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SPRING 2012 HISTORY 3401 AMERICA TO 1877 BROOKLYN COLLEGE BRENDAN O’MALLEY, INSTRUCTOR CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War Members of Company E, Fourth RegimentUnited States Colored Troops United States Colored TroopsFourth Regiment Battle Flag Wilmington Campaign, February 1865 Library of Congress
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War THE SECESSION CRISIS The Withdrawal of the South: Almost immediately following Lincoln’s election, militant radicals in the South—often called “Fire-Eaters”—demanded the dissolution of the Union. South Carolina, always the hotbed of southern separatism, ceded from the Union first, on December 20, 1860. President Buchanan announced that a state did not have the right to secede, but at the same time said that the federal government had no right to stop a state from doing so. By the time Lincoln took office on March 4, 1861, six more states seceded: Mississippi (Jan. 9), Florida (Jan. 10), Alabama (Jan. 11), Georgia (Jan. 19), Louisiana (Jan. 26), and Texas (Feb. 1). The Confederacy Established: In February, representatives of the seven seceded states met in Montgomery, Alabama, and formed a new nation, the Confederate States of America. Jefferson Davis, who had served as Minister War under President Pierce and then as a senator from Mississippi, became the provisional president of the Confederacy. Seizure of Federal Property: The Confederacy seized federal properties within their borders, including mints and facilities storing gold bullion. But the Confederates did not yet have the military might to seize two coastal island forts: Fort Pickens in Pensacola Harbor, Florida; and Fort Sumter, in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War THE SECESSION CRISIS Fort Sumter: On Dec. 26, after South Carolina seceded, U.S. Major Robert Anderson, a pro-slavery Kentuckian who remained loyal to the Union, moved the small artillery garrison that he commanded from Fort Sumter in 1860 an indefensible harbor installation, Fort Moultrie, to a more modern and formidable one, Fort Sumter, on his own initiative. Both had been built to protect Charleston Harbor; Sumter was on a sand bar in the middle of the harbor entrance. On Dec. 27, the “stars and stripes” could be seen flying over Sumter. Governor Pickens of South Carolina sent a letter asking Anderson to surrender, but he refused. The First Union Attempts to Resupplying the Fort: Buchanan refused to turn over Fort Sumter when South Carolina requested it, and secretly ordered an unarmed merchant ship, the Star of the West, to resupply the fort on January 9, 1861. The ship had to turn back as Confederate guns opened fire on it.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War THE FAILURE OF COMPROMISE Crittenden Compromise Rejected: On Dec. 18, 1860—two days before South Carolina seceded—John J. Crittenden, a senator from Kentucky, proposed a compromise between North and South that southerners appeared willing to support. Crittenden’s idea was that a law should be passed that would protect slavery below the 36°30’ Missouri Compromise line forever, and that above it would always remain free. Yet the Republicans refused to cooperate because the proposal allowed the expansion of slavery, and preventing expansion was the central tenet of the party. The compromise was rejected by the House and Senate. Lincoln’s Inauguration: On March 4, 1861, Lincoln’s inaugural speech made it clear that he would not surrender fort Sumter, although food supplies were dwindling. In his speech, he said that federal government would “hold, occupy, and possess” federal property in the seceded states.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War THE FAILURE OF COMPROMISE Another Attempt to Resupply: Knowing that Anderson would run out of food around April 15, Lincoln sent multiple ships toward Charleston to resupply the fort, which would be backed up by warships that would intervene if hostilities erupted. Lincoln notified Governor Pickens that this would be the case, and on April 11, the first of these ships arrived off the coast of Charleston. The First Shots: On 4:30 am on the morning of April 12, the Confederates, having constructed new batteries aimed at Sumter over the past few months, opened fire on the fort. The fort withstood 34 hours of bombardment before a Confederate representative negotiated with Anderson, and agreed to allow the fort’s soldiers to evacuate to the awaiting Union vessels off the coast that had been unable to come to the fort’s aid during the bombardment. A war had begun that would leave roughly 620,000 soldiers dead, a figure that is greater than all American wars up through Vietnam combined.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War THE FAILURE OF COMPROMISE
