Presentation on theme: "The American Civil War Strategy, battles, assessments, trivia."— Presentation transcript:
The American Civil War Strategy, battles, assessments, trivia
From a letter by Gen. William T Sherman, 1861 (would he be correct in his prediction?) “You people of the South don't know what you are doing. This country will be drenched in blood, and God only knows how it will end. It is all folly, madness, a crime against civilization! You people speak so lightly of war; you don't know what you're talking about. War is a terrible thing! Besides, where are your men and appliances of war to contend against them? The North can make a steam engine, locomotive, or railway car; hardly a yard of cloth or pair of shoes can you make. You are rushing into war with one of the most powerful, ingeniously mechanical, and determined people on Earth--right at your doors.You are bound to fail. Only in your spirit and determination are you prepared for war. In all else you are totally unprepared, with a bad cause to start with. At first you will make headway, but as your limited resources begin to fail, shut out from the markets of Europe as you will be, your cause will begin to wane. If your people will but stop and think, they must see in the end that you will surely fail. You mistake, too, the people of the North. They are a peaceable people but an earnest people, and they will fight, too. They are not going to let this country be destroyed without a mighty effort to save it …”
Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy
The Union The Union went to war with a Republican president and a Republican Congress, which meant that it was well-geared for war. Among other things, as you recall, Republicanism called for a more centralized government, which meant that Lincoln and his cabinet had a lot of power to make decisions, and a congress that was likely to approve of whatever they did. Income taxes, for instance, appeared for the first time, if only briefly. The Republican Party also followed up on its promises to invest in railroads, to open western lands up for settlement to hungry farmers (the Homestead Act) Business leaders from manufacturers to financiers stepped up to sign production contracts for guns, clothing, and food, or provide loans so the government could pay those contracts. Large companies were given monopolies to provide for the Union Army--and they remained monopolies after the war. Some of the companies include: Kodak, JP Morgan and Associates, Armour meats, DuPont Chemicals A lack of competition, however, meant a loss of quality. Union soldiers complained about receiving inadequate clothing, rotten food, and misfiring or jamming weapons. And of course, the sons of those business leaders never served. As one corporate leader said, “A man may be a patriot without risking his own life…There are plenty of other lives less valuable.”
As Abraham Lincoln said in 1865, "Corporations have been enthroned.... An era of corruption in high places will follow and the money power will endeavor to prolong its reign by working on the prejudices of the people... until wealth is aggregated in a few hands... and the Republic is destroyed." The North would later undergo sweeping social unrest, the rise of militant workers’ unions, and horrific and cycling depressions partly as a result of their victory in the Civil War.
Confederate States of America The Confederacy Its ideology far more conservative than revolutionary, the nation of seceded Southern states faced a paradox in maintaining a centralized government comprised of entities whose very motivation for departing the Union was their objection to federal authority. On February 4, 1861, representatives from the seven states Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas-that had already seceded from the United States met in Montgomery, Alabama, to form a new republic. On February 8, the convention announced the establishment of the Confederate States of America and declared itself the provisional Congress. The following day, Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens were unanimously chosen provisional president and vice president, two men moderate enough, it was hoped, to convince the eight other reluctant slave states to join the Confederacy. A committee spent the next five weeks composing a national constitution, which was approved on March I 1. The document closely followed the U.S. Constitution-including its Bill of Rights-with a few notable differences. Language promoting "the general welfare" was omitted, while the right to own slaves was explicitly guaranteed although foreign slave trade was forbidden). The president served a single six-year term. To guarantee Southerners their much-desired states' rights, the federal government had no authority to levy protective tariffs, make internal improvements, or overrule state court decisions, while states had the right to sustain their own armies and enter into separate agreements with one another, and were given greater power in amending the constitution. Although there was a provision for a federal Supreme Court, Southern legislators could never agree on its configuration or even the wisdom of its establishment, and so the Confederacy lacked a high court throughout its existence.
How do these maps suggest a potential weakness for the South?
