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timschochet

The American Civil War Timeline- 150th Anniversary

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I am leaving tommorow on vacation for two weeks, until July 5. While I might be making a few posts here and there when I get online, it certainly won't be in this thread. So we'll take time off and resume with more on the battle of Vicksburg in July.

Enjoy, I'll be patiently waiting :thumbup:

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I am leaving tommorow on vacation for two weeks, until July 5. While I might be making a few posts here and there when I get online, it certainly won't be in this thread. So we'll take time off and resume with more on the battle of Vicksburg in July.

Enjoy, Tim

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Delighted to be back, and to resume this thread!

The Siege of Vicksburg Part 5

Thanks to Grierson's raid, and thanks also to a feigned attack north of Vicksburg by one of Sherman's divisions, Grant's crossing on April 30 was unopposed. Sherman had landed this division near the site of his Chicksaw Bayou repulse the previous December. For two days Sherman's artillery and a few light gunboats shelled Confederate defenses while the infantry deployed as if for attack. Pemberton took the bait. In response to a panicky message from the commander confronting Sherman-

The enemy are in front of me in force such as has never before been seen at Vicksburg. Send me reinforcements!

-Pemberton recalled 3,000 troops who had been on their way to challenge Grant. The 23,000 bluecoats with Grant moved quickly to overwhelm the only rebels in the vicinity, 6,000 infantry at Port Gibson 10 miles east of the river. The Yankees brushed them aside after a sharp fight on May 1. Having established a secure lodgement, Grant sent for Sherman and the rest of his troops, which would bring Union strength east of the river to more than 40,000 to oppose Pemberton's 30.000 scattered in various detachments. Pemberton finally recognized that Grant had crossed his whole army below Vicksburg. But what to do about it was a puzzle because Grant's purpose remained unclear. His most logical move would seem to be a drive straight northward toward Vicksburg, keeping his left flank in contact with the river where he might hope to receive additional supplies from transports that ran the batteries. But Grant knew that Joseph Johnston was trying to scrape together an army at Jackson, the state capital 40 miles east of Vicksburg. If he ignored Johnston and went after Pemberton, the Yankees might suddenly find another enemy on their right flank. So Grant decided to drive eastward, eliminate the Johnston threat before it became serious and before Pemberton realized what was happening, and then turn back west to attack Vicksburg.

As for provisions, Grant remembered what he had learned after Van Dorn's destruction of his supply base the previous December. This time he intended to cut loose from his base, travel light, and live off the country. Although civilians were growing hungry in Mississippi, Grant was confident that his soldiers would not. A powerful army on the move could seize supplies that penniless women and children could not afford to buy. For the next 2 weeks the Yankee soldiers lived well on hams, poultry, vegetables, milk and honey as they stripped bare the plantations in their path. Some of these midwestern farm boys proved to be expert foragers. When an irate planter rode up on a mule and complained to a division commander that plundering troops had robbed him of everything he owned, the general looked him in the eye and said:

Well, those men didn't belong to my division at all, because if they were my men they wouldn't have left you that mule.

Edited by timschochet

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The Siege of Vicksburg Part 6

Divided counsels and paralysis in the face of Grant's unexpected and rapid movements crippled the Confederate response. On May 9 the War Department in Richmond ordered Johnston to take overall command of the Mississippi defenses and promised him reinforcements. But Johnston got no further than Jackson, where he found 25,000 confident Yankees bearing down on the capital after bowling over a small rebel force at Raymond a dozen miles to the west. Coming on through a rainstorm, Sherman and McPherson's corps on May 14 launched a straight-ahead attack against the 6,000 entrenched Confederates defending Jackson and sent them flying through the streets out of town. Sherman's corps set to work at a task in which they soon became experts- wrecking railroad facilities and burning foundries, arsenals, factories, and machine shops in the capital along with a fair number of homes that got in the way of the flames, doing their work so thoroughly that Jackson became known to its conquerors as Chimneyville.

Meanwhile Johnston urged Pemberton to unite his troops with Johnston's 6,000 survivors north of Jackson, where with expected reinforcements they would be strong enough to attack Grant. This would lead Vicksburg undefended, but Johnston cared little about that. His strategy was to concentrate superior numbers against Grant and beat him, after which the Confederates could reoccupy Vicksburg at leisure. Pemberton disagreed. He had orders to hold Vicksburg and he intended to do so by shielding it with his army. Before the two southern generals could agree on a plan, the Yankees made the matter moot by slicing up Pemberton's mobile force on May 16 at Champion's Hill. midway between Jackson and Vicksburg.

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The fascinating part here is that Pemberton should be faultless as he was promised troops that never materialized. Johnston meanwhile was dallying over in Jackson - so when Grant realized he could lash east before heading back west for the siege, that is exactly what he did. That, in effect, handed the North the control of the river and eventually the Civil War.

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It's worth noting that during this phase of the campaign, the Confederate forces had Grant outnumbered in the state of Mississippi. But in every engagement, Grant had more troops at the point of attack.

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The Siege of Vicksburg Part 7

Champion's Hill was the key battle of the campaign, involving about 29,000 Federal troops against 20,000 Confederates. The Union troops were McPherson's and McClermand's corps (Sherman's men were still burning Jackson), which found the rebels posted along 4 miles of the 70 foot high Champion's Hill ridge. While the normally aggressive McClermand showed unwonted caution, McPherson pitched into the enemy left with blows that finally crumpled this flank after several hours of bloody fighting. If McClernand had done his part, Grant believed, the Yankees might have bagged most of Pemberton's army; as it was the bluecoats inflicted 3,800 casualties at the cost of 2,400 to themselves and cut off one who division from the rest of Pemberton's force. The main body of Confederates fell back in demoralized fashion to the Big Black River only 10 miles east of Vicksburg. Grant's cocky midwesterners came after them on May 17. The rebel position at the Big Black was strong, but an impetuous brigade in McClernand's corps, chafing at its lack of a share in the previous day's glory, swept forward without orders and routed the left of the Confederate line defending the bridge that Pemberton was trying to keep open for his lost division, which unbeknown to him was marching in the opposite direction to join Johnston. The unnerved rebels collapsed once again, losing 1,750 men (mostly prisoners) while Union casualties were only 200. Pemberton retreated to Vicksburg, where citizens were shocked by the exhausted countenances of the soldiers. Wrote a Vicksburg woman on the evening of May 17:

I shall never forget the woeful sight. Wan, hollow-eyed, ragged, footsore, bloody, the men limped along unarmed...humanity in the last throes of endurance.

Thus had Grant wrought in a 17 day campaign during which his army marched 180 miles, fought and won 5 engagements against separate enemy forces which if combined wlould have been almost as large as his own, inflicted 7,200 casualties at the cost of 4,300, and cooped up an apparently demoralized enemy in the Vicksburg defenses. But Grant wasn't done. He hoped to take the town, immediately, while its defenders were still stunned. Without stopping to rest, he ordered an attack by his whole army on May 19. With confidence bred by success, northern boys charged into the maze of trenches, rifle pits, and artillery ringing the landward side of Vicksburg. But as they emerged into the open the rebel line came alive with sheets of fire that stopped the bluecoats in their tracks. Esconced behind the most formidable works of the war, the rebels had taken heart. They proved the theory that one soldier under cover was the equal of at least three in the open.

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The fascinating part here is that Pemberton should be faultless as he was promised troops that never materialized. Johnston meanwhile was dallying over in Jackson - so when Grant realized he could lash east before heading back west for the siege, that is exactly what he did. That, in effect, handed the North the control of the river and eventually the Civil War.

This is certainly how Jefferson Davis regarded it. But the majority of southerners never would, because Pemberton was an outsider, a Yankee, while Johnston was one of them.

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It's worth noting that during this phase of the campaign, the Confederate forces had Grant outnumbered in the state of Mississippi. But in every engagement, Grant had more troops at the point of attack.

This is true and it is reminiscent of Stonewall's Valley campaign a year earlier.

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The Siege of Vicksburg Part 8

Bloodied but still undaunted, the Union troops wanted to try again. Grant planned another assault for May 22, preceded this time by reconnaisance to find weak points in enemy lines (there were few) and an artillery bombardment by 200 guns on land and 100 in the fleet. Again the Yankees surged forward against a hail of lead, this time securing lodgement at several points only to be driven out by counterattacks. After several hours of this, McClernand on the Union left sent word of a breakthrough and a request for support to exploit it. Distrustful as ever of McClernand, Grant nevertheless ordered Sherman and McPherson to renew their attacks and send reinforcements to the left. But these efforts, said Grant later, "only served to increase our casualties without giving any benefit." For the second time in 4 days the southerners threw back an all-out attack, doing much to redeem their earlier humiliation and inflicting almost as many casualties on the enemy as in all 5 earlier clashes combined.

Though they failed, Grant did not consider these attacks a mistake. He had hoped to capture Vicksburg before Johnston could build up a relief force in his rear and before summer heat and disease wore down his troops. Moreover, he explained, the men "believed they could carry the works in their front, and they would not (afterwards) have worked so patiently in the trenches if they had not been allowed to try." After the May repulses the bluecoats dug their own elaborate network of trenches and settled down for a siege. Grant called in reinforcements from Memphis and other points to build his army up to 70,000. He posted several divisions to watch Johnston, who was now hovering off to the northeast with a makeshift army of 30,000, some of them untrained conscripts. Grant had no doubt of ultimate success. On May 24 he informed Halleck that the enemy was "in our grasp. The fall of Vicksburg and the capture of most of the garrison can only be a matter of time."

Pemberton thought so too, unless help arrived. Regarding Vicksburg as "the most important point in the Confederacy," he informed Johnston in a message smuggled through Federal lines by a daring courier that he intended to hold it "as long as possible." But Pemberton could hold on only if Johnston pierced the blue cordon around him:

The men credit and are encouraged by a report that you are near with a large force.

But would Johnston come?

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I heard that the Civil War was fought because the states had agreed to pay the Revolutionary war debt and later backed out when it came due 70 years later. (international bankruptcy term)

The north said to the south "You pay it". They said, forget you, we're declaring our soverignty! The rest is history...

Can someone please confirm or deny that war debt was behind all this?

So basically what I'm hearing from a friend is this...

When the US was established in 1776 with the declaration of independence, we estbalished through the articles of confederation, a republic, a soverign nation, which controls its own property.

In 1782 with the end of the revolutionary war, the national government went to the states and asked them to foot the bill for the debt that had been incurred by the natl govt. With the creation of the national government, the natl govt took on the debt of the revolutionary war on behalf of the states. The states in 1782 basically said they would not pay the debt so the govt was forced to form a constitution. What is a constitutor, one who creates - one who passes his debt to a 3rd party.

Actual Definition - CONSTITUTOR, civil law. He who promised by a simple pact to pay the debt of another; and this is always a principal obligation

The constitution itself is a security, they had to create a security with sureties to basically back the debt, so that the natl govt could do biz with other govts. Because basically if you don’t pay your debts and you don’t have sureties for your debt, nobody internationally will do business with you.

The states signed on the constituion as surities saying yes we will back the debt. In 1789 with the completion of the bill of rights and constituion, we had a security instrument for which the debt of the United States were now attached to. With that debt, we basically went into whats known as an international bankruptcy, we didn’t pay the debt... the natl govt went to the UK, the king of england,

and asked, "will YOU buy this debt", he said "Sure, we'll back it, we'll pay your creditors". In exchange, they took legal title over the national govts property. Since 1789, the natl government lost its soverignty. We were a republic for exatly 7 years.

So the term of international bankruptcy is 70 years, so 70 years after 1789 we get into... drumrolll... 1859. The Civil War. The reason for the civil war, the real reason was not slavery. Slavery was already on its way out. It had already been outlawed internationally. America was in process of following suit.

So now, the end of the bankruptcy, the debt is due, the states signed on as sureties to pay the debt. The King of England, thru his bankers, the Rothchilds, the Bank of France, said, "you states said youd be surety, we want our money", and the northern states said to southern you have all the money, the resources, the wealth, gold, cotton, etc. South said basically yeah no, we're not, we're gonna start our own country.

This "debt" collection just kept repeating...Fast Forward

1859 second bankruptcy, states lost their soverignty, fast forward 70 years, 1929, what happened? Stock market crashed. 20 years before that? The Federal Reserve Act, income tax, jekyl island. So in 1909 they sat down in advance of the end term to figure out how they were going to handle this re-payment. In 20 years this debt it due and again, they don't have the money to pay it, so they came up with the federal reserve system and the income tax. (different story)

Oops, skipped over 1812 -War of 1812 - in 1791, alexander hamilton created the bank of US. The securites were being held there. International creditors wanted a guarantee of payment, basically "you hold your securities here in this bank and we're all good." Bank of US had a 20 year charter. 1811, congress decided, nah we're not gonna renew, international wasn't popular, pissed offf creditors, they said "no you don’t," and sent their troops in, british troops on our soil, burned the white house and took possession of the federal courts.

Again, this isn't the history I was taught in school, but this is the history being discussed by some...