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War THE FAILURE OF COMPROMISE Further Secession: Four more slave states seceded and joined the Confederacy in the weeks following Sumter: Virginia (April 17), Arkansas (May 6), Tennessee (May 7), and North Carolina (May 20). The four remaining slave states—Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky, and Missouri—stayed in the Union and became known as the “Border States. THE OPPOSING SIDES The North’s Material Advantages: The North had a huge material advantage over the South in that it had an fairly advanced industrial capacity and was able to produce almost all of its war material. The South had very little industry. Furthermore, the North had a far better railroad network, and was able to move troops and supplies around far faster than the South. The South’s meager railroad network deteriorated over the course of the war, to the point of near collapse by early 1864.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War THE OPPOSING SIDES Southern Advantages: The South was essentially fighting a defensive war in its own familiar territory, surrounded by a sympathetic population. The South did not have to crush the North; the Confederacy merely had to survive the conflict to the point at which Northerners viewed the conflict as too costly in lives and money to continue. Northerners for the most part were fighting in the South, having to maintain long supply and communication lines in hostile territory. Furthermore, the resolve of white southerners seemed firm throughout most of the Confederacy, while opinions about the war remained divided in the North until nearly the end of the conflict. Great Britain and France: Both of these countries had enormous textile industries that relied heavily on southern cotton. Southerners hoped that these powers favor the South in the conflict, and maybe even intervene in its behalf.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War THE MOBILIZATION OF THE NORTH Economic Nationalism: The war produced considerable suffering for families of the dead and wounded in the North, but it also brought considerable prosperity and economic growth. And since the southerners had abandoned Congress, the Republicans were unchallenged and able to pass legislation that fostered the development of the West, bills that southerners had always blocked. Homestead Act: This 1862 act allowed any citizen or prospective citizen to purchase 160 acres of western land for a nominal fee if he had lived on it for five years and had “improved” it. Morrill Act: This act turned over large swathes of public federal lands to state governments, who could sell it and use the proceeds to fund public education. This act led to the creation of several new state colleges and universities (like Kansas State) and the re- designation of others (like Rutgers, Iowa State, and Michigan State). Together these were the so-called “land grant” institutions. The Tariff: Without southern opposition, Republicans were able to pass the highest tariffs ever, which was great for domestic industry, but a hardship on farmers and some consumers.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War THE MOBILIZATION OF THE NORTH Transcontinental Railroad: Congress passed a bill that chartered two federally funded companies that would build and operate the transcontinental railroad. The Union Pacific, which built westward from Omaha, and the Central Pacific, which built eastward from California. The two met at Promontory Point, Utah, in 1869. The National Bank Acts of 1863-1864: This act created a new national banking system. Newly created or existing banks could join the system if they had enough capital and were willing to invest a third of their money in federal securities. In exchange, they could issue federal treasury bills, thereby eliminating most aspects of the nation’s currency problems.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War THE MOBILIZATION OF THE NORTH Financing the War: The federal government tried to raise money to pay for the war by levying taxes, issuing paper currency, and borrowing. Taxation: Congress levied taxes on almost all goods and services, and in 1861, levied income taxes for the first time (this measure would be repealed after the war). Taxes only covered a small proportion of the necessary funds, and popular opposition did not allow the rates to be raised. Printing Paper Currency: Paper money that was not backed by hard currency like gold or silver proved controversial; the value was based on people’s good faith and confidence in the government’s credit. The value of the paper “greenback” fluctuated with the successes and failures of the Union armies. With the war bogged down in 1864, it was worth only 39 percent of a gold dollar, while it was worth only 67 percent of one toward the end of the war. Borrowing: The government ended up borrowing a total of $2.6 billion to fund the war, mostly from banks and financial institutions. About $400 million in government bonds were purchased by regular citizens.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War THE MOBILIZATION OF THE NORTH Raising the Union Armies: The U.S. standing army in 1861 consisted of roughly 16,000 troops, mostly stationed out West. The Union thus had to start almost from scratch in raising its army, much like the Confederacy. Lincoln called for an increase of 23,000 in the regular army, but realized that the bulk of the fighting would have to be done by volunteers fighting in the state militias. In July 1861, Congress authorized the enlistment of 500,000 volunteers for three years (as opposed to the traditional three-month term). Inadequacy of a Volunteer Army: The volunteer system only proved adequate for the very beginning of the war, when the first flush of patriotism inspired many to enlist. But later, Congress was forced to pass a national draft bill in March 1863. Virtually all young white males were eligible to be drafted, although one could hire someone to go in his place or pay a $300 fee to the government.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War THE MOBILIZATION OF THE NORTH New York City Draft Riots: Many felt the conscription law was strange and threatening. Immigrants, laborers, and Democrats against the war for the most part opposed the draft, and occasionally their opposition erupted into violence. For four days in July 1863, New York City fell into a large-scale riot, during which rioters tortured and lynched African Americans, and burned down business, homes, and even an orphanage. Over 100 people died during these events. Only federal troops coming directly from the Battle of Gettysburg finally restored peace and order.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War THE MOBILIZATION OF THE NORTH
