- Next, Lincoln appointed Major General Joseph Hooker, who had often been critical of other generals. Hooker's attitude matched the president's. "May God have mercy on General Lee, for I will have none," he declared.
- Despite Hooker's confidence, Lee's much smaller army crushed Hooker's forces at Chancellorsville. Hooker soon resigned.
Major General Joseph Hooker
- Lincoln's next commander needed to prove himself quickly. Major General George Meade took command three days before one of the war's great battles, at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Major General George Meade
African Americans in the Civil War
- At first, both the North and the South barred African Americans from serving in their armies. As time passed, the North relaxed its rules
Excluded in the South
- Even though African Americans made up more than 30 percent of the smaller Southern population, Confederate leaders would not allow them to enlist. Only in the last days of the war, when defeat drew near, did they consider it.
- Confederate leaders feared that once armed, African American soldiers would attack their fellow troops or even begin a general revolt.
Enlisted in the North
- At first, President Lincoln resisted calls to enlist African Americans in the Union army. He feared that such a policy would be unpopular in the border states.
- By 1862, though, it was clear that the North needed more soldiers in order to defeat the Confederacy. Many African Americans were eager to fight. As a result, Congress decided to reverse past policy and allow the formation of all-African American regiments.
Civil War poster recruiting African American men to the Union forces
- These new Union soldiers were in a tough position. Many white Union regiments doubted their fighting ability. Others resented them. Many Southern troops also especially hated the Union's African American soldiers. They often focused their fiercest fire on African American regiments.
- Despite this, African Americans joined. By the end of the war, they made up about 10 percent of the Union army. Some were freed people from the North. Others had fled enslavement in the South. These men fought hard and effectively, too. As one white Union officer wrote about an all-African American Kansas regiment:
- "They make better soldiers in every respect than any troops I have ever had under my command."
- —Union General James G. Blunt
The 54th Massachusetts
- The best-known African American regiment was the 54th Massachusetts. Founded in 1863, the 54th was under the command of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, who came from a Boston abolitionist family.
- Later that year, the 54th served on the front lines in an assault on Fort Wagner in South Carolina. Confederate gunfire caused nearly 300 casualties in the 54th alone, including Colonel Shaw.
- Though the Union could not capture the fort, the 54th became famous for the courage and sacrifice of its members. It would also serve with distinction in other battles, such as the Battle of Olustee in Florida.
This picture, showing troops camped near Philadelphia, served as a Union recruiting poster
The Tide Turns
- In spring of 1863, the Confederates had the upper hand. Their victory at Chancellorsville ruined Union plans to attack Richmond. Lee was emboldened. He decided to take the war once more into the North, hoping to impress France and Britain.
- The Confederate strategy was similar to that of the colonies in the Revolutionary War. Though far outnumbered, the colonies won the support of France—and the war. Now, France and Britain missed the goods, especially cotton, that Southern planters had once supplied. If the Confederates appeared to be winning, those nations might help their cause.
The Battle of Gettysburg
- In July 1863, a small town in southern Pennsylvania became the site of one of the most decisive battles in the Civil War. Gettysburg was not a capital, a key port, or the location of a fort. It was almost an accident that such serious fighting took place there.
- The Confederates entered the town looking for supplies. General Lee hoped to avoid fighting in a landscape he did not know well. It was there, however, that he encountered the enemy
- When Lee's troops crawled out of Gettysburg four grueling days later, they had suffered 25,000 casualties. The Union—the victor—lost 23,000.
- The battle started at 7:30 a.m. on July 1. Outnumbered Union troops retreated to a section of high ground called Cemetery Ridge. Reinforcements arrived for both sides.
- On the second day of fighting, Southern generals tried to drive Union forces from hills named Round Top and Little Round Top. In furious fighting, Union forces under General George Meade held their positions.
- The next day, Lee ordered an attack designed to "create a panic and virtually destroy the [Union] army."
- First, the Confederates fired nearly 140 cannons at the Union lines. Then, General George Pickett led thousands of Confederate troops in an attack on the Union's position at Cemetery Ridge. Putting themselves directly in the line of fire, they advanced across open land in what came to be remembered as Pickett's Charge.
