Untitled Essay Research Paper The American Civil

Untitled Essay, Research Paper

The American Civil War The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the events surroundingthe end of the American Civil War. This war was a war of epic proportion. Neverbefore and not since have so many Americans died in battle. The American Civil Warwas truly tragic in terms of human life. In this document, I will speak mainly around thoseinvolved on the battlefield in the closing days of the conflict. Also, reference will be madeto the leading men behind the Union and Confederate forces. The war was beginning toend by January of 1865. By then, Federal (Federal was another name given to the UnionArmy) armies were spread throughout the Confederacy and the Confederate Army hadshrunk extremely in size. In the year before, the North had lost an enormous amount oflives, but had more than enough to lose in comparison to the South. General Grantbecame known as the “Butcher” (Grant, Ulysses S., Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant,New York: Charles L. Webster & Co.,1894) and many wanted to see him removed.But Lincoln stood firm with his General, and the war continued. This paper will followthe happenings and events between the winter of 1864-65 and the surrender of TheConfederate States of America. All of this will most certainly illustrate that April 9, 1865was indeed the end of a tragedy. CUTTING OFF THE SOUTH In September of1864, General William T. Sherman and his army cleared the city of Atlanta of its civilianpopulation then rested ever so briefly. It was from there that General Sherman and hisarmy began its famous “march to the sea”. The march covered a distance of 400 milesand was 60 miles wide on the way. For 32 days no news of him reached the North. Hehad cut himself off from his base of supplies, and his men lived on what ever they couldget from the country through which they passed. On their route, the army destroyedanything and everything that they could not use but was presumed usable to the enemy.In view of this destruction, it is understandable that Sherman quoted “war is hell”(Sherman, William T., Memoirs of General William T. Sherman. Westport,Conn.:Greenwood Press, 1972). Finally, on December 20, Sherman’s men reached thecity of Savannah and from there Sherman telegraphed to President Lincoln: “I beg topresent you as a Christmas gift the city of Savannah, with 150 heavy guns and plenty ofammunition, and also about 25,000 bales of cotton” (Sherman, William T., Memoirs ofGeneral William T. Sherman. Westport, Conn.:Greenwood Press, 1972). Grant haddecided that the only way to win and finish the war would be to crunch with numbers.He knew that the Federal forces held more than a modest advantage in terms of menand supplies. This in mind, Grant directed Sherman to turn around now and start headingback toward Virginia. He immediately started making preparations to provide assistanceto Sherman on the journey. General John M. Schofield and his men were to detach fromthe Army of the Cumberland, which had just embarrassingly defeated the Confederatesat Nashville, and proceed toward North Carolina. His final destination was to beGoldsboro, which was roughly half the distance between Savannah and Richmond. Thisis where he and his 20,000 troops would meet Sherman and his 50,000 troops.Sherman began the move north in mid-January of 1865. The only hope of Confederateresistance would be supplied by General P.G.T. Beauregard. He was scraping togetheran army with every resource he could lay his hands on, but at best would only be able tomuster about 30,000 men. This by obvious mathematics would be no challenge to thecombined forces of Schofield and Sherman, let alone Sherman. Sherman’s plan was tomarch through South Carolina all the while confusing the enemy. His men would march intwo ranks: One would travel northwest to give the impression of a press against Augustaand the other would march northeast toward Charleston. However the one trueobjective would be Columbia. Sherman’s force arrived in Columbia on February 16.The city was burned to the ground and great controversy was to arise. TheConfederates claimed that Sherman’s men set the fires “deliberately, systematically, andatrociously”. However, Sherman claimed that the fires were burning when they arrived.The fires had been set to cotton bales by Confederate Calvary to prevent the FederalArmy from getting them and the high winds quickly spread the fire. The controversywould be short lived as no proof would ever be presented. So with Columbia,Charleston, and Augusta all fallen, Sherman would continue his drive north towardGoldsboro. On the way, his progress would be stalled not by the Confederate army butby runaway slaves. The slaves