Civil War - 150th Anniversary
Embed Size (px)
Transcript of Civil War - 150th Anniversary
2 Civil War 150th Anniversary May 2011
1861. Tensions were rising between the northern and southern United States over issues such as state’s rights versusfederal authority, westward expansion and slavery. The election of anti-slavery President Abraham Lincoln and theresulting succession of seven southern states from the Union led to the beginning of the deadliest war ever foughton US soil. Lincoln’s proclamation of war is listed below.
WASHINGTON, D. C., April 15, 1861.
WHEREAS, The laws of the United States have been and are opposed in several
States by combinations too powerful to be suppressed in the ordinary way, I there-
fore call for the militia of the several States of the Union, to the aggregate number
of 75,000, to suppress said combination and execute the laws. I appeal to all loyal
citizens to facilitate and aid this effort, and maintain the laws and integrity of the
National Union and the perpetuity of popular government, and redress wrongs
long endured. The first service assigned will probably be to repossess the forts,
places and property which have been seized from the Union. The utmost care will
be taken, consistent with the object, to avoid devastation, destruction or interfer-
ence of peaceful citizens in any part of the country; and I hereby command the
persons composing the aforesaid combinations to disperse within twenty days from
this date. I hereby convene both Houses of Congress for the 4th of July next, to
determine upon such measures as the public safety and interest may demand.
(Signed) ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of United States.
By W. H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.
3Civil War 150th AnniversaryMay 2011
The war that spread to Fort Sumter inApril 1861 and Bull Run in Virginia thatJuly was, in many ways, a Western war.
Violence had first erupted in the Westwhen territories ripe for statehood pro-voked the question: Slave state or free?
A war that would divide the youngcountry over the next four years wouldfirst be won in the West. It was later wonin the East, by Western generals employ-ing a total-war philosophy learned on thefrontier.
And one of the American Civil War’sgreatest heroes would be the country’s first
Western president. Abraham Lincoln wasthe first commander-in-chief born in astate that wasn’t one of the original 13colonies.
Indeed, Kansas was bleeding long beforean island in the harbor of Charleston,S.C., became part of the national con-sciousness.
In 1856, pro-slavery raiders sacked theanti-slavery center in Lawrence, Kan. Inretaliation, John Brown killed five pro-slavery men nearby.
The violence escalated as hostilitieserupted nationwide. Armed bands on
both sides – the pro-Union Jayhawkers inKansas and pro-slavery Bushwhackers inMissouri – saw in the war’s outbreak a licensefor their actions.
In 1863, William Clarke Quantrill also sackedLawrence, killing nearly 200 people. This time,retribution would be harsh and have the weightof the federal government.
Union Gen. Thomas Ewing issued Order No.11 – clearing Missouri counties along the Kansasborder of everyone and everything. That put20,000 people to flight, writes historian ThomasGoodrich.
He quotes one refugee, Frances Twyman, whodescribed “women walking with their babies intheir arms, packs on their backs and four or fivechildren following after them, some crying forbread, some crying to be taken back to theirhomes.”
But there were no homes.The order left a burned-over country devoid
of anything but brick chimneys. A Kansas officerbragged that his squad burned 110 houses,writes Goodrich, who described Order No. 11 as“perhaps the harshest act of the U.S. governmentagainst its own people in American history.”
Twyman described a war widow, an ill infantin her arms. She sought the shade of a tree,where she rested as her baby died, while the col-umn of refugees remained indifferent. “Thecrowd surged on, women and children draggingtheir weary limbs through the dust and heat,” hesaid.
Violence unfolding in the West foretold one
thing: What those Western generalswould bring East would be severe.Historian James McPherson writes thatEwing, a brother-in-law of WilliamTecumseh Sherman, “had learned whatSherman was learning – this was a warbetween peoples, not between armies.”
And the American people – fromthose living in Virginia’s ShenandoahValley to those in Sherman’s eventualpath in Georgia – would suffer mightily.
Illustration of the 1863 sacking of Lawrence, Kansas, from Harper’s weekly (Library of Congress)
Union Gen. Thomas Ewing (Library of Congress)
The Republic had not even survived acentury.
So it was in 1860, when AbrahamLincoln was elected president. The coun-try founded on the declaration that allmen are endowed with “certain unalien-able rights” was splintering over a ques-tion its forefathers, despite their collec-tive wisdom, had been unable to solve –slavery.
“I tremble for my country when Ireflect that God is just, that his justicecannot sleep forever,” wrote ThomasJefferson, a slave owner and author of theDeclaration of Independence, who per-
sonified the contradiction at America’sheart.
Compromises in 1820 and 1850avoided fracturing the nation. But the1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act and a slavecase out of Missouri during the periodundid those compromises and put slaveryon a course that would have it expand,not contract, as its opponents hoped.
Deciding the fate of a slave namedDred Scott, the U.S. Supreme Courtdeclared blacks “had no rights which awhite man was bound to respect.”
It had become impossible for thenation to live any longer with this
Jeffersonian contradiction. Lincoln told the nation it must answer the
question of “whether the Negro is not or is aman ...”
“If he is not a man ... he who is a man may,as a matter of self-government, do just as hepleases with him,” Lincoln argued in Peoria,Ill., in 1857. “... But if the Negro is a man ...why then, my ancient faith teaches me that ‘allmen are created equal,’ and that there can beno moral right in connection with one manmaking a slave of another."
In February 1861, following Lincoln’s elec-tion, delegates from seven Southern statesmade good on their threats of secession. Morestates would follow.
Lincoln made his case in his inauguraladdress the following month, as war loomed:“Plainly, the central idea of secession, is theessence of anarchy.”
Yet even then he referred to secessionists as“countrymen” and appealed to their sharedmemories and experiences, which he saidstretched from every patriot grave to every liv-ing heart.
“In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow coun-trymen, and not in mine, is the momentousissue of civil war ... You have no conflict,without being yourselves the aggressors. Youhave no oath registered in heaven to destroythe government, while I shall have the mostsolemn one to preserve, protect and defendit.”
His vow of protection would extend to an
island in the mouth of Charleston,S.C., harbor, where stood a masonryfort with a name honoring one ofthose patriot heroes: Thomas Sumter.
4 Civil War 150th Anniversary May 2011
The bloodiest war in American historybegan with a battle that ended bloodlessly,notes historian Geoffrey Ward.
It almost never began at all.Fort Sumter, sitting like bait in the
mouth of Charleston harbor, was one of ahandful of federal properties within thenewly organized Confederate States ofAmerica.
Following Abraham Lincoln’s electionand South Carolina’s secession, federaltroops at nearby Fort Moultrie withdrew tothe island under the command of MajorRobert Anderson and awaited resupply.
Lincoln’s Secretary of State, WilliamSeward, counseled Lincoln to abandonefforts to reinforce Fort Sumter, but the
new president went forward nevertheless.Meanwhile, Georgian Robert Toombs,
the first secretary of state for SouthernPresident Jefferson Davis, advised Davisagainst attacking Fort Sumter.
“The firing on that fort will inaugurate acivil war greater than any the world has yetseen,” Toombs warned Davis, as recordedby historian Shelby Foote.
