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The American Civil War Timeline- 150th Anniversary

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I participated in a reenactment of the Crater about 20 years ago. They put a bunch of dynamite in a hole and, when they blew it, all the dirt went straight up in the air and dropped straight back down, filling the crater back in. Pretty disappointing but you had to laugh.

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The Crater, Part 2

Burnside's enthusiasm for the project had grown steadily from the time it began on June 25. Here was a chance to redeem his failure at Fredericksburg by capturing Petersburg and winning the war. Burnside's corps contained 4 divisions. 3 had been worn down by combat since the Wilderness; the 4th was fresh, having seen no action except guarding rear-area supply lines. It was a black division, and few officers in the Army of the Potomac from Meade down yet believed in the fighting capacity of Negro troops. Burnside was an exception, so he designated the fresh division to lead the assault.

The black soldiers received special tactical training for this task. Their morale was high; they were eager "to show the white troops what the colored division could do," said one of the officers. Grant arranged a diversion by Hancock's corps north of the James which pulled several of Lee's divisions away from the Petersburg front. Everything seemed set for success when the mine was scheduled to explode at dawn on July 30.

Only hours before this happened, however, Meade- with Grant's approval- ordered Burnside to send in his white divisions first. Meade's motive seems to have been a lack of confidence in the inexperienced black troops, though in later testimony before the Committee on the Conduct of the War Grant mentioned another reason as well:

If things went wrong, it would then be said that we were shoving these people ahead to get them killed because we did not care anything about them. But that could not be said if we put white troops in front.

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The Crater, Concluded

Apparently demoralized by the last-minute change of his battle plan, Burnside lost all control over the operation. The commander of the division designated to lead the assault (chosen by drawing straws!), James H. Ledlie, had a mediocre record and an alcohol problem. During the assault he stayed behind in the trenches drinking rum. With no preparation and without leadership, his men attacked in disordered fashion.

The explosion blew a hole 170 feet long, 60 feet wide, and 30 feet deep. One entire rebel regiment and an artillery battery were buried in the debris. Confederate troops for a couple of hundred yards on either side of the crater fled in terror. When Ledlie's division went forward, its men stopped to gawk at the awesome spectacle. Mesmerized by this vision of what supposed Hell must be like, many of them went into the crater instead of fanning out left and right to roll up the torn enemy flanks. The 2 following white divisions did little better, degenerating into a disorganized mob as rebel artillery and mortars found the range and began shooting at the packed bluecoats in the crater as at fish in a barrel.

Frantic officers, with no help from Burnside or from division commanders, managed to form fragments of brigades for a further penetration. But by mid-morning a southern division commanded by William Mahone was ready was ready for a counterattack. The black troops who had finally pushed their way through the milling or retreating white Yankees caught the brunt of Mahone's assault. As on other fields, rebel soldiers enraged by the sight of black men in uniform murdered several of them who tried to surrender.

When it was all over, the 9th Corps had nothing to show for its big bang except 4,000 casualties (against fewer than half as many for the enemy), a huge hole in the ground, bitter mutual recriminations, and new generals commanding the corps and one of its divisions. Grant pronounced the epitaph in a message to Halleck:

It was the saddest affair I have witnessed in the war. Such opportunity for carrying fortifications I have never seen and do not expect again to have.

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Just a short note from Wiki:

The area of the Battle of the Crater is a frequently visited portion of Petersburg National Battlefield Park. The mine entrance is open for inspection annually on the anniversary of the battle. There are sunken areas where air shafts and cave-ins extend up to the "T" shape near the end. The park includes many other sites, primarily those that were a portion of the Union lines around Petersburg.

That would be a really interesting battlesite to visit.

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We return you now to the Atlanta campaign...

While Sherman and Hood's cavalry had gone off on futile raids into each other's rear during the first half of August, the Union infantry had continued to probe unsuccessfully toward the railroad south of Atlanta. When all but 1 blue corps suddenly disappeared on August 26, Hood jubilantly concluded that Sherman had retreated. But celebrations by Atlantans proved premature. Sherman had withdrawn nearly all of his army from the trenches, all right, but they were marching south to slice across the roads and railroads far beyond Confederate defenses. As the Democrats met in Chicago (at their convention) to declare the war a failure, northern soldiers 700 miles away were making "Sherman neckties" out of last open railroad into Atlanta by heating the rails over a bonfire of ties and twisting the iron around trees.

Hood woke up to the truth a day too late. On August 30, he sent 2 corps against the enemy at Jonesborough 20 miles south of Atlanta. They found the Yankees too strong and were repulsed with heavy loss. Next day Sherman counterattacked and mauled the rebels. To avoid being cut off and trapped, Hood evacuated Atlanta on September 1 after destroying everything of military value in it. Next day the bluecoats marched in with bands blaring Union songs and raised the American flag over city hall. Sherman sent a jaunty wire to Washington: "Atlanta is ours, and fairly won."

The impact of this event cannot be exaggerated. Cannons boomed in 100-gun salutes in northern cities. Newspapers that had bedeviled Sherman for years now praised him as the greatest general since Napoleon. The South Carolinan diarist Mary Boykin Chesnut saw doom approaching:

Since Atlanta I have felt as if all were dead within me, forever. We are going to be wiped off the earth.

The fall of Atlanta essentially ended George B. McClellan's threat to Lincoln's re-election. Though McClellan would accept the Democratic nomination with the support of Peace Democrats who wanted him to propose an immediate armistice (he declined) he had no chance now of winning. Neither, for that matter, did the Confederacy. The only questions remaining were how long would it take and how bloody would it get? The answers were, unfortunately, too long and too much.

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I participated in a reenactment of the Crater about 20 years ago. They put a bunch of dynamite in a hole and, when they blew it, all the dirt went straight up in the air and dropped straight back down, filling the crater back in. Pretty disappointing but you had to laugh.

This is why I'm kind of dissapointed in this thread, and maybe Tim will take it to heart. Or maybe not, depending on how myopic he is.People try to add a little flavor to the thread, like this, and are completely ignored by the thread starter, who is apparently only concerned with posting long passages from texts, and not in discussion. I'm not one of the Tim haters, but this is why I don't participate in this thread more.

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I participated in a reenactment of the Crater about 20 years ago. They put a bunch of dynamite in a hole and, when they blew it, all the dirt went straight up in the air and dropped straight back down, filling the crater back in. Pretty disappointing but you had to laugh.

This is why I'm kind of dissapointed in this thread, and maybe Tim will take it to heart. Or maybe not, depending on how myopic he is.People try to add a little flavor to the thread, like this, and are completely ignored by the thread starter, who is apparently only concerned with posting long passages from texts, and not in discussion. I'm not one of the Tim haters, but this is why I don't participate in this thread more.
Sorry, but I don't think this is a fair criticism at all. If you look through this thread, I've invited discussion all throughout it, and responded to just about every post made.