So, how do you run a government like this? A government based on the principle that any centralized power is dangerous to the individual states? More to the point, how do you fight a war this way? Answer, you don’t. The most ardent states' rights proponents, claimed that the president sought dictatorial powers and denied that Davis had any real power as executive. Some even advocated that their states secede from the Confederacy and form separate countries. After the next congressional elections, held over a nearly six-month period in 1863 due to the logistical problems of the Union military presence across the South, nearly two-fifths of the Confederate House and one half of the Senate were openly anti-administration. Nor was the Davis gov’t successful at raising money to fund the war. Hampered by a constitution similar to the Articles of Confederation (remember that?) in philosophy, its attempts included issuing paper currency, which brought rampant inflation, seeking loans and selling government bonds, which did not produce sufficient revenue, and passing taxes, which was hugely unpopular. And a draft? That was cause for riots!
Comparison of Union and CSA Who do you think will win based on this chart? UnionCSA Total population 22,000,000 9,000,000 Free population 22,000,000 5,500,000 Slave population Negligible 3,500,000 Soldiers 2,200,000 1,064,000 Railroad miles 21,788 (71%) 8,838 (29%) Manufactured items 90 percent 10 percent Firearm production 97 percent 3 percent Bales of cotton in 1860 Negligible 4.5 million Bales of cotton in 1864 Negligible 300,000 Pre-war U.S. exports 30 percent 70 percent From wikipedia.org
The Union Army This was really just the regular US Army minus the officers and soldiers who seceded. It had the advantage of a centralized gov’t to organize, fund, and supply it, as well an existing command structure, unlike the Confederate Army. Lincoln served as commander-in-chief, and was active in directing the Army. He needed military victories agianst the Confederacy to keep foreign nations from recognizing the South as a legitimate government, and thus lending it aid an assistance. So, Lincoln wanted fighting commanders. He fired three different commanders before settling on US Grant (upper right corner) by 1864. Grant’s advantage was that he wasn’t concerned with how many of his soldiers survived each battle, as long as the South lost the war. Its soldiers fought for many reasons--for abolition, to keep the Union together, and sometimes simply to show their patriotism (many immigrants wanted to show their nationalism for their adopted country.) Millions volunteered, and it really was a multi-ethnic army, with the largest immigrant groups being Germans, free blacks, and Irish. However, Lincoln needed greater numbers (especially since desertion was common during the hardest years,) and instituted a draft. Interestingly, you could buy your way out of the draft for 300 dollars. Guess who thought that was unfair? And this led to the most notorious event of the Civil War, and one immortalized by the film “Gangs of New York,” the…
New York City Draft Riots, 1863 What kind of problems does this suggest might arise after the war, if the North wins? To help deal with the growing need for replacement soldiers, Lincoln called for a draft. You could buy your out if you had 300 dollars. Irish laborers saw this as an attempt by the wealthy to force the poor (many of the Irish were also Democrats, if you recall) to fight a war on behalf of the slaves, who they saw as a rival for jobs. Riots began ten days after the battle of Gettysburg, and continued for four days. Rioters attacked Black neighborhoods, orphanages, churches, and any one suspected of pro-Lincoln or pro- abolitionist sympathies. On the right, the pro- Lincoln New York Tribune burns. Blacks were attacked in the street—beaten, stabbed, shot, and/or lynched. The exact death toll during the New York Draft Riots is unknown, but according to historian James M. McPherson, at least 120 civilians were killed [ Estimates are that at least 2000 more injured. Total property damage was about $1 million. Historian Samuel Morison wrote that the riots were "equivalent to a Confederate victory". Fifty buildings, including two Protestant churches, burned to the ground. [
The Confederate Army Many of the best, and most experienced, officers of the regular US Army came from southern states. Among the best of them was Robert E Lee (upper right corner.) Stonewall Jackson (lower right corner) exemplified the image many Americans have of Southern generals--tactically brilliant, devoutly religious, chivalrous and gallant. He was probably the exception, though. The Confederate Army never solved its problems with supplies and organization-- there wasn’t much of a central government, after all, and very little industrialization in the South. Though the typical Confederate soldier is said to have the advantage over his Union counterpart because he was fighting on his home ground (Southerners still call the Civil War “the War of Northern Aggression,”) many historians now believe that the typical soldier may have hated the leadership of the Confederacy--they were often poor farmers who had been kept poor by the slave economy, and had often been barred from politics by the slave oligarchy who had seceded without asking them. The worst problem the Confederacy faced was when it tried to implement a draft-- this was seen as tyrannical by many Southerners, and an example of why they had seceded in the first place. The draft made the government of Jeff Davis even less popular. As a result, though the Confederate Army would become legendary for their ferocity in battle, it suffered appalling desertion rates during the war--with as much as a 1/3rd of the Army walking away by 1864. Out of desperation, in 1865 Pres. Davis briefly authorized drafting slaves. Can you imagine?!
