The Pendulum of War
Eleven states of the Confederacy established a
functioning government at Richmond in May 1861
with its armies in control of virtually all of the 750,000
square miles that constituted its national territory.
To “win” the war that began with Confederate seizure
of Fort Sumtur, the South needed only to defend
what it already possessed by repelling enemy
invasions and wearing out the will of the Northern
people to carry on war.
President Lincoln wished to achieve his war aims of
preserving the U.S. as a whole—a Union of all the
states—his armies would have to invade the
Confederacy, defeat its armies, conquer and occupy
its territory, and destroy its government
Taking Off the Kid Gloves
The first cloud on the horizon of Union military
success in 1862 appeared in the Shenandoah Valley.
The Union commander was General Nathaniel P.
Banks, one of the North’s “political generals”
appointed not because of his military skills but
because of his political influence.
It was Bank’s misfortune that he faced Confederate
General Thomas J. Jackson, known as “Stonewall.”
Jackson’s mission was to create a diversion that
would compel Lincoln to divert to the Valley some of
the reinforcements slated for McClellan
Jackson succeeded so well the he became one of
the most renowned commanders in the South and
most feared in the North until his death a year later
“The Federals Got a Very
Little good news for the Union came out of the
Western theaters to offset bad news in Virginia
during July and August.
In late June two previously unbeatable task forces,
supported by 3,000 army soldiers, tried in vain to
batter into submission this “Gibralter of the West” as
Confederates labeled it.
For several weeks in July 1862 the navy’s two
hundred guns and twenty-three mortars pounded
Vicksburg and took heavy fire in return. Northern
soldiers tried to dig a bypass canal out of range of
Vicksburg’s batteries, but low water in the Mississippi
foiled their efforts. In result more then half of the
soldiers got sick with different diseases.
Showdown at Sharpsburg
The first casualty of the Confederate
invasion was the anticipation that
Marylanders would flock to the Sothern
“Maryland, My Maryland”
Walter Taylor declared on September 7
that “now is the time for Maryland or
never. After this she does not rise, hush
up ‘My Maryland.’ ’’
The Beginning Of the End
The Army of Northern Virginia was not
destroyed at Antietam, as Lincoln had
hoped, nor was it beaten, as McClellan
claimed, but it was badly hurt.
Three of the nine division commanders,
nineteen of thirty-six brigade commanders,
and eighty-six of 173 regimental
commanders were killed or wounded.
This war went down as one of the most
brutal wars of our history.