Civil War

HMS Civil War Project
The War--maps, biographies, historical documents, and facts
Timeline of the Civil War

Monday, 5/24/10--Lincoln's 2nd Inaugural, Lee's surrender at Appomattox, and Lincoln's assassination (March-April 1865)

President Lincoln outlined his plan for reuniting the nation once the fighting ended in his 2nd Inaugural Address (click here to listen to the address). Many Republican lawmakers wanted to punish the South after the War, but Lincoln ended his speech with the following words:

"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations"

Lincoln also spoke of the meaning of the Civil War as punishment for the United State's acceptance of slavery:

Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether"

On April 9, 1865, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union Gen. U.S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia. On the morning of the surrender Lee held a council of War with his Generals to determine the best course of action, since his army was almost surrounded by Union troops. Some of Lee's General's urged him to keep fighting; however, Lee decided to surrender. Lee met with Grant at Wilmer McLean's house to discuss terms of the surrender. Grant offered the following generous terms:
  1. No soldier would be arrested or prosecuted for treason
  2. Soldiers could take their horses and mules to help them on their farms
  3. Soldiers would be provided food rations

As Lee left the house Union troops began cheering. Grant immediately had the cheering stopped. He later wrote that he stopped the celebration because, "the Confederates were now our countrymen, and we did not want to exult over their downfall."

The best hope for a peaceful reunification of the nation rested with Lincoln's idea--"with malice for none; with charity for all". However, on April 14th Lincoln will be assassinated by John Wilkes Booth as an attempt to keep the war and Southern independence alive. Many in the North now wanted revenge. Lincoln's assassination now complicated the terms for surrender of Confederate Gen. Johnston's army to Union Gen. Sherman at Durham, North Carolina on April 26. The Reconstruction of the United States will officially take 12 long years; however, racial and regional tensions will remain for well over 100 more years.

Thursday, 5/20/10--1864, The March and the Siege
Sherman's March to the Sea (November to December, 1864) was a Union attempt to conquer the South and end the Civil War by destroying the ability of Southern civilians to support the Confederate war effort. Union General William T. Sherman led the March from Atlanta, Georgia to Savannah, Georgia on the coast, and then north into North Carolina. Along the way Plantation Houses were burned, farm fields were destroyed, and many civilians were left with nothing. Sherman's troops destroyed railroads by heating the rails and bending them to make "Sherman Neckties". Sherman's tactics were called Total War, because civilians,and not just soldiers, were targeted with the purposeful destruction of their livelihood. If civilians were unable to support the army by providing food, clothing, or supplies then the war would be shortened. The idea of Total War recognizes that civilians are the ones that support and make possible for the army to survive. Sherman's March to the Sea and his use of Total War tactics will foreshadow the World Wars of the 20th century where Total War tactics were commonly employed.

The Siege of Petersburg (June, 1864 to April, 1865) followed the Overland campaign where Union Gen. Grant chased Gen. Lee south through Virginia toward the Confederate Capital of Richmond. Just south of Richmond, Lee's army positioned itself between Grant's army and the cities of Petersburg and Richmond. Grant's decision to dig trenches stalled the fighting around Petersburg into a siege that lasted 9 months. Union attempts to break through the Confederate trench lines continued throughout the siege, finally succeeding in late March, 1865. The fall of Richmond and Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox quickly followed the end of the Petersburg siege.

Turning Point:
Before the March and the Siege--the Civil War was fought in a traditional 19th century style of two armies meeting on an open field of battle.

The March to the Sea introduced the concept of Total War which foreshadowed future wars. The Siege, like the March, foreshadowed tactics that would be used in future wars of the 20th century (most notably the trench warfare of World War I).

After the March and the Siege--the ability of the Confederates to continue the Civil War was destroyed. The March and the Siege fit into the later stages of the Anaconda Plan by squeezing, or conquering, the South to the point of surrender. Sherman's March will complicate Lincoln's wishes to peacefully reunify the South back into the United States after the War.

Wednesday, 5/19/10--The Tides Turns for the Union in 1863
Battle of Chancellorsville (April 30-May 6, 1863) was Gen. Lee's last great victory. Upon being nearly defeated, Lee divided his army by sending Stonewall Jackson's 2nd Corps on a 12 mile silent march to surprise attack the Union's left flank. Jackson turned the tide of battle and led to a surprising Confederate victory against a much larger Union army. Unfortunately for the Confederates, Stonewall Jackson is killed at the Cancellorsville. After Chancellorsville, Lee decides to invade the north to try and bring an end to the war.

United States Colored Troops (May 22, 1863) is organized to allow African Americans to fight in he Civil War for the Union. The most celebrated USCT regiment is the 54th Massachusetts Regiment led by Col. Robert Gould Shaw. The 54th MA will lead the daring attack of Fort Wager outside of Charleston, SC on July

Battle of Gettysburg (July 1 to July 3, 1863). Lee is defeated on Union soil and returned to Virginia. Gettysburg is Lee's first defeat and the Confederate army in Virginia will never again attempt to invade the north.