- At first, it seemed that Pickett's Charge might work. The Confederates broke the first line of Union defense. In the end, however, half of those who started the attack lay dead or wounded on the ground. Lee later wrote, "The army did all it could. I fear I required of it impossibilities."
- Gettysburg ended the Confederates' hope of gaining help from Britain and France. The South had hoped to receive two ironclads from the British and use them to sweep Union shipping from the Atlantic. However, in October 1863, the British government decided not to release the ships.
After two days of heavy fighting at Gettysburg, the Confederates mounted a heavy attack on the Union lines
Where did the Confederates concentrate their attack? Cemetery Ridge
What about the Union position as shown on this map might have given Union forces an advantage? They were on high ground and above rivers. This meant that Confederate troops had to cross the rivers and then fight uphill while being fired on from above
The Siege at Vicksburg
- On July 4, the day that Lee retreated from Gettysburg, the Confederacy suffered another major blow. The important river city of Vicksburg, Mississippi, fell under the control of Union troops led by Ulysses S. Grant.
- Grant had first attacked Vicksburg in April. His army surrounded the 30,000 Confederate troops there. In May Grant began a siege of the town, preventing food and supplies from reaching the Confederates. Union gunships on the river supported Grant’s 77,000 troops by firing thousands of shells into the city.
- The siege lasted 47 days. There were more than 9,000 Confederate and 10,000 Union casualties, and many soldiers died of disease or starvation. Despite heavy losses of soldiers, fewer than 20 citizens of Vicksburg were killed in the long siege.
- A few days after Vicksburg fell, the Confederacy lost Port Hudson in Louisiana, its last stronghold on the Mississippi River. The Union had split the South in two. Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas were now cut off. The tide of the Civil War had turned.
This painting shows Union forces fighting their way to the Confederate lines at Vicksburg, Mississippi, in May 1863
Lincoln's Address at Gettsburg
- On November 19, 1863, officials and citizens gathered to dedicate the Soldiers' National Cemetery at Gettysburg. At the ceremony, former governor of Massachusetts Edward Everett delivered a two-hour speech.
- After him, President Abraham Lincoln spoke for about two minutes. In 272 words, Lincoln honored the soldiers and their cause, and stated his vision for the country.
- "These dead shall not have died in vain. . . . Government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."
- —from the Gettysburg Address
- Reactions to Lincoln's Gettysburg Address were mixed. Everett, along with the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Springfield (Mass.) Republican, thought the speech was a success.
- The Republican wrote, "His little speech is a perfect gem; deep in feeling, compact in thought and expression, and tasteful . . . in every word and comma." It remains one of the most enduring and powerful speeches in American history.
How did the events at Vicksburg change the tide of the war?
The events at Vicksburg led to the success of the Union's strategy of splitting the South in two
The War's Final Stages
Student's Will Know
- The events that ended the Civil War
Student's Will Be Able To:
- Evaluate the idea of total war and how it affected the South
- Identify and analyze the events that ended the Civil War
The Union Closes In
- By 1864 Union forces had the South surrounded. Union ships blocked the Confederate coast, reducing the trade goods getting out and supplies getting in. The Union also controlled the Mississippi River, cutting off the western Confederate states from those in the East.
- The South seemed ready to fall—if the Union could come up with the right plan of attack. General Grant would be the one to draw up such a plan.
General Grant Takes Charge
- Ulysses S. Grant had been only an average student. He failed as a farmer and in business. Yet he became a brilliant soldier. He led Union troops to victory at Shiloh and Vicksburg and at another key battle in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In March 1864, President Lincoln put General Grant in charge of all the Union armies.
Ulysses S. Grant was commander of the Union Army during the later years of the Civil War
- President Lincoln liked that Grant was a man of action. Now in charge, Grant wasted little time coming up with a plan to finish the war. He would deliver killing blows from all sides.
- His armies would move on to Richmond, the Confederate capital. At the same time, General William Tecumseh Sherman would lead attacks across the Deep South.