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War THE MOBILIZATION OF THE NORTH Wartime Leadership and Politics Lincoln’s Cabinet : On Lincoln’s arrival in Washington, most thought that this country bumpkin would be a puppet of the more established politicians of his party. But he quickly proved to be no puppet. He assembled a cabinet that reflected the diversity of northern opinion and the many aspects of the Republican Party. These men included the savvy Secretary of State William H. Seward of New York (who was a leading candidate for the Republican nomination in 1860) and the influential Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase, an Ohioan who believed in black rights. Bold Use of Presidential Powers: Lincoln used the war powers of the presidency aggressively, ignoring inconvenient parts of the Constitution because, he said, it would be foolish to lose the whole by being afraid to disregard a part. He sent troops into battle without asking Congress for a declaration of war since he argued it was not a war, but a domestic insurrection: since secession was illegal, he argued that the South had not really left the Union. He increased the size of the army and proclaimed a naval blockade all without Congressional approval. He also arrested civilian dissenters, suspended habeas corpus, and tried civilians before military courts.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War THE MOBILIZATION OF THE NORTH Wartime Leadership and Politics Copperheads: There was considerable popular opposition to the war in the North (unlike the South were most whites were unified behind the Confederate cause.) Many “Peace Democrats,” known as “Copperheads” by their enemies, were arrested for practices like discouraging enlistment, which Lincoln viewed as sabotaging the war effort. 1864 Elections: The Republicans experienced considerable losses in the 1862 Congressional elections since the war effort was going badly, so in 1864 they reorganized as the “Union Party,” which was really just the Republicans and a small group of War Democrats. They replaced Lincoln’s old vice president, Hannibal Hamlin (a Maine Republican), with Andrew Johnson, a War Democrat from Tennessee who had opposed his state’s decision to secede. George B. McClellan: The Democrats ran the former Union general George B. McClellan and adopted a platform that called for a truce. Democrats were the party of peace, and benefitted from the growing war weariness. But a string of Union victories—including the fall of Atlanta —boosted Northern morale and led to an easy victory for Lincoln, 212 electoral votes to McClellan’s 21.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War THE MOBILIZATION OF THE NORTH The Politics of Emancipation Republican Disagreement on Slavery: Republicans all agreed on stopping the expansion of slavery before the war, but had very different ideas of what to do about slavery itself. “Radical Republicans” like Senators Charles Sumner of Massachusetts and Benjamin Wade of Ohio, and Representative Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania wanted the war to abolish slavery immediately. “Conservative Republicans” wanted a more gradual approach, in part to placate the border slaves states that stayed in the Union. Confiscation Acts: Momentum for emancipation began early in the war. In 1861, Congress passed a law declaring that all slaves used for “insurrectionary” purposes— meaning those used in the Confederate war effort—would be considered freed. In 1862, a second Confiscation Act that freed all slaves owned by people participating in insurrectionary activity, and also authorized the president to use black troops. Emancipation in Federally Controlled Areas: Laws passed in spring 1862 freed slaves in Washington, D.C., and the western territories, providing compensation for the owners.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War THE MOBILIZATION OF THE NORTH The Politics of Emancipation Emancipation Proclamation: As Radical Republicans increasing gained control of Congress, Lincoln swung toward the more anti-slavery end of the spectrum. On Sept. 22, 1862, after the Union victory at Antietam, the president announced his intention to use his war powers to issue an executive order forever freeing all slaves within all Confederate states that did not return to the Union by January 1, 1863. It did not apply to Union slave states, nor Confederate areas already under Union control (Tennessee, western Virginia, or southern Louisiana). It applied only to places where the Union had no control. No Confederate states returned to the Union by the deadline, so Lincoln signed the executive order on Jan. 1, 1863. As an executive order, it had nothing to do with Congress. It did not grant freed blacks citizenship, but called them “freedmen.” The document proved important since it made it clear that the abolition of slavery was a central war aim, and it eventually led to the freeing of thousands of slaves. Thirteenth Amendment: By the end of the war, Maryland and Missouri had outlawed slavery, as had three Confederate states occupied by Union forces: Tennessee, Arkansas, and Louisiana. By December 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment, outlawing slavery forever, had been adopted and put into effect.