This painting is also a depiction of Lincoln in his tent at the end of one of those long days of visiting with troops and the wounded, conferring with officers, and seeing where the battles took place. Here he is alone in his tent at night, kneeling in prayer. On the field desk is an Amberotype photograph of his son Willie, based on one actually owned by Abraham and Mary. Lincoln is leaning against an officers chest with the name; Major G.O. Haller stenciled on the side. According to David Hunter Strother; aid to General McClellan: “Another telegram brings news that Abraham Lincoln and suite will visit us tonight. Major Granville O. Haller went to work in haste and pitched three large tents and borrowed bedding enough to furnish the party with lodging.” On the chest is Lincoln’s stove pipe hat which still has a wide black mourning band on it, in memory of Willie. Also on the chest is a captured Confederate flag much like the one seen on the ground in Alexander Gardner’s famous photograph of Lincoln conferring with McClellan. Through the tent flap can be seen soldiers from the 93rd New York gathered around campfires as the moonlight reflects off rows of Sibley tents.
This was a time when perhaps no American President ever faced a greater trial nor experienced greater sorrow. There has been much debate about Lincoln’s spiritual life but the evidence suggests that as the war progressed he became more deeply convicted that “the hand of providence” was involved in the events of the war, his presidency and eventually the end of slavery.