403. John H. Littlefield to William H. Herndon.
Washington Dec. 11th 1866
I have been trying very hard to obtain a file of papers for you but I fear I shall have to give it up.* [note at bottom of page: I had hoped to get files owened by private individuals,] The Washington Star contains the fullest account of the entry of Mr Lincoln in the City of Washington in 1861 The Gentleman that reported for it is a friend of mine & is entirely reliable & he says that he had an interview with Mr. Lincoln when he first arrived here in 61 It will be necessary to employ a person to copy such parts of the Star and other papers as may Seem required for your work I would copy them myself but I can not possibly find time besides Mrs L. is very sick with pneumonia. If it is your wish I will employ a person to copy such parts of the Star & other papers as you may require at once. I will State an anecdote that came under my observation In 1862, there was considerable Said about the Yazoo River Expedition Mr Lincoln one evening at the White House was Suffering with pain caused by the extraction of a "raging tooth" "Pet Halsted"
515room and remained there Some minutes when Mr Lincoln hearing our voices came in & Sat down (just as he used to in the office in Springfield) and notwithstanding the pain that afflicted him chatted humorously with here & there a flash of real logic that showed that he comprehended the Situation. The Yazoo River Expedition received his attention — he Said by the way of preamble that he found it necessary to Yield here a little & there a little in order to keep peace in the family & that if he interfered in a plan that was not essential, vital, the West Pointers, ie the regular officers who had the execution of all plans would in Some way or other obstruct or defeat the execution of his Scheme therefore in as much as they had to be depended upon at last he found it best to trust them at first & rely on events & the power of persuasion to rectify errors In regard to the Yazoo River expedition he Said (pointing to the map*) [note at the bottom of the page: (This was a large map which hung in his room which he often referred to)] how can a force go dow a river that is only a few rods wide when it can not get down a river that is a mile wide? & if it could it would only wind about & come out into the the Same river that it is contended by the millitary officers you can not pursue — the Mississippi & for this reson you wish to leave the Mississippi above Vicksburg This expedition proposes to follow the Yazo & come out in the Mississippi what have you accomplished? You have have gained nothing I cant better make this clear that by relating an incident that came under my own observation. There was a man in Ill a good many years since that was troubled with an old sow & her pigs — again & again the old man & his Sons drove her out & repeatedly found her in the lot One day he & his boys Searched about & found that She got in to the lot through a certain hollow log that had been placed in the fence; they took out this log and built up the fence by placing the log a little differently than before & the next day what was the astonishment of the "Old Lady" to find that she & her litter came out of the log outside of the field instead of inside — It is just so with the Yazoo River expedition Said Mr L. "it comes out of the Same Side of the log"
This little story it seems to me illustrates the fact illustrates the fact that Mr L — comprehended millitary problems far better than was generally supposed I will endeavor from time to time to arrange little incidents that I was an eye witness of or collect such anecdotes that have not yet been published as may seem to be of Some Service to you. If you should desire to have a faithful likeness engraved of Mr Lincoln I may be of some service I am now painting Gen. Grant in oil & expect to publish his picture in pure line engraving the head of which will be 6 inches long I expect also to paint a life Size head of Mr. Lincoln which I will have engraved if I can bring it about It is quite doubtful if there is a living artist that has such varied & servicable remembrances of the good man as your humble servant. When Your book is ready for publication I may put you on track of good houses in New York or elsewhere Please write me at your earliest convenience & if you desire it I will set a man to copying the points you require at once I
516should esteem it a great favor if you would favor me with a copy of your Lecture
J H Littlefield
Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 2889 — 90