“... You will wantonly strike a hornets’nest ... Legions now quiet will swarm outand sting us to death. ... It puts us in thewrong. It is fatal.”
Davis, like Lincoln, ignored his counsel.Commanding the Southern guns pointed
at Fort Sumter was Louisiana native PierreGustave Toutant Beauregard, who had
learned gunnery tactics at West Point fromnone other than the same Major Andersonhe was now opposing.
It was Beauregard who got the commandfrom Davis to snap the jaw shut on thatisland bait.
“Reduce it,” was the order.When a series of last-minute negotiations
failed, Beauregard offered the honor of fir-ing that first shot to Virginian Roger Pryor.But Pryor couldn’t accept.
“I could not fire the first gun of the war,”Pryor said, according to Foote.
Southern tradition and some historianshold that the honor then fell to ardentsecessionist Edmund Ruffin, who had noqualms about inaugurating what would fol-
At Big Bethel and Aquia Creek inVirginia, at Hoke’s Run and Philippi inwhat is now West Virginia, at Boonvilleand Carthage in Missouri, Americansbegan battling one another after the fallof Fort Sumter.
Casualties were light in most engage-ments. That changed in July 1861.
A Union army of more than 30,000commanded by Gen. Irvin McDowell setout for Richmond, Va. The immediatetarget was a rail junction at Manassas,not far from Washington, D.C.
But Southern troops – 22,000 led byFort Sumter hero Pierre Beauregard –blocked the fords at a creek called BullRun. Riding to Beauregard’s aid wasGen. Joseph Johnston, with 10,000 moreConfederates.
The battle opened July 21, and for awhile it looked as if Union forces wouldmake short work of the new ConfederateStates of America.
But a diversionary Union attack wasdiscovered, Southern reinforcementsarrived, and momentum swung to theSouth. What started as a Union retreatcollapsed into a rout.
That day, two legends were born. In an effort to rally his men, Southern
Gen. Barnard Bee pointed to troopsunder the command of Thomas Jacksonand said: “There stands Jackson like astone wall.”
Historian James McPherson notes itmay not have been a compliment. Someobservers thought Bee was frustratedbecause Jackson had not come to hisrelief.
Whatever Bee’s motive, Jackson’stroops blocked a Union assault, and onJackson’s order to “yell like furies,” theylet loose a peculiar shouting scream thatone Union veteran said sent a“corkscrew” sensation down his spine,notes McPherson.
From then on, Jackson owned a new firstname: “Stonewall.” And the South had foundits Rebel Yell.
The battle of First Manassas was aConfederate victory, but both sides werestunned by the number of casualties, whichapproached 5,000.
Men on both sides that day would playprominent roles in the war, including WilliamTecumseh Sherman, who would prove to havethe same killer instincts that Jackson woulddemonstrate.
Sherman was as good a prophet as he was awarrior.
He had earlier warned a Southern friendthat the Confederacy lacked resources to wagewar, despite Southern spirit and determina-tion: “The North can make a steam engine,locomotive, or railway car; hardly a yard ofcloth or pair of shoes can you make.”
The South might make headway initially,Sherman warned, but the North, withresources to match its resolve, made the out-come inevitable.
But not before, he predicted, “This countrywill be drenched in blood.”
Less than three months after Fort Sumter,Sherman's prediction was coming true.
low.In the early morning of April 12, 1861,
with Lincoln’s relief expedition nearby,Southern gunners poured thousands ofrounds into Fort Sumter. Andersonreturned fire, but he was overwhelmed andundersupplied, and surrender wasinevitable.
It came April 13. Not a man on eitherside had died.
The South celebrated its, victory butLincoln was the real winner. He hadmaneuvered Davis into firing the firstshots of the war. When that news reachedthe North, there was an explosion of sup-port for the Union.
Historian James McPherson quotes anobserver who described the Northernresponse as “one great eagle scream” for theAmerican flag. War rallies were held, andLincoln capitalized on the fervor, askingfor 75,000 volunteers.
The first of those legions Toombs feared were gathering.
5Civil War 150th AnniversaryMay 2011
Ulysses S. Grant was an unlikely con-queror.
Grant didn’t amount to much as afarmer, businessman or even a peacetimesoldier. As a commander-in-chief afterthe Civil War, he ranks among thenation’s worst presidents.
But Grant excelled at war. His superi-ors during the Mexican-American Warcommended him for battlefield bravery.They included a captain named RobertE. Lee.
“The art of war is simple enough,”Grant would later say. “Find out whereyour enemy is. Get at him as soon asyou can. Strike him as hard as you can,and keep moving on.”
Grant learned a lesson early in the warhe said he never forgot: Opponentsfeared him as much he feared them.
His friend and fellow general WilliamTecumseh Sherman would later write:"I'm a darned sight smarter than Grant;I know a great deal more about war, mil-itary histories, strategy and grand tacticsthan he does. ...
“I know more about organization,supply and administration and abouteverything else than he does. But I'll tellyou where he beats me and where hebeats the world; he don't care a damnfor what the enemy does out of his sight,but it scares me like hell."
In February 1862, Grant’s gift for warled to the capture of Fort Henry andnearby Fort Donelson in westernTennessee. After Grant's forces encircledthe Southerners at the latter, along theCumberland River, SouthernCommander Simon Bolivar Bucknerpetitioned for terms of surrender.
“No terms except an unconditionaland immediate surrender can be accept-ed,” came Grant’s famous reply. “I pro-pose to move immediately upon yourworks.”
Grant forced 12,000 Confederate sol-diers to surrender.
Those conquests gave a dispiritedNorth its first victories. “The shame ofBull Run was erased,” historian ShelbyFoote noted.
Grant’s victories in February of 1862did more than lift the spirits of theNorth. They helped keep Kentucky in
the Union and opened up river routesthat would allow Union armies to pene-trate Tennessee that spring.
For his victories, the people of theNorth bestowed upon Grant a new nomde guerre: The U.S. in U.S. Grant, theysaid, stood for “UnconditionalSurrender.”
As for Grant, who was promoted toMajor General after the capture of FortDonelson, his gift for war was onlybeginning to emerge.
He would go on to do somethingunparalleled in the annals of the CivilWar: He would capture two moreSouthern armies, the next at Vicksburgin 1863 and finally that of Lee – thesame man who once singled out Grantfor recognition – at AppomattoxCourthouse in 1865.
Witnesses described the Union shipas looking like a “tin can on a shingle.”
The Confederate ship was like “a barngone adrift and submerged to theeaves,” writes historian Bruce Catton.
Neither may have been glamorous,but together they staged one of themost dramatic revolutions in naval war-fare.
On March 9, 1862, the two ships,respectively christened the USSMonitor and the CSS Virginia, collidedin one of the most famous battles of theCivil War.
The Virginia had been a Union shipknown as the Merrimack before thewar. It was docked in Norfolk, Va., forrepairs, but federal sailors scuttled itrather than see it fall into Southernhands when the shipyard was seized bythe Confederacy. Southeners quicklyraised the vessel and clad its oak framewith iron plating four inches thick.
At the time, the French had an iron-clad frigate, and so did the British. But,writes Catton, “no one had ever both-ered to create an armor-piercing shell.”
