Chapter 21 (14th)

The Furnace of Civil War

  1. Bull Run Ends the “Ninety-Day War”
    1. The North (as well as the South) expected a short war, about 90 days.
    2. The Battle of Bull Run (AKA Battle of Manassas) squashed the short-war theories.
      1. Neither side was properly prepared. Many citizens picnicked along the edge of the battle as though tailgaiting at a sporting event.
      2. The battle went back and forth at first but Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson's men held their line and earned him his nickname.
      3. The North fell into a hectic retreat. The South was just as disorganized and thus could not pursue.
    3. On paper the South won, but the importance of Bull Run is that it showed each side the necessity of planning and preparation. The war then took a 9 month "time-out" for prep.
  2. “Tardy George” McClellan and the Peninsula Campaign
    1. 34 year old Gen. George McClellan was a master organizer and planner. He was put in charge of getting the U.S. Army ready.
      1. McClellan's weakness was that he never felt as though he'd prepared enough. He was always preparing, never fighting.
      2. Lincoln got tired of waiting around, said McClellan had "the slows", and ordered him to take action.
    2. McClellan's plan was to take Richmond, VA, the capital of the South. He still felt the North could win in one large battle and by taking the capital would likely accomplish that goal. He nearly pulled it off.
    3. The Peninsula Campaign ensued. The North moved by sea to and then up the historic Yorktown peninsula.
      1. Lincoln sent McClellan's reinforcements to guard Washington D.C. from Stonewall Jackson's bluff attacks.
      2. Confederate Jeb Stuart's calvary rode completely around McClellan (it was a major no-no to allow such a thing).
    4. Robert E. Lee struck back in the Seven Days' Battles and pushed McClellan back to the sea—a major win for the South. Casualties were in the ten-thousands and McClellan was demoted.
    5. Lincoln began to move toward a draft to free the slaves. With the quick-strike plan a failure, the North now turned to total war. Summed up, the plan was to blockade, divide, and conquer. The specifics were to…
      1. Put a naval blockade the South.
      2. Free the slaves.
      3. Divide the South along the Mississippi River.
      4. Divide and crush the South by marching through Georgia and the Carolinas.
      5. Capture the Southern capital of Richmond.
      6. Engage the enemy anywhere possible and grind them into submission.
    6. This plan was essentially Gen. Winfield Scott’s “Anaconda Plan” (a derogatory term that implied it was too slow). It was exactly what happened over the next four years.
  3. The War at Sea
    1. The North's blockade had many leaks. As the war went on, the blockade tightened up.
      1. Britain could've run through it but chose to honor it. They didn't want to possibly get into a war.
    2. "Running the blockade", or sneaking goods through, was risky but profitable business.
      1. Smugglers often used the Bahamas as jumping-off points before entering the Confederacy. The ship papers would often have Canada as the destination but just sneak into the South.
    3. Northern blockade-busters would often board British ships for an inspection. If the goods were thought destined for the South, they were seized. Britain complained, but never went beyond words.
    4. Southerners created a legitimate threat to the blockade with the C.S.S. Merrimack.
      1. The Merrimack was an ironclad—a ship heavily armored with iron and thus greatly protected from cannon fire.
      2. The North responded with the Monitor, also an ironclad.
      3. The Monitor and the Merrimack battled in Chesapeake Bay March 9, 1862. The Merrimack was chased away. The battle was a turning point in naval history in that…
        1. …it showed that (a) the days of wooden ships were ending and (b) the days of sailing vessels were changing to steam.
  4. The Pivotal Point: Antietam
    1. Shortly after the Peninsula Campaign, General Lee struck at Second Battle of Bull Run. Lincoln had placed Gen. John Pope in command.
      1. Gen. Pope "talked a good game", but was beaten badly by Lee and the South at Bull Run II.
    2. At this point, the South was clearly winning the war. But, Lee made his first mistake…he decided to invade the North at Antietam (AKA Sharpsburg, MD). The reason's for his decision were…
      1. (a) to perhaps lure the Border States to the South, (b) to draw the war out of Virginia during the harvest season,
      2. a victory on Northern soil would, (c) boost Southern morale and hurt Northern morale, and (d) perhaps stir up foreign/British support for the South.
    3. Lincoln put Gen. McClellan back in charge.
    4. Just prior to the fighting, Lee's battle plans were accidentally lost then luckily found by the North. Lee and the South lost the Battle of Antietam Creek, one of the largest battles of the war, on September 17, 1862.
