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Lecture 4: Mobilizing for War

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Lecture 4: Mobilizing for War

  1. 1. Mobilizing for War North and South
  2. 2. Fort Sumter, April 12, 1861
  3. 3. Battle of Fort Sumter • Crisis began developing when South Carolina seceded in December • In response, Maj. Robert Anderson of the US Army relocated his troops from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter • SC refused to allow an unarmed ship to provision the Fort Sumter; seized all other federal property • On April 8, Lincoln said he would send supplies on an unarmed ship • Confederate leaders almost unanimously agreed it was an act of aggression that had to be answered • They sent an envoy to attempt to negotiate an peaceful exit; Major Anderson refused. All very civil. • April 12-14 battle; Union surrendered; no casualties
  4. 4. Currier & Ives hand-colored lithograph, ca. 1861, “Bombardment of Fort Sumter, Charleston Harbor, April 12-13 1861”
  5. 5. Immediate aftermath Lincoln called on the states to supply 75,000 militiamen for 90 days to suppress the rebellion. Virginia seceded, followed by Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee (Dark red states had already seceded by the time Lincoln took office. In February, Confederates had met in Montgomery, AL, to form their government. They elected Jefferson Davis president; he was inaugurated on February 18, a few weeks before Lincoln’s inauguration.)
  6. 6. Jefferson Davis (1808-1889) • Father a Revolutionary War veteran; last of 10 children • Born in Kentucky, 9 months before Lincoln and 100 miles away from Lincoln’s birthplace • Raised mainly in MS; attended West Point; served in Blackhawk War • 1835: Resigned commission to marry • Became a planter in MS on land given him by his older, very rich brother – Wife died; lived in virtual seclusion for 7 years • Distinguished himself in the Mexican American War • Served as a senator from MS (1847-51; 1857-61) and as Sec. of War (1853-57) • Only reluctantly supported secession; did not want to be president (would have preferred military commission)
  7. 7. Hurricane Plantation (Joseph Davis)
  8. 8. Brierfield Plantation (Jefferson Davis)
  9. 9. Brierfield occupied by Union troops
  10. 10. Robert E. Lee • As late as early 1861, Lee was denouncing secession in his correspondence • April 17: Virginia convention voted to secede • April 18: Lincoln requested through intermediary that he command the Union Army • April 20: Lee resigned from US Army • April 23: Lee took up command of the Army of Northern Virginia
  11. 11. Fear of standing armies • Powerful strain of anti-militarism dating back to the colonial era • Ordinary folks in the 17th and 18th centuries associated standing armies with high taxes and mistreatment of civilians – as threats to liberty • Colonies relied on militias to defend against Indians – All able-bodied men; not paid, provided their own weapons – Critical social/political institutions in the colonies • Militia days • Men elected their own officer – Lincoln was elected militia captain of his company during the Black Hawk War, he later said it was “a success which gave me more pleasure than any I have had since.”
  12. 12. American Revolution • Heightened hostility toward standing armies – Resentment of quartering of British troops in private homes • Revolution was in truth actually won by professional armies – George Washington’s Continental Army – Aid of French soldiers • But powerful myth holds that it was won by volunteer militia units • Militia tradition enshrined in the Constitution – Second Amendment: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” • Post-Revolution: US had a small regular Army, while states maintained volunteer militia forces for emergencies
  13. 13. Building up arms • U.S. Army ill-prepared for war in 1860 • It’s a still very small force – Just 16,000 men serving as “Regulars” – Most stationed at isolated posts in the Western territories – General in Chief Winfield Scott was 74 years old • Situation even worse in the South – Some important military leaders resigned from the federal Army to join the Confederacy • Strong military tradition: 7/8 military colleges in the South – But the Army has to be built from scratch
  14. 14. Use of militia system in the CW • March 1861: Confederate Congress called for 100,000 volunteers to serve for 12 months • April 1861: Lincoln called for 75,000; soon thereafter for 1 million volunteers • Both sides looked to the states to raise troops – Chaotic, non-standardized system – Local communities provided weapons and uniforms; hodgepodge of uniform styles and outdated equipment • Response was overwhelming on both sides • Recruitment typically took place at the local courthouse, with the community present • Meetings often called by community leaders or well-off individuals who paid to outfit their own companies or regiments – Virtually no military training