On March 8, the Virginia, which wasthe length of a football field, attackedtwo Union warships near Norfolk – theUSS Congress and the USSCumberland. The Virginia turned theirdecks slick with Yankee blood.
It also ran the USS Minnesotaaground, all while remaining impervi-ous to Union shelling. One witness saidUnion shots bounced off the Virginia as
if they were rubber balls.But before the Virginia got a chance
to finish off the Minnesota the nextmorning, the North’s antidote, theMonitor, arrived. Unlike the Virginia,the Monitor was made completely ofiron. It had fewer guns, but its gunsrotated.
“Badly indeed did we feel, to thinkthose two fine old vessels had gone totheir last homes, with so many of theirbrave crews. ... We vowed vengeance onthe ‘Merrimack,’” wrote Lt. SamuelDana Greene, a member of theMonitor crew, after the battle.
The two ironclads met the nextmorning, wrote Greene, “and thus com-menced the great battle between theMonitor and the Merrimack.”
For several hours, the crews threweverything they had at each other. Theironclads collided five times, saidGreene, yet neither gained an advan-tage.
“The shot, shell, grape, canister, mus-ket and rifle balls flew about us in everydirection but did us no damage,” hewrote. “Our tower was struck severaltimes, and though the noise was prettyloud, it did not affect us any.”
The battle ended in a draw, with theVirginia drawing off later in the day.The Monitor did not give chase, andthe two never slugged it out again.
Though the fight was over, a revolu-tion in naval combat that made woodenships obsolete had just begun.
6 Civil War 150th Anniversary May 2011
Slavery arrived in the New Worldbefore the Pilgrims, and it might nothave survived to see Southern secessionhad it not been for Eli Whitney’s cottongin.
Generations of early Americans toler-ated slavery, most hoping the countrywould outgrow it by “slow, sure andimperceptible degrees,” as GeorgeWashington said, according to JosephEllis’ biography, “His Excellency.”
Ending slavery was the logical out-come of the revolution Washington ledagainst the British, a fact he acknowl-edged in his will, which freed his ownslaves upon his wife’s death.
Washington, like other founders, alsothought slavery inefficient. Only a frac-tion of Mount Vernon’s more than 300slaves worked, he once noted. The restremained because he did not desire tobreak up families.
James Madison once reported that the
owner of a 10-acre free farm inPennsylvania made more money than hedid working 2,000 acres with slaves,according to historian Paul Johnson.
The Founding Fathers, waiting forslavery’s demise, perhaps did not foreseethe impact of Whitney’s machine, whichseparated seed from cotton and gave riseto King Cotton in the South. Nor couldthey have anticipated the Second GreatAwakening, a religious movement thatfueled the rise of abolitionism, mostly inthe North.
The South, rather than moving awayfrom slavery in the early 19th century,actually became more dependent on it,writes historian Allan Nevins: “It wasnot relaxing the laws which guarded thesystem, but reinforcing them ... TheSouth was further from a just solution tothe slavery problem in 1830 than it hadbeen in 1789.”
The transformation was such that in
1837, one of that generation’s leadinglights, South Carolinian John Calhoun,argued that slavery was a “positivegood.” Calhoun’s disciple, JeffersonDavis, shared that view.
Four years after Calhoun’s remark, anobserver traveling through the South byboat witnessed a Kentucky slave ownerand his 12 newly-purchased slaves, whowere chained at the wrists and lookedlike “so many fish upon a trot-line.”
If slavery was “good,” wondered theobserver, how was it that no man desiredit for himself?
“I never knew a man who wished tobe himself a slave,” he later wrote.
Thus, Abraham Lincoln had begunmoving toward a position he would elu-cidate in later years: “He who would beno slave, must consent to have no slave.Those who deny freedom to othersdeserve it not for themselves, and undera just God cannot long retain it.”
Having captured Forts Henry andDonelson in February 1862, UlyssesGrant and his Army of the Tennesseepushed up the river of the same name asspring came.
The plan was for Grant and his 40,000men to hold a few miles from a small logchurch called Shiloh Meeting House tolink up with the Army of the Ohio. The combined force would then advancedeeper into Confederate territory, captur-ing rail lines at nearby Corinth, Miss.,that were vital to the South.
Meanwhile, Confederate commanderAlbert Sidney Johnston began organizinghis 45,000 troops – many of them as rawas Grant’s recruits – at Corinth. Johnstonhoped to strike before those two Unionarmies merged.
“I have put you in motion to offer bat-tle to the invaders,” Johnston told histroops, according to historian ShelbyFoote, branding the federals “mercenariessent to subjugate and despoil you of yourliberties, property and honor.”
But bad weather, bad roads and foul-ups among green troops and their com-manders turned a planned one-day marchby the Confederates into three days.
For its part, the Union army ignoredearly signs the Confederates were close.Union Gen. William Tecumseh Shermanwas given a warning by his soldiers abouta growing Confederate presence, but dis-missed their reports as the result of“jumpy” troops, writes Foote.
The Confederates hit hard on April 6,and although they were two days behindschedule, they kept the advantage of sizeand surprise that morning. They droveGrant’s soldiers back toward theTennessee River throughout the day.
But in an oak thicket remembered bysurvivors as the Hornet’s Nest, Uniontroops held off successive waves ofConfederate attack. Southern artilleryeventually broke the Union hold late inthe day, but not before those men boughttime for Grant to set up a further defen-sive line, and not before Johnston wasmortally wounded and confusion beganto hamper the Confederate thrust.
Earlier delays now proved fatal for the
South. Having been reinforced during thenight, Grant counterattacked the nextmorning, and with surprise and size onhis side, he drove the Confederates fromthe field.
When it was all over, nearly 24,000men from both sides were dead, woundedor missing.
Foote quotes a veteran who said hecould walk across the battlefield on thedead and wounded and never touch theground, calling it a “pavement of deadmen.”
Both sides, reeling from casualtycounts, were made to realize the war’sdeath toll was now being counted in thetens of thousands.
7Civil War 150th AnniversaryMay 2011
Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee laidout his plan as fall came in 1862, writeshistorian Edwin Bearss: Take the fightto the North. Plunder Maryland andPennsylvania for supplies. DrawMaryland to the Southern cause, and ifvictorious in battle, compel the Northto open negotiations and sue for peace.
For Lee, his withdrawal to Virginiaafter failing at Antietam was a strategic
setback.For Lincoln, it was the semblance of a
Union victory needed to issue hisEmancipation Proclamation.
Lincoln announced his order inSeptember, decreeing that slaves withinthe Confederacy, as of Jan. 1, 1863,“shall be then, thenceforward, and for-ever free.”
The proclamation changed little in
Battles raged across the South in thefirst year of the Civil War, with theConfederate states of Virginia andTennessee bearing the worst.
Ever aggressive, Robert E. Lee plannedto change that in 1862 and led his Armyof Northern Virginia – more than 40,000strong – into Maryland. Lee wanted tocapitalize on momentum his soldiersearned in victories that summer, historianJames McPherson writes in “Crossroadsof Freedom.”
McPherson quotes a North Carolinasoldier who said the plan was to invadethe enemy’s country and “make him feelthe evils he is inflicting on us.”
