suspected of sending material aid in succor to your Southern friends."

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