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Fall of 1864, continued

After a slow start in the Shenandoah Valley, Phil Sheridan soon gave Republicans more cheering news. Mindful of Grant's injunction to follow Jubal Early "to the death", Sheridan was also aware of the long record of Union disasters in the Valley. Therefore his Army of the Shenandoah sparred carefully with Early's rebels for 6 weeks without driving them any farther south than Winchester. Intelligence reports of the reinforcement of Early by 4 divisions from Lee (in fact he had received only 2) added to Sheridan's caution. Taking advantage of this weakening of the Petersburg defenses, Grant in late August had cut the railroad linking the city to the blockade-running port of Wilmington. Forced to lengthen his lines and protect wagon trains hauling supplies around this break, Lee recalled 1 division from the Valley.

Learning of this from Rebecca Wright, a Quaker schoolteacher and Union sympathizer in Winchester, Sheridan decided to strike. On September 19 his 37,000 bluecoats attacked the 15,000 Confederates at Winchester. The wagon train of one Union corps tangled up the troops of another and almost halted the assault before it began. But with much energy (and profanity) Sheridan straightened out the jam, got his troops into line, and led them forward in an irresistible wave. Northern cavalry with their rapid-firing carbines played a conspicuous role; 2 divisions of horsemen even thundered down on Early's left in an old-fashioned saber charge and captured the bulk of the 2,000 rebels who surrendered.

Having lost 25% of his army, Early retreated 20 miles to a strong defensive position on Fisher's Hill just south of Strasburg. Sheridan came on. On September 23 2 corps made a feint against Early's entrenched line wihle a third worked their way up mountain paths to hit the Confederate left end-on. These were mostly West Virginians and Ohioans who had fought through this rugged terrain for 3 years. Bursting out of thick woods with the setting sun at their backs, they crumbled the surprised southern flank like a dry leaf. The Federals again sent Early fleeing southward 60 miles to a pass in the Blue Ridge where the rebels holed up to lick their wounds.

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There is so much material here that I am not relating because it would simply take forever: the election of 1864, the treatment of Black soldiers and POWs, Farragut's naval triumphs, William Quantrill and the Jayhawk fighting, Grant's anti-Semitism, and so much more. Dozens of books have been written on all of these subjects and they are fascinating, but I am trying to stick at this point to the main battle narrative in order to get to the end of the war sooner rather than later.

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Happy Thanksgiving! Here is Abraham Lincoln's proclamation to declare Thanksgiving a national holiday, form 1863:

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and provoke their aggressions, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battle-field, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.

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Fall of 1864, Continued

Having followed Early almost to the death, Sheridan proceeded to carry out the second part of Grant's instruction: to turn the Shenandoah Valley into a barren wasteland. Besides serving as an avenue for invasion of the North, the Valley had supplied much of the food for Confederate armies in Virginia. Destroying its crops would put an end to both functions. Sheridan was the man for this job; his horsemen swept up the Valley like a plague of locusts; destroying everything in their path, with little distinction between rebel farmers and those who claimed to be loyal to the Union. Sheridan stated:

The people must be left nothing but their eyes to weep with over the war. The Valley will have little left in it for man or beast.

It was a hard war and would soon become even harder, down in Georgia and South Carolina. Meanwhile the rebels decided that they could not give up the Shenandoah Valley without another fight. Lee reinforced Early with an infantry division and a cavalry brigade, which caused Sheridan to postpone the planned return of the 6th Corps to the Petersburg front. Leaving his army camped near Cedar Creek 15 miles south of Winchester, Sheridan entrained for Washington on October 16 for a strategy conference to decide what to do next. While he was gone, Early borrowed a leaf from the book of his mentor Stonewall Jackson and decided to make a surprise attack.

This would be the Battle of Cedar Creek, which I will describe next.

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The Battle of Cedar Creek

On the night of October 18-19, 4 Confederate divisions silently moved into position for a dawn assault on the 2 left-flank Union divisions. The surprise was complete. The rudely awakened bluecoats fell back on the next 2 divisions, communicating their panic and causing the whole Army of the Shenandoah to retreat in a rout 4 miles down the Valley after losing 1,300 prisoners and 18 guns.

Early believed he had won a great victory. So did his hungry soldiers, who broke ranks to forage in the Union camps. But it was only 10:00 am. The Union cavalry and the 6th Corps, which had not been routed, remained intact with remnants of 4 broken divisions scattered behind them. And Sheridan was coming. He had returned to Winchester the previous evening. Puzzled at breakfast by the ominous rumbling of artillery off to the south, he saddled up and began his ride into legend. As Sheridan approached the battlefield, stragglers recognized him and began to cheer. Sheridan shouted at them:

### #### you, don't cheer me! If you love your country, come up to the front! There's lots of fight in you men yet! Come up, ### #### you! Come up!

By dozens and then hundreds they followed him. Sheridan's performance this day was the most notable example of personal battlefield leadership in the war. A veteran of the 6th Corps recalled:

Such a scene as his presence and such emotion as it awoke cannot be realized but once in the century.

While across the way Early seemed mesmerized by his victory, Sheridan reorganized his army during the hazy autumn afternoon and sent it forward in a counterattack. With cavalry slashing in from the flanks and infantry rolling ahead like ocean surf, the Yankees sent Early's graybacks reeling back over the morning's battleground. Driving the rebels across Cedar Creek, bluecoats captured a thousand prisoners along with the 18 guns they lost in the morning and 23 more for good measure. Early's army virtually disintegrated as it fled southward in the gathering darkness with blue cavalry picking off most of its wagon train.

Within a few hours Sheridan had converted the battle of Cedar Creek from a humiliating defeat into one of the more decisive victories of the war.

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This may have been discussed - so humor me. I regularly hear that during the Civil War - brother faught against brother.

Ok...I don't doubt there may have been "some" brothers that faught against one another...but is there any record that inidcates how many there may have been, or how common it was?

For as often as I hear this phrase it sounds like it happend with great frequency, which I have a hard time believing.

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I plan on returning to this thread pretty shortly- in a week or two at most.

As far as the last question: it happened most often in the border states: Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, etc. where there was sympathy on both sides. There are many famous examples and I'll see if I can find an article on it.

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This may have been discussed - so humor me. I regularly hear that during the Civil War - brother faught against brother. Ok...I don't doubt there may have been "some" brothers that faught against one another...but is there any record that inidcates how many there may have been, or how common it was?For as often as I hear this phrase it sounds like it happend with great frequency, which I have a hard time believing.