Union Commander George McClellanhad advantages, though. The Army of thePotomac was twice as large as Lee’s. And,in a curious twist, a copy of Lee’s battleplan – Special Order No. 191 – turnedup in an abandoned Confederate camp-site and was passed up the line to
McClellan.If there was to be a Union moment in
the war, this was it.McClellan, however, had seen firsthand
what Lee could do with smaller forces,and he had been outgeneraled by Lee dur-ing seven days of fighting in June that sawMcClellan driven from Richmond.What’s more, McClellan knew Lee hadwhipped a Union army near Manassas inAugust.
The two generals found themselves onopposite sides of Antietam Creek themorning of Sept. 17, 1862.
Fighting opened with Union soldierspunching into the Confederate left. Bothsides pitched back and forth through asmall cornfield and nearby woods, leavingthousands dead and wounded but noclear victor.
“The slain lay in rows precisely as theyhad stood in their ranks a few minutesbefore,” wrote a Union commander.
Union troops also hit the center of Lee’sline near a well-worn road rememberedtoday as Bloody Lane. Confederates paiddearly to hold on there until a mix-up inorders – not the federal advance – causedthem to pull back, according ot histori-ans.
The withdrawal gave McClellan achance to split Lee’s army. McClellanmissed it.
The battle then shifted to the
Confederate right, near the town ofSharpsburg, where Union GeneralAmbrose Burnside, after much fighting,got his men across a stone bridge and intoposition to block Lee’s chance for retreat.
However, a Confederate counterattackdrove back Burnside’s men, and anotherchance slipped away for the Union.
The battle of Antietam ended with both
sides largely where they had been at day-break. The difference was 23,000Americans lay dead or wounded betweenthe two armies.
Ever cautious, McClellan refused thenext day to push the attack, allowingConfederates to withdraw to Virginia.
The Union had missed its moment.
the South, but its effect was electric inthe North and abroad.
“The war to save the Union was nowalso the war to free the slaves,” writesBearss. As such, European nations thatconsidered alliances with the Confederacyopted instead to stay out of the war.
Framing the war in terms of slaveryalso strengthened the hand ofRepublicans in the mid-term elections of1862.
A month before he issued the procla-mation, in August 1862, Lincolnexplained his purposes to Horace Greeleyand the New York Tribune:
“My paramount object in this struggleis to save the Union and is not either tosave or to destroy slavery. If I could savethe Union without freeing any slave, Iwould do it; and if I could save it by free-ing all the slaves, I would do it; and if Icould save it by freeing some and leavingothers alone, I would also do that.”
Freeing the slaves, Lincoln ultimatelyrealized, was a political and militarynecessity.
It also meant the fates of millions liv-ing in slavery – “one-eighth of the wholepopulation,” as Lincoln said – wereyoked to the war’s outcome.
Two weeks before Antietam, Lincolnwrote in his “Meditation on the DivineWill”: “In the present Civil War, it isquite possible that God’s purpose issomething different from the purpose ofeither party ...”
He revisited the line of thought three
years later, in his Second InauguralAddress:
“The prayers of both could not beanswered; that of neither has beenanswered fully. The Almighty has Hisown purposes.”
8 Civil War 150th Anniversary May 2011
Specializing in Commercial & ResidentialCovering All Pools & Spas Needs
Since its founding in 1837, John Deere has been
dedicated to those linked to theland-farmers, and ranchers,
landowners, builders, and loggers.
Come visit us at Southside Equipment
where John Deere is the equipment supplier of choice.
COOL&SWEETIn the Long Run, an ACS Precision Tune Up
Will Go Further Than a Cold Glass of Sweet Tea!
• Restores Lost Efficiency
• Prevents Costly Breakdowns
• Extends Life of Equipment
• Provides Maximum Comfort and Safety
PRECISION TUNE UP
Focused on Healing.Focused on You...
821 N. Cobb St Milledgeville, GA 31061
A Division of Oconee Regional Health Systems
9Civil War 150th AnniversaryMay 2011
Milledgeville571 Hammock Rd. Ste 106
(Old McGaw Building)
Gray222 West Clinton St., Ste 3
(Next to Advance Auto)
Lake Oconee1001 Village Park Drive
Focused on Healing.Focused on You...
821 N. Cobb St Milledgeville, GA 31061
A Division of Oconee Regional Health Systems
Serving the Community since 1886(478) 452-2222 • 116 S. Wayne Street Milledgeville, GA
THE OLD GOVERNOR’S MANSIONCome and enjoy
Milledgeville’s rich historythrough a tour of the
Old Governor’s Mansion
Regular Tour Hours:Tuesday - Saturday:10:00am - 4:00pm
Sunday: 2:00pm - 4:00pmSpecial Curator’s Tour and our new Labor behind the Veil Tour by Appointment.
After your tour visit the Gift Store!
The South, for all of its generalship anddetermination, could not seem to win thewar in the East. The North, for all of itsgenerals’ blundering and caution, could notseem to lose.
Three years after Fort Sumter, little hadchanged in the East except the roster ofgenerals President Lincoln pitched atRobert E. Lee. The toll of dead, woundedand missing – from First Manassas toGettysburg – topped 150,000.
In March 1864, Ulysses S. Grant, whohad captured two Southern armies and beenin charge of victorious forces atChattanooga, took command of all Unionarmies. Two months later, Grant and Lee’ssoldiers collided in a Virginia tangle knownas the Wilderness.
The fight took place in overgrown jungle
terrain that negated Union strength in num-bers and artillery. Wadding discharged byrifles ignited leaf litter and underbrush, set-ting fires that burned over wounded men.
James Longstreet – Lee’s “warhorse” andone of his most dependable commanders –became, like Stonewall Jackson, a casualty offriendly fire. Longstreet survived but was outof commission for months.
Nearly 30,000 men were killed or wound-ed in two days’ fighting. The result wasanother stalemate.
Events played out between the armies asthey always had.
Then Grant changed everything.Grant didn’t pull his men back across a
river to give them time to lick their wounds.He pushed South. The Union soldiers, onthe march in the aftermath of one of thewar’s most brutal battles, cheered as theygrasped what it meant: They were advancing.
Grant and Lee’s armies armies collided nextat Spotsylvania Court House. Another30,000 men were casualties of two weeks'fighting. Breaking off, Grant shifted southagain.
At North Anna, the two armies met oncemore. The cost was another 5,000 casualtiesbetween them.
At Cold Harbor, Lee’s army turned back aUnion assault, but not before adding 7,000more federal casualties to the toll. It is theone attack Grant said he always regrettedordering.
In a mere six weeks, Grant’s OverlandCampaign left 100,000 men on both sidesdead, wounded or missing.
Grant ended his campaign by mid-Juneand continued swinging south, this timetoward Petersburg. But the Union squan-dered its numerical advantage and a chanceto capture the city before Lee’s reinforce-ments arrived just in time.
The Union siege of Petersburg lasted intothe following spring.
According to historian Edwin Bearss, theUnion, by not pushing aggressively intoPetersburg when it had the chance, missed “aonce-in-the-war opportunity, which con-demns thousands of men on both sides todeath, disabling wounds and a long, hardsummer before Petersburg eventually falls.”