were attaching themselves to the Union columns and bythe time the force entered North Carolina, they numbered in the thousands (Barrett, JohnG., Sherman’s March through the Carolinas. Chapel Hill: The University of NorthCarolina Press, 1956). But Sherman’s force pushed on and finally met up with Schofieldin Goldsboro on March 23rd. THE END IS PLANNED Sherman immediately leftGoldsboro to travel up to City Point and meet Grant to discuss plans of attack. When hearrived there, he found not only Grant, but also Admiral David Porter waiting to meetwith President Lincoln. So on the morning of the March 28th, General Grant, GeneralSherman, and Admiral Porter all met with Lincoln on the river boat “River Queen” todiscuss a strategy against General Lee and General Johnston of the Confederate Army.Several times Lincoln asked “can’t this last battle be avoided?” (Angle and Miers, TragicYears, II) but both Generals expected the Rebels (Rebs or Rebels were a name given toConfederate soldiers) to put up at least one more fight. It had to be decided how tohandle the Rebels in regard to the upcoming surrender (all were sure of a surrender).Lincoln made his intentions very clear: “I am full of the bloodshed. You need to defeatthe opposing armies and get the men composing those armies back to their homes towork on their farms and in their shops.” (Sherman, William T., Memoirs of GeneralWilliam T. Sherman. Westport, Conn.:Greenwood Press, 1972) The meeting lasted fora number of hours and near its end, Lincoln made his orders clear: “Let them oncesurrender and reach their homes, they won’t take up arms again. They will at once beguaranteed all their rights as citizens of a common country. I want no one punished, treatthem liberally all around. We want those people to return to their allegiance to the Unionand submit to the laws.” (Porter, David D., Campaigning with Grant. New York: TheCentury Co., 1897) Well with all of the formalities outlined, the Generals and Admiralknew what needed to be done. Sherman returned to Goldsboro by steamer; Grant andPorter left by train back north. Sherman’s course would be to continue north withSchofield’s men and meet Grant in Richmond. However, this would never happen as Leewould surrender to Grant before Sherman could ever get there. THE PUSH FOR THEEND General Grant returned back to his troops who were in the process of besiegingPetersburg and Richmond. These battles had been going on for months. On March 24,before the meeting with President Lincoln, Grant drew up a new plan for a flankingmovement against the Confederates right below Petersburg. It would be the first largescale operation to take place this year and would begin five days later. Two days afterGrant made preparations to move again, Lee had already assessed the situation andinformed President Davis that Richmond and Petersburg were doomed. Lee’s onlychance would be to move his troops out of Richmond and down a southwestern pathtoward a meeting with fellow General Johnston’s (Johnston had been dispatched toVirginia after being ordered not to resist the advance of Sherman’s Army) forces. Leechose a small town to the west named Amelia Court House as a meeting point. Hisescape was narrow; they (the soldiers) could see Richmond burn as they made their wayacross the James River and to the west. Grant had finally broke through and Richmondand Petersburg were finished on the second day of April. LINCOLN VISITS FALLENRICHMOND On April 4th, after visiting Petersburg briefly, President Lincoln decidedto visit the fallen city of Richmond. He arrived by boat with his son, Tad, and was ledashore by no more than 12 armed sailors. The city had not yet been secured by Federalforces. Lincoln had no more than taken his first step when former slaves started formingaround him singing praises. Lincoln proceeded to join with General Godfrey Weitzelwho had been place in charge of the occupation of Richmond and taken hisheadquarters in Jefferson Davis’ old residence. When he arrived there, he and Tad tookan extensive tour of the house after discovering Weitzel was out and some of the soldiersremarked that Lincoln seemed to have a boyish expression as he did so. No one can besure what Lincoln was thinking as he sat in Davis’ office. When Weitzel arrived, heasked the President what to do with the conquered people. Lincoln replied that he nolonger gave direction in military manners but went on to say: “If I were in your place, I’dlet ‘em up easy, let ‘em up easy” (Johnson, Robert Underwood, and Clarence CloughBuel, eds., Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, Vol 4. New York: The Century Co.,1887). THE CHASE BEGINS Lee’s forces were pushing west toward Amelia and theFederals would be hot on their tails. Before leaving