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Lecture 8


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Military and Political Turning Points

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Lecture 8

  1. 1. Turning Points
  2. 2. Major shifts over course of war • War will become much more brutal – Scholars talk about the “hard war” policy • Historians debate: First modern war? – Technological advances – Government centralization – Targeting of civilian morale – Different kind of frontline experience – But: a closer look shows the ways in which cultural beliefs constrained these shifts
  3. 3. Objectives of the War • Northern objective shifted from restoring the Union as it was to changing the nature of the Union – Freeing slaves; imposing a free labor system on the South • War aims obviously impacted military strategy and tactics – To restore the Union, emphasis had to be on minimal bloodshed • Kind of war envisioned by Scott or McClellan • More defensive; concern with limiting casualties and impact on civilians • Focus on major victories on the battlefield or diplomatic agreement that would convince the South to lay down arms – Once the goal shifted, the war became much more relentless • Not just seeking battlefield victories – Seeking to occupy territories – Damage the Southern economy – Destroy the will to fight
  4. 4. Ulysses S. Grant
  5. 5. War in the Trans-MS Theater, 1862
  6. 6. War in the West, 1862 • After Bull Run, fight concentrated in the West – KY, TN, MO – North sought control of rivers • Fort Henry & Fort Donelson • U.S. Grant – West Point grad who had left the military – Took Fort Henry fairly easily – Fort Donelson more difficult, but it also fell • Captured 15,000 Confederates; press treated as a major victory • Upshot: KY lost; TN exposed; Nashville abandoned
  7. 7. Grant’s Advance; Shiloh • By April 62, Grant has pushed all the way to the MS – Supply lines vulnerable • Shiloh: Confederates attack in April 62 – Confederate General is Sidney Johnston – Most fiercest fighting so far in the Western theater • Men slaughtered in waves; nothing like it had been seen before – Union victory (albeit with huge losses) • Solidifies Union dominance in the West – Sets a pattern: Union losses in East; victories in West • Union Navy gains control of New Orleans – Most important remaining Confederate port
  8. 8. USS St. Louis
  9. 9. War in the East • Remained stalemated, Peninsula Campaign (March – July 1862) • McClellan came up with a new plan for attacking Richmond – Naval battle had cleared the way for him • Needed to head up the James River • Over 100,000 men amassed on the York Peninsula • Only 15,000 Confederates between him and Richmond – But he thought it was much more; wasted time preparing • Robert E. Lee put in charge of Confederate forces • Seven Days Battle (June 25-July 1, 1862) – Lee protected Richmond • Lincoln sacked McClellan as general-in-chief – (Remained in charge of the Army of the Potomac) • Turning point for Lincoln – Began to look to Western generals like Grant – Began contemplating change at the level of war objectives
  10. 10. Antietam (Sharpsburg), Sept. 17 ‘62 • Lee’s series of victories emboldened him – Decided to take war into Union territory • Raided Maryland • Battle single bloodiest day of the war – Essentially a draw, though the Union had more manpower – But when Lee withdrew, McClellan did not pursue him – Intense frustration in the North • Serious Republican losses in the 1862 mid-term elections – Still, Lincoln claimed it as a victory • Seized the moment to announce the Emancipation Proclamation on Sept. 22, to go into effect Jan. 1 • Britain backed away from the idea of recognizing the Confederacy
  11. 11. Lincoln with generals at Antietam
  12. 12. Emancipation Proclamation Now, therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in-Chief, of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and in accordance with my purpose so to do publicly proclaimed for the full period of one hundred days, from the day first above mentioned, order and designate as the States and parts of States wherein the people thereof respectively, are this day in rebellion against the United States, the following, to wit: Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, (except the Parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the City of New Orleans) Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth[)], and which excepted parts, are for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.
  13. 13. Emancipation Proclamation, cont’d And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons. And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages. And I further declare and make known, that such persons of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service. And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.
  14. 14. Gettysburg, July 1-3 • Probably the most famous battle of the CW • Gen. Lee had come to feel invincible – Invaded Pennsylvania • Battle produced more than 50,000 casualties – Approximately 23,000 casualties on the Union side and 28,000 on the Confederate side. • Pickett’s charge – Perhaps the biggest single miscalculation by a general during the CW • Often seen as the decisive turning point of the war
  15. 15. Gettysburg Address “Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”
  16. 16. Mark Grimsley, “Conciliation and Its Failures” • Scholars differentiate between the Union’s early “conciliatory policy” and its later turn to “hard war” – Conciliation was based on the belief that elite slave owners had pushed through secession against the will of ordinary southerners – Initially, the conciliatory policy appeared vindicated in coastal areas of the Carolinas that fell early • So, what led to the “hard war” policy of 1864-85? – Policy that targeted infrastructure, sanctioned the destruction/appropriation of private property, and aimed to erode civilian morale
  17. 17. Grimsley, cont. • Recall: Gen. Scott’s “Anaconda Plan” – Desire to avoid a bloody series of battles that would make destroy chances for reconciliation – Idea that, by squeezing the South, its own population would rise up against the Slave Power elites • Gen. McClellan – Believed that the Northern defeat at Bull Run had won over many southerners to the Confederate cause – Now, only an overwhelming Union victory, coupled with scrupulous consideration toward civilians, would win back the South • This had been his (successful) approach in West Virginia
  18. 18. Grimsley, cont. • G. argues that conciliation failed mainly because Northern support for it collapsed; people lost patience – Especially after the failure to seize Richmond (Peninsular Campaign, March-July 1862) – Moreover, it had never been universally supported by commanders and was often rejected outright by troops • Grimsely proposes a middle phase: “pragmatic policy” – Permitted greater severity toward those engaged in guerilla warfare, but still did not explicitly target the civilian population – Not until spring of 1863 did Grant and Sherman begin large- scale attacks on southern infrastructure • Key shift in the turn toward “hard war” was at the level of strategy – Now the North sought to undermine support for the Confederacy through “demoralization and fear”
  19. 19. Eric Foner, “Lincoln and Colonization” • Lincoln was a spokesman for colonization during the 1850s and “pursued it avidly” during his first two years in office – As late as Dec. 1862, he averred “I strongly favor colonization.” – Came from a part of the country where the idea of colonization was widely supported • Saw colonization as a moderate position between the evils of slavery and radical abolitionism, which threatened the Union – He never supported compulsory deportation – But he also seemed unable to imagine a multiracial society • And he did not critique Illinois’s Black Laws • Yet historians have tended to neglect or explain away his belief in colonization
  20. 20. Colonization prior to the 1850s • Not a fringe idea; looks stranger now than it did then – Age of mass migrations of peoples – Many leading figures supported the notion • Henry Clay—whom Lincoln idolized– was an early member and later pres. of the American Colonization Society (1817) • Harriet Beecher Stowe • But the majority of African Americans opposed idea – Foner emphasizes the importance of the black anti- colonization movement, which influenced post-1830s abolitionism – Also argues we need to view it in the broader context of other schemes to determine the racial makeup of America • Example: Forcible removal of Native Americans east of the MS
  21. 21. Colonization, 1850s and early 60s • Discussions of colonization shifted in the 1850s – ACS declines, but support for other colonization schemes— primarily in Central America—gained support in the Republican Party • Some viewed it as a way of countering expansionist desires of slaveowners – An increasing number of African Americans, despairing of their future in the US and drawn to a black nationalism, began supporting colonization • Led to huge, divisive debates in black communities • Once war began, Lincoln Administration starting looking sites – Guatemala and Honduras; their presidents reject proposals – Idea to turn freedmen into coalminers in Chiriquí (Panama) – December 3, 1861: Lincoln urged Congress to provide funds for colonization efforts • Black opposition to colonization rose with outbreak of war
  22. 22. Lincoln’s “evolution” on colonization • August 14, 1862: Lincoln for the first (and only) time discussed the idea of colonization directly with a group of blacks at the White House – His remarks to the assembled men were printed • Seemed to blame blacks for the war and said it would be “extremely selfish” for them not to emigrate • Strong backlash from African Americans and their supporters – Still, Lincoln pressed forward • Only actual scheme ever implemented was a disaster • 1863-64: Lincoln finally abandoned idea of colonization – Feb. 64: Supported notion of allowing educated freedmen and black soldiers to vote (in re. to Louisiana’s new state constitution)