10 Civil War 150th Anniversary May 2011
After Antietam, Abraham Lincolnlooked for boldness and aggressivenessfrom his commanders. He sought, inother words, a Union match for RobertE. Lee.
Instead he got folly – and theUnion’s worst defeat of the war.
When Lincoln couldn’t budge Gen.George McClellan and the Army of thePotomac to give chase as Lee withdrewto Virginia, his frustration erupted.McClellan would never be ready, toLincoln’s mind.
The president famously remarked hehad been boring “with an auger toodull to take hold.” Lincoln relievedMcClellan.
Union leadership passed to AmbroseBurnside, who planned to push toward
lightly defended Fredericksburg, securea supply line and set his sights onRichmond.
The Rappahannock River stood inhis way. Burnside ordered pontoonbridges built in hopes of quickly slip-ping across. But they were slow in com-ing, allowing Lee to reachFredericksburg first.
Mississippi sharpshooters added tothe delay by steadily picking offNorthern engineers building thosebridges. Burnside retaliated by shellingthe town but accomplished little mili-tarily. As soon as the bombardmentstopped, the bridge builders resumed –and so did the sharpshooters.
Only after Union volunteers rootedout the sharpshooters in house-to-
house combat did the Army of thePotomac cross the Rappahannock.
Every delay played into Lee’s hands,allowing him to unite his forces andbuild an impregnable line thatBurnside would encounter on themorning of Dec. 13, 1862.
Union troops from Pennsylvaniabegan the attack with an assault on theConfederate right. They found anunexpected gap in Stonewall Jackson’sline but were unable to hold afterSouthern troops counterattacked.
The Union focus then shifted towardMarye’s Heights, where Lee’s infantrywas secured behind a stone wall along asunken road. Union troops charged the wall then
broke, time and again, like waves crash-
ing against a rock. Three thousand fed-erals went down in one hour, accordingto one account. Yet they kept coming,always to die just short of the wall.
Lee lost 5,000 men that day.Burnside lost more than 13,000, almostall in the assaults on Marye’s Heights.At the end of the day, Burnside had lit-tle choice but to withdraw across theRappahannock, with nothing to showfor the slaughter.
Historian Shelby Foote deferred to anOhio newspaper to sum up the follythat was Fredericksburg: “It can hardlybe in human nature for men to showmore valor, or generals to manifest lessjudgment.”
Two great partnerships emerged in the forge ofthe American Civil War.
For the North it was that of Ulysses Grant andWilliam Tecumseh Sherman.
For the South, it was the combination ofRobert. E. Lee’s boldness and Stonewall Jackson’stenacity – a partnership never more formidablethan in May 1863.
Lee had 60,000 men guarding Fredericksburgthat spring. The North, which had been unableto take the city months earlier, had more thantwice Lee’s number. It was enough to check Leeon one side and strike from the other. Or sothought the new Union commander, “FightingJoe” Hooker.
Hooker wasn’t about to repeat his predecessor’smistake and hit head on the entrenchedConfederates. Instead, he planned to swingaround behind Lee and strike.
Hooker left 40,000 men at Fredericksburg tomask his true intentions and hold Lee in place,and he put the rest to march. But Lee soon real-
ized what was happening. Leaving 10,000 menin Fredericksburg, he marched west to faceHooker.
At that point, Hooker lost his nerve, switchingfrom offense to defense.
Civil War author James McPherson quotesone of Hooker’s fellow officers: “Hooker couldplay the best game of poker I ever saw until itcame to the point where he should go a thou-sand better, and then he would flunk.”
Lee took the initiative, split his army again andsent the larger force under Jackson on a round-about march to strike Hooker’s flank. Jacksonsucceeded beyond anyone’s imagining andpoured rebels upon unsuspecting Federal troopswho were busy preparing dinner and playingcards.
Jackson knocked the Union “completely loosefrom its prepared position,” says historian BruceCatton.
Lee, having reunited the two pieces of hisarmy near Chancellorsville, pressed hard and
drove back Hooker. Union troops at Fredericksburg, meanwhile,
overpowered the smaller force Lee had left there,prompting Lee to once again split his army. Thistime he left a small force to check the stunnedHooker while the rest blocked the Unionadvance coming from Fredericksburg.
Chancellorsville was a spectacular display ofSouthern generalship and fighting spirit. Hooker,who had been planning to swing in behind Lee,instead had his own flank surprised. Lee, thoughvastly outnumbered, always managed to focushis smaller forces at the precise point of attack, somuch so that the Confederates inflicted 17,000casualties to 13,000 of their own, and drove theUnion back across the Rappahannock.
Not all news was good for Lee, however.Jackson, on a late-night reconnoiter after theattack, was accidentally shot by his own men.
“He has lost his left arm,” Lee said upon learn-ing the news, “but I have lost my right arm.”
Jackson died eight days later.
11Civil War 150th AnniversaryMay 2011
The Civil War’s wrath spared few places inAmerica.
The Civil War Sites Advisory Commissioncounts 10,500 armed conflicts of one size oranother between 1861 and 1865, rangingfrom minor skirmishes to full-blown battlessuch as Shiloh, Gettysburg andChickamauga.
Action stretched from the ridiculous butdeadly St. Alban’s Raid in Vermont toArizona’s Battle of Picacho Pass. Naval battlesinvolving Union and Confederate ships evenreached the shorts of France.
The war unfolded on nearly 400 “principalbattlefields,” according to the commission,with the border states of Virginia, Tennesseeand Missouri bearing the worst of the fight-ing.
A surprising number of civilians and citieswere in the path of colliding armies time andagain.
Virginia’s Spotsylvania County, for example,was the scene of four major battles and a
number of smaller ones, resulting in 100,000casualties, over an 18-month period.
In Virginia, large combating armies twicerolled over Fredericksburg and Bull Run.Numerous other sites – from Chattanooga,Tenn., to Newtonia, Mo. – saw action multi-ple times.
There was simply no place one could escapewhat evolved into total war.
Combat troops even quelled draft riots inNew York City. The riots claimed the lives ofmore than a hundred people in 1863 andresulted in casualties on the order of some ofthe smaller battles.
Meanwhile, hard-riding Confederateraiders, such as John Hunt Morgan, sweptover large tracts of country. They brought thefight to places such as Corydon, Ind., andSalineville, Ohio.
In 1864, Sterling Price led thousands ofConfederates on a 1,500-mile, horseshoe-shaped cavalry raid – the largest mountedcampaign of the war – that drew blood at
countless out-of-the-way places in Missouriand Kansas.
Native Americans in the territory nowknown as Oklahoma were drawn into fightsat Cabin Creek and Honey Springs. In fact,Oklahoma has more “principal battlefields"than Pennsylvania, and just as many asMaryland.
Perhaps no home was more star-crossedduring the war than that of a Virginia farmer,Wilmer McLean.
McLean’s house was in the path of the firstbattle at Manassas in 1861, according to theNational Park Service. Confederate GeneralP.G.T. Beauregard used it as his headquarters.
After a second battle there in summer1862, McLean chose the following year tomove his family as far out of harm’s way as hecould. He settled in a brick house nearAppomattox Courthouse, also in Virginia.
