This Week in the Civil War - 703
On Wednesday, November 18, 1863 a special train left Washington, D.C. for Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Depressed due to the Union military situation at both Chattanooga and Knoxville and because of Tad Lincoln’s illness, President Abraham Lincoln related few stories en route.
To his secretary John Hay, Lincoln remarked that he felt weak. Upon arriving at Gettysburg, the president spoke briefly to a small crowd outside the Wills House, where he was staying the night, and then retired to work on his remarks for the following day.
On the morning of November 19, Lincoln mentioned to John Nicolay that he was dizzy, and others described the president as having “a ghastly color” and “almost haggard.” We know now that Lincoln was suffering from a mild case of smallpox when delivering the Gettysburg Address.