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Lincoln Cared for Three Kittens at the Battlefront

Near the end of the Civil War, there was a touching scene that showed the gentleness and tenderness of President Abraham Lincoln. While he was visiting near the battle lines, Lincoln noticed three kittens, who had lost their mother. Moved by their mewing, he picked them up to comfort them.

Lincoln said, “Poor little creatures, don’t cry; you’ll be taken good care of.” To an officer, the President added, “Colonel, I hope you will see that these poor little motherless waifs are given plenty of milk and treated kindly.” The colonel replied “I will see, Mr. President, that they are taken in charge by the cook of our mess and are well cared for.”

One of the officers on the scene said, “It was a curious sight at an army headquarters, upon the eve of a great military crisis, in the nation’s history, to see the hand which had affixed the signature to the Emancipation Proclamation, and had signed the commissions of all the army men who served in the cause of the Union … tenderly caressing three stray kittens.”

Lincoln’s biographer, John Meacham adds, “It was not only curious—it was revealing. In the midst of carnage, fresh from a battlefield strewn with the corpses of those he had ordered in the battle, Lincoln was seeking some kind of affirmation of life, some evidence of innocence, some sense of kindliness amid cruelty. The orphaned kittens were a small thing, but they were there, and his focus on their welfare was a passing human moment in a vast drama.”

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