In 1865, Ulysses Grant and Robert E. Leeused Wilmer McLean’s front parlor to signthe documents of Lee’s formal surrender.
Northern victory could be summa-rized in a word – shoes. Union sol-diers had them. Confederates oftendid not.
The disparity in footwear revealed adeeper truth: The North had materialstrength the South lacked.
One of the war’s most significantbattles, fought at Gettysburg in thesummer of 1863, “began as a clashover shoes,” writes historian GeoffreyWard.
“There was rumored to be a largesupply of shoes stored somewhere in
the little crossroads town ofGettysburg, and at dawn on July 1 aninfantry officer ... led his men there tocommandeer them.”
At Nashville, Tenn., where armiesclashed a year later, one-third of theSouthern soldiers were believed tohave fought without shoes, writes RossMassey, historian for the Battle ofNashville Preservation Society. Masseycompares that to the quarter ofGeorge Washington’s soldiers wholacked shoes at Valley Forge.
An old Confederate soldier, years
after the war, recalled the aftermath ofthat Tennessee battle for The AtlantaConstitution: “If you had been aroundjust after the rout at Nashville, youwould have thought there were tenthousand elephants loose in the coun-try. ... half-starved and half-frozenmen wrapped their feet in old sacksand any sort of rags they could getuntil the tracks they made were greatround holes in the snow, like thetracks of elephants."
A Virginia colonel reported 175 ofhis men were shoeless at Antietam,
according to the book, “The AntietamCampaign.” A soldier writing to aSouthern newspaper concluded thatonly “willful negligence” explainedwhy one third of the Army was shoe-less. He signed his letter, “Barefoot.”
Shoes were something of an obses-sion across the South, for civilians andsoldiers. It wasn’t just the shoes, ofcourse. The North had every materialadvantage.
The North had more than four timesas many men of military age, and 10times the manufacturing strength,writes historian Paul Johnson, summa-rizing the disparities between Northand South in “A History of theAmerican People.”
The North had 25 times the mer-chant ship tonnage, produced 32 timesas many firearms and had 2.4 times therailroad mileage.
Historian James McPherson quotes aSouthern newspaper in his book,“Battle Cry of Freedom,” describingthe Confederacy’s plight:
“Our slaves are clothed withNorthern manufactured goods, workwith Northern hoes, ploughs and otherimplements. ... The slaveholder ridesin a Northern saddle ... and onNorthern-made paper, with a Northernpen, with Northern ink, he resolvesand re-resolves in regard to his rights.”
12 Civil War 150th Anniversary May 2011
Robert E. Lee was worried.He won the greatest victory of his
military career – the greatest victory theSouth would know during the Civil War– at Chancellorsville in May 1863. Still,shadows hung over the Confederacy.
“Our loss was severe,” historianStephen Sears reports Lee as saying afterthat battle, “and again we had gainednot an inch of ground and the enemycould not be pursued.”
Lee’s stunning victories with the Armyof Northern Virginia in the Eastthrough 1862 – in driving the UnionArmy from Richmond – had beenmatched by Union success in pryingopen the Mississippi River from bothends in the West.
Union armies won crucial victories inPerryville, Ky., and at Stones River,Tenn., in fall and winter 1862 – despitethe beating their counterparts were tak-ing at Fredericksburg.
Ulysses Grant and his army hadcrossed the Mississippi by early 1863,despite a series of setbacks at ChickasawBluffs and elsewhere. Grant moved tostrike Vicksburg, one of the last greatSouthern citadels holding out along theriver, linking two halves of theConfederacy together.
The South had other problems, too. Lee’s victories had been costly. The
13,000 troops he lost at Chancellorsvilleamounted to 22 percent of his army,according to historian JamesMcPherson, not the least of whom wasStonewall Jackson. The Union, althoughit suffered greater losses at 17,000 men,lost only 15 percent of its force.
James Longstreet, the Southern gener-al Lee affectionately called his “oldwarhorse,” said: “Even victories such asthese were consuming us, and wouldeventually destroy us,” Sears writes in“Gettysburg.”
But Robert E. Lee was formulating aplan.
Invade the North again, just as he haddone the previous fall, Lee proposed toConfederate President Jefferson Davis.Maybe an aggressive campaign couldrelieve the pressure building in the West.If not, writes Sears, Lee could at leasttake the edge off of the Union’s impend-ing victory.
Moving north also would give Lee anopportunity to forage for food for hisstarving soldiers, who had been livingoff sassafras and wild onions, accordingto McPherson. Maybe this time therewould be no lost order to play into theUnion commander’s hands, as had hap-pened at Antietam in the fall of 1862.
“There is always hazard in militarymovements,” Sears quotes Lee as saying.“But we must decide between the posi-tive loss of inactivity and the risk ofaction.”
Lee planned to risk the action.
The South seemed invincible atChancellorsville, its generals godlike.
Eight weeks later, in one of the war’smore stunning reversals, Robert E. Leeand the Army of Northern Virginiawere knocked down to earth.
Southern generalship brought aboutthe undoing during the three-day bat-tle at Gettysburg.
For starters, J.E.B. Stuart, the caval-ry leader Lee needed to be his eyesand ears, was out of touch on one ofhis glory-seeking capers.
Another Southern general, A.P. Hill,set out to assess Union strength in thetown but brought on the battle beforeLee could concentrate his troops.
Historian Edwin Bearss calls it “theworst decision any Confederate com-mander will make at Gettysburg.”
A third general, Richard Ewell,opted not to take high ground southof Gettysburg during the first day’sfighting. He, too, gets blamed for theloss.
Then, there is James Longstreet,who disagreed with Lee about whatshould happen. Longstreet wanted Leeto reposition the Army of NorthernVirginia between the Union army andWashington, forcing the federals toattack once the Confederates were in astrong position.
“The enemy is there,” Lee replied,“and I am going to attack him there.”
Gettysburg unfolded July 1-3, 1863.The Union line, pushed back on the
first day, held up the second as troopscollided in areas known as Devil’sDen, Peach Orchard and Wheat Field.A bayonet charge ordered by JoshuaLawrence Chamberlain for his Mainemen during the struggle for Little
Round Top helped keep the Unionarmy intact.
Longstreet’s failure to attack morequickly and aggressively on the secondday put him in the firing line of what-if historians who claimed his effortswere half-hearted, and he became ascapegoat for the entire Southern loss.
Lee attacked again on July 3, hittingthe Union center anchored behind astone wall. Half the 14,000Confederates who went forward inPickett’s Charge never returned.
At the end of the day, one-third ofLee’s army – 28,000 men – were casu-alties.
The Union lost 23,000 men.Though blame was passed around,
Lee accepted final, full responsibility.“It’s all my fault,” he told the sur-vivors.
Among the casualties at Gettysburgwas his aura of invulnerability.
Josiah Gorgas, a Confederate officer,summed up the change in fortunes:“Lee failed at Gettysburg,” he wroteJuly 28, 1863. “Yesterday we rode onthe pinnacle of success – todayabsolute ruin seems to be our portion.The Confederacy totters to its destruc-tion.”
The victor, Union commanderGeorge Meade, came in for sharp crit-icism, too. Lincoln was furious thatMeade did not pursue Lee.
