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Union & Confederate Homefronts & the Collapse of the Confederacy


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This presentation covers the Confederate and Union Home Fronts during the Civil War. It is one in a series of presentations designed for a college level seminar on the Civil War and Reconstruction wherein students watch the presentation to get general knowledge that will prepare them for the discussion of recent scholarship.

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Union & Confederate Homefronts & the Collapse of the Confederacy

  1. 1. The Civil War and Reconstruction
  2. 2.  Union states sent nearly 40% of their military age men to fight in the war. Many of these men did not survive and those who did, were not the same.  Historians have been able to learn a great deal about what happened on the battlefield and on the homefront from the correspondence between soldiers and their families. The effects of war left deep social and emotional wounds in the lives of soldiers’ families.  The wives of enlisted men often had to work to supplement their husband’s pay.  Many families that lost sons, husbands, and fathers would have a difficult time recovering from the emotional loss.
  3. 3.  Union women had already been working outside of the home before the war but the war pushed more women into the workforce. Other women felt compelled to support the war effort by becoming nurses, working in hospitals, serving as spies and messengers, and even fighting in the war disguised as men. Still other women supported the war effort by doing volunteer work—making uniforms, preserving food stuffs, raising funds, sending supplies to men.  The Women’s Central Relief Association coordinated these women’s work and provided invaluable support to the United States Sanitation Commission.
  4. 4. Women SoldiersAlthough Civil Warwomen are generallydepicted as help-mates to soldiers,they served in themilitary disguised asmen.
  5. 5. Union NursesClara Barton was one ofmany women whorushed to provide reliefto wounded soldiers.She was critical to theArmy MedicalDepartment’s finallygetting enough suppliesto tend to soldiers.Barton served at CedarMountain, Second BullRun, Antietam, andFredericksburg.She would later help tofound the AmericanRed Cross.
  6. 6. African AmericanUnion WomenHarriet Tubman wasone of many AfricanAmerican womenwho provided serviceto the Union armyduring the war.Although mostknown for herUndergroundRailroad activism,she served as a nurse,a cook, and a spyduring the Civil War.
  7. 7.  The economic recession that began before the war continued until 1862 when the recovery began. Although military service sapped the number of male workers, the entrance of native born women and children and large numbers of immigrants into the workforce as well as the development of new technologies eased the burden and allowed the economy to grow. Industrial production increased as did the number of national unions designed to protect the interests of workers.
  8. 8.  Cities continued to grow and soon they were filled with such attractions as theaters, circuses, parks, baseball games, opera, resorts, carnivals and shows. A criminal underclass emerged as people seeking to profit from the war and crime and corruption rose. Both public and private organizations emerged to provide relief not only to soldiers’ families but also to the poor. Women’s volunteer work on behalf of soldiers in the Women’s Central Relief Association gave rise to the United States Sanitary Commission which provided medical care and services to soldiers.
  9. 9.  In 1864, Lincoln faced political opposition to his reelection from both Republicans and Democrats.  Republican opponents to Lincoln nominated John C. Frémont, the Free Soil candidate and general whom Lincoln removed for issuing and order that enslaved Missourians be freed.  Frémont eventually withdrew from the race.  Lincoln won the party’s nomination and in 1864 the Republicans restyled themselves as the National Union party.  In the summer, some Republicans called for a stronger candidate.  Their platform included an insistence on the CSA’s unconditional surrender, a nascent plan for reconstruction, support for a Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery, encouragement of immigration and funding for the building of a Pacific railroad.  The party was by no means solidly behind all of these issues.
  10. 10.  In 1864, Lincoln faced political opposition to his reelection from both Republicans and Democrats.  Many Democrats supported war for the restoration of the Union but as the war went on, a faction in the party started advocating a Peace Movement, led by Clement Vallandigham.  The terms of negotiating peace with the CSA involved such issues as surrender, amnesty to Confederates, the terms of state readmission to the Union, the Emancipation Proclamation, and compensation to slaveholders.  In the end, Democrats nominated George C. McClellan, the general who was loved by soldiers but who clashed so often with Lincoln. Lincoln won 55% of the vote in the election.
  11. 11. Civil War WomenWomen served amultitude of roles inthe Civil War, bothon the battlefieldand the home front.
  12. 12.  Because much of the Civil War was fought in the CSA, southerners experienced the horrors of war more directly than did their Union counterparts. They experienced moving armies and in different parts of the region, some of them were even occupied by both the CSA and USA armies.  See for example Drew Gilpin Faust’s Mothers of Inventionfor coverage of women and Anya Jabour’sTopsy-Turvyanalysis of children. Some 50,000 civilians died of war related problems like epidemics, starvation, stray bullets.
  13. 13.  Once it became clear to the USA that they couldn’t easily vanquish the CSA, officials opted for occupation, seizing control and setting up in Tennessee, in Louisiana near New Orleans, and in select areas of Virginia and along the Atlantic Coast. The primary objective was to remove Confederate officials from power and restore local communities to the Union’s fold. Occupation proved to be an effective war strategy not only for its ability to allow the USA togain control over CSA territory but also for its demoralization of proud Confederates.
  14. 14.  One striking example of the demoralizing effects of occupation was Benjamin Butler’s Woman Order. During the occupation of New Orleans, Butler and his men encountered proud and defiant Confederate sympathizers in women who broadcast their loyalty to the CSA (and opposition to the USA) by their dress (adorning themselves in CSA garb) and their sometimes callous treatment of Union soldiers while still demanding the protections of a lady. Historians believe that to avoid a likely violent incident in which the women’s behavior elicited a response from the men, Butler issued his famous General Order No. 28, which became known as the “Woman Order.”
  15. 15. Benjamin Butler’s War Order Butler indicated that women who didn’t comport themselves as ladies could not expect to be treated as ladies and might be treated as callously as prostitutes were treated. Confederates interpreted this as an authorization of rape but Butler and his supporters saw it as a way to make southerners accept This image depicts the effects of the order on occupation and to keep the peace. the behavior of Confederate women.
  16. 16. Confederate SpiesRose O’NealGreenhow was one ofthe most successfulCSA spies.Her activities led toher arrest severaltimes and her exilefrom Maryland intothe CSA.
  17. 17.  Other occupying Union generals encountered resistance. In some places Union forces seized buildings and destroyed Confederate plantations, including Jefferson Davis’s. In the end, the Union’s occupation of land and confiscation of goods sapped the resolve to continue fighting of many Confederates.
  18. 18. Squeezing the CSA It took a while for the USA’s blockade to work but when it did, it deprived the CSA of access to valued goods like salt, which people used to preserve foodstuffs.“A Confederate salt factory, with approaching Unionraiding ships in the background.”
  19. 19.  As the war went on with no end in sight, the effects of the CSA’s policies of conscription and impressment of goods started to take their toll on the civilian and military population. The military men who survived the horror of battle faced insufficient food, clothing, and pay, which made less inclined to continue fighting in what some characterized as a lost cause. At the same time, they felt the pressure to provide relief for their family members who were suffering in their absence.
  20. 20.  CSA conscription stripped many working class and poor families of the men who helped provide for the family’s basic needs. Longterm military service combined with the CSA’s impressment of 10% of whatever families produced left many civilians starving. Both men and their families called upon the CSA for relief for their families to little avail. The combined effects of continued battle and significant hardship at home triggered desertion. Deserters left individually but as the war continued, they also departed in groups. The significant loss of men to death on the battlefield and to desertion made it much harder for the CSA to wage war effectively.
  21. 21.  With so many of the males fighting the war, with much of the war being fought in their communities, and with occupying forces, Confederate women of all classes faced significant hardship. Women were left to manage farms and plantations in the absence of men and sometimes the absence of slaves who ran away. Initially, they volunteered enthusiastically to nurse soldiers, teach children, and provide goods and uniforms for soldiers but this wore off. They bore alone the hardship of losing multiple male kin.
  22. 22.  Some historians argue that they railed against what appeared during the war to be men’s inability to provide them with the protection and care they needed. Poor women faced significant hardship in that in the absence of men, they had fewer people to help grow basic food stuffs. Their problems were compounded by the blockade and by profiteering in the CSA which drove up the price of food.
  23. 23. Bread RiotsConditions ofhardship as well asineffective policiesof the CSA tomanage civilian lifeled someConfederate womento wage riots forbread and foodstuffsin 1863.The women’sactions forcedgovernors as well asCSA officials toprovide relief.
  24. 24.  The Bread Riots exposed the class divisions in the CSA and how the civilian burden of the war was being carried by the poor. Some CSA officials tried to develop nationalized programs and policies to increase food production and provide relief to the civilian population but this contradicted many southerners’ cultural beliefs in small government. CSA officials tried to regulate production of goods and to limit profiteering but this was met with swift resistance by civilians and by state officials. Some historians argue that what the CSA needed to wage and win the war was a nationalization program that allowed Davis, Congress, and the generals to harness all of the resources at their disposal. The principles of white southern life—states’ rights, protection of the individual rights of white males—made it difficult for them to do, which in turn made it harder for them to fight the war.
  25. 25.  The Union occupation and advancement in 1864-1865 combined with the CSA’s sociopolitical challenges further demoralized Confederates. In North Carolina and Georgia a peace movement emerged. After the 1863 election, Jefferson Davis faced a more hostile CSA Congress, as Confederates became more vocal in their opposition to his management of the war. Civilians continued to defy official CSA policies re: not trading with the enemy. They resisted strongly the CSA’s policies to confront political subversion. Even when generals like Robert E. Lee called for enlisting enslaved men to fill the CSA’s depleted ranks, it took so long for Congress to authorize enlistment (March 20, 1865) that it was too late.
  26. 26. Failure to obtainEuropeanrecognitionThis cartoon depictsJefferson Davistrying(unsuccessfully) toobtain NapoleonIII’s recognition ofthe CSA after Francedeclared itselfneutral in the CivilWar.
  27. 27.  Despite uneven numbers, the CSA proved itself to be a serious contender. Their willingness and ability to fight for their independence resulted in enough early and continuing victories in such places as Bull Run, Chancellorsville, and the Crater that they were even more emboldened to fight. Nevertheless, even with these significant wins, the CSA’s continued loss of men to battlefield death and to desertion depleted the ranks. At the same time, Union’s occupation, blockade, and increasing number of battlefield victories (beginning in 1863) combined with hardship on the home front sapped the CSA’s resolve to fight.
  28. 28. John Bell HoodThe CSA’s John BellHood moved fromAtlanta towardTennessee, hoping todraw Union forces awayfrom Confederateterritory, where heencountered the USA’sJohn Schofield outsideNashville.Hood’s forces assaultedSchofield’s entrenchedmen and in the processsuffered 6300 casualties,including severalgenerals and regimentalcommanders.
  29. 29. John SchofieldSchofield suffered2000 casualties andmade his way toNashville where heconnected withGeorge Thomas.Hood followed andtried to lay siege tothe city.Thomas’s forcesstruck back, pushingHood’s forces out ofthe city, ending thewestern campaign.
  30. 30.  Lee replaced Hood with Joseph E. Johnston with orders to stop Sherman from advancing through the Carolinas but neither he nor William Hardee were able to halt Sherman’s march. Lee faced his own challenges of with confronting Grant at Petersburg. With these and other defeats, the residual morale of civilians evaporated. CSA calls for more men went unanswered and civilians did not resist when Union forces advanced.
  31. 31.  In February, a peace conference was in Hampton Roads, Virginia. Lincoln’s terms:  Reunion  Emancipation  No suspension of fighting as the CSA requested Davis balked at these terms:  The CSA wanted compensation for slaveholders  A temporary suspension of fighting so that they could regroup. Lincoln was flexible on a number of terms, including emancipation, but he would not budge on the issues of reunion and his insistence that CSA armies disband. The conference ended without agreement so the fighting continued.
  32. 32.  Union officials continued to fight and Grant combined his forces with those of Sherman, Sheridan, and Meade and made his move toward Lee where he was dug in at Petersburg. The USA’s forces besieged Lee’s army at Five Forks, many of Lee’s men were without adequate food. Lee evacuated Petersburg the next day heading towards Lynchburg . Union forces took the city and Grant moved his men to stop Lee from joining up with Johnston. Jefferson Davis and his cabinet fled Richmond leaving the city in chaos. On April 3, Union forces entered the city led by African American soldiers. Lincoln entered the city the next day before he visited Libby Prison where POWs had been held.
  33. 33. Five ForksOne of the lastmajor battles was atFive Forks.
  34. 34. Lee Surrenders toGrantGrant stoppedLee fromescaping andinitiateddiscussionsabout surrender.Lee agreed,hoping to avoidlosing any moremen.
  35. 35.  The terms of surrender included:  Lee and his men being released once they promised not to take up arms against the U.S.  They had to turn over their weapons and surrender public property.  Grant allowed Lee’s officers to keep their weapons and he allowed soldiers to keep their horses and mules.  Grant supplied rations to Lee’s hungry men. Although Lee suffered casualties and desertions, there were still 60000 troops remaining. Rather than continue to wage war informally, as some, including Jefferson Davis preferred, Confederates lay down their arms.
  36. 36. Assassination ofAbraham LincolnOn April 14, JohnWilkes Booth andother Confederatesympathizers struckUnion officials.Wilkes assassinatedLincoln and anotherconspirator attackedSecretary of StateWilliam Sewardbefore they fled andwere eventuallycaptured.
  37. 37. JohnstonSurrenders toShermanJohnstonsurrendered onApril 17 after helost atBentonville, afterhe learned of thefall of Richmondand Petersburg &Lee’s surrender,and then foundhimself facing thecombined forcesof Schofield andSherman.
  38. 38. Truce at MobileThe CSA’s Lt. GeneralRichard Taylorcommanded theDepartment ofAlabama, Mississippi,& Louisiana.After Mobile fell toUnion forcesandTaylorlearned thatJohnston hadsurrendered toSherman, he and his12,000 troopssurrendered.
  39. 39. Capture ofJefferson DavisWhen Davis fledRichmond, he hopedto continue wagingwar.On May 10, Unionforces under the FirstWisconsin and FourthMichigan cavalriescaptured Davis andtransferred him toprison at FortressMonroe, where heremained imprisonedfor two years.