I don't know if anyone has attempted an exhaustive study, but there are certainly many examples that have been cited. A few officers off the top of my head:Mary Todd Lincoln had four brothers who fought for the CSA.J.E.B. Stuart *(Lee's cavalry chief) fought against his father-in-law, who was a Union dragoon. He was so disgusted about he renamed his 18 month old son (who had been named after his grandfather), and said of his FIL: "He will regret it but once, and then continuously"Kentucky Senator John Crittenden attempted a last ditch effort to keep the south from seceding that was known as the Crittenden Compromise. It failed, and his two sons would become generals on opposite sides of the Civil War - Thomas a Corps commander under Rosecrans, while George was somewhat less successful for the South.Metaphorically, it must have felt like fighting against your own brother for anyone who went to West Point or was in the regular Army when hostilities broke out. Pretty much everybody who had military experience prior to the war went up against a dear friend sooner or later.

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This may have been discussed - so humor me. I regularly hear that during the Civil War - brother faught against brother.

Ok...I don't doubt there may have been "some" brothers that faught against one another...but is there any record that inidcates how many there may have been, or how common it was?

For as often as I hear this phrase it sounds like it happend with great frequency, which I have a hard time believing.

I ask for recommendations via email and a couple discussion boards, and got this one back as a first choice twice:

The Divided Family in Civil War America by Amy Murrell

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I plan on returning to this thread pretty shortly- in a week or two at most. As far as the last question: it happened most often in the border states: Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, etc. where there was sympathy on both sides. There are many famous examples and I'll see if I can find an article on it.

Thanks for the reply and the couple others that followed.I know there were families that had siblings fighting for the North and the South, I was more interested if there were any examples of brothers fighting against one another in specific battles. To take it another step further I would be interested in reading the journal of a brother in that situation if anyone is familiar with anything available.

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We now continue with the last months of the Civil War-

Winter of 1864-65 Part One

John B. Hood's Army of Tennessee did not crawl into the woods and die after losing Atlanta. Quite the contrary; inspired by a visit from Jefferson Davis, the aggressive Hood planned to circle around to Sherman's rear, cut his rail lifeline from Chattanooga, and pounce at leisure on the fragments of the stricken and starving Yankee army. Meanwhile Forrest had returned to his wonted occupation of smashing up Union railroads and supply depots in Tennessee. President Davis told cheering crowds in Georgia and South Carolina:

I see no chance for Sherman to escape from a defeat or a disgraceful retreat. The fate that befell the army of the French Empire in its retreat from Moscow will now be re-enacted. Our cavalry and our people will harass and destroy his army, as did the Cossacks that of Napoleon, and the Yankee general, like him, will escape with only a bodyguard. Then we must march into Tennessee where we will draw from 20,000 to 30,000 to our standard, and push the enemy back to the banks of the Ohio and thus give the peace party of the North an accretion no puny editorial can give.

This glorious prospect may have pumped new life into flagging southern spirits. But when Grant read of Davis's speeches he snorted: "Who is to furnish the snow for this Moscow retreat?" A clever reply, but in truth Sherman was vunerable to enemy harassment. Having attained one of his objectives- the capture of Atlanta- he had not achieved the other- the destruction of Hood's army. 40,000 strong, these tired but game rebels moved along the railroad to Chattanooga during October attacking targets of opportunity. Sherman left a corps to hold Atlanta and pursued Hood with the rest of his army. Skirmishing and fighting northward over the terrain they had conquered while marching southward 4 months earlier, the Yankees finally drove Hood's graybacks into Alabama and repaired the railroad.

Sherman grew exasperated with this kind of warfare. To continue chasing Hood would play the rebel game. "It will be a physical impossibility to protect the railroads," Sherman told Grant, "now that Hood, Forrest, and Wheeler, and the whole batch of devils, are turned loose, without home or habitation. By attempting to hold the roads, we will lose 1,000 men monthly and will gain no result." Instead, Sherman wanted to ignore Hood and march through the heart of Georgia to the coast. "I could cut a swath through to the sea," he assured Grant, "divide the Confederacy in two, and come up on the rear of Lee."

Sherman's suggestion would prove to be one of the most significant in military history. But Lincoln, Halleck, and even Grant resisted the idea at first. To leave Hood loose in the his rear while the Union army abandoned its supply lines in the midst of enemy territory seemed doubly dangerous. However, Sherman intended to station George Thomas in Tennesee with 60,000 men, more than enough to cope with anything the rebels might try. Sherman's own army of 62,000 hardened campaigners could find plenty to eat in the interior of Georgia. As Sherman explained:

If I turn back now, the whole effect of my campaign will be lost. But if I move through Georgia, smashing things to the sea, instead of being on the defensive, I would be on the offensive. If we can march a well-appointed army right through Jefferson Davis's territory, it is a demonstration to the world, foreign and domestic, that we have a power which Davis cannot resist. I can make the march, and make Georgia howl!

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I plan on returning to this thread pretty shortly- in a week or two at most. As far as the last question: it happened most often in the border states: Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, etc. where there was sympathy on both sides. There are many famous examples and I'll see if I can find an article on it.

Thanks for the reply and the couple others that followed.I know there were families that had siblings fighting for the North and the South, I was more interested if there were any examples of brothers fighting against one another in specific battles. To take it another step further I would be interested in reading the journal of a brother in that situation if anyone is familiar with anything available.
I have never come across anything that specific, but your questions brings to mind a couple Gettysburg incidents.There are scores, perhaps even hundreds of books devoted to three Gettysburg childhood friends: Wes Culp, Jack Skelly, and Jennie Wade. Jack and Wes fought for the CSA, and Skelly had been wounded just before the Pennsylvania invasion. He and Jennie were in love; he gave a letter to Wes should he by chance come close enough to deliver it to him. Wes never was able to find her to tell her Jack was wounded, and in fact died fighting on Culp's Hill - so named because his uncle owned the land. Meanwhile, Jennie was shot on the third day of the battle while baking bread for wounded soldiers - the only civilian death of the battle. Jack died in Virginia nine days later, and is buried next to Jennie in the Evergreen Cemetery in Gettysburg.On the same hill Wesley Culp perished, fighting raged from 4 a.m. until 10 a.m. on the third day of the battle. At some point, the Union troops realized the Confederates had moved their lone Maryland regiment into the line of battle. They hurried forward their only Maryland regiment, and the two fought to a standstill for several hours. I've read a few books about the fighting on Culp's Hill, and while none cite an actual brother versus brother combat, no doubt the participants were familiar with their counterparts.

