I love the Printer’s Row Lit Fest — even though it will always be the “PR Book Fair” to me. A solid two-plus blocks of tents of book-sellers, including quite a few with a collection of “vintage” books, which I love.
This year, I found an original (1913) hard-backed copy, in very good condition, of a small book of 39 pages intriguingly entitled, “When Lincoln Kissed Me.” It’s an account from a young reporter, Henry E. Wing, a 25 year old reporter of the New York Tribune, the NYT of the day. Following the Battle of the Wilderness, the beginning no reports came from the front for 2 days — there was no account of the location of the 100,000 strong army US Grant was leading against Lee on the final push to Richmond. I had never heard the story before, and it is a gripping one, full of drama, intrigue, and insight. I read it on the train ride home.
After a harrowing journey through enemy territory over 70 miles over two days, much of it on foot, Wing makes it back to Washington. Not only does he have a report to deliver to his paper and to the President and his Cabinet, he has a personal message from General Grant for the President.
Lincoln dismisses the Cabinet members, locks the doors, and stares down at the reporter. As Wing describes it:
“He took a short, quick step toward me, and, stooping to bring his eyes level with mine, whispered, in tones of intense, impatient interest, ‘What is it?’
“‘General Grant told me to tell you, from him, that, whatever happens, there is no turning back.’:
As the diminutive Wing tells it, while standing trembling in front of the towering President behind closed doors: