Towards four o'clock, the rebels felt strong enough to take the offensive. A brigade with a battery under Earle managed to strike the Federal right on the flank and rear and throw it into utter confusion, which spread rapidly along the whole front. Now came the disastrous end.
I therefore shared fully the intense chagrin of the New York and other State delegations when, on the third ballot, Abraham Lincoln received a larger vote than Seward.
He appeared every night, like myself, at about nine o'clock, in the office of Mr. Tyler, to learn the news brought in the night Associated Press report. He knew me from the Bull Run campaign as a correspondent of the press.
There was nothing in all Douglas's powerful effort that appealed to the higher instincts of human nature, while Lincoln always touched sympathetic cords. Lincoln's speech excited and sustained the enthusiasm of his audience to the end.
No one felt it more than the President. I saw him repeatedly, and he fairly groaned at the inexplicable delay in the advent of help from the loyal States.
Without any formal orders to retreat, what was left of the several organizations yielded to a general impulse to abandon the field. Officers and men became controlled by the one thought of getting as far as possible from the enemy.