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Winter of 1864-65 Continued

Sherman persuaded Grant, who in turn persuaded a still skeptical Lincoln. Sherman returned to Atlanta and prepared to move out a week after the presidential election. Like Lincoln, he believed in a cruel war and a soft peace. As he told Atlanta's mayor after ordering the civilian population expelled from the occupied city:

War is cruelty and you cannot refine it. But when peace does come, you may call on me for anything. Then I will share with you the last cracker. Until then we are not only fighting hostile armies, but a hostile people, and must make old and young, rich and poor, feel the hard hand of war. We cannot change the hearts of those people of the South, but we can make war so terrible, and make them so sick of war that generations would pass away before they would again appeal to it.

This last sentence in this statement is especially interesting: Sherman's intent was not simply to win the war as quickly as possible, which he believed (correctly) was a forgone conclusion, but also to ensure that there would not be another war in the future. Sherman remains an enigmatic figure in American history. Some Southern historians villify him for what they consider to be war crimes. We will look at the facts of the matter and shortly and try to decide if his policy of "total war" should be considered immoral. Sherman is also villified by Native Americans and historians of the Indian wars for his cruel and brutal actions after the Civil War, which again he justified with the same logic as expressed above: make war so terrible that future generations won't fight it. In both cases, it is important to note, Sherman was ultimately successful in his aims, though this in itself may not vindicate him.

Sherman's soldiers shared their leader's "total war" philosophy. Acting on it, they put the torch to everything of military value (by an extremely broad definition) that Hood had left standing in Atlanta. Dozens of old homes and stately buildings that had survived the siege were put to the torch, their owners who had not been evicted from the city already forced to watch in horror and anger. Then the main force marched out on November 15.

As Sherman started south, Hood prepared to move north from Alabama into Tennessee, creating the odd spectacle of two contending armies turning their backs on each other and marching off in opposite directions. As it turned out, there was more method in Sherman's madness than in Hood's.

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Winter of 1864-65 continued

No enemy stood between Sherman's army and Savannah 285 miles away except several thousand Georgia militia and 3,500 rebel cavalry commanded by Joseph Wheeler. Union cavalry kept the gray horsemen at bay while weaving back and forth across the flanks of 4 infantry corps spread over a front varying from 25 to 65 mile wide. The militia attacked a rear-guard Union infantry brigade on November 12, but after suffering 600 casualties to the Yankees' 60 they made no more such efforts. Southerners wrecked bridges, burned provisions, toppled trees and planted mines on the roads ahead of the Yankees, but this accomplished little except to make them more vengeful. In truth, nothing could stop the bluecoats' relentless pace of 12 miles a day.

For most northern soldiers the march became a frolic, a moving feast in which they "foraged liberally on the country" and destroyed everything of conceivable military value- along with much else- that they did not consume. Groups of foraging soldiers, soon called "bummers" roamed through the countryside and helped themselves to anything they wanted from farms, plantations, even slave cabins. Not all the bummers were Yankees; Georgia unionists and liberated slaves hung on the flanks and rear of the army and lost few chances to despoil their rebel neighbors and former masters.

Sherman's soldiers were the worst culprits, however. They destroyed all they could not eat, burned cotton, and cotton gins, took money and silver. Southerners claimed their women were being raped (this was never documented, however) and many innocent people were shot; many others starved to death. But the March worked. As the Yankees closed in on Savannah in mid-December the 10,000 rebel soldiers defending it escaped before they could be trapped in the city. Sherman sent his famous telegram to Lincoln:

I beg to present to you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah...

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Winter of 1864-65 Continued

John B. Hood's activities after Sherman left Atlanta seemed to have been scripted in never-never land. Although he faced Union forces under Thomas totalling more than 60,000 men with only 40,000 of his own- 25% of them wearing shoes so rotten that by December they would march barefoot- Hood hoped to drive through Tennessee into Kentucky, where he expected to pick up 20,000 more recruits and smash Thomas. Then, Hood fantasized, he would mopve eastward to Virginia, combine with Lee, and defeat Grant and Sherman in turn.

This enterprise started well. Moving into Tennessee during the last week of November, Hood tried to get between Thomas's advance force of 30,000 commanded by John Schofield at Pulaski and the 30,000 at Nashville 75 miles to the North. Schofield detected this effort in time to fall back to the Duck River at Columbia, where Hood skirmished with the Federals, November 24-27. Not wishing to risk a frontal assault, Hood sent Forrest's cavalry and 2 infantry corps on a deep flanking march to get into Schofield's rear, hoping to emulate "the grand results achieved by the immortal Jackson in similar maneuvers." But Union horsemen spotted this move and Schofield rushed 2 divisions to hold the turnpike in his rear at the crossroads village of Spring Hill. Uncoordinated rebel attacks failed to dislodge these Yankees- and nothing went right for Hood's army ever again.

During the night of November 29-30 Schofield pulled his whole force back and entrenched a line covering the crossings of the Harpeth River at Franklin, 15 miles south of Nashville. An angry Hood blamed his subordinates and even his predecessor Joe Johnston for the failure at Spring Hill. Since taking over the army 4 months earlier, Hood had frequently complained of its defensive mentality instilled, he believed, by Johnston. On November 30 he followed Schofield to Franklin and ordered his infantry to make a head-on assault, almost as if by such punishment to purge them of their supposed timidity. Hood's corps commanders protested this order to attack equal numbers who were dug in with strong artillery support, while nearly all the Confederate artillery and part of the infantry were far in the rear and could not arrive in time for action on this short November afternoon. Their protests only confirmed Hood's suspicions of the army's lack of elan and his deterimination to force it to fight. He had broken the enemy line at Gaines' Mill and at Chickamauga; he would do it again here.

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Winter of 1864-65 continued

22,000 southern soldiers swept forward in the slanted sunlight of an Indian summer afternoon. Part of Patrick Cleburne's hard-hitting division and another gray division temporarily broke the Union line but were driven out with heavy losses in hand to hand combat as fierce as anything at the Bloody Angle of Spotsylvania. For hours after dark the firing raged until toward midnight the bluecoats broke off and headed north to Nashville. Hood could hardly claim a victory, however, for his 7,000 casualties were 3 times the enemy total. Hood lost more men killed at Franklin than Grant at Cold Harbor or McClellan in all the Seven Days. A dozen Confederate generals fell at Franklin, 6 of them killed including Cleburne and a fire-eating South Carolinian by the name of States Rights Gist. No fewer than 54 southern regimental commanders, half of the total, were casaulties. Having proved even to Hood's satisfaction that they would assault breastworks, the Army of Tennessee had shattered itself beyond the possibility of ever doing so again. Southerners were appalled by the news from Franklin of "fearful loss and no results."

The lack of results galled Hood too as he prodded his battered troops northward toward Nashville, where they entrenched a defensive line along the hills 4 miles south of Tennessee's capital. Afraid that a retreat to Alabama would trigger wholesale desertions by Tennessee soldiers, Hood hunkered down and waited for Thomas to attack. It came on December 15, and it was a devastating knockout. In the early morning fog 50,000 bluecoats came on against Hood's 25,000 (most of Forrest's cavalry was 30 miles away watching a small Union force at Murfreesboro). All day the rebels hung on by their fingernails against the feinting jabs at their right and sledgehammer blows at their left. As darkness began to fall the left collapsed, and during the night Hood pulled his army back 2 miles to a new and shorter line anchored by hills on both ends.

The Federals moved forward with titanic inexorability next day and repeated the same tactics of left jab and right uppercut. Again the Confederates parried groggily until late afternoon. But dismounted Union cavalrymen wiht rapid-firing carbines had worked around to the rear of Hood's left while 2 infantry corps hit his flank head-on. When the collapse finally came during a drenching rain and a gathering darkness, it came with calamitous suddenness. From left to right, southern brigades toppled like dominoes. Thousands of rebels surrendered, and others streamed southward throwing away their arms and equipment to make better time. Officers tried to rally them, but it was hopeless.

Yankee cavalrymen scrambled to find their horses and take up the pursuit over roads shin-deep in mud. For nearly two weeks the chase continued from one river to the next through Tennessee into Alabama and Mississippi. At each river or creek Forrest's cavalry would make a stand and fall back, while the exhausted infantry- half of them now without shoes- leaked stragglers and deserters by the hundreds. By the beginning of 1865 the remnants of Hood's army had fetched up at Tupelo, Mississippi where a head count found barely half of the 40,000 who had marched northward 7 weeks earlier. Heartsick and broken, Hood resigned his command on Friday, January 13.

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January, 1865

Despite Confederate disasters in the last months of 1864, the war was not yet over- at least Jefferson Davis and his colleagues refused to admit it was over. To persuade them, the Yankees put the finishing touches on Winfield Scott's Anaconda Plan, conceived nearly 4 years earlier, by capturing Fort Fisher in January 1865. By then Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia was the only substantial military force left in the Confederacy, and the Carolinas were just about the only region from which it could draw supplies. Many of these came on blockade runners that were still getting into Wilmington, 20 miles up the Cape Fear River from Fort Fisher. This massive L-shaped fort, almost a mile long on its seaward face, represented a new version of an ancient idea in fortifications. Instead of masonry, it was built of sand and dirt over a log framework. 25 feet thick and 10 to 30 feet high, it absorbed shot and shell as a pillow absorbs punches. Fort Fisher's 47 big guns threatened dire punishment to any Union warship that tried to close in on blockade runners weaving their way through the treacherous shoals and channels at the mouth of the Cape Fear River.

In the fall of 1864 Admiral David D. Porter assembled the largest fleet of the war- nearly 60 warships plus troop transports to carry 6,500 soldiers- for an all-out effort against Fort Fisher. Commander of the infantry was Benjamin Butler, who by virtue of his early, politically motivated promotion to major general outranked everyone in the eastern theater except Grant. Butler conceived of the idea of loading an old ship with 215 tons of gunpowder, running it into the shallows near the fort, and exploding it with the expectation that the blast would damage the fort and stun it's garrison. Storms delayed the project until Christmas Eve day. The exploding ship did virtually no damage, the open air having absorbed the shock wave. The fleet then pummelled the fort with the heaviest bombardment of the war but managed to damage only a few of its guns. Butler got part of his infantry onto the beach but called off the attack when he found the parapet bristling with artillery and the approaches mined with "torpedoes."

This fiasco provided Grant with the excuse he had been looking for to get rid of Butler. Lincoln consented, and on January 8, Butler was relieved. Grant ordered a second attempt against Fort Fisher, this time with the bright young General Alfred Terry in command of a beefed-up infantry force of 8,000. On January 13 they waded ashore through the surf and worked their way down the narrow peninsula toward the fort's north face while the fleet opened a barrage that rained 800 tons of shot and shell on the defenders. This time the navy's big guns disabled nearly all of those in fort and cut the detonating wires for the mines, preparing the way for an assault on January 15 by 6,500 infantrymen, sailors and marines. Although the attackers took more than 1,000 casualties, they finally broke through and captured the fort and its garrison of 2,000 men. Wilmington was cut off from the sea, and Lee's soldiers in the trenches at Petersburg were now without any supplies or food.

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1865, Continued

Confederate officials regarded the loss of Fort Fisher as a "stunning" blow. Alexander Stephens pronounced it "one of the greatest disasters that had befallen our Cause from the beginning of the war." The southern Congress stepped up its attack of the Administration. Secretary of War Seddon resigned, and a resolution was proposed which called on Jefferson Davis to step down in favor of Robert E. Lee as dictator. (It was voted down.) Davis did appoint Lee as "General-In-Chief"; the two men maintained their cordial relationship and vowed to fight on until victory. How that victory was to be achieved at this point no one knew.

Meanwhile Francis Blair in the North was convinced he could end the war by meeting with southerners. Blair's idea was to propose a re-union and throw the French out of Mexico, which Lincoln wanted nothing to do with. Still, he allowed Blair to go to Richmond. There, Blair met with Jefferson Davis and proposed a conference to discuss the possibility of peace. Davis agreed, and decided to send Vice President Stephens to Hampton Roads to meet with William Seward. At the last minute, Lincoln decided to attend as well.

Lincoln was prepared at this juncture, in early February, to go far in securing a peace. He was firm that the Union must be re-united and slavery must be abolished; but he was willing to offer amnesty to the rebels and also some money to compensate the southern slaveowners. In light of the northern victories these offers seem awfully generous and there is no doubt that, if publicized they would have outraged the hardline Northern congressmen such as Thaddeus Stevens who were already discussing how the conquered South would be "handled" (there is also no doubt that these congressmen did not want to see southerners returned to the fold so quickly and perhaps increase the votes of the Democrats.)

But Lincoln's offer demonstrates his greatness. He never wanted to see the South destroyed, and he was horrified by all the deaths and honestly wished to see an end. In any event, Stephens could not agree. Davis was not prepared to renounce independence; (one wonders what outcome he was hoping for by agreeing to the meeting- perhaps it was merely to strengthen the resolve of his people.) Davis denounced the meeting as a call for "unconditional surrender" and pledged to fight on. He said:

Valor alone is relied upon now for our salvation. The Confederacy will at once gather up its military strength and strike such blows as will astonish the world!

Meanwhile, Sherman was about to invade South Carolina.

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I know this is out of date sequence, but today is the anniversary of the Hunley's sinking of the Housatonic.

Interesting video and article about a tribute to the Hunley Crew.

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As a person who hasn't cracked a book since college, I have made a resolution this year to try and read 1 book a month. For my first topic, I have settled on the Civil War. Now, my knowledge of the Civil War is pretty limited. The North wins, the South loses, slavery is abolished and Abraham Lincoln is in charge. That's about it. What I want is a good place to start. I would like to start off pretty broad, and gradually narrow my focus as I get into it deeper.

So, good 1st Civil War book recommendations? TIA.

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As a person who hasn't cracked a book since college, I have made a resolution this year to try and read 1 book a month. For my first topic, I have settled on the Civil War. Now, my knowledge of the Civil War is pretty limited. The North wins, the South loses, slavery is abolished and Abraham Lincoln is in charge. That's about it. What I want is a good place to start. I would like to start off pretty broad, and gradually narrow my focus as I get into it deeper.So, good 1st Civil War book recommendations? TIA.

Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPheron. It's been my main source for most of this thread, it's single volume and available at any bookstore. It does a good deal of explaining all of the events that brought the war about in addition to a fine discussion of the battles. Available at any bookstore.

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OK, timschochet, that's two Civil War threads now you haven't finished.

;)

This year is, of course, the sesquintennial of secession and Fort Sumter. The New York Times blog Opinionator started a series late last fall that will run through 2015. Today's entry is on the Confederate decision to relocate the capital from Montgomery, AL, to Richmond, VA.

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I have been negligent because I've been working on other projects. Mea culpa. Within a week or so I will continue posting in this thread; I haven't forgotten it. There are some very important events yet to cover.

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This year is, of course, the sesquintennial of secession and Fort Sumter.

:thumbup: Waiting on my tickets to arrive for the First Shot ceremony on the 12th.

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1865, continued.

The invasion of South Carolina had two strategic purposes: to destroy all war resources in Sherman's path, and to come up on Lee's rear to crush the Army of Northern Virginia in a vise between two larger Union armies, and in Grant's succint phrase, "wipe out Lee." Yet there was a third purpose in mind as well for Sherman's soldiers: to punish the state that had hatched this unholy rebellion. Sherman wrote to Halleck:

The truth is, the whole army is burning with an insatiable desire to wreak vengeance upon South Carolina. I almost tremble at her fate, but feel she deserves all that seems to be store for her.

South Carolina was destroyed. That is the only word that fits. It was destroyed through a corridor from south to north narrower than in Georgia but more intensely pillaged and burned. Not many buildings remained standing in some villages after the army marched through. The same was true of the countryside. It was not pretty, it was hardly glorious,but Sherman considered it effective, and it was. A South Carolinian wrote:

Our army is demoralized and the people panic-stricken,,,The power to do has left us,,,to fight longer seems to be madness.

Curiously enough, the city that had started the whole thing, Charleston, was spared. This may be because it surrendered to union troops in February, and perhaps some of the legends are true about Sherman having a pre-war romantic relationship with a Charleston southern belle and sparing the city because of it. But whatever the reason, travelers today who enjoy the beautiful buildings of historic Charleston (hopefully someday I will be one of them) are lucky the city wasn't razed to the ground like so much of the rest of South Carolina.

Sherman kept the enemy guessing about his ultimate objective until mid-March, when it became clear he was headed for Goldsboro and a junction with 30,000 additional bluecoats moving in from the coast. Johnston still had the remnants of an army, and on March 16 two of his divisions fought a delaying action against four of Sherman's at Averasborough, 30 odd miles south of Raleigh. From this affair the rebels learned that the two wings of Sherman's army were separated by a dozen or so miles. Johnston concentrated his infantry (17,000 men) to ambush about the same number of Federals strung out on the road in the advance of the left wing near Bentonville on March 19. The attackers achieved some initial success, but the Yankees dug in and repulsed several attacks during the afternoon. That night and next day the rest of Sherman's army was hard on the march to reinforce the left wing. On March 21 a Union division drove in the Confederate left, but Sherman called off the attack and let Johnston slip away during the night.

What prompted this reluctance to finish off an opponent he outnumbered by 3 to 1? Despite his fearsome reputation, Sherman was careful of the lives of his soldiers. "I don't want to lose men in a direct attack when it can be avoided," he said. He would rather win by strategy and manuever than by battle. He was confident that the war was nearly over and that his destruction of enemy resources had done much to win it. Johnston's small and demoralized force, in Sherman's view, hardly mattered any more. The important thing was to rest and refit his army for the move up to Virginia to help Grant "wipe out Lee."

Edited by timschochet

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I will be concluding my narrative in this thread in the next several days with posts covering the following subjects:

The fall of Petersburg

The fall of Richmond

Appomattox

The surrender

The assassination of Lincoln

Analysis of the American Civil War.

Edited by timschochet

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I will be concluding my narrative in this thread in the next several days with posts covering the following subjects:The fall of PetersburgThe fall of RichmondAppomattoxThe surrenderThe assassination of LincolnAnalysis of the American Civil War.

One of the more interesting artifacts in the Gettysburg Visitors Center was the fountain pen that Lee used to sign the surrender at Appomattox.

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The Fall of Petersburg

By March, Lee had become convinced that he must soon abandon the Petersburg lines to save his army from encirclement. This would mean the fall of Richmond, but better that than loss of the army which was the only thread holding the Confederacy together. To force Grant to contract his lines and loosen the stranglehold blocking a rebel escape, Lee planned a surprise attack on the enemy position just east of Petersburg. Southern corps commander John B. Gordon sent false deserters to fraternize with Yankee pickets in front of Fort Stedman on the night of March 24-25. The "deserters" suddenly seized the dumbfounded pickets, and Gordon's divisions swarmed into sleepy Fort Stedman. Capturing several batteries and a half-mile of trenches, the Confederates seemed to have achieved a smashing breakthrough. But a northern counterattack recaptured all lost ground plus the forward trenches of the Confederate line, trapping many of the rebels and forcing them to surrender. Lee lost nearly 5,000 men; Grant only 2,000. Instead of compelling Grant to shorten his lines, Lee had to thin his own to the breaking point. And Grant lost little time in breaking them.

On March 29 he ordered an infantry corps and Sheridan's cavalry, recently returned from the Shenandoah Valley, to turn the Confederate right 10 miles southwest of Petersburg. Lee sent George Pickett with two divisions of infantry though a drenching downpour to help the worn-down rebel cavalry counter this move. Hard fighting across a sodden landscape on the last day of March stopped the Federals temporarily. But next afternoon they launched an enveloping attack against Pickett's isolated force at the main junction of Five Forks. Sheridan's rapid firing troopers, fighting on foot, attacked head-on, while Gouvernor K. Warren's 5th Corps moved sluggishly against Pickett's flank. Storming up and down the line cajoling and god-damning the infantry to move faster and hit harder, Sheridan finally coordinated an assault that achieved the most one-sided Union victory since the long campaign began 11 months earlier in the Wilderness. Pickett's divisions collapsed, half of their men surrendering to the whooping Yankees and the other half running rearward in rout. When the news reached Grant that evening, he ordered an assault all along the line next morning, April 2.

