Chapter 21 13 Themes

Chapter 21

The Furnace of the Civil War

Big ideas matter. Here are the most important themes for this chapter.

The over-arching theme of chapter 21 is that the North wore down and then forced the South to surrender.

  1. The North thought they could win in a quick war. After they lost at Bull Run, the quick-victory approach seemed to have been a mistake. A northern loss on “the Peninsula” at Richmond reinforced that this would be a long war.
  2. The South started the war winning. Turning point battles, which the North won, took place at (a) Antietam just before Lincoln’s “Emancipation Proclamation”, (b) Gettysburg which effectively broke the South’s back, and (c) Vicksburg which helped the North control the Mississippi River.
  3. Lincoln won a hard-fought reelection in 1864. He did so by starting the “Union Party” made of Republicans and pro-war Democrats and on the simplicity of the slogan, “You don’t change horses midstream.”
  4. General Sherman marched across Georgia and the South and reaped destruction. Worn down, the South began to lose battle after battle. These events drove the South to surrender at Appomattox Courthouse.

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