  40. 40. Surrender of the Trans-MississippiDepartmentThe CSA’s Lt. GenEdmund Kirby Smithcommanded forces westof the Mississippi afterVicksburg.By the spring of 1865there were only smallnumbers of CSA forceswest of the river.Smith held out onaccepting Grant’s termsbut increasingly his menunderstood the war wasover and Lt Gen SimonBuckner surrendered theTrans-MississippiDepartment on May 26.
  41. 41. ConfederateIndians surrenderIt was not until afterRichmond fell and Leeand Johnstonsurrendered thatNative AmericanConfederates agreed tonegotiate peace termswith Union officials.Stand Watie of theCherokee Nation wasone of the lastConfederates tosurrender, which hedid on June 23.
  42. 42.  Between 750,000 and 850,000 soldiers dead (60% from the Union, 40% from the Confederacy). More than 1 million soldiers maimed and incapacitated. More than 50,000 civilian casualties and injuries (starvation, stray bullets, soiled wells, disease). Few Americans were untouched by the war. It would take the nation decades to recover from the sense of horror over the loss of life.
  43. 43.  At the beginning of the war, both sides expected the war to be a short, victorious one. Neither side had any idea that the war would last as long as it did and that it would result in as much devastation as it did. Although the Union won, its victory was not predestined. Indeed, research by military historians reveals that there were numerous instances when the Union could have lost not only major battles but also the war. Nevertheless, the USA prevailed and the CSA did not and so now we can explore the reasons why.
  44. 44. Recent research suggests the number of fatalities was higher. See the NYT Disunion BlogCSA USA 11 states  22 states 9 million (30% of whom  22 million people were enslaved)  3.5 million white men for 1 million white men for military service military service  Plus about 100,000 loyal 1 million served southerners & later free  800,000 enlisted (3 yrs of blacks and runaway slaves service)  2.9 million served  340,000 casualties  1.5 million enlisted (3  250,000 killed in action or years) from disease  650,000 casualties  360,000 killed in action or from disease
  45. 45. Confederacy Union Had to create a new  Economic strength— government wealth and the nation’s War fought on their turf, banking and financial 750,000 sq mi centers were located in Determination of the NYC Confederates to win  Modern infrastructure More men trained to fight (communication,  Numerous military transportation, industry) academies, inc West Point  Existing government  Culture of chivalry, honor, weaponry  Existing military service Possibility of foreign  Militia recognition of the CSA  Regular army Slave labor  Volunteers
  46. 46. Confederacy Union Get the support of  Keep the support of the Border States and/or occupy the  Recall armies from the West Border States  Protect the South’s valuable Protect Richmond (CSA resources for the return to the capitol), threaten Union Washington, D.C.  Protect Washington, D.C. (USA capitol), threaten Get recognition from Richmond Britain, France, and  Control the Mississippi Spain River—Anaconda Plan  Blockade southern coasts
  47. 47.  Despite the Union’s initial profiles in strength, the CSA managed to even the odds. Many historians identify fatal flaws in the CSA’s campaign:  Inability to follow through on victories because of high casualties and low resources;  Failure to provide the necessary resources for civilians;  Tensions between the CSA states and the CSA Congress and the Davis administration;  Inability to overcome their cultural focus on individual rights and states’ rights to marshal all resources needed to fight the war;  Failure to obtain recognition from European government;  Failure to consider the actions of enslaved people and to mobilize them for military service;  Failure to win enough northern campaigns to demoralize the Unionists.
  48. 48.  Many of the Union’s initial profiles in strength made them overconfident and therefore unprepared for the determination and initial success with which Confederates waged war. Historians point to some of the following reasons for why the Union won:  Manpower (larger population and then the enlistment of black soldiers);  Runaway slaves;  Vast resources (food, trade, wealth, existing army & navy, access to industrial complex);  Ability to maintain the Border States and get European countries to remain neutral;  Blockade;  Ability to nationalize necessary resources to wage war;  Ability to maintain the morale of civilians and soldiers.
  49. 49.  CSA’s Salt Factory: Butler’s Order: Bread riots: European recognition: John Bell Hood: John Schofield: Five Forks: Lee surrenders to Grant: Union forces outside of Appomattox: Johnston surrenders to Sherman: ument%20signings&s=3&notword=&d=&c=&f=2&k=1&lWord=&lField=&sScope=&sLevel=&sLabel=&sort=&total=24&n um=0&imgs=20&pNum=&pos=20&print=small Richard Taylor: Edmund Kirby Smith: Stand Watie: Capture of Jefferson Davis:
  50. 50.  Harriet Tubman: html Clara Barton: Rose O’Neal Greenhow: The Influence of Women:
  51. 51.  The Search for Meaning. What the War Wrought. Emancipation. Reconstruction.