Can someone confirm or deny? Thanks!

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Can someone confirm or deny? Thanks!

I deny. It's extremely conspiratorial, and not supported by historians. There are several good, legitimate histories that give the real story. For an extremely brief summary, please start with the first 4-5 pages of this thread. We go over the causes of the war in some detail.

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Can someone confirm or deny? Thanks!

I deny. It's extremely conspiratorial, and not supported by historians. There are several good, legitimate histories that give the real story. For an extremely brief summary, please start with the first 4-5 pages of this thread. We go over the causes of the war in some detail.
I deny too.

There's always going to be some people that will say that slavery had little to do with it. Some fall back on "the war was about state's rights" (yea, and generally, what specific right was the big sticking point?). Some will say tariffs. And I guess some will say revolutionary war debt (first time I've really heard this one.)

The war had a lot of different causes. Slavery, in general terms, was the underlying issue to prettymuch all of them. Slavery was alive and well. Cotton made it very profitable. The South really knew no other way, and more importantly, really couldn't imagine another way. It wasn't going to go away without bloodshed.

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I heard that the Civil War was fought because the states had agreed to pay the Revolutionary war debt and later backed out when it came due 70 years later. (international bankruptcy term)

Yeah, ah no. Not really.

The north said to the south "You pay it". They said, forget you, we're declaring our soverignty! The rest is history... Can someone please confirm or deny that war debt was behind all this?

The federal government assumed the revolutionary debts of the states by the assumption plan that the Congress passed, created by Hamilton, to form a national economic system.

When the US was established in 1776 with the declaration of independence, we estbalished through the articles of confederation, a republic, a soverign nation, which controls its own property.

The Declaration of Independence did not create a new nation. The Declaration of Independence was the public speech explaining the vote passing the Lee Resolution which "officially" broke off our allegience with the crown and declared the states free of British authority. Once that was done, and in the midst of the war that had already begun, the Congress established the Articles of Confederation in late 1776, passed them to the states to ratify in 1777 and they were finally agreed to by all states in 1781. The working draft of the AoC mixed with the various state instructions to their delegates fused to be the working charter of the new nation until more formal action could be taken.

In 1782 with the end of the revolutionary war, the national government went to the states and asked them to foot the bill for the debt that had been incurred by the natl govt. With the creation of the national government, the natl govt took on the debt of the revolutionary war on behalf of the states. The states in 1782 basically said they would not pay the debt so the govt was forced to form a constitution. What is a constitutor, one who creates - one who passes his debt to a 3rd party.

The war in ended in 1783. At that time the AoC were the governmental charter. Contrary to your "friend's" assertion, many of the states were paying their own debts. The "national" government could only assume debt if agreed to by the states. There was no "national" debt during the revolution, only that debt that was either specifically state debt, or that debt which the states agreed to contribute to for the entire body - though that number was relatively small for most of hte war. Your timeline continues to be wrong. There was already a national government in 1783 - the AoC Congress. The AoC failed as a governmental charter because power was too misdirected and there was no central authority to run the entire nation. Taxation policy was a mess, so was economic policy. Individual states were sending diplomats to foreign nations and entering into trade agreements with nations that did not take into account the needs of the rest of the states. As a 'constitution,' it was an epic failure and was close to surrendering the very liberty the founders fought for in the 1770's.

Actual Definition - CONSTITUTOR, civil law. He who promised by a simple pact to pay the debt of another; and this is always a principal obligation

Dictionary.com can be a dangerous weapon for those that are misguided. The reason the Constitution is called a constitution has nothing to do with debt and everything to do with the etymology of the word, which is actually a basic latin word modified by the French, and used as a description of an order or decree from a power or authority, even used byt he church to describe the orders of the Pope.

The constitution itself is a security, they had to create a security with sureties to basically back the debt, so that the natl govt could do biz with other govts. Because basically if you don’t pay your debts and you don’t have sureties for your debt, nobody internationally will do business with you.

The constitution itself was begun in earnest in 1786 by state delagates who finally understood that a natioanl economy and trade policy was necessary and that the AoC was a failure in that regard. They commissioned a congress to look into modifications of the AoC to ensure a more national character to those policies. The constitution itself is actually noting close to a security, whether it be a note, mortgage, or something similar. In its first iteration - before the Bill of Rights - the Constitution itself did nothing to address national debt, instead granting the national government the authority to coin money and enter into treaties. Individual states had already begun paying back their debts, some more then others. One of the most important debates of the first Congress surrounded this topic and how to deal with it.

The states signed on the constituion as surities saying yes we will back the debt. In 1789 with the completion of the bill of rights and constituion, we had a security instrument for which the debt of the United States were now attached to. With that debt, we basically went into whats known as an international bankruptcy, we didn’t pay the debt... the natl govt went to the UK, the king of england,

and asked, "will YOU buy this debt", he said "Sure, we'll back it, we'll pay your creditors". In exchange, they took legal title over the national govts property. Since 1789, the natl government lost its soverignty. We were a republic for exatly 7 years.

:rolleyes: I don't even know what you could smoke enough of to come up with that. The states did no such thing when the Constitution was ratified. The Constitution was completed before the Bill of Rights. And contrary to your assertion, the debts were being paid - first by some of the individual states, and then after by the national government when the assumption plan was finally passed by the Congress in accordance with a few deals that also resulted in the captial being built in Washington. The king of England stuff here is so off the wall it doesn't deserve further mention. Also, contrary to that final assertion, after assumption was complete, and the national government began the national economy, the "national debt" was actually paid down to zero a couple times in our early years.

So the term of international bankruptcy is 70 years, so 70 years after 1789 we get into... drumrolll... 1859. The Civil War. The reason for the civil war, the real reason was not slavery. Slavery was already on its way out. It had already been outlawed internationally. America was in process of following suit.

Given that your premise is wrong I really don't need to keep going, but what the heck. The primary arguments for the national economic plan Hamilton supported are easy enough to understand. With no national economic engine to function, there could be no credit and no debt for the national government. Since there were states that almost paid off all of their revolutionary debt, and some states that hadn’t, there was a mixture of various economies all working against each other. There were by any estimation dozens of currencies in the nation circa 1780. The result was that none of them were very valuable, and as a result the national government created by the Constitution had no value. In effect it was the very opposite of a surety.

The arguments against were also fairly simple. By instituting a national bank (one of the steps Hamilton fought for) the federal government would have more power in the economy. There would be widespread speculation on the bonds issued by the governments and the pensions and promised payments to the soldiers who fought the war could be bought for pennies on the dollar. Further, since some states had already begun paying off their debts it was wrong to drop on them more debt that wasn’t specifically theirs.

All of these were good arguments for and against the new monetary and economic system Hamilton envisioned. As a result, through the work of dozens of power brokers, led by Hamilton and Madison several deals were struck to pass the assumption plan, get the capital into Washington and ancillary to all this was the Jay Treaty and other foreign entanglements.

The Jay Treaty (which I’m guessing is something your “friend” connects to his dots somehow) had nothing to do with British acquisition of American debt. In fact, is was much the opposite. The Treaty averted another war with England when America couldn’t afford it because the British kept very little of the Treaty of Paris promises that ended the Revolution. To avert war, John Jay entered into this treaty for our nation. The terms granted favorable trading status between America and Britian to the detriment of the French – something Jefferson and his party adamantly opposed.

It also required the American government to pay debts to British merchants incurred during the revolution by various American entities – public and private. That debt was paid within 10 years. It didn’t end impressments at all and it didn’t attempt to collect damages for the taking of slaves away from the colonies and the various merchant ships impressed. There was not a single part of the treaty granting the British control over the territory of the United States as compensation for paying other debts – again, the treaty actually required the American government to pay the British what turned out to be mostly private debt to begin with. Your friend is nuts.

So now, the end of the bankruptcy, the debt is due, the states signed on as sureties to pay the debt. The King of England, thru his bankers, the Rothchilds, the Bank of France, said, "you states said youd be surety, we want our money", and the northern states said to southern you have all the money, the resources, the wealth, gold, cotton, etc. South said basically yeah no, we're not, we're gonna start our own country.

Yeah, no. The Civil War was coming from at least 1851 and maybe before. There was never a bankruptcy.

1859 second bankruptcy, states lost their soverignty,

The Civil War took place from 1861-1865. It is fairly easy to check on said dates. States lost no sovereignty in 1859, and it’s arguable if they either exercised or lost anything throughout the war that was legitimate. And the north actually had more resources then the south – something, again, that can be found by opening a real book.

fast forward 70 years, 1929, what happened? Stock market crashed. 20 years before that? The Federal Reserve Act, income tax, jekyl island. So in 1909 they sat down in advance of the end term to figure out how they were going to handle this re-payment. In 20 years this debt it due and again, they don't have the money to pay it, so they came up with the federal reserve system and the income tax. (different story)

Oh, I’m sure it would be entertaining since this one paragraph misses about, oh, all of the economic policy of the country from the very first day.

Oops, skipped over 1812 -War of 1812 - in 1791, alexander hamilton created the bank of US.

No he didn’t. It was part of an assumption plan, finally agreed to by all parties as part of rather extensive and powerful deals in the first Congress.

The securites were being held there. International creditors wanted a guarantee of payment, basically "you hold your securities here in this bank and we're all good." Bank of US had a 20 year charter. 1811, congress decided, nah we're not gonna renew, international wasn't popular, pissed offf creditors, they said "no you don’t," and sent their troops in, british troops on our soil, burned the white house and took possession of the federal courts.

Is there a slap to the face smiley? I though the Constitution was the security? That was housed in the Federal Building in New York. Of course, the War of 1812 was fought because the British didn’t follow through on all the promises of the Jay Treaty which was ratified because they didn’t follow through on all the promises of the Treaty of Paris, which was entered into because we had to fight a revolution with them because they didn’t follow through on all the promises of the Parliament – I can keep going….

Again, this isn't the history I was taught in school, but this is the history being discussed by some...

That’s because, I’m guessing, you went to a school on this planet.

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I heard that the Civil War was fought because the states had agreed to pay the Revolutionary war debt and later backed out when it came due 70 years later. (international bankruptcy term)...

Wow.

Again, this isn't the history I was taught in school, but this is the history being discussed by some...

Per you avatar, are these the red pill or blue pill people you've been talking to?

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The Siege of Vicksburg Part 9

For the next 6 weeks Pemberton's soldiers and some 3,000 citizens trapped in Vicksburg lived in hope of rescue by Johnston. "We are certainly in a critical situation," wrote a southern army surgeon, but "we can hold out until Johnston arrives with reinforcements and attacks Yankees in rear...Davis can't intend to sacrifice us."

But Davis had no more reinforcements to send. Braxton Bragg had already lent Johnston 2 divisions and could not spare another. Robert E. Lee insisted he needed every soldier in Virgina for his impending invasion of Pennsylvania. In Louisiana, General Richard Taylor (son of Zachary Taylor) reluctantly diverted 3 brigades form his campaign against Banks to assist Pemberton. Their only accomplishment, however, was to publicize the controversy surrounding northern employment of black troops:

In a futile attempt to disrupt Grant's restored supply line, one of Taylor's brigades on June 7 attacked the Union garrison at Millikan's Bend on the Mississippi above Vicksburg. This bost was defended mainly by 2 new divisions of contrabands. Untrained and armed with old muskets, most of the black troops nevertheless fought desperately. With the aid of 2 gunboats they finally drove off the enemy. For raw troops, wrote Grant, the freedmen "behaved well." Assistant Secretary of War Dana, still with Grant's army, spoke with more enthusiasm. "The bravery of the blacks," he declared, "completely revolutionized the sentiment of the army with regard to the employment of negro troops. I heard prominent officers who formerly in private had sneered at the idea of negroes fighting express themselves after that as heartily in favor of it."

But among the Confederates, Dana added, "the feeling was very different." Infuriated by the arming of former slaves, southern troops at Milliken's Bend shouted "no quarter!" and reportedly murdered several captured blacks. If true, such behavior undoubtedly reflected their officers' sentiment: the rebel brigade commander "considered it an unfortunate circumstance that any negroes were captured," while General Taylor reported that "a very large number of the negroes were killed and wounded, and unfortunately, some 50, with 2 of their white officers, captured." The captured freedmen were sold as slaves.

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The Siege of Vicksburg Part 9

For the next 6 weeks Pemberton's soldiers and some 3,000 citizens trapped in Vicksburg lived in hope of rescue by Johnston. "We are certainly in a critical situation," wrote a southern army surgeon, but "we can hold out until Johnston arrives with reinforcements and attacks Yankees in rear...Davis can't intend to sacrifice us."