Richmond, Lee had asked theCommissary Department of the Confederacy to store food in Amelia and the troopsrushed there in anticipation. What they found when they got there however was verydisappointing. While there was an abundance of ammunition and ordinance, there wasnot a single morsel of food. Lee could not afford to give up his lead over the advancingFederals so he had to move his nearly starving troops out immediately in search of food.They continued westward, still hoping to join with Johnston eventually, and headed forFarmville, where Lee had been informed, there was an abundance of bacon andcornmeal. Several skirmishes took place along the way as some Federal regimentswould catch up and attack, but the Confederate force reached Farmville. However, themen had no more that started to eat their bacon and cornmeal when Union GeneralSheridan arrived and started a fight. Luckily, it was nearly night, and the Confederateforce snuck out under cover of the dark. But not before General Lee received GeneralGrants first request for surrender. NOWHERE TO RUN The Confederates, in theirrush to leave Farmville in the night of April 7th, did not get the rations they sodesperately needed, so they were forced to forage for food. Many chose to desert andleave for home. General Lee saw two men leaving for home and said “Stop young men,and get together you are straggling” and one of the soldiers replied “General, we are justgoing over here to get some water” and Lee replied “Strike for your home and fireside”(Freeman, Douglas Southall, R.E. Lee: A Biography, Vol 3. New York: CharlesScribner’s Sons, 1935): they did. Rebel forces reached their objective, AppomattoxCourt House, around 3pm on April 8th. Lee received word that to the south, atAppomattox Station, supplies had arrived by train and were waiting there. However, thepursuing Union forces knew this also and took a faster southern route to the station. By8pm that evening the Federals had taken the supplies and would wait there for theevening, preparing to attack the Confederates at Appomattox Court House in themorning. Meanwhile, Lee scribbled out a brave response to Grant’s inquiry simplyasking for explanation of the terms to be involved in the surrender. THE FINALBATTLE At daybreak the Confederate battle line was formed to the west ofAppomattox. The Union soldiers were in position in front of the line with cannons. Whenthe Federal cannons started to fire, the Confederate signal for attack was sounded andthe troops charged. One soldier later remarked: “It was my fortune to witness severalcharges during the war, but never one so magnificently executed as this one.”(McCarthy, Carlton, Detailed Minutiae of Soldier Life in the Army of Northern Virginia1861-1865. Richmond: Carlton McCarthy, 1882) This Confederate advance only lastedfrom about 7am to 9am, at which time the Rebels were forced back. The Confederatescould no longer hold their lines and Lee sent word to Grant to meet at 1pm to discusssurrender. The two men met at the now famous McLean House and a surrender wasagreed upon. It was 2pm on April 9, 1865. Johnston’s army surrendered to GeneralSherman on April 26 in North Carolina; General Taylor of Mississippi-Alabama andGeneral Smith of the trans Mississippi-Texas surrendered in May ending the warcompletely. SUMMARY The Civil War was a completely tragic event. Just think, a warin which thousands of Americans died in their home country over nothing more than adifference in opinion. Yes, slavery was the cause of the Civil War: half of the countrythought it was wrong and the other half just couldn’t let them go. The war was foughtoverall in probably 10,000 different places and the monetary and property loss cannotbe calculated. The Union dead numbered 360,222 and only 110,000 of them died inbattle. Confederate dead were estimated at 258,000 including 94,000 who actually diedon the field of battle. The Civil War was a great waste in terms of human life andpossible accomplishment and should be considered shameful. Before its first centennial,tragedy struck a new country and stained it for eternity. It will never be forgotten butadversity builds strength and the United States of America is now a much strongernation. — BIBLIOGRAPHY “The Civil War”, Groliers Encyclopedia, 1995 Catton,Bruce., A Stillness at Appomattox. New York: Doubleday, 1963 Foote, Shelby., TheCivil War, Vol. 3. New York: Random, 1974 Garraty, John Arthur, The AmericanNation: A History of the United states to 1877, Vol. 1, Eighth Edition. New York:HarperCollins College Publishers, 1995 Miers, Earl Schenck, The Last Campaign.Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Co., 1972 Korn, Jerry, Pursuit to Appomattox, The Last


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