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Chapter 21. The Furnace of the Civil War 1861-1865. Fighting in the Eastern Theater. Abraham Lincoln will offer command of the Army of the Potomac to Irvin McDowell. General mood (especially in the North) is that the war will be over in months.

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chapter 21

Chapter 21

The Furnace of the Civil War


fighting in the eastern theater
Fighting in the Eastern Theater
  • Abraham Lincoln will offer command of the Army of the Potomac to Irvin McDowell.
  • General mood (especially in the North) is that the war will be over in months.
  • McDowell will move his troops forward for the capture of Richmond – a direct land route from Washington, DC
  • March to the battle will be carnival like – spectators (civilians and politicians), groups bringing picnics
first battle of bull run
(First) Battle of Bull Run
  • Beginning of the battle looks as if McDowell and his forces will defeat the Confederates under the command of PGT Beauregard.
  • Beauregard is reinforced by a division led by Joseph E. Johnston (Johnston’s men have arrived by rail).
  • One of Johnston’s generals (Thomas J. Jackson) will hold the field.
  • July 21, 1861
Legend says one of the Confederate Generals encouraged his men by saying: “Look at Jackson – he stands there like a stonewall.”
  • The Confederates regroup – reorganize – rout the Union Army from the field.
  • Becomes true chaos when the Union soldiers begin mixing in with the crowd that has come to watch the fight.
  • Southerners lose an opportunity (“green troops”) – could have marched into Washington, DC
the peninsula campaign
The Peninsula Campaign
  • McDowell is immediately removed from duty and replaced by George McClellan. McClellan will argue that the troops were not ready and therefore failed. He will begin training….and training…..and training.
  • Lincoln will say he has a case of the “slows”
  • McClellan is finally “forced” to move in the spring of 1862
McClellan will decide against a direct land attack at Richmond and will determine to use a water route and attack from the east.
McClellan will begin the campaign with about 100,000 and will march within a few miles of Richmond – winning a number of key battles along the way.
  • Reinforcements do not reach McClellan because they are forced to stay in Washington (Lincoln believes that Stonewall Jackson’s men are about to counter attack – Washington)
  • Then his “cautiousness” kicks in – JEB Stuart’s cavalry are circling his men.
  • Then at the Battle of Seven Days – Lee will counter-attack and force McClellan to retreat (June 26-July 2, 1862)
  • Lincoln replaces McClellan with General John Pope.
second battle of bull run
Second Battle of Bull Run
  • After successfully stopping McClellan – Lee will counter attack in August of 1862 and attempt to capture Washington, DC. Pope will respond by attempting to block the attack (at Manassas Junction). Pope came from the west and has boasted that he has only seen the backs of the South), but Lee will crush the Union lines and the Battle of Bull Run is a total Confederate victory.
  • Lincoln will relieve Pope of his duties and bring back the only general who has been semi-successful – George McClellan
battle of antietam
Battle of Antietam
  • Lee then will make a tactical decision to move into Maryland – September 1862
    • Take the fighting out of Virginia during harvest time
    • Hopefully gain a victory in Maryland and pull it into the Confederacy
  • It will be the bloodiest single day of the war (September 17th) right at 23,000 casualties (over 12,000 for the Union and over 10,000 for the Confederacy)
  • One Union general replied that it was almost impossible to find a spot for his horse to step because of all the wounded and dead.
On September 18th – Lee will begin a retreat back over the Potomac River and will engage McClellan a few skirmishes to keep him at bay.
  • It is a technical draw, but considered a Northern victory because they stopped Lee’s advance
  • From September 17 to October 26 McClellan went nowhere and allowed Lee and the Confederates to escape. Henry Halleck head of the War Department ordered McClellan to move on, but McClellan refused. Lincoln will dismiss McClellan and replace him with General Ambrose E. Burnside.
battle of fredericksburg
Battle of Fredericksburg
  • Burnside will be know for two things:
    • His sideburns
    • Being demolished by Lee
  • Burnside not fit for leadership
  • It is the most lopsided battle in the Civil War – North will suffer over 12,500 casualties and the South only 5,300 – Takes place in mid-December 1862
  • Burnside is removed and replaced by General Joseph Hooker (who will boast – “may God have mercy on General Lee for I will have none.”
battle of chancellorsville
Battle of Chancellorsville
  • Joseph Hooker and Robert E. Lee
  • April 30-May 6, 1863
  • Lee is greatly outnumbered:

Union forces of 134,000

Confederate forces of 61,000

  • Sometimes referred to as Lee’s Perfect Battle – he will divide his army and attack
  • Both sides lose a lot of men: North will lose 17,000 and the South 13,000
he has lost his left arm
“…He has lost his left arm…”
  • The South may suffer one of its greatest losses at Chancellorsville….Stonewall Jackson will be shot by one of his own men (“friendly fire”)
  • He will be taken to a army hospital and will have his left arm amputated
  • Lee will say….”he has lost his left arm, but I have lost my right.”
emancipation proclamation
Emancipation Proclamation
  • Earlier in 1861, Abraham Lincoln will issue the Emancipation Proclamation (January 1, 1863) which will grant freedom to any slave within the United States (technical point – it didn’t grant freedom to slaves in the Confederacy)
  • Slavery will officially end in 1865 with the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States
  • Former Confederate states will have to swear allegiance to the Constitution to be readmitted to the Union.
fighting in the eastern theater1
Fighting in the Eastern Theater
  • Key battle was for Fort Henry (on the Tennessee River) and Fort Donelson (on the Cumberland River)
Ulysses S Grant will force both forts to surrender and open the doorway into Tennessee – February 1862
    • Grant gets one of his famous nicknames during this campaign. “Unconditional Surrender” Grant
  • Grant will then want to attack the main Confederate railroad hub – located at Corinth, Mississippi
  • Marches his men down the Tennessee River
battle of shiloh
Battle of Shiloh
  • Fought on April 6-7, 1862
  • US Grant versus Albert Sydney Johnston
  • Johnston and the Confederates will surprise the Union forces by marching all night and attacking them at Shiloh at daybreak.
  • Known as the “bloodiest” battle in the west – 24,000 casualties in two days (Union – 13,000 and the Confederacy – 11,000)
Johnston’s surprise attack is so good that Grant has no clue they are in the area (Grant is actually up river and William T. Sherman is in charge of the Union troops).
  • Day One is a good day for the Confederate army – they have Grant pushed up against the Tennessee River and trapped (The Hornet’s Nest – slowed down the Confederate assault – led by General W. H. L. Wallace and Benjamin Prentiss)
Day Two: The Union army under Grant and Sherman will regroup – the Lost division of General Lew Wallace (author of Ben Hur) will reinforce, and the South learns that commander A. S. Johnston has been killed. The Union army is able to force the Confederate off the field and back to Corinth.
  • A technical draw – but it stops the Union march to Corinth
the best day of the war for the north
The Best Day of the War for the North
  • July 4, 1863 will deliver the best news for the North. They will have defeated Lee at Gettysburg and will have captured Vicksburg (on the Mississippi River) to gain complete control of the Mississippi (from New Orleans – gained by Admiral David Farragut {a Tennessean} to Memphis which is controlled by the Union Army). The Anaconda Plan is beginning to work.
  • On July 4, 1863 – it is fairly certain that the chances of a Confederate victory are slim.
battle of gettysburg
Battle of Gettysburg
  • July 1-3, 1863
  • Lee will make a move into the north and he will be shadowed by new head of the Army of the Potomac – General George Meade
  • Highest casualties of the war – split even 23,000 men on each side – over 46,000 casualties in 3 days.
  • Lee had chosen Cashtown, PA as his place to fight, but fighting broke out in Gettysburg (over shoes?) and both armies quickly converge
Day One

Frontal assault on town

Lee comes close to getting

“high ground”


General Richard Ewell

General JEB Stuart

North holds the “high ground”

Day Two

Attack on Left Flank

Peach Orchard, Devil’s Den

Little Round Top

Joshua Chamberlain’s tactic


Longstreet waits too long

Stuart shows up late

North holds “high ground”

Day Three

Lee’s dangerous gamble

1:00 pm – artillery

Pickett’s charge – 3:00 pm

12,500 over ¾’s mile march

Small breach at the “Jog”

Pickett – “I have no division”


Lee – overconfident?

battle of chattanooga
Battle of Chattanooga
  • Union forces will to capture important city of Chattanooga
  • Series battles
    • Chickamauga (Southern victory) – September, 1863 (General William Rosecrans defeated by General Braxton Bragg) Union retreats to Chattanooga
    • Chattanooga – Rosecrans replaced by Grant. Grant will push Bragg back at Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge (November 1863)

Grant will be called to take the Army of the Potomac and Sherman will take over the Army of the Cumberland and march toward Atlanta – the March to the Sea. He will apply a technique called “total war” or a “war of attrition”

election of 1864
Election of 1864
  • A number individuals are upset with Lincoln and would love to see him replaced as the Republican nominee.
  • They believe that he has overstepped his Constitutional bounds. Congressional Committee on the Conduct of the War.
  • Lincoln will eventually win the nomination and choose Andrew Johnson of Tennessee as his VP
  • Democrats will nominate George McClellan
The Democratic Party will split into 3 groups:
    • Copperheads: wanted immediate peace with the Confederacy (let them go) and they obstructed the war effort. One of their leaders – Clement Vallandigham (Ohio) was found guilty of treason and Lincoln banished him to the South
    • Peace Democrats: Not as radical but wanted a peace treaty and the war over.
    • War Democrats: Support the war

Lincoln will win re-election.

the wilderness campaign
The Wilderness Campaign
  • Beginning in May 1864 Grant will determine to continually engage Lee – he will use the population advantage to the North’s benefit – the will last until April of 1865
  • Losing a number of the battles (technically) Grant will resupply and push on
  • Grant is pummeled in the press:
    • “At least this man fights…”
    • “Find me the brand, and I’ll send a barrel to each of my other generals.”

Lee will leave the city of Richmond and the Union army captures it on April 3, 1865

appomattox courthouse
Appomattox Courthouse
  • April 9, 1865 is the last battle at Appomattox Courthouse – Lee realizes that they cannot continue and at 4:00 pm will surrender to US Grant at the McLean home
  • Grant will give Lee the concessions that he wants
  • Grant will not allow his men to shout or cheer over the surrender – arguing that they are all Americans again
  • Lee gives his troops a farewell address on April 10
On April 10th – Lincoln will ask the band to play “Dixie” (he claims it one of the best tunes he has ever heard) – it is followed by “Yankee Doodle”
  • On April 14th Abraham Lincoln will be assassinated by John Wilkes Booth
    • At Ford’s Theater watching a comedy “Our American Cousin”
    • There with his wife (Grant had been invited)
    • Part of a bigger conspiracy plot