But Davis had no more reinforcements to send. Braxton Bragg had already lent Johnston 2 divisions and could not spare another. Robert E. Lee insisted he needed every soldier in Virgina for his impending invasion of Pennsylvania. In Louisiana, General Richard Taylor (son of Zachary Taylor) reluctantly diverted 3 brigades form his campaign against Banks to assist Pemberton. Their only accomplishment, however, was to publicize the controversy surrounding northern employment of black troops:

In a futile attempt to disrupt Grant's restored supply line, one of Taylor's brigades on June 7 attacked the Union garrison at Millikan's Bend on the Mississippi above Vicksburg. This bost was defended mainly by 2 new divisions of contrabands. Untrained and armed with old muskets, most of the black troops nevertheless fought desperately. With the aid of 2 gunboats they finally drove off the enemy. For raw troops, wrote Grant, the freedmen "behaved well." Assistant Secretary of War Dana, still with Grant's army, spoke with more enthusiasm. "The bravery of the blacks," he declared, "completely revolutionized the sentiment of the army with regard to the employment of negro troops. I heard prominent officers who formerly in private had sneered at the idea of negroes fighting express themselves after that as heartily in favor of it."

But among the Confederates, Dana added, "the feeling was very different." Infuriated by the arming of former slaves, southern troops at Milliken's Bend shouted "no quarter!" and reportedly murdered several captured blacks. If true, such behavior undoubtedly reflected their officers' sentiment: the rebel brigade commander "considered it an unfortunate circumstance that any negroes were captured," while General Taylor reported that "a very large number of the negroes were killed and wounded, and unfortunately, some 50, with 2 of their white officers, captured." The captured freedmen were sold as slaves.

This is the sad part of the siege. Essentially the citizens of Vicksburg were starved both young and old; but their pride held them back from capitulating to Grant's unconditional surrender until July 3rd (actually 4th). The stories of their lives living in the caves surrounding the heights of Vicksburg are both compelling and melancholy. It is also cool to note that a pastor held daily services at the church despite its shell riddled state - I can't imagine the horrors of having been penned in like so many pigs for slaughter. Edited by Mr. Know-It-All

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I heard that the Civil War was fought because the states had agreed to pay the Revolutionary war debt and later backed out when it came due 70 years later. (international bankruptcy term)

Yeah, ah no. Not really.

The north said to the south "You pay it". They said, forget you, we're declaring our soverignty! The rest is history... Can someone please confirm or deny that war debt was behind all this?

The federal government assumed the revolutionary debts of the states by the assumption plan that the Congress passed, created by Hamilton, to form a national economic system.

When the US was established in 1776 with the declaration of independence, we estbalished through the articles of confederation, a republic, a soverign nation, which controls its own property.

The Declaration of Independence did not create a new nation. The Declaration of Independence was the public speech explaining the vote passing the Lee Resolution which "officially" broke off our allegience with the crown and declared the states free of British authority. Once that was done, and in the midst of the war that had already begun, the Congress established the Articles of Confederation in late 1776, passed them to the states to ratify in 1777 and they were finally agreed to by all states in 1781. The working draft of the AoC mixed with the various state instructions to their delegates fused to be the working charter of the new nation until more formal action could be taken.

In 1782 with the end of the revolutionary war, the national government went to the states and asked them to foot the bill for the debt that had been incurred by the natl govt. With the creation of the national government, the natl govt took on the debt of the revolutionary war on behalf of the states. The states in 1782 basically said they would not pay the debt so the govt was forced to form a constitution. What is a constitutor, one who creates - one who passes his debt to a 3rd party.

The war in ended in 1783. At that time the AoC were the governmental charter. Contrary to your "friend's" assertion, many of the states were paying their own debts. The "national" government could only assume debt if agreed to by the states. There was no "national" debt during the revolution, only that debt that was either specifically state debt, or that debt which the states agreed to contribute to for the entire body - though that number was relatively small for most of hte war. Your timeline continues to be wrong. There was already a national government in 1783 - the AoC Congress. The AoC failed as a governmental charter because power was too misdirected and there was no central authority to run the entire nation. Taxation policy was a mess, so was economic policy. Individual states were sending diplomats to foreign nations and entering into trade agreements with nations that did not take into account the needs of the rest of the states. As a 'constitution,' it was an epic failure and was close to surrendering the very liberty the founders fought for in the 1770's.

Actual Definition - CONSTITUTOR, civil law. He who promised by a simple pact to pay the debt of another; and this is always a principal obligation

Dictionary.com can be a dangerous weapon for those that are misguided. The reason the Constitution is called a constitution has nothing to do with debt and everything to do with the etymology of the word, which is actually a basic latin word modified by the French, and used as a description of an order or decree from a power or authority, even used byt he church to describe the orders of the Pope.

The constitution itself is a security, they had to create a security with sureties to basically back the debt, so that the natl govt could do biz with other govts. Because basically if you don't pay your debts and you don't have sureties for your debt, nobody internationally will do business with you.

The constitution itself was begun in earnest in 1786 by state delagates who finally understood that a natioanl economy and trade policy was necessary and that the AoC was a failure in that regard. They commissioned a congress to look into modifications of the AoC to ensure a more national character to those policies. The constitution itself is actually noting close to a security, whether it be a note, mortgage, or something similar. In its first iteration - before the Bill of Rights - the Constitution itself did nothing to address national debt, instead granting the national government the authority to coin money and enter into treaties. Individual states had already begun paying back their debts, some more then others. One of the most important debates of the first Congress surrounded this topic and how to deal with it.

The states signed on the constituion as surities saying yes we will back the debt. In 1789 with the completion of the bill of rights and constituion, we had a security instrument for which the debt of the United States were now attached to. With that debt, we basically went into whats known as an international bankruptcy, we didn't pay the debt... the natl govt went to the UK, the king of england,

and asked, "will YOU buy this debt", he said "Sure, we'll back it, we'll pay your creditors". In exchange, they took legal title over the national govts property. Since 1789, the natl government lost its soverignty. We were a republic for exatly 7 years.

:goodposting: I don't even know what you could smoke enough of to come up with that. The states did no such thing when the Constitution was ratified. The Constitution was completed before the Bill of Rights. And contrary to your assertion, the debts were being paid - first by some of the individual states, and then after by the national government when the assumption plan was finally passed by the Congress in accordance with a few deals that also resulted in the captial being built in Washington. The king of England stuff here is so off the wall it doesn't deserve further mention. Also, contrary to that final assertion, after assumption was complete, and the national government began the national economy, the "national debt" was actually paid down to zero a couple times in our early years.

So the term of international bankruptcy is 70 years, so 70 years after 1789 we get into... drumrolll... 1859. The Civil War. The reason for the civil war, the real reason was not slavery. Slavery was already on its way out. It had already been outlawed internationally. America was in process of following suit.

Given that your premise is wrong I really don't need to keep going, but what the heck. The primary arguments for the national economic plan Hamilton supported are easy enough to understand. With no national economic engine to function, there could be no credit and no debt for the national government. Since there were states that almost paid off all of their revolutionary debt, and some states that hadn't, there was a mixture of various economies all working against each other. There were by any estimation dozens of currencies in the nation circa 1780. The result was that none of them were very valuable, and as a result the national government created by the Constitution had no value. In effect it was the very opposite of a surety.

The arguments against were also fairly simple. By instituting a national bank (one of the steps Hamilton fought for) the federal government would have more power in the economy. There would be widespread speculation on the bonds issued by the governments and the pensions and promised payments to the soldiers who fought the war could be bought for pennies on the dollar. Further, since some states had already begun paying off their debts it was wrong to drop on them more debt that wasn't specifically theirs.

All of these were good arguments for and against the new monetary and economic system Hamilton envisioned. As a result, through the work of dozens of power brokers, led by Hamilton and Madison several deals were struck to pass the assumption plan, get the capital into Washington and ancillary to all this was the Jay Treaty and other foreign entanglements.

The Jay Treaty (which I'm guessing is something your "friend" connects to his dots somehow) had nothing to do with British acquisition of American debt. In fact, is was much the opposite. The Treaty averted another war with England when America couldn't afford it because the British kept very little of the Treaty of Paris promises that ended the Revolution. To avert war, John Jay entered into this treaty for our nation. The terms granted favorable trading status between America and Britian to the detriment of the French – something Jefferson and his party adamantly opposed.

It also required the American government to pay debts to British merchants incurred during the revolution by various American entities – public and private. That debt was paid within 10 years. It didn't end impressments at all and it didn't attempt to collect damages for the taking of slaves away from the colonies and the various merchant ships impressed. There was not a single part of the treaty granting the British control over the territory of the United States as compensation for paying other debts – again, the treaty actually required the American government to pay the British what turned out to be mostly private debt to begin with. Your friend is nuts.

So now, the end of the bankruptcy, the debt is due, the states signed on as sureties to pay the debt. The King of England, thru his bankers, the Rothchilds, the Bank of France, said, "you states said youd be surety, we want our money", and the northern states said to southern you have all the money, the resources, the wealth, gold, cotton, etc. South said basically yeah no, we're not, we're gonna start our own country.

Yeah, no. The Civil War was coming from at least 1851 and maybe before. There was never a bankruptcy.

1859 second bankruptcy, states lost their soverignty,

The Civil War took place from 1861-1865. It is fairly easy to check on said dates. States lost no sovereignty in 1859, and it's arguable if they either exercised or lost anything throughout the war that was legitimate. And the north actually had more resources then the south – something, again, that can be found by opening a real book.

fast forward 70 years, 1929, what happened? Stock market crashed. 20 years before that? The Federal Reserve Act, income tax, jekyl island. So in 1909 they sat down in advance of the end term to figure out how they were going to handle this re-payment. In 20 years this debt it due and again, they don't have the money to pay it, so they came up with the federal reserve system and the income tax. (different story)

Oh, I'm sure it would be entertaining since this one paragraph misses about, oh, all of the economic policy of the country from the very first day.

Oops, skipped over 1812 -War of 1812 - in 1791, alexander hamilton created the bank of US.

No he didn't. It was part of an assumption plan, finally agreed to by all parties as part of rather extensive and powerful deals in the first Congress.

The securites were being held there. International creditors wanted a guarantee of payment, basically "you hold your securities here in this bank and we're all good." Bank of US had a 20 year charter. 1811, congress decided, nah we're not gonna renew, international wasn't popular, pissed offf creditors, they said "no you don't," and sent their troops in, british troops on our soil, burned the white house and took possession of the federal courts.

Is there a slap to the face smiley? I though the Constitution was the security? That was housed in the Federal Building in New York. Of course, the War of 1812 was fought because the British didn't follow through on all the promises of the Jay Treaty which was ratified because they didn't follow through on all the promises of the Treaty of Paris, which was entered into because we had to fight a revolution with them because they didn't follow through on all the promises of the Parliament – I can keep going….

Again, this isn't the history I was taught in school, but this is the history being discussed by some...

That's because, I'm guessing, you went to a school on this planet.

Thanks for the history lesson, seriously. I think its fascinating and I do plan on printing this entire thread and reading some of the recommendations here. These assertions weren't mine, but were told to me through a friend who's been attending some "conferences". Not sure what their agenda is, but it surrounds some form of educating towards a legal challenge of tax code. With all of the numerous falsehoods found here, I'm sure it's a scam.

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This is the sad part of the siege. Essentially the citizens of Vicksburg were starved both young and old; but their pride held them back from capitulating to Grant's unconditional surrender until July 3rd (actually 4th). The stories of their lives living in the caves surrounding the heights of Vicksburg are both compelling and melancholy. It is also cool to note that a pastor held daily services at the church despite its shell riddled state - I can't imagine the horros of having been hogged in like so many pigs for slaughter.

Despite the fact that I'm on part 9 and still going, the source I am using (McPherson) is rather limited when it comes to Vicksburg. Like so many others who have tried to read about the Civil War, I have sort of ignored this event in favor of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg which occured at the same time. But now I'm getting the picture just how monumental this battle was; it deserves hundreds of pages. I would like to read more. Does anyone have a good book to recommend that deals specifically with Vicksburg?

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The Siege of Vicksburg Part 10

The repulse at Milliken's Bend cut short Confederate attempts to succor Vicksburg from west of the Mississippi. All hopes for relief now focused on Johnston. The Vicksburg newspaper (reduced in size to a square foot and printed on wallpaper) buoyed up spirits with cheerful predictions:

The undaunted Johnston is at hand!

We may look at any hour for Johnston's approach!

Hold out a few days longer, and our lines will be opened, the enemy driven away, the siege raised!

During the first month of the siege, morale remained good despite around-the-clock Union artillery and gunboat fire that drove civilians into man-made caves that dotted the hillsides. But as the weeks passed and Johnston did not come, spirits sagged. Soldiers were subsisting on quarter rations. By the end of June nearly half of them were on the sicklist, many with scurvy. Skinned rats appeared beside mule meat in the markets. Dogs and cats disappeared mysteriously. The tensions of living under siege drove people to the edge of madness; if things went on much longer, wrote a Confederate officer, "a building will have to be arranged for the accomodation of maniacs." The tone of the newspaper changed from confidence to complaint: in the last week of June it was no longer "Johnston is coming!" but "Where is Johnston?"