  15. 15. Military mobilization • Branches of service – Army • Artillery, infantry, cavalry – Vast majority (80%) serve in the infantry • Regiments were identified by a state name and number – i.e. 64th New York – Navy • Here North has distinct advantage • More than one “army” in Union and Confederacy – “Army of the Potomac,” “Army of Northern Virginia”
  16. 16. Implications of volunteerism • Division between battlefield and homefront was not so sharp – Transformation from soldier to civilian incomplete process – ideal of the “citizen soldier” • Soldiers did not go through process of military socialization that distanced them from civilians • Did not leave behind civilian identities – Communities sent men off to war • Example of the regimental flag • Surveillance: Thousands of letters being sent back home – Often published in local papers • Civilians all over the “war zone” – Family members went to find sons/husbands when wounded or killed; officers’ wives often stayed with them in camp
  17. 17. Aaron Sheehan-Dean • Looks at the relationship between socio-economic factors and enlistment in VA • Virginians had been reluctant to secede; welcomed Lincoln inaugural address • Felt betrayed by Fort Sumter and Lincoln’s raising of troops • Union sentiment evaporated • Achieved a much higher mobilization rate of white men than in northern states: 70%, or 89% not counting union- occupied territory – Especially high rates from small towns – But commitment to the Confederacy was strong throughout the state, except for the upper Northwest – Only real pockets of Unionism were those with few slaves, poor families, history of opposition to secession, proximity to North
  18. 18. James McPherson on soldiers’ motivation • What motivated CW era soldiers to fight? • Why can we not map what we know about WWII soldiers back onto those who fought in the CW? – What is “primary group cohesion”? • What are the sources that McPherson draws on? • Are there weaknesses in his source base and/or argument?
  19. 19. Lorien Foote • Who were the Boston Brahmins? • What role did they play in the Civil War? • How did officers of this class conceive of their relationship to their men? And how did their men in turn view them? • How did they discipline soldiers? – Role of corporal punishment and violence • How did the Army change after 1863, according to Foote?
  20. 20. Question of discipline • Historians argue that discipline in the Civil War was notoriously lax – Men would not submit to regular military discipline • Much drinking, high rates of desertion, etc. – Cases of men running unpopular officers out of camp • BUT there were many examples of discipline that today look quite shocking – More men executed in the CW than all other US wars combined (around 500, both North and South) • These executions highly public, ritualized affairs – And corporal punishment (even what we would consider torture) not at all unusual
  21. 21. “Execution of Deserters” “The crime of desertion has been one of the greatest drawbacks to our army. If the men who have deserted their flag had but been present on more than one occasion defeat would have been victory, and victory the destruction of the enemy. It may be therefore fairly asserted that desertion is the greatest crime of the soldier, and no punishment too severe for the offence. But the dislike to kill in cold blood—a Northern characteristic—the undue exercise of executive clemency, and in fact the very magnitude and vast spread of the offense, has prevented the proper punishment being applied. This is past; now the very necessity of saving life will cause the severest penalties to be rigorously exacted.” Harper’s Weekly, September 26, 1863
  22. 22. Corporal punishment • Flogging banned by Union in 1861; by the Confederates in 1862 • But other corporal punishments widespread – Hanging by thumbs – Bucking and gagging – “Riding the rail”
  23. 23. Riding the “rail,” the “wooden horse” or the “sawhorse’
  24. 24. “Camp Punishments,” Harper’s Weekly, June 28, 1863 “One of the pictures represents the DRUMMING OF A COWARD FROM GENERAL BURNSIDE’S ARMY. The fellow was marched through the lines between a file of soldiers, with his head cropped, and a large placard ‘coward’ affixed to his back, while the band played the ‘Rogue’s March.’”
  25. 25. “Camp Punishments,” cont. “Too fond of whiskey.” “The other picture represents one of the punishments for drunkenness adopted in General Halleck’s Army of the Mississippi. The drunkard is made to get into a barrel, which is so suspended that his head and his feet project, and locomotion, if not agreeable, is not impossible…. Thus accoutred, the miserable fellow is the butt of the scoffs and jeers of his comrades for a day, and learns a lesson which ought to teach him the virtue of temperance for the rest of his life.” javascript:;
  26. 26. “The Civil War in America: Guard Tent-Punishment in the Federal Camp,” The Illustrated London News, November 9, 1861

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