Lincoln chastised Meade in a letterwritten 10 days later, but nevermailed.
“(Lee) was within your easy grasp,and to have closed upon him would ...have ended the war,” he wrote.
13Civil War 150th AnniversaryMay 2011
The American Civil War has been called thewar of brother against brother.
That description was figurative and literal.Episodes of brother battling brother were too
numerous to count if one considers soldiers whofought with each other in previous wars, asShakespeare described in “Henry V”: “For hetoday that sheds his blood with me shall be mybrother!”
One of the men who stood up with UlyssesGrant at his wedding in 1848 was JamesLongstreet. Both were veterans of the Mexican-American War. Longstreet was a cousin of JuliaDent, who became Grant’s wife. While Grantled Union troops during the Civil War,Longstreet served under Confederate Gen.Robert E. Lee.
Grant also fought opposite Simon BolivarBuckner, a fellow West Point graduate. Bucknermade a loan to Grant when he resigned fromthe U.S. Army in 1854 and needed money toreturn home to his wife, writes historian JamesMcPherson.
Eight years later, Buckner, at the head of aSouthern army, sought terms from Grant aftersurrendering at Fort Donelson. Grant offered nodeal but unconditional surrender.
Actual family members found themselves onopposite sides, too.
Henry Wise was governor of Virginia and assuch signed John Brown’s death warrant after theabolitionist’s raid on the armory at Harper’sFerry. Wise was a member of Virginia’s SecessionCommission and later a Confederate general.
His brother-in-law, George Gordon Meade,was the victorious commander of Union forcesat Gettysburg.
U.S. Sen. John Crittenden, of Kentucky, a for-mer U.S. Attorney General, had two sons serveas generals. Thomas Crittenden fought for theUnion while his brother, George Crittenden,fought for the South – although the two nevermet in a battle.
As late as December 1860, following AbrahamLincoln’s election, the elder Crittenden was stilltrying to work out a compromise to prevent war.
Most famously, Lincoln’s own house wasdivided. Mary Todd Lincoln had multiple broth-ers and brothers-in-law fighting for the South,some of whom died in battle.
At the Pamplin Historical Park in Virginia,along the Breakthrough Trail, a historicalmarker was erected in honor of Maj. CliftonPrentiss, a 29-year-old Union soldier from
Union President Abraham Lincoln andConfederate President Jefferson Davisshared a gift for metaphor. In spring 1863,they also shared one conviction: Vicksburg,Miss., would determine the fate of theirrespective countries.
Davis called the city “the nail head thatheld the South’s two halves together,” writeshistorian Ed Bearrs.
Lincoln said Vicksburg was the “key.”“The war can never be brought to a close
until that key is in our pocket,” Lincolnsaid.
In late April 1863, Grant and 45,000men crossed the Mississippi River south ofVicksburg. Then Grant broke from his sup-ply line and cut off communication withthe outside world.
Lincoln biographer David HerbertDonald said Grant seemed to disappear,sending Lincoln into a frenzy to learn
something about what was happening.“Have you anything from Grant?”
Lincoln wired one of his generals.Lincoln need not have worried.For three weeks in May, Grant led one of
the most stunning campaigns of the war.Union troops fought and won five battlesand laid waste to the Mississippi capital ofJackson. They knocked one Southern armyback and drove a larger one into a ring ofrifle pits, trenches and fortifications circlingVicksburg.
Rebels straggling into the city for its finaldefense, according to a witness quoted byhistorian Peter Walker, where a “woeful sight... wan, hollow-eyed, ragged, footsore,bloody.”
Still, they had enough fight left to repeltwo Union attacks, prompting Grant tofinally settle in for a siege. As the seige
dragged on through June, Southern soldiersand civilians were reduced to eating peabread, mule meat and rats.
Federals, meanwhile, poured a rain ofshells onto the city.
Grant’s army became stronger asSoutherners grew weaker. Reinforcementsbrought Union troop strength to 70,000,enough to keep at bay Southern hopes for arelief effort.
Finally, on July 3, the commander of theSouthern army at Vicksburg, Lt. Gen. JohnPemberton, capitulated. He agreed to sur-render his 30,000 men, and Grant agreed toparole them. The siege had lasted 46 days.Grant had captured the second of threeConfederate armies he would take duringthe war.
On July 4, 1863, as Lee’s battered armymarched out of Gettysburg, Grant led victo-
rious troops into Vicksburg, where theyraised the U.S. flag over the courthouse.
Days later, learning of Vicksburg’s fate,Confederates at Port Hudson, anotherMississippi River stronghold, surrendered.The entire river was in Union hands. Granthad split the Confederacy and shut down acritical Southern supply line.
“The fate of the Confederacy,” he wouldlater say, “was sealed when Vicksburg fell.”
Baltimore who was shot in the chest. Not farfrom away, his brother, a Southern private namedWilliam Prentiss, was shot in the leg.
While stories abound of loyalties dividing fami-lies, tales of brothers actually killing each otherappear to have been apocryphal.
But in at least one instance, two brothers cameclose.
Kentucky’s Breckenridge family sent its sons toopposite sides of the war. At the 1864 Battle ofAtlanta, according to McPherson, one brotherhelped capture another.
14 Civil War 150th Anniversary May 2011
For two years, generals on both sidesordered their men to attempt the almost-impossible – a head-on assault.
Soldiers died by the thousands in theseattempts – most notably at Marye’sHeight’s at Fredericksburg in 1862 orPickett’s Charge at Gettysburg in 1863 –usually for naught.
But in November 1863 it worked.Following its defeat at Chickamauga,
the Union’s Army of the Cumberlandwithdrew north to Chattanooga. Southerncommander Braxton Bragg retained thehigh ground around the city, includingLookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge.
Ulysses Grant, put in charge of allUnion forces in the region, planned to usethe Army of the Cumberland to pressurethe Confederate center on MissionaryRidge while the real attack came fromeither end.
Veterans from the eastern Army of thePotomac, under Joe Hooker, would strikeBragg’s southern flank. William Sherman
and his Western warriors from the Armyof the Tennessee would hit Bragg from thenorth. Grant hoped the two flanks wouldcollapse.
Hooker initially had luck takingLookout Mountain but then boggeddown. Sherman, too, struggled. Grantordered the Army of the Cumberland tomove against Confederate rifle pits at thebase of the ridge to keep Bragg from shift-ing reinforcements from his center to theflanks.
The 20,000 men in the Army of theCumberland succeeded – and kept going.As the army charged the ridge, Grantturned to his subordinates and demandedto know who ordered the head-on assault.
To a man they said, “I did not.”“When those fellows get started, all hell
can’t stop them,” one of the men toldGrant, writes historian Edwin Bearrs.
Unexpectedly, the Confederate centercollapsed. Before long, Bragg and hisstunned troops were in a headlong retreat
that didn’t stop until they were well downthe road to Atlanta.
Casualties were light by the yardstick ofthe time – 5,800 for the North and 6,700for the South. But the victory was biggerthan the casualties suggest.
The North held Chattanooga, a rivercity and railhead that would serve as a baseto move against the Deep South.
Union President Abraham Lincoln,meanwhile, realized that in Grant he had aman who could win him the war.