      1. This battle was critical. If the South had won, they just might have won the entire war. And, the North's victory likely convinced Europe to stay out of the war.
      2. Also, it gave Lincoln a much awaited victory and a platform to announce the Emancipation Proclamation to free the slaves.
        1. The Emancipation Proclamation gave the North's fight a moral foundation. The previous cause for the war was to force the South to remain with the North, against the South's will. After the Proclamation, the cause for war was to restore the nation and to end slavery.
  5. A Proclamation Without Emancipation
    1. The Emancipation Proclamation had a few "hiccups" tied to it.
      1. It freed the slaves only in the seceded Southern states. But, it did not free the slaves in the Border States. Lincoln specifically made this point because he did not want to anger the Border States and make them join the South.
      2. The South considered itself a separate nation from the North. Why would anything a "foreign" president says be binding over them? In order for the Proclamation to go into effect, the North would have to win the war.
      3. Also, there were legal issues tied to the Proclamation. Did Lincoln actually have the authority to free the slaves? The short answer is, "No." The Constitution at the time did support slavery. A president cannot simply make a proclamation and undue the Constitution. This fact would be evidenced by the 13th Amendment right after the war, which freed the slaves. If the Proclamation had legally freed the slaves, there would've been no need for Amendment 13.
      4. Still, the Emancipation Proclamation was huge, if only symbolically, and gave the war its moral cause.
    2. Practically, there were effects of the Proclamation.
      1. If, and when, word of the Proclamation got to the slaves' ears, many slaves itched to up and leave. The Southerners complained that Lincoln was inciting slave rebellion.
  6. Blacks Battle Bondage This content copyright © 2010 by
    1. In the early years of the war, African-Americans were not allowed to enlist in the army. But, as numbers declined, the North opened up the army to black soldiers. They'd eventually comprise 10% of the Northern army.
    2. Southern forces largely just executed black soldiers as opposed to the usual custom of treating captured enemies as prisoners-of-war. Black soldiers were even massacred after surrendering at Ft. Pillow, TN.
      1. This event sparked the outcry by African-Americans, "Remeber Ft. Pillow!"
    3. Emancipation came to Southern blacks when the Northern army came. The Emancipation Proclamation didn't simply release and allow slaves to walk off the plantation. The force of the U.S. army freed the slaves as it marched forward.
  7. Lee’s Last Lunge at Gettysburg
    1. Gen. A.E. Burnside (the originator of "sideburns") was put in charge of the Northern army following Antietam.
      1. He was defeated soundly at Fredericksburg, VA when Union troops tried to swarm up a hill held by Confederates.
    2. Gen. Joseph Hooker was then placed in charge but was also defeated at Chancellorsville, VA.
      1. Gen. Lee was outnumbered but he out-maneuvered Hooker by splitting his forces and then sending Stonewall Jackson around to attack the flanks.
      2. Jackson was wounded by his own men there and later died.
      3. This battle is largely regarded as Gen. Lee's most impressive win.
    3. Gen. George Meade was then placed in charge of the Northern army. Lee invaded the North again, met Meade at Gettysburg, PA.
      1. The Battle of Gettysburg lasted 3 days (July 1-3, 1863). The South won the first 2 days by pushing the North out of town and into the hills.
      2. The North won the 3rd day and the overall battle. The 3rd day was highlighted by Pickett's Charge where Gen. Lee futilely sent 15,000 Southern troops across an open field.
    4. Gettysburg was "the big one". Although the war would drag on two more years, it essentially broke the back of the South and started the "countdown clock".
    5. In the autumn, Lincoln returned to Gettysburg to give the Gettysburg Address. The purpose of the 2 minute speech was to rally the troops, boost morale, and assert that the men who'd died hadn't die in vain.
  8. The War in the West
    1. Lincoln was having terrible luck finding a general to get the job done. His answer was finally found in Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.
      1. Grant had been mediocre to slightly above average most of his career.
      2. He came on the scene by achieving "Unconditional Surrender" early in the western theater of the Civil War (the term stuck as his nickname due to his initials: U.S. Grant).
    2. Grant was demoted after nearly getting wiped out at the Battle of Shiloh.
    3. His big break and redemption came at Vicksburg, MS where he circled around the city, took the capital of Jackson, MS, and then seized Vicksburg.
