George Pickett, who had known Lincoln in Illinois, years before, joined the Southern army, and by his conspicuous bravery and ability had become one of the great generals of the Confederacy. Toward the close of the war, when a large part of Virginia had fallen into the possession of the Union army, the President called at General Pickett's Virginia home.
The general's wife, with her baby on her arm, met him at the door. She herself has told the story for us.
" 'Is this George Pickett's home?' he asked.
"With all the courage and dignity I could muster, I replied: 'Yes, and I am his wife, and this is his baby.'
" 'I am Abraham Lincoln.'
" 'The President!' I gasped. I had never seen him, but I knew the intense love and reverence with which my soldier always spoke of him.
"The stranger shook his head and replied: 'No; Abraham Lincoln, George's old friend.'
"The 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. The baby opened his mouth wide and insisted upon giving his father's friend a dewy kiss.
"As Mr. Lincoln gave the little one back to me he said: 'Tell your father, the rascal, that I forgive him for the sake of your bright eyes.' "