William Tecumseh Sherman (1820-1891) Civil War General
- Grant soon put his strategy into action. In May and June of 1864, Grant's army confronted Lee's smaller force in a series of three battles near Richmond, Virginia. These were the Battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, and Cold Harbor.
- At each battle, Confederate lines held at first, but Grant quickly renewed the attack. "Whatever happens, there will be no turning back," Grant promised Lincoln. He was determined to march southward, attacking Lee's forces relentlessly and in spite of heavy losses until the Confederacy surrendered.
Grant Moves South Toward Richmond
- The Wilderness was a densely wooded area about halfway between Washington, D.C., and Richmond, Virginia. Here, on May 5, 1864, the six bloodiest weeks of the war began.
- For two days, Union and Confederate forces struggled among a tangle of trees through which they could hardly see. A Union private said, "It was a blind and bloody hunt to the death."
- At the Battle of the Wilderness, Lee had only about 60,000 men, while Grant had more than 100,000. Both sides suffered huge casualties. Grant, who lost 17,000 men, cried in his tent at the end of the second day.
- Meanwhile, brushfires raged through the forest. The fires burned alive 200 wounded men. On the morning of the third day, with no clear winner, Grant moved his forces south toward Richmond.
Actions in the Wilderness, May 5, 1864
- The next battles took place at nearby Spotsylvania Court House and at Cold Harbor. On June 2, the night before the third battle began, a Union general observed that men were "writing their names and home addresses on slips of paper and pinning them to the backs of their coats" to help people identify their bodies.
- The war seemed hopeless. Grant, however, was determined. He explained to the White House, "I propose to fight it out on this line, if it takes all summer."
- In a space of 30 days, Grant lost 50,000 of his troops. His critics in the North called him a "butcher." Lincoln, however, stood by his general.
- "I can't spare this man," Lincoln is reported to have said. "He fights." As he fought, the Confederates were also losing men—losses their smaller army could not survive.
Village of Spotsylvania Court House
Siege at Petersburg
- Grant made steady progress. He next arrived at Petersburg, a railroad center vital to the Confederate movement of troops and supplies. If Grant could take Petersburg, Richmond would be cut off from the rest of the Confederacy. Grant laid siege.
- The Confederates defended the city, but they could not break the Union's grip. Trains brought food and more troops to the Union side. The Confederates could get neither. Determined, they refused to give up.
Siege of Petersburg, movements against the railroads and A.P. Hill's counterattack, June 21–22
Sherman in Georgia
- Meanwhile, William Tecumseh Sherman headed for Georgia. In early July, his troops circled Atlanta. There they faced the brilliant Confederate general, John Hood. Hood's forces put up major resistance (rih • ZIHS • tuhnts)
- Sherman laid siege, finally forcing Hood to abandon the city on September 1. Among white Southerners, the mood became desperate as the prospect of defeat became more certain.
- Mary Chesnut, a South Carolinian who kept a diary throughout the war, wrote, "There is no hope, but we will try to have no fear."
Farragut Blockade Mobile Bay
- The highest-ranking officer in the Union navy was David Farragut. The son of a Spanish military man, Farragut had joined the navy when he was only 12 years old. In August 1864, he led a fleet of 18 ships through a narrow channel into Mobile Bay in Alabama.
- His mission was to gain control of the bay. Faced with stiff resistance, Farragut prepared for battle. To make sure he had a good view, he climbed high into the ship's rigging and had himself tied in place.
David Farragut led the United States Navy to some of its greatest victories in the Civil War
- The Confederates had forts on both sides of the channel, and they had mined the water with torpedoes. Unwilling to back down, Farragut shouted his famous order: "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" The mission succeeded in blocking the last Southern port east of the Mississippi.
The Election of 1864
- In the North, opposition to the war grew stronger through much of 1864. It seemed unlikely that Lincoln could win reelection in November. His loss could mean an end to the war and recognition of the Confederacy as an independent country. White Southerners clung to this hope.
- After Union troops captured Atlanta and blocked Mobile Bay, however, weary Northerners began to believe again that victory was possible. In November, President Lincoln won a second term. He took 55 percent of the popular vote and 212 to 21 electoral votes over the Democratic candidate, General George B. McClellan.
