When word of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s spectacular and bloody victory at Chancellorsville arrived at the War Department in Washington on May 6, 1863, observers said President Lincoln couldn’t have been more overwhelmed if he had been struck by a thunderbolt and he couldn’t have looked more ghostlike if he had just risen from the dead.

The president clasped his hands behind his back and walked the room, saying, “My God! My God! What will the country say? What will the country say?”

The casualties began coming into Washington that night. Men lay helpless in the rain on the wharf and nearby streets, soaking on blankets, their wounds bound by bloody rags. There were few volunteers and few attendants.

“The wounded are getting to be common. People grow callous,” wrote Walt Whitman, who was volunteering as two boatloads of wounded came in.

Source: Freedom Rising: Washington in the Civil War by Ernest B. Furguson