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War THE MOBILIZATION OF THE NORTH The Politics of Emancipation African Americans and the Union Cause: About 186,000 blacks served as soldiers, sailors, and laborers for the Union forces. In the first few months of the war, blacks were almost entirely excluded from serving; a few regiments sprung up in Union-occupied areas of the Confederacy. Growing Black Enlistment: After the Emancipation Proclamation, black enlistment increased greatly, and the federal government actively recruited black soldiers in the North and in the South where possible. Low Status of Black Soldiers: Some black soldiers were organized into fighting units, like the Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts Infantry led by the white officer, Robert Gould Shaw, a wealthy Bostonian. But most blacks were assigned menial tasks like digging trenches and carrying water. Although more whites than blacks died in combat, the overall mortality rate for black soldiers was higher than for whites since so many worked long hours in unsanitary condition, contracting many sorts of diseases. Until 1869, black soldiers were paid a third of what whites made. And when captured by the Confederates, blacks were sent back to their masters if they were escaped slaves, or be executed. When black soldiers surrendered at Fort Pillow in Tennessee after a battle in 1864, over 260 were massacred.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN August Saint-Gauden’s memorial to the The Civil War Fifty-fourth Massachusetts
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War THE MOBILIZATION OF THE NORTH Women and the War: Women took on new roles as their men were away at war: teachers, sales clerks, office workers, mill and factory hands, and nurses. Nursing: The United States Sanitary Commission, an organization led by Dorothea Dix, mobilized a large number of volunteer female nurses to go work in field hospitals. At first male doctors thought their presence inappropriate, but the Sanitary Commission used traditional gender roles to argue for them: they would act in the same nurturing role as they did at hoe as wives and mothers. National Women’s Loyal League: Feminists such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, who together founded the National Women’s Loyal League in 1863, saw the war as an opportunity to expand women’s rights while advocating for the abolition of slavery.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War THE MOBILIZATION OF THE SOUTH Confederate Government: The Confederate government was formed in Montgomery, Alabama, in February 1861, but when Virginia seceded a few months later, the capital was moved to Richmond, Virginia. Jefferson Davis: The provisional president was put in place by constitutional convention in Montgomery; he was a moderate secessionist before the war. He was a capable administrator, but did not possess the “big-picture” vision of Lincoln, often wasting too much time on routine, bureaucratic tasks. David was very careful to observe all constitutional protections and niceties, which contrasted with Lincoln, who was more willing to suspend certain rights if they conflicted with war aims or threatened state security. Emphasis on States’ Rights: Whites were far more united in the South behind the war effort compared to whites in the North, but there were some divisions and criticisms over how the war was being conducted. Furthermore, their high regard for the states’ rights doctrine often made it difficult for Davis to pursue a centralized war effort: setting up conscription, imposing martial law, suspending habeas corpus, etc. Yet Davis did manage to allow his forces to seize crops, railroads, and shipping, and impress slaves so that their labor could be used in military projects, like fortifications.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War THE MOBILIZATION OF THE SOUTH Money and Manpower Financing the War: The Confederacy first turned to the states to supply funding, but they proved reluctant to tax their citizens. In 1863, it instituted an income tax, but taxation produced only 1 percent of the government’s income. The Confederacy also sold bonds, but sold so many of them, that the public lost faith in them. Disastrous Inflation: To pay for the war, the Confederacy had few other options but to print paper currency, and a lot it, beginning in 1861. By 1864, the Confederacy had issued a staggering total of $1.5 billion in paper money, resulting in a disastrous inflation: a 9,000 percent increase in prices over the course of the war, in contrast to 80 percent in the North.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War THE MOBILIZATION OF THE SOUTH Money and Manpower Conscription Act: At first the Confederacy raised armies through volunteers, but by the end of 1861 volunteers were declining, as in the North. In April 1862, the Confederacy enacted a Conscription Bill, which subjected all white males between the age of 18 and 35 to be drafted for a three year term. Initially a substitute could be purchased for a fee, but since the price was high, poor Southerners successfully pushed for the repeal of the substitute provision. At the end of 1862, the Confederate army had about 500,000 soldiers, not including slaves, who performed cooking, laundry, and manual labor. A small number of free blacks and slaves enlisted and fought for the Confederacy. Critical Manpower Shortage: The Confederate government was so desperate for men by 1864 that it considered a plan to conscript 300,000 slaves to fight, but the war ended before the experiment could be tried.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War THE MOBILIZATION OF THE SOUTH Economic and Social Effects of the War Southern Economic Woes: The South was cut off from Northern markets, and the Union naval blockade made it very difficult to sell cotton to Europe. Farms and industries that relied on a non-slave workforce were hurt since so many white men went off to fight. In the North, production of all goods increased during the war; in the South, it dropped by a third. The war wreaked havoc on the Southern landscape, destroying farmlands, towns, cities, and railroads. Shortages, inflation, and carnage caused social instability, hoarding, black market commerce, and resistance to government measures like conscription. New Roles for Women: The war forced white women out into public roles that had been seen as inappropriate before. After the war, women outnumbered men in Southern states by a significant number, leaving unmarried or widowed no other choice but to pursue employment out of the home. The War and Slaves: Although Confederate leaders enforced slave codes with severity, many slaves were nonetheless able to escape during the war by crossing Union lines.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War STRATEGY AND DIPLOMACY The Commanders Strategic Goals: While economic and demographic resources were important to the outcome of the war, so were strategic goals pursued by leaders. Abraham Lincoln: Lincoln, as commander-in-chief, was by far the most important Union war leader. He had very little military experience and made a few critical mistakes, but overall he had a good grasp of strategy. He understood that the North’s material advantages needed to be used to maximum advantage, and that the ultimate goal was to destroy Confederate armies rather than hold Southern territory. Many of his generals did not have these same goals. Ineffective Union Commanders: From 1861 to 1864, Lincoln struggled to find the right commander for the Union armies. He had a string of ineffective or uninspiring commanders, starting with the experienced but quite old Winfield Scott, who was overwhelmed by the magnitude of the conflict and soon retired. The proud and arrogant George B. McClellan was then put in charge of the Union armies in the East, but he proved to have a poor grasp on strategy and vacillated at critical moments, and was sent back to the field in March 1862. Lincoln then assigned Henry W. Halleck to the post, but found him overly cautious and a poor strategist as well. Lincoln eventually understood that a general under Halleck’s command had been responsible for many victories out West for which Halleck took credit.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War STRATEGY AND DIPLOMACY The Commanders Ulysses S. Grant: In March 1864, Lincoln at last got a general who shared his strategic vision of aggressive action geared toward destroying the enemies’ armies and resources, not just gaining territory. Grant was a hard-nosed general, and some historians have debated about whether or not he suffered from alcoholism. Committee on the Conduct of the War: This joint Congressional investigative committee chaired by Senator Benjamin Wade of Ohio was created by Radical Republicans in December 1861 to seek out the reasons why the war was not being pursued in a relentless enough fashion. They thought that the officers had a secret sympathy for slavery among officer (which proved to be largely inaccurate). This committee interfered considerably with the effort.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War STRATEGY AND DIPLOMACY The Commanders Davis’s Ineffective Command: Davis was a trained soldier, but he never really managed to create an effective, centralized command structure. He did bring in General Robert E. Lee as an adviser in early 1862, but Davis had no desire to turn over any control to Lee. Lee left to go back to the field in a few months, and Davis ran the war effort on his own until he appointed General Braxton Bragg as a military adviser in February 1864, but he never provided anything other than technical advice. Officers: Many officers on both sides had similar training, having graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point or the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. Amateur officers who led volunteer regiments often were economic or social leaders of their communities; some were effective leaders, while most were not.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War STRATEGY AND DIPLOMACY The Role of Naval Power Union Advantage: The Union had an overwhelming advantage in shipbuilding and naval power, which it used to maintain a blockade and aid Union armies in their field operations. Union Blockade: The blockade started in the first weeks of the war, and although some blockade runners managed to get through, it greatly reduced traffic coming in an out of Confederate ports. The navy gradually seized the ports themselves, the last major Confederate- held port—Wilmington, North Carolina—was seized in early 1865. The Ironclads: The Confederates tried to break the blockade using a former U.S. Navy frigate they had seized known as the Merrimac. They covered the boat in iron plates to make it resistant to artillery and rechristened it the Virginia. The Union also had been working on an ironclad, the U.S.S. Monitor, which was fabricated in Brooklyn. The Virginia sunk two wooden blockade ships, but then faced off with the Monitor of Hampton Roads, fighting to a draw. The threat to the blockade was neutralized, however. Union Gunboats on Western Rivers: Large navigable rivers in the Western theater allowed Union boats to transport troops and supplies, and gunboats to take part in battles and destroy Confederate fortifications along rivers. The Confederacy had no navy challenge the Union boats on the rivers.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War STRATEGY AND DIPLOMACY: The Role of Naval Power