Lincoln-Ruin/ McClellan- Peace Democratic Broadside
- Many interpreted Lincoln's reelection as a clear sign from the voters: They wanted a permanent end to slavery. On January 31, 1865, Congress passed the Thirteenth Amendment, which banned slavery in the United States.
The War Ends
- From the beginning of the war, a goal of the Union was to capture the Confederate capital at Richmond. Petersburg had been the last roadblock in Grant's path. After a nine-month siege, Grant finally drove Lee's army out of that city. Jefferson Davis knew that Richmond was doomed.
Sherman's March to the Sea
- Still, the Confederacy fought on. The Union was determined to break the South's will to continue the fight. To break this will, Sherman burned much of the city of Atlanta in November 1864.
- Sherman then had his troops march across Georgia toward the Atlantic, burning cities and crops as they went. This trail of destruction is known as Sherman's March to the Sea.
- Sherman continued his march through the Carolinas to join Grant's forces near Richmond. Union troops took food, tore up railroad lines and fields, and killed livestock. General Sherman's march was part of a strategy called total war.
- Total war involves targeting not only the enemy's army, but also its land and people. Sherman hoped that by bringing the horrors of the war to the Southern population, he could help end the war.
- White Southerners were outraged by Sherman's march. Thousands of African Americans, however, left their plantations to follow the protection of his army. For them, the March to the Sea was a march to freedom.
- Meanwhile, Grant continued the siege of Petersburg. Lee and his troops defended the town, but sickness, casualties, and desertion weakened them. Finally, on April 2, 1865, the Confederate lines broke and Lee withdrew.
- Word of Lee's retreat soon reached the Confederate president. As the Union army marched toward Richmond, Davis and his cabinet prepared to leave. They gathered documents and ordered that bridges and weapons useful to the enemy be burned. Then they fled the city. An observer wrote:
- "The trains came and went, wagons, vehicles, and horsemen rumbled and dashed to and fro. . . . As night came on . . . rioting and robbing took place."
- —from Battles and Leaders of the Civil War
- The armory, with its stores of ammunition, exploded. Boom after boom rang through the city, and fires raged out of control.
- On April 3, President Lincoln visited the captured town of Petersburg. Later, Lincoln confided to naval officer David Porter, "Thank God I have lived to see this. It seems to me that I have been dreaming a horrid nightmare for four years, and now the nightmare is gone."
- President Lincoln, his son Tad, and a group of military officials arrived in Richmond on April 4 to tour the fallen Confederate capital. As Lincoln walked through the streets, joyful African Americans followed—singing, laughing, and reaching out to touch the president.
- When one man knelt down to thank him, Lincoln told him, "Don't kneel to me. You must kneel to God only, and thank Him for your freedom."
- At the home of Confederate president Davis, Lincoln sat wearily for a while on a chair in the president's office. After visiting two prisons for Confederate prisoners, Lincoln replied to a question about what to do with captured Confederates: "If I were in your place, I'd let 'em up easy, let 'em up easy."
- As a child, Dallas Tucker witnessed the arrival of Union troops in his hometown of Richmond, Virginia. He later recalled:
- "[There was] a tremendous shock, which rocked the house and rattled the windows. At first we thought it was an earthquake, but very soon concluded . . . it must be an explosion of some kind. . . . It was, in fact, the blowing up of the government powder magazine just beyond the city limits. . . . Richmond was on fire. . . . In sheer despair, warehouse after warehouse was thrown open, and the gathered crowd of hungry, despairing people were told to go in and help themselves.
- . . . Just as I reached the Washington Monument, I [saw] the troops entering [Capital] Square. . . . It was then only a few minutes later . . . that I saw the United States flag appear on the flag-pole above, where the Stars and Bars [the Confederate flag] had floated for years."
- — Reverend Dallas Tucker, writing in the Richmond Dispatch, February 3, 1902
- The task of rebuilding the former Confederate states and readmitting them to the Union was called Reconstruction.
- The Fourteenth Amendment stated that "All persons born or naturalized int he United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside"
- Before they could rejoin the Union, Southern states were required to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment