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timschochet

The American Civil War Timeline- 150th Anniversary

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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.

Well, except maybe the cavalry. That saddle he designed was good for the horse, but took some getting used to for the rider.

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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.

It's good television, for sure, and has fantastic production values. But the problem with it is that it's presented as/seen by many as a complete, deep documentary, when it's really anything but. I didn't see it until after I read a ton about the war (including a few diaries), visited a few battlefields, etc, and while I liked the music / pictures / Foote, I was very disappointed with it overall because it just glossed over or ignored so much in favor of telling personal stories / reading letters that ultimately meant very little. I would almost say that the Burns series is not even a good starting point for someone interested in the war (the best starting point is the main book Tim used for this thread, Battle Cry of Freedom).

I guess I would have liked the Burns series better if it was presented as a character study of people during the war, and not the war itself.

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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.

It's good television, for sure, and has fantastic production values. But the problem with it is that it's presented as/seen by many as a complete, deep documentary, when it's really anything but. I didn't see it until after I read a ton about the war (including a few diaries), visited a few battlefields, etc, and while I liked the music / pictures / Foote, I was very disappointed with it overall because it just glossed over or ignored so much in favor of telling personal stories / reading letters that ultimately meant very little. I would almost say that the Burns series is not even a good starting point for someone interested in the war (the best starting point is the main book Tim used for this thread, Battle Cry of Freedom).

I guess I would have liked the Burns series better if it was presented as a character study of people during the war, and not the war itself.

Agreed. Good for television but not so much for scholarly work.

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The news of Lee's surrender traveled through a North barely recovered from boisterous celebrations of Richmond's capture. The fall of the rebel capital had merited a 900 gun salute in Washington, the surrender of Lee produced another 500. A reporter wrote:

From one end of Pennsylvania Avenue to the other the air seemed to burn with the bright hues of the flag...Almost by magic the streets were crowded with hosts of people, talking, laughing, hurrahing and shouting in the fullness of their joy. Men embraced one another, 'treated' one another, made up old quarrels, renewed old friendships, marched arm in arm singing.

Lincoln shared this joyous release of pent-up tension, but he was already thinking more of the future than of the past. While in Richmond he had met with John A. Campbell, one of the Confederate commissioners of the earlier Hampton Roads conference. Campbell was now ready to return to the Union on Lincoln's terms. He suggested an apparent way to undermine what was left of the southern war effort: allow the Virginia Legislature to meet so that it could withdraw the state's troops from the Confederacy. The president thought this a good idea and on April 6 gave the necessary permission. But Campbell misconstrued Lincoln's position to be one that recognized the legislature as the legitimate government of the state. Lincoln had no such purpose. He had authorized a meeting of "the gentlemen who had acted as the Legislature of Virginia...having power de facto to do a specific thing " but did not intend to recognize them as "the rightful Legislature." Lee's surrender which included nearly all of Virginia's soldiers made the whole matter academic, so Lincoln revoked his permission for the legislature to meet. And on April 11 he delivered from a White House balcony a carefully prepared speech on peace and reconstruction to a crowd celebrating Union victory. "There is no authorized organ for us to treat with," he said- thereby disposing of state governments as well as Jefferson Davis's fugitive government. "We must simply begin with, and mould from, disorganized and discordant elements," This he had done in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Tennessee. Defending the government of Louisiana, Lincoln conceded that he would prefer it to have enfranchised literate Negroes and black veterans. He hoped that it would soon do so; as for the unreconstructed states, Lincoln promised an announcement soon of a new policy for their restoration to the Union.

At least one listener interpreted this speech as moving Lincoln closer to the radical Republicans. Snarled John Wilkes Booth to a companion:

That means ###### citizenship. Now, by God, I'll put him through. That is the last speech he will ever make.

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This is some of the best cut-and-paste work I've ever seen.

Just throwing attributions to the wind here?

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This is some of the best cut-and-paste work I've ever seen.

Just throwing attributions to the wind here?

Very rarely have I ever cut and paste in this thread. Every source that I have used I have mentioned several times. The passages that I have used mainly for the end of the war is James McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom. This work is not available online; I have edited what I felt was important for the narrative and typed it in myself, often with my own commentary added.

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On April 15, 1865, John Wilkes Booth, a famous actor and Confederate sympathizer, fatally shot President Abraham Lincoln at a play at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. The attack came only five days after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his massive army at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, effectively ending the American Civil War.

Abraham Lincoln’s killer, John Wilkes Booth, was a Maryland native born in 1838 who remained in the North during the Civil War despite his Confederate sympathies. As the conflict entered its final stages, he and several associates hatched a plot to kidnap the president and take him to Richmond, the Confederate capital. However, on March 20, 1865, the day of the planned kidnapping, Lincoln failed to appear at the spot where Booth and his six fellow conspirators lay in wait. Two weeks later, Richmond fell to Union forces. In April, with Confederate armies near collapse across the South, Booth came up with a desperate plan to save the Confederacy.

Learning that Lincoln was to attend Laura Keene's acclaimed performance of "Our American Cousin" at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C., on April 14, Booth—himself a well-known actor at the time—masterminded the simultaneous assassination of Lincoln, Vice President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William H. Seward. By murdering the president and two of his possible successors, Booth and his co-conspirators hoped to throw the U.S. government into disarray.

Lincoln occupied a private box above the stage with his wife Mary, a young army officer named Henry Rathbone and Rathbone’s fiancé, Clara Harris, the daughter of New York Senator Ira Harris. The Lincolns arrived late for the comedy, but the president was reportedly in a fine mood and laughed heartily during the production.

At 10:15, Booth slipped into the box and fired his .44-caliber single-shot derringer into the back of Lincoln's head. After stabbing Rathbone, who immediately rushed at him, in the shoulder, Booth leapt onto the stage and shouted, "Sic semper tyrannis!" ("Thus ever to tyrants!"–the Virginia state motto). At first, the crowd interpreted the unfolding drama as part of the production, but a scream from the first lady told them otherwise. Although Booth broke his leg in the fall, he managed to leave the theater and escape from Washington on horseback.

A 23-year-old doctor named Charles Leale was in the audience and hastened to the presidential box immediately upon hearing the shot and Mary Lincoln’s scream. He found the president slumped in his chair, paralyzed and struggling to breathe. Several soldiers carried Lincoln to a house across the street and placed him on a bed. When the surgeon general arrived at the house, he concluded that Lincoln could not be saved and would die during the night.

Vice President Andrew Johnson, members of Lincoln's cabinet and several of the president's closest friends stood vigil by Lincoln's bedside until he was officially pronounced dead at 7:22 a.m. The first lady lay on a bed in an adjoining room with her eldest son Robert at her side, overwhelmed with shock and grief.

The president's body was placed in a temporary coffin, draped with a flag and escorted by armed cavalry to the White House, where surgeons conducted a thorough autopsy. Edward Curtis, an Army surgeon in attendance, later described the scene, recounting that a bullet clattered into a waiting basin during the doctors’ removal of Lincoln’s brain. He wrote that the team stopped to stare at the offending weapon, “the cause of such mighty changes in the world's history as we may perhaps never realize.” During the autopsy, Mary Lincoln sent the surgeons a note requesting that they clip a lock of Lincoln's hair for her.

News of the president's death traveled quickly, and by the end of the day flags across the country flew at half-mast, businesses were closed and people who had recently rejoiced at the end of the Civil War now reeled from Lincoln's shocking assassination.

The president’s corpse was taken to the White House, and on April 18 it was carried to the Capitol rotunda to lay in state on a catafalque. On April 21, Lincoln's body was boarded onto a train that conveyed it to Springfield, Illinois, where he had lived before becoming president. Tens of thousands of Americans lined the railroad route and paid their respects to their fallen leader during the train's solemn progression through the North. Lincoln and his son, Willie, who died in the White House of typhoid fever in 1862, were interred on May 4, 1865, at Oak Ridge Cemetery, near Springfield.

As the nation mourned, Union soldiers were hot on the trail of John Wilkes Booth, who many in the audience had immediately recognized. After fleeing the capital, he and an accomplice, David Herold, made their way across the Anacostia River and headed toward southern Maryland. The pair stopped at the home of Samuel Mudd, a doctor who treated Booth's leg. (Mudd’s actions earned him a life sentence that was later commuted). They then sought refuge from Thomas A. Jones, a Confederate agent, before securing a boat to row across the Potomac to Virginia.

On April 26, Union troops surrounded the Virginia farmhouse where Booth and Herold were hiding out and set fire to it, hoping to flush the fugitives out. Herold surrendered but Booth remained inside. As the blaze intensified, a sergeant shot Booth in the neck, allegedly because the assassin had raised his gun as if to shoot. Carried out of the building alive, he lingered for three hours before gazing at his hands and uttering his last words: "Useless, useless.”

Four of Booth’s co-conspirators were convicted for their part in the assassination and executed by hanging on July 7, 1865. They included David Herold and Mary Surratt, the first woman put to death by the federal government, whose boarding house had served as a meeting place for the would-be kidnappers.

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Analysis of the Civil War Pt. 1

Note: the following is taken from the epilogue to James McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom, and it provides a very interesting commentary worthy of some discussion:

The weeks after Booth fulfilled his vow on Good Friday passed in a dizzying sequence of events. Jarring images dissolved and reformed in kaleidoscopic patterns that left the senses traumatized or elated: Lincoln lying in state at the White House on April 19 as General Grant wept unabashedly at his catalfalque; Confederate armies surrendering one after another as Jefferson Davis fled southward hoping to re-establish his government in Texas and carry the war on to victory; Booth killed in a burning bomb in Virginia; seven million somber men, women, and children lining the tracks to view Lincoln's funeral train on its way back home to Springfield; the steamboat Sultana returning northward on the Mississippi with liberated Union prisoners of war blowing up on April 27 with a loss of life equal to that of the Titanic a half-century later; Jefferson Davis captured in Georgia on May 10, accused (falsely) of complicity in Lincoln's assassination, imprisoned and temporarily shackled at Fortress Monroe, Virginia, where he remained for two years until released without trial to live on until his 81st year and become part of the ex-Confederate literary corps who wrote weighty tomes to justify their cause; the Army of the Potomac and Sherman's Army of Georgia marching 200,000 strong in a Grand Review down Pennsylvania Avenue on May 23-24 in a pageantry of power of catharsis before being demobilized from more than one million soldiers to fewer than 80,000 a year later and an eventual peacetime total of 17,000; weary, ragged Confederate soldiers straggling homeward begging or stealing food from dispirited civilians who often did not know where their own next meal was coming from; joyous black people celebrating the jubilee of a freedom whose boundaries they did not yet discern; gangs of southern deserters, guerillas, and outlaws ravaging a region that would not know real peace for many years to come.

The terms of that peace and the dimensions of black freedom would preoccupy the country for a decade or more. Meanwhile the process of chronicling the war and reckoning its consequences began immediately and has never ceased. More than 620,000 soldiers lost their lives in 4 years of conflict- 360,000 Yankees and at least 260,000 rebels. The number of southern civilians who died as a direct or indirect result of the war cannot be known; what can be said is that the Civil War's cost in American lives was as great in all the nation's other wars combined through Vietnam. (Note- this paragraph was written in 1987, but I doubt this fact has changed up to today's date.) Was the liberation of 4 million slaves and the preservation of the Union worth the cost? That question too will probably never cease to be debated- but in 1865 few black people and not many northerners doubted the answer.

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Analysis of the Civil War Pt. 1

WASN'T THIS WHOLE THREAD AN ANALYSIS OF THE CIVIL WAR???????

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This is some of the best cut-and-paste work I've ever seen.

Just throwing attributions to the wind here?

Very rarely have I ever cut and paste in this thread. Every source that I have used I have mentioned several times. The passages that I have used mainly for the end of the war is James McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom. This work is not available online; I have edited what I felt was important for the narrative and typed it in myself, often with my own commentary added.
Yes, it is.

I'm just curious what the worth is of lifting wholesale sections of text and forming it into a thread.

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This is some of the best cut-and-paste work I've ever seen.

Just throwing attributions to the wind here?

Very rarely have I ever cut and paste in this thread. Every source that I have used I have mentioned several times. The passages that I have used mainly for the end of the war is James McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom. This work is not available online; I have edited what I felt was important for the narrative and typed it in myself, often with my own commentary added.
Yes, it is.

I'm just curious what the worth is of lifting wholesale sections of text and forming it into a thread.

After I completed the World War II thread, several people pmed me and urged me to do one for the Civil War. (Still later, others have urged me to do the same for a history of Israel, which I have now started.) It's been fun for me to do, but the purpose of course is that the narrative will result in discussion and debate. That has happened all throughout this thread, though of course I wish it had happened even more. I have received more praise, both public and private, for my efforts on these history threads than probably all of my other threads combined. They have been a lot of work, and I'm proud of them. Of course they are subject to be mocked as well. But I don't apologize for doing it. It's been well worth the effort.

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I'm just saying that most of what you are posting in here isn't original.

Well I'm glad you pointed that out, because I don't think anyone would have realized it otherwise.

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I'm just saying that most of what you are posting in here isn't original.

Well I'm glad you pointed that out, because I don't think anyone would have realized it otherwise.
I'm sure they do. I'm just wondering why you have often framed this as being some strange amalgam of your own work with that of books on the subject. It's basically 98% the latter.

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I'm just saying that most of what you are posting in here isn't original.

Well I'm glad you pointed that out, because I don't think anyone would have realized it otherwise.
I'm sure they do. I'm just wondering why you have often framed this as being some strange amalgam of your own work with that of books on the subject. It's basically 98% the latter.
I've never tried to frame it that way. I've stated my sources several times, and when I have my own comments to make, I always make it very clear that its my comments. If you go back and look through the thread, you will see that. I don't know whether its 2% or 5% or 1%, but only a very small percentage has been my own. The editing is my own, as I have chosen what to post and what to leave out.

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Heading out early this morning to the Commemoration Ceremony of the First Shot.

I'll be at Fort Johnson on James Island where they will reenact the opening shot of the war using an authentic 1840 ten-inch seacoast mortar, a match to the gun that fired the first shot in 1861. This shot will also signal the other reenactment camps around Charleston Harbor to open fire.

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Heading out early this morning to the Commemoration Ceremony of the First Shot.I'll be at Fort Johnson on James Island where they will reenact the opening shot of the war using an authentic 1840 ten-inch seacoast mortar, a match to the gun that fired the first shot in 1861. This shot will also signal the other reenactment camps around Charleston Harbor to open fire.

Would love to hear that sucker go off. Especially if they load it with a live round.

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Heading out early this morning to the Commemoration Ceremony of the First Shot.I'll be at Fort Johnson on James Island where they will reenact the opening shot of the war using an authentic 1840 ten-inch seacoast mortar, a match to the gun that fired the first shot in 1861. This shot will also signal the other reenactment camps around Charleston Harbor to open fire.

:thumbup: How far is it from Fort Johnson to Fort Sumter?

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Heading out early this morning to the Commemoration Ceremony of the First Shot.

I'll be at Fort Johnson on James Island where they will reenact the opening shot of the war using an authentic 1840 ten-inch seacoast mortar, a match to the gun that fired the first shot in 1861. This shot will also signal the other reenactment camps around Charleston Harbor to open fire.

:thumbup:

How far is it from Fort Johnson to Fort Sumter?

A little over 1.5 miles. This isn't a pretty map, but it gives you an idea: map

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Analysis of the Civil War Pt. 2

In time even a good many southerners came to agree with the sentiments of Woodrow Wilson (a native of Virginia who lived 4 years of his childhood in wartime Georgia) expressed in 1880 when he was a law student at the University of Virginia:

Because I love the South, I rejoice in the failure of the Confederacy...Conceive of this Union divided into two separate and independent sovereignities!...Slavery was enervating our Southern society...(Nevertheless) I recognize and pay loving tribute to the virtues of the leaders of secession...the righteousness of the cause which they thought they were promoting- and to the immortal courage of the soldiers of the Confederacy.

Wilson's words embodied themes that would help reconcile generations of southerners to defeat: their glorious forebears had fought courageously for what they believed was right; perhaps they deserved to win; but in the long run it was a good thing that they lost. This Lost Cause mentality took on the proportions of a heroic legend, a southern Gotterdammerung with Robert E. Lee as a modern day Siegfried.

But a persistent question has nagged historians and mythologists alike: if Marse Robert was such a genius and his legions so invincible, why did they lose? The answers, though almost as legion as Lee's soldiers, tend to group themselves into a few main categories. One popular answer has been phrased, from the northern perspective, by quoting Napoleon's aphorism that God was on the side of the heaviest battalions. For southerners this explanation usually took some such form as these words of a Virginian:

They never whipped us, Sir, unless they were 4 to 1. If we had had anything like a fair chance, or less disparity of numbers, we should have won our cause and established our independence.

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Analysis of the Civil War Pt. 2

In time even a good many southerners came to agree with the sentiments of Woodrow Wilson (a native of Virginia who lived 4 years of his childhood in wartime Georgia) expressed in 1880 when he was a law student at the University of Virginia:

Because I love the South, I rejoice in the failure of the Confederacy...Conceive of this Union divided into two separate and independent sovereignities!...Slavery was enervating our Southern society...(Nevertheless) I recognize and pay loving tribute to the virtues of the leaders of secession...the righteousness of the cause which they thought they were promoting- and to the immortal courage of the soldiers of the Confederacy.

Wilson's words embodied themes that would help reconcile generations of southerners to defeat: their glorious forebears had fought courageously for what they believed was right; perhaps they deserved to win; but in the long run it was a good thing that they lost. This Lost Cause mentality took on the proportions of a heroic legend, a southern Gotterdammerung with Robert E. Lee as a modern day Siegfried.

But a persistent question has nagged historians and mythologists alike: if Marse Robert was such a genius and his legions so invincible, why did they lose? The answers, though almost as legion as Lee's soldiers, tend to group themselves into a few main categories. One popular answer has been phrased, from the northern perspective, by quoting Napoleon's aphorism that God was on the side of the heaviest battalions. For southerners this explanation usually took some such form as these words of a Virginian:

They never whipped us, Sir, unless they were 4 to 1. If we had had anything like a fair chance, or less disparity of numbers, we should have won our cause and established our independence.

Same thing could be said for the Wehrmacht.

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Analysis of the Civil War Pt. 2

In time even a good many southerners came to agree with the sentiments of Woodrow Wilson (a native of Virginia who lived 4 years of his childhood in wartime Georgia) expressed in 1880 when he was a law student at the University of Virginia:

Because I love the South, I rejoice in the failure of the Confederacy...Conceive of this Union divided into two separate and independent sovereignities!...Slavery was enervating our Southern society...(Nevertheless) I recognize and pay loving tribute to the virtues of the leaders of secession...the righteousness of the cause which they thought they were promoting- and to the immortal courage of the soldiers of the Confederacy.

Wilson's words embodied themes that would help reconcile generations of southerners to defeat: their glorious forebears had fought courageously for what they believed was right; perhaps they deserved to win; but in the long run it was a good thing that they lost. This Lost Cause mentality took on the proportions of a heroic legend, a southern Gotterdammerung with Robert E. Lee as a modern day Siegfried.

But a persistent question has nagged historians and mythologists alike: if Marse Robert was such a genius and his legions so invincible, why did they lose? The answers, though almost as legion as Lee's soldiers, tend to group themselves into a few main categories. One popular answer has been phrased, from the northern perspective, by quoting Napoleon's aphorism that God was on the side of the heaviest battalions. For southerners this explanation usually took some such form as these words of a Virginian:

They never whipped us, Sir, unless they were 4 to 1. If we had had anything like a fair chance, or less disparity of numbers, we should have won our cause and established our independence.

Same thing could be said for the Wehrmacht.
As a matter of fact, the German Generals DID say the same thing. Repeatedly.

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Analysis of the Civil War Pt. 2

In time even a good many southerners came to agree with the sentiments of Woodrow Wilson (a native of Virginia who lived 4 years of his childhood in wartime Georgia) expressed in 1880 when he was a law student at the University of Virginia:

Because I love the South, I rejoice in the failure of the Confederacy...Conceive of this Union divided into two separate and independent sovereignities!...Slavery was enervating our Southern society...(Nevertheless) I recognize and pay loving tribute to the virtues of the leaders of secession...the righteousness of the cause which they thought they were promoting- and to the immortal courage of the soldiers of the Confederacy.

Wilson's words embodied themes that would help reconcile generations of southerners to defeat: their glorious forebears had fought courageously for what they believed was right; perhaps they deserved to win; but in the long run it was a good thing that they lost. This Lost Cause mentality took on the proportions of a heroic legend, a southern Gotterdammerung with Robert E. Lee as a modern day Siegfried.

But a persistent question has nagged historians and mythologists alike: if Marse Robert was such a genius and his legions so invincible, why did they lose? The answers, though almost as legion as Lee's soldiers, tend to group themselves into a few main categories. One popular answer has been phrased, from the northern perspective, by quoting Napoleon's aphorism that God was on the side of the heaviest battalions. For southerners this explanation usually took some such form as these words of a Virginian:

They never whipped us, Sir, unless they were 4 to 1. If we had had anything like a fair chance, or less disparity of numbers, we should have won our cause and established our independence.

Same thing could be said for the Wehrmacht.
As a matter of fact, the German Generals DID say the same thing. Repeatedly.

So did Monty Python's Black Knight.

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Some pictures and videos from this morning.

Ft. Sumter before sunrise

Looking back towards Charleston

The First Shot

I didn't have a good view of the cannon from where I was. You can see Ft. Sumter between the trees.

(this video is about 19 MB)

A later shot

After the crowd thinned out I was able to get a closer view of a later shot.

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Some pictures and videos from this morning.

Ft. Sumter before sunrise

Looking back towards Charleston

The First Shot

I didn't have a good view of the cannon from where I was. You can see Ft. Sumter between the trees.

(this video is about 19 MB)

A later shot

After the crowd thinned out I was able to get a closer view of a later shot.

Really cool stuff.

The last pic shows soldiers dressed in what looks like either a dark navy blue or black. Is this accurate?

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The last pic shows soldiers dressed in what looks like either a dark navy blue or black. Is this accurate?

Those are members of the Washington Light Infantry in their ceremonial uniforms.

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Analysis of the Civil War Pt. 3

The North had a potential manpower superiority of more than 3 to 1 (counting only white men) and Union armed forces had an actual superiority of 2 to 1 during most of the war. In economic resources and logistical capacity the northern advantage was even greater. Thus, in this explanation, the Confederacy fought against overwhelming odds; its defeat was inevitable.

But this explanation has not satisfied a good many analysts. History is replete with examples of peoples who have won or defended their independence against greater odds: the Netherlands against the Spain of Philip II; Switzerland against the Hapsburg Empire; the American rebels of 1776 against mighty Britain; North Vietnam against the United States of 1970. Given the advantages of fighting on the defensive in its own territory with interior lines in which stalemate would be victory against a foe who must invade, conquer, occupy, and destroy the capacity to resist, the odds faced by the South were not formidable. Rather, as another category of interpretations has it, internal divisions fatally weakened the Confederacy; the states-rights conflict between certain governors and the Richmond government; the disaffection of non-slaveholders from a rich man's war and poor man's fight; libertarian opposition to necessary measures such as conscription and the suspension of habeas corpus; unionists; the disloyalty of slaves who defected to the enemy whenever they had a chance; growing doubts among slaveowners themselves about the justice of their peculiar institution and their cause. "So the Confederacy succumbed to internal rather than external causes", according to numerous historians. The South suffered from a "weakness in morale", a "loss of the will to fight". The Confederacy did not lack "the means to continue the struggle", but "the will to do so."

I am going to interrupt the narrative here to comment: I don't know enough about the history of Spain vs. Netherlands, but I have a hard time finding the other two examples given as in any way analogous. Britain was far away from the colonies, and America was far away from Vietnam. The North was right next to the South. In addition, our goal in Vietnam was never to invade and overthrow North Vietnam. If that had been our goal, and if North Vietnam had been without allies, it would have been accomplished fairly easily.

I also don't buy this argument about lack of Southern morale. I have just spent the past year and a half detailing battle after battle in which lack of morale on behalf of the South was never a factor.

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Analysis of the Civl War Pt. 3

To illustrate their argument that the South could have kept fighting for years longer if it had tried harder, four historians have cited the instructive example of Paraguay. That tiny county carried on a war for 6 years (1865-71) against an alliance of Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay whose combined population outnumbered Paraguay's by nearly 30 to 1. Almost every male from 12 to 60 fought in the Paraguayan army; the country lost 56% of its total population and 80% of its men of military age in the war. Indeed, "the Confederate war effort seems feeble by comparison," for a mere 5% of the South's white people and 25% of the white males of military age were killed. To be sure, Paraguay lost the war, but its "tenacity... does exhibit how a people can fight when possessed of total conviction."

It is not quite clear whether these 4 historians think the South should have emulated Paraguay's example. In any case the "internal division" and "lack of will" explanations for Confederate defeat, while not implausible, are not very convincing either. The problem is that the North experienced similar internal divisions, and if the war had come out differently the Yankees' lack of unity and will to win could be cited with equal plausibility to explain that outcome. The North had its large minority alienated by the rich man's war/poor man's fight theme; its outspoken opposition to conscription, taxation, suspension of habeas corpus, and other war measures; its state governors and legislatures and congressmen who tried to thwart administration policies.

A number of historians have looked instead at the quality of leadership both military and civilian. There are several variants of an interpretation that emphasizes a gradual development of superior northern leadership. In Beauregard, Lee, the two Johnstons, and Jackson the South enjoyed abler military commanders during the first year or two of the war, while Jefferson Davis was better qualified by training and experience than Lincoln to lead a nation at war. But Lee's strategic vision was limited to the Virginia theater, and the Confederate government neglected the West, where Union armies developed a strategic design and the generals to carry it out.

Once again, I interrupt to comment: this theory seems to put the main blame of Southern defeat on the death of Albert Sidney Johnston, followed by the weakness in the western command- namely, Braxton Bragg and to a lesser extent Joseph Johnston. This is especially fascinating to me and it makes me wonder whether or not A S Johnston's death was even more catastrophic to the Confederacy than was Stonewall's. Would Johnston have won Shiloh, or defeated Grant at Vicksburg? Hopefully BobbyLayne or someone else familiar with these events can comment.

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McPherson finishes up by exploring the arguments in a little more detail and then making comments about the books which influenced him. It's well worth your time to read, as is the whole book. Though I used it heavily in this narrative, I only related a very small portion.

Anyhow, the narrative is now finished. Hope you guys enjoyed it, and those who stuck with the whole thing, my gratitude. I hope this thread will continue to exist as a means to discuss these events, perhaps in more detail as their 150th anniversary of many of the major battles comes up over the next few years.

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Some pictures and videos from this morning.

Ft. Sumter before sunrise

Looking back towards Charleston

The First Shot

I didn't have a good view of the cannon from where I was. You can see Ft. Sumter between the trees.

(this video is about 19 MB)

A later shot

After the crowd thinned out I was able to get a closer view of a later shot.

How cool that you were able to go!!! I really want to go to Gettysburg in July of 2013. :excited:

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McPherson finishes up by exploring the arguments in a little more detail and then making comments about the books which influenced him. It's well worth your time to read, as is the whole book. Though I used it heavily in this narrative, I only related a very small portion. Anyhow, the narrative is now finished. Hope you guys enjoyed it, and those who stuck with the whole thing, my gratitude. I hope this thread will continue to exist as a means to discuss these events, perhaps in more detail as their 150th anniversary of many of the major battles comes up over the next few years.

:thumbup: Third time was the charm. Congrats on finishing it.

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Some pictures and videos from this morning.

Ft. Sumter before sunrise

Looking back towards Charleston

The First Shot

I didn't have a good view of the cannon from where I was. You can see Ft. Sumter between the trees.

(this video is about 19 MB)

A later shot

After the crowd thinned out I was able to get a closer view of a later shot.

How cool that you were able to go!!! I really want to go to Gettysburg in July of 2013. :excited:
Get there early, and bring lots of water.

;)

Went to the 140th Antietam and the 145th Gettysburg. The big uns are an experience, but its a madhouse mob scene. I doubt I will go to very many over the next five years.

But I do hope to get to more Western Theater battlefields *(Shiloh, Vicksburg, Chickamauga), as that is where my ancestors fought.

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BL, care to answer my question about Albert Sidney Johnston? See the above post. If he hadn't been killed, would his leadership in the west made a decisive difference for the South in that theatre, as opposed to Bragg? Specifically, could he have held Grant out of Vicksburg long enough to allow Lee in the east to frustrate the Yankees and make the war seem unwinnable?

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Anyhow, the narrative is now finished. Hope you guys enjoyed it, and those who stuck with the whole thing, my gratitude. I hope this thread will continue to exist as a means to discuss these events, perhaps in more detail as their 150th anniversary of many of the major battles comes up over the next few years.

I've enjoyed it. Sure it dragged and was tedious at times, but the war was the same way.I'll continue to use this thread for any sesquicentennial events I happen to attend.

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BL, care to answer my question about Albert Sidney Johnston? See the above post. If he hadn't been killed, would his leadership in the west made a decisive difference for the South in that theatre, as opposed to Bragg? Specifically, could he have held Grant out of Vicksburg long enough to allow Lee in the east to frustrate the Yankees and make the war seem unwinnable?

I haven't read a bio of A.S. Johnston, so I don't know if I'm qualified to answer. Most of my knowledge about him comes from general narrative histories such as McPherson, books about Shiloh, and Thomas Connelly's two-volume magnum opus on the Army of Tennessee (Army of the Heartland and Autumn of Glory).

Its always postulated as the great what if of the western theater. I don't know; he seemed to have way too much territory to cover, and not enough troops. He had to defend from the foothills of eastern Tennessee to confluence of the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers - the key to everything, though only Brig. Gen. Grant seemed to realize it at the time - and all the way down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico. I think the task was impossible for anyone.

He suffered from paralysis of analysis before the fall of Forts Henry and Donelson, and blundered his way into Shiloh by letting Beauregard screw up the order of march. Send in four columns instead of four waves at Pittsburgh Landing, and THAT, my friend, is a game changer.

But to me it all harkens back to the decision very early on to move the capital to Richmond. The focus of the war was bound to be Virginia centric from that moment on, and the fate of the Confederacy was sealed IMO.

Another way of looking at A.S. Johnston - he had tremendous prewar reputation. Almost no one *(Lee the obvious exception) who was elevated to military in power in 1861 made the transition from soft war to hard war. The archetype of the romantic call to duty in summer of 1861 in no way resembled the bitter War is Hell of 1864 onward. Col. Grant, soon to be Brig. Gen. Grant, destined to be the first four star general since Washington, was allowed to earn his promotions through his battlefield exploits. But Halleck, McClellan, the Pathfinder, P.G.T.B., Joe Johnston - all suffered significant setbacks or were set aside after failing to meet expectations. I suspect Albert Sidney would have been a similar political casualty had he not met his untimely death.

But no one person knows. It may have made a huge difference. History might have turned out completely differently had he lived.

Isn't that part of what fascinates about this war 150 years later? What happened is a compelling story, the central event of our history. Yet it tantalizes the imagination to wonder how it might have gone differently. Was it really a foregone conclusion? Or was it a near thing? No one really knows. So the conversation goes on and on...

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BL, care to answer my question about Albert Sidney Johnston? See the above post. If he hadn't been killed, would his leadership in the west made a decisive difference for the South in that theatre, as opposed to Bragg? Specifically, could he have held Grant out of Vicksburg long enough to allow Lee in the east to frustrate the Yankees and make the war seem unwinnable?

I haven't read a bio of A.S. Johnston, so I don't know if I'm qualified to answer. Most of my knowledge about him comes from general narrative histories such as McPherson, books about Shiloh, and Thomas Connelly's two-volume magnum opus on the Army of Tennessee (Army of the Heartland and Autumn of Glory).

Its always postulated as the great what if of the western theater. I don't know; he seemed to have way too much territory to cover, and not enough troops. He had to defend from the foothills of eastern Tennessee to confluence of the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers - the key to everything, though only Brig. Gen. Grant seemed to realize it at the time - and all the way down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico. I think the task was impossible for anyone.

He suffered from paralysis of analysis before the fall of Forts Henry and Donelson, and blundered his way into Shiloh by letting Beauregard screw up the order of march. Send in four columns instead of four waves at Pittsburgh Landing, and THAT, my friend, is a game changer.

But to me it all harkens back to the decision very early on to move the capital to Richmond. The focus of the war was bound to be Virginia centric from that moment on, and the fate of the Confederacy was sealed IMO.

Another way of looking at A.S. Johnston - he had tremendous prewar reputation. Almost no one *(Lee the obvious exception) who was elevated to military in power in 1861 made the transition from soft war to hard war. The archetype of the romantic call to duty in summer of 1861 in no way resembled the bitter War is Hell of 1864 onward. Col. Grant, soon to be Brig. Gen. Grant, destined to be the first four star general since Washington, was allowed to earn his promotions through his battlefield exploits. But Halleck, McClellan, the Pathfinder, P.G.T.B., Joe Johnston - all suffered significant setbacks or were set aside after failing to meet expectations. I suspect Albert Sidney would have been a similar political casualty had he not met his untimely death.

But no one person knows. It may have made a huge difference. History might have turned out completely differently had he lived.

Isn't that part of what fascinates about this war 150 years later? What happened is a compelling story, the central event of our history. Yet it tantalizes the imagination to wonder how it might have gone differently. Was it really a foregone conclusion? Or was it a near thing? No one really knows. So the conversation goes on and on...

Good stuff, thanks.

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Some pictures and videos from this morning.

Ft. Sumter before sunrise

Looking back towards Charleston

The First Shot

I didn't have a good view of the cannon from where I was. You can see Ft. Sumter between the trees.

(this video is about 19 MB)

A later shot

After the crowd thinned out I was able to get a closer view of a later shot.

How cool that you were able to go!!! I really want to go to Gettysburg in July of 2013. :excited:
Get there early, and bring lots of water.

;)

Went to the 140th Antietam and the 145th Gettysburg. The big uns are an experience, but its a madhouse mob scene. I doubt I will go to very many over the next five years.

But I do hope to get to more Western Theater battlefields *(Shiloh, Vicksburg, Chickamauga), as that is where my ancestors fought.

My ancestor fought and was wounded at Gettysburg. If I had the money, I'd go see all the battlefields. :sigh:

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Some pictures and videos from this morning.

Ft. Sumter before sunrise

Looking back towards Charleston

The First Shot

I didn't have a good view of the cannon from where I was. You can see Ft. Sumter between the trees.

(this video is about 19 MB)

A later shot

After the crowd thinned out I was able to get a closer view of a later shot.

How cool that you were able to go!!! I really want to go to Gettysburg in July of 2013. :excited:
Get there early, and bring lots of water.

;)

Went to the 140th Antietam and the 145th Gettysburg. The big uns are an experience, but its a madhouse mob scene. I doubt I will go to very many over the next five years.

But I do hope to get to more Western Theater battlefields *(Shiloh, Vicksburg, Chickamauga), as that is where my ancestors fought.

My ancestor fought and was wounded at Gettysburg. If I had the money, I'd go see all the battlefields. :sigh:
That is awesome, Mrs. BSR! What was his unit? Do you have any details?

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Some pictures and videos from this morning.

Ft. Sumter before sunrise

Looking back towards Charleston

The First Shot

I didn't have a good view of the cannon from where I was. You can see Ft. Sumter between the trees.

(this video is about 19 MB)

A later shot

After the crowd thinned out I was able to get a closer view of a later shot.

How cool that you were able to go!!! I really want to go to Gettysburg in July of 2013. :excited:
Get there early, and bring lots of water.

;)

Went to the 140th Antietam and the 145th Gettysburg. The big uns are an experience, but its a madhouse mob scene. I doubt I will go to very many over the next five years.

But I do hope to get to more Western Theater battlefields *(Shiloh, Vicksburg, Chickamauga), as that is where my ancestors fought.

My ancestor fought and was wounded at Gettysburg. If I had the money, I'd go see all the battlefields. :sigh:
You could spend days at the Gettyburg battlefield. It really is a special place. Of all the battlefields I've visited, Gettysburg and Pointe du Hoc stand out.

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My SCV Camp is unveiling a new monument this weekend.

Civil War dead to be honored

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For NYC ACW dorks:

Word for Word Non-Fiction at the Bryant Park Reading Room

In commemoration of the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Civil War, the Bryant Park Reading Room, in partnership with the New-York Historical Society and Oxford University Press, presents a lecture series by eminent scholars discussing their most recent books on the Civil War.

For more information, please visit www.nyhistory.org or www.bryantpark.org.

Note Location: The following programs will be held at the Reading Room in Bryant Park. The Reading Room is located on the 42nd Street side of the park between 5th and 6th Avenues. Look for the burgundy and white umbrellas.

Rain Venue: The General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen, 20 West 44th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues). Please note that not all rooms in The General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen are handicapped accessible. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Reservations: Free Admission. No advance reservation is required.

Civil War Lecture with Harold Holzer

Wednesday, July 13, 7 pm

With Harold Holzer

Distinguished scholar Harold Holzer discusses a new compilation of original, first-hand reportage that appeared in The New York Times during the Civil War.

Civil War Lecture with James McPherson

Wednesday, July 20, 7 pm

With James M. McPherson

Pulitzer Prize-winning author James M. McPherson discusses his book, Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander-in-Chief, a riveting account of how Lincoln won the Civil War and invented the role of commander-in-chief as we know it.

:thumbup:

That's right, the author of Battle Cry of Freedom - timschochet's primary source for this thread - is coming to town.

FWIW, I've heard him lecture several times, and he's very entertaining.

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Had a Civil War class in college that was one of the best classes I've ever had in my life.

Our "textbook" was McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom.

They have a nice documentary of McPherson's on Netflix.

I highly suggest.

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