LECTURE #13: THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR(1861-1865) by Derrick J. Johnson, MPA, JD
The Jefferson DavisConfederate Presidency President Jefferson Davis Born: June 3, 1808 Died: December 6, 1889 Term in Office: (1861-1865) Political Party: The Confederate States of America
Aftermath of Succession • Many southerners were anxious to leave the union. However, there were many pros and cons that both sides had to face. • South Advantages • The South was larger than the North. • The South had more competent generals like Robert E. Lee. • North Advantages • The Most influential banks and financial markets were located in the North. • The North had an advantage of in producing guns, bullets and other warfare materials. • The North’s railway system was superior to the South. • Between 1860 and 1861, South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Georgia and Alabama all voted to secede from the Union. Virginia and Kentucky were reluctant to leave.
Aftermath of Succession • President Buchanan did very little to resolve the matter. Buchanan stated in December of 1860, that secession from the Union was illegal, but that nowhere in the Constitution was it stated that any state could be forced to remain in the Union. • The South interpreted Buchanan’s statement as stating that he would do nothing to bring back the seceding states and that they were now independent. • Leaders in South Carolina demanded the surrender of Ft. Sumter, a federal fort located in Charleston harbor. • Buchanan sent an unarmed merchant ship to bring supplies to the fort in January 1861. When the ship was fired upon, Buchanan did not send the navy in.
The Attack on Fort Sumter • Abraham Lincoln had to walk a political tightrope upon his inauguration. It was necessary to maintain the authority of the federal government, but at the same time to do nothing would provoke a war with the South. • In his inauguration speech, Lincoln stated that force would be used if necessary to preserve the union. • Lincoln sent another ship to supply Fort Sumter. The government of South Carolina was informed that the ship would be arriving and that no troops would land unless the delivery of these supplies was interfered with. • Jefferson Davis and the Confederate Government saw this as an opportunity to strike. Confederate guns bombed Ft. Sumter on April 12, 1861, and it surrendered two days later.
The Attack on Fort Sumter • Davis thought that the strike on Ft. Sumter would rally many in the Upper South to their cause. He also hoped to gain French & British support. • All practical talk of compromise between the North and the South ended with the attack on Ft. Sumter. • Three days after the surrender of Ft. Sumter, Virginia passed a resolution favoring succession. On the same day, Robert E. Lee resigned from the Union army and he took control of the Confederate forces. • Lincoln was able to keep Delaware, Missouri, Maryland and Kentucky in the Union.
Strategy of the War • The South hoped to get military and economical aid from Britain and France. Economically, some European countries were sympathetic to the South. Many southerners were dependent on the cotton cultivated in the South. However, politically, France and Britain were firmly opposed to slavery and they outlawed slavery decades earlier. • The South overestimated the dependency of Britain on cotton. The British soon proved that they could get cotton from other countries. • Both sides began to recruit armies in the Spring and early summer of 1861. Lincoln was able to rally support on the notion that the South’s attack was an attack on the very principles of the republican form of government. • Both sides predicted an early victory. Winfield Scott was the commander of the Union forces and he proposed a strategy that involved a blockade of all Southern ports. Lincoln shot that idea down for political reasons and he ordered an advance on the Confederate capital, Richmond, Virginia.
Strategy of the War • On July 21, 1861, at the First Battle of Bull Run, Union forces retreated in chaos back towards Washington. After this defeat, the northern leadership realized that victory would not be swift. • After the defeat at Bull Run, Lincoln re-evaluated Scott’s plan, now referred to as the Anaconda Plan. Lincoln ordered his plan into action, thus having the U.S. Navy block southern ports. • The South lacked access to the industrial goods that they use to be able to obtain from the North. Moreover, the blockade made it difficult for the South to trade their cotton with Europe. • The Anaconda Plan also called for the North to control the Mississippi River. • Structurally, the South was at a disadvantage because as a confederacy, individual state governments could block critical tax programs and requisitions. Thus, the decision for the Confederacy to print paper money with no secure backing also would prove to be detrimental.
