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United States

United States
Volume 1
Revolutionary War World War I

Edited by
John C. Super
West Virginia University

Salem Press, Inc.

Pasadena, California Hackensack, New Jersey
Frontispiece: Archibald Willards 1891 painting Spirit of 76.
(National Archives)

Copyright 2005, by Salem Press, Inc.

All rights in this book are reserved. No part of this work may be used or
reproduced in any manner whatsoever or transmitted in any form or by
any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or
any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission
from the copyright owner except in the case of brief quotations embodied
in critical articles and reviews. For information address the publisher, Sa-
lem Press, Inc., P.O. Box 50062, Pasadena, California 91115.

The paper used in these volumes conforms to the American Na-

tional Standard for Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials,
Z39.48-1992 (R1997)

Some essays originally appeared in Censorship (1997), Encyclopedia of

Flight (2002), Encyclopedia of the U.S. Supreme Court (2000), Great Events,
1990-2001, Revised Edition (2002), Great Events from History: North American
Series, Revised Edition (1997), Human Rights Violations (2002), Magills Guide
to Military History (2001), Weapons and Warfare (2001), and Womens Issues
(1997). New material has been added.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

The United States at war / edited by John C. Super.

p. cm.
Essays selected from various publications together with new material.
Includes bibliographical references and indexes.
ISBN-10: 1-58765-236-6 (set: alk. paper)
ISBN-10: 1-58765-237-4 (vol. 1 : alk. paper)
ISBN-10: 1-58765-238-2 (vol. 2 : alk. paper)
ISBN-13: 978-1-58765-236-3 (set 13 digit: alk. paper)
1. United StatesHistory, Military. 2. United StatesHistory, Mili-
taryChronology. I. Super, John C., 1944-
E181.U64 2005


First Printing

printed in the united states of america

Table of Contents
Publishers Note . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ix
Contributors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xiii

Revolutionary War: 1775-1783

Revolutionary War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Censorship During the Revolution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Women in the Revolutionary War. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Campaigns, Battles, and Other Events
March, 1770: Boston Massacre . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
December, 1773: Boston Tea Party . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
April, 1775: Battles of Lexington and Concord . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
May, 1775: Battle of Fort Ticonderoga . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
June, 1775: Battle of Bunker Hill . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
December, 1775: Battle of Quebec . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
August, 1776: Battle of Long Island . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
September, 1776: Experiments in Submarine Warfare . . . . . . . . . 44
October, 1776: Battle of White Plains . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
December, 1776: Battle of Trenton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
January, 1777: Battle of Princeton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
August, 1777: Battle of Oriskany Creek . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52
September, 1777: Battle of Brandywine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
October, 1777: Battle of Germantown . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
October, 1777: Battle of Saratoga . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
February, 1778: Franco-American Treaties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
June, 1778: Battle of Monmouth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67
September-October, 1779: Siege of Savannah. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68
April-May, 1780: Siege of Charleston . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70
August, 1780: Battle of Camden . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
October, 1780: Battle of Kings Mountain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72
January, 1781: Battle of Cowpens . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73
October, 1781: Surrender at Yorktown. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
September, 1783: Treaty of Paris . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78
Further Reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83

War of 1812: 1812-1814

War of 1812 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93
Censorship During the War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101
Campaigns, Battles, and Other Events
September, 1813: Battle of Lake Erie . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103
October, 1813: Battle of the Thames . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 104

The United States at War

September, 1814: Battle of Lake Champlain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 108

September, 1814: Battle of Baltimore . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109
January, 1815: Battle of New Orleans. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110
February, 1815: Treaty of Ghent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115
Further Reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119

Mexican War: 1846-1848

Mexican War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123
Censorship During the War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 132
Campaigns, Battles, and Other Events
June, 1835-October, 1836: Texas Revolution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 134
February-March, 1836: Battle of the Alamo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 137
April, 1836: Battle of San Jacinto . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 140
June, 1846-January, 1847: Occupation of California and
the Southwest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 140
September, 1846: Battle of Monterrey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144
February, 1847: Battle of Buena Vista. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145
April, 1847: Battle of Cerro Gordo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 146
September, 1847: Siege of Chapultepec . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 148
February, 1848: Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo . . . . . . . . . . . . 149
Further Reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 154

Civil War: 1861-1865

Civil War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 159
Weapons, Tactics, and Strategies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 175
Conscription . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 191
Censorship During the War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 195
Justice During the War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 201
U.S. Supreme Court During the War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 206
Native American Combatants in the War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 213
Women in the War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 216
Campaigns, Battles, and Other Events
October, 1859: Harpers Ferry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 220
April, 1861: Battle of Fort Sumter. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 224
July, 1861: First Battle of Bull Run . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 225
February, 1862: Battle of Fort Donelson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 230
March, 1862: Monitor vs. Virginia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 230
April, 1862: Battle of Shiloh . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 234
June-July, 1862: Seven Days Battles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 235
August, 1862: Second Battle of Bull Run. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 237
September, 1862: Battle of Antietam . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 239
October, 1862: Battle of Corinth. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 240
December, 1862: Battle of Fredericksburg . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 241
May, 1863: Battle of Chancellorsville . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 243

Table of Contents

July, 1863: Battles of Gettysburg and Vicksburg . . . . . . . . . . . 245

September, 1863: Battle of Chickamauga . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 251
November, 1863: Battle of Chattanooga . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 252
May, 1864: Battle of the Wilderness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 253
May, 1864: Battle of Spotsylvania Court House . . . . . . . . . . . . 255
June, 1864: Battle of Cold Harbor. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 256
June, 1864-April, 1865: Siege of Petersburg . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 258
November, 1864-April, 1865: Shermans March to the Sea . . . . . 259
December, 1864: Battle of Savannah . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 262
December, 1864: Battle of Nashville . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 263
April, 1865: Surrender at Appomattox. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 264
Further Reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 269

Spanish-American War: 1898

Spanish-American War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 281
Censorship During the War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 288
Campaigns, Battles and Other Events
July, 1898: Battle of San Juan/El Caney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 290
February, 1899-July, 1902: Philippine Insurrection . . . . . . . . . . 291
Further Reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 296

World War I: 1914-1918

World War I. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 299
Weapons, Tactics, and Strategies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 312
The Air War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 326
Censorship During the War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 332
Propaganda and Civil Liberties During the War . . . . . . . . . . . . . 337
U.S. Supreme Court During the War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 342
Women in the War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 346
Campaigns, Battles, and Other Events
June, 1917: The Espionage Act . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 351
July, 1917: Mobilization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 354
September, 1918: Battle of St. Mihiel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 358
September-November, 1918: Meuse-Argonne Offensive . . . . . . 360
November, 1918: Postwar Demobilization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 364
January, 1919-July, 1921: Treaty of Versailles . . . . . . . . . . . . . 369
Further Reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 375

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Publishers Note

The United States was forged as a nation in a war, and through its long his-
tory, it has repeatedly had to go back to war to protect its interests and the
freedoms on which it was founded. Although war runs counter to the
democratic principles of the nation, it is an unavoidable central theme of
American history. As such, it demands study and understanding. The
United States at War seeks to meet this need by offering compact surveys of
the most important military conflicts with foreign nations in which the
United States, as an independent nation, has been involvedfrom the
Revolutionary War of the late eighteenth century through the Iraq War of
2003. The 177 essays in this two-volume set examine these conflicts from a
variety of perspectives, ranging from detailed examinations of individual
battles to discussions of broader issues of each conflict and overviews of
the conflicts themselves.
The basic arrangement of The United States at War is chronological, with
chapters on eleven wars and periods of conflict:

The Revolutionary War

The War of 1812
The Mexican War
The Civil War
The Spanish-American War
World War I
World War II
The Korean War
The Vietnam War
Conflicts in the Caribbean
Post-Cold War Conflicts

It should be noted that while the basic arrangement of The United

States at War is chronological, establishing the chronological parameters
of each conflict is not always a straightforward matter. For example,
while the Revolutionary War is generally seen as beginning with the Bat-
tles of Lexington and Concord in April, 1775, the roots of the military con-
flict go back at least five years earlier. For that reason, the chapter on
the Revolutionary War in this volume opens with essays on the Boston
Massacre of 1770 and the Boston Tea Party of 1773. Neither event was
a military event in the strict sense of the term, but each played an impor-

The United States at War

tant role in advancing Great Britains North American colonies toward

Similarly, the roots of the Mexican War of 1846-1848 can be traced,
in part, to the Texas Revolution of 1835-1836. While the U.S. government
itself was not directly involved in that earlier conflict, the Texas revolt con-
tributed significantly to the conflict between the U.S. and Mexican gov-
ernments, and for that reason the chapter on the Mexican War contains
three essays on the Texas Revolution. The Spanish-American War was
a brief conflict that began and ended in the year 1898. However, its con-
clusion left unresolved the political status of the Philippines, whose peo-
ple expected to be granted independence after Spains defeat. That ex-
pectation led to a popular revolt against U.S. occupation that may be
seen as an extension of the Spanish-American War, so that revolt is also
covered here.
The twentieth centurys two great world wars present a different kind
of complication. World War I and World War II both began before the
United States entered them. Since the subject of The United States at War is
U.S. conflicts, no attempt is made here to cover the two world wars com-
prehensively. Instead, the essays in these volumes focus on U.S. involve-
ment in those wars. Nevertheless, readers will find a great deal of informa-
tion about other aspects of those wars here.
Since its withdrawal from the Vietnam War during the early 1970s, the
United States has been involved in a variety of armed conflicts around the
world. Few of these conflicts have merited the label wars, but most have
involved uniformed troops of the U.S. military. The most important, mili-
tarily, of those conflicts are grouped here under two chapter headings:
Conflicts in the Caribbean and Post-Cold War Conflicts. The former
chapter covers military episodes in the Caribbean Basinincluding Cen-
tral Americafrom the Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961 through the occupa-
tion of Panama in 1989. The Bay of Pigs invasion was not, strictly speaking,
a U.S. military operation, but it did involve military operations and the
support of the U.S. government. More importantly, it helps to explain later
U.S. conflicts in the Caribbean.
The section on post-Cold War conflicts in The United States at War may
be seen as an unfinished chapter in U.S. military history, as it covers major
conflicts that are presently still unfolding, including the U.S. occupations
of Afghanistan and Iraq. Users of this set may find that by the time they
read the essays in that section, the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan have
changed dramatically. However, every effort has been made to bring those
essays up to date as this set goes to press, and the essays themselves have
been written so that they will not quickly go out of date.

Publishers Note

Each section on an individual war or conflict opens with an overview of
the conflict, followed by essays that examine the conflict and its individual
battles and campaigns from a variety of perspectives. For example, the sec-
tion on the Revolutionary War includes essays on censorship and on the
role of women during the war, as well as more than 20 individual battles,
the British surrender, and the peace treaty that concluded the war.
The section on World War IIthe largest military conflict in which the
United States has been involvedcontains 37 separate essays, including an
overview of the war; discussions of weaponry, censorship, the Lend-Lease
program, development of the atomic bomb, expansion of the Navy, aerial
warfare, the role of women, and essays on 29 individual battles and cam-
As in all Salem Press reference works, essays all have standardized
ready-reference top matter that allows readers to see the most salient facts
about each topic at a glance. Most of the sets essays are on individual bat-
tles and campaigns. The top matter in each essay summarizes this informa-
tion, as relevant:
Name of battle or campaign
Principal commanders

Special Features
At the end of each section, readers will find an extensive Further Read-
ing list on the conflict. Additional general sources on military history are
listed in the appendix Bibliography at the end of volume 2. Other appendi-
ces include a detailed Time Line of all U.S. military conflicts from 1775
through early 2005 and a Biographical Directory, which contains thumb-
nail sketches of more than 100 American military and political leaders who
are discussed in The United States at War. Volume 2 also contains an Index of
Personages and a detailed General Subject Index.
The United States at War is richly illustrated with more than 220 illustra-
tionsan average of more than 20 photographs in each section. The set
also has numerous maps, time lines, and other graphical material.

Most of the essays in The United States at War are taken from earlier
Salem Press publications, including Magills Guide to Military History (2001),

The United States at War

Weapons and Warfare (2001), Great Events from History: North American Series
(1997), Censorship (1997), Womens Issues (1997), and Encyclopedia of Flight
(2002). All articles and bibliographies have been updated, as necessary,
and entirely new material has been added.
The editors of Salem Press would like to thank the many contributors
whose writing has made its publications possible. The editors would par-
ticularly like to thank Professor John C. Super of West Virginia University
for serving as Editor of The United States at War.

Richard Adler William S. Brockington
University of Michigan at Dearborn University of South Carolina, Aiken

William Allison Thomas W. Buchanan

Weber State University Ancilla Domini College

Lenna H. Allred David D. Buck

Texas A&M University University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Stephen E. Ambrose Douglas Campbell

Louisiana State University, Independent Scholar
New Orleans
Byron D. Cannon
Eleanor B. Amico University of Utah
Independent Scholar
Michael S. Casey
Charles F. Bahmueller Graceland University
Center for Civic Education
Gilbert T. Cave
Maryanne Barsotti Lakeland Community College
Independent Scholar
Paul John Chara, Jr.
Peter K. Benbow Northwestern College
University of Oxford
Frederick B. Chary
Meredith William Berg Indiana University Northwest
Valparaiso University
Ronald J. Cima
Margaret Boe Birns Library of Congress
New York University
Thomas Clarkin
Steve D. Boilard University of Texas at San Antonio
Independent Scholar
Ross F. Collins
John Braeman North Dakota State University
University of Nebraska
James J. Cooke
John A. Britton University of Mississippi
Francis Marion University

The United States at War

William J. Cooper, Jr. Tom Frazier

Louisiana State University, Baton Cumberland College
Paul A. Frisch
Charles E. Cottle Washington & Jefferson College
University of Wisconsin
Michael P. Gabriel
Edward R. Crowther Kutztown University
Adams State College
Keith Garebian
Bruce J. DeHart Independent Scholar
University of North Carolina at
Pembroke K. Fred Gillum
Colby College
Jennifer Eastman
Clark University Richard A. Glenn
Millersville University
Ralph L. Eckert
Pennsylvania State University at Erie Nancy M. Gordon
Independent Scholar
Peter R. Faber
United States Air Force Academy Robert F. Gorman
Southwest Texas State University
Randall Fegley
Pennsylvania State University Lewis L. Gould
University of Texas at Austin
John W. Fiero
University of Louisiana at Lafayette Daniel G. Graetzer
Independent Scholar
Michael Shaw Findlay
California State University, Chico Michael Haas
University of Hawaii at Manoa
John E. Finn
Wesleyan University William I. Hair
Florida State University
Michael S. Fitzgerald
Pikeville College Irwin Halfond
McKendree College
Dale L. Flesher
University of Mississippi Pamela Hayes-Bohanan
McAllen Memorial Library
George Q. Flynn
State University of New York, Peter B. Heller
Plattsburgh Manhattan College


R. Don Higginbotham Joseph Edward Lee

University of North Carolina at Winthrop University
Chapel Hill
Van M. Leslie
Kay Hively Union College
Independent Scholar
Thomas Tandy Lewis
Samuel B. Hoff Anoka-Ramsey Community College
Delaware State University
Eric v.d. Luft
Donald Holley State University of New York, Upstate
University of Arkansas, Monticello Medical University

John Quinn Imholte William M. McBride

University of Minnesota, Morris U.S. Naval Academy

W. Turrentine Jackson Joseph M. McCarthy

University of California, Davis Suffolk University

Lance Janda Dana P. McDermott

Cameron University Independent Scholar

Bruce E. Johansen Paul D. Mageli

University of Nebraska, Omaha Independent Scholar

Charles W. Johnson Carl Henry Marcoux

University of Tennessee University of California, Riverside

Richard C. Kagan Thomas D. Matijasic

Hamline University Prestonsburg Community College

Burton Kaufman James I. Matray

Louisiana State University, New Mexico State University
New Orleans
Maurice K. Melton
Christopher E. Kent Andrew College
Independent Scholar
Liesel Ashley Miller
Jeffrey Kimball Mississippi State University
Miami University
Bert M. Mutersbaugh
Gayla Koerting Eastern Kentucky University
Independent Scholar

The United States at War

Burl L. Noggle Richard H. Sander

Louisiana State University, Baton Woodstock Institute
Sean J. Savage
Cynthia Clark Northrup Saint Marys College
University of Texas at Arlington
Helmut J. Schmeller
Robert J. Paradowski Fort Hays State University
Rochester Institute of Technology
Larry Schweikart
Marilyn Elizabeth Perry University of Dayton
Independent Scholar
Terry L. Seip
John C. Pinheiro Louisiana State University,
University of Tennessee, Knoxville Baton Rouge

Julio Csar Pino R. Baird Shuman

Kent State University University of Illinois at Urbana-
Mark A. Plummer
Illinois State University Michael J. Siler
California State University,
John Powell Los Angeles
Cumberland College
David Curtis Skaggs
Eugene L. Rasor Bowling Green State University
Emory & Henry College
Chuck Smith
William G. Ratliff West Virginia State College
Georgia Southern University
Roger Smith
Stacy W. Reaves Independent Scholar
Oklahoma State University
W. Calvin Smith
William L. Richter University of South Carolina, Aiken
Cameron College
John A. Sondey
Edward J. Rielly South Dakota State University
Saint Josephs College of Maine
Ronald L. Spiller
Henry O. Robertson Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
Louisiana State University,
Alexandria Leon Stein
Roosevelt University


David L. Sterling Spencer C. Tucker

University of Cincinnati Texas Christian University

Leslie Stricker William M. Tuttle

Park University University of Kansas

Taylor Stults Robert D. Ubriaco, Jr.

Muskingum College University of Illinois

Glenn L. Swygart William E. Watson

Tennessee Temple University Immaculata University

Jachin W. Thacker Henry Weisser

Western Kentucky University Colorado State University

Emory M. Thomas Richard Whitworth

University of Georgia Ball State University

Mark Thompson Theodore A. Wilson

University of North Carolina at University of Kansas
Thomas Winter
Brian G. Tobin University of Cincinnati
Lassen College
Michael Witkoski
Kenneth William Townsend Independent Scholar
Coastal Carolina University
C. E. Wood
Anne Trotter University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Memphis State University
Robert Zaller
Drexel University

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United States
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United States

United States
Volume 2
World War II Post-Cold War Conflicts

Edited by
John C. Super
West Virginia University

Salem Press, Inc.

Pasadena, California Hackensack, New Jersey
Frontispiece: U.S. Marines patrolling in Afghanistan in April, 2004.
(U.S. Department of Defense)

Copyright 2005, by Salem Press, Inc.

All rights in this book are reserved. No part of this work may be used or
reproduced in any manner whatsoever or transmitted in any form or by
any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or
any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission
from the copyright owner except in the case of brief quotations embodied
in critical articles and reviews. For information address the publisher, Sa-
lem Press, Inc., P.O. Box 50062, Pasadena, California 91115.

The paper used in these volumes conforms to the American Na-

tional Standard for Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials,
Z39.48-1992 (R1997)

Some essays originally appeared in Censorship (1997), Encyclopedia of

Flight (2002), Encyclopedia of the U.S. Supreme Court (2000), Great Events,
1990-2001, Revised Edition (2002), Great Events from History: North American
Series, Revised Edition (1997), Human Rights Violations (2002), Magills Guide
to Military History (2001), Weapons and Warfare (2001), and Womens Issues
(1997). New material has been added.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

The United States at war / edited by John C. Super.

p. cm.
Essays selected from various publications together with new material.
Includes bibliographical references and indexes.
ISBN-10: 1-58765-236-6 (set: alk. paper)
ISBN-10: 1-58765-237-4 (vol. 1 : alk. paper)
ISBN-10: 1-58765-238-2 (vol. 2 : alk. paper)
ISBN-13: 978-1-58765-236-3 (set 13 digit: alk. paper)
1. United StatesHistory, Military. 2. United StatesHistory, Mili-
taryChronology. I. Super, John C., 1944-
E181.U64 2005


First Printing

printed in the united states of america

Table of Contents

World War II: 1939-1945

World War II . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 381
Weapons, Tactics, and Strategies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 397
The Naval War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 407
The Air War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 414
U.S. Supreme Court During the War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 422
Women in the War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 427
Censorship During the War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 431
Campaigns, Battles, and Other Events
August, 1939: Mobilization for Possible War . . . . . . . . . . . . . 437
September, 1939-May, 1945: Battle of the North Atlantic . . . . . . 441
March, 1941: Lend-Lease Act . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 442
December, 1941: Battle of Pearl Harbor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 446
December, 1941: Axis Declaration of War on the
United States . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 451
December, 1941-April, 1942: Battle of Bataan . . . . . . . . . . . . . 455
February, 1942: Japanese American Internment . . . . . . . . . . . 457
May, 1942: Battle of the Coral Sea . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 462
June, 1942: Battle of Midway . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 464
June, 1942: Manhattan Project . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 468
August, 1942-February, 1943: Battle of Guadalcanal . . . . . . . . . 472
November, 1942: North Africa Invasion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 477
July-September, 1943: Italy Invasion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 482
September-October, 1943: Battle of Salerno . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 485
November, 1943: Battle of Tarawa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 487
June, 1944: Operation Overlord. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 488
June-July, 1944: Battle for Saipan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 493
June, 1944: Superfortress Bombing of Japan. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 494
July-August, 1944: Battle of Guam . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 498
July-August, 1944: Battle of Tinian . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 500
October, 1944: Battle for Leyte Gulf . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 501
December, 1944: Battle of the Bulge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 507
February, 1945: Yalta Conference . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 512
February-March, 1945: Battle for Iwo Jima . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 515
April-July, 1945: Battle of Okinawa. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 517
May, 1945: V-E Day. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 518
July-August, 1945: Potsdam Conference. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 522
August, 1945: Atomic Bombing of Japan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 525
Further Reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 530

The United States at War

Korean War: 1950-1953

Korean War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 543
The Air War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 552
Censorship During the War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 556
Campaigns, Battles, and Other Events
July-September, 1950: Battle of the Pusan Perimeter . . . . . . . . . 558
September, 1950: Inchon Landing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 559
October, 1950-April, 1951: Truman-MacArthur
Confrontation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 561
April, 1951: Battle of Imjin River . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 565
March-July, 1953: Battle of Pork Chop Hill . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 566
Further Reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 568

Vietnam War: 1960s-1975

Vietnam War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 573
Weapons, Tactics, and Strategies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 581
The Peace Movement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 590
Justice During the War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 595
U.S. Supreme Court During the War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 600
Women in the War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 605
Ethics of the War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 609
Censorship During the War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 613
Campaigns, Battles, and Other Events
August, 1964: Gulf of Tonkin Resolution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 619
November, 1965: Battle of Ia Drang Valley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 620
January-April, 1968: Siege of Khe Sanh . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 621
January-February, 1968: Tet Offensive . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 622
January-February, 1968: Battle of Hue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 624
March, 1968: My Lai Massacre . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 625
April-June, 1970: Cambodia Invasion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 631
March, 1973: U.S. Withdrawal from Vietnam . . . . . . . . . . . . . 635
Further Reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 639

Conflicts in the Caribbean: 1961-1989

Conflicts in the Caribbean . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 647
Campaigns, Battles, and Other Events
1961: Bay of Pigs Invasion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 653
1962: Cuban Missile Crisis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 658
1965: Dominican Republic Occupation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 663
1983: Grenada Occupation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 665
1983: Censorship During the Grenada Occupation. . . . . . . . . . 669
1989: Panama Occupation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 671
Further Reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 674

Table of Contents

Post-Cold War Conflicts: 1991-2005

Post-Cold War Conflicts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 679
Campaigns, Battles, and Other Events
1991: Gulf War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 686
1991: Censorship During the Gulf War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 691
1991: Air War in the Gulf . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 693
1991: Women in the Gulf War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 698
1992: No Fly Zone in Iraq . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 701
1992: Somalia Occupation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 704
1994: U.S. Troops in Bosnia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 708
1995: NATO Troops in Bosnia. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 710
1998: Missile Attacks on Afghanistan and Sudan. . . . . . . . . . . 713
1998: Bombing of Military Sites in Iraq . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 716
2000: Terrorist Attack on the USS Cole . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 719
2001: Terrorist Attacks on the United States. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 722
2001: Invasion of Afghanistan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 727
2001: War on Terrorism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 732
2003: Iraq War. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 743
2003: Postwar Occupation of Iraq . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 751
Further Reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 758

Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 763
Time Line of U.S. Wars and Battles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 775
Biographical Directory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 782

Index of Personages . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 797

Subject Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 807

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United States
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Revolutionary War
Revolutionary War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Censorship During the Revolution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Women in the Revolutionary War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21

Campaigns, Battles, and Other Events . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26

March, 1770: Boston Massacre . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
December, 1773: Boston Tea Party . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
April, 1775: Battles of Lexington and Concord . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
May, 1775: Battle of Fort Ticonderoga . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
June, 1775: Battle of Bunker Hill . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
December, 1775: Battle of Quebec . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
August, 1776: Battle of Long Island . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
September, 1776: Experiments in Submarine Warfare . . . . . . . . . . . 44
October, 1776: Battle of White Plains. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
December, 1776: Battle of Trenton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
January, 1777: Battle of Princeton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
August, 1777: Battle of Oriskany Creek . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52
September, 1777: Battle of Brandywine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
October, 1777: Battle of Germantown . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
October, 1777: Battle of Saratoga . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
February, 1778: Franco-American Treaties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
June, 1778: Battle of Monmouth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67
September-October, 1779: Siege of Savannah . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68
April-May, 1780: Siege of Charleston . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70
August, 1780: Battle of Camden . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
October, 1780: Battle of Kings Mountain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72
January, 1781: Battle of Cowpens. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73
October, 1781: Surrender at Yorktown . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
September, 1783: Treaty of Paris . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78

Further Reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83

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Revolutionary War

At issue: Independence of thirteen British colonies in North America

Date: April 19, 1775-September 3, 1783
Location: Atlantic seaboard from Georgia to New England and Quebec
Combatants: British vs. Americans and French allies
Principal commanders: British, Sir Henry Clinton (1738-1795), Sir William
Howe (1729-1814); American, Lieutenant General George Washington
(1732-1799); French, comte de Rochambeau (1725-1807)
Principal battles: Lexington and Concord, Bunker Hill, Quebec, Long Is-
land, White Plains, Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine, Germantown,
Saratoga, Monmouth, Siege of Savannah, Siege of Charleston, Camden,
Kings Mountain, Cowpens, Yorktown
Result: The American victory led to Britains recognizing the United States
of America as an independent nation in the 1783 Treaty of Paris.

The American Revolution resulted from longstanding friction between Brit-

ain and its North American colonies. After its 1763 victory in the French
and Indian War (1754-1763), the British government decided to maintain a
6,000-man standing army in North America to protect its newly obtained
territory between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River.
The colonists, suspicious of the new army, were outraged by the prospect
that they were to pay a share of its maintenance cost. American discontent
continued throughout the 1760s as the British parliament enacted laws to
regulate or tax the colonies. Among the most offensive laws were the Cur-
rency Act of 1764, the Sugar Act of 1764, and the Quartering Act of 1765.

Colonial Protests
Parliaments passage of the Stamp Act in the spring of 1765 provoked
protests and open resistance everywhere in the colonies. The law affected
practically every American; it required tax stamps on newspapers, playing
cards, dice, marriage licenses, and many other legal documents. The reve-
nue from these stamp duties contributed to maintaining the British army
in America. Mobs, called the Sons of Liberty, harassed the stamp distribu-
tors. The colonial assemblies and a Stamp Act Congress, held in New York
in October, 1765, called for the repeal of the Stamp Act. Colonists also boy-
cotted British goods, a strategy that proved to be more effective than the
protests. British manufacturers and merchants adversely affected by the
boycott called for Parliament to abolish the Stamp Act, which it did in
March, 1766.
(continued on page 7)
4 / Revolutionary War

Time Line of the Revolutionary War

Mar. 5, 1770 Boston Massacre: British soldiers kill five American

civilians and wound several others in a bloody en-
counter that symbolized colonial unrest.
Dec. 16, 1773 Boston Tea Party: Group of men calling themselves
the Sons of Liberty dumped forty-five tons of tea
into Boston Harbor.
Apr. 19, 1775 Battles of Lexington and Concord: American Minute
Men confront British troops on Lexington Common.
When someone fires the shot heard round the
world, both Americans and British open fire and
the war begins.
May 10-11, 1775 Battle of Fort Ticonderoga: Colonel Ethan Allen and
co-commander Benedict Arnold lead a successful,
bloodless victory against a surprised British garri-
June 17, 1775 Battle of Bunker Hill: Americans engage British at
Breeds Hill near Boston; British win but sustain
heavy losses.
Dec. 31, 1775 Battle of Quebec: Americans mount two offensives
against British Canada but are defeated.
Mar. 17, 1776 British evacuate Boston, retreating to Halifax, Nova
July 4, 1776 Declaration of Independence approved by Congress.
Aug. 27-30, 1776 Battle of Long Island: Leading the British, General
William Howe and Admiral Richard Howe enter
New York harbor, land twenty thousand troops on
Long Island, and establish a base of operations. Gen-
eral George Washington retreats to Manhattan Is-
land. British occupy New York City by September.
Sept. 6-7, 1776 Submarine experiments.
Oct. 11, 1776 Battle of Valcour Bay: British commander Guy Carle-
ton attacks American General Benedict Arnold at
Lake Champlain, routing the American flotilla.
Oct. 28, 1776 Battle of White Plains: British defeat Americans, who
take heavy losses. Washingtons troops retreat to
Peekskill, Ft. Lee, and Trenton, New Jersey.
Dec. 26, 1776 Battle of Trenton: Washington defeats the British af-
ter crossing the icy Delaware River in a surprise at-
Revolutionary War / 5

Jan. 3, 1777 Battle of Princeton: Washington routs British near

Princeton, New Jersey, and then establishes head-
quarters in Morristown.
June-July, 1777 British advance from Lake Champlain: General John
Burgoyne leads British forces up the Hudson River,
taking strategic points at Fort Ticonderoga, Mt. Defi-
ance, and Fort Anne.
Aug. 6, 1777 Battle of Oriskany Creek: Southeast of Lake Ontario
and Fort Stanwix, an Indian force fighting for the
British under Chief Joseph Brant ambushes Amer-
icans under General Nicholas Herkimer. Native
American losses and renewed American efforts force
the British to retreat.
Aug. 16, 1777 Battle of Bennington: In Vermont, a German contin-
gent fighting for the British under the orders of Bur-
goyne is routed by the Americans under General
John Stark.
Sept. 11, 1777 Battle of Brandywine: In Pennsylvania, the British
force Washington and his men to retreat to Philadel-
phia, occupying that city by September 26.
Oct. 4, 1777 Battle of Germantown: Washingtons attack on Brit-
ish forces fails when fog confuses his troops. Ameri-
cans retreat to Valley Forge, where they will spend a
harsh winter.
Oct. 8-17, 1777 Battle of Saratoga: Burgoynes campaign to capture
Albany, New York, is foiled when Benedict Arnold
assaults British forces at Bemis Heights; Burgoyne
retreats. One week later, Burgoyne and his British
forces surrender.
Nov., 1777 Articles of Confederation submitted to the states: Af-
ter a year of debate, the Continental Congress de-
vises a plan of government and submits it to the
states for ratification, achieved in March, 1781.
Feb. 6, 1778 Franco-American Treaties: France agrees to assist
Americans against British.
June 28, 1778 Battle of Monmouth: After a severe winter at Valley
Forge, George Washington and the Americans pur-
sue General Henry Clinton, who had commanded
the British campaign in Philadelphia. Under General
Charles Lee, the Americans rout the British; Wash-
ington later engages Clinton in an ensuing battle,
forcing a British retreat.

6 / Revolutionary War

Time Line of the Revolutionary Warcontinued

July-Aug., 1778 Attack at Newport: In Rhode Island, combined Amer-

ican and French forces are repelled after attempting
to take a British garrison.
July 15, 1779 Battle of Stony Point: American General Anthony
Wayne takes Stony Point, on the Hudson River, from
Aug. 29, 1779 Battle of Newtown: At modern-day Elmira, New
York, Americans under General John Sullivan defeat
British loyalists and Indians who had been terroriz-
ing frontier settlements of Pennsylvania and New
Sept. 23-Oct. 18, 1779 Siege of Savannah: In Georgia, American and French
forces fail to take Savannah from the British, suffer-
ing heavy casualties.
Apr. 1,-May 12, 1780 Siege of Charleston: General Clinton assaults Charles-
ton, South Carolina, capturing the American garri-
son and four shipsthe greatest American losses of
the war.
Aug. 16, 1780 Battle of Camden: In South Carolina, Americans un-
der General Horatio Gates move against the British
under Lord Cornwallis but are routed, opening the
way for a British advance into North Carolina.
Sept., 1780 Treason of Benedict Arnold: After supplying the Brit-
ish with information for more than a year, Arnold is
exposed in a plot to hand over the American garri-
son at West Point. He becomes a British officer and
conducts British assaults on Virginia and Connecti-
cut in 1781.
Oct. 7, 1780 Battle of Kings Mountain: British troops are repelled
by Carolina backwoodsmen, forcing Cornwallis to
retreat to Winnsborough.
Jan. 17, 1781 Battle of Cowpens: In South Carolina, American Gen-
eral Daniel Morgan repels the British forces of Gen-
eral Banastre Tarleton.
Mar. 15, 1781 Battle of Guilford Courthouse: American General
Nathanael Greene engages Cornwallis in North Car-
olina; Americans are defeated but seriously weaken
the British, forcing their retreat.
Revolutionary War / 7

Oct. 19, 1781 Surrender at Yorktown: Having abandoned the Car-

olinas for Virginia, Cornwallis and the British estab-
lish a base at Yorktown but French ground and naval
forces join with the Americans to hem him in, forcing
surrender. Despite General Clintons remaining
forces in New York, the British are essentially de-
Sept. 3, 1783 Treaty of Paris: British and Americans negotiate a
peace settlement.

American joy over the repeal of the Stamp Act did not last long. In 1767,
Chancellor of the Exchequer Charles Townshend managed to obtain the
enactment of duties on several items imported by the colonies. The reve-
nue from these taxes paid the salaries of royal governors and other royal
officials in America, thereby making them independent of the colonial as-
semblies. In order to strengthen the enforcement of the Acts of Trade, Par-
liament also provided for the granting of general search warrants and sus-
pended the New York Assembly until it complied with the Quartering Act
of 1765. Again the Americans resisted and although the boycott was not as
extensive as that against the Stamp Act, British manufacturers once again
called for a repeal of the taxes.
In 1768, the royal governor of Massachusetts requested that the British
government send troops to enforce the trade regulations. On orders from
London, the commander of British forces in America, Major General
Thomas Gage, sent a regiment to Boston. In June, enraged Bostonians
forced the customs commissioners to seek protection on a British warship.
In retaliation, the British cabinet ordered two regiments from Ireland to
Boston. By the spring of 1769, four British regiments occupied the city; two
were withdrawn in May, but the others remained.

The Boston Massacre

The citizens of Boston, enraged because they expected the entire British
force to withdraw, increased their confrontations with the soldiers. On
March 5, 1770, in what is remembered as the Boston Massacre, a mob gath-
ered at the Customs House clashed with troops; the soldiers killed five ci-
vilians and wounded several others. Fearing a general uprising, the Mas-
sachusetts royal officials ordered the troops to withdraw from Boston.
Meanwhile, under pressure from the American boycott and British busi-
ness interests, Parliament withdrew the duty on all American imports ex-
cept tea.
8 / Revolutionary War

Major Sites in the Revolutionary War

Quebec CO



e nc
St L. Champlain
Ft. Ticonderoga MAINE (MASS.)
Ft. Stanwix Saratoga NEW HAMPSHIRE
Albany Hudson R.
Lexington Newport
Philadelphia New York
Ft. Pitt S Morristown
Valley Forge Trenton





VIRGINIA Chesapeake Bay


Guilford Courthouse

NORTH CAROLINA A t l a n t i c

Kings Mt.
Cowpens Camden O c e a n
SOUTH Wilmington
Charles Town

In the fall of 1773, the British East India Company made several ship-
ments of low-priced tea to America. Purchase of the tea would require pay-
ment of the tea tax. In most ports, the ships were turned back, but in Bos-
ton, customs officials planned to sell some of the tea. On the night of
December 16, some Bostonians, dressed as Indians, rowed out to the tea
ships in the harbor and dumped their cargo overboard. King George III
and Parliaments response to the Boston Tea Party was the passage of the
Coercive (Intolerable) Acts of 1774, which closed Bostons port and reined
in the government of Massachusetts.
Revolutionary War / 9

After General Gage moved more troops to Boston to enforce the new
laws, the various colonial assemblies called for a Continental Congress to
draw up a redress of grievances. The First Continental Congress met in
Philadelphia in September and October; it demanded the repeal of all ob-
jectionable laws passed since 1763 and agreed to meet in May, 1775, if Par-
liament did not respond favorably.

Military Action
In early 1775, King George, with the support of Parliament, decided
to use military force to maintain British authority in America. General
Gage moved against the insubordinate citizens in Massachusetts. He sent
troops to seize the colonists store of powder and weapons at Concord. At
Lexington (April 19, 1775), 70 militiamen confronted an advance party of
the 700 British troops. In that skirmish, 8 Americans died. The British then
marched quickly to Concord, where they destroyed the American sup-
plies. At the north bridge in Concord, about 350 Americans attacked a Brit-
ish unit; they killed 3 and wounded 8. As the British returned to Boston,
thousands of colonists fired on them from both sides of their eighteen-mile
route. More than 15,000 indignant New Englanders surrounded Boston.
The American Revolution had begun.
On June 12, 1775, the British major generals Henry Clinton, William
Howe, and John Burgoyne arrived in Boston on the frigate Cerberus. They
brought orders for Gage to move vigorously against the army of Ameri-

George Washington taking command of the American army at Cambridge, Massachu-

setts, after the Battle of Bunker Hill. From a painting by M. A. Wageman. (National
10 / Revolutionary War

cans surrounding the city. In response, Gage decided to occupy Bunker

Hill and Breeds Hill, the high points on the peninsula south of Boston. The
Americans learned of the British plan and set out to occupy Bunker Hill
(June 17, 1775), but instead occupied Breeds Hill. Patriots numbering
2,200 withstood two frontal attacks on Breeds Hill but a third assault
drove the patriots to Bunker Hill and then on to the mainland. The British
force of 2,500 lost 271 soldiers and 783 were wounded; the hills they cap-
tured were of little military value.
After Bunker Hill, the Second Continental Congress appointed George
Washington commander in chief. Washington went to Boston to organize
the army. On March 17, 1776, Washington began an artillery bombardment
of Boston. Howe, realizing that he could not dislodge the Americans and
unwilling to see Boston leveled, took his army to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

In 1775, Americans also took action to draw Canada into rebellion
against the British. An American force of 83 under the command of Ethan
Allen and Benedict Arnold captured Fort Ticonderoga (May 10) and Crown
Point (May 11), giving America control of Lake Champlain. In late June,
Congress ordered the capture of Montreal. Brigadier General Richard

Members of the Second Continental Congress vote for independence in mid-1776. Paint-
ing by Robert Pine and Edward Savage. (National Archives)
Revolutionary War / 11

Montgomery led a force to Montreal and after a three-month siege cap-

tured Fort St. Johns (November 2) and entered Montreal on November 10.
He then moved on to join Arnold to prepare an attack of Quebec. Under
the cover of a snowstorm, about 1,000 Americans attacked Quebec (De-
cember 30), but the 1,200 British defenders repulsed them. More than half
of the American army was killed or captured; Montgomery was mortally
wounded. This defeat ended the American attempts to capture Canada.
The Americans faced an enemy that had a much greater population, a
professional army, and a vastly superior navy. The British troops, however,
were three thousand miles from England and had to operate in an area
about one thousand by six hundred miles. After his defeat at Long Island
in 1776, Washington determined that the colonies could not win by victory
in a general action, a huge battle that would decide everything. He chose to
fight a defensive war, avoiding a general action. He fought a war of attri-
tion, protracting the struggle and wearing down the British will to win.
Washington did strive to keep a regular, organized army in the field. He re-
jected a partisan war that would rely on the militias; he contended that
without a trained army to support them the part-time soldiers would hesi-
tate to fight. In 1776 and 1777, the British strategy was to isolate and defeat
New England, then move on the middle and southern colonies. Between
1778 and 1781, the British attempted to conquer the south, then use it as a
base from which to move northward. Both plans failed largely because of
the difficulties of logistics and communication and because of friction
among the British commanders.
In spring, 1776, British reinforcements arrived in America. General
Clinton sailed from New York with 3,000 men to strike the Carolinas in the
hope that the Loyalists there would join his forces. He and Admiral Peter
Parker attempted to capture Charleston. For eleven hours, the British ships
exchanged cannon fire with the fort at the mouth of the harbor on
Sullivans Island (June 28, 1776). The British suffered heavy casualties and
withdrew; shortly thereafter they sailed back to New York.
The next British offensive was an attack on New York City; General
Howe led 32,000 troops in a three-pronged attack against Washingtons
19,000 poorly trained soldiers at the western end of Long Island (August
27-28, 1776). The Americans did not expect this flanking maneuver, and
they suffered 2,000 dead or wounded and 1,000 captured. During the
night, Washington moved his troops to Manhattan. Howe landed his
troops in Manhattan on September 15 and quickly moved north and west
as far as Harlem Heights (September 16) where, in several encounters, the
patriots halted his advance. On October 18, the British landed troops north
of Washington near New Rochelle. Washington had no choice but to retreat
12 / Revolutionary War

west. The American army took up a defensive position at White Plains (Oc-
tober 28), but a British assault drove them to higher ground behind White
Plains. On November 5, Howe marched his army back to Manhattan to es-
tablish winter quarters.

Washington Crosses the Delaware

In December, Washington crossed the Delaware River to Pennsylvania
and planned a surprise attack on the British, who had settled into winter
quarters in towns in New York and New Jersey. He led 2,400 Continentals
back across the river into New Jersey and routed a Hessian garrison in
Trenton (December 26, 1776). Washington returned to New Jersey again on
December 30 and defeated the British troops in Princeton (January 3, 1777).
He then established his winter headquarters in Morristown.
In the summer of 1777, Howe moved by sea from New York with a
force of 15,000 men with the goal of capturing Philadelphia. They landed at
the head of the Chesapeake Bay on August 25 and began the march to Phil-
adelphia. Washington, with a force of 8,000 Continental soldiers and 3,000
militia, blocked Howes army twenty-five miles southwest of Philadelphia
at Brandywine (September 11). Howe assaulted the center and east flank of
Washingtons lines, forcing the patriots to retreat. Howe entered Philadel-
phia on September 25. Washington, however, was unwilling to give up
Philadelphia and moved against the British rearguard of 9,000 in German-
town (October 4, 1777). The Americans had the advantage of surprise in
their early-morning attack. In the fog, however, one Continental column
fired on another, and in the confusion, the British drove them back.
Although Howe met success in Pennsylvania, British troops under
Burgoyne suffered major losses in New York. On July 5, Burgoyne recap-
tured Fort Ticonderoga; however, as his army then made its way down the
Hudson Valley, he was menaced by American soldiers and, by August,
faced a dilemma. He sent 1,400 Redcoats and Hessians to capture supplies.
Four miles northwest of Bennington (August 16), 2,600 American militia
routed the British, capturing 700 and killing or wounding 200 others. This
left Burgoyne weakened as he continued down the valley toward Albany.
An army of 7,000 Americans under the command of General Horatio Gates
met Burgoyne head on at Freemans Farm near Saratoga (September 19,
1777); 2,400 British troops attempted to turn the American left flank. They
forced the Americans back but did not break through their lines. Burgoyne
attempted the maneuver again on October 7 and suffered 700 casualties.
He retreated to Saratoga, where he surrendered his army of 5,000 to Gates
on October 17. This victory encouraged France to enter the war as Amer-
icas ally.
Revolutionary War / 13

George Washington meeting with a congressional committee at Valley Forge. From a

painting by W. H. Powell. (National Archives)

During the winter of 1777-1778, Washington made winter camp in Val-

ley Forge, Pennsylvania, where his army suffered from the severe weather
and a lack of basic supplies. Nevertheless, a veteran of the Prussian army,
Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, strengthened the troops by rigorous
drilling. At the end of the winter, Clinton took Howes place as British
commander in chief. In June, Clinton ended the occupation of Philadelphia
and marched his army across New Jersey toward New York. Washington
left Valley Forge in pursuit. With almost 10,000 troops, he intercepted the
equal-sized British forces in New Jersey at Monmouth (June 28, 1778). Af-
ter a clash with the enemy, General Charles Lee ordered his 5,000 Conti-
nental troops to retreat. Infuriated, Washington rode to the front and took
command. He stopped the retreat and maneuvered his complete forces
onto the field. The clash between the two armies was indecisive; the disci-
pline of Washingtons army proved the value of Steubens training.
Clinton protected his army by moving it to New York. After 1778, no major
military campaigns took place in the north, the contest there became one of
attrition and endurance. At the end of the year, Clinton moved his offen-
sive to the south.
On December 29, 1778, British troops captured Savannah, Georgia, and
on January 29, they captured Augusta. In the fall of 1779, the French fleet
14 / Revolutionary War

Despite the great superiority of Brit-

ish naval power, Americans scored
some significant naval victories under
the leadership of John Paul Jones, seen
here directing the capture of the Brit-
ish ship Serapis off the east coast of
England on September 23, 1779.
(National Archives)

sailed to Savannah and landed 3,500 French troops to supplement the 1,500
American soldiers of General Benjamin Lincoln in a Siege of Savannah
(October 9). The Americans and French suffered more than 800 casualties
in their unsuccessful assault of the city. The British victory allowed them to
concentrate on a conquest of the Carolinas. In December, Clinton sailed
from New York with 8,000 troops and besieged Charleston (April 1-May
12, 1780). Lincolns more than 5,000 troops were unable to escape and en-
dured the attack for more than six weeks until they were forced to surren-
der. Clinton left Lord Charles Cornwallis in command and returned to
New York.
When American troops under Gates moved against British posts in
northern South Carolina, Cornwallis rushed to their aid. These forces,
3,000 Americans and 2,200 British, clashed near Camden (August 16, 1780).
The militia on the American left flank fled, and Gatess army was routed,
losing 750 men by death or capture. Cornwallis advanced into North Caro-
lina until he heard of the American victory at Kings Mountain (October 7,
1780), where a body of 900 North Carolina militia fought about 1,000 loyal-
ists, killing 225 and capturing more than 700. Deprived of these support-
ers, Cornwallis bivouacked for three months south of Camden.
At the beginning of 1781, Cornwallis, his troops reinforced, again
Revolutionary War / 15

planned to move against North Carolina but was diverted. The new Amer-
ican southern commander, Nathanael Greene, aided by Generals Daniel
Morgan and Henry Light Horse Harry Lee began a series of guerrilla tac-
tics. Cornwallis sent part of his force after Morgan, who lured the British
into a devastating defeat at Cowpens (January 17, 1781). Yet, Cornwallis
pursued Greenes army until it reached Dan River in Virginia; there, too far
from his base of supplies, Cornwallis withdrew to Hillsborough, North
Carolina. Greene gathered an army of more than 4,500 militia and Conti-
nentals and moved against Cornwallis; he clashed with the British force of
about 2,400 near Guilford Courthouse (March 15). Cornwallis attacked,
forcing the Americans to withdraw, but Cornwallis suffered heavy losses
for the victory, and to preserve his army, he moved it toward Virginia. With
Cornwallis gone, Greene stepped up his action in South Carolina and
Georgia. As the Americans advanced, they captured outpost after outpost
until the remnant of the British forces withdrew to Charleston. In Septem-
ber, Greene moved to capture Charleston but was cut off by British troops
under Colonel Alexander Stuart, who forced the Americans to retreat but
at the loss of two-fifths of his force. Greenes strategy of maintaining his
army while wearing down the enemy severely weakened the British in
Georgia and the Carolinas.
Cornwallis reached Virginia where he assembled 7,000 men. He moved
to Yorktown and at the end of July began to build fortifications. In the
spring of 1781, a French fleet of twenty warships, with orders to cooperate
with Washington, arrived in the United States. Washington first planned a
sea and land attack on New York, but then he accepted the advice of the
French commander, the comte de Rochambeau, to trap Cornwallis in
Yorktown (September 28-October 19, 1781). They marched south swiftly
with 2,500 American and 5,000 French troops. Meanwhile, on September 7,
the French navy landed 3,000 troops and covered Cornwalliss lines on the
land side of Yorktown. Washingtons army arrived in late September and
was soon bolstered by 9,000 Maryland and Virginia militia. On Septem-
ber 28, Washington laid siege to Yorktown. By October 17, the Franco-
American army had forced Cornwallis into his inner fortifications. The
British had no hope of escape, and on October 19, Cornwallis surrendered.

After Yorktown, the fighting in America virtually ended. The war for-
mally concluded on September 3, 1783, with the signing of the Treaty of
Paris, in which Britain recognized the United States of America as an inde-
pendent nation.
Chuck Smith

Censorship During the Revolution

The revolt of American colonists against British rule tested the rebels commit-
ment to liberty; they suppressed dissent by those who expressed loyalty to Britain
or dissatisfaction with armed insurrection.

The American war against Great Britain began with the battle at
Lexington, Massachusetts, on April 19, 1775, but the struggle by American
rebels for the support of their fellow colonists preceded this skirmish. It
has been estimated by historians that colonists who remained loyal to the
British monarchy may have numbered 20 percent at the most, but the
strength of loyalist support varied widely between and within colonies.
Disloyalty to the British crown was not a step taken lightly, and as long as
the conflict was viewed as between the American colonies and the British
parliament, many who were later considered loyalists or Tories often
supported measured resistance to perceived threats to their liberties by
Britain. The lines between American patriots and loyalists began to harden
after Lexington, and they became fixed after the Declaration of Indepen-
dence. Actions and even words against the American cause brought swift
and often harsh censure.

Continental Association
In 1774 delegates from the thirteen colonies met as the First Continental
Congress to seek redress of grievances against Britain that dated back to
1763. After failing in their previous attempts to petition Great Britains Par-
liament to rescind what many American colonists considered unjust en-
croachments upon colonial prerogatives, the Continental Congress set up
the Continental Association to put economic pressure on Britain. Effective
December 1, 1774, American colonists would cease to import goods from
Britain, the British Indies, and Ireland. Effective September 1, 1775, colo-
nists would discontinue their exportation of colonial goods to these desti-
nations. Congress authorized the establishment of committees in every
town, city, and county to enforce the associations decrees. All voters eligi-
ble to participate in local elections could vote for committeemen. This en-
forcement apparatus was the first legally sanctioned effort to enforce com-
pliance with the colonials struggle against the British. By 1775 local
committees were summoning violators of nonimportation. They might be
fined or have their names published in the local newspaper. The outcome
desired by the committees was to have the dissenters sign oaths pledging
themselves to the Continental Association.
Censorship During the Revolution / 17

One of the most outspoken and influ-

ential critics of British rule in North
America was the British-born pam-
phleteer Thomas Paine, whose writ-
ings frequently got him in trouble.
(National Archives)

Committees of Safety
The shedding of American blood at Lexington quickened the pace and
resolve of American resistance to British authority. As the rebels brushed
aside the governmental structures put in place by imperial Britain, they
went about setting up their own governments. On July 18, 1775, the Second
Continental Congress recommended the establishment of committees of
safety in the various colonies to carry on the functions of government.
Among the duties of these committees were the recruitment and arming of
troops, gathering pledges of support for the nonimportation of British
goods, and the apprehension of Tories opposed to the struggle for Ameri-
can rights. The local committees of safety drew sharp lines between friends
and enemies of the American cause. While the phrase enemies of the peo-
ple had been used in the Continental Association to stigmatize those who
violated the commercial prohibitions of that document, this negative label
was extended to any persons who expressed any disapproval of revolu-
tionary activities or who took any action contrary to the American cause.
As the eyes and ears of American resistance, local committees of safety
sometimes created situations to expose Tories. Some local committees cir-
culated defense associations, which were agreements to take up arms
18 / Revolutionary War

against Britain. Persons who refused to sign these agreements were pub-
licly labeled as enemies. Another tactic used to expose the unsympathetic
was the official mustering of the local militia. Once the disaffected were
identified, they came under the committees control. Suspects were
watched, fined, required to post bond for their proper behavior, disarmed,
imprisoned, or forcibly removed to other areas in the colony or to another
colony. Sending away dissenters or getting them to flee to areas under Brit-
ish military protection served the purpose of separating the critics of the
American cause from their neighbors, whom they might influence.

Punishing Loyalists
When the Second Continental Congress declared for independence on
July 4, 1776, the necessity for a united colonial front against the British
gained urgency. American rebels faced a war against the British military,
domestic resistance from colonists opposed to independence, and lack of
commitment from Americans who either maintained neutrality or changed
their support depending on the latest military situation. Antiloyalist legis-
lation and its enforcement depended on the relative strengths of the com-
peting sides and the threat of the British military to local security. Pennsyl-
vania, New York, and New Jersey each had significant portions of its
populations either opposed to or neutral to the American cause.
In Pennsylvania, the legislature took steps to punish non-Associators.
Many of these non-Associators were Quakers, whose pacifism kept them
from supporting either the British or the Americans. Representing nearly
one-third of Pennsylvanias population, Quaker refusal to take up arms
caused considerable resentment among the states militiamen, who pres-
sured the legislature to penalize those not siding with the militia. A fine
and an additional tax were levied against persons refusing to serve. In 1777
the legislature demanded that all adult, white male inhabitants take an
oath of allegiance. Those who refused lost their citizenship, were dis-
armed, and could not sue to recover debts or engage in real estate transac-
tions. In 1778 the legislature passed an act allowing the confiscation of
property owned by notorious loyalists. During the next three years nearly
five hundred were identified, and many lost their property. When the Brit-
ish evacuated Philadelphia in June, 1778, some loyalists failed to leave
with the British forces. To make an example, twenty-five loyalists were
hanged. It is not clear whether all of these Tories aided the British or if
some merely held loyalist sympathies.
In New York Tories held a majority in the southern counties of Queens
and Staten Island. The loyalists in Queens embarrassed their patriot oppo-
nents in November, 1775, during an election to send delegates to a provin-
Censorship During the Revolution / 19

cial congress. The loyalists refused to send delegates, defeating the patriots
by a vote of 747-221. After their electoral setback, the patriots sent twelve
hundred troops to discourage the loyalists. About twenty were arrested. In
December, 1775, Staten Island loyalists also voted not to send delegates to
the provincial congress. After the suppression of Queenss loyalists, the
Staten Islanders decided to elect delegates.
A significant part of New Jerseys population did not support the patri-
ots. In the eastern counties, Tories held considerable influence, while neu-
trals, mostly religious pacifists, were numerous in the western counties.
The legislature penalized active Tories, but pacifists in New Jersey did not
suffer persecution.

The Press
Censorship of the press during the American Revolution was as swift
and certain as was the suppression of individual dissidents. American pa-
triots tolerated no criticism of their cause. The censorship of James
Rivington illustrates the various means used to silence opponents of the
Revolution. Arriving in America from Britain in 1760, Rivington estab-
lished a successful bookstore in New York City. In 1773 he also decided to
publish books, pamphlets, and a newspaper, the New-York Gazetteer. For a
time his newspaper carried articles arguing both sides of the dispute be-
tween the colonies and the mother country. As the conflict deepened,
Rivington began to publish an increasing number of pro-British pam-
phlets. Meanwhile, he published articles and editorials that satirized the
Sons of Liberty. These radical patriots urged people to cancel their sub-
scriptions to the New-York Gazetteer. Rivingtons pro-British pamphlets
were publicly burned. On April 13, 1775, Rivington was hanged in effigy
by a crowd at New Brunswick, New Jersey. On May 10, a mob entered his
shop, damaged his press and other equipment, and tried to kidnap him.
Rivington managed to escape to HMS King Fisher in New Yorks harbor.
After Rivington agreed to support the Continental Association, the provin-
cial congress of New York agreed to allow him to resume his business. On
November 23, an armed mob led by Isaac Sears, a leader of the Sons of Lib-
erty criticized by Rivington, broke into Rivingtons shop and destroyed his
printing press. This effectively ended publication of the New-York Gazetteer.
Rivington fled to Britain in early 1776 but returned to British-occupied
New York City to begin publishing Rivingtons New-York Loyal Gazette. This
unabashedly pro-British newspaper continued until the British withdrew
from New York City.
Impartiality did not fare much better than Toryism. In Boston, the Fleet
brothers Evening-Post published news articles and letters from patriots
20 / Revolutionary War

and loyalists. Although denying public claims that they were a loyalist or-
gan, the Fleet brothers ceased publication after the battles of Lexington and
Concord. Even a pro-patriot paper could raise the ire of patriots. In Febru-
ary, 1777, the Maryland Journal, owned by the patriot William Goddard and
published by his sister Mary Katherine Goddard, ran into trouble with the
local Whig Club, who misinterpreted a tongue-in-cheek piece anony-
mously submitted by a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The sa-
tirical article advised the acceptance of the peace terms offered by the Brit-
ish ministry. The Whig Club demanded that the publisher leave Baltimore
within forty-eight hours. The Goddards stood their ground, and the Mary-
land House of Representatives backed them. Two years later the Maryland
Journal came under fire for publishing an article by General Charles Lee,
who had been dismissed by General George Washington. The article was
critical of Washington and aroused the anger of Washingtons friends. Wil-
liam Goddard was mobbed, forced to publish a recantation, and narrowly
escaped hanging. Goddard appealed for state protection and published a
disavowal of his recantation.
The need to protect military secrets and maintain popular support for
the sacrifices of war make censorship common during wars. Censorship
during revolutionary or civil wars is usually even more quickly invoked,
and the penalties much harsher, than is the case with wars of other kinds.
American revolutionaries propagandized to rally their countrymen to
arms against Great Britain. They held no tolerance for neutrality nor oppo-
sition in their struggle for independence. Local committees of safety held
wide powers of censorship that were used against individuals who op-
posed the war for independence. Despite abuses of power, the penalties
were usually invoked to bring dissenters into the patriot camp. Compared
to the violent excesses of the French Revolution, and the Russian and Chi-
nese Revolutions, the censorship of the American Revolution was moder-
ate; it was ironic, however, that such measures were taken in defense of
Paul A. Frisch

Women in the Revolutionary War

The American Revolution produced a new republican ideology that emphasized

the importance of individual freedom and democratic liberty, but these rights were
not extended to women.

The American Revolution is often considered to be one of the most impor-

tant political revolutions in modern history. This internal conflict that pit-
ted patriots against Tory loyalists immediately subjected women to the
horrors and sacrifices of war. While the revolution ushered in a new egali-
tarian republican ideology, it failed to address the issue of sexual equality
adequately. This failure, however, did not prevent women from becoming
active participants in the war. Inspired by new radical doctrines, a collec-
tive feminist identity began to emerge, and after the American victory, the
struggle for womens rights and gender equality began to unfold in Ameri-
can history.

Womens Contributions
Patriot women provided various services and made numerous contri-
butions to the war effort. Left to manage the household economy, women
undermined Englands ability to wage war by refusing to support the sale
and production of British manufactured goods. Buy American cam-
paigns were initiated as women sacrificed to protect the domestic market.
They refused to purchase British textiles, wore only homespun clothes,
and boycotted English tea. Women also attacked local merchants who re-
fused to sell valuable goods. In July, 1778, more than one hundred women
stormed into a coffee warehouse, confronted a loyalist merchant, and con-
fiscated his supply of coffee. Similar demonstrations occurred throughout
the revolution. In addition, women eased the revolutionary governments
economic burdens through aggressive fund-raising campaigns. Door-to-
door canvassing took place in various states, such as New Jersey, Mary-
land, and Virginia. In 1780, several women attempted to coordinate the en-
tire colonial effort by creating a national organization to help obtain money
for the troops.
Women also played a pivotal role in furnishing key auxiliary support
during several military campaigns. They served as spies, worked behind
the lines as nurses and boardinghouse managers, and provided priceless
logistical support that enabled the colonial army to seek shelter and tend
their wounded before the next battle. Some wives became steadfast camp
followers and assumed their traditional domestic responsibilities, includ-
22 / Revolutionary War

One of the most famous women associated with the American Revolution is Betsy Ross,
who according to tradition sewed the first American flag in June, 1776, on the request
of George Washington. However, no firm evidence supports this legend. (National

ing cooking meals and cleaning the camps. More adventurous women dis-
guised themselves as men and even took part in actual combat. Deborah
Sampson represented the most noteworthy case: She fought for more than
two years before her true gender was discovered. By fulfilling these basic
domestic tasks and through their willingness to endure the hardships and
sacrifice of war, women elevated the soldiers morale and provided com-
fort and solace to those who were separated from their families. More im-
portant, their patriotism revealed that women had developed a sense of
rebellious political consciousness and did not remain passive observers
during the revolution.

Despite all these displays of patriotic fervor, women were denied access
to political and military decision making, were subjected to exploitative
wage disparities when employed as nurses and camp servants, and were
victimized by the same cult of domesticity that had existed prior to the
war. In addition, enemy troops often raped and pillaged as they advanced,
creating thousands of female refugees, and women were consistently
forced to open their homes and surrender their property to British troops.
Women in the Revolutionary War / 23

Tory wives experienced a similar fate. They were often brutalized by

American troops, and since their husbands were fighting for the British,
they were victimized by constant surveillance and suspicion. States passed
expulsion laws that required Tory wives to vacate their property, and
many were forced to find shelter in refugee camps. One Tory wife in New
Jersey openly denounced her husbands affiliation with the British, but the
state legislature refused to grant her clemency and held her accountable
for her husbands political beliefs. Because American troops and local gov-
ernments assumed that a woman could not possess the knowledge to for-
mulate a political opinion that differed from that of her husband, countless
women were unjustly accused of being conspirators.
The war also generated outbursts of patriotism from Tory women. On
numerous occasions, they infiltrated enemy lines and distributed British
propaganda to American troops. Colonial military commander George
Washington often complained that women were filtering through his de-
fenses and relaying key information back to the British. Washingtons con-
cerns caused considerable alarm, and in 1780, thirty-two women were im-

According to legend, an American woman named Mary McCauly accompanied her hus-
band to the Battle of Monmouth, where she took her husbands place at a cannon after he
collapsed from exhaustion. She then served heroically through the remainder of the battle.
For her work carrying pitchers of water to soldiers, she was dubbed Molly Pitcher, by
which name she later became famous. (National Archives)
24 / Revolutionary War

prisoned in New York State for conducting espionage activities and for
providing sanctuary for British troops. By the end of the year, the state
granted local justices the power to evict loyalist women from their house-
holds and ordered them to leave the state within twenty days.

Legal and Social Restrictions

Following the end of hostilities in 1781, womens legal and social sta-
tus slightly improved, but unlike their male counterparts, women were
still denied full participation in political and legal affairs. The constitu-
tional and judicial systems in late eighteenth century America refused
to grant women the right to vote and significantly curtailed womens prop-
erty rights as well. Women were subjected to laws of coverture, in which
a married womans identity was supposedly subsumed into her hus-
bands identity; consequently, she did not require any individual legal pro-
As a result of womens contributions during the revolution and the
emergence of such prominent female writers as Abigail Adams, play-
wright Mercy Otis Warren, and political theorist Mary Wollstonecraft, a
new feminist consciousness slowly developed. This shift generated several
challenges to the patriarchal system of power. Several states passed trea-
son statutes that allowed Tory wives to retain title to their dowries if they
declared their loyalty to the United States and declined to follow their hus-
bands into exile. Dowry rights were also preserved for all women after
marriage, which meant that a husband could no longer sell his wifes prop-
erty without her written consent. Such gains, however, did not eradicate
male dominance.
Although prenuptial agreements became more common in the proper-
tied classes, courts often confiscated dowry property to pay off a mans
creditors if he died with considerable debts. Divorce laws were relaxed in
certain states, but in others, such as South Carolina, women remained
locked in abusive marriages. Education was improving, and the literacy
gap between the sexes was closing, but women were still denied access to
the professions. For example, women could enter the courts as plaintiffs,
defendants, or as witnesses, but since they lacked formal educational train-
ing, women were prevented from becoming attorneys, judges, and clerks.
This limitation significantly subverted their quest for full equality. Educa-
tion was still associated with masculinity, and any woman who aggres-
sively pursued studies was perceived as being an undesirable partner.
Yet the American Revolution and the advent of republican ideology did
elevate womens social status in American society. During the formative
years of the revolution, many theorists began to argue that women could
Women in the Revolutionary War / 25

fulfill a certain political role that did not necessitate the right to vote. As
a wife and mother, a woman could rear virtuous sons who would ulti-
mately govern the republic. Referred to as the concept of Republican
Motherhood, this belief spurred the creation of female academies and
womens literature that emphasized the interdependency between domes-
ticity and womens political rights.
Under this concept, which has often been classified as the fourth
branch of the American government, women were expected to become
self-reliant, pious, free from material temptations, and well educated, but
these skills were only to be utilized within a domestic framework. While
Republican Motherhood enhanced womens prestige, it did little to chal-
lenge the subordinate political and legal status that women were forced to
endure during the American Revolution. Thus, despite playing a promi-
nent role in the struggle for independence, women did not share equally in
the fruits of victory.
Robert D. Ubriaco, Jr.

Campaigns, Battles, and

Other Events

March, 1770
Boston Massacre
Date: March 5, 1770
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Combatants: Small number of Americans vs. small number of British
Principal commander: Thomas Preston, officer of the main British guard
at Boston
Result: American fears of British standing armies resulted in a bloody con-
frontation and epitomized colonial unrest.

On the night of March 5, 1770, a small crowd gathered around a soldier at

the guard post in front of the Customs House at Boston, accusing him of
striking a boy who had made disparaging remarks about a British officer.
John Adams depicted the hecklers as a motley rabble of saucy boys, ne-
groes and mulattoes, Irish teagues and outlandish Jack tars. The sentinels
call for aid brought eight men from the Twenty-ninth Regiment and Cap-
tain Thomas Preston, officer of the day. The crowd increased, especially af-
ter someone rang the bell in the old Brick Meeting House; men and boys
hurled snowballs and pieces of ice at the crimson-coated regulars and,
with cries of lobster, bloody-back, and coward, taunted them to re-
The crowds hostility stemmed from more than this particular incident;
it rested on a series of occurrences between the Bostonians and the military
during the seventeen months that the troops had been garrisoned in the
city. If possible, the townspeople had expressed even more antipathy for
the Customs Commissioners, who that very evening gazed uneasily from
the windows of the Customs House on the scene before them in King
Street. They were the real source of the trouble; their cries for protection
had brought troops to Boston in the first place.
The Americans were right about the role of the commissioners, but their
version of what transpired shortly after nine oclock on the evening of
March 5 is highly questionable. Captain Preston probably did not order his
March, 1770: Boston Massacre / 27

nervous troops to fire into the angry throng, but fire they did after one of
their number was clubbed on the head. Three Americans died instantly,
two a short time later, and six more received wounds.

Crispus Attucks
The Boston Massacre may have been a misnomer, the result of ex-
treme harassment of the redcoats, and triggered, according to John Adams,
by an unprincipled mulatto, Crispus Attucks, to whose mad behavior, in
all probability, the dreadful carnage of that night is chiefly to be ascribed.
Attucks, son of an African American father and a Massachuset Indian
mother, was the first casualty of the Boston Massacre of March 5, 1770, the
first death in the cause of the American Revolution. Attuckss father was a
black slave in a Framington, Massachusetts, household until about 1750,
when he escaped and became a sailor. Crispuss mother lived in an Indian
mission at Natick. Attucks was known around Boston as one of the Sons of
Libertys most aggressive agitators. When the British claimed that he had
provoked their soldiers, they may have been right. Attucks and Paul Re-

Patriot Paul Reveres engraving of the Boston Massacre. (National Archives)

28 / Revolutionary War

General Thomas Gage.

(National Archives)

vere were among the earliest Sons of Liberty, a clandestine society that agi-
tated against the British by engaging in acts of propaganda and creative
political mischief.
The Sons of Liberty tormented Tories and their supporters, often strip-
ping, tarring, and feathering tax collectors, then walking free at the hands
of sympathetic colonial juries. They later would form the nucleus of a revo-
lutionary armed force, but in the early years, their main business was what
a later generation would call guerrilla theater.
Americans elsewhere wondered whether their respective colonies would
be the next to have a standing army in their midst, an army seemingly in-
tent on destroying their liberties, not only by its presence but also by the
use of fire and sword. At the time, however, Massachusetts had been sin-
gled out ostensibly because of the Customs Commissioners appeal for
protection. Undoubtedly, another consideration made the decision to com-
ply an easy one for London politicians: the Massachusetts Bay Colony,
with its spirited opposition to the Stamp Act (1765) and the Townshend
Revenue Act (1767), had long been viewed as a hotbed of sedition.
The conduct of His Majestys revenue collectors had incited colonial op-
position. They were considered by many to be customs racketeers, a
lecherous band who played fast and loose with the complicated provisions
of the Sugar Act (1764) in order to win, in Vice-Admiralty Courts, judg-
ments that lined their own pockets. This was substantially the opinion of
March, 1770: Boston Massacre / 29

New Hampshires Governor Benning Wentworth, and the British com-

mander in chief in North America, General Thomas Gage, admitted almost
as much to the secretary of state for the colonies, Wills Hill, earl of Hills-
borough and marquis of Downshire. Nevertheless, the secretary of state
ordered the general to dispatch regulars to the Massachusetts capital.
Gages troops met no resistance when they landed on October 1, 1768.
Despite the obvious displeasure of the populace, reflected in the town fa-
thers reluctance to aid in securing quarters for the soldiers (soon increased
by two additional regiments), there followed months of relative calm with
no mob activity against either the redcoats or the customs collectors. Lord
Hillsborough, however, was determined to deal harshly with Massachu-
setts, and had he been able to impose his will, Parliament would have
wrought changes to equal or surpass in severity the Coercive Acts of 1774.
Because of troubles in Ireland, threats from France and Spain, and the
colonial boycott of British goods in protest against the Townshend duties,
the government rejected Hillsboroughs schemes and eventually repealed
all the Townshend taxes except the one on tea. The employment of troops
against civilians was ticklish business to George III and Englishmen in
general, calling forth memories of Stuart days. The logical step was to re-
move all the troops, but two regiments remained in Boston.

Rising Tensions
Serious tension began to build in the late summer and fall of 1769, when
Bostonians believed that the redcoats were becoming permanent residents.
The soldiers were subjected to every form of legal harassment by local
magistrates, to say nothing of mounting acts of violence against the men in
uniform. The redcoats in the ranks, like all European soldiers of their day,
were hardly of the highest character, often recruited from the slums and
the gin mills, and stories of theft, assault, and rape by the regulars were not
without considerable foundation. The culmination, foreseen by the army
and townspeople alike, was the Boston Massacre. Only then were the last
regiments pulled out of the city, leaving behind a legacy of fear and suspi-
cion that was revived every succeeding March 5. Massacre Day, as it was
called, was commemorated by the tolling of bells and a patriot address that
stressed the danger of standing armies.
Tension in Boston rose again in 1773, due to another act of political mis-
chief by the Sons of Liberty, who remembered the victims of the Boston
Massacre at the Boston Tea Party. In 1888, a monument to Attucks was
erected at the Boston Common.
R. Don Higginbotham
updated by Bruce E. Johansen
30 / Revolutionary War

December, 1773
Boston Tea Party
Date: December 16, 1773
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Combatants: Uncertain number of Americans vs. uncertain number of
Result: The incident was a symbolic protest against British exploitation of
the colonies, one step short of armed rebellion, and it is regarded by
some historians as the first battle of the American Revolution.

On the evening of December 16, 1773, three merchant vessels lay at anchor
in Boston Harbor. They carried 342 chests containing more than ninety
thousand pounds of dutiable tea worth about nine thousand pounds ster-
ling. Shortly after 6:00 p.m., between thirty and sixty men, calling them-
selves Mohawks and roughly disguised as Indians, boarded the ships.
Hundreds of silent onlookers at the wharf saw the Mohawks, organized
into three groups, swiftly and systematically break open the tea chests and
pour their contents into the sea.
Because the water was only two or three feet deep, the tea began to pile
up, forcing the men to rake it aside to allow room for the rest. In less than
three hours, they had completed their work and disappeared into the dark-
ness; to this day, the identities of most remain unknown. The Destruction
of the Tea, exclaimed John Adams the next day, is so bold, so daring . . . it
must have so important Consequences and so lasting, that I cannot but
consider it as an Epocha [sic] in History. Eighteen months later, the colo-
nists were locked in military combat with Great Britain. The Boston Tea
Party had ushered in a series of events that led directly to war and, eventu-
ally, independence.

The origins of the famous Tea Party are to be found in Parliaments 1770
repeal of all the external taxes embodied in the controversial Townshend
Revenue Act, except the tax on tea, which was to remain principally as
a symbol of Great Britains right to extract cash from American purses.
Although the colonists had won only a partial victory in their battle
against the second British program of taxation, compared to a complete re-
peal of the earlier Stamp Act, the chances for an improvement in Anglo-
American relations seemed fairly bright in the years 1771-l773. The sec-
retary of state for the colonies, Wills Hill, earl of Hillsborough and
December, 1773: Boston Tea Party / 31

marquis of Downshire, soothed American tempers by announcing that the

British government did not intend to propose any new taxes for the colo-
These were years of renewed commercial prosperity, during which
countless Americans drank the dutied brew, when all but a few ignored the
frantic schemes of Samuel Adams and a radical minority to keep alive the
old flames of resentment. There were, to be sure, occasional events that
generated fresh ill will, such as the burning by Rhode Islanders of the royal
revenue cutter Gaspee and the clandestine publication of Massachusetts
governor Thomas Hutchinsons correspondence expressing stern criticism
of the colonys patriot leaders. However, it was Parliaments Tea Act of
1773 that brought the period of quiescence to an abrupt end throughout
North America.
Ironically, British politicians acted not with the purpose of disciplining
the Americans but with the intention of boosting the sagging fortunes of
the giant East India Company. After unsuccessful attempts to help the ail-
ing corporation with huge investments in India, the prime minister of
Great Britain, Lord North, earl of Guilford, secured passage of the Tea Act.
This allowed the East India Company to sell tea directly to America for the
first time, and to do so through its own agents; previously, it had sold its
product to English wholesale merchants, from whom the tea passed into
the hands of American wholesalers and retailers. By removing the profits
formerly obtained by English and American middlemen, and by the added

An 1846 depiction of the Boston Tea Party. (National Archives)

32 / Revolutionary War

provision eliminating English duties on tea exported to the New World

possessions, the company hoped to undersell Dutch-smuggled leaves in
America, even though the provincials would have to pay the remaining
Townshend tax of three pence on each pound.
Everywhere in North America, Lord Norths move met stiff resistance.
Merchants accused the ministry of giving the East India Company and its
agents a monopoly on the local tea market, which would be followed in
time by other monopolies in the American trade. More frightening to
Americans was the constitutional threat; they were vulnerable already
since the taxed herb had been purchased in America after 1770. Now, if
they consumed even more of the dutied drink, they would implicitly ad-
mit the authority of Parliament to tax them. In fact, they saw in Lord
Norths undertaking a cynical endeavor to get them to barter liberty for
luxury. Consignees in New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston were per-
suaded to resign their commissions, as the stamp tax collectors previously
had been made to do. The outcome was different in Boston, where Gover-
nor Hutchinson backed the consignees and refused to let the tea ships re-
turn to England without first unloading their cargo.

Symbolic Protest
The Tea Party was a form of symbolic protestone step beyond ran-
dom violence, one step short of organized, armed rebellion. The tea dump-
ers chose their symbols with utmost care. As the imported tea symbol-
ized British tyranny and taxation, so the image of the Indian, and the
Mohawk disguise, represented its antithesis: a trademark of an emerging
American identity and a voice for liberty in a new land. The image of the
Indian was figured into tea-dumpers disguises not only in Boston but also
in cities all along the Atlantic Seaboard. The Mohawk symbol was not
picked at random. It was used as a revolutionary symbol, counterpoising
the tea tax.
The image of the Indian (particularly the Mohawk) also appeared at
about the same time, in the same context, in revolutionary songs, slogans,
and engravings. Paul Revere, whose midnight rides became legendary in
the poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, played a crucial role in forg-
ing this sense of identity, contributing to the revolutionary cause a set of re-
markable engravings that cast as Americas first national symbol an Amer-
ican Indian woman, long before Uncle Sam came along.
Bostons patriots were not known for their civility in the face of British
authority, and it was Bostons Mohawks who sparked physical confron-
tation over the tea tax. As they dumped the tea, the Mohawks exchanged
words in a secret sign language using Indian hand symbols, and sang:
December, 1773: Boston Tea Party / 33

Rally Mohawks, and bring your axes

And tell King George well pay no taxes
on his foreign tea;
His threats are vain, and vain to think
To force our girls and wives to drink
his vile Bohea!
Then rally, boys, and hasten on
To meet our chiefs at the Green Dragon!
Our Warrens here, and bold Revere
With hands to do and words to cheer,
for liberty and laws;
Our countrys braves and firm defenders
shall neer be left by true North Enders
fighting freedoms cause!
Then rally, boys, and hasten on
To meet our chiefs at the Green Dragon.

After the Mohawks had performed the task of unloading, Parliaments

response was one of unparalleled severity. It passed the Coercive Acts in
1774 in order to bring rebellious Massachusetts to its knees, by closing the
port of Boston, altering the structure of government in the colony, and al-
lowing British officials and soldiers accused of capital offenses to be tried
in England or, to avoid a hostile local jury, in a colony other than the one
where the offense had occurred. The Coercive Acts also provided for the
quartering of troops once more in the town of Boston, stoking the smolder-
ing resentment of its citizens.

The Boston Tea Party is regarded by some as the first battle of the Amer-
ican Revolution, an economic one: In 1773, Britain exported 738,083
pounds of tea to the colonies. In 1774, the figure had fallen to 69,830. Im-
ports of tea fell all along the seaboard: from 206,312 pounds to 30,161 in
New England; 208,385 to 1,304 pounds in New York; and 208,191 pounds
to none in Pennsylvania.
R. Don Higginbotham
updated by Bruce E. Johansen
34 / Revolutionary War

April, 1775
Battles of Lexington and Concord
Date: April 19, 1775
Location: Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts
Combatants: 3,500 American vs. 1,700 British troops
Principal commanders: American, Lexington, Captain John Parker (1729-
1775), Concord, Colonel James Barrett; British, Lexington and Concord,
Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith (1723-1791)
Result: These battles opened hostilities in what became Americas Revolu-
tionary War.

In the early-morning hours of April 19, 1775, Captain John Parker, forty-
five-year-old veteran of the French and Indian War, stood with his single
company of Minutemen on the village green at Lexington, Massachusetts.
Several hours had passed since Paul Reveres word of an approaching col-
umn of redcoats had brought them tumbling out of their beds. Revere had
been unsure as to how General Thomas Gage would lead his men, quar-
tered in Boston, toward Lexington. The land route across the isthmus to the
mainland was long and more obvious; the Charles River was not frozen,
and the river route was shorter. A signal from the steeple of Christs
Church provided the answer; the British were coming by sea. Now a mes-
senger reported that the royal troops were almost within sight. Earlier, the
Minutemen and their neighbors had adopted a resolution that the pres-
ence of a British army in their province constituted an infringement upon
their natural, constitutional, chartered rights. They had pledged their
estates and every thing dear in life, yea and life itself if necessary in op-
posing the Coercive Acts. The British were correct in their suspicions that
the Americans had hidden arms; gunpowder and shot had been stored all
winter for such a moment as this.

The Combatants
The seventy-seven men who answered Parkers call, including sixteen-
year-old drummer William Diamond, were hopelessly outnumbered by
the approaching British. Many were old for such work; fifty-five were
more than thirty years of age. Most of the towns men hoped not to pro-
voke the British. Parker kept his men on the green and away from the
nearby road the British would follow to the next town of Concord. The cap-
tain of the Minutemen intended their presence to serve only a symbolic
purpose, an expression of their displeasure at the redcoats intrusion. Brit-
April, 1775: Lexington and Concord / 35

ish major John Pitcairn nevertheless led his advance companies onto the
green. As the British approached, Pitcairn ordered his men to hold their
fire. He told the Minutemen to leave their arms and disperse. Seeing they
had made their point, some of the Americans broke ranks and walked
away, but a shot rang out, its origin unknown. The British immediately re-
turned volleys of fire, beyond control of their officers. The Americans were
quickly driven from the field, leaving eight dead and ten wounded.
Lexington was hardly a battle, and yet a war had begun. The United States
was born in an act of violence lasting but fifteen to twenty minutes.
British troops had returned to Boston following the Tea Party and the
Coercive Acts. With them came a new governor of Massachusetts, General
Thomas Gage, a longtime military commander in chief in North America.
In retaliation, the Massachusetts Assembly, now calling itself the provin-
cial congress and sitting as an extralegal body, took control of the militia,
appointed general officers, and ordered the organizing of one-fourth of all
the militia into Minute companies. Massachusettss firm resolution to fight
if pressed was duplicated throughout New England, as well as in the Mid-
dle Colonies and in far-off Virginia, where on March 9, the Virginia con-
vention sat transfixed by the eloquence of Patrick Henry: The war is inevi-
table. . . . The war is actually begun. . . . Our brethren are already in the
field! Why stand here idle? The potentially explosive situation was
heightened by the struggle over gunpowder in the colonies. In London, the
ministry imposed an embargo on the shipment of munitions to America,
except for quantities headed for Gages army. Armed clashes were nar-
rowly averted in Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Virginia, as patriots

Romantic depiction of Paul Reveres

ride through the streets of Boston on
the eve of the Battle of Lexington,
warning fellow patriots of the coming
of the Redcoats. Reveres ride was im-
mortalized in a narrative poem writ-
ten by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
in 1863. (National Archives)
36 / Revolutionary War

and British authorities sought to monopolize the critically short amounts

of powder. The capture or destruction of the Massachusetts provincial con-
gresss military stores was the assignment of Lieutenant Colonel Francis
Smith as he headed down the silent country road that ran through Lexing-
ton and on to Concord on the night of April 18, 1775.
Long before reaching Lexington, Smith realized that his assignment
was known to the patriots, whose church bells and signal guns were audi-
ble to the marchers. Consequently, Smith dispatched Major Pitcairn ahead
with six companies to occupy the bridges over the Concord River, at the
same time that he wisely sent a courier to ask General Gage for reinforce-
ments. After routing the Lexington Minutemen, Pitcairn continued on the
additional five miles to Concord, entering the village at eight oclock in the
morning. The patriots had managed to cart away part of their supplies.
When the British had burned several gun carriages and destroyed flour,
the patriots set out about noon on their return journey.
The sixteen miles back to Boston were a nightmare for Smith and
Pitcairn. The scarlet column proved an inviting target for the swarms of
militia and Minute companies that had converged on Concord and Lex-
ington. From trees, rocks, and stone walls, they kept up a steady fire.
Smiths force may well have escaped annihilation only because at Lexing-

The Battle of Lexington. From an eyewitness drawing by Amos Doolittle (1754-1832).

(National Archives)
April, 1775: Lexington and Concord / 37

British retreat from Concord. (F. R. Niglutsch)

ton they received a reinforcement of nine hundred men under General

Hugh, Earl Percy. Even so, the combined column might have been de-
stroyed had the efforts of the various American detachments been coordi-
nated. As it was, the wild, unorthodox battle continued until the British
reached Charleston, across the harbor from Boston, where dusk and the
protecting guns of the Royal Navy brought an end to the mauling.

British losses came to 73 killed, 174 wounded, and 26 missing, while
American casualties in all categories totaled 93. The colonists remained to
besiege the enemy in Boston. The Newport Mercury described the days
events as the beginning of the American Civil War, which will hereafter fill
an important page in History. At least some British papers also reflected the
American viewpoint. For example, forty-one days after the fighting, the
London Chronicle carried a detailed description of the events that had tran-
spired at Lexington. The account included statements from witnesses who
reported that the British had indeed fired first, clearly favoring the Ameri-
can version of events. This was followed some weeks later with General
Gages account of the affair. Gage also alluded to the Americans having re-
turned fire, the implication being that the British had fired the first shots.
The British had badly misjudged the extent of American resistance.
While at no point in the war were the Americans united in their stand
38 / Revolutionary War

against England, events that transpired at Lexington and Concord had lit a
fire in the belly of the beast. It would be a short time before the patriots
would be unsatisfied with anything but independence.
R. Don Higginbotham
updated by Richard Adler

May, 1775
Battle of Fort Ticonderoga
Date: May 10-11, 1775
Location: Southwest bank of Lake Champlain, New York
Combatants: 270-300 American vs. 51 British troops
Principal commanders: American, Lieutenant Colonel Ethan Allen (1738-
1789), Lieutenant Colonel Seth Warner (1743-1784), Colonel Benedict
Arnold (1741-1801); British, Captain William Delaplace
Result: A bloodless American victory.

Control of Fort Ticonderoga on the bank of Lake Champlain was key to

troop movements between Canada and New York. Lieutenant Colonel

Benedict Arnold.
From an 1879 engraving
by H. B. Hall.
(National Archives)
May, 1775: Fort Ticonderoga / 39

Lieutenant Colonel Ethan Allens arrest of Captain William Delaplace at Fort

Ticonderoga. (National Archives)

Ethan Allens militia, the Green Mountain Boys, already had plans to cap-
ture it when Colonel Benedict Arnold, commissioned by the Massachu-
setts Committee of Safety for the same task, tried to assume command. Al-
lens men refused to serve under Arnold, so Allen led the raid with Arnold
accompanying as a volunteer.
Before dawn on May 10, Allen and Arnold crossed Lake Champlain with
83 men, surprised the lone sentry, and entered the open gate. Allen woke
Captain William Delaplace and forced him at swordpoint to surrender his
sleeping garrison, a 42-man company of the Twenty-sixth Regiment of
Foot (Cameronians). When Lieutenant Colonel Seth Warner arrived with
the rest of the men, Allen detached them to take Fort Crown Point, eight
miles north of Fort Ticonderoga. Warner accomplished this easily on May
11 against a single Cameronian squad: one sergeant and eight privates.
After the Battle of Bunker Hill (June, 1775), the Americans were desper-
ate for cannons. Under General George Washingtons orders, Colonel
Henry Knox brought 30 of the 100 cannons captured at Ticonderoga, 29 of
the 114 captured at Crown Point, and about 120,000 pounds of ordnance
by sled to eastern Massachusetts. This artillery, mounted on Dorchester
Heights, forced General Sir William Howe to abandon Boston (March 17,
Eric v.d. Luft
40 / Revolutionary War

June, 1775
Battle of Bunker Hill
Date: June 17, 1775
Location: Breeds Hill (Charlestown, Massachusetts, British colonies)
Combatants: 1,600 American vs. 2,400 British troops
Principal commanders: American, Colonel William Prescott (1726-1795);
British, Major General Sir William Howe (1729-1814)
Result: The British dislodged American troops from a redoubt on Breeds
Hill on Charlestown peninsula.

British regulars were ordered to occupy an elevated area on the Charles-

town peninsula, across the river from Boston. Before the British could act,
however, American forces, who had been instructed to seize Bunker Hill,
instead fortified Breeds Hill, also located on the peninsula. The com-
mander of the American forces, Colonel William Prescott, chose Breeds
Hill because of its proximity to Boston and its especially steep slopes on
two sides. The 1,600 Americans constructed a square redoubt on the top of
Breeds Hill.
Early in the afternoon of June 17, 1775, British major general Wil-
liam Howe ordered his troops to advance on Breeds Hill. The Americans

Contemporary depiction of the Battle of Bunker Hill. (National Archives)

December, 1775: Quebec / 41

repelled the first and second assaults. On the third assault, the Ameri-
cans ran out of powder and bullets. By nightfall, the British had seized
the hill. The British military suffered 1,054 casualties, 226 dead and 828
wounded. The Americans endured 411 casualties, 140 killed and 271
The Battle of Bunker Hill (more accurately Breeds Hill) constituted the
first major battle of the Revolutionary War. Although the British accom-
plished their objective, they did so at a heavy cost. This moral victory
united the Americans in their opposition to the British.
Richard A. Glenn

December, 1775
Battle of Quebec
Date: December 31, 1775
Location: Quebec City, Canada
Combatants: 1,175 Americans and Canadians vs. 1,800 British regulars
and militia
Principal commanders: American, Major General Richard Montgomery
(1738-1775); British, Governor Sir Guy Carleton (1724-1808)
Result: The British repulsed an assault on Quebec, inflicting heavy casual-
ties on American forces.

From December 5 to December 30, 1775, American troops besieged Que-

bec, the last major British outpost in Canada, attempting to complete their
invasion of the province. Faced with expiring enlistments in Benedict Ar-
nolds command, General Richard Montgomery launched an assault in the
early morning hours of December 31, during a howling blizzard.
Two small detachments feinted against the upper town, while the main
attack struck the lower. Montgomery led 275 troops from the southwest,
penetrated the outer fortifications undetected, and then charged a block-
house. The general and several other officers were killed in the first volley,
and his soldiers retreated. Meanwhile, Arnold and 600 men stormed Que-
bec from the other direction. Arnold was quickly wounded and retired
from the field, but his troops fought their way into the lower town. The
attack stalled, however, as the British concentrated on this threat, follow-
ing Montgomerys repulse. Sir Guy Carleton counterattacked, cutting the
American line of retreat and, by mid-morning, forced the Americans to
42 / Revolutionary War

The death of Major General Montgomery at Quebec. From a painting by John Trumbull,
a patriot who served in the Revolutionary War. (National Archives)

surrender. He then overran a nearby siege battery, capturing six cannons

and mortars. Overall, the Americans had 48 killed, 34 wounded, and 372
captured. British losses were 5 dead and 14 wounded.
The British victory at Quebec during the revolution crippled the Ameri-
can army in Canada and effectively ended its invasion of the province.
Michael P. Gabriel

August, 1776
Battle of Long Island
Date: August 27-30, 1776
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Combatants: 32,000 British vs. 19,000 American troops
Principal commanders: British, General Sir William Howe (1732-1786);
American, General George Washington (1732-1799)
Result: General Washingtons army retreated across the East River to
August, 1776: Long Island / 43

George Washington moved his troops to Manhattan in March, 1776, con-

vinced that the British would attack. Fortifications were constructed
around Manhattan. On June 29, British ships moved toward Staten Island.
On August 12, British reinforcements arrived, consisting of more than four
hundred transport ships protected by thirty warships.
These ships, with a total of 10,000 sailors, brought 32,000 soldiers to
Staten Island. After learning of this troop movement, General Washington,
realizing that he must confront the British in Brooklyn at the western ex-
treme of Long Island, sent 7,000 troops there, increasing the number of
American troops there to 19,000. These troops fortified Brooklyn Heights,
establishing an outer defensive position behind their fortifications, which
had a weak spot at Jamaica Pass.
On August 27, one British contingent attacked the American troops
while another body of troops swarmed in through the Jamaica Pass, com-
pletely overwhelming Washingtons forces. The Americans suffered 1,012
casualties, whereas the British incurred 392. Capitalizing on stormy
weather that kept British warships at bay, Washington led a retreat to

General Washington leads the American retreat from Long Island. From a painting by
M. A. Wageman. (National Archives)
44 / Revolutionary War

Victorious in Brooklyn, the British held Long Island until 1783. The Bat-
tle of Long Island, however, prevented General William Howes forces
from capturing Manhattan. The British victory was bittersweet.
R. Baird Shuman

September, 1776
Experiments in Submarine Warfare
Date: September 6-7, 1776
Location: New York
Principal commanders: American, Major General Israel Putnam (1718-
1790), Sergeant Ezra Lee; British, Admiral Richard Howe (1726-1799)
Result: Technology was driven and advanced by the need to succeed in
revolutionary combat.

David Bushnell was known throughout his native Connecticut for his in-
ventive mind. While on his fathers farm, he had developed a harrow with
flexible teeth, which farmers could use in the stony New England fields
without the teeths breaking constantly. As a student at Yale College, he be-
came interested in the possibilities of exploding kegs of black powder un-
der water. Traditional theories of the time held that such an explosion
would not work, because the water would dissipate its force. Through ex-
periments, Bushnell proved that this theory was wrong and developed the
forerunner of the naval mine.

Birth of the Turtle

With the onset of the American Revolution, Bushnell decided that his
mine would be useful against the blockading British fleet, but he needed
an accurate method of placing his explosives under a ships keel without
being seen by naval gunners. His solution was a submarine vessel called
the Turtle, which he designed early in 1775 while still a student at Yale.
During the colleges spring vacation that year, Bushnell went home to
Saybrook, Connecticut, where he and his brother Ezra spent more than a
month constructing the worlds first submarine. They built no model; the
Turtle was built full-sized from the start.
According to its inventor, the submarine bore some resemblance to
two upper tortoise shells of equal size joined together. The boat was seven
and a half feet long, four feet wide, and eight feet deep. Made of carefully
September, 1776: Submarines / 45

David Bushnells submarine Turtle.

(U. S. Navy)

fitted oak timbers caulked with cork and tar, Bushnells craft was driven by
a screw propeller, the first one ever used to power a ship. The contraption
included a short, primitive snorkel, through which the one-person crew
could obtain fresh air. The tube was equipped with valves that automati-
cally closed when the submarine submerged to greater depths. The opera-
tor navigated the vessel by looking through a glass conning tower and by
checking his compass and depth gauge, which were illuminated by fox
Although many accounts of David Bushnell and his Turtle do not indi-
cate that he piloted the vessel, Robert F. Burgess in Ships Beneath the Sea
(1975) reveals that he did. Once Bushnell graduated from Yale in June,
1775, he returned to Saybrook to make some adjustments to the boat. The
maiden voyage of the Turtle took place in Long Island Sound, where David
Bushnell stayed submerged for a rather uneventful forty-five minutes. He
nearly fainted, however, and based on this initial experience, realized he
was not physically capable of piloting the submarine for extended periods.
From then on, his brother, Ezra, practiced maneuvering the Turtle in the
sound and prepared for its ultimate mission.
In subsequent months, several devices were added to assist in naviga-
tion, including a compass and a barometer. At this point, Dr. Benjamin
Gale, a family friend of the Bushnells, brought Benjamin Franklin to see the
Turtle. Franklin encouraged Bushnell to take his vessel to New York, where
the British fleet had set up a blockade. Franklin then told General George
Washington about the submarine. Washington was doubtful, however,
about the boats potential in his endeavors.
46 / Revolutionary War

Demonstration of the Turtle

Through the influence of Governor Jonathan Trumbull of Connecticut
in late 1775, Bushnell demonstrated the Turtle for Major General Israel
Putnam of the new Continental army. Putnam was impressed and secured
government financing for further development of the submarine. The
army wanted to use the submersible to break the British blockade of Bos-
ton, but the British squadron departed before Bushnell could fully assem-
ble the ballast pumps.
The next opportunity to strike at the British fleet was in 1776 at New
York City. The Turtle was hauled overland and launched into the harbor
from Manhattan Island. Ezra Bushnell was to have navigated the subma-
rine in its first real combat mission; he was well prepared after a years
training in the sound. Unfortunately, he became seriously ill with a fever
and had to be hospitalized for several weeks. The mission could not wait.
General Putnam provided three volunteers, whom Bushnell trained to
navigate the vessel. It was twenty-seven-year-old Sergeant Ezra Lee who
proved to be the most capable replacement.
Just after midnight on the night of September 6, 1776, Lee slipped into
the Turtle and, after two hours of tediously maneuvering the boat with
hand cranks, guided it under the sixty-four-gun HMS Eagle, the British
flagship. Lee was supposed to attach an explosive charge to the flagship by
screwing it to the hull. Some historians speculate that Lee might have hit
an iron bar connecting a part of the rudder to the stern, because each time
he attempted to twist the bit into the metal of the ship, it would not engage.
The hull of the Eagle was sheathed in copper, but Bushnell had anticipated
this and had made the auger strong enough to penetrate the weaker metal.
While Lee tried to maneuver the submarine to another spot on the hull, the
Turtle rose to the surface in broad daylight.
At the mercy of the tide and without the aid of a compasswhich, for
some reason, was not workingLee remained four miles from safety. Al-
though he submerged every few minutes, he finally had to remain on the
surface to see his way. Lees craft was spotted by English sentries on Gov-
ernors Island, and the sentries quickly launched their own boat in a chase.
Lee reported that the sailors came within fifty yards of the Turtle but were
frightened of what they saw and turned away. Lee released the keg of pow-
der, which drifted harmlessly into the bay and later exploded. Heading
back to New York Harbor, Lee was spotted by his own people and towed to
shore by a whaleboat.
Lee made several other attempts to destroy British ships in New
York Harbor, but all were unsuccessful. When the British advanced up
the Hudson River in October, 1776, Bushnell placed his invention aboard
October, 1776: White Plains / 47

a small sloop. A British warship sank the sloop as it fled up the river in
an effort to avoid capture. Although Bushnell reportedly recovered his
submarine from the depths, its actual fate remains unknown. After the
loss of the Turtle, Governor Trumbull had Bushnell commissioned as an
officer in the Sappers and Miners Corps of the Continental army, and
Bushnell served during the remainder of the war as a demolition ex-
pert. After the American Revolution, the reticent inventor moved to Geor-
gia, where he practiced medicine, taught school, and died in obscurity in

Although David Bushnells submarine failed to sink any enemy vessels,
he was responsible for several notable achievements. He was the first
to prove that gunpowder could explode underwater with sufficient force
to disable and sink a surface ship. He also developed floating and sub-
merged mines and invented the first practical submarine. In so doing,
Bushnell solved several basic engineering and nautical problems: con-
structing a watertight and pressure-proof hull with vertical and hori-
zontal propulsion mechanisms; achieving vertical stability and steering
control; and developing the means of using variable ballast systems.
Bushnells inventions were rapidly improved upon by other U.S. inventors
who continued to develop the submarine for use in subsequent U.S. naval
William L. Richter
updated by Liesel Ashley Miller

October, 1776
Battle of White Plains
Date: October 28, 1776
Location: 21 miles north of New York City along Bronx River
Combatants: 13,000 British and Hessians vs. 2,000 Americans
Principal commanders: British/Hessian, General Sir William Howe (1729-
1814); American, General George Washington (1732-1799)
Result: British victory over American troops.

General George Washington and the American colonial army had been
forced to abandon New York City during the summer of 1776 and were on
48 / Revolutionary War

the run. After resisting a British attack at Harlem Heights, Washington re-
treated to Chatterton Hill, near White Plains, New York. British general
William Howes large army, freshly reinforced with Hessian troops, fol-
lowed. Howe significantly reduced his forces when he dispatched a de-
tachment to contain another branch of the colonial army. In the meantime,
Washingtons soldiers fortified Chatterton Hill. After waiting three days,
Howe launched frontal and flank assaults on Washingtons troops on Oc-
tober 28. Though the Americans were temporarily able to resist British
forces in open-field battle, Howes men eventually took the hill. Washing-
tons army fell back and retreated overnight under the camouflage of a
heavy fog. Despite his numerical advantage, Howe chose not to renew the
assault the next morning, possibly missing an opportunity to completely
defeat the colonial army.
Though the British won the Battle of White Plains, British commander
in chief Howe was criticized for failing to follow up his tactical advantage,
allowing Washingtons army to escape. The colonial army survived and
eventually won the war.
Leslie Stricker

December, 1776
Battle of Trenton
Date: December 26, 1776
Location: Trenton, New Jersey
Combatants: 2,400 Americans vs. 1,400 Hessians
Principal commanders: American, General George Washington (1732-
1799); British/Hessian, Colonel Johann Gottlieb Rall (c. 1720-1776)
Result: American victory.

During the New York campaign of 1776, British redcoats inflicted a series
of humiliating defeats on rebel forces. With his ragtag army demoralized
and dwindling in number, General George Washington sought an oppor-
tunity to strike back. Intelligence reports showed that the dispersed British
army was retiring to winter quarters. The Hessian soldiers at Trenton
could not be easily reinforced, and the garrisons commander failed to pre-
pare its defenses. Washington therefore planned to lead 2,400 men across
the Delaware River at McKonkeys Ferry and march the nine miles to Tren-
ton. Simultaneously, General James Ewings force would cross the river be-
December, 1776: Trenton / 49

Emanuel Leutzes 1851 painting of Washingtons crossing of the Delaware River on

his way to Trenton is one of the best-known pictures in American history. (National

low the town, while Colonel John Cadwaladers men would create a diver-
sion at Bristol.
During the night of December 25-26, Washington, his troops, and eigh-
teen artillery pieces crossed the icy Delaware River. Heavy snow and
ice prevented Ewing and Cadwalader from doing likewise. By 8:00 a.m.,
the continentals reached Trenton, pushed back enemy sentries, and
stormed the town. Wet conditions silenced many American muskets, so
artillery keyed the attack. Colonel Johann Gottlieb Ralls troops, recov-
ering from a boisterous Christmas celebration, awoke to the sounds of
battle and offered scattered resistance. The Hessian commander tried to
rally his confused men, but by that time rebels had infiltrated the town
with withering gunfire. Rall was fatally wounded. Leaderless and sur-
rounded, the Hessians surrendered less than an hour after the fighting
Washingtons troops suffered 4 wounded, while inflicting 114 casual-
ties, capturing 948 prisoners, and seizing six field pieces. The battles out-
come severely compromised the redcoats image of invincibility, revital-
50 / Revolutionary War

General Washington accepting the surrender of the Hessian troops after the Battle of
Trenton. From an 1850 lithograph by Henry Hoff. (National Archives)

ized American support for the revolutionary cause, demonstrated the

effectiveness of field artillery, and bolstered Washingtons reputation,
which had suffered from the previous setbacks of 1776.
Mark Thompson

January, 1777
Battle of Princeton
Date: January 3, 1777
Location: Princeton, New Jersey
Combatants: 5,000 American vs. 1,200 British troops
Principal commanders: American, General George Washington (1732-
1799); British, General Lord Charles Cornwallis (1738-1805)
Result: Washington defeated a detached British brigade in a sharp fight.

In late December, 1776, George Washington recrossed the Delaware River

from Pennsylvania into New Jersey and concentrated 5,000 soldiers in
January, 1777: Princeton / 51

Trenton, having destroyed a Hessian force there several days earlier. Skill-
fully eluding a British army under General Lord Charles Cornwallis with a
night march on January 2-3, Washington struck a lone brigade near Prince-
ton that morning. The disciplined British regulars scattered the first Amer-
ican units on the field with heavy volleys of musketry and a bayonet
charge. Washington, however, brought up reinforcements, restored order,
and counterattacked. This routed one British regiment. Two others quickly
retreated as the Americans advanced on the town. The Americans inflicted
approximately 500 casualties, taking 300 prisoners in this sharp, forty-five-
minute fight, at the cost of 44 killed and wounded. Washington had hoped
to then seize the British magazine at New Brunswick, but his troops were
exhausted. Therefore, he marched to Morristown and went into winter
The victory at Princeton, coupled with the one at Trenton, greatly
revitalized the American effort after the disastrous New York campaign
of 1776. They also caused the British to evacuate most of New Jersey, un-
doing much of what the British had accomplished during the previous
Michael P. Gabriel

George Washington at Princeton. From an 1853 lithography by D. McLellan. (National

52 / Revolutionary War

August, 1777
Battle of Oriskany Creek
Date: August 6, 1777
Location: Oriskany Creek, New York
Combatants: Uncertain number of Americans vs. uncertain number of
Principal commanders: British, Joseph Brant (also known as Thayenda-
negea; 1742-1807), General John Burgoyne (1722-1792), Barry St. Leger
(1737-1789); American, Horatio Gates (c. 1728-1806), Nicholas Herkimer
Result: British forces retreated west, leaving American forces free to con-
centrate against Burgoyne.

British strategy for suppressing the rebellion in their American colonies

during 1776 and 1777 was twofold: a defeat of George Washingtons rebel
army and an invasion through New York State to cut the colonies in two. If
they succeeded in their strategy, the British would cut off New England,
the center of the rebellion, allowing for its occupation and submission by
British troops. The remaining colonies, bereft of leadership, would fall un-
der British control. In the summer of 1776, a British army of thirty thou-
sand soldiers, under General William Howe, was to move west from New
York City, to be met by a smaller force advancing from Canada under Guy
Carleton, British general and governor of Canada. Although an American
initiative into Canada, led by Colonel Benedict Arnold and General Rich-
ard Montgomery, was stopped at the gates of Quebec, it disrupted this
strategy. Carleton, knighted for his success at Quebec, was unable to press
on into New York.

Burgoynes Plan
Lieutenant General Gentleman Johnny Burgoyne, so named for his
appearance and manner, had been in the colonies since the beginning of
the revolution. Burgoyne had accompanied Carleton in the attempt to
invade New York during the summer of 1776. Returning to England the
following winter, Burgoyne presented to King George a paper called
Thoughts for Conducting the War from the Side of Canada, arguing the
soundness of the strategy for an invasion from Canada. Burgoyne felt that
more aggressive leadership (provided by himself) would prove more suc-
cessful than the earlier attempt. The invasion would begin from Montreal,
cross Lake Champlain, and follow the Hudson River. A second force
August, 1777: Oriskany Creek / 53

General John Burgoyne.

From an engraving by S. Hollyer.
(National Archives)

would proceed from Oswego down the Mohawk Valley, along a tributary
of the Hudson River; a third force, under Howe, would move from New
York City up the Hudson River. The three armies would converge at Al-
bany, cutting off the northern colonies and isolating Washingtons army.
The British ministry accepted Burgoynes plan as its war strategy for the
following year, and in March, 1777, Burgoyne was given command of the
forces from Canada. Lieutenant Colonel Barry St. Leger was given the tem-
porary rank of brigadier and command of the force moving down the Mo-
hawk Valley.
On May 6, 1777, Burgoyne arrived in Quebec, where he was met by
Carleton. Burgoynes army of eighty-three hundred men included thirty-
seven hundred regulars and four hundred men from the Six Nations of the
Iroquois Confederacy. On June 20, Burgoyne and his forces assembled and
set sail from Lake Champlain, heading for Crown Point, eight miles north
of Fort Ticonderoga. The second arm of the British strategy, four hundred
troops under St. Leger, arrived at Oswego in western New York on July 25.
There St. Leger was joined by a thousand Iroquois under the command of
Thayendanegea, known as Joseph Brant. St. Leger planned on advancing
along the Mohawk River to the Hudson River, brushing past Fort Schuyler
on the way.
Opposing the British was the Northern Department of the Continental
army. Ostensibly under the leadership of General Philip Schuyler, the
Americans actually regarded Horatio Gates as their commander. Schuyler
54 / Revolutionary War

was a New York patroon, autocratic, and less than successful in earlier
campaigns. Many of his troops were New Englanders. They had not ex-
celled as soldiers to date, and Schuyler despised them for it. Gates, al-
though a plantation-owning Virginian, was much like the New Englanders
he hoped to lead. He was a man of plain appearance and, although a vet-
eran of the French and Indian War, not a strict disciplinarian. He admired
the New Englanders and was admired in return.

Fort Ticonderoga
Burgoynes first target was Fort Ticonderoga. The fort had been seized
two years earlier by Americans under the command of Benedict Arnold
and Ethan Allen. The fort straddled the northern tip of Lake George and
was virtually indefensible if the British occupied a nearby hill. This they
did on July 5, and the commander at Fort Ticonderoga, General Arthur
St. Clair, evacuated his army south. Burgoyne spent the next three weeks
advancing toward the Hudson River, which he reached on July 30. On Au-
gust 4, Gates replaced Schuyler as commander of the northern Continental
Meanwhile, St. Leger was about to march toward the Hudson River,
150 miles east. Only Fort Schuyler stood in the way. Built during the French
and Indian War, the fort had only recently been reoccupied. Its com-
mander, Colonel Peter Gansevoort, had strengthened its defenses the
previous three months. When his allies, local Oneidas, warned him of
St. Legers approach, Gansevoort evacuated the women and children,
leaving about 750 men to oppose St. Leger. The British commander began
an encirclement of the fort, preparing to lay siege. Coming to the forts re-
lief were General Nicholas Herkimer and eight hundred volunteers of
the Tryon County militia. On August 5, Herkimer approached Oriskany
Creek, eight miles from the fort.
That night, Herkimer sent messengers to the fort requesting that guns
be fired as a diversion to cover his men. However, St. Leger was well aware
of his arrival. Herkimers column included four hundred oxcarts of sup-
plies, strung out for more than a mile. In addition, Molly Brant, Joseph
Brants sister, had learned of Herkimers approach and warned St. Leger.
St. Leger laid a trap along a ravine on the road to the fort. At ten oclock
Herkimer reached the ravine, where a waiting Tory detachment, and Na-
tive Americans commanded by Brant, opened a cascade of fire. Racing to-
ward the firing, Herkimer was badly wounded in the leg. Herkimer
propped himself by a tree, lit his pipe, and directed his men in the battle.
Refusing to panic, the officers assembled the men into a defensive per-
imeter from which they held off the British and their Native American al-
August, 1777: Oriskany Creek / 55

lies for an hour, until rain interrupted the battle. Wet powder then pre-
vented the guns from firing. When fighting resumed, Herkimer directed
his men to fight in pairs, so Indians could not tomahawk a man while he
was reloading. Brant was reinforced by troops participating in the siege at
Fort Schuyler. Hoping to fool the Americans, they disguised themselves as
fellow militia. However, a militiaman recognized one as his neighbor, a
Tory who sided with the British, and the ruse failed.
The battle continued for six hours, evolving into bitter hand-to-hand
combat. Losses among the attacking force approached 25 percent, and fi-
nally they withdrew. More than two hundred Americans were killed or
wounded. Herkimer was carried to his home and died ten days later.
Despite Herkimers failure to relieve the fort, casualties among St. Legers
Native American allies were so heavy that they lost interest in the cam-
paign. Furthermore, General Schuyler was determined that the Americans
would retain control of the Mohawk Valley; he directed reinforcements un-
der General Arnold to come to Gansevoorts aid. When St. Leger learned of
the columns approach, he lifted the siege, ending his role in Burgoynes
campaign. Burgoyne himself would receive no reinforcements. Trapped by
General Gates in Saratoga a month later, he surrendered his army.

Following the Battle of Oriskany Creek and the defeat of Burgoyne,
fighting became increasingly bitter, as each side revenged itself on its op-
ponents allies. In July, 1778, Colonel John Butler, leading four hundred To-
ries and five hundred Senecas, burned and murdered his way through
Pennsylvanias Wyoming Valley. In response, Washington ordered Gen-
eral John Sullivan to destroy the country of the Six Nations, comprising
much of western New York and northern Pennsylvania. During the spring
and summer of 1779, Sullivans four thousand men marched through the
Mohawk Valley. Although he met little opposition, Sullivan destroyed
more than forty Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, and Mohawk towns. Simi-
larly, Iroquois warriors under Joseph Brant worked devastation on Ameri-
can allies, burning Oneida and Tuscarora villages. This period not only
marked an escalation in the bitterness and the extent of fighting but also
heralded the disintegration of the once neutral Iroquois Confederacy. The
union of the Six Nations did not survive the revolution.
Richard Adler
56 / Revolutionary War

September, 1777
Battle of Brandywine
Date: September 11, 1777
Location: Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania
Combatants: 17,000 British and Hessians vs. 15,000 Americans
Principal commanders: British/Hessian, General Sir William Howe (1732-
1786); American, General George Washington (1732-1799)
Result: Tactical British victory.

Hoping to stop the British advance from Elkton, Maryland, to Philadel-

phia, General George Washington established a strong defensive position
on high ground just east of the Brandywine River (September 9, 1777). He
failed to gain adequate knowledge of the surrounding terrain and mistak-
enly believed he had guarded all nearby fords. By preventing British cross-
ings at Wistars, Joness, Brintons, Chads, Lower, Gibsons, Pyles, or Cor-
ner Fords, he expected to force Sir William Howe to attack frontally from
the west bank.
The British marched northeast up the Baltimore Pike (later U.S. Route 1)
and headquartered at Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. Howes reconnais-
sance was superior to that of Washington. He divided his army, attacked
frontally with the smaller part under Baron Wilhelm von Knyphausen, and
sent the larger part under Lord Charles Cornwallis to another ford north of
Wistars. Fog favored the British. When the sky cleared, Washington real-
ized he had been outflanked on his right. He held ground as long as he
could but finally had to retreat.
Casualty estimates range between 600 and 1,900 for the British and be-
tween 700 and 1,300 for the Americans. Washington also lost ten cannons
and a howitzer.
Howe entered Philadelphia unopposed (September 26). Through casu-
alties and desertions, only 6,000 men remained with Washington after the
Philadelphia campaign to winter at Valley Forge.
Eric v.d. Luft
October, 1777: Germantown / 57

October, 1777
Battle of Germantown
Date: October 4, 1777
Location: Germantown, Pennsylvania
Combatants: 12,000 American vs. 8,000 British troops
Principal commanders: American, General George Washington (1732-
1799); British, Sir William Howe (1732-1786)
Result: American retreat.

Following his defeat at the Battle of Brandywine and the British occupation
of Philadelphia, General George Washington ordered Continental forces to
attack British redcoats encamped at Germantown.
Washingtons troops set out on October 3 and in four converging
columns attacked the following morning. They made rapid and dra-
matic gains, sweeping across two to three miles of enemy ground before
Sir William Howe could organize his beleaguered redcoats. With vic-
tory near, Washington prepared to order a general advance of his army
to finish off its reeling foe. Then, as quickly as success had come, the
momentum rapidly shifted. The rebels initial rapid advance and the

Chew House. (National Archives)

58 / Revolutionary War

redcoats desultory retreat took place in the midst of a dense fog that
aided American stealth but prevented them from recognizing the extent of
their success. Furthermore, British occupation of the large, stone-walled
Chew House slowed the American advance as Henry Knoxs Continental
artillery futilely blasted the stronghold. Additionally, two of Washingtons
columns collided and exchanged fire. The resulting confusion precipitated
a general collapse of the American line that reversed the movement of bat-
tle and left the Continental commander bewildered by the sudden need for
Despite the Germantown setback, morale in the Continental ranks re-
mained high. Our troops are in prodigious Spirits, Knox reported after
the battle. They had carried out a complex plan requiring considerable skill
and almost defeated a formidable foe. Rather than demonstrating the sol-
diers incompetence and heightening their despair, the near-success re-
flected their increased military prowess and buoyed hopes for victory in
future confrontations.
Mark Thompson

October, 1777
Battle of Saratoga
Date: October 8-17, 1777
Location: Upper New York State
Combatants: British vs. Americans
Principal commanders: British, General John Burgoyne (1722-1792), Wil-
liam Howe (1729-1814), Henry Clinton (1730-1795); American, General
Horatio Gates (1728-1806), Benedict Arnold (1741-1801)
Result: Britains defeat marked the end of any prospect of British victory in
Americas Revolutionary War.

For the campaign of 1777 of the American Revolution, the British devised a
bold strategy designed to bring the war to an immediate end. It involved
military action in three different locales: the capture of Philadelphia, the
seat of the American congress, by an army led by William Howe and trans-
ported to the vicinity by the British Royal Navy; an attack from Canada
down the Lake Champlain-Lake George waterway, under the command of
General John Burgoyne, to assault and seize Albany; and a movement of
British forces from their base in New York City up the Hudson River, to
October, 1777: Saratoga / 59

Saratoga, October 7, 1777

To Saratoga, 8 miles


B e
m i




American forces
Gatess fortifications N
British forces
British fortifications

meet Burgoyne at Albany. The effect would be to split the colonies in two
in particular to seal off New England, where revolutionary fervor was
greatest, from the colonies to the south. Although all participants agreed
on the plan, the exact role each was to play, and especially their coordina-
tion with one another, was never made clear.
George Washington, the American commander in chief, realized early
the nature of the British plan but was powerless to do much about it. He
felt compelled to try to protect Philadelphia, but his efforts led only to
defeat by Howe. Recognizing the significance of the Burgoyne expedi-
tion, Washington sent Colonel Daniel Morgans detachment of sharp-
shooters north to join the American army defending Albany. Morgans
unit at Saratoga helped to neutralize the Native American forces fight-
ing on the British side and played a vital role in overcoming the British offi-
60 / Revolutionary War

General Horatio Gates.

(National Archives)

Burgoynes Advance
General Burgoynes army, about eight thousand strong, was success-
fully advancing toward Albany. A large flotilla had been assembled, able to
proceed by water down the Richelieu River to Lake Champlain, where
it defeated American attempts to halt it. The British disembarked at the
foot of Lake George and successfully seized the lightly guarded fort at
Ticonderoga, from which the American force was compelled to withdraw.
Burgoyne then proceeded overland toward the Hudson River, but the ter-
rain, the weather, and the lack of adequate oxen and horses to draw his
supplies slowed his advance substantially. Burgoyne detached a force of
Germans serving under him to invade Vermont and capture any supplies
and animals they could find. This force was wiped out by the Americans at
the Battle of Bennington on August 16. The American victory did much to
enhance American morale and to motivate recruits to join the American
army defending Albany.
The American army, previously under the command of General Philip
Schuyler, was now turned over to the command of General Horatio
Gates. Gatess talent was organization, not battlefield tactics, and he has
been much criticized for taking a defensive posture against Burgoynes
advancing army. However, he did realize the importance of a strong de-
fensive position, and this led him to move the American forces northward,
to a position above Stillwater on the heights overlooking the Hudson
River. The American forces heavily fortified their position.
October, 1777: Saratoga / 61

On September 19, 1777, the opposing forces came face to face with each
other. Burgoyne, recognizing the folly of attempting to advance further on
the road to Albany, deployed his forces, now down to about five thousand.
His plan was to attack the American left wing, on the heights, with his Brit-
ish troops, leaving the Germans to anchor the position on the road and
along the river. The attack on the heights was fought largely in the woods,
but partly in a clearing around an isolated farm called Freemans Farm.
The American sharpshooters shot down the officers; the British suffered
heavy casualties.
Burgoyne regrouped his forces to consider what to do next. He had re-
ceived little news of the cooperating army, under Henry Clinton, that was
supposed to advance up the Hudson River and meet him at Albany. He did
learn that many of the supplies he had left behind at Ticonderoga had been
seized by American forces, leaving him with only enough supplies to last
until mid-October. Burgoyne therefore staged a second, hotly contested at-
tack on the American positions on October 7. Benedict Arnold again led
the Americans in battle, and the British were unable to overcome the
American forces. Unable to advance, Burgoyne on October 8 ordered his
army to retreat toward Saratoga.

General Burgoynes surrender at Saratoga. From a painting by John Trumbull (1756-

1843). (National Archives)
62 / Revolutionary War

Americans Surround the British

Meanwhile, American forces had seized more of the line of retreat to-
ward Canada. Burgoynes army was effectively surrounded. On October
13, Burgoyne began to negotiate terms of surrender with Gates, negotia-
tions that were completed on October 16. Under the terms of the Conven-
tion of Saratoga, the British troops laid down their arms on October 17.
They were to be marched to a port of embarkation and sent back to Europe,
on condition that they would take no further part in the conflict. In the end,
Congress reneged on this commitment and the captured troops spent the
rest of the war in prisoner-of-war camps in America.
The defeat of Burgoynes expedition meant the failure of the British
strategy to end the war in 1777. France took steps to support the Amer-
icans, and this cooperation led eventually to the American victory at
Nancy M. Gordon

February, 1778
Franco-American Treaties
Date: February 6, 1778
Location: Paris
Principal negotiators: American, Commissioners Benjamin Franklin (1706-
1790), Silas Deane (1737-1789), and Arthur Lee (1740-1792); French, For-
eign Affairs Minister Charles Gravier, comte de Vergennes (1717-1787),
Minister Anne Csar, Chevalier de La Luzerne (1741-1791), King Louis
XVI (1754-1793); Spanish, Prime Minister Jos Moino y Redondo,
conde de Floridablanca (1728-1808)
Result: The terms of the treaties reflected the long-standing enmity be-
tween France and Britain and offered French assistance to the emerging
American nation.

The American revolutionaries did not believe that their war of indepen-
dence would go unnoticed by the outside world. In 1763, the balance of
power in Europe had swung decisively toward Great Britain, largely be-
cause of its defeat of France and Spain in the Western Hemisphere. Ameri-
cans and Europeans agreed that the scales would remain tipped in favor of
the island kingdom only so long as it retained its New World possessions.
At first, colonial writers warned that the Bourbon monarchies might at-
February, 1778: Franco-American Treaties / 63

Benjamin Franklin at the royal court of France in 1778. From a painting by Hobens.
(National Archives)

tempt to seize several of George IIIs American provinces while his house
was divided against itself, and that such storm warnings might offer the
most compelling reasons for the colonies and the mother country to patch
up their quarrel. As the imperial crisis deepened, American opinion of the
Roman Catholic states gradually shifted from fear to the hope that they
would assist America in case of war with Great Britain.

Changing Sentiments
That change of sentiment was one of the radical features of the Ameri-
can Revolution. Bred on a hatred of Catholicism and political absolutism
associated especially with France, American publicists for decades had
shrilled for the permanent removal of the French peril from North Amer-
ica. The elimination of France from Canada in 1763, however, meant that
France was no longer the threat it had been previously. France and its ally,
Spain, were now more tolerable from afar than in the day when the fleur-de-
lis loomed over the back door of the mainland settlements. Moreover,
64 / Revolutionary War

Frances nearly total elimination from mainland North America did not
mean that the striving colonies were destined to lose a potentially valuable
international trading partner. A thriving market for import-export trade
had grown between Atlantic seaboard ports and the Spanish and French
colonial possessions in the Caribbean area. The American colonists desire
to keep this trade free from British control was as much a factor in their
feelings toward France as was their interest in political independence.
The need for foreign assistance, so ably expressed in Thomas Paines
Common Sense (1776), was a powerful catalyst for independence. An-
ticipating the final break, Congress in March, 1776, dispatched Silas Deane
to Paris to purchase military stores and to explore the possibilities of a
commercial alliance. Even before Deanes arrival, French leaders decided
to provide the patriots with covert aid. The Anglo-American war gave
France the long-awaited opportunity to gain revenge for its humiliation in
1763. However, the comte de Vergennes, French minister of foreign affairs,
was cautious and prudent, a tough-minded career diplomat, and no mes-
senger of Enlightenment idealism. Fearful of American defeat or a com-
promise settlement between the colonies and Great Britain, Vergennes
plotted a judicious course until the picture cleared. The attitude of Spain,
which feared an independent America as a threat to its overseas domin-
ions, also served to restrain Vergennes and his countrymen. Nevertheless,
the year 1777 marked Frances increasing commitment to the American

The marquis de Lafayette in 1781.

From a painting by J. B. LePaon.
(National Archives)
February, 1778: Franco-American Treaties / 65

The growing stream of supplies bought with royal funds or taken sur-
reptitiously from military arsenals, the opening of French ports to rebel
privateers and warships, the procession of French officers bound for Wash-
ingtons army, the unremitting pressures of Silas Deane, and the subtler
blandishments of his colleague, Benjamin Franklin, all combined to move
France toward the patriots orbit. News of the British capitulation of Gen-
eral John Burgoyne at Saratoga in October, 1777, dispelled any lingering
doubts as to the patriots ability to continue the struggle. Vergennes now
feared that the American victory might give rise to a spirit of conciliation
in Great Britain, leading to some form of reunion between the English-
speaking people on opposite sides of the Atlantic. The French minister of
foreign affairs notified Franklin and his fellow commissioners that the gov-
ernment of Louis XVI was ready to establish formal ties with the United

Prior to and after final agreement on the treaties that were signed in
1778, Vergennes had French agents in America contact (and contract) will-
ing propagandists to support a Franco-American Alliance. The best-
known of these, until American leaders political differences led to his
alienation, was Thomas Paine. Another supporter of the French, in Massa-
chusetts, was the Reverend Samuel Cooper, whose brother was active in
the politics of independence both before and after 1776. Cooper not only
wrote articles calling for closer Franco-American relations but also gath-
ered key information from the American emissary in Paris, Benjamin
Franklin. His activities actually earned for him a salary from the French
foreign ministry. Shortly after the French and the Americans signed the
1778 treaties, he and a number of other Francophiles opened a literary and
social salon in Boston, to which French officers, including the famous mar-
quis de Lafayette, were invited.
Although Cooper was among a small number of American patriots
who corresponded regularly with French officials (including Foreign Min-
ister Vergennes and Frances chief minister in America, Chevalier de La
Luzerne), Lafayette did not know of their semiofficial propagandistic
functions. Lafayette even wrote to Vergennes in May, 1780, urging Paris to
especially put Dr. Cooper at the head of the list of our friends. Coopers
service to the cause of closer Franco-American relations continued until he
died in 1784. Another patriot propagandist who maintained close ties with
La Luzerne was Hugh Henry Brackenridge, a Philadelphia Presbyterian
minister and attorney who in 1779 edited United States Magazine. Although
the magazine did not print specific articles backing the French treaties, it
66 / Revolutionary War

was assumed that French pay for other propagandistic pieces helped fi-
nance Brackenridges publication.
For both parties, the Franco-American Alliance was the child of neces-
sity. If the patriots in the beginning hoped for massive French aid and the
entrance of the Bourbon nation into the war, they wanted only a temporary
relationship; too intimate a formal connection would mean becoming in-
volved in the future strife of the Old World, whose peoples mirrored a soci-
ety and way of life incompatible with free, republican institutions. While
the patriots offered only a commercial treaty to France, Vergennes success-
fully demanded more: a conditional and defensive alliance. The French
minister of foreign affairs and his sovereign were not enthusiastic about
revolution against kings. Their willingness to recognize the United States
of America and to sign treaties with the infant nation on February 6, 1778,
was based upon a desire to humiliate Frances ancient foe.
The Treaty of Amity and Commerce contained most of the proposals
made by Congress for liberalization of trade along principles foreign to
mercantilism. The Treaty of Alliance stipulated that, in case of war be-
tween Great Britain and Francewhich the two treaties made inevitable
neither America nor France would make peace without the approval of the
other. France renounced forever any claims to British territory on the conti-
nent of North America and agreed to recognize the U.S. right to any such
territory seized by patriot armies. The two nations also guaranteed each
others territorial boundaries in the New World as they would be drawn at
the end of hostilities.

Public Reactions
Once news of the Franco-American treaties spread, an inevitable divi-
sion of opinion over their presumed positive or negative significance ap-
peared among American clerics. Although not all Anglican and Methodist
ministers denounced the treaties, their denominational closeness to En-
gland caused schisms among parishioners. Many loyalists among the
clergy had already left their pulpits as early as 1775 and 1776. The dissent-
ing clergy that took over such ministerial posts tried to combine support
for independence with some form of justification for the expediency of a
formal alliance between the secularist Continental Congress and monar-
chical Catholic France. Among non-Anglicans, some pastors, such as the
Reverend Cooper (already committed, for pay, to the French cause), de-
fended the treaties openly. Others, including James Dana of Wallingford,
Connecticut, recognized the necessity of international political alliances to
help the struggling former colonies defeat Great Britain, but insisted that
more extensive ties with popery would run counter to American princi-
June, 1778: Monmouth / 67

ples of free government. A striking example of denunciation of the alliance

as camouflage to hide presumed French Catholic propagandistic inten-
tions came from John Zulby, a Swiss-born cleric and anti-independence
member of the Continental Congress. Zulby was ultimately banished for
referring to American patriots as preferring Independancy and papist
Connections over the Gospel and . . . former acknowledged happy Con-
nections with Great Britain.
Great Britains international difficulties continued to mount after hos-
tilities opened with France in the summer of 1778. The next year, Spain
entered the fray after securing a promise from Vergennes to continue
hostilities until Gibraltar was regained. Although Spain did not join the
Franco-American Alliance, the United States, through its tie with France,
found itself committed to fight until Gibraltar fell to Spain. In 1780, Anglo-
Dutch commercial friction brought the Netherlands into the war. Great
Britain was also confronted by the League of Armed Neutrality, organized
by several nonbelligerent nations in protest against British practices of
search and seizure on the high seas. Unlike in earlier wars of the eighteenth
century, Great Britain was isolated both diplomatically and militarily.
R. Don Higginbotham
updated by Byron D. Cannon

June, 1778
Battle of Monmouth
Date: June 28, 1778
Location: Monmouth Courthouse, New Jersey
Combatants: 10,000 American vs. 10,000 British troops
Principal commanders: American, General George Washington (1732-
1799); British, General Sir Henry Clinton (1738-1795)
Result: The Americans and British fought to a draw in the last major battle
of the American Revolution in the north.

On June 18, 1778, General Sir Henry Clinton evacuated Philadelphia after
an eight-month occupation and marched toward New York City. George
Washington pursued with an army that had been extensively trained by
Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben during the preceding winter at Val-
ley Forge. On June 28, the Americans caught the British rearguard near
Monmouth Courthouse and attacked at 10:00 a.m. General Charles Lee di-
68 / Revolutionary War

George Washington at Monmouth. From an 1858 engraving by G. R. Hall. (National


rected the assault but issued no firm orders, and the Americans were soon
in full retreat. Washington rallied his army and organized a new line. The
two armies then fought in the sweltering heat until dark, as the Americans
repulsed a series of disjointed British attacks. Clinton then withdrew and
resumed his march to New York. The British had at least 147 killed, many
from sunstroke, 170 wounded, and 64 missing. Washington lost 106 dead,
161 wounded, and 95 missing.
Monmouth demonstrated the growing professionalism in the Ameri-
can army. For the remainder of the war, the army would be able to stand up
to the British in open combat. The battle was also the last major engage-
ment in the north. Washington would station his army near New York City,
awaiting an opportunity to attack, until the Yorktown campaign in 1781.
Michael P. Gabriel

September-October, 1779
Siege of Savannah
Date: September 23-October 18, 1779
Location: Savannah, Georgia
Combatants: 10,000 American vs. 3,000 British troops
September-October, 1779: Siege of Savannah / 69

Principal commanders: American, General Benjamin Lincoln (1733-1810),

Admiral Comte Jean-Baptiste-Charles-Henri-Hector dEstaing (1729-
1794); British, Major General Augustine Prevost (1723-1786)
Result: Successful defense of Savannah retained Georgia under British

The Americans believed the recovery of Savannah was the best way of re-
gaining control of Georgia. In September of 1779, Major General Benjamin
Lincoln advanced with 4,000 troops toward Savannah. At the same time,
Admiral Comte Hector dEstaing sailed in from the West Indies with
thirty-five ships and 4,000 troops.
The British, led by Major General Augustine Prevost, were unprepared.
The city of Savannahs defenses were in disrepair. Fortunately for the Brit-
ish, dEstaing was slow in the debarkation of his troops.
Upon reaching the city, dEstaing demanded surrender. Prevost, buying
time for reinforcements to arrive, requested a twenty-four-hour truce.
DEstaing foolishly agreed. When Prevost rejected the surrender demand
the next day, the allies prepared for a siege. Actual siege operations began
September 23.
Concerned about his unprotected ships and the approaching hurricane
season in the West Indies, and despite the objections of the Americans,

British attack on Savannah on October 8, 1779. From an illustration by Arthur I. Keller

(1866-1924). (National Archives)
70 / Revolutionary War

dEstaing took matters into his own hands and gave the order to attack on
October 9.
The siege lasted nine days with the superior British troops prevailing.
The allies lost 244 men, and 584 were wounded. British casualties included
125 missing or wounded and 40 killed. The defeat at Savannah dealt a se-
vere blow to the revolutionary cause in the south and put further strain on
the American-French alliance.
Maryanne Barsotti

April-May, 1780
Siege of Charleston
Date: April 1, 1780-May 12, 1780
Location: Charleston, North Carolina
Combatants: 5,530 American vs. 10,000 British troops
Principal commanders: American, General Benjamin Lincoln (1733-1810);
British, Lieutenant General Henry Clinton (1738-1795)
Result: The Siege of Charleston proved to be the greatest British victory
and the worst American disaster of the war.