    4. Vicksburg came one day after Gettysburg and certainly pointed toward a Northern win. Also as certain, Southern hopes for foreign intervention were gone—no country helps the losing side in a war.
  9. Sherman Scorches Georgia
    1. The plan of "blockade, divide, and conquer" was coming to fruition.
      1. The blockade was in place, the South was being divided down the Mississippi River, and now was to be divided through Georgia.
    2. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman was put in charge of dividing the South by land.
      1. He pushed down from Chattanooga, TN and captured Atlanta, GA. Atlanta was burnt to the ground.
      2. Sherman then led his "March to the Sea". He spread out his men and scorched Georgia from Atlanta to Savannah on the coast. Everything was destroyed—farms, houses, crops, railroads, warehouses, fields, etc.
    3. Sherman declared "total war" meaning that even civilian property was to be destroyed. Thus the "conquer" part of the "blockade, divide, and conquer" plan was also being played out.
  10. The Politics of War
    1. Lincoln had his opponents up North, even among his fellow Republicans.
      1. "Radical Republicans" felt Lincoln wasn't doing enough to win the war, help blacks, or punish the South.
    2. Northern Democrats split over the war.
      1. "War Democrats" supported Lincoln and the war.
      2. "Peace Democrats" opposed Lincoln (calling him the "Illinois Ape") and the "Nigger War" that he led.
        1. Clement L. Valandigham was Lincoln's loudest opponent. He leaned toward the South, was tried for treason, shipped down South, fled to Canada, there ran and lost a bid for governor of Ohio, then returned to Ohio.
        2. This odd scenario inspired the fictitious story "The Man Without a Country."
  11. The Election of 1864
    1. War or not, elections go on. The 1864 presidential election saw Lincoln take on Gen. George McClellan (whom Lincoln had fired).
    2. McClellan was the Democratic candidate. His position was that Lincoln was mismanaging the war.
      1. Lincoln's most vicious opponents were called "Copperheads" since they "struck at Lincoln's heels." These critics usually came from the "Butternut Region"—southern Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio.
    3. Lincoln would come out victorious in his 1864 re-election because…
      1. He cleverly invented the "Union Party" which joined Republicans with War Democrats.
      2. He came up with the simple but clear slogan: "You don't change horses midstream."
      3. Union forces scored victories in New Orleans and Atlanta just prior to the election.
    4. The popular vote was 212-21, the electoral vote was 2.2 million to 1.8 million.
  12. Grant Outlasts Lee
    1. Ulysses S. Grant was known as the "meat-grinder" because he was willing to keep sending his men into battle even though they'd be killed. His motto was, "When in doubt, fight."
      1. He was willing to sacrifice twice as many casualties as his enemy because he knew the South could not sustain the fight as long as he could.
    2. Grant outlasted Lee over a string of battles including: The Wilderness, Spotsylvania Courthouse, Cold Harbor,and Petersburg.
      1. These battles were known for being very bloody. They earned nicknames like the "Bloody Angle" and "Hell's Half Acre".
      2. At Cold Harbor, soldiers pinned their names and addresses onto their backs. 7,000 men died in a few minutes.
    3. Richmond, VA, the capital of the South, finally fell and was destroyed.
    4. In April of 1865, surrounded, Gen. Lee surrendered to Gen. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia.
  13. The Martyrdom of Lincoln
    1. Only a few days after the South's surrender, Lincoln was assassinated. He was shot by John Wilkes Booth in the head while attending a play at Ford's Theatre in Washington.
    2. Lincoln became an instant martyr—a hero who died fighting for the nation and freedom of blacks.
    3. Southerners were glad to be rid of Lincoln. But, as irony would have it, things would turn much tougher for the South without Lincoln. The Radical Republicans who replaced Lincoln's authority were much less forgiving than Honest Abe would've been.
  14. The Aftermath of the Nightmare.
    1. The Civil War was immensely costly in many ways…
      1. It cost 600,000 lives, $15 billion, ripped away the best of a generation, instilled long-lasting animosity, and physically destroyed the South
    2. There were some benefits to the Civil War…
      1. It showed the resilience of the U.S. The nation had put itself through the ultimate test, and had survived.
      2. Slavery was erased from the United States.
      3. It put the U.S. onto the world stage as a major player and set up the U.S. to soon be the world leader.

This content is copyright © 2010 by and may not be copied or redistributed. It is protected at

Except for the 11th edition American History pages, the content of this site is copyright © 2010 by and may not be copied or redistributed. It is protected at