This Week in the Civil War - 705

Nov 20, 2013

After concluding his speech at Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln boarded the 6:30 pm train for Washington, D.C.  He was feverish and weak, suffering from a severe headache.  A protracted illness followed, which included a vesicular rash, as doctors diagnosed the president’s illness as a mild case of smallpox.  

Despite the speech's prominent place within the history and culture of the United States, both the exact wording and location of the speech are today disputed.  There are five known manuscripts of the Gettysburg Address which differ in a number of details and also differ from contemporary newspaper reprints of the president’s speech.

Modern scholarship also locates the speakers' platform some forty yards from the traditional site within Soldiers' National Cemetery.  But the awesome implications of the president’s words have never been questioned.