The Union’s Western Push • The Confederacy won several more battles in 1862, including the Second Battle of Bull Run. Reeling from a series of defeats, General George McClellan was named commander of the Union Army and he began formulating a plan to attack the Confederacy from the West. • In February of 1892, General Ulysses S. Grant’s forces captured Fort Henry and Fort Donelson in Tennessee. Grant continued to conquer southern territory from this position. • On April 6, 1862, the Battle of Shiloh was fought. This was to be the bloodiest battle to be fought at this point in the war. The biggest result of the battle is that General McClellan began to develop a reputation as a commander who was afraid to enter his troops into battle. McClellan is replaced by General John Pope for five months.
Battle of Antietam • Lee led his army across the Potomac into Maryland. In doing so, he hoped that a major Confederate victory in the North would convince Britain to give official recognition and aid to the South. • McClellan is reinstated as the commanding Union general. Union forces had intercepted a copy of Lee’s battle plan to invade Maryland and they planned an ambush of Lee’s forces. • Unable to break Union lines, Lee’s army retreated to Virginia. McClellan, who now has the advantage, fails to pursue Lee into Virginia. This angers Lincoln who removes McClellan as Commander of the Union Forces.
Developments in the South • The Confederacy suffered from many structural disadvantages. • General Lee insisted that a system of conscription be introduced to ensure a steady supply of soldiers. In April 1862, the Confederate legislature passed laws requiring three years. In the army for all white men from 18 to 35. • Many advocates of state’s rights objected to these regulations. Three southern governors tried to block the conscription law. • The Confederacy also adopted a plan to pay plantation owners who released their slaves to serve in the army, but this was resisted because it was economically harmful to slave owners. • By 1862, shortages of food and other materials began to spread throughout the South. Prices began to skyrocket and many soldiers deserted the army to return home to help their families through the difficult times. • To help get them through their monetary problems, the Confederacy instituted an income tax. However, they lacked an efficient collection system to make it a viable source of revenue.
Developments in the North • The North also had troubles in their financing of the war. • In 1861, a federal income tax was instituted. Still short of money, the government issued greenbacks in 1862, which were currencies that were not backed by gold. • In 1863, a system of conscription was also introduced in the North, which required all men from ages 20 through 45 to serve in the Union army. A provision of the Northern draft law that was very unpopular to many allowed a drafted person to avoid service by hiring a substitute or by paying the government $300. • As a consequence, many of these replacements were “Irish Immigrants.” • Draft riots took place in New York City in July of 1863. Nearly 200 people dying in these protests. Many taking part in the riots were Irish-Americans who did not want to fight a war where the freedom of slaves, potential competitors for jobs, might occur. • Draft offices and other buildings were destroyed and many of those who were killed were African Americans.
The Wartime President • The wartime powers of the executive branch increased immensely. • By executive order, parts of Kentucky were placed under martial law for much of the war. • Some Democrats vigorously opposed the war and they stated that it would lead to masses of freed slaves that would migrate to the North and take their jobs. • Lincoln’s administration authorized the imprisonment of 14,000 copperheads & other anti-war proponents without trial. In several cases, Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus.
The Emancipation Proclamation • When Lincoln was first elected, he had no intention of freeing the slaves. He repeatedly stated that he had no constitutional right to do so. • However, he realized that the continued existence of slavery allowed southern landowners to leave their fields and fight in the Confederate army. • The Emancipation Proclamation was issued on January 1, 1863 and it gave Northerners a moral justification to continue fighting. • Northern African Americans were heartened by it and Southerners condemned it. • England agreed with the proclamation and its issuance closed the possibility of England coming to the aid of the South.
The Emancipation Proclamation • However, the proclamation did have political consequences. • Many northerners feared that freed slaves would take away their jobs, voted Democratic in the congressional elections. • African Americans were not accepted into the Union Army at the start of the war. After the Emancipation Proclamation, many ex-slaves from Southern Territories and free African Americans joined the Union Army. • By 1865, African Americans made up almost 10% of the entire Union Army. Black soldiers traditionally served in all-black units with white officers. Ex: the 54th Massachusetts Infantry.
Turning of the Tide • The darkest days of the war for the Union occurred in late 1862 and early 1863. The Union Army suffered losses at the Battle of Frederickburg and at the Battle of Chancellorville. • Competent leadership of the Union Army remained a problem. • However, despite their victories, the South had difficulties in getting men and resources. • In June of 1863, Lee decided to move the Confederate Army out of Virginia into Pennsylvania. At the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863), Lee was defeated by the Union Army, commanded by General George Meade. This was the bloodiest overall battle of the war, with 24,000 northern casualties and 28,000 southern casualties. • The defeat of the Confederates at Gettysburg tipped the war in the favor of the North. • Under the leadership of General Grant, the Union forces plowed onwards towards victory in Battles at Vicksburg and Chattanooga.
The Gettysburg Address • In November of 1863, Lincoln gave his most famous address – The Gettysburg Address: • “Four score 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 battle-field 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.
The Gettysburg Address • But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not 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.
The Gettysburg Address • 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.”
The Election of 1864 • In both the North and South, the pressures of a long war were obvious by 1864. • To many in the South, it was clear that the South would be defeated. • In the North, the election of 1864 produced very little excitement. • The Democrats formed a platform which called for peace and ending the war. The Democratic nominee was General George McClellan. • The Republican Party, in an effort to galvanize public support, created a quasi political party called the Unionist Party. The aim was to garner votes from “War Democrats” who disagreed with the Democratic Party’s peace platform.
The Election of 1864 • A brief “ditch Lincoln” movement fizzled out, and Lincoln was re-nominated to lead his party’s ticket. Joining Lincoln on the ticket was a loyal War Democrat, Senator Andrew Johnson of Tennessee. • In early September of 1864, Lincoln confided to friends that he thought he would lose the presidency because of the level of support for the war had diminished. • However, word of General Sherman’s victory in Atlanta came at the right time. • Lincoln won his re-election with 212 electoral votes (2,218,388 popular votes) to McClellan’s 21 electoral votes (1,812,807 popular votes).
Fall of the South • The effects of the Union blockade, combined with Sherman’s march of destruction, spread hunger throughout much of the South in the winter of 1864-1865. • On the battlefront in Virginia, Grant continued to outflank Lee’s lines until they collapsed around Petersburg, resulting in the fall of Richmond (April 3, 1865). The end of the war had become evitable. • The Confederate Government tried to negotiate for peace, but Lincoln would accept nothing short of restoration of the Union and Jefferson Davis would accept nothing less than independence. • Lee retreated from Richmond with an army of less than 30,000 men. He tried to escape to the mountains only to be cut off by Grant’s army. Lee surrendered to Grant on April 9, 1865 at the Appromattox Court House. In a show of respect, Grant allowed Lee to surrender with dignity, and Lee’s men were allowed to return to their homes.
Assassination of Lincoln • Only a month before Lee’s surrender, Lincoln delivered one of his greatest speeches – the second inaugural address. He urged that the defeated South be treated benevolently, “with malice toward none; with charity for all.” • On April 14, 1865, First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln encouraged President Lincoln to attend a show at the Ford Theater. Lincoln reluctantly agreed to go. • John Wilkes Booth, an embitter actor, was performing at the Ford Theater when the Lincolns attended the show. Booth shot and killed Lincoln. On the same night, a co-conspirator attacked and wounded Secretary of State William Seward. Vice President Andrew Johnson and General Ulysses S. Grant were also targets in a mass assassination conspiracy, but they were able, by circumstance, to elude danger.
Assassination of Lincoln • Lincoln died the next morning, thus becoming the third president to die in office and the first to be assassinated. Andrew Johnson would become the third sitting Vice-President to ascend to the presidency upon the death of the incumbent president. • Lincoln’s death came at a time when peace between the North and the South were fragile, and the South needed a sympathetic hearing from the North. The Booth assassination conspiracy infuriated many northerners who would insisted on retribution. • The incredibly difficult task of reconstruction would have to be handled by a new president, Andrew Johnson, who would face overwhelming problems reuniting the Union.