But, surely, part of the reason for theNorth’s success was revealed when a Unionsoldier stopped to examine the body of adead Confederate on Missionary Ridge.The Confederate was a boy, about 15 yearsold, fighting barefoot in November,according to historian John Bowers.
“For a day’s ration there was a handfulof black beans, a few pieces of sorghumand a half dozen roasted acorns.”
The summer of 1863 belonged to theUnion.
The Army of the Potomac turned backRobert E. Lee’s second northern invasion atGettysburg. Ulysses Grant capturedVicksburg and opened the Mississippi River.
But those who imagined the South was inits death throes were soon disabused of suchthoughts.
As fall came, Union Gen. WilliamRosecrans pushed south toward Chattanooga,Tenn., a critical railhead for the Confederacy.His skillful maneuvering of the Army of the
Cumberland prompted Southern commanderBraxton Bragg to withdraw from the city.
Bragg, however, had not given up hope ofretaking Chattanooga. He gathered his mensouth of the city, waited for reinforcementsand prepared to counterattack.
The two armies collided in September nearChickamauga Creek in the woods of north-ern Georgia. The very word “Chickamauga,”according to some accounts, means “river ofdeath.”
The armies fought for three days. On thethird day, Bragg’s men, reinforced by James
Longstreet and veterans from Lee’s Army ofNorthern Virginia, hit the Union line.
In the chaos of battle, Rosecrans believed agap had opened in his Union line, althoughnone actually had. Rosecrans shifted his units,creating the very gap he feared. Longstreetpunched through and knocked Rosecrans andmuch of the Union army off the battlefield.
After a summer of defeats for theConfederacy, Chickamauga was turning intoa Southern rout.
It was left to a Union commander, GeorgeThomas, to consolidate Union troops along aridge and hold on. He withdrew toChattanooga only after night fell. He was laterimmortalized as the “Rock of Chickamauga.”
After three days of fighting, Southenersclaimed the field, but the Union held thetown. Between 34,000 and 37,000 men onboth sides were dead, wounded or missing.
“The great expenditure of lives by bothsides had little effect” on the overall war,writes Historian William Glenn Robertson.
But Chickamauga signaled something sinis-ter was happening to the American soul as thewar dragged into its fourth year – somethingas dark as the word “Chickamauga” itself.
Historian John Bowers, whose grandfatherfought for the South at Chickamauga, citessurvivor accounts that on part of the battle-field the heads of dead Union soldiers werepropped on tree stumps and mutilated bodieshanged from trees. Wounded men wereburied alive.
“Details,” said one survivor, “are sickening.”
At Chickamauga, “ ... the canker that heldevery lust, hate and demoniac urge seeminglyin the human soul had been lanced,” wroteBowers. “Whatever was darkest in theAmerican psyche came out: hate, vengeanceand self-preservation at all costs.”
15Civil War 150th AnniversaryMay 2011
Jefferson Davis, by some measures,should have made the greater president.
Davis was a West Point graduate andhero of the Mexican-American War, hav-ing led men who turned back a cavalrycharge at the Battle of Buena Vista.
Abraham Lincoln could only poke funat his own lack of military experience; hejoked the only blood he shed for hiscountry came while battling mosquitoesduring the Black Hawk War,
Davis was wired to power. His firstwife was the daughter of PresidentZachary Taylor. He also served in theHouse of Representatives, as Lincolndid, then went to the U.S. Senate andwas Secretary of War under PresidentFranklin Pierce.
“He is emphatically one of those‘born to command,’ Harper’s Weeklysaid of Davis in 1861.
But being born to command is dif-ferent than being born to lead, and thelatter is what Davis was chosen forwhen he was elected president of theConfederacy in 1861.
Davis faced a number of insur-mountable challenges in office,according to historians, not the leastof which was a Southern emphasis on“states rights” that created “the kind ofgovernment Southerners wanted (but)… not the kind that could fight andwin an extended war,” writes historianBruce Catton.
The president of the Confederacyheld together the contentious collec-tion of states against a foe with greaterresources and men for four years.
Davis also was a slave owner.Though he never mentioned the words“slave” or “slavery” in his inauguraladdress, the Mississippi Declaration ofSecession, which Davis helped draft,focused entirely upon it: “Our posi-tion is thoroughly identified with theinstitution of slavery.“
Davis was “a gentle, patriarchal mas-ter,” who viewed slavery as a benign,even beneficial institution underwhich African-Americans prospered,according to historian Geoffrey Ward.
“In moral and social condition theyhad been elevated from brutal savagesinto docile, intelligent, and civilizedagricultural laborers, and supplied notonly with bodily comforts but withcareful religious instruction,” Davissaid in 1861.
Davis was captured a month afterLee’s surrender at Appomattox.Although many in the North wantedhim hanged, he was held only two yearsbefore being released without trial. Hedied in 1889.
“Every lost cause, you know, musthave a scapegoat, and Mr. Davis hasbeen chosen as such,” said theConfederate cavalry leader JohnSingleton Mosby.
“... I do not know any man in theConfederate States that could have con-ducted the war with the same successthat he did.”
It was a sentiment shared by RobertE. Lee.
The bloodiest day in America’s militaryhistory was not Dec. 7, 1941, when theJapanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Nor wasit Sept. 11, 2001, when attacks on NewYork City and Washington, D.C.,sparked the U.S. war on terrorism. Morethan 2,400 people were killed in the for-mer, nearly 3,000 in the latter.
The deadliest day in American war his-tory was Sept. 17, 1862.
More than 3,600 Union andConfederate soldiers died in a single day’sfighting at Antietam in Maryland.Another 19,000 were wounded, missingor captured, according to the NationalPark Service.
Historian James McPherson quotesNelson Miles, a Union officer atAntietam, writing to his brother a weeklater: “It seemed, as I rode along, that itwas the Valley of Death. I think that inthe space of less than 10 acres lay the
bodies of a thousand dead men and asmany more wounded.”
The American Civil War spawned afrightful number of days like Antietam.
Dead and wounded piled up week afteragonizing week, month after agonizingmonth.
At Shiloh, two days of fighting leftnearly 24,000 casualties.
At Stones River, there were 23,000casualties in three days. Gettysburg left51,000 casualties in three days. Morethan 34,000 were killed, wounded ormissing after three days at Chickamauga.
And, of course, there was Cold Harbor.Reports of 7,000 men falling at Cold
Harbor, Va., within 30 minutes are exag-gerated, writes historian Edwin Bearss in“Fields of Honor.”
“The truth – that perhaps 4,500 menfell in a few hours – is bad enough,” hewrites.
To appreciate the scale of the bloodspilled across the nation from 1861 to1865, consider this:
The 1860 census put the country’s pop-ulation at about 31 million, includingseveral million slaves. The latest censusestimates the population at 310 million,about 10 times larger than it was 150years ago.
The equivalent number of dead andwounded from a battle such as Antietamtoday would be 226,000 – just from oneday’s fighting.
More than 600,000 men, North andSouth, died from battlefield action,wounds, disease or other threats duringthe Civil War. That’s about 1 in 50 peo-ple living in the United States in 1860.
The equivalent number of deadAmericans from a similar four-year wartoday would be about 6 million.