Looking to expand British victories in the south, Lieutenant General Sir

Henry Clinton landed in Charleston on March 12, 1780. Fortunately for the
Americans, severe winter storms caused heavy damage to British ships
and delayed their advancement on Charleston by two weeks. This gave
General Benjamin Lincoln time to reinforce the citys sadly neglected forti-
Despite several successful early skirmishes, the Americans were no
match for the British. By the end of March, the city was nearly surrounded.
The citizens of Charleston refused to listen to Lincolns recommendation to
evacuate the city. Britains Royal Navy bombarded the city from the har-
bor, cutting off all routes in and out. By May 12, Lincoln had little choice
but to finally surrender. British losses totaled 150 killed and 189 wounded.
American losses totaled 100 killed and 150 wounded. More than 5,000
American soldiers were taken prisoner.
Within a few months of the fall of Charleston, practically all of South
Carolina was in British hands, successfully securing the southern part of
the continent for England.
Maryanne Barsotti
August, 1780: Camden / 71

August, 1780
Battle of Camden
Date: August 16, 1780
Location: Camden, South Carolina
Combatants: 3,052 American vs. 2,240 British troops
Principal commanders: American, General Horatio Gates (1728-1806); Brit-
ish, General Lord Charles Cornwallis (1738-1805)
Result: The British attack routed American forces.

In July, 1780, General Horatio Gates decided to advance against the Brit-
ish forces under Lord Charles Cornwallis in South Carolina. Arriving
at Camden on August 16, the same day as the troops of Cornwallis,
Gates was determined to take the town of Camden from the British,
and the battle was joined seven miles north of the town. Although the
American forces outnumbered those of the British, several factors se-
verely handicapped the colonials. American troops were exhausted by
long marches, weakened by the laxative effect of their ill-chosen supplies,
and poorly commanded. In addition, fewer than 900 troops were trained
Continental soldiers. The British attacked first, and the Virginia and
North Carolina militia quickly threw down their arms and fled. Only the

Death of General Johann Kalb at the Battle of Camden. From a painting by Alonzo
Chappel (1828-1887). (National Archives)
72 / Revolutionary War

600 Delaware and Maryland Continentals under the German general Jo-
hann Kalb (also known as Baron de Kalb) stood their ground, but 2,000
British attackers eventually overwhelmed them. The Americans chaoti-
cally fled to North Carolina, with Gates at the forefront of the fleeing sur-
Only about 1,000 Americans survived death or capture, compared with
331 deaths suffered by the British. The cowardice of Gates and the size of
American losses combined to make for the worst defeat of the Americans
during the war.
Paul John Chara, Jr.

October, 1780
Battle of Kings Mountain
Date: October 7, 1780
Location: Kings Mountain, South Carolina (forty miles west-southwest of
Charlotte, N.C.)
Combatants: 1,100 British loyalist militia and regulars vs. about 1,400
American patriot militia
Principal commanders: British, Major Patrick Ferguson (1744-1780); Amer-
ican, Colonel William Campbell (1745-1781)
Result: American troops destroyed Fergusons force.

On October 7, 1780, British forces subduing the south suffered a major

defeat when American patriot militia under Colonel William Campbell
from the Carolinas, Virginia, and the Tennessee region combined forces
at Kings Mountain. There, the Americans annihilated Major Patrick Fer-
gusons loyalists, protecting General Charles Cornwalliss left flank as
he advanced toward Charlotte, North Carolina. The American militia
trapped Fergusons force atop Kings Mountain, an open plateau rising
sixty feet with steep, heavily wooded sides. The rifle-armed Americans
advanced up the mountain, using terrain well, and attacked about three
in the afternoon. Fergusons troops, using musket and bayonet charges,
drove attackers back only to face repeated assaults from regrouped rifle-
men. With his force steadily cut down by deadly frontier rifle fire and
his position hopeless, Ferguson and a few followers attempted a break-
through. A hail of bullets felled the British commander, ending the battle,
although Americans continued firing briefly at the despised, surrender-
January, 1781: Cowpens / 73

ing loyalists. British casualties included about 200 killed, 160 wounded
and about 700 prisoners. Americans lost 28 killed and 62 wounded.
American victory at Kings Mountain, which ended a string of British
victories, forced Cornwallis to abandon his move into North Carolina and
retreat to Winnsborough. It became a turning point of the revolution in the
W. Calvin Smith

January, 1781
Battle of Cowpens
Date: January 17, 1781
Location: Cowpens, Piedmont region in South Carolina
Combatants: 1,100 British vs. 1,025 American troops
Principal commanders: British, Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton (1736-
1802); American, Brigadier General Daniel Morgan (1754-1833)
Result: An American victory that destroyed much of Lord Charles Corn-
walliss light infantry.

George Washingtons nephew, Colonel William Augustine Washington, at the Battle of

Cowpens. From an engraving by S. H. Gimber for Grahams Magazine, which began
publication in 1841. (National Archives)
74 / Revolutionary War

On January 17, 1781, Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton attacked Briga-

dier General Daniel Morgans troops, whose back and left flank were an-
chored by the Broad River. Morgans first line of 150 sharpshooters fired
and then fell back to a second line of 300 militia. These fired two volleys
and retired to the rear to regroup.
The British then pressed on to meet the main American line, which con-
sisted of Continentals. A mistaken order caused a momentary retreat on
the American right, but it was orderly and merely anticipated Morgans
plan to draw in the British. When commanded, the Americans turned and
subjected the British to withering fire. The shock of this volley was
promptly followed with a bayonet charge.
This American counterattack was supported by dragoons, which struck
the left flank and rear of the British Highlanders. The regrouped militia hit
the Highlanders right flank. Under this intense pressure, the Highlanders
broke, causing panic throughout the British line. The British right was
turned as well; therefore, Tarletons army experienced the disaster of a
double envelopment. British casualties and prisoners numbered about
900. American casualties amounted to about 70.
Cowpens boosted American morale and destroyed a good deal of
Lord Charles Cornwalliss army. Morgans army was able to unite with
Nathanael Greenes troops and to continue to contest the British for control
of the south.
Peter K. Benbow

October, 1781
Surrender at Yorktown
Date: October 19, 1781
Location: Yorktown, Virginia
Combatants: British vs. Americans and French
Principal commanders: British, Henry Clinton (1730-1795), Charles Corn-
wallis (1738-1805); American, Nathanael Greene (1742-1786), Benjamin
Lincoln (1733-1810), George Washington (1732-1799); French, Jean
Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau (1725-1807)
Result: The entire British field army surrendered to combined American
and French forces, marking the military end to the Revolutionary War.

The surrender of Lord Charles Cornwallis in 1781 at Yorktown made im-

mortal the name of that sleepy village at the tip of a Virginia peninsula. The
October, 1781: Yorktown / 75

roots of the Yorktown debacle are to be found in a train of events that

followed the decision of the Ministry in London in 1778 to shift the focus
of the war to the region below the Potomac. French intervention and fail-
ure to win in the North led to the British campaign in the South. Although
such a campaign would see royal military forces dispersed from Man-
hattan to the West Indies, the policymakers at Whitehall based their deci-
sion on two crucial assumptions: first, that the southern loyalists were ex-
ceedingly numerous; and second, that on the sea, Great Britain could
maintain naval superiority against its combined Bourbon enemies of
France and Spain.
Although the loyalists were not so numerous as anticipated, and a Brit-
ish garrison at Savannah almost fell to French admiral Jean-Baptiste-
Charles-Henri-Hector dEstaing in October, 1779, when he caught the Brit-
ish fleet napping, the basic assumptions in London never were altered. In-
deed, the war in the South went extremely well for the home government
until 1781. Georgia fell in 1779 and South Carolina in 1780. In major actions
in the latter state, at Charleston on May 12, 1780, and at Camden on August
16, 1780, the Continental Congress entrusted to Major General Nathanael
Greene, a former Quaker from Rhode Island, the task of rallying the scat-
tered and dispirited American forces. His antagonist was Major General
Lord Charles Cornwallis, who headed the British field army when Lieu-
tenant General Sir Henry Clinton returned to New York.

Cornwallis displayed none of the caution or timidity that many of the
British senior officers had shown during the American Revolution. Deter-
mined to overrun North Carolina and, he hoped, Virginia as well, he re-
fused to allow the annihilation of two of his detached units, at Kings
Mountain on October 7, 1780, and at Cowpens on January 17, 1781, to
dampen his ambitions. Nor did the failure of the loyalists, whose numbers
he exaggerated, alter his thinking. Greene, a master of harassment tac-
tics, severely mauled still more of Cornwalliss irreplaceable redcoats at
Guilford Court House, North Carolina, on March 15, 1781. In April, Greene
and Cornwallis went opposite waysGreene south to pick off British out-
posts in South Carolina, Cornwallis north to invade Virginia.
Greenes brilliant campaign eventually cleared the enemy from all
points except Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia, while
Cornwallis, far from his supply depots, took the road to disaster. Although
Clinton had favored the establishment of a naval base on the Chesapeake
and had sent turncoat Brigadier General Benedict Arnold to Virginia on a
raiding expedition, he had been more concerned about the welfare of Brit-
76 / Revolutionary War

Romanticized depiction of the surrender of General Cornwallis (left) at Yorktown. One of

the most capable of the British generals in the war, the first marquis of Cornwallis had the
misfortune of having to surrender to the revolutionaries at Yorktown; however, he is
better remembered in British Empire history for his later service as governor-general of
India and viceroy of Ireland. (F. R. Niglutsch)

ish interests in the lower South. Consequently, he had instructed his rest-
less subordinate to undertake nothing that might endanger the tranquil-
ity of South Carolina.
After limping to Wilmington, North Carolina, to rest his troops, Corn-
wallis wrote to Clinton, who previously had been in the dark as to Corn-
walliss whereabouts, that a serious attempt upon Virginia . . . would tend
to the security of South Carolina and ultimately to the submission of North
Carolina. On May 20, Cornwallis joined Arnold at Petersburg, Virginia,
and assumed direction of the combined force of seventy-two hundred
men. Apprehensive about the possible arrival of a French fleet in the Ches-
apeake Bay, Clinton disapproved of Cornwalliss abandoning South Caro-
lina and voiced reluctance at turning Virginia into a prime military theater.
Clinton, an able strategist but an insecure commander in chief, failed to
deal decisively with Cornwallis, a personal rival who, he feared, might be
appointed to succeed him at any moment. Cornwallis, meanwhile, idled
away vital weeks skirmishing in the Old Dominion before retiring to
Yorktown in the late summer to erect fortifications.
October, 1781: Yorktown / 77

Enter the French

In New York, Clinton fretted and Washington awaited a large French
fleet. Approximately five thousand French troops under Brigadier General
comte de Rochambeau were already at Newport, Rhode Island, but the
comte de Barrass escorting ships had been quickly blockaded inside the
harbor by a superior British squadron. Finally, word came of Admiral
Franoise-Joseph-Paul de Grasses sailing from France to the West Indies
with plans to detach part of his fleet later to assist a mainland campaign.
Although Washington preferred to attack New York City, after hearing on
August 14 that Grasse was bound for the Chesapeake, he recognized that
his better prospect would be to trap Cornwallis.
Accordingly, Washington and Rochambeau hurried southward with
seven thousand men, while Barras, loaded with the siege guns for the al-
lied armies, slipped out of Newport. It was scarcely the British navys fin-
est hour; not only had the navy permitted Barras to elude the Newport
blockade, but the West Indian squadron also had been equally lax, because
Admiral Sir George Rodney had assumed erroneously that Grasse would
not sail to the Virginia coast with his entire fleet of twenty-eight ships.
Rodney consequently sent only fourteen vessels northward under Admi-
ral Sir Samuel Hood, who united with the seven ships of Admiral Sir
Thomas Graves at New York. Unaware of Grasses strength, Graves has-
tened down the coast and met the French admiral at the mouth of Chesa-
peake Bay on September 5. The ensuing contest was indecisive, but Graves
felt compelled to return to New York, leaving the French in control of
the ocean approaches to the Middle Colonies. The fate of Cornwallis at
Yorktown was then all but sealed.
Franco-American land operations began on September 7, when sol-
diers carried by Grasse and Lafayettes Americans took up positions on
the land side of Yorktown. By September 28, after the arrival of Washing-
ton and Rochambeau, the entire allied force was in siege position. It
numbered more than sixteen thousand men, about half of it French and
half American. Once the first parallel was opened and allied siege guns
were emplaced, the firing was incessant, forcing the British to withdraw
to their inner fortifications. At this point, the British were closely in-
vested by land and completely isolated by sea. With their supplies and mo-
rale dangerously low, the British recognized the hopelessness of their po-

The Surrender
On October 17, when Cornwallis asked for terms, the allies demanded
complete surrender. Two days later, his seven thousand scarlet-uniformed
78 / Revolutionary War

veterans marched out between rows of white-coated Frenchmen and ill-

clad Americans and stacked their arms, while the British bands played
The World Turned Upside Down. News of Yorktown convinced respon-
sible leaders on both sides of the Atlantic that Great Britains American
empire had been permanently rent asunder.
The defeat of Cornwallis and the surrender of his army by no means
ended the American Revolution in a single blow. In fact, had the British
Empire chosen to do so, it could have mounted renewed thrusts against the
rebellious colonies, either from forces in New York or with reinforcements
from the British Isles. However, the effect of a major military setback in the
Americas, in conjunction with Great Britains precarious position in a
worldwide struggle against Spain, France, and Holland, as well as the
newly formed United States, combined to force George III and his minis-
ters to accept peace with American independence as the best possible solu-
tion left to them under the circumstances.
R. Don Higginbotham
updated by Michael Witkoski

September, 1783
Treaty of Paris
Date: September 3, 1783
Location: Paris
Principal figures: American, Ambassador John Jay (1745-1829), Commis-
sioner John Adams (1735-1826), Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790); Spanish,
Ambassador Pedro Pablo Abarca de Bolea, conde de Aranda (1718-
1798); French, Minister of Foreign Affairs Charles Gravier, comte de
Vergennes (1719-1787); British, Prime Minister Frederick North (1732-
1792), Richard Oswald (1705-1784), William Petty, earl of Shelburne
(1737-1805), Charles Watson Wentworth, Lord Rockingham (1730-1782)
Result: The treaty represented the formal close to the Revolutionary War
and ensured the United States recognition as a sovereign nation.

The ultimate success of the United States in winning the Revolutionary

War did not immediately translate into an easy peace. The new nations
primary objective was to gain formal recognition of its independence from
Great Britain; it also needed agreements related to tangential issues, such
as boundaries and fishing rights off Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. It
September, 1783: Treaty of Paris / 79

John Jay, from a painting by Gilbert

Stuart. One of the chief American
negotiators at Paris, Jay was later the
first chief justice of the United States.
(National Archives)

quickly became evident that the United States could not expect altruistic
generosity from either its friends or its former adversaries.
France, an ally of Spain, hesitated to support U.S. interests against the
wishes of its Bourbon neighbor. Madrid also objected to any new rising
empire in the Western Hemisphere, fearing possible instability within its
own Latin American colonies. If Great Britain appeared conciliatory to-
ward the United States, its motives were dictated by a desire to weaken
the Franco-American Alliance and maintain remaining North American
interests. At the same time, as events later revealed, Great Britain and
France were willing to cooperate surreptitiously to limit the territorial as-
pirations of the United States when it proved to be in the interest of either

The American Diplomats

The U.S. diplomats at the peace conference were a match for their
French and English counterparts, despite problems in undertaking their
important task. Of those appointed by the Continental Congress to negoti-
ate a peace, Thomas Jefferson did not serve because of the fatal illness
of his wife, and Henry Laurens was a prisoner in England during the
most crucial period of the peacemaking discussions. Two other appointees
were serving in previous diplomatic assignmentsJohn Jay at Madrid and
John Adams at The Hagueand did not reach Paris until months after
Benjamin Franklin began discussions with the British in April, 1782. (Jay
80 / Revolutionary War

reached Paris in late June, while Adams did not arrive until the end of
In London, Lord North had been prime minister throughout the entire
war, but King George III largely had dictated government policy. The
revolt of the American colonies and their probable loss from the British
Empire led to Norths resignation in March, 1782. Lord Rockingham suc-
ceeded him but died several months later. William Petty, the earl of
Shelburne, the home secretary in Rockinghams cabinet, had been as-
signed the responsibility of dealing with the Americans. Shelburne sent to
Paris a Scottish merchant named Richard Oswald, an elderly acquaintance
of Franklin, to start conversations aimed at luring the venerable commis-
sioner away from France.
Oswald argued that the former British colonies in America could gain
more by dealing separately with the mother country, but while Franklin re-
vealed a willingness to speak with the British representatives, he remained
firmly committed to the Franco-American military alliance created in 1778.
He did, however, assure Oswald that a generous peace would go far to-
ward rebuilding ties between the English-speaking nations. When Lord
Rockingham died in July, Shelburne became prime minister but was reluc-
tant to concede total independence to the former colonies.

General George Washington and his victorious troops entering New York, which briefly
served as the new nations first capital. (F. R. Niglutsch)
September, 1783: Treaty of Paris / 81

Suspicions About France

When Jay finally arrived in Paris in June, he expressed his deep suspi-
cion of French intentions, correctly believing that the comte de Vergennes,
French minister of foreign affairs, favored Spanish ambitions in the dis-
puted region between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi
River. The conde de Aranda, Spanish ambassador to France, informed Jay
of the unwillingness of Charles III, the Bourbon king of Spain, to recognize
U.S. claims to all lands to the east bank of the Mississippi River north of 31
north latitude and to free navigation of the entire river. Subsequently,
Aranda and Grard de Rayneval, Vergenness secretary and diplomatic
courier, proposed that the region between the Great Lakes and the Ohio
River remain in British hands and that much of the Southwest should be-
come a Spanish protectorate. When he learned that Rayneval had slipped
away to London, Jay suspected that the Bourbons might negotiate with
Great Britain at U.S. expense.
Led by Jay, who personally took the initiative in August, the U.S. com-
missioners assured Shelburne of their willingness to deal directly with the
British if London would change Oswalds instructions to permit him to ne-
gotiate openly and with full authority with the representatives of the
United States. This would be an implicit recognition of U.S. sovereignty,
which Great Britain had hitherto refused to acknowledge. Shelburne now
responded positively, believing that the patriots could be separated from
France and would be more cooperative with Great Britain in the future.
Oswald received his increased authority in September, and the negotia-
tions rapidly clarified the details of an agreement.

Franklin was disappointed at not gaining Canada, one of his personal
objectives in the negotiations, but the boundaries agreed upon in the pre-
liminary treaty did meet U.S. aspirations in the northwest and southwest.
The Mississippi River was designated as the primary western boundary of
the United States. In addition, the new nation was given access to the Ca-
nadian fishing grounds, and British forces would be evacuated from U.S.
soil. In return, the U.S. commissioners agreed to validate prewar debts
owed to British subjects and to recommend to the states that they return
confiscated loyalist property. On balance, the United States gained more
than the British in the concessions each side made to reach a satisfactory
The preliminary articles, signed on November 30, 1782, although with-
out the advice or consent of Vergennes, did not technically violate the letter
of the Franco-American Alliance, for the treaty was not to go into effect un-
82 / Revolutionary War

til France and Great Britain also had come to terms. What the commission-
ers had violated, however, were the instructions given by Congress in
June, 1781, that they do nothing without the knowledge and consent of
France. At that time, Congress had even withdrawn the requirement that
the Mississippi River be the nations western boundary, ordering its com-
missioners to insist only upon independence. The negotiators coup en-
abled Vergennes, never really eager to keep fighting until Spain recovered
Gibraltar from the British, to persuade Charles IIIs ministers to settle in-
stead for the acquisition of the island of Minorca in the Mediterranean Sea,
as well as the two Floridas.
The final treaties were signed at Paris on September 3, 1783, confirming
the detailed Anglo-American understanding of the previous November.
With the acceptance of the formal agreement and Congresss ratification of
the treaty, the United States of America entered the community of nations.
R. Don Higginbotham
updated by Taylor Stults

Further Reading
Abbot, Henry L. Beginning of Modern Submarine Warfare Under Captain Lieu-
tenant David Bushnell. Edited by Frank Anderson. Hamden, Conn.:
Archon Books, 1966.
Alden, John R. General Gage in America. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Uni-
versity Press, 1948.
Anderson, Troyer Steele. The Command of the Howe Brothers During the
American Revolution. New York: Oxford University Press, 1936.
Andrews, Joseph L., Jr. Revolutionary Boston, Lexington and Concord: The
Shots Heard Round the World. Concord, Mass.: Concord Guides Press,
Apple, R. W., Jr. Benedict Arnold, Hero: A Revolutionary Turning Point.
The New York Times Magazine, April 18, 1999, p. 141.
Babits, Lawrence. A Devil of a Whipping: The Battle of Cowpens. Chapel Hill:
University of North Carolina Press, 1998.
Bailey, J. D. Commanders at Kings Mountain. Greenville, S.C.: A Press, 1980.
Barefoot, Daniel W. Touring South Carolinas Revolutionary War Sites.
Touring the Backroads Series. Winston-Salem, N.C.: John F. Blair, 1999.
Beer, George L. British Colonial Policy, 1754-1765. New York: Macmillan,
Bellesiles, Michael A. Revolutionary Outlaws: Ethan Allen and the Struggle for
Independence on the Early American Frontier. Charlottesville: University
Press of Virginia, 1993.
Bemis, Samuel Flagg. The Diplomacy of the American Revolution. 1935. Re-
print. Washington, D.C.: American Historical Association, 1957.
Bennett, Charles E. A Quest for Glory: Major General Robert Howe and the
American Revolution. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press,
Bobrick, Benson. Angel in the Whirlwind: The Triumph of the American Revolu-
tion. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997.
Borick, Carl P. A Gallant Defense: The Siege of Charleston, 1780. Columbia:
University of South Carolina Press, 2003.
Boston City Council. A Memorial of Crispus Attucks, [et al.] from the City of
Boston. Miami, Fla.: Mnemosyne, 1969.
Brant, Irving. James Madison: The Virginia Revolutionist. Indianapolis, Ind.:
Bobbs-Merrill, 1941.
Breen, T. H. The Marketplace of Revolution: How Consumer Politics Shaped
American Independence. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.
84 / Revolutionary War

____________. Tobacco Culture: The Mentality of the Great Tidewater Planters

on the Eve of Revolution. 2d ed. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University
Press, 2001.
Brooke, John. The Chatham Administration, 1766-1768. Vol. 1 in England in
the Age of the Revolution, edited by Louis Namier. New York: St. Martins
Press, 1956.
Buchanan, John. The Road to Guilford Courthouse: The American Revolution in
the Carolinas. New York: Wiley, 1997.
____________. The Road to Valley Forge: How Washington Built the Army That
Won the Revolution. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, 2004.
Burgess, Robert Forrest. The Eagle and the Turtle. In Ships Beneath
the Sea: A History of Subs and Submersibles. New York: McGraw-Hill,
Burt, Alfred L. The United States, Great Britain, and British North America
from the Revolution to the Establishment of Peace After the War of 1812. 1940.
Reprint. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1968.
Butterfield, Herbert. George III and the Historians. New York: Macmillan,
Calhoon, Robert M. The Loyalists in Revolutionary America, 1760-1781. New
York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973.
Coakley, Robert W., and Stetson Conn. The War of the American Revolution.
Washington, D.C.: Center of Military History, Government Printing Of-
fice, 1975.
Coggins, Jack. Ships and Seamen of the American Revolution. Harrisburg, Pa.:
Stackpole Books, 1969.
Cohen, Warren, ed. Cambridge History of American Foreign Relations. 4 vols.
New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993.
Commager, Henry, and Richard Morris. The Spirit of Seventy-Six. 1975. Re-
print. New York: Da Capo Press, 1995.
Conway, Stephen. The British Isles and the War of American Independence.
New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
Cook, Don. How England Lost the American Colonies, 1760-1785. New York:
Atlantic Monthly Press, 1995.
____________. The Long Fuse: England and America, 1760-1785. New York:
Atlantic Monthly Press, 1995.
Corwin, Edward S. French Policy and the American Alliance of 1778. Prince-
ton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1916.
Countryman, Edward. The American Revolution. Rev. ed. New York: Hill
and Wang, 2003.
Darling, Arthur B. Our Rising Empire, 1763-1803. 1972. Reprint. New Ha-
ven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1940.
Further Reading / 85

Davis, Burke. The Campaign That Won America: The Story of Yorktown. Phila-
delphia: Eastern Acorn Press, 1970.
____________. The Cowpens-Guilford Courthouse Campaign. Philadelphia:
University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003.
Draper, Lyman C. Kings Mountain and Its Heroes: A History of the Battle of
Kings Mountain, October 7, 1780, and the Events Which Led to It. Baltimore,
Md.: Genealogical Publishing, 1997.
Dull, Jonathan R. A Diplomatic History of the American Revolution. New Ha-
ven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1985.
Dupuy, Trevor N. People and Events of the American Revolution. New York:
R. R. Bowker, 1974.
Dwyer, William M. The Day Is Ours! November 1776-January 1777: An Inside
View of the Battles of Trenton and Princeton. New York: Viking Press, 1983.
Edgar, Walter B. Partisans and Redcoats: The Southern Conflict That Turned the
Tide of the American Revolution. New York: Morrow, 2001.
Ellis, Joseph J. Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation. New York:
Alfred A. Knopf, 2000.
____________. His Excellency: George Washington. New York: Alfred A.
Knopf, 2004.
Evans, Sara M. Born for Liberty: A History of Women in America. New York:
Free Press, 1989.
Ferling, John E. A Leap in the Dark: The Struggle to Create the American Repub-
lic. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
Ferrie, Richard. The World Turned Upside Down: George Washington and the
Battle of Yorktown. New York: Holiday House, 1999.
Fischer, David Hackett. Paul Reveres Ride. New York: Oxford University
Press, 1994.
____________. Washingtons Crossing. New York: Oxford University Press,
Fleming, Thomas. Liberty! The American Revolution. New York: Viking, 1997.
Foote, Timothy, and Mark S. Wexler. Shadows on the Rock. Smithsonian
28, no. 6 (September, 1997): 30.
Forbes, Esther. Paul Revere and the World He Lived In. Boston: Houghton
Mifflin, 1942.
French, Allen. The Taking of Ticonderoga in 1775: The British Story. Cam-
bridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1928.
Fuller, J. F. C. The Decisive Battles of the Western World. Vol. 3. London: Eyre
& Spottiswode, 1955.
Gabriel, Michael P. Major General Richard Montgomery: The Making of an
American Hero. Madison, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press,
86 / Revolutionary War

Glover, Michael. General Burgoyne in Canada and America: Scapegoat for a

System. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976.
Golway, Terry. Washingtons General: Nathanael Greene and the Triumph of the
American Revolution. New York: H. Holt, 2005.
Gordon, John W. South Carolina and the American Revolution: A Battlefield
History. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2003.
Gottschalk, Louis. Lafayette Comes to America. Chicago: University of Chi-
cago Press, 1935.
Grinde, Donald A., Jr., and Bruce E. Johansen. Mohawks, Axes, and
Taxes. In Exemplar of Liberty: Native America and the Evolution of Democ-
racy. Los Angeles: American Indian Studies Center, University of Cali-
fornia, Los Angeles, 1991.
Griswold, Wesley S. The Night the Revolution Began: The Boston Tea Party,
1773. Brattleboro, Vt.: S. Greene Press, 1972.
Hallahan, William H. The Day the Revolution Ended, 19 October 1781. New
York: Wiley, 2004.
Hamilton, Edward P. Fort Ticonderoga: Key to a Continent. Boston: Little,
Brown, 1964.
Hansen, Harry. The Boston Massacre: An Episode of Dissent and Violence. New
York: Hastings House, 1970.
Hargrove, Richard J., Jr. General John Burgoyne. Newark: University of Del-
aware Press, 1983.
Harvey, Maurice. Gibraltar. Staplehurst, England: Spellmount, 1996.
Hatch, Charles E. Yorktown and the Siege of 1781. Washington, D.C.: U.S. De-
partment of the Interior, National Park Service, 1957.
Hatch, Robert McConnell. Thrust for Canada: The American Attempt on Que-
bec in 1775-1776. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1979.
Hibbert, Christopher. Redcoats and Rebels: The American Revolution Through
British Eyes. New York: W. W. Norton, 1990.
Hoffman, Ronald, and Peter J. Albert, eds. Arms and Independence: The Mili-
tary Character of the American Revolution. Ann Arbor, Mich.: University
Microfilms International, 1999.
____________. Peace and the Peacemakers: The Treaty of 1783. Charlottesville:
University Press of Virginia, 1986.
Howson, Gerald. Burgoyne of Saratoga: A Biography. New York: Times
Books, 1979.
Hoyt, Edwin P. Submarines at War: The History of the American Silent Service.
Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.: Stein & Day, 1983.
Hunt, Agnes. The Provincial Committees of Safety of the American Revolution.
New York: Haskell House, 1968.
Further Reading / 87

Ingraham, Leonard W. An Album of the American Revolution. New York:

Franklin-Watts, 1971.
Jackson, John W. With the British Army in Philadelphia, 1777-1778. San
Rafael, Calif.: Presidio Press, 1979.
Jacobson, David L. John Dickinson and the Revolution in Pennsylvania, 1764-
1774. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1965.
Jellison, Charles A. Ethan Allen: Frontier Rebel. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse
University Press, 1969.
Johnston, Henry P. The Campaign of 1776 Around New York and Brooklyn.
New York: Da Capo Press, 1971.
____________. The Yorktown Campaign and the Surrender of Lord Cornwallis,
1781. 1881. Reprint. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1973.
Kennedy, Roger G. Orders from France: The Americans and the French in a Rev-
olutionary World, 1780-1820. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1989.
Kerber, Linda K. Women of the Republic: Intellect and Ideology in Revolutionary
America. New York: W. W. Norton, 1986.
Ketchum, Richard M. Decisive Day: The Battle for Bunker Hill. New York:
Owl Books, 1999.
____________. Divided Loyalties: How the American Revolution Came to New
York. New York: Henry Holt, 2002.
____________. Saratoga: Turning Point of Americas Revolutionary War. New
York: H. Holt, 1997.
____________. Victory at Yorktown: The Campaign That Won the Revolution.
New York: H. Holt, 2004.
____________. The Winter Soldiers: The Battles for Trenton and Princeton. New
York: Doubleday, 1973.
Knollenberg, Bernard. Growth of the American Revolution, 1765-1775. New
York: Free Press, 1975.
Kwasny, Mark V. Washingtons Partisan War, 1775-1783. Kent, Ohio: Kent
State University Press, 1996.
Labaree, Benjamin W. The Boston Tea Party. New York: Oxford University
Press, 1964.
Landers, H. L. The Battle of Camden, South Carolina: Historical Statements.
1929. Reprint. Camden, S.C.: Kershaw County Historical Society, 1997.
Langguth, A. J. Patriots: The Men Who Started the American Revolution. New
York: Touchstone, 1988.
Leckie, Robert. George Washingtons War: The Saga of the American Revolu-
tion. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.
Lefkowitz, Arthur S. The Long Retreat: The Calamitous American Defense of
New Jersey, 1776. Metuchen, N.J.: Upland Press, 1998.
88 / Revolutionary War

Liss, Peggy K. Atlantic Empires: The Network of Trade and Revolution, 1713-
1826. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983.
Lumpkin, Henry. From Savannah to Yorktown: The American Revolution in the
South. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1981.
Lunt, James. John Burgoyne of Saratoga. New York: Harcourt Brace Jova-
novich, 1975.
McGuffie, Tom Henderson. The Siege of Gibraltar, 1779-1793. London: Bats-
ford, 1965.
Macintyre, Donald G. F. W. The Pioneers. In Fighting Under the Sea. New
York: W. W. Norton, 1966.
Mackesy, Piers. The War for America, 1775-1783. Cambridge, Mass.: Har-
vard University Press, 1964.
Maier, Pauline. From Resistance to Revolution: Colonial Radicals and the Devel-
opment of American Opposition to Britain, 1765-1776. New York: Alfred A.
Knopf, 1972.
Malcolm, Joyce Lee. The Scene of the Battle, 1775. Boston: Division of Cultural
Resources, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1985.
Massachusetts Historical Society. Battle of Bunker Hill. Boston: Massachu-
setts Historical Society, 1968.
Merinos, Samuel Eliot. Sources and Documents Illustrating the American Rev-
olution, 1776-1788. New York: Oxford University Press, 1965.
Middelkauff, Robert. The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-
1789. 2d ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.
Miller, John C. Sam Adams: Pioneer in Propaganda. Boston: Little, Brown, 1936.
Millett, Allan Reed. For the Common Defense: A Military History of the United
States of America. New York: Free Press, 1994.
Mintz, Max M. The Generals of Saratoga. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University
Press, 1990.
Mitchell, Joseph. Decisive Battles of the American Revolution. New York:
Putnams Sons, 1962.
Morris, Richard B. The American Revolution Reconsidered. New York: Harper
& Row, 1967.
____________. The Peacemakers: The Great Powers and American Independence.
1965. Reprint. New York: Harper & Row, 1983.
Mott, Frank L. American Journalism: A History of Newspapers in the United
States Through 250 Years, 1690-1940. New York: Macmillan, 1942.
Namier, Lewis B., and John Brooke. Charles Townshend. New York: St. Mar-
tins Press, 1964.
Nelson, Paul David. General Sir Guy Carleton, Lord Dorchester: Soldier-States-
man of Early British Canada. Madison, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson Univer-
sity Press, 2000.
Further Reading / 89

Nickerson, Hoffman. The Turning Point of the Revolution. Port Washington,

N.Y.: Kennikat Press, 1967.
Norton, Mary Beth. Libertys Daughters: The Revolutionary Experience of
American Women, 1750-1800. Boston: Little, Brown, 1980.
Pancake, John S. 1777: Year of the Hangman. Tuscaloosa: University of Ala-
bama Press, 1993.
____________. This Destructive War: The British Campaign in the Carolinas,
1780-1782. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1985.
Pares, Richard. King George II and the Politicians. Oxford, England: Oxford
University Press, 1953.
Patterson, Benton Rain. Washington and Cornwallis: The Battle for America,
1775-1783. Lanham, Md.: Taylor Trade Publishing, 2004.
Pell, John. Ethan Allen. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1929.
Perlmutter, Tom, ed. War Machines: Sea. London: Octopus Books, 1975.
Raphael, Ray. A Peoples History of the American Revolution: How Com-
mon People Shaped the Fight for Independence. New York: New Press,
Roberts, Cokie. Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation. New
York: William Morrow, 2004.
Roberts, Kenneth. The Battle of Cowpens. New York: Doubleday, 1958.
____________, ed. March to Quebec: Journals of the Members of Arnolds Expe-
dition. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1945.
Russell, David Lee. The American Revolution in the Southern Colonies. Jeffer-
son, N.C.: McFarland, 2000.
Russell, Jack. Gibraltar Besieged, 1779-1783. London: Heinemann, 1965.
Schecter, Barnet. The Battle for New York: The City at the Heart of the American
Revolution. New York: Walker Publishing, 2002.
Scheer, George, and Hugh Rankin. Rebels and Redcoats. New York: World
Publishing, 1957.
Schlesinger, Arthur M. The Colonial Merchants and the American Revolution,
1763-1776. New York: Columbia University Press, 1968.
Smith, Justin H. Our Struggle for the Fourteenth Colony: Canada and the Amer-
ican Revolution. 2 vols. New York: Da Capo Press, 1974.
Smith, Page. A New Age Now Begins: A Peoples History of the American Revo-
lution. 2 vols. New York: Penguin Books, 1976.
Smith, Samuel Stelle. The Battle of Brandywine. Monmouth Beach, N.J.:
Philip Freneau, 1976.
Stinchcombe, William C. The American Revolution and the French Alliance.
Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1969.
Stokesburry, James L. A Short History of the American Revolution. New York:
William Morrow, 1991.
90 / Revolutionary War

Taaffe, Stephen R. The Philadelphia Campaign, 1777-1778. Lawrence: Univer-

sity Press of Kansas, 2003.
Tebbel, John. Turning the World Upside Down: Inside the American Revolution.
New York: Orion Books, 1993.
Thayer, Theodore. The Making of a Scapegoat: Washington and Lee at Mon-
mouth. Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat Press, 1976.
Thomas, Peter D. G. Tea Party to Independence: The Third Phase of the Ameri-
can Revolution, 1773-1776. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1991.
____________. The Townshend Duties Crisis: The Second Phase of the Revolu-
tion, 1767-1773. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1987.
Tourtellot, Arthur Bernon. William Diamonds Drum: The Beginning of the
War of the American Revolution. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1959.
Townsend, Joseph. Some Account of the British Army Under the Command of
General Howe, and of the Battle of Brandywine. Philadelphia: Townsend
Ward, 1846.
Tuchman, Barbara. The First Salute: A View of the American Revolution. New
York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1988.
Ubbelohde, Carl. The Vice-Admiralty Courts and the American Revolution.
Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1960.
Udoff, Irv. The Bunker Hill Story. Paducah, Ky.: Turner, 1994.
Van der Vat, Dan. Stealth at Sea: The History of the Submarine. Boston:
Houghton Mifflin, 1995.
Varg, Paul A. Foreign Policies of the Founding Fathers. East Lansing: Michi-
gan State University Press, 1963.
Ward, Christopher. The War of the Revolution. 2 vols. New York: Macmillan,
Ward, Harry M. The American Revolution: Nationhood Achieved, 1763-1788.
New York: St. Martins Press, 1995.
White, Katherine Keogh. The Kings Mountain Men: The Story of the Battle,
with Sketches of the American Soldiers Who Took Part. Baltimore, Md.: Ge-
nealogical Publishing, 1998.
Wood, Gordon S. The American Revolution: A History. New York: Modern
Library, 2002.
Wood, W. J. Battles of the Revolutionary War, 1775-1781. New York: Da Capo
Press, 1995.
Young, Alfred F. The Shoemaker and the Tea Party: Memory and the American
Revolution. Boston: Beacon Press, 1999.
Young, Philip. Revolutionary Ladies. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1977.
Zobel, Hiller B. The Boston Massacre. New York: W. W. Norton, 1970.
War of 1812
War of 1812 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93
Censorship During the War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101

Campaigns, Battles, and Other Events . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103

September, 1813: Battle of Lake Erie . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103
October, 1813: Battle of the Thames. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 104
September, 1814: Battle of Lake Champlain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 108
September, 1814: Battle of Baltimore . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109
January, 1815: Battle of New Orleans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110
February, 1815: Treaty of Ghent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115

Further Reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119

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War of 1812

At issue: American sovereignty and neutral rights on the seas

Date: June 18, 1812-December 24, 1814
Location: Canada, New York, Maryland, Louisiana, the Great Lakes re-
gion, and the Atlantic and Caribbean coasts of the United States
Combatants: Americans vs. British
Principal commanders: American, Major General William Henry Harrison
(1773-1841), Major General Andrew Jackson (1767-1845); British, Lieu-
tenant General Sir George Prevost (1767-1816), Admiral Sir John Borlase
Warren (1753-1822)
Principal battles: Queenston Heights, Lake Erie, Thames, Chryslers
Farm, Horseshoe Bend, Lundys Lane, Bladensburg, Lake Champlain,
Baltimore, New Orleans
Result: The war was a military stalemate in which neither side achieved its
objectives in the peace treaty that ended the conflict.

The War of 1812 is sometimes called the Second War of Independence, be-
cause Americans believed that Great Britains aggressive policies forced
them to fight to defend U.S. sovereignty and honor. They demanded that
the British treat them with the respect usually shown to great powers and
allow the new nation a freedom of action unjustified by American weak-
ness. When the U.S. government insisted that Britain observe neutral
rights on the high seas, privileges then unrecognized in international law,
the two nations were placed on a course toward confrontation.
Under normal circumstances, the British would have accommodated
the United States, their most important trading partner, by modifying their
actions. However, Britain was locked in a life-or-death struggle against
Napoleon Is France and believed that a militant stance against its former
colonies was imperative to its own survival. British obstinacy and an
emerging American national pride thus produced a war that many people
at the time thought was unnecessary.

Issues of Contention
Impressment, the removal of sailors from American ships and their
forceable enlistment in the British military, was the most objectionable of
British actions. The British government invigorated this long-standing pol-
icy during the French Revolutionary Wars (1792-1802) and Napoleonic
Wars (1803-1815) as a way to ensure full manning of its huge navy. Recruit-
ment and retention of sailors became a problem, especially during war-
94 / War of 1812

Time Line of the War of 1812

1803-1812 Great Britains Royal Navy impresses approximately six

thousand American sailors to serve on British ships.
1807-1812 British and French seize at least nine hundred American
ships, increasing American animosity toward the British.
1812 U.S. forces attempt three unsuccessful invasions of Can-
June 18, 1812 United States declares war on Great Britain to force the
British to stop impressing American sailors and to recog-
nize the neutral maritime rights of the United States.
Aug. 16, 1812 U.S. army in Detroit is forced to surrender, leaving the
Upper Northwest entirely in British control.
Oct. 13, 1812 Battle of Queenston Heights: British and Canadian forces
defeat a charge by the Americans.
Jan. 22, 1813 Battle of Frenchtown: Small U.S. force is massacred.
Apr. 27, 1813 Battle of York: U.S. troops capture and burn York (To-
May 27, 1813 Battle of Fort George: Colonel Winfield Scotts troops,
in cooperation with the U.S. fleet, capture Fort George,
causing the British to abandon the entire Niagara front.
May 28-29, 1813 Battle of Sacketts Harbor: General Jacob J. Brown repels
a major British offensive on Sacketts Harbor, the main
U.S. naval base on Lake Ontario.
June 6, 1813 Battle of Stony Creek: British regain initiative and most of
the west bank of the Niagara.
Sept. 10, 1813 Battle of Lake Erie: Captain Oliver Hazard Perry leads
U.S. forces in victory over a British naval attack.
Oct. 5, 1813 Battle of the Thames: General William Henry Harrison
leads U.S. forces to victory in the northwestern theater.
The defeat of the British and the multitribal alliance led
by Tecumseh, enables the United States to regain control
of territory in the Detroit area that was lost in earlier de-
Nov. 11, 1813 Battle of Chryslers Farm: U.S. force is defeated.
Dec. 29-30, 1813 British troops burn Buffalo.
Mar. 27, 1814 Battle of Horseshoe Bend: Andrew Jackson defeats Creeks
and seizes Creek lands.
July, 1814 Battles of Chippewa, Lundys Lane, and Ft. Erie.
War of 1812 / 95

Aug. 24, 1814 Battle of Bladensburg: British route U.S. army and cap-
ture Washington, D.C., burning important public build-
ings; President James Madison leads U.S. countercharge
through the streets of the capital city.
Sept. 11, 1814 Battle of Lake Champlain: British squadron surrenders to
American force and retreats to Canada.
Sept. 12-14, 1814 Battle of Baltimore: Britain is unable to capture this im-
portant military target and the failure at Baltimore
strongly influences the outcome of the War of 1812.
Dec. 24, 1814 United States and Great Britain sign Treaty of Ghent.
Jan. 8, 1815 Battle of New Orleans: Last battle of the war ends in Brit-
ish defeat.
Feb. 17, 1815 Treaty of Ghent takes effect, representing the formal end
to the war.

time, because of the notoriously bad conditions and low pay aboard British
ships. Potential enlistees signed up for duty with the American merchant
marine, where the work was easier and the compensation higher. The
Royal Navy routinely stopped Yankee merchantmen to search for British
citizens and usually removed several sailors. Some were British citizens
deserting their nations cause, but others were native-born Americans or
naturalized citizens, a status not recognized by British law. Probably at
least 6,000 men were abducted from U.S. vessels during this period. The
United States considered the decks of its ships to be an extension of its ter-
ritory and viewed impressment as a violation of U.S. sovereignty and
During this period, the United States emerged as a prominent advocate
for the privilege of noncombatant nations to trade freely with belligerents
during war, a diplomatic position later known as neutral maritime rights.
Americans had taken advantage of European conflicts to establish a highly
profitable carrying trade with the New World possessions of Britain,
France, and Spain. Mercantilistic policies had mostly closed these colonies
to Americans before the French Revolutionary Wars began. British and
French tolerance of the American takeover of this commerce ended with
the intensification of their war in 1805-1807. Britains naval victory at Tra-
falgar (October 21, 1805) and Frances land victory at Austerlitz (Decem-
ber 2, 1805) created an exclusive supremacy for the British on the seas and
for the French on the European continent. Unable to come to grips mili-
tarily, Britain and France struck at each others trade, hoping to damage
their enemys economy.
96 / War of 1812

Napoleon, the emperor of France, declared Britain under blockade by

the Berlin Decree (November 21, 1806). He later ordered the seizure of neu-
tral vessels stopping in the British Isles or British colonial ports by the Mi-
lan Decree (December 17, 1807). Britain retaliated with a series of orders in
council, beginning on January 7 and November 11, 1807, which closed the
European continent to neutral ships and required these vessels to pay du-
ties and unload their cargoes in Britain. With the worlds strongest powers
striking at its merchantmen, the United States suffered a serious disruption
of trade. Between 1807 and 1812, the British and the French seized at least
900 Yankee ships, the majority falling into the hands of the Royal Navy.
The greater effectiveness of Britains naval power caused American anger
to fall mainly on Britain. The United States declared war on June 18, 1812,
to force the British to abandon impressment and to recognize neutral mari-
time rights.

The U.S. government hoped to end British aggressions by seizing Can-
ada and holding it hostage until Britain agreed to U.S. demands. Conse-
quently, most of the wars land operations involved American attempts to
conquer the province. The initial year of the war was the most favorable
time for U.S. success. The British were surprised by the declaration of war

When the British captured Washington, D.C., they burned many of the capital citys
most important government buildings. (National Archives)
War of 1812 / 97

War of 1812 Battles in the South


iv e

pi R




St. Marks

F (Sp
O ai
R n
New Orleans

ID )
G u l f o f M e x i c o

and maintained only 7,000 regulars in Canada. The opportunity was lost,
however, because of incompetent leadership, administrative and logistical
inefficiency, and overreliance on an ill-prepared militia. In the far west, an
American army at Detroit was forced to surrender (August 16, 1812), leav-
ing the upper Northwest completely in British hands. Along the Niagara
River, a U.S. invasion was turned back at the Battle of Queenston Heights
(October 13). In the Lake Champlain region, the main effort failed in No-
vember when the militia refused to cross over into Canada.
During 1813, serious opposition to the war in New England and north-
ern New York forced the federal government to concentrate military ef-
forts in the Detroit and Niagara regions. As Major General William Henry
Harrison assembled and trained an army to recapture Detroit, the British
remained on the offensive, besieging Fort Meigs and Fort Stephenson and
massacring a small U.S. force at Frenchtown (January 22). Harrison was
eventually able to seize the initiative after Captain Oliver Hazard Perry de-
stroyed a British naval squadron at the Battle of Lake Erie (September 10).
The triumphant U.S. fleet solved the armys supply problems and trans-
ported Harrisons troops to southern Ontario. The outflanked British army
abandoned Detroit and was decisively defeated at the Battle of the Thames
(October 5). The Americans later had to abandon southern Ontario, how-
ever, because they lacked the regulars to garrison the area and the militia
proved undependable for this service.
98 / War of 1812

War of 1812 Battles in the North


Ri r en c

Chryslers Plattsburg


York NEW
(Toronto) Sackett's

r Ft. Niagara Albany

MICHIGAN i ve Boston
Th Lundys Lane
La Erie New York ISLAND







Ft. McHenry


Ohio River ac BRITI



U.S. operations in the Niagara-Lake Ontario theater were initially suc-

cessful. A combined expedition captured and burned York (later Toronto),
the capital of Upper Canada (April 27, 1813). Colonel Winfield Scotts
troops in cooperation with the U.S. fleet seized Fort George (May 27), caus-
ing the British to abandon the entire Niagara front. A small garrison under
Brigadier General Jacob J. Brown repulsed a major British assault on
Sacketts Harbor (May 28-29), the main U.S. naval base on Lake Ontario.
American success was short-lived, however, because a British counterat-
tack at Stony Creek (June 6) allowed them to regain both the initiative and
most of the west bank of the Niagara. Late in the year, the British crossed
the river, captured Fort Niagara, and burned Buffalo, New York. The year
ended with Britain holding the upper hand in this theater of operations.
In the fall, the Americans launched a major offensive against Montreal.
This two-pronged assault was turned back at the Battles of the Chateaugay
(October 25) and Chryslers Farm (November 11), ending American at-
tempts to conquer Lower Canada. The most alarming events of 1813, how-
ever, occurred in the southern United States. Distressed by continuous en-
croachments on Indian rights and lands, the Creek started a war against
War of 1812 / 99

the Americans by massacring soldiers and settlers at Fort Mims (August

30). A retaliatory expedition under the command of Major General An-
drew Jackson defeated the Creek at Tallasahatchee (November 3) and at
Talladega (November 9) but was unable to eliminate Indian resistance be-
cause of militia desertions and supply problems.
In 1814, Jackson crushed the Creek rebellion at the Battle of Horseshoe
Bend (March 27) but discovered that the British and the Spanish in Florida
had been supplying and encouraging the Indians. Jackson ended this col-
lusion by seizing Pensacola (November 7), denying its use to the British as
a base. In the northern theater, Browns forces crossed the Niagara and cap-
tured Fort Erie (July 3). At the Battle of Chippewa (July 5), the Americans
routed a superior British army but were themselves driven back at
Lundys Lane (July 25). Retreating to Fort Erie, the Americans successfully
endured a seven-week siege. Its lifting (September 18-19) signaled the end
of significant operations in the Niagara region.

Napoleans Fall
Napoleons defeat and first abdication in April, 1814, changed British
views of the war. Reinforced by ships and troops formerly employed
against France, the British government decided to adopt major offensive
operations with the goal of taking eastern Maine from the United States
and setting up an Indian buffer state in the Northwest. Consequently, Brit-
ain executed three naval-land assaults, targeting upper New York, the
Chesapeake Bay, and New Orleans. Britains efforts met with limited suc-
cess, despite wielding an overall force superiority for the first time during
the war. The northern expedition under Lieutenant General Sir George
Prevost was turned back on land at the Battle of Plattsburgh (September
11), and the accompanying British naval squadron was crushed on Lake
Champlain (September 11). The eastern expedition enjoyed early success
when it routed an American army at Bladensburg (August 24) and cap-
tured Washington, burning the important public buildings. This expedi-
tion was decisively defeated, however, when it attempted to take Balti-
more (September 12-14). On the southern front, Britains Siege of New
Orleans produced three battles (December 24, 1814; January 1 and 8, 1815),
which resulted in one of the most humiliating reverses ever suffered by
British arms. This victory propelled General Jackson, the U.S. commander,
to national fame and eventually to the presidency. The failure of the 1814
offensives led Britain to renew negotiations for peace.
Two-and-one-half years of inconclusive fighting on land encouraged
both sides to compromise. Nevertheless, it was the war on the seas that did
the most to produce a military stalemate and to persuade British and Ameri-
100 / War of 1812

can leaders that their objectives were unachievable at any reasonable cost.
The U.S. Navys performance surprised the Europeans. Its single-ship
victoriessuch as the USS Constitution versus HMS Guerrire (August 19,
1812)displayed Yankee superiority in seamanship and gunnery and
boosted American morale. Privateering was the most effective American
weapon, however, with approximately 1,600 British merchant vessels fall-
ing into the hands of American captains. The massive loss in ships and
cargo was the single most important factor causing a restless British public
to pressure Parliament for peace.
Britain also applied its maritime weapons with success. Admiral Sir
John Borlase Warren, who commanded the British fleets in the Caribbean
and western Atlantic through most of the war, imposed a tight blockade on
the United States, beginning in February of 1813. By 1814, the American
navy was effectively bottled up and useless. Yankee merchantmen were
also confined to port. Neutral nations had assumed their carrying trade.
New England Federalists resistance to the war consequently grew to
alarming proportions. The blockade seriously weakened the American
economy and disrupted government finances, because federal revenues
depended strongly on tariff income. Bankrupt, frustrated by domestic op-
position, and constantly annoyed by British coastal raids, Americans were
eager for peace by the summer of 1814.

On January 15, 1815, the Treaty of Ghent (signed in December, 1814)
was ratified. The treaty ignored the basic issues over which the war had
been fought and instead dealt with agreements and procedures to return
territories and boundaries to their prewar status.
Michael S. Fitzgerald

Censorship During the War

The War of 1812 divided the United States into pro-French and pro-British fac-
tions, each with its own press attacking the actions of the other side.

The First Amendment prohibited abridgment of freedom of the press be-

cause the Framers of the Bill of Rights wanted to guarantee rights enjoyed
in Great Britain. When James Madison wrote the Virginia Resolution at-
tacking the infamous Sedition Act of 1798, he wrote that attempts to curb
speech could not be subjected to prior censorship and prosecution for sedi-
tious libel was inconsistent with American democracy. Therefore, it would
have been intellectually and politically inconsistent for Madison, as presi-
dent, to curb an active free press in the years preceding and during the War
of 1812.
The American press of Madisons era published highly charged politi-
cal commentary in newspapers, printed inflammatory political pamphlets,
and, in a few instances, wrote political graffiti on town walls and offered
bribes to British and U.S. political figures. In the years leading up to 1812
U.S. newspapers were divided into pro-Federalist and pro-Democratic-
Republican camps. Washington, D.C.s National Intelligencer, regarded as
Madisons political mouthpiece, frequently contained articles written by

President James Madison.

(Library of Congress)
102 / War of 1812

Madison himself, or members of his staff, explaining their governmental

views on issues affecting the nation. The Georgetown Federal Republican
was run by Madisons archfoe, Alexander C. Hanson, who put aside his
political rivalry with Madison long enough during the War of 1812 to warn
the president about a plot to kill him.
President Madison made no formal effort, and did not encourage con-
gressional action, to squelch press attacks on him during his presidency
and the War of 1812. However, partisan politics exercised a form of press
censorship when Madison supporters broke into opposition newspapers
and destroyed their property. A particularly serious incident that occurred
on July 27, 1812, was known as the Baltimore Massacre. Former Virginia
governor and Federalist Henry Lee was in Baltimore visiting William
Hanson. Hanson, the editor of the Federal Republican, was a hard-core op-
ponent of the war whose press regularly denounced the Madison adminis-
tration. Hansons printing office came under attack by an unruly mob who
destroyed his press. Hanson replaced the press and continued his criti-
cisms. Lee was joined by additional Federalist Revolutionary War officers
who came to defend Hanson. The new office was attacked and in the re-
sulting mele, Lee was taken for dead and left on the street. Found un-
conscious, he was carried to the security of a jail, but, that, too, was at-
tacked leaving Lee severely wounded. His health never fully recovered
from these events and caused him to be disqualified from military service
in the War of 1812. Such partisan violence and the inability of Federalist
New England freely to trade with Great Britain only emboldened the mi-
nority Federalist Party and press to exercise their First Amendment rights
in an active press war against the war, Madison, and the Democratic-
Republican Party.

Campaigns, Battles,
and Other Events

September, 1813
Battle of Lake Erie
Date: September 10, 1813
Location: Lake Erie, west of Put-in-Bay, Ohio
Combatants: 562 British vs. about 500 Americans
Principal commanders: British, Commander Robert H. Barclay (1785-1837);
American, Master Commandant Oliver Hazard Perry (1785-1819)
Result: The British squadron surrendered to the American force.

Following the surrender of Detroit in 1812, U.S. officials sought to reclaim

their control of the Old Northwest by first gaining naval dominance of
Lake Erie. The U.S. Navy ordered Master Commandant Oliver Hazard
Perry to Erie, Pennsylvania, where he supervised the construction of an

Commodore Perry, transferring his flag to the brig Niagara, at the Battle of Lake Erie
the bloodiest naval battle of the War of 1812. (F. R. Niglutsch)
104 / War of 1812

American squadron. By August, 1813, his efforts provided the U.S. Navy
superiority in vessels and firepower over its foe. Commander Robert H.
Barclay, operating out of the small, isolated Detroit River port of Am-
herstburg, Ontario, could not match the American shipbuilding effort.
A shift in the wind gave Perry the advantage and allowed him to close
with the British and bring his short-range carronades to bear. His squadron
lagged behind the flagship, the Lawrence, and the British concentrated their
fire on that vessel, rendering her useless. Perry transferred his flag to the
advancing brig Niagara and ordered its commander to bring up the other
vessels. Niagara crossed the British line, and the trailing vessels raked the
six Royal Navy ships. This bloodiest naval engagement of the war saw 41
British killed and 94 wounded. Perry lost 27 dead and 96 wounded.
Perrys victory opened the way for American ground forces to reclaim
Detroit and drive the British and their Indian allies out of Michigans lower
peninsula and southwestern Ontario.
David Curtis Skaggs

October, 1813
Battle of the Thames
Date: October 5, 1813
Location: Ontario, Canada
Combatants: 880 British and 1,000 Native Americans vs. 3,500 Americans
Principal commanders: British, Major General Henry Procter; American In-
dian, Tecumseh (c. 1758-1813); American, Major General William Henry
Harrison (1773-1841)
Result: A U.S. victory in the northwestern theater of the war that saw the
death of Tecumseh and the decline of his multitribal alliance.

The Battle of the Thames was an important United States victory in the
Northwestern theater during the War of 1812 with Great Britain. The battle
took place on the northern bank of the Thames River near Moraviantown
in Upper Canada (southern Ontario Province). In the Battle of Lake Erie
(September 10, 1813), U.S. naval forces won control of Lake Erie. This pre-
vented reinforcement and resupply of the British army at the lakes west-
ern end, in the vicinity of Detroit and Fort Malden.
When a superior U.S. force under William Henry Harrison crossed the
lake on September 27, the British commander in Upper Canada, Major
October, 1813: Thames / 105

General Henry Procter, began withdrawing toward the east along the
Thames River. Procters Native American allies, who made up the bulk of
his forces, angrily protested the abandonment of their homelands in Michi-
gan. The Shawnee chief Tecumseh, leader of an alliance of warriors from
many tribes, was reassured by Procter that a stand soon would be made
against Harrisons advancing army. Procters retreat up the Thames was
mismanaged and slow, and most of his spare ammunition and other sup-
plies were lost. Harrisons faster-moving army overtook the British on Oc-
tober 5, forcing Procter to turn and fight before he had reached a defensive
position being prepared at Moraviantown.
The British force included five hundred warriors of Tecumsehs alli-
ance. Besides Tecumsehs fellow Shawnees (then dwelling principally in
Indiana), there were warriors from the Sac, Fox, Ottawa, Ojibwa, Wyandot,
Potawatomi, Winnebago, Lenni Lenape, and Kickapoo nations, all from
the Northwest Territory, and a small band of Creeks from the South. Their
women and children accompanied the still-loyal warriors. Approximately
a thousand of Tecumsehs followers, angered by Procters retreat from
Michigan, had abandoned the British. Proctors forces totaled more than a
thousand, including 450 regulars of the Forty-first Regiment of Foot and a
scattering of Canadian militia.
The U.S. army under Harrison numbered about three thousand troops.
One hundred twenty of these were infantrymen from the regular army;
the rest were Kentucky mounted militia volunteers. A thousand-soldier
mounted militia regiment commanded by Colonel Richard Mentor John-
son played a decisive part in the battle. There were also 260 American Indi-
ans in Harrisons force, including about 40 Shawnees.
Proctors British and American Indian force, outnumbered three-to-one
by the U.S. troops, took a position across a road that ran along the north
bank of the Thames River. With the river protecting his left flank and a
wooded swamp his right, Procter placed his British regulars in two parallel
lines a hundred yards apart. On his left, commanding the road, Procter po-
sitioned his one cannon, a six-pounder. Tecumsehs warriors were placed
in the swamp on the British right flank. The swamp slanted away at an an-
gle that would enable the Indians to fire into the left flank of U.S. troops ad-
vancing toward the British infantrymen.
Because Procter expected Harrison to send his mounted units, as usual,
against the Native Americans, he dispersed the two lines of British sol-
diers thinly, sheltering behind scattered trees in open order, several feet
apart. Only when infantry were positioned almost shoulder-to-shoulder,
however, could they effectively repel a cavalry charge. When Harrison
noticed this inviting disposition, he sent Colonel Johnsons mounted reg-
106 / War of 1812

Death of Chief Tecumseh at the Battle of the Thames. (F. R. Niglutsch)

iment to attack the British infantry, while his other forces, dismounted
as infantry, marched against the Indians on the American left. The small
force of regular U.S. infantry was assigned to rush the single British

The Fighting Begins

Colonel Johnsons well-drilled mounted regiment, organized in col-
umns, galloped through the two lines of thinly spread British infantry to
their rear. The militiamen then dismounted and began to fire. The British,
demoralized and hungry after not having eaten in more than fifty hours,
surrendered. Each line of British soldiers seems to have fired a single vol-
ley and panicked. The crew of Procters one cannon fled without even fir-
ing it. This part of the battle lasted less than five minutes.
The infantry units on the U.S. troops left were having much less success
against Tecumsehs warriors in the swamp. The poorly disciplined militia
infantry, now on foot, were initially repulsed and driven back by the
Indians. The collapse of the main British position enabled Johnson to
swing part of his regiment leftward to attack the Indians flank. At this
point, where his warriors joined the right of the British soldiers, Tecumseh
and the Shawnees had taken their position. Led by Johnson and a small, se-
lect group that called itself the Forlorn Hope, Johnsons regiment dis-
mounted and pushed into the woods. Heavy firing erupted, and most of
the twenty men in the Forlorn Hope were killed or wounded. Colonel
October, 1813: Thames / 107

Johnson was hit by five bullets, his horse by seven. Early in this intense ac-
tion, Tecumseh fell, killed by a shot near his heart.
With the death of their leader, the warriors in this part of the swamp (the
Indians left) began to fall back. Demoralization spread, and this, coupled
with the continuing advance of the U.S. forces, brought an end to the fight-
ing. Although Procter, the British commander, had fled after a brief effort
to rally his troops, Tecumseh had stood his ground and died fighting, as he
had sworn to do. The Native American warriors had fought on for more
than thirty minutes after the British regulars had given up, but now they
slipped away through the woods to find their families. The victory of Har-
risons army was complete.
Because of mismanagement of the retreat and his poor handling of the
battle, Major General Procter was court-martialed and publicly repri-
manded. Harrison became a national hero, as did Colonel Johnson, widely
credited with having shot Tecumseh. Of the British troops 12 were killed,
22 wounded, and 601 captured. Harrison reported a count of 33 warriors
bodies on the field. Contradictory records suggest that on the U.S. side, as
many as 25 were killed or mortally injured, and 30 to 50 wounded.
The Battle of the Thames enabled the United States to regain control of
territory in the Detroit area that had been lost in earlier defeats, ended any
British threat at the western end of Lake Erie, and greatly reduced the dan-
ger of tribal raids in the Northwest. An important result of the battle was
the decline of the multitribal alliance that Tecumseh had fashioned and
brilliantly led. Native Americans continued to take the field in support of
British operations, but now this support was sporadic and ineffective.
Tecumsehs strategy of protecting tribal lands through military coopera-
tion with Great Britain had failed. On the northern shore of Lake Erie, the
Canadian right flank, a stalemate developed. Harrisons army disinte-
grated as the enlistment of his militiamen expired, and they returned to
Kentucky. The weakened U.S. troops were unable to advance eastward to-
ward Burlington and York, or to threaten British-held Michilimackinac to
the north. However, U.S. naval control of Lake Erie prevented fresh initia-
tives in the area by the British.
Bert M. Mutersbaugh
108 / War of 1812

September, 1814
Battle of Lake Champlain
Date: September 11, 1814
Location: Plattsburgh Bay, New York
Combatants: 937 British vs. 882 Americans
Principal commanders: British, Captain George Downie; American, Master
Commandant Thomas Macdonough (1783-1825)
Result: The British squadron surrendered to the American force.

After the defeat of Napoleon I in early 1814, the British government sent
the duke of Wellingtons veterans to Canada and instructed Lieutenant
General Sir George Prevost to conquer the Lake Champlain Valley for in-
corporation into the British empire. British shipbuilding efforts on the lake
slightly outmatched those of the Americans. However, the recently arrived
Captain George Downie had little time to create unit cohesion among his
hastily assembled crews. Master Commandant Thomas Macdonoughs
squadron lay anchored with spring lines to each vessels anchor cables so
each could be turned 180 degrees within its mooring lines. There were four
major vessels on each side, and the British had eleven row galleys and gun-
boats and the Americans ten. The principal combatants were Downies

Engraving from a late nineteenth century painting of the Battle of Lake Champlain.
(F. R. Niglutsch)
September, 1814: Baltimore / 109

thirty-seven-gun Confiance and Macdonoughs twenty-six-gun Saratoga.

Downie fell early in the battle, leaving his fleet leaderless. With the out-
come in doubt, Macdonough wound his ship so the port guns could be
employed, and this fresh broadside allowed him to destroy resistance on
the British flagship. Only a few gunboats escaped. Macdonough lost 52
killed and 58 seriously wounded. British casualties included 54 dead, 116
wounded, and the remainder prisoners of war. Also captured were a frig-
ate, a brig, two sloops of war, and several gunboats.
Because the British lacked naval superiority, Prevost withdrew his
ground forces back to Canada. This defeat contributed to the British deci-
sion to end the war and restore territory to its prewar status.
David Curtis Skaggs

September, 1814
Battle of Baltimore
Date: September 12-14, 1814
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Combatants: 10,000 Americans vs. 4,700 British troops and 16 ships
Principal commanders: British army, Major General Robert Ross (1766-
1814); British navy, Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane (1758-1832);
American, Major General Samuel Smith (1752-1839)
Result: Successful U.S. defense of a major Atlantic port.

In the summer of 1814, Britain dispatched a naval-military expedition to

the Chesapeake Bay. After capturing Washington, D.C. (August 24), the
British turned their attention to Baltimore. This port was the main U.S.
base for privateers employed against the British merchant marine and
therefore was an important military target.
Baltimores inner harbor was protected by Fort McHenry. The land-
ward approaches to the city had also been fortified. The British Royal
Navy, led by Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane, arrived in the outer
harbor on September 11. The next day, the army under Major General Rob-
ert Ross disembarked onto the North Point Peninsula and marched toward
Baltimore. Midway up the peninsula, a 3,200-man U.S. force led by Major
General Samuel Smith opposed the British advance. After the ensuing Bat-
tle of North Point (September 12), the defeated Americans retired into the
mile-long fortifications on Hampstead Hill, just to the east of the city. In the
110 / War of 1812

early morning hours of September 13, the British subjected Fort McHenry
to a twenty-hour bombardment. Discouraged by their inability to subdue
the fort and by the strength of the U.S. army on Hampstead Hill, the British
withdrew on September 15.
Britains failure at Baltimore strongly influenced the outcome of the War
of 1812. This defeat, coupled with U.S. victories at Plattsburgh (September
11, 1814) and Lake Champlain (September 11, 1814), encouraged British
leaders to seek a compromise peace. The result was the Treaty of Ghent
(December 24, 1814; ratified January 15, 1815), which reestablished the pre-
war status quo.
Michael S. Fitzgerald

January, 1815
Battle of New Orleans
Date: January 8, 1815
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Combatants: 3,000 American vs. 6,000 British troops
Principal commanders: American, General Andrew Jackson (1767-1845);
British, Major General Sir Edward Pakenham (1778-1815)
Result: Although coming after the the negotiated end of the War of 1812,
the crushing U.S. defeat of the British restored pride in the new nation
and launched Andrew Jackson toward the presidency.

For more than two years, Louisiana lay on the fringe of the southern the-
ater of the War of 1812. The campaigns were waged in Spanish Florida,
where U.S. troops seized Mobile, and in the Mississippi Territory, where
frontiersmen fought Creek Indians. The British blockade brought com-
merce to a standstill at New Orleans, but before late 1814, the war did not
otherwise threaten its polyglot population. Engaged in a vast struggle with
Napoleons France, Great Britain could barely spare enough troops to de-
fend Canada against U.S. attack, and the British War Ministry dismissed
early proposals to capture New Orleans.

The British Plan

Napoleons defeat at Leipzig in October, 1813, allowed the British to be-
gin consideration of large-scale operations against the United States. When
Napoleons abdication in April, 1814, released substantial British forces
January, 1815: New Orleans / 111

Contemporary engraving of the Battle of New Orleans. (National Portrait Gallery,

Smithsonian Institution)

from European commitments, preparations began in earnest to tighten the

blockade of the United States, raid the Atlantic coast, and invade northern
New York from Canada. In July, the War Ministry decided to attack New
Orleans and subsequently appointed Admiral Sir Alexander Forrester
Inglis Cochrane and Major General Robert Ross to command the expedi-
tion. The secretary for war, Earl Bathurst (Henry Bathurst), explained the
purposes of the invasion to Ross in September: to obtain command of the
mouth of the Mississippi River and deprive trans-Appalachian Americans
of their link with the sea; and to occupy a valuable land possession whose
restoration would improve the terms of peace for Great Britain, or whose
cession by the United States could be exacted as the price of peace.
Bathurst gave Cochrane and Ross discretion to strike at New Orleans di-
rectly from the Gulf of Mexico or overland from Mobile, and he instructed
Ross to aid the Creoles if they desired to reattach themselves to Spain. At
the time, Cochrane and Ross were raiding the Chesapeake Bay area, but
New Orleans was their next target.
Cochrane believed that American Indians, slaves, and pirates who shel-
tered at Barataria, an island in the swamps off New Orleans, would assist a
Gulf coast invasion directed against New Orleans. Operating under orders
Cochrane issued before the War Ministrys decision, his subordinates oc-
cupied Spanish Pensacola in August and began to organize and arm na-
tives and escaped slaves. In early September, the British made overtures to
112 / War of 1812

the Baratarians and prepared to attack Mobile, but their efforts came to

Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was major general of the Tennessee militia when he
defeated the Creeks at Horseshoe Bend in March, 1814, and seriously
weakened their ability to continue fighting. Two months later, Jackson was
appointed federal commander of Military District Number Seven, which
included the Mobile-New Orleans area, as well as the U.S. Army in the
Southwest. Fully aware of British activities, he went south in August to
strengthen Mobiles defenses, sever remaining British and Spanish con-
nections with the Indians, and secure the coast against invasion. In mid-
September, his forces defeated the British attempt on Mobile, which had
been made without the Baratarians, who showed no signs of cooperating. In
early November, Jackson expelled the British and Indians from Pensacola.
Rosss death near Baltimore in September dealt British fortunes another
blow. The ship carrying Major General Sir Edward Michael Pakenham,
Rosss successor, was slow in crossing the Atlantic. As a result, he was not
with Cochranes mighty invasion fleet when it sailed from its Jamaica ren-
dezvous into the Gulf of Mexico in late November, nor when Cochranes
sailors overcame U.S. gunboats at the mouth of Lake Borgne, in December.
Cochrane had decided to attack New Orleans from the Gulf of Mexico by
sailing through Lake Borgne.

General Andrew Jackson commanding at the Battle of New Orleans. (F. R. Niglutsch)
January, 1815: New Orleans / 113

Jackson had arrived in New Orleans on December 1 and proceeded to

block all invasion approaches, but through a subordinates negligence, one
approach was left open. On December 23, the vanguard of British troops
landed, advanced along unprotected Bayou Bienvenue, and emerged from
the swamps on the east bank of the Mississippi, fewer than ten miles below
the city. Jackson responded quickly. That night, he attacked the British
camp, inflicting many casualties and throwing the invaders off balance.
When Pakenham arrived on Christmas Day, he found his army in cul-de-
sac. On its right were cypress swamps; on its left were two U.S. warships
and the Mississippi River; and in front, Jacksons small but growing
army was constructing a mud and log breastwork on the narrow plain of
Chalmett, barring the way to New Orleans.
Attempting to regain the advantage, the British destroyed one of
Commandant Daniel T. Pattersons ships on December 27. In the follow-
ing days, they suffered serious reverses: the U.S. troops turned back a
reconnaissance-in-force on December 28, 1814, and won an artillery duel
on January 1, 1815, thwarting Pakenhams attempt to breach the breast-
work. The only remaining alternative was a direct assault. Pakenham de-
veloped his plan: One large column would attack the U.S. center at the
edge of the swamp; a smaller column would assault the U.S. right; a third
would support one of the other two according to developments; a small
force would attack the weak U.S. positions across the river; and the rest of
his approximately ten thousand redcoats, some of whom were veterans of
the Napoleonic Wars, would form the reserve.
At daybreak, on Sunday, January 8, Pakenham gave the signal to ad-
vance. Waiting for the attack was a heterogeneous collection of about five
thousand defendersLouisiana Acadians; Anglo-Saxons; Creoles; free
men of color: Baratarians, Choctaw Indians, and French migrs; Missis-
sippi, Kentucky, and Tennessee militia; and United States Marines, regu-
lars, and sailors. Only portions of the line were directly engaged, but the
terrific fire from their artillery, muskets, and rifles cut down Pakenhams
troops as they advanced through the mist across the rain-soaked field.
Pakenham was killed while desperately urging his men on. Shortly after-
ward, his crippled army withdrew. The partially successful attack on the
west bank came too late to affect the outcome of the great assault. Ameri-
can casualties totaled 71 (of whom only about a dozen were killed), while
British losses in the fighting that Sunday were 2,057. In the campaign that
was launched on December 23, British dead totaled more than 2,400.
Because of the apparent impregnability of Jacksons lines and a short-
age of supplies, the British leaders decided to retreat. The withdrawal went
unimpeded, as Jackson decided against allowing his relatively undisci-
114 / War of 1812

plined and heterogeneous collection of troops to attack what was still a

trained army; they remained behind their lines until the British had disap-
peared. Pakenhams forces moved through the swamp to Lake Borgne and
then to Pea Island. On January 27, the remainder of the now half-starved
British troops were gone from the Mississippi delta. In a face-saving move,
Cochrane attempted to level Fort St. Philip near the Gulf; failing that, his
fleet sailed away to attack Fort Bowyer at Mobile. After its fall, official
news of the Treaty of Ghentsigned on December 24, 1814reached the
armies. In mid-March, the fleet returned to England.
On January 23, Jackson marched into the city of New Orleans with his
troops, welcomed as a hero. However, he continued to maintain martial
law until the middle of March and required the volunteers to remain under
arms in the militia until he received official word of the signing of a treaty.
As a consequence, the Louisiana Senate, when listing the officers to whom
they extended official thanks, omitted Jacksons name.
The Battle of New Orleans, the last major battle in the War of 1812, con-
stituted a British tragedy, inasmuch as it was fought two weeks after the
Treaty of Ghent had brought the war to a formal close. Nevertheless, al-
though the bloody engagement did not play a role in the outcome of the
war, the battle made Andrew Jackson a national hero.
The battles consequences stretch beyond Jacksons role. One must ad-
dress the question of British goals in a war that they certainly provoked,
but that was started by the United States. First, the British aimed to limit
U.S. settlement beyond the Appalachian Mountains. To do so, they wanted
to create an American buffer state in the region beyond Ohio. Their second
goal was to assuage the fear of U.S. aggression into Canada, a fear with
some merit. Further, by annexing Louisiana, they could prevent communi-
cation of the west with the sea. Along with Spanish claims to Florida, this
would serve to block U.S. expansion.
Pakenham arrived in the United States with instructions to rescue
Louisiana; he brought with him a complete governmental staff, with him-
self appointed as governor. Although the Treaty of Ghent was signed, it
was not to take effect until ratified by all concerned. In the meantime,
Pakenham would have control of Louisiana, an eventuality interrupted by
his defeat and death.
Jeffrey Kimball
updated by Richard Adler
February, 1815: Treaty of Ghent / 115

February, 1815
Treaty of Ghent
Date: February 17, 1815
Location: Ghent, Austrian Netherlands (now Belgium)
Principal figures: American, John Quincy Adams (1767-1848), President
James Madison (1751-1836), Albert Gallatin (1761-1849), Secretary of
State James Monroe (1758-1831); British, Foreign Secretary Robert Stew-
art, Viscount Castlereagh (1769-1822)
Result: The treaty represented the formal end to the War of 1812.

Chances of a negotiated, honorable peace ending the War of 1812 appeared

remote in the summer of 1814. The United States ostensibly had gone to
war to protect its rights on the high seas. President James Madison and Sec-
retary of State James Monroe had repeatedly stated that the recognition of
such rights, and particularly an end to the practice of impressing U.S. sail-
ors into the British Royal Navy, was essential to any settlement.
The British had refused to abandon impressment, and the war contin-
ued. Militarily, the conflict had been inconclusive. In many ways, the Brit-
ish were in the stronger position at the outset of the talks. By the summer of
1814, they and their allies had defeated Napoleon; now Great Britain could
turn its attention and energies to the war with its former colonies. With
France subdued and veteran troops available for North American duty,
Great Britain seemed in a position to end the war by military conquest.
Moreover, the United States was divided over Mr. Madisons War. The
Federalist Party and New England generally had opposed the war from its
beginning. The Republican administration faced the unpleasant prospects
of political humiliation, military defeat, or both, should it continue to pur-
sue its war aims.

Such were the circumstances when U.S. and British commissioners met
in Ghent on August 9, 1814. The British had agreed to direct meetings as an
alternative to mediation by Alexander I, czar of Russia, and evinced no
haste to deal with the U.S. upstarts. Ghent was chosen as a convenient, eas-
ily accessible sitea pleasant, neutral city in what was then the Austrian
Netherlands, soon to be part of the Kingdom of the United Netherlands
and a major city in Belgium after that countrys independence in 1830.
The United States government dispatched five commissioners, repre-
senting a broad spectrum of backgrounds. John Quincy Adams, a Massa-
116 / War of 1812

chusetts Republican and nominally the head of the delegation, was a

staunch nationalist. Henry Clay and Jonathan Russell were war hawks
from Kentucky and Rhode Island, respectively. James A. Bayard, a Dela-
ware Federalist, and Albert Gallatin, a Pennsylvania Republican, were
moderates; the latter, because of his role as peacemaker among his col-
leagues, emerged as the functional leader of the U.S. delegation at Ghent.
The representatives from the United States often quarreled among them-
selves, but they stood firmly together in the face of their British counter-
Adams and Russell arrived in Ghent on June 23 and the others, by
July 6. Clearly, the talks were going to be protracted, and so the U.S. dele-
gates moved out of their hotel and into the Lovendeghem House in the heart
of the city. Far from being the five lonely Americans as they have been of-
ten described, they became active in local intellectual and cultural life.
Negotiations began in an atmosphere of distrust as a result of a month-
long wait by the U.S. delegates for their British counterparts. The British
delegation included Admiralty lawyer Dr. William Adams, Vice-Admiral
Lord Gambier, and Henry Goulburn of the Colonial Office. Accompanied
by a secretary, Anthony J. Baker, they took up residence in a former
Carthusian monastery at Meerhem. Their principal role was not so much
to negotiate as to act as the messengers of Viscount Castlereagh (Robert
Stewart), the British foreign secretary.

British Proposals
Although the United States had always posed as the injured party in the
conflict, the British dominated the early months of the conference. They
proposed the establishment of an American Indian buffer state in the
American Northwest and asked for a substantial cession of land along the
border between Canada and the United States. The U.S. representatives re-
fused. The British, anticipating the capture of New Orleans, then sug-
gested that each party continue to occupy the territory it held at the conclu-
sion of hostilities (uti possidetis). Again, the United States refused, holding
to its principle of the restoration of territory as it was held prior to the out-
break of war (status quo ante bellum).