Battle Strategies Lincoln intended on using the North’s advantages to “throttle” the South--that is, starve the Confederate capitol of Richmond into submission. Without a train network, the south depended on the Mississippi River and their ocean ports to move supplies. So…
“It is the design of the Government to raise 25,000 additional regular troops, and 60,000 volunteers, for three years.... We rely greatly on the sure operation of a complete blockade of the Atlantic and Gulf ports soon to commence. In connection with such blockade, we propose a powerful movement down the Mississippi to the ocean, with a cordon of posts at proper points... the object being to clear out and keep open this great line of communication in connection with the strict blockade of the seaboard, so as to envelop the insurgent States and bring them to terms with less bloodshed than by any other plan.” Winfield Scott, letter to McClellan Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, a rising military star in Ohio, proposed an overall strategy for the war directly to President Abraham Lincoln.
Scott went on to warn against hot-headed demands for a march on the Confederate capital of Richmond. Scott's plan involved two main parts: 1. Blockade the coast of the South to prevent the export of cotton, tobacco, and other cash crops from the South and to keep them from importing much-needed war supplies. 2. Divide the South by controlling the Mississippi River to cut off the southeastern states from the West. Scott considered this an "envelopment" rather than an "invasion", although it would require armies and fleets of river gunboats to accomplish it. --This would ultimately win the war for the North. The british were prevented from supplying the South without risking war with the Union. The Confederates wouldn’t be able to break the blockade, and by 1863, the southerners were starving. Bread riots broke out in major cities, and these were a factor in the high numbers of Confederate desertions towards the end of the war. The North could probably have won without a major military engagement, but it would have taken a long time, so… Unfortunately, Lincoln couldn’t ignore the “hot- headed” demands. Can you guess why?
Threat of international intervention? Entry into the war by Britain and France on behalf of the Confederacy would have greatly increased the South's chances of winning independence from the Union. The Union, under Lincoln and Secretary of State William Henry Seward worked to block this, and threatened war if any country officially recognized the existence of the Confederate States of America (none ever did). In 1861, Southerners voluntarily embargoed cotton shipments, hoping to start an economic depression in Europe that would force Britain to enter the war in order to get cotton. “Cotton diplomacy” proved a failure as Europe had a surplus of cotton, while the 1860-62 crop failures in Europe made the North's grain exports of critical importance. It was said that "King Corn was more powerful than King Cotton", as US grain went from a quarter of the British import trade to almost half. When the UK did face a cotton shortage, it was temporary; being replaced by increased cultivation in Egypt and India. The war created employment for arms makers, iron workers, and British ships to transport weapons. Moreover, Britain and France had already abolished slavery, and the thought of public reaction in either country should they ally themselves with the slave- owning South meant that the confederacy remained unrecognized during its short life.
Major Battles (most important for you) of the Civil War In Virginia-- Bull Run/Manassas Antietam Gettysburg In the West-- Vicksburg Shiloh In the Deep South The March through Georgia
There were so many battles in Virginia that people are still picking bones, bullets, and buttons (from uniforms) out of the ground. Many sites have become state parks, and people re-enact battles there.
Speaking of reenactors… How much do they look like the real thing on the next slide …?
The real thing wasn’t really that much fun, actually…
Bodies left out in the sun begin to bloat, like these here. Dedicated re-enactors pride themselves on “bloating” authentically
The small dark gray square is Washington DC. The two biggest battles of 1861 took place close to the Capitol.
The Battle of Bull Run (Manassas)--July, 1861. Most Civil War battles have two names--the Union name and the Confederate name. This is considered the first battle of the war. The Confederate Army moved quickly to seize the federal armory at Harper’s Ferry (remember this?), which lies close to DC, and their pickets could be viewed from the Capitol. Lincoln ordered his army to take the field against them, over his commanders’ objection that the Union Army was untrained. Northerners living in Washington DC were convinced the Confederate Army would be smashed immediately and the war over quickly, due to the “invincibility of the Union Army” and it’s superior numbers. Bull Run is a short horse ride from the Capitol, so many Washingtonians went to see the battle. Some brought picnic lunches. It must have been comical watching them run for their lives back to DC when the Confederates broke through Union lines. The ferocity of the Confederate soldiers was the first glimmering Northerners had that this would not be a short war.
The Battle of Bull Run (Manassas) “Because of the fierce resistance of a few initial Confederate forces at Manassas, Virginia, in July 1861, a march by Union troops under the command of Maj. Gen. Irvin McDowell on the Confederate forces there was halted in the First Battle of Bull Run, or First Manassas, whereupon they were forced back to Washington, D.C., by Confederate troops under the command of Generals Joseph E. Johnston and P.G.T. Beauregard. It was in this battle that Confederate General Thomas Jackson received the nickname of "Stonewall" because he stood like a stone wall against Union troops. Alarmed at the loss, and in an attempt to prevent more slave states from leaving the Union, the U.S. Congress passed the Crittenden- Johnson Resolution on July 25 of that year, which stated that the war was being fought to preserve the Union and not to end slavery.”
Fighting in Virginia Lincoln was determined to smash the Confederates quickly, probably both to prove a point to the rebels about the uselessness of resistance, but also to ensure his popularity among Northerners (he wanted to be re-elected in ‘64, after all.) He ordered his first Commander of the Union Army, George McClellan, to attack the Army of Northern Virginia, led by Gen’l Robert E Lee, and then move on to capture Richmond, capitol of the Confederacy. This almost ended in disaster. McClellan didn’t want to lose any troops, and tended to be cautious rather than take unncessary risks. I’m sure his soldiers appreciated it, but look at this record on the next slide…
Fighting in Virginia Although McClellan's army reached the gates of Richmond in the Peninsula Campaign, Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston halted his advance at the Battle of Seven Pines, then General Robert E. Lee and top subordinates James Longstreet and Stonewall Jackson defeated him in the Seven Days Battles and forced his retreat. The Northern Virginia Campaign, which included the Second Battle of Bull Run, ended in yet another victory for the South. McClellan resisted General-in-Chief Halleck's orders to send reinforcements to John Pope's Union Army of Virginia, which made it easier for Lee's Confederates to defeat twice the number of combined enemy troops.
The two sides spent the year trying to flank each other’s armies and take each other’s capitals. Notice the cluster around Richmond in the middle of the state.
This modern map of Virginia should help you fix the battle sites more easily. Many of the eastern cities saw major battles.
Antietam/Sharpsburg, Sept. 1862 Emboldened by Second Bull Run, the Confederacy made its first invasion of the North, when General Lee led 45,000 men of the Army of Northern Virginia across the Potomac River into Maryland (technically, a slave holding border state loyal to the North) on September 5. Lincoln then restored Pope's troops to McClellan. McClellan and Lee fought at the Battle of Antietam near Sharpsburg, Maryland, on September 17, 1862, the bloodiest single day in United States military history, with almost 23,000 casualties. Lee's army, checked at last, returned to Virginia before McClellan could destroy it. Antietam is considered a Union victory because it halted Lee's invasion of the North and provided an opportunity for Lincoln to announce his Emancipation Proclamation.
In some respects, the American Civil War provided European observers with a foretaste of the slaughter in World War One....the most deadly fire of the war. Rifles are shot to pieces in the hands of the soldiers, canteens and haversacks are riddled with bullets, the dead and wounded go down in scores. -- Captain Benjamin F. Cook of the 12th Massachusetts Infantry, on the attack by the Louisiana Tigers at the Cornfield.. every stalk of corn in the northern and greater part of the field was cut as closely as could have been done with a knife, and the [Confederates] slain lay in rows precisely as they had stood in their ranks a few moments before. -- Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker We were shooting them like sheep in a pen. If a bullet missed the mark at first it was liable to strike the further bank, angle back, and take them secondarily. -- Sergeant of the 61st New York.
Antietam/Sharpsburg I am not going to go into strategy, so I will sum this battle up: 1. Lee wanted to fight in Maryland to convince Marylanders to join the Confederacy, and to convince Britain and France to recognize the South. His failure to win here doomed both those chances. 2.However, by holding off a Northern Army twice his size, Lee created the legend that the Confederate Army would never have lost the war had they not run out of supplies by 1864. Many Southerners still believe this today. 3.Lincoln, enraged by McClellan’s inability to destroy a numerically inferior enemy, fired him and replaced him with another general, who would also be fired, and so on…until Lincoln would find a general who would sacrifice as many soldiers as needed to win.