Johnston had never believed in himself as Deliverer. "I consider saving Vicksburg hopeless," he informed the War Department on June 15. To the government this looked like a western refrain of Johnston's behavior in the Virginia Peninsula in 1862, when he seemed reluctant to fight to defend Richmond. "Vicksburg must not be lost without a desperate struggle," the secretary of war wired back. "The interest and the honor of the Confederacy forbid it...You must hazard attack...The eyes and hopes of the whole Confederacy are upon you." But Johnston considered his force too weak. He shifted the burden to Pemberton, urging him to try a breakout attack or to escape across the river (through the gauntlet of Union ironclads!) At the end of June, in response to frantic pressure from Richmond, Johnston began to probe feebly with his 5 divisions toward 7 Union divisions commanded by Sherman which Grant had detached from the besiegers to guard their rear. Johnston's rescue attempt was too little and too late. By the time he was ready to take action, Pemberton had surrendered.

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Thanks for the history lesson, seriously. I think its fascinating and I do plan on printing this entire thread and reading some of the recommendations here. These assertions weren't mine, but were told to me through a friend who's been attending some "conferences". Not sure what their agenda is, but it surrounds some form of educating towards a legal challenge of tax code. With all of the numerous falsehoods found here, I'm sure it's a scam.

Those people are still around? I'll give you quick lesson they are teaching.The passage of the 16th Amendment was in violation of the constitutional requirements for an amendment to the Constitution, and the votes of at least 7 of the states were in violation of their own state constitutions. Due to this, there were not enough legitimate ratification votes in favor, and due to pressing the thing through by Secretary of State Knox and a few other progressive politicians that didn't much care for the Constitution, the amendment was deemed ratified.Of course, this theory misses every basic lesson on law and Constitutional process you can think of.

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The Siege of Vicksburg Part 11

Inexorable circumstances forced Pemberton to surrender- though many southerners then and later (even now!) believed that only his Yankee birth could have produced such "treachery". All through June, Union had dug approaches toward Confederate lines in a classic siege operation. They also tunneled under rebel defenses. To show what they could do, northern engineers exploded mines and blew holes in southern lines on June 25 and July 1, but Confederate infantry closed the breaches. The Yankees readied a bigger mine to be set off July 6 and followed by a full-scale assault. But before then it was all over. Literally starving, a group of rebel soldiers (calling themselves "Many Soldiers") addressed a letter to Pemberton on June 28:

If you can't feed us, you had better surrender, horrible as the idea is, than suffer this noble army to disgrace themselves by desertion. The army is now ripe for mutiny, unless it can be fed.

Pemberton consulted his division commanders, who assured him that their sick and malnourished men could not attempt a breakout attack. On July 3, Pemberton asked Grant for terms. Living up to his Donelson reputation, Grant at first insisted on unconditional surrender. But after reflecting on the task of shipping 30,000 captives north to prison camps when he needed all his transport for further operations, Grant offered to parole the prisoners. This decision, considered controversial at the time, was brilliant. With good reason, Grant expected that many of the Confederates, disillusioned by suffering and surrender, would scatter to their homes and carry the contagion of defeat with them.

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The Siege of Vicksburg Part 11

Inexorable circumstances forced Pemberton to surrender- though many southerners then and later (even now!) believed that only his Yankee birth could have produced such "treachery". All through June, Union had dug approaches toward Confederate lines in a classic siege operation. They also tunneled under rebel defenses. To show what they could do, northern engineers exploded mines and blew holes in southern lines on June 25 and July 1, but Confederate infantry closed the breaches. The Yankees readied a bigger mine to be set off July 6 and followed by a full-scale assault. But before then it was all over. Literally starving, a group of rebel soldiers (calling themselves "Many Soldiers") addressed a letter to Pemberton on June 28:

If you can't feed us, you had better surrender, horrible as the idea is, than suffer this noble army to disgrace themselves by desertion. The army is now ripe for mutiny, unless it can be fed.

Pemberton consulted his division commanders, who assured him that their sick and malnourished men could not attempt a breakout attack. On July 3, Pemberton asked Grant for terms. Living up to his Donelson reputation, Grant at first insisted on unconditional surrender. But after reflecting on the task of shipping 30,000 captives north to prison camps when he needed all his transport for further operations, Grant offered to parole the prisoners. This decision, considered controversial at the time, was brilliant. With good reason, Grant expected that many of the Confederates, disillusioned by suffering and surrender, would scatter to their homes and carry the contagion of defeat with them.

I visited Vicksburg in 2007. It's pretty impressive to see that the zigzag trenchlines the north built are still there to this day albeit not nearly as deep.

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The Siege of Vicksburg, Concluded

The 4th of July 1863 was the most memorable Independence Day in American history since that first one four score and seven years earlier. Far away in Pennsylvania the high tide of the Confederacy receded from Gettysburg. Here in Mississippi, white flags sprouted above rebel trenches, the emaciated troops marched out and stacked arms, and the Stars and Stripes was raised over the courthouse. The Union soldiers showed respect to the defenders as they marched into the city, sharing rations with them and feeding the people of Vicksburg by breaking into the stores formerly held by regulators, which created a sense of good will among the city's starving residents. But in Richmond, Davis blamed the defeat on a "general who wouldn't fight."

The capture of Vicksburg was the most important northern strategic victory of the war, and Grant wrote "the fate of the Confederacy was sealed when Vicksburg fell." But the Union commander did not intend to rest on his laurels; Johnston still threatened his rear, and the Confederate garrison at Port Hudson 240 miles to the south still held out against Nathaniel P. Banks's besieging army. Grant ordered Sherman with 50,000 men to go after Johnston's 31,000 "and inflict all the punishment you can." Grant also prepared to send a division or 2 to help Banks capture Port Hudson.

In the event, however, Banks needed no more help than the news of Vicksburg's capitulation, which persuaded the southern commander at Port Hudson to surrender his now untenable position. After a 2 month campaign to establish Union control of the rich sugar and cotton regions along Bayou Teche, Banks's soldiers aided by Farragut's warships had laid siege to Port Hudson in the last week of May. Outnumbering the Confederate garrison 20,000 to 7,000, Banks nevertheless had to contend with natural and man-made defenses as rugged as those at Vicksburg. Two hey 2ad-on northern assaults on May 27 and June 14 produced only a 12 to 1 disparity in casualties. In the attack of May 27 two Union regiments of Louisiana blacks proved that they could die as bravely as white Yankees. After the failure of these assaults, Banks had to rest content with starving the garrison into submission. Port Hudson's defenders lived in the hope that Johnston would rescue them after he had disposed of Grant at Vicksburg. When news came instead that the upriver fortress had fallen, the garrison at Port Hudson- subsiding on mules and rats- did likewise on July 9. The Confederacy was struck in two.

Johnston was also soon disposed of. Retreating to his defenses at Jackson, the cautious southern commander hoped to lure Sherman into a frontal assault. Having learned the cost of such attacks at Vicksburg, Sherman refused the bait. He started to surround the city and cut its communications. Johnston evaded the trap by slipping across the Pearl River on the night of July 16. Unlike Pemberton he had saved his army- an achievement cited by his defenders- but its withdrawal halfway to Alabama abandoned central Mississippi's plantations and railroads to the none-too-tender mercies of Sherman's army. Johnston's retreat came as icing on the cake of Grant's Vicksburg campaign, which Lincoln described as "one of the most brilliant in world history," a judgment echoed by a good many subsequent military analysts. On July 5, Lincoln declared:

Grant is my man, and I am his for the rest of the war.

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Important as they were, Grant's achievements in Mississippi took second place in public attention to events in the Virginia theater. (There are historical parallels to World War II; for instance, the capture of Rome took second place to the Normandy landings.) The Union ultimately won the war mainly by victories in the West, but the Confederacy more than once came close to winning it in the East. During the spring and summer of 1863, Robert E. Lee scored his greatest success in this effort- followed by his greatest failure.

We turn now to these events: the battles of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. Collectively they are the most studied, most written about, most discussed, most famous battles in American history. I will take my time with them, especially with Gettysburg, since it is so full of drama and involves so many important and colorful characters and events. Any commentary, questions, added narrative is absolutely welcome as we spend the next few weeks covering these momentous events which so shaped our country.

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Chencellorsville, Part 1

That Lee could take any initiative at all seemed unlikely in April 1863. Food and forage for his army were in such short supply that men hunted wild onions to ward of scurvy while horses died for lack of grass. Longstreet had taken 2 divisions to confront Federal thrusts from Norfolk and the North Carolina coast. These Union movements amounted to little in the end, but Longstreet remained in southeast Virginia through April to harrass the enemy and gather supplies from this unscarred region. Without these two divisions, Lee had only 60,000 men along the Rappahannock to watch double that number of bluecoats under their new and dynamic commander, Joseph Hooker. The Confederate cavalry had to disperse over a wide area to find grass for the horses, further weakening southern forces at a time when Hooker had reorganized his calvary into a single corps better armed and mounted than Jeb Stuart's troopers. The days of easy rebel calvary superiority were over.

Nevertheless, morale remained high in Confederate ranks, the supplies sent by Longstreet improved their rations, and the elaborate network of trenches they held along 25 miles of the Rappahannock near Fredericksburg gave them confidence that they could hold off any number of Yankees. But Hooker had no intention of assaulting those trenches. Having reinvigorated the Army of the Potomac after the Burnside disasters, he planned a campaign of manuever to force Lee into the open for a showdown fight. Brash and boastful, Hooker reportedly said:

May God have mercy on General Lee, for I will have none.

For a few days at the end of April, Hooker seemed ready to make good his boast. He divided his large army into three parts. 10,000 blue horsemen splashed along the Rappahannock far upstream and headed south to cut Lee's supply lines. 70,000 northern infantry also marched upriver to cross at fords several miles beyond Lee's left flank, while another 40,000 feigned an advance at Fredericksburg to hold Lee in place while the flanking force pitched into his left and rear. The Army of the Potomac carried out these complicated maneuvers swiftly. By the evening of April 30, Hooker had his 70,000 infantry near a crossroads mansion called Chancellorsville, 9 miles west of Fredericksburg in the midst of a dense second-growth forest called locally the Wilderness. For once the Yankees had stolen a march on Lee and seemed to have the outnumbered rebels gripped in an iron pincers. "Our enemy must ingloriously fly," declared Hooker in a congratulatory order to his men, "or come out from behind his defenses and give us battle on our own ground, where certain destruction awaits him."

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Chancellorsville Part 2

Despite his nickname as Fighting Joe, Hooker seems to have expected- and hoped- that Lee would "ingloriously fly" rather than 'give us battle." When Lee instead showed fight, Hooker mysteriously lost his nerve. Perhaps his resolve 3 months earlier to go on the wagon had been a mistake, for he seemed at this moment to need some liquid courage. Or perhaps a trait noted by a fellow officer in the old army resurfaced again:

Hooker could play the best game of poker I ever saw until it came to the point where he should go a thousand better, and then he would flunk.

Whatever the reason, when Lee called his bet on May 1, Hooker gave up the initiative to the boldest of gamblers in this deadliest of games.

Guessing correctly that the main threat came from the Union troops at Chancellorsville, Lee left only 10,000 infantry under feisty Jubal Early to hold the Fredericksburg defenses, and put the rest on the march westward to the Wilderness on May 1. At mid-day they clashed with Hooker's advance units a couple of miles east of Chancellorsville. Here the dense undergrowth gave way to open country where the Federal superior weight of numbers and artillery gave them an edge. But instead of pressing the attack, Hooker ordered his troops back to a defensive position around Chancellorsville- where the thick woods evened the odds. Thunderstruck, Union corps commanders protested but obeyed. Years later General Darius Couch of the 2nd Corps wrote that when Hooker informed him:

that the advantages gained by the successive marches of his lieutenants were to culminate in fighting a defensive battle in that nest of thickets...I retired from his presence with the belief that my commanding general was a whipped man.

Sensing his psychological edge, Lee decided to take the offensive despite being outnumbered nearly 2 to 1. On the night of May 1, Jackson and Lee sat on empty hardtack boxes and conferred by firelight. The Federals' entrenched line on high ground around Chancellorsville seemed too strong for a direct assault. The Union left was anchored in the Rappahannock and could not be turned. While the two generals discussed how to get at "those people", Stuart brought reports from his scouts that Hooker's right flank was "in the air" 3 miles west of Chancellorsville. Here the opportunity Lee needed, and Jackson was the man to seize it. The only problem was to find a route through the wilderness of scrub oak and thorny undergrowth by which a force could get around to this flank unobserved. One of Jackson's staff officers solved this problem by finding a local resident to guide them along a track used to haul charcoal for an iron-smelting furnace.

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Chancellorsville Part 3

Screened by Stuart's calvary, Jackson's 30,000 infantry and artillery left early May 2 for a roundabout 12 mile march to their attack position. Lee remained with only 15,000 men to confront Hooker's main force. This was the most daring gamble Lee had yet taken- indeed, one of the most daring gambles in the history of warfare. Jackson's flank march across the enemy front- one of the most dangerous maneuvers in war- left his strung-out column vunerable to attack. Lee's holding force was likewise in great peril if Hooker should discover its weakness. And Early still faced nearly 3 times his numbers at Fredericksburg (from which Hooker had called one more corps to Chancellorsville). But Lee counted on Hooker doing nothing while Jackson completed his march; the Union commander fulfilled expectations.

Hooker could not blame his calvary for failure to detect Jackson's maneuver, for he had sent nearly all of it away on a raid that threw a scare into Richmond but otherwise accomplished little. Besides, Federal infantry units spotted Jackson's movement and reported it to Hooker- who misinterpreted it. Two of Daniel Sickles's 3rd Corps divisions moved out and attacked the tail of Jackson's column. Sickles was a character of some notoriety, the only political general among Hooker's corps commanders, a prewar Tammany Democrat with a reputation for philandering. His wife, perhaps in revenge, had taken a lover whom Sickles shot dead on a Washington street in 1859. He was acquitted of murder after the first sucessful plea of temporary insanity in the history of American jurisprudence. Rising from colonel to major general in Hooker's old division, Sickles was one of the army commander's favorites. His probing attack on May 2 alerted Hooker to Jackson's movement toward the southwest. Fighting Joe momentarily wondered if the slippery Stonewall was up to his old flanking tricks, but the wishful thought that the rebels must "ingloriously fly" soon convinced him that Lee's whole army was retreating! Hooker therefore failed to prepare for the blow soon to fall on his right.

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Chancellorsville Part 4

Commander of the 11th Corps holding the Union right was Oliver O. Howard, the opposite in every respect of Sickles. A West Point professional whose distinguished combat record included loss of an arm at Fair Oaks, Howard was a monogamous teetotaling Congregationalist known as the Christian Soldier. He had little in common with the German-American soldiers who constituted a large part of his corps. This "Dutch" corps, only 12,000 strong, had a poor reputation, having turned in mediocre performances under Fremont in the Shenandoah Valley and Franz Sigel at Second Bull Run. What happened at Chancellorsville did nothing to improve that reputation. All through the afternoon, alarmed pickets sent word to Howard that the rebels were building up to something off to the west. Howard assured Hooker that he was ready for an attack. Yet most of his regiments were facing south, for Howard considered the thick woods to the west impenetrable. And like Hooker he also thought that this enemy activity was designed to cover a retreat. As suppertime approached, many of Howard's troops were relaxing or cooking.

A few hundred yards to the west, Jackson's rugged veterans- their uniforms torn to worse tatters than usual by briars and brush- were deployed for attack at 5:15. Coming through the woods from the west on a front 2 miles wide and 3 divisions deep, the yelling rebels hit the south-facing Union regiments endwise and knocked them down like tenpins. Despite wild confusion, some of the 11th Corps brigades and batteries maintained discipline and fought desperately, slowing the Confederate advance but being forced in the end to join the stampede of routed regiments fleeing to the rear. By dusk Jackson had rolled up the Union right for 2 miles before Howard and Hooker improvised a new line out of troops from 4 different corps to bring the jubilant but disorganized southerners to a halt. The 2 divisions remaining with Lee had joined the attack on their front. For several hours sporadic and disordered fighting flared up in the moon-shadowed woods, with some units firing on their own men in one of the rare night actions of the Civil War.

And it was during this night action that the greatest of all tragedies would befall the Confederacy...

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The death of Stonewall Jackson

Determined to keep the Yankees on the run, Jackson and several officers rode ahead of their lines to reconnoiter for a renewed attack. Returning at a trot, they were fired upon by nervous rebels who mistook them for Union calvary. Jackson fell with two bullets in his left arm. I shall now post the narrative by Dr. Hunter McGuire, chief of Jackson's medical corps, which has become immortalized over time in plays, films, and novels:

Supported upon either side by his aids--Captain James P. Smith and Joseph Morrison--the General moved slowly and painfully towards the rear. Occasionally resting for a moment to shake off the exhaustion which pain and the loss of blood produced, he at last reached the line of battle, where most of the men were lying down to escape the shell and canister with which the Federals raked the road. General Pender rode up here to the little party and asked who was wounded, and Captain Smith, who had been instructed by General Jackson to tell no one of his injury, simply answered, "A Confederate officer "; but Pender recognized the General, and, springing from his horse, hurriedly expressed his regret, and added that his lines were so much broken he feared it would be necessary to fall back. At this moment the scene was a fearful one. The air seemed to be alive with the shrieks of shells and the whistling of bullets; horses, riderless and mad with fright, dashed in every direction; hundreds left the ranks and fled to the rear, and the groans of the wounded and dying mingled with the wild shouts of others to be led again to the assault. Almost fainting as he was, from loss of blood, fearfully wounded, and as he thought dying, Jackson was undismayed by this terrible scene. The words of Pender seemed to rouse him to life. Pushing aside the men who supported him, he stretched himself to his full height and answered feebly, but distinctly enough to be heard above the din of the battle: "General Pender, you must hold on to the field; you must hold out to the last."

It was Jackson's last order upon the field of battle. Still more exhausted by this effort, he asked to be permitted to lie down for a few moments, but the danger from the fire, and capture by the Federal advance, was too imminent, and his aids hurried him on. A litter having been obtained, he was placed upon it, and the bearers passed on as rapidly as the thick woods and rough ground permitted. Unfortunately, another one of the bearers was struck, down, and the litter having been supported at each of the four corners by a man, fell and threw the General to the ground. The fall was a serious one, and as he touched the earth he gave, for the first time, expression to his suffering, and groaned piteously.

Captain Smith sprang to his side, and as he raised his head a bright beam of moonlight made its way through the thick foliage and rested upon the pale face of the sufferer. The captain was startled by its great pallor and stillness, and cried out: "Oh! General, are you seriously hurt?" "No," he answered, "don't trouble yourself, my friend, about me;" and presently added something about winning the battle first and attending to the wounded afterwards. He was placed upon the litter again, and carried a few hundred yards, when I met him with an ambulance. I knelt down by him and said, "I hope you are not badly hurt, General." He replied very calmly but feebly, "I am badly injured, Doctor; I fear I am dying." After a pause he continued, "I am glad you have come. I think the wound in my shoulder is still bleeding." His clothes were saturated with blood, and hemorrhage was still going on from the wound. Compression of the artery with the finger arrested it until, lights being procured from the ambulance, the handkerchief, which had slipped a little, was readjusted.

His calmness amid the dangers which surrounded him and at the supposed presence of death, and his uniform politeness, which did not forsake him, even under these, the most trying circumstances, were remarkable. His complete control, too, over his mind, enfeebled as it was by loss of blood, pain, &c., was wonderful. His suffering at this time was intense; his hands were cold, his skin clammy, his face pale, and his lips compressed and bloodless; not a groan escaped him--not a sign of suffering except the slight corrugation of his brow, the fixed, rigid face, and the thin lips so tightly compressed that the impression of the teeth could be seen through them. Except these, he controlled by his iron will all evidence of emotion, and more difficult than this even, he controlled that disposition to restlessness, which many of us have observed upon the field of battle, attending great loss of blood. Some whiskey and morphia were procured from Dr. Straith and administered to him, and placing him in the ambulance it was started for the corps field infirmary at the Wilderness tavern. Colonel Crutchfield, his chief of artillery, was also in the ambulance wagon. He had been wounded very seriously in the leg, and was suffering intensely.

The General expressed, very feelingly, his sympathy for Crutchfield, and once, when the latter groaned aloud, he directed the ambulance to stop, and requested me to see if something could not be done for his relief. Torches had been provided, and every means taken to carry them to the hospital as safely and easily as possible. I sat in the front part of the ambulance, with my finger resting upon the artery above the wound, to arrest bleeding if it should occur. When I was recognized by acquaintances and asked who was wounded, the General would tell me to say, "A Confederate officer." At one time he put his right hand upon my head, and pulling me down to him, asked if Crutchfield was dangerously injured. When answered "No, only painfully hurt," he replied, "I am glad it is no worse." In a few moments after Crutchfield did the same thing, and when he was told that the General was very seriously wounded, he groaned and cried out, "Oh, my God!" It was for this that the General directed the ambulance to be halted, and requested that something should be done for Crutchfield's relief.

After reaching the hospital he was placed in bed, covered with blankets, and another drink of whiskey and water given him. Two hours and a half elapsed before sufficient reaction took place to <shv14_157>warrant an examination. At 2 o'clock, Sunday morning, Surgeons Black, Walls and Coleman being present, I informed him that chloroform would be given him, and his wounds examined. I told him that amputation would probably be required, and asked if it was found necessary whether it should be done at once. He replied promptly: "Yes, certainly. Dr. McGuire, do for me whatever you think best." Chloroform was then administered, and as he began to feel its effects, and its relief to the pain he was suffering, he exclaimed: "What an infinite blessing," and continued to repeat the word "blessing," until he became insensible. The round ball (such as is used for the smooth-bore Springfield musket), which had lodged under the skin upon the back of his right hand, was extracted first. It had entered the palm about the middle of the hand, and had fractured two of the bones. The left arm was then amputated about two inches below the shoulder, very rapidly and with slight loss of blood, the ordinary circular operation having been made. There were two wounds in his arm. The first and most serious was about three inches below the shoulder-joint, the ball dividing the main artery and fracturing the bone. The second was several inches in length; a ball having entered the outside of the forearm, an inch below the elbow, came out upon the opposite side just above the wrist. Throughout the whole of the operation, and until all the dressings were applied, he continued insensible. Two or three slight wounds of the skin of his face, received from the branches of trees when his horse dashed through the woods, were dressed simply with isinglass plaster.

About half-past 3 o'clock, Colonel (then Major) Pendleton, the assistant adjutant-general, arrived at the hospital and asked to see the General. He stated that General Hill had been wounded, and that the troops were in great disorder. General Stuart was in command, and had sent him to see the General. At first I declined to permit an interview, but the colonel urged that the safety of the army and success of the cause depended upon his seeing him. When he entered the tent the General said: "Well, major, I am glad to see you. I thought you were killed." Pendleton briefly explained the condition of affairs, gave Stuart's message, and asked what should be done. General Jackson was at once interested, and asked in his quick, rapid way several questions. When they were answered, he remained silent for a moment, evidently trying to think; he contracted his brow, set his mouth, and for some moments was obviously endeavoring to concentrate his thoughts. For a moment it was believed he had succeeded, for his nostril dilated, and his eye flashed its old fire, but it was only for a moment; his face relaxed again, and presently he answered very feebly and sadly, "I don't know, I can't tell; say to General Stuart he must do what he thinks best." Soon after this he slept for several hours, and seemed to be doing well. The next morning he was free from pain, and expressed himself sanguine of recovery. He sent his aide-de-camp, Morrison, to inform his wife of his injuries, and to bring her at once to see him. The following note from General Lee was read to him that morning by Captain Smith: "I have just received your note, informing me that you were wounded. I cannot express my regret at the occurrence. Could I have directed events, I should have chosen, for the good of the country, to have been disabled in your stead. I congratulate you upon the victory, which is due to your skill and energy." He replied: "General Lee should give the praise to God."

About 10 o'clock his right side began to pain him so much that he asked me to examine it. He said he had injured it in falling from the litter the night before, and believed that he had struck it against a stone or the stump of a sapling. No evidence of injury could be discovered by examination. The skin was not broken or bruised, and the lung performed, as far as I could tell, its proper functions. Some simple application was recommended, in the belief that the pain would soon disappear.

At this time the battle was raging fearfully, and the sound of the cannon and musketry could be distinctly heard at the hospital. The General's attention was attracted to it from the first, and when the noise was at its height, and indicated how fiercely the conflict was being carried on, he directed all of his attendants, except Captain Smith, to return to the battlefield and attend to their different duties. By 8 o'clock Sunday night the pain in his side had disappeared, and in all respects he seemed to be doing well. He inquired minutely about the battle and the different troops engaged, and his face would light up with enthusiasm and interest when told how this brigade acted, or that officer displayed conspicuous courage, and his head gave the peculiar shake from side to side, and he uttered his usual "Good, good," with unwonted energy when the gallant behavior of the "Stonewall brigade" was alluded to. He said "the men of that brigade will be some day proud to say to their children, 'I was one of the Stonewall brigade.'" He disclaimed any right of his own to the name Stonewall. "It belongs to the brigade, and not to me." This night he slept well, and was free from pain.

A message was received from General Lee the next morning directing me to remove the General to Guinea's station as soon as his condition would justify it, as there was some danger of capture by the Federals, who were threatening to cross at Ely's Ford. In the meantime, to protect the hospital, some troops were sent to this point. The General objected to being moved, if, in my opinion, it would do him any injury. He said he had no objection to staying in a tent, and would prefer it if his wife, when she came, could find lodging in a neighboring house; "and if the enemy does come," he added, "I am not afraid of them; I have always been kind to their wounded, and I am sure they will be kind to me." General Lee sent word again late that evening that he must be moved if possible, and preparations were made to leave the next morning. I was directed to accompany and remain with him, and my duties with the corps as medical director were turned over to the surgeon next in rank. General Jackson had previously declined to permit me to go with him to Guinea's, because complaints had been so frequently made of general officers, when wounded, carrying off with them the surgeons belonging to their commands. When informed of this order of the commanding-general he said," General Lee has always been very kind to me, and I thank him." Very early Tuesday morning he was placed in an ambulance and started for Guinea's station, and about 8 o'clock that evening he arrived at the Chandler house, where he remained till he died. Captain Hotchkiss, with a party of engineers, was sent in front to clear the road of wood, stone, etc., and to order the wagons out of the track to let the ambulance pass.

The rough teamsters sometimes refused to move their loaded wagons out of the way for an ambulance until told that it contained Jackson, and then, with all possible speed, they gave the way and stood with hats off and weeping as he went by. At Spotsylvania Courthouse and along the whole route men and women rushed to the ambulance, bringing all the poor delicacies they had, and with tearful eyes they blessed him and prayed for his recovery. He bore the journey well, and was cheerful throughout the day. He talked freely about the late battle, and among other things said that he had intended to endeavor to cut the Federals off from United States ford, and taking a position between them and the river, oblige them to attack him; and he added, with a smile: "My men sometimes fail to drive the enemy from a position, but they always fail to drive us away." He spoke of Rodes, and alluded in high terms to his magnificent behavior on the field Saturday evening. He hoped he would <shv14_160>be promoted. He thought promotion for gallantry should be made at once, upon the field and not delayed. Made very early, or upon the field, they would be the greatest incentives to gallantry in others. He spoke of Colonel Willis (subsequently killed in battle), who commanded the skirmishers of Rodes's division, and praised him very highly, and referred to the deaths of Paxton and Boswell very feelingly. He alluded to them as officers of great merit and promise. The day was quite warm, and at one time he suffered from slight nausea. At his suggestion, I placed over his stomach a wet towel, and he expressed great relief from it. After he arrived at Chandler's house he ate some bread and tea with evident relish, and slept well throughout the entire night. Wednesday he was thought to be doing remarkably well. He ate heartily for one in his condition, and was uniformly cheerful.

I found his wounds to be very well to-day. Union by the first intention had taken place to some extent in the stump, and the rest of the surface of the wound exposed was covered with healthy granulations. The wound in his hand gave him little pain, and the discharge was healthy. Simple lint and water dressings were used, both for the stump and hand, and upon the palm of the latter a light, short splint was applied to assist in keeping at rest the fragments of the second and third metacarpal bones. He expressed great satisfaction when told that his wounds were healing, and asked if I could tell from their appearance how long he would probably be kept from the field. Conversing with Captain Smith a few moments afterwards, he alluded to his injuries, and said, "Many would regard them as a great misfortune; I regard them as one of the blessings of my life."

Captain Smith replied: "All things work together for good to those that love God."

"Yes," he answered, "that's it, that's it."

At my request Dr. Morrison came to-day and remained with him. About 1 o'clock Thursday morning, while I was asleep upon a lounge in his room, he directed his servant (Jim) to apply a wet towel to his stomach to relieve an attack of nausea, with which he was again troubled. The servant asked permission to first consult me, but the General knowing that I had slept none for nearly three nights, refused to allow the servant to disturb me, and demanded the towel. About daylight I was aroused, and found him suffering great pain. An examination disclosed pleuro-pneumonia of the right side. I believed, and the consulting physicians concurred in the opinion, that it was attributable to the fall from the litter the night he was wounded. The General himself referred it to this accident. I think the disease came on too soon after the application of the wet cloths to admit of the supposition, once believed, that it was induced by them. The nausea, for which the cloths were applied that night, may have been the result of inflammation already begun. Contusion of the lung, with extravasation of blood in his chest, was probably produced by the fall referred to, and shock and loss of blood prevented any ill effects until reaction had been well established, and then inflammation ensued. Cups were applied, and mercury, with antimony and opium, administered.

Towards the evening he became better, and hopes were again entertained of his recovery. Mrs. Jackson arrived to-day and nursed him faithfully to the end. She was a devoted wife and earnest Christian, and endeared us all to her by her great kindness and gentleness. The General's joy at the presence of his wife and child was very great, and for him unusually demonstrative. Noticing the sadness of his wife, he said to her tenderly: "I know you would gladly give your life for me, but I am perfectly resigned. Do not be sad. I hope I may yet recover. Pray for me, but always remember in your prayers to use the petition, 'Thy will be done.'"

Friday his wounds were again dressed, and although the quantity of the discharge from them had diminished, the process of healing was still going on. The pain in his side had disappeared, but he breathed with difficulty, and complained of a feeling of great exhaustion. When Dr. Breckenridge (who, with Dr. Smith, had been sent for in consultation) said he hoped that a blister which had been applied would afford him great relief, he expressed his own confidence in it, and in his final recovery.

Dr. Tucker, from Richmond, arrived on Saturday, and all that human skill could devise was done to stay the hand of death. He suffered no pain to-day, and his breathing was less difficult, but he was evidently hourly growing weaker.

When his child was brought to him to-day he played with it for some time, frequently caressing it and calling it his "little comforter." At one time he raised his wounded hand above his head and closing his eyes, was for some moments silently engaged in prayer. He said to me: "I see from the number of physicians that you think my condition dangerous, but I thank God, if it is His will, that I am ready to go."

About daylight on Sunday morning Mrs. Jackson informed him that his recovery was very doubtful, and that it was better that he should be prepared for the worst. He was silent for a moment, and then said: "It will be infinite gain to be translated to Heaven." He advised his wife, in the event of his death, to return to her father's house, and added: "You have a kind and good father, but there is no one so kind and good as your Heavenly Father." He still expressed a hope of his recovery, but requested her, if he should die, to have him buried in Lexington, in the Valley of Virginia. His exhaustion increased so rapidly that at 11 o'clock Mrs. Jackson knelt by his bed and told him that before the sun went down he would be with his Saviour. He replied: "Oh, no; you are frightened, my child; death is not so near; I may yet get well." She fell over upon the bed, weeping bitterly, and told him again that the physicians said there was no hope. After a moment's pause he asked her to call me. "Doctor, Anna informs me that you have told her that I am to die to-day; is it so?" When he was answered, he turned his eyes toward the ceiling and gazed for a moment or two as it in intense thought, then replied: "Very good, very good, it is all right." He then tried to comfort his almost heart-broken wife, and told her that be had a great deal to say to her, but he was too weak.

Colonel Pendleton came into the room about 1 o'clock, and he asked him, "Who was preaching at headquarters to-day ?" When told that the whole army was praying for him, he replied: "Thank God, they are very kind." He said: "It is the Lord's Day; my wish is fulfilled. I have always desired to die on Sunday."

His mind now began to fail and wander, and he frequently talked as if in command upon the field, giving orders in his old way; then the scene shifted and he was at the mess-table, in conversation with members of his staff; now with his wife and child; now at prayers with his military family. Occasional intervals of return of his mind would appear, and during one of them I offered him some brandy and water, but he declined it, saying, "It will only delay my departure, and do no good; I want to preserve my mind, if possible, to the last." About half-past one he was told that he had but two hours to live, and he answered again, feebly, but firmly, "Very good, it is all right."

A few moments before he died he cried out in his delirium, "Order A. P. Hill to prepare for action ! Pass the infantry to the front rapidly! Tell Major Hawks ," then stopped, leaving the sentence unfinished. Presently a smile of ineffable sweetness spread itself over his pale face, and he cried quietly and with an expression as if of relief, "Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees "; and then, without pain or the least struggle, his spirit passed from earth to the God who gave it.

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I shall now post the narrative by Dr. Hunter McGuire, chief of Jackson's medical corps, which has become immortalized over time in plays, films, and novels:

Wow.

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Chancellorsville Part 5

The morning after Jackson's wounding, May 3, saw the crisis of the battle. Some of the war's hardest fighting took place on two fronts separated by 9 miles. During the night Hooker had ordered "Uncle" John Sedgwick (so named by his men for his avuncular manner), commander of the 6th Corps at Fredericksburg, to carry the heights back of the town and push on toward Lee's rear at Chancellorsville. At daybreak Uncle John hurled his 3 divisions against the trenches and the stone wall below Marye's Heights where Burnside's troops had come to grief the previous December. History appeared to repeat itself as Jubal Early's division threw them back twice. But on the third try, in one of the war's few bayonet charges, the first wave of blue attackers carried the heights, captured 1,000 prisoners, and sent the rebels flying.

Meanwhile Hooker at Chancellorsville had remained strangely passive, seeming to expect Sedgwick to do all the army's offensive fighting. Hooker had even ordered Sickles's corps to fall back at dawn from a salient on high ground at Hazel Grove, a mile west of the Chancellorsville crossroads. This allowed Lee and Stuart to reunite the two wings of their army and to mass their artillery at Hazel Grove, one of the few places in the Wilderness where it could be used effectively. The Confederates pressed an all-out attack on the 3 corps holding the immediate area around Chancellorsville. Hooker kept 3 other Union corps idle despite openings for them to fall on Lee's flanks. Hooker seemed in a daze even before a cannonball hit his headquarters and knocked him unconscious in mid-morning. He recovered in time to retain command- a pity, in the eyes of several subordinates, who had hoped that the ranking corps commander would take charge and launch a counterattack. Instead, Hooker ordered withdrawal a mile or two northward to a contracted defensive line.

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Chancellorsville, concluded

(Note- before we move past Hazel Grove, BobbyLayne suggested I should emphasize how mentally distraugt General Sickles was over leaving it, and how he (Sickles) believed it was why the battle was lost. This is important because it helps explain Sickles's mindset in the battle of Gettysburg coming up shortly. Moving on:)

The exhausted but exultant rebels, who had fought with an elan unprecedented even in this victorious army, cheered wildly as Lee rode into the clearing around the burning Chancellor mansion. It was the Virginian's greatest triumph- but the battle was not yet over. While the two armies around Chancellorsville broke off fighting as if by mutual consent to rescue hundreds of wounded men threatened by brush fires started by exploding shells, Lee received word of Sedgwick's breakthrough at Fredericksburg. Here was a serious threat to his rear even though Hooker seemed cowed in his front. Without hesitation Lee dispatched a division which blunted Sedgwick's advance near a country church between Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. Next day Lee took yet another division from his front to attack Sedgwick. This left only 25,000 Confederates under Stuart to face Hooker's 75,000, but Lee seemed to know that his benumbed adversary would remain passive. In the late afternoon of May 4 a disjointed attack by 21,000 rebels against Sedgwick's equal force was repulsed. Aware that Hooker had given up, however, Sedgwick pulled his troops back over the Rappahannock during the night.

At a council of war that same night, a majority of Union corps commanders with Hooker voted to counterattack. True to form, Hooker disregarded this vote and decided to retreat across the river. The Army of the Potomac accomplished this difficult task during a rainstorm the next night. Aggressive as ever, Lee had planned another assault on the morning of May 6 and expressed regret, as he had done the previous summer, that the Federals escaped destruction. But by any standard he had won an astounding victory, recognized as such in both North and South. Without Longstreet and with little more than half as many men as an enemy that had initially outmanuevered him, Lee had grasped the initiative, gone over to the attack, and had repeatedly divided and manuevered his forces in such a way as to give them superiority or equality of numbers at the point of attack. Like a rabbit mesmerized by the grey fox, Hooker was frozen into immobility and did not use half his power at any time in the battle.

The triumph at Chancellorsville, however, came at great cost. The Confederates suffered 13,000 casualties, 22% of their force (the Union figures were 17,000 and 15%.) The most grevious loss was Jackson, who had done so much to make the victory possible. And the boost that the battle gave to southern morale proved in the end harmful, fork it bred an overconfidence in their own prowess and a contempt for the enemy that led to disaster. Believing his troops invincible, Lee was about to ask them to do the impossible.

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Chancellorsville- The Aftermath

During the battle Lincoln haunted the War Department telegraph office. For several days he received only fragmentary and contradictory reports. When the truth became clear on May 6, the president's face turned "ashen," according to a newspaperman who was present. "My God! My God!" exclaimed Lincoln. "What will the country say?" It said plenty, all of it bad. Copperheads saw in the outcome further proof, in any was necessary, that the North could never cobble the Union together by force. Republicans expressed despair. "Lost, lost, all is lost!" cried Charles Sumner when he heard the news.

Northern morale descended into the slough of despond in the spring of 1863. Reports of Grant's advances in Mississippi were slow in coming and uncertain in meaning, especially after the failure of assaults at Vicksburg on May 19 and 22. Rosecrans had done nothing in middle Tennessee since his bloody and ambiguous New Year's victory at Stones River. On April 7 an attack on Fort Sumter by 8 supposedly invincible Monitors had been repulsed in a manner that gave the Union navy a black eye. The attack had been the first step in an effort to capture Charleston, whose symbolic significance was greater than its strategic importance. The failure of the Monitors proved again that these ironclads could take an enormous amount of punishment but that their offensive punch was limited. Rebel artillery got off more than 2,200 shots, scoring some 440 hits on the 8 ships and sinking only one. But most of the Monitors suffered damage to their gun turrets that limited their firing capacity, and the fleet was able to get off only 140 shots and inflict limited damage with about 40 hits. The high hopes for naval conquest of the citadel of secession were dashed. Union army troops began a slow, frustrating, and ultimately unsuccessful advance along the coastal islands and through the swamps in an attempt to starve or pound Charleston into submission.

Next up: Gettysburg

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One thing that always interested me about Chancellorsville was it clearly demonstrated the huge role that logistics, cartography, and topography played in pre-aviation warfare. I mean, the South was able to do what it did because they found a road. A road that the Union didn't know was there. Can you imagine something like that playing a part in any battle now?

Thanks, Tim - real interesting stuff. Looking forward to the big battle. I visited Gettysburg about four years ago, and am likely going back within the next two years. One of the best trips I took in the last decade.

Edited by jwb

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Gettysburg is incredible - sad, inspiring, challenging, a place that can change and touch people today, as it did then.

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One thing that always interested me about Chancellorsville was it clearly demonstrated the huge role that logistics, cartography, and topography played in pre-aviation warfare. I mean, the South was able to do what it did because they found a road. A road that the Union didn't know was there. Can you imagine something like that playing a part in any battle now?

Good point. Seven Days was viewed as a triumph since Lee drive the AoP away from Richmond, but it could have been even more decisive if they had good maps. Jed Hotchkiss was a tremendous asset to the ANV, and one of the reasons Stonewall achieved so much success in the Valley campaign. They must have contemplated a move into PA over the winter of 1862-63, even though Lee did not discuss it with Davis until several weeks after Chancellorsville. Jackson had him draw up several maps of the invasion rout west of South Mountain. You can still view his maps at the National Archives.

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One thing that always interested me about Chancellorsville was it clearly demonstrated the huge role that logistics, cartography, and topography played in pre-aviation warfare. I mean, the South was able to do what it did because they found a road. A road that the Union didn't know was there. Can you imagine something like that playing a part in any battle now? Thanks, Tim - real interesting stuff. Looking forward to the big battle. I visited Gettysburg about four years ago, and am likely going back within the next two years. One of the best trips I took in the last decade.

I will get there one of these days. Perhaps when my daughters are a little older. Really, really, want to see it, after all the stuff I've read.

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I have just narrated two battles- Vicksburg and Chancellorsville, which were the high points of the military careers of Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee. Since these two men are generally ranked #1 and #2 military figures in American history (with a running argument as to which is which) it might be good to a little comparison. Historians tend to compare them against each other, but I think this is a little unfair because by that time Lee was at a distinct disadvantage.

Both generals were aggressive, both of them beloved by their men (Lee moreso than Grant,). Both men were brilliant improvisers, willing to change tactics as the battle changed, which is unusual among soldiers. Both were willing to gamble, again Lee moreso than Grant, mostly because he had too.) Both men were willing to lose lots of casualties in order to win.

Here is the fascinating question I have- if their roles had been reversed, would they have fought the same way? Would, for instance, Lee have captured Vicksburg? Would Grant have won at Chancellorsville, then lost at Gettysburg? I wonder if some historian has contemplated this. I'm sure one has, but I don't know who.

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Howard, who commanded the German troops who took the brunt of Jackson's opening flank attack, was almost criminally negligent in his performance on the first day -- and not much better two months later at Gettysburg, as we shall see. He was disdainful of the soldiers under his command, prepared them poorly and failed to ensure that their flank was adequately guarded.

I forget whose account it was but apparently the first notice that Howard's troops received of impending trouble was when wild animals began rushing out of the nearby woods as they were cooking dinner with muskets stacked. Those animals were, of course, flushed by Jackson's advancing brigades. That must have been an eerie moment indeed, followed by complete disaster.

It's also my understanding that Hancock, who was no less than awesome at Gettysburg, made his first big mark during this initial engagement, rallying the troops brigade by brigade, and gradually, with the help of darkness, stalling the Confederate attack.

Hooker's greatest failing, IMO, was leaving two excellent corps under Reynolds and Meade out of the action altogether, when they were poised for a flanking counterattack on the second day which would have stood an excellent chance of chopping up Jackson's (now Stuart's) corps continuing to attack from the west.

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As we move on into what is perhaps the single most important event in American history post Revolution - and by that I mean the entirety of Gettysburg, from the battle, to the plans for a memorial to the greatest speech ever delivered in American political history - I am going to enclose my commentary throughout tim's.

His has been detailed on military movements and battles and I won't be touching that unless I quote a speech or need to in order to further my story. No, I am going to narrate the overriding majesty of the whole thing. And with that, it's important to know why it ended the way it did, so that when you go back and see how they got there, you can understand the whole picture. I have many books and other things to fall back on in my posts and instead of quoting every single thing and putting in the proper citations, I would ask that you basically accept that I a stealing heavily from Gary Wills' Lincoln at Gettysburg; The Words that Remade America. Chances are by the end of this I will have summarized and stolen much of this book here, mixed when I can with my own thoughts.

And so, the end. The end of Gettysburg was, in fact, the beginning of its mythos. It has become the single most important war event in our history outside of the revolution. Pearl Harbor and the Normandy Invasion have since gotten to a level where you would talk about them in the same breath, but it's very fair to argue that Gettysburg still tops them. And it does because of what was at stake, which was nothing less then the very existence of the country.

It ended/began with two great speeches. Yes, two. Many people forget that there were two great speeches that day. In fact, you could argue that, in keeping with the funeral tradition of the time, there was only one "speech," because Lincoln's remakrs were more of what was supposed to be a dedication statement. The real Gettysburg Address - the speech everyone came to see, was delivered by Edward Everett. Everett was the foremost leading speaker of the time. His ability to captivate audiences with his oration was to many of the day, magical. His power over his audience was similar and perhaps more powerful then what we experienced with the Obama movement during his speeches. In a day where the oration was one of the most important entertainment options, not to mention informational ones as well, he was the one everyone wanted to see.

And so, when the Soldier's National Cemetery was commissioned at Gettysburg, for reasons we will get to that are really not a glorious as the rest of the story, the organizers wanted Everett to be the man to deliver the speech. He spoke for two hours. By any historical account it was a powerful, moving and great speech. But in two minutes perhaps our greatest President outshined him and took a page in the history books that can never be removed.

Why was Everett's speech so long? Well, it was the tradition of the time. But moreso than that, he wanted ot make this speech stand out above all his speeches. He saw the potential that the story of Gettysburg had to describe the greater war and American story. He sent copies of his speech to various newspapers to publish it even before he delivered it. He knew this was a time to shine, and he did. Until Abraham Lincoln stood up.

One more note on Everett - he memorized all his speeches. He considered it poor form to read a speech. He would carry a copy of his speeches with him, and make sure everyone saw him take it out of his pocket, put it on a table or some other thing to hold it and then make a point to never look at it again. And so, when he delivered the two hour summation of America, the Civil War and glorious memorial of the battle of Gettysburg, he did it from memory. What he said will be posted in various posts to follow.

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Howard, who commanded the German troops who took the brunt of Jackson's opening flank attack, was almost criminally negligent in his performance on the first day -- and not much better two months later at Gettysburg, as we shall see. He was disdainful of the soldiers under his command, prepared them poorly and failed to ensure that their flank was adequately guarded.I forget whose account it was but apparently the first notice that Howard's troops received of impending trouble was when wild animals began rushing out of the nearby woods as they were cooking dinner with muskets stacked. Those animals were, of course, flushed by Jackson's advancing brigades. That must have been an eerie moment indeed, followed by complete disaster.It's also my understanding that Hancock, who was no less than awesome at Gettysburg, made his first big mark during this initial engagement, rallying the troops brigade by brigade, and gradually, with the help of darkness, stalling the Confederate attack.Hooker's greatest failing, IMO, was leaving two excellent corps under Reynolds and Meade out of the action altogether, when they were poised for a flanking counterattack on the second day which would have stood an excellent chance of chopping up Jackson's (now Stuart's) corps continuing to attack from the west.

In order to do this thread and the World War II one before it, I've spent the last year or so looking at battles, and one opinion I've come to is that most military commanders just do not perform well when surprised. Rather than blame Howard for poor performance at Chancellorsville, I prefer to regard those very few generals who react well to surprise as exceptional. Even Douglas MacArthur made terrible mistakes during the first week or so after the Japanese attack before he responded brilliantly later on. Lee's ability to react to each new crisis was simply amazing, like Rommel. Most generals simply don't have this skill. So I am less willing to call Howard "criminally negiglent" at Chancellorsville.Hooker has less excuse, especially because of all the bragging he did to the newspapers before the battle. I'm not sure if he knew the exact numbers of the enemy, but surely he was aware of the numerical advantages of his army, which he did not take advantage of, despite the urging of his subordinates. Sedgwick's assault was incredibly brave and heroic and Hooker allowed it to be wasted, and allowed many of his men to die through inaction.

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Everett's Speech - Part 1

Everett began his speech with a calling to the times of Greece, remembering the traditions of that time and the wars of Persia and the manner of honoring the dead and fallen hero's of those wars. It was a stirring reminder to the crowd, all of whom would have accepted the reference as fitting, that the fallen on the field they stood were hero's as well. It's easy to see why the calls to traditional Greek funeral practices are mentioned as the mythical elements of our history up through that time invoked the majesty of Rome, Greece and other movements of "democracy." Everett maintained in his speech - and the layout of the memorial backed him up - that even with really knowing it, the National Cemetery at Gettysburg mimics the style of ancient times to honor the fallen dead.

But he begins the meat of his speech with the following :

We have assembled, friends, fellow citizens, at the invitation of the Executive of the great central State of Pennsylvania, seconded by the Governors of seventeen other loyal States of the Union, to pay the last tribute of respect to the brave men who, in the hard-fought battles of the first, second, and third days of July last, laid down their lives for the country on these hillsides and the plains before us, and whose remains have been gathered into the cemetery which we consecrate this day. As my eye ranges over the fields whose sods were so lately moistened by the blood of gallant and loyal men, I feel, as never before, how truly it was said of old that it is sweet and becoming to die for one's country. I feel, as never before, how justly, from the dawn of history to the present time, men have paid the homage of their gratitude and admiration to the memory of those who nobly sacrifice their lives, that their fellow-men may live in safety and in honor. And if this tribute were ever due, to whom could it be more justly paid than to those whose last resting-place we this day commend to the blessing of Heaven and of men?

It's important to note two things from this brief intro. (1) The Governor of Pennsylvania played a huge role in the cemetery and the honoring of the battle; and (2) Everett's speech and indeed the whole day of memorial was heavily heavily slanted in favor of the vision of the United States and not the rebellious armies of the southern states.

Why the Governor got to this point.

After the battle and after the armies moved on, the area where it occurred was a disgusting picture of war. Bodies were everywhere. Families had their crops ruined by bodies poisoning the ground. Animals were dying from the disease that came from rotting corpses and the smell covered the town worse then the battle. No matter how much teams tried to bury the dead they had no choice but to do it pretty much where they fell with shallow badly covered unmarked graves. But families of those who fought there travled there to find their fallen father or brother, husband or son and so they dug up the bodies looking for that last reminder of the boy they knew and the man they lost. Grave robbers also made their way through the graves. All told it was a massive health crisis that Pennsylvania needed to deal with.

And so the National Memorial was concocted. In part it was planned because they really couldn't move the bodies anywhere in a cost effective manner. Given the destruction to the local economy and everything that went with having a battle near a town, they tried to make an event out of it., even going so far as inviting the President of the United States. In the end there was many good reasons to do what they did, and we don't have to go through it all, but it's important to see that from the end of the battle to the time Everett began talking, many people saw Gettysburg as an important thing, but it wasn't quite put into words and reasons why. PResident Lincoln knew this, jumped at the opportunity to do anything to rally his country and praise the soldiers who were fighting for it, and knew that he could make a statement that would focus the eye of the storm from that point forward. Everett saw it similarly although for different reasons.

It was a Northern Celebration

Of course it was. Everett actually seriously attacks the south throughout his speech as we will see. But quickly after Lincoln took the day to new heights, that stance got blurred for a more important one. It changed from a time to remember the honorable fallen who fought against rebellion to a time to remember just why were are doing this great experiment at all. It ended up not being a north and south thing - it became an America or not thing. Evertt's speech, for all its majesty didn't come close to that important and history altering point. Lincoln's did.

As so Everett would go on with his speech in which his main goal was to honor the dead of the north. He did. Lincoln, on the other hand, honored America.

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Howard, who commanded the German troops who took the brunt of Jackson's opening flank attack, was almost criminally negligent in his performance on the first day -- and not much better two months later at Gettysburg, as we shall see. He was disdainful of the soldiers under his command, prepared them poorly and failed to ensure that their flank was adequately guarded.I forget whose account it was but apparently the first notice that Howard's troops received of impending trouble was when wild animals began rushing out of the nearby woods as they were cooking dinner with muskets stacked. Those animals were, of course, flushed by Jackson's advancing brigades. That must have been an eerie moment indeed, followed by complete disaster.It's also my understanding that Hancock, who was no less than awesome at Gettysburg, made his first big mark during this initial engagement, rallying the troops brigade by brigade, and gradually, with the help of darkness, stalling the Confederate attack.Hooker's greatest failing, IMO, was leaving two excellent corps under Reynolds and Meade out of the action altogether, when they were poised for a flanking counterattack on the second day which would have stood an excellent chance of chopping up Jackson's (now Stuart's) corps continuing to attack from the west.

In order to do this thread and the World War II one before it, I've spent the last year or so looking at battles, and one opinion I've come to is that most military commanders just do not perform well when surprised. Rather than blame Howard for poor performance at Chancellorsville, I prefer to regard those very few generals who react well to surprise as exceptional. Even Douglas MacArthur made terrible mistakes during the first week or so after the Japanese attack before he responded brilliantly later on. Lee's ability to react to each new crisis was simply amazing, like Rommel. Most generals simply don't have this skill. So I am less willing to call Howard "criminally negiglent" at Chancellorsville.Hooker has less excuse, especially because of all the bragging he did to the newspapers before the battle. I'm not sure if he knew the exact numbers of the enemy, but surely he was aware of the numerical advantages of his army, which he did not take advantage of, despite the urging of his subordinates. Sedgwick's assault was incredibly brave and heroic and Hooker allowed it to be wasted, and allowed many of his men to die through inaction.
My problem with Howard's performance is twofold. First, during the first day's action, he was riding around the eastern flank with Sickles(?) instead of seeing to the disposition of his own troops, troops that were poorly disciplined and led at the brigade and regimental levels as well.Second, as noted in your earlier narrative, Jackson's flanking movement was spotted by Union observers and even attacked by Sickles. Even with that information, that Confederates were in the vicinity, Howard failed to look to his flank and allowed his corps to be taken completely by surprise.

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The Road to Gettysburg Part 1

The Confederacy could not rest on Lee's laurels in Virginia. Although beaten, Hooker's army still bristled 90,000 strong along the Rappahannock. Grant was on the move in Mississippi. Rosecrans showed signs of motion in middle Tennessee. Pressed on all sides by invading forces, the South needed an offensive-defensive stroke to relieve the pressure. Longstreet thought he saw a way to accomplish this. Returning with two detached divisions to rejoin Lee, Longstreet stopped in Richmond on May 6 for a meeting with Secretary of War James Seddon. Longstreet proposed that he take these two divisions to reinforce Bragg in Tennessee. With additional help from Johnston, they would drive Rosecrans back to th Ohio. This would compel Grant to break his campaign against Vicksburg and go to the rescue of the shattered Army of the Cumberland. Seddon liked the idea, but suggested that Longstreet go instead to Mississippi to help Johnston and Pemberton smash Grant, after which they could turn their attention to Rosecrans. Jefferson Davis favored this proposal, for he was concerned about his home state and convinced that the retention of Vicksburg was crucial.

But Lee dashed cold water on the enterprise. It would take weeks for Longstreet's divisions to travel nearly a thousand miles to Mississippi over the Confederacy's mangled railroads. If Vicksburg could hold that long, said Lee, it would be safe without reinforcements, for "the climate in June will force the enemy to retire." In the meantime a reinforced Army of the Potomac might return to the offensive against Lee's depleted forces. Although he had held off Hooker before without these two divisions, Lee now believed that he needed them-and additional troops as well. He concluded:

In sum, it becomes a question between Virginia and Mississippi.

Lee's opinion carried so much weight that Davis felt compelled to concur. The president remained disquieted by news from Mississippi, however, and called Lee to Richmond for a strategy conference on May 15. This time the Virginian dazzled Davis and Seddon with a proposal to invade Pennsylvania with a reinforced army and inflict a crushing defeat on the Yankees in their own backyard. This would remove the enemy threat on the Rappahannock, take the armies out of war-ravaged Virginia, and enable Lee to feed his troops in the enemy's country. It would also strengthen Peace Democrats, discredit Republicans, reopen the question of foreign recognition, and perhaps even conquer peace and recognition from the Union government itself.

In short, Robert E. Lee was proposing an all-out gamble to win the war.

The cabinet was awed by this vision. Postmaster-General John Reagan was the sole dissenter. The only member of the cabinet from west of the Mississippi (Texas), Reagan still thought the preservation of Vicksburg as a link between the Confederacy's two halves should have top priority. But Lee convinced the others that even if the climate failed to drive the Yankees out of Mississippi, a successful invasion of Pennsylvania would draw them out. In the post-Chancellorsville aura of invincibility, anything seemed possible. Of his soldiers, Lee said,

There never were such men in an army before. They will go anywhere and do anything if properly led.

It's important to grasp that at this point Lee was adored not only by his men but by the people of the South, far more than Davis or any other figure, especially now that the revered Jackson had perished. The Confederate cabinet was not going to defy Lee anything; if they did, and the public learned of it, they probably would have been thrown out of office quickly. Like George Washington begore him, Robert E. Lee could have easily established a dictatorship at this point had he wanted to.

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The Road to Gettysburg Part 2

So Lee set about reorganizing his augmented army into an invasion force of 3 infantry corps and 6 cavalry brigades- a total of 75,000 men. A.P. Hill became commander of the new 3rd Corps while Jackson's old 2nd Corps went to Richard Ewell, now sporting a wooden leg as souvenir of Second Manassas. Having used the month after Chancellorsville to rest and refit, the Army of Northern Virginia was much better prepared for this invasion than it had been for the previous one in September 1862. Morale was high, most men had shoes, and few stragglers fell out as Lee edged westward in the first week of June to launch his invasion through the Shenandoah Valley. Ewell's corps led the way, adding to it's laurels won in the Valley under Jackson the previous year by capturing 3,500 men in the Union garrisons at Winchester and Martinsburg.

This success and the apparently unimpeded advance of the fearsome rebels into Pennsylvania set off panic in the North and heightened southern euphoria. Declared the Richmond Examiner on July 7, 1863, as first reports arrived of a great victory in Pennsylvania:

From the very beginning the true policy of the South has been invasion. The present movement of General Lee will be of infinite value as disclosing the easy vunerability of the North to invasion...Not even the Chinese are less prepared by previous habits of life and education for martial resistance than the Yankees. We can carry our armies far into the enemy's country, exacting peace by blows at his vitals.

July 7 was, or course, after the battle of Gettysburg was over, though to be fair to Richmond it did not know the results. But the southern belief in its troops was very strong.

In discussing Ewell, Hill, and Longstreet in the coming battle, I should stop here to briefly mention the "Lost Cause" movement. I've touched on this a little bit in this thread before, but this movement is basically by southern historians to explain away the Confederacy's defeat in the Civil War as caused by overwhelming Yankee strength and not by errors by Robert E. Lee, who remains very much revered. No battle in the war is re-interpreted by the "Lost Cause" more than Gettysburg, and the three historical victims are Ewell, Hill, and especially Longstreet. As we shall see, they are accused of ignoring Lee's advice or making mistakes that lose the battle (and by implication the war), which allows Lee to remain blameless. The truth of the matter is much more complicated. My narrative here will be based on McPherson, but I will be interjecting "Lost Cause" commentary and analysis as well.

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That's an interesting quote about the Chinese. What did the Richmond Examiner know about China in 1863?

Tim may be preparing to write this shortly but I think Lee and Davis also felt that Lincoln was politically vulnerable at this point in the war, having suffered defeat after defeat. The peace movement in the north was growing in volume. A successful invasion would at least threaten Washington, Baltimore, Harrisburg and maybe even Philadelphia, which could very well bring about an armistice.

Then, in addition to the pressure in the west, there was the logistical problem facing the south. Despite success in the field in Virginia, it was becoming more and more difficult to supply the troops and feed people at home, largely because of the Union blockade of southern ports. Scraping up more replacements was also becoming more difficult. Final success had to come soon or not at all for Lee.

Finally, and this is a theory entirely my own and could be full of crap, there was the issue of Union field generalship. Up to Chancellorsville, Lee knew that he had faced weak opposing generals in McClellan, Burnside and Hooker. But he had been affiliated with the officers in blue for 25 years and he knew that they weren't all idiots. Sooner or leader, Lincoln was bound to find someone of competence, someone who would use the enormous northern advantages to their fullest extent. That someone was eventually Grant but, even now, John Reynolds was being considered for command of the eastern theatre. And he was a good one.

Edited by roadkill1292

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Indeed, in keeping with the southern thought that movement into the northern power center and the taking of the capital were viable war aims, Everett continues his speech:

Part II - The Southern Plan

For this we must bear in mind, it is one of the great lessons of the war, indeed of every war, that it is impossible for a people without military organization, inhabiting the cities, towns, and villages of an open country, including of course the natural proportion of non-combatants of either sex and of every age, to withstand the inroad of a veteran army. What defence can be made by the inhabitants of villages mostly built of wood, of cities unprotected by walls, nay, by a population of men, however high-toned and resolute, whose aged parents demand their care, whose wives and children are clustering about them, against the charge of the war-horse whose neck is clothed with thunder, — against flying artillery and batteries of rifled cannon planted on every commanding eminence, — against the onset of trained veterans led by skilful chiefs? No, my friends, army must be met by army, battery by battery, squadron by squadron; and the shock of organized thousands must be encountered by the firm breasts and valiant arms of other thousands, as well organized and as skilfully led. It is no reproach, therefore, to the unarmed population of the country to say, that we owe it to the brave men who sleep in their beds of honor before us, and to their gallant surviving associates, not merely that your fertile fields, my friends of Pennsylvania and Maryland, were redeemed from the presence of the invader, but that your beautiful capitals were not given up to threatened plunder, perhaps laid in ashes, Washington seized by the enemy, and a blow struck at the heart of the nation.

Who that hears me has forgotten the thrill of joy that ran through the country on the Fourth of July, — auspicious day for the glorious tidings, and rendered still more so by the simultaneous fall of Vicksburg, — when the telegraph flashed through the land the assurance from the President of the United States that the Army of the Potomac, under General Meade, had again smitten the invader? Sure I am, that, with the ascriptions of praise that rose to Heaven from twenty millions of freemen, with the acknowledgments that breathed from patriotic lips throughout the length and breadth of America, to the surviving officers and men who had rendered the country this inestimable service, there beat in every loyal bosom a throb of tender and sorrowful gratitude to the martyrs who had fallen on the sternly contested field. Let a nation's fervent thanks make some amends for the toils and sufferings of those who survive. Would that the heartfelt tribute could penetrate these honored graves!

Everett's main point here, driven home by the posts above regarding the idea that the south could actually mount a successful second invasion, is that Gettysburg was the focal point of the north's stoppage of that plan. Pennsylvania was freed from the possibility of takeover and seizure, and Washington was protected once again. (I would add as an aside that Washington was actually ripe for the picking throughout this battle and shortly thereafter and Lee should have known that).

The second invasion was Lee's idea for the most part. It was a bad idea. Lee was in a similar position to Genreal George Washington circa 1777 yet he didn't fully grasp that as, I beleive, he was blinded by the romance that the south infected their side with. A romance that made them beleive that no "Yankee" could be a match for a southern gentleman. A romance that got hundreds of thousnads needlessly killed. Like Washington he needed to keep his army alive. Unlike Washington, he also needed to win more often then not and he was doing that for the most part until he hit that field in Pennsylvania.

On the heels of the Western theatre and the fact that Lee was still facing a rather incompetent general (and he knew that), his position was much better in not picking Gettysburg as a fight. Now, granted, in some ways he was forced into this specific battle due to a severe lack of intelligence and other uncontrollable circumstances. But once he knew what he was dealing with he should have backed down and regrouped, and the best way to do that would have been a movement towards Washington D.C. At that point Lee could have picked his spot to engage the northern army and also controlled his supply lines a little better. But what do I know.

Everett, on the other hand hits a rather important point here. News of Vicksburg was being made known right around the same time as news of Gettysburg was as well. In a war that had, for two years, dragged on two years longer then most thought and saw the northern command structure be way too timid in the face of defeat after defeat, these two events simultaneously made it possible for President Lincoln to seize the moment for the United States. He did recognize that, and he recognized the power of his office in rallying the American people and the army that it supported.

Not only was news out of the western theatre getting better, but now there was news that the great Robert E. Lee was defeated - and defeated badly. No matter how bad the general corps of the north was in that July, they fell into a great opportunity to seize control of the war. When Lincoln learned of Gettysburg he knew this was a great chance. This was a moment to be used to rally the troops, and the people. His political capital was exhausted, his power eroding and his leadership questioned. The north was close to having significant problems and it was so well known that Jefferson Davis was sending peace delegations to Washington at this same time. If Vicksburg and more importantly Gettysburg turned out differently, that peace delegation may have gotten farther then they did.

When Lincoln got word that he was wanted to speak at the dedication of Gettysburg he chose that moment to do something he hoped would be great.

Edited by Yankee23Fan

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