At dawn it came, with more elan and power than the Army of the Potomac had shown for a long time. And the Army of Northern Virginia- weary, hungry, shorn of more than one-fifth of its strength by the fighting on March 25 and April 1- could no longer hold the Yankees off. Sheridan got astride the last railroad into Petersburg, and the blue infantry punched through Confederate lines at several places southwest of the city. The rebels fought desperately as they fell back, but it was only to hold onto the inner defenses until dark in order to get away.

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The Fall of Richmond Pt 1

As Jefferson Davis worshipped at St. Paul's Church in Richmond that balmy Sunday, April 1, 1865, a messenger tiptoed down the aisle and gave him a telegram. It was from Robert E. Lee: Richmond must be given up. Turning pale, the president left the church without a word. But parishoners read the message on his face, and the news spread quickly through the city. Everyone who could beg, borrow, or steal a conveyance left town. Government officials crowded aboard ramshackle trains headed for Danville with the Treasury's remaining gold and as much of the archives as they could carry, the rest being put to the torch. So was everything of military and industrial value in Richmond. As night came and the army departed, mobs took over and the flames spread.

Southerners burned more of their own capital than the enemy had burned of Atlanta or Columbia. When the Yankees arrived next morning, their first tasks were to restore order and put out the flames. Among the troops who marched into Richmond as firemen and policement were units from the all-black 25th Corps.

Following the northern soldiers into Richmond came a civilian- the number one civilian, in fact- Abraham Lincoln.

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I have some stuff on Five Forks at home, will try to post tonight. Very sad episode on both sides - reputations ruined, a questionable dismissal, and the death of one of the bravest, hardest fighting commander the war produced.

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The Fall of Richmond Pt. 2

The President had taken a short vacation from Washington to visit the Army of the Potomac, arriving just before it broke up the Confederate attack on Fort Stedman. Wanting to be there for the end, which now seemed imminent, Lincoln had stayed on as Grant's guest. Commander in chief and general in chief entered Petersburg on April 3 only hours after the Army of Northern Virginia had left. Grant soon rode west on the chase to head off Lee. Lincoln returned to the Union base on the James River and told Admiral David D. Porter:

Thank God I have lived to see this. It seems to me that I had been dreaming a horrid dream for four years, and now the nightmare is gone. I want to see Richmond.

Porter took Lincoln upriver to the enemy capital where the President of the United States sat down in the study of the President of the Confederate States 40 hours after Davis had left it.

Lincoln's visit to Richmond produced the most unforgettable scenes of this unforgettable war. With an escort of only 10 sailors, the president walked the streets while Porter peered nervously at every window for would-be assassins. But the Emancipator was soon surrounded by an impenetrable cordon of black people shouting,"Glory to God! Glory! Glory! Glory!" "Bless the Lord! The great Messiah! I knowed him as soon as I seed him. He's been in my heart four long years. Come to free his children from bondage. Glory, Hallelujah!" Several freed slaves touched Lincoln to make sure he was real. "I know I am free," shouted an old woman, "for I have seen Father Abraham and felt him." Overwhelmed by rare emotions, Lincoln said to one black man who fell on his knees in front of him:

Don't kneel to me. That is not right. You must kneel to God only, and thank Him for the liberty you will enjoy hereafter.

Among the reporters from northern newspapers who described these events was one whose presence was a potent symbol of the revolution. He was T. Morris Chester, who sat at a desk in the Confederate Capitol drafting his dispatch to the Philadelphia Press. "Richmond has never before presented such a spectacle of jubilee," he wrote. "What a wonderful change has come over the spirit of Southern dreams." Chester was a black man.

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Appomattox Pt 1

For Robert E. Lee and his army the dreams had turned into a nightmare. Reduced to 35,000 men, the scattered divisions from Petersburg and Richmond rendezvoused at Amelia Courthouse 35 miles to the west, where the starving men expected to find a trainload of rations. Because of a mixup they found ammunition instead, the last thing they needed since the worn-out horses could scarcely pull the ordnance the army was carrying. A delay to forage the countryside for food proved fatal. Lee had intended to follow the railroad down to Danville, where he could link up with Johnston and where Jefferson Davis on April 4 issued a rallying cry to his people:

Relieved from the necessity of guarding cities...with our army free to move from point to point...and where the foe will be far removed from his own base...nothing is now needed to render our triumph certain, but...our own unquenchable resolve.

But the foe was closer to Danville than Lee's army was. Racing alongside the retreating rebels a few miles to the south were Sheridan's cavalry and 3 infantry corps. On April 5 they cut the Danville railroad, forcing Lee to change direction toward Lynchburg and the Blue Ridge passes beyond.

But this goal too was frustrated by the weariness of Lee's despondent men and the speed of Union pursuers who sniffed victory and the end of the war. Stabbing attacks by blue cavalry garnered scores of prisoners, while hundreds of other southerners collapsed in exhaustion by the roadside and waited for the Yankees to pick them up. Along an obscure stream named Saylor's Creek on April 6, 3 Union corps cut off a quarter of Lee's army, captured 6,000 of them, and destroyed much of their wagon train. "My God," exclaimed Lee when he learned of this action. "Has the Army been dissolved?"

Not yet, but it soon would be.

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I have some stuff on Five Forks at home, will try to post tonight. Very sad episode on both sides - reputations ruined, a questionable dismissal, and the death of one of the bravest, hardest fighting commander the war produced.

Will try to circle back to this (George Pickett, G.K. Warren, Phil Sheridan and A.P. Hill are the primary characters), but tied up with other things for the next few days.

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Appomattox Pt. 2

As the remaining rebels trudged westward on April 7, Grant sent Lee a note under flag of truce calling on him to surrender. Lee responded with a feeler about Grant's terms. The northern commander offered the same terms as at Vicksburg: parole until exchanged. Since Lee's surrender would virtually end the war, the part about exchange was a mere formality. As the tension mounted on April 8- Grant had a splitting headache and Meade suffered from nausea- Lee parried with a vague proposal to discuss a general "restoration of peace", a political matter on which Grant had no authority to negotiate. Grant shook his aching head and commented, "It looks as though Lee meant to fight."

Lee did have that notion, intending to try a breakout attack against Sheridan's troopers blocking the road near Appomattox Courthouse on the morning of April 9. For the last time rebel yells shattered the Palm Sunday stillness as the gray scarecrows drove back Union horsemen- only to reveal two Yankee infantry corps coming into line behind them. Two other Union corps were closing in on Lee's rear. Almost surrounded, outnumbered by 5 or 6 to 1 in effective troops, Lee faced up to the inevitable. One of his subordinates suggested an alternative to surrender: the men could take to the woods and become guerrillas. It is interesting to ponder what would have become of the South if this had actually happened.

But Lee said no. He did not want all of Virginia devastated as the Shenandoah Valley had been. He said:

The (guerrillas) would become mere bands of marauders, and the enemy's cavalry would pursue them and overrun many sections they may never (otherwise) have occasion to visit. We would bring on a state of affairs it would take the country years to recover from.

With a heavy heart, Lee decided that

There is nothing left for me to do but go and see General Grant, and I would rather die a thousand deaths.

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Appomattox Pt. 3

Lee sent a note through the lines offering to surrender. Grant's headache and Meade's illness vanished. The bleeding and dying were over; they had won. To the home of Wilmer McLean went Lee and Grant for the surrender formalities. In 1861. McLean had lived near Manassas, where his house was a Confederate headquarters and a Yankee shell had crashed into his dining room. He moved to this remote village in southside Virginia to escape the contending armies only to find the final drama of the war played out in his living room.

The vanquished commander, six feet tall and erect in bearing, arrived in full-dress uniform with sash and jeweled sword; the victor, five feet eight with stooped shoulders, appeared in his usual private's blouse with mud-splattered trousers tucked into muddy boots- because his headquarters wagon had fallen behind in the race to cut off the enemy. There in McLean's parlor the son of an Ohio tanner dictated surrender terms to ths scion of a First Family of Virginia.

The terms were generous: officers and men could go home "not to be disturbed by U.S. authority so long as they observe their paroles and the laws in force where they may reside." This clause had great significance. Serving as a model for the subsequent surrender of other Confederate armies, it guaranteed southern soldiers immunity from prosecution for treason. Lee asked another favor. In the Confederate army, he explained, enlisted men in the cavalry and artillery owned their horses; could they keep them? Yes, said Grant; privates as well as officers who claimed to own horses could take them home "to put in a crop to carry themselves and their families through the next winter." "This will have the best possible effect upon the men," said Lee, and "will do much toward conciliating our people."

After signing the papers, Grant introduced Lee to his staff. As he shook hands with Grant's military secretary Ely Parker, a Seneca Indian, Lee stated a moment at Parker's dark features and said, "I am glad to see one real American here." Parker responded:

We are all Americans.

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Appomattox Pt 4

The surrender completed, the two generals saluted somberly and parted. "This will live in history," said one of Grant's aides. But the Union commander seemed distracted. Having given birth to a reunited nation, he experienced a post-partum melancholy. "I felt...sad and depressed," Grant wrote, "at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought." As news of the surrender spread through Union camps, batteries began firing joyful salutes until Grant ordered them stopped. "The war is over," he said, "the rebels are our countrymen again, and the best sign of rejoicing after the victory will be to abstain from all demonstrations." To help bring those former rebels back into the Union, Grant sent 3 days' rations for 25,000 men across the lines. This perhaps did something to ease the psychological as well as physical pain of Lee's soldiers.

So did an important symbolic gesture at a formal ceremony 3 days later when Confederate troops marched up to stack arms and surrender their flags. As they came, many among them shared the sentiments of one officer:

Was this to be the end of all the marching and fighting for the past four years? I could not keep back the tears.

The Union officer in charge of the surrender ceremony was Joshua L. Chamberlain, the fighting professor from Bowdoin who had won a medal of honor for Little Round Top, had been twice wounded since then, and was now a major general. Leading the southerners as they marched toward two of Chamberlain's brigades standing at attention was John B. Gordon, one of Lee's hardest fighters who now commanded Stonewall Jackson's old corps. First in line of march behind him was the Stonewall Brigade, 5 regiments containing 210 ragged survivors of 4 years of war. As Gordon approached at the head of these men with "his chin drooped to his breast, downhearted and dejected in appearance," Chamberlain gave a brief order, and a bugle call rang out. Instantly the Union soldiers shifted from order arms to carry arms, the salute of honor. Hearing the sound General Gordon looked up in surprise, and with sudden realization turned smartly to Chamberlain, dipped his sword in salute, and order his own men to carry arms. These enemies in many a bloody battle ended the war not with shame on one side and exultation on the other byt with a soldier's "mutual salutation and farewell."

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Yeah, McClellan was a putz.

Not completely. He's one of the more fascinating characters in the war, and he certainly has tons of flaws, but in other ways he was a very effective general. He would have been better off not being involved in battle decisions. If he had simply served in the Civil War the same way that George Marshall served in World War II, as the man who organized the armed forces and prepared it for others, McClellan might have gone down in history as one of our greatest military men. But his ego would not allow this.
No, he was a putz. His actions during the War and after are definately putz-like.
Personally, I think you're being kind.

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One of the more interesting artifacts in the Gettysburg Visitors Center was the fountain pen that Lee used to sign the surrender at Appomattox.

In addition, they have the hand-written note from Lee to Grant asking for a cessation of hostilities while terms were discussed.

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Yeah, McClellan was a putz.

Not completely. He's one of the more fascinating characters in the war, and he certainly has tons of flaws, but in other ways he was a very effective general. He would have been better off not being involved in battle decisions. If he had simply served in the Civil War the same way that George Marshall served in World War II, as the man who organized the armed forces and prepared it for others, McClellan might have gone down in history as one of our greatest military men. But his ego would not allow this.
No, he was a putz. His actions during the War and after are definately putz-like.
Personally, I think you're being kind.
:goodposting: If he had been in a George Marshall capacity he probably would have beaten Lincoln in '63, his drive for the Presidency was that great. As a battlefield commander his ability was below average. As an administrator he was fine but so was Joseph Hooker. Wars require men who want to fight. In every war the U.S. has been involved in there has been a period of transition from those administrators to the men who have the ability to wage war.Civil War series has been on PBS in my area the last few nights. I know many scholars think ill of it but I think it is pretty good television.

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Yeah, McClellan was a putz.

Not completely. He's one of the more fascinating characters in the war, and he certainly has tons of flaws, but in other ways he was a very effective general. He would have been better off not being involved in battle decisions. If he had simply served in the Civil War the same way that George Marshall served in World War II, as the man who organized the armed forces and prepared it for others, McClellan might have gone down in history as one of our greatest military men. But his ego would not allow this.
No, he was a putz. His actions during the War and after are definately putz-like.
Personally, I think you're being kind.
McClellan should be lauded for his organizational skills and his ability to improve the morale of the union troops as well as their fighting ability. He may have demonstrated tactical and strategic deficiencies, but in my view, he contributed more in making the Army of the Potomac an effective fighting machine than any other general. This was demonstrated by the accolades he received from his troops. Even though the army uniformly voted Lincoln in the 1864 election, it wasn't due to a lack of love for McClellan on the soldiers part.

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