Siege of Vicksburg ends (July 4, 1863) in Union victory allowing for the entire Mississippi river to be controlled by the Union. Union commander U.S. Grant, who successfully captured Vicksburg, is promoted to overall General of the Union army and is moved east to face Gen. Lee. The Confederacy is now split in two.

Turning Point:
Before 1863--Gen. Lee and his Army in Virginia were undefeated and seriously threatened to end the war by threatening Washington, DC and the Union states. In addition, the Mississippi river was not in Union control. Prior to the Emancipation Proclamation, which went into effect on January 1, 1863, African Americans were not allowed to fight for the Union.

After 1863--Gen. Lee is chased by U.S. Grant through Virginia towards Richmond. Union armies in the West move toward the industrial center of Atlanta, Georgia. With African Americans fighting the War is truly transformed into a war not only for National Unity, but also for human freedom. Then the Mississippi River came under control of the Union continuing the Anaconda Plan.

Tuesday, 5/18/10--The Bloodiest Day leads to Emancipation (Turning Point #2--Antietam and Emancipation Proclamation)
1862-Union Stroke and Confederate Counterstroke
The Emancipation Proclamation

Turning Point:
Before Antietam--Union war aim was only to preserve the Union. That meant slavery could exist if the Confederate states would stop fighting and rejoin the U.S.
After Antietam--Lincoln decides to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. The Emancipation Proclamation changed the war aim from being just about Union to being also about freedom and the destruction of the institution of slavery.

Battle of Antietam
Union attacks Richmond from the peninsula and drove the Confederate Army into the gates of Richmond
  • Lee then pushes him back to the James River. Then the two armies fight once again in Manassas.
  • When Lee was making his battle plans and sends it to one of his generals. The carrier drops the battle plans and the Union picks it up and the Union knew Lee's battle plans
  • No ground was gained or lost so it was a tactical draw. So the Confederate army retreats and the Union claims victory.
  • The Battle of Antietam was the bloodiest single day of the war (and in U.S. history)--over 23,000 casaulties
  • After Lincoln tours the battlefield he decides the time is right to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, which "frees" slaves in territory still controlled by the Confederacy.
  • Slaves in the Border states were not freed--did not want to anger the slave owners in the loyal Border States
Why was it necessary for Lincoln to wait until after Antietam to issue the Emancipation Proclamation?

Monday, 5/17/10--The Grand Strategy of the Union (Turning Point #1--1st Bull Run)
War: The Coming War

Battle of Bull Run/Manassas
  • Lincoln calls for 90 day volunteers to invade Richmond
  • A spy (Rose Greenhowe) tips off the Confederate army when where etc the Union was going to invade
  • 22,000 Confederate troops march North of Richmond to meet up with the Union
  • The Confederate strategy was to cut off the Union from the supply line
  • Many people came out to watch the battle with picnic baskets, champagne, etc
  • At first it seemed the Union was winning
  • Then Confederate army got reinforcements and got the Union to retreat
  • "Stonewall" Jackson helps turn the tide for the Confederates and becomes a Confederate hero
  • 5,000 casualties
  • The Union realized that it was not going to be a 90 day war

Turning Point:
Before--Quick 90 day war
After--The Confederate victory showed that the war will be longer and more difficult than first thought. It also gave the Confederacy hope for victory and independence. Union strategy to win this new, more difficult war is known as the Anaconda Plan.

The Union's Grand Strategy Question Sheet

April 29 2010

Battle of Gettysburg
Battle Map of Gettysburg

  • Lee's strategy was to outflank the Union
  • 3rd Corps was run by Sickles and their ground was shallow so they moved up,disobeying orders, and ran into the Confederates. This left the Roundtops undefended. The Confederates outflanked them and completely destroyed them from many different angles.
  • Oates then took the advantage and went to the Roundtops with four regiments. And Four regiments went to the roundtops as well. 15th Alabama commanded by Oates and 20th Maine commanded by Chamberlain.
  • Little Roundtop was a strategic key to the battle because it looked over the entire field and artillery could be well placed there
  • Chamberlain ordered his men to use bayonets because of limited ammo. The end of the fishhook flanked the Confederates and many of Oates's men ran scared
  • The General who commanded the army was General Meade

    April 28 2010

    Civil War (April 1861-1865)
  • Battle of Gettysburg was like in the middle of the war
  • Once the Confederates lost Gettysburg they lost the Mississippi
  • Fall of 1862 Lee wanted to Maryland and possibly Pennsylvania and rally Maryland to join the Confederates. The Union met the Confederates at the Potomac River the bloodiest single day in American History (Battle of Antetum)
  • In Chanclersville the Union surrounded Lee and at night Lee took a 7 mile silent march around the Union and the next day attacks them from behind

April 26 2010

John Brown to Lincoln
  • Abraham Lincoln wins the election of 1860 as a Republican.
  • Republicans were an anti-slavery Party.
  • South Carolina seceded after Lincoln's election and the deep south followed.
  • A month after Lincoln was sworn in as President, the Civil War began at Fort Sumter, South Carolina.