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War STRATEGY AND DIPLOMACY Europe and the Disunited States William H. Seward: The Confederate Secretary of State, Judah P. Benjamin, was an intelligent but undynamic man who focused mostly on administrative tasks. But his U.S. counterpart, William Seward, was one of the best Secretaries of State the country has had. Seward and his London minister, Charles Francis Adams, brought considerable skill and energy to their diplomatic efforts. English and French Sympathies: The ruling classes of England and France favored the South at the beginning of the conflict since each imported so much Southern cotton for their massive textile industries and because they viewed the industrial North as an emerging competitor. Yet France was unwilling to pick a side until England did, and England was slow to do so because of the powerful antislavery movement in that country. The Effect of the Emancipation Proclamation: Once Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, English antislavery groups lobbied hard for the Union.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War STRATEGY AND DIPLOMACY Europe and the Disunited States Surplus Cotton and Alternate Sources: In 1861, the French and English had a surplus of raw cotton. But when their supplies dwindled, they kept at least some of their mills open by looking to Egypt and India for cotton. Furthermore, the 500,000 English textile workers who lost their jobs actually supported the Union cause. No Diplomatic Recognition: In the end, no European country recognized the Confederacy diplomatically or intervened in its behalf because no one wanted to antagonize the U.S. unless it was going to lose, and the Confederacy never quite seemed to be in a convincing position to inflict a defeat. Tensions with Britain: Tension and near hostilities almost did break out with Britain, however. The U.S. was angered by the English and French declarations of neutrality, since this acknowledged both sides as equals; Washington viewed the war as a domestic insurrection, not a war between two separate countries.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War STRATEGY AND DIPLOMACY Europe and the Disunited States The Trent Affair: The English were angered when a U.S. Navy frigate stopped an English steamer, the Trent, in Cuban waters and apprehended two Confederate diplomats on board. The English demanded their release as well as reparations. Lincoln and Seward were able to defuse the situation skillfully, without losing too much face. The Alabama Claims: The British sold six ships known as “commerce destroyers” to the Confederacy, and the U.S. claimed that the sale violated the neutrality laws. The U.S. sued Great Britain for damages caused by these ships, and did not settle the case until 1877. Confederate diplomats James Mason and John Slidell being taken aboard the U.S. steam frigate San Jacinto, after being seized on the British vessel, the Trent.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War CAMPAIGNS AND BATTLES The Technology of War Deadlier Weaponry: Samuel Colt had introduced a repeating pistol (a revolver) in 1835, but even more significant was Oliver Winchester’s repeating rife introduced in 1860. The repeating rifles did not have to reloaded after every shot, like many “muzzle-loaders” with paper cartridges still in use during the war. Improved cannons and other artillery also contributed to greater devastation. New Style of Fighting: For the first time in organized warfare, soldiers no longer lined up in formation and exchanged fire; the new weaponry was too deadly. Soldiers laid close to the ground and took cover, leading to a far more chaotic and fluid battlefield.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War CAMPAIGNS AND BATTLES The Technology of War Fortifications: On account of the new weapons’ deadliness, soldiers on both sides spent considerable time building elaborate fortifications and trenches. Those built at Vicksburg in Mississippi and Petersburg and Richmond in Virginia were precursors to the elaborate trench systems of World War I. Union trenches during the seize of Petersburg, which lasted from June 1864 to March 1865.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War CAMPAIGNS AND BATTLES The Technology of War Naval Warfare: Ironclads were obviously a Civil War innovation, but so were submarines and torpedoes. The Confederates built a forty-foot submarine called the C.S.S. Hunley, which sank a U.S. navy ship, the Housatonic, which was helping to maintain the blockade outside of Charleston harbor (it sunk following the attack, killing its crew). Railroads: Railroads allowed the movement of massive amounts of troops and supplies, but also limited mobility as generals planned their campaigns around existing rail lines. Railroads contributed to a tendency for larger battles with bigger armies as opposed to smaller forces in more limited engagements. The Telegraph: The scarcity of qualified operators limited the effectiveness of the telegraph over the course of the war. Things improved for the Union when the U.S. Military Telegraph Corps was founded, with 1,200 operators trained by Pennsylvania Railroad executives, Thomas Scott and Andrew Carnegie. The telegraph became more effective as both sides strung wires along the routes of troops, allowing field commanders to stay in close touch with their troops on the front lines.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War CAMPAIGNS AND BATTLES Opening Clashes, 1861 First Battle of Bull Run: The first major battle of the war was in Northern Virginia in July 1861. A Union army of 30,000 under General Irvin McDowell clashed with a slightly smaller Confederate army under P.G.T. Beauregard. McDowell marched his inexperienced troops toward the town of Manassas, about thirty miles west of D.C. with an important railroad junction, while Beauregard positioned his troops slightly to the north, at a creek known as Bull Run. McDowell almost managed to scattered his enemy on his first attack, but the Confederates managed to regroup and launched fierce counterattack. McDowell’s poorly trained troops broke rank, panicked, and retreated in a disorganized fashion back to D.C. Civilians who made a day trip from D.C. to picnic and watch the battle from nearby hillsides were caught up in the chaotic retreat. The Confederates did not pursue the fleeing force. Aftermath: Union morale was greatly damaged by this defeat, as was the president’s confidence in his officers. Union soldiers realized that the war would not be a short affair with a quick Union victory. West Virginia Established: One significant Union victory in 1861 occurred when a Union force under George B. McClellan moved east from Ohio into western Virginia. By the end of the year, that force had “liberated” the anti-secession mountain people, who created their own state, which entered the Union in 1863.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War CAMPAIGNS AND BATTLES The Western Theater, 1862 New Orleans Seized: After the First Battle of Bull Run, the military operations in the East settled into a frustrating stalemate. More decisive fighting had moved out West. First Union forces wanted seize control of the lower part of the Mississippi River. In April 1862, a Union squadron commanded by David G. Farragut sailed from up the river from the Gulf, attacking a virtually defenseless New Orleans (the Confederates had expected an attack from the north, not the south). New Orleans surrendered on April 25, which had a big impact: it cut off Confederate trade on the Mississippi River for the rest of the war. Battle of Shiloh: Much further north from New Orleans, Confederate troops stretched out in defensive lines between two forts in Tennessee, Fort Henry and Fort Donelson. Early in 1862, General Ulysses S. Grant attacked Fort Henry, which surrendered largely due to the presence of Union ironclads on the Mississippi. Grant then moved toward Fort Donelson and met a Confederate force there, where Grant was victorious on February 16. Grant then advanced along the Tennessee River with 40,000 men, and met a Confederate force almost in equal in size at Shiloh in Tennessee, near the Mississippi border, resulting in a ferocious battle on April 6 and 7. Southerners pushed Grant back to the river on the first day, but 25,000 Union reinforcements helped the Union victory to a narrow victory on the second day.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War CAMPAIGNS AND BATTLES The Western Theater, 1862 Aftermath of Shiloh: After the battle, the Union was able to control the Mississippi River down to Memphis, leaving only the stretch north of New Orleans and south of Memphis under Confederate control. Union troops were also able to seize Corinth, Mississippi, an important railroad junction. Chattanooga and Murfreesboro: The commander of Confederate forces in the West, General Braxton Bragg, gathered his forces at Chattanooga, Tennessee, to protect that city from a Union force trying to capture the city. The two forces maneuvered around each inconclusively for several months before clashing in the Battle of Murfreesboro from December 31, 1862, to January 2, 1863. Bragg was forced to retreat to the South. By the end of 1862, the Union had gained significant ground in the West, but the most important theater of the war was still back in Virginia.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War CAMPAIGNS AND BATTLES: The War in the West, 1861-1863
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War CAMPAIGNS AND BATTLES The Virginia Front, 1862 McClellan and the Army of the Potomac: During the winter of 1861-1862, the commander of the Union Army of the Potomac, focused on training his force of 150,000 near Washington, badgered constantly by Lincoln to attack. The Peninsular Campaign: McClellan designed a spring 1862 campaign that sought to take the Confederate capital at Richmond, but not by an overland route. He had the navy bring a force of 100,000 to the peninsula between the York and James rivers (the same peninsula where the Battle of Yorktown that ended the Revolutionary War). He left a force of 30,000 behind to protect Washington. But Confederate General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson undertook a rapid offensive across the Shenandoah Valley as if to cross the Potomac and attack Washington. Jackson won two decisive battles in May and June, but then pulled back before the Union forces could catch him. Outside of Richmond, the Confederates held off McClellan at the Battle of Fair Oaks/Seven Pines (May 31-June 1).
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War CAMPAIGNS AND BATTLES The Virginia Front, 1862 Robert E. Lee: At the Battle of Fair Oaks, the Confederate commander, Joseph E. Johnson, was wounded and replaced by Robert E. Lee. Lee tried to cut off McClellan’s forces from their base on the York River at the Battle of Seven Days (June 51-July1), but McClellan fought his way across the peninsula and set up a new base on the James River. McClellan’s Hesitation: McClellan was only 25 miles from Richmond, but the cautious McClellan refused to advance despite pressure from Lincoln. Lincoln, frustrated, then recalled the Army of the Potomac to Northern Virginia, hoping to go forward with a land route to Richmond that he preferred. Second Battle of Bull Run: As McClellan’s forces were evacuating by sea from the peninsula, Lee moved into Northern Virginia and met up with a small force under the impetuous Union general, John Pope. Pope rashly engaged the Confederates at the Second Battle of Bull Run (Aug. 29-30, 1862). Lee routed Pope’s forces, which fled back to D.C. After this disaster, Pope was removed from command, and his forces were placed under McClellan.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War CAMPAIGNS AND BATTLES The Virginia Front, 1862 Antietam: Lee went on the offensive again, moving north through Western Maryland. McClellan had the good luck of obtaining a copy of Lee’s orders, which showed that a Confederate force was splitting off to take Harper’s Ferry. But instead of acting quickly, McClellan once again hesitated. This gave Lee time to collect his forces behind Antietam Creek, near the town of Sharpsburg, Maryland. On September 17, McClellan’s force of 87,000 repeatedly charged on Lee’s force of 50,000, with staggering casualties on both sides. McClellan had the opportunity to break through Confederate lines toward the end of the day, but hesitated, allowing Lee’s remaining forces to escape back into Virginia. Antietam was technically a Union victory, but McClellan had squandered an opportunity to destroy the Confederate army. It was the bloodiest one-day conflict of the war. McClellan Replaced: Beyond frustrated, Lincoln replaced McClellan in November with Ambrose E. Burnside, who turned out to be short-lived mediocrity. Burnside, in turn, was replaced by a string of other ineffective generals, until Grant took command in the spring of 1864.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War CAMPAIGNS AND BATTLES The Virginia Front, 1862 – Confederate Dead at Antietam
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War CAMPAIGNS AND BATTLES 1863: The Year of Decision Chancellorsville: General Joseph Hooker commanded the Army of the Potomac in early 1863, and moved into position near Chancellorsville, Virginia, to face Lee’s army. From May 1-5, Lee attacked on both flanks, barely allowing Hooker to escape with his army. But Lee’s best officer, “Stonewall” Jackson, was fatally wounded during the battle. Vicksburg: While Union forces were repeatedly frustrated in the East, their luck was much better in the West, under Ulysses S. Grant. Grant seized the well protected fortress at Vicksburg on July 4, 1863, after a lengthy siege. This fortress overlooked the Mississippi and was of huge strategic importance. Later, the Union would take Chattanooga and open the way for an aggressive offensive into Georgia. Gettysburg: In June 1863, Lee aggressively moved into Pennsylvania. The Army of the Potomac, led by Hooker, but then George C. Meade, who took command on June 28, moved to meet Lee, and faced each other at the Battle of Gettysburg from July 1-3. Lee attacked first at Cemetery Ridge, but the effort failed. On the second day, he ordered 15,000 men to cross open territory, losing roughly 10,000 men in the effort. On July 4, Lee had to withdraw from Gettysburg, the same day as the fall of Vicksburg. Gettysburg marked a big turning point in favor of the Union in the war.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War CAMPAIGNS AND BATTLES The Last Stage, 1864-1865 Grant’s Northern Campaign: Grant, who became overall commander of Union forces in spring 1864, was at last a leader who shared Lincoln’s vision that the Confederate army and resources must be destroyed, and that strategic maneuverings over territory were of much lesser value. He began a direct march toward Richmond, fighting several bloody battles with Lee along the way, including the Battle of the Wilderness (May 5-7), and the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House (May 8-12), in which 12,000 Union soldiers died and an unknown number of Confederated perished. Eventually, Grant made it to the fortress town of Petersburg, not far from Richmond, and laid siege to it. It was an important railroad and communications hub, which if the Union took, would cut off the capital from the rest of the Confederacy. William Tecumseh Sherman: Meanwhile, the Army of the West under a ferocious Union general, William Tecumseh Sherman, pushed east through Georgia toward Atlanta, meeting much less resistance than Grant met in Virginia. After the Battle of Kenesaw Mountain on June 27, Sherman was able to move on Atlanta and take it by September 2, at which point he burned it to the ground.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Civil War CAMPAIGNS AND BATTLES The Last Stage, 1864-1865 Sherman’s “March to the Sea”: Sherman then left Atlanta and he and his forces cut a sixty-mile swathe of destruction, burning and looting everything in their path, all the way to Savannah, Georgia. When that city surrendered on Dec. 22, he turned northward toward South Carolina, planning to meet up with Union forces in North Carolina. Sherman did much to break the will of the Southerners. Closing in on Richmond: In April 1865, Grant’s forces finally captured a critical railroad junction at Petersburg, effectively cutting off the city from the rest of the rest of the Confederacy. Lee informed the Confederate government that the city could no longer be defended, and the government and most of the white population fled. Mobs set fire to buildings, and the Union troops, with Lincoln in tow, walked through the smoldering ruins the next day. Appomattox Court House: Lee moved westward with his remaining 25,000 men in hopes of finding a way around Union forces and meet up with Confederate forces to the South, but pursued by Grant, he decided that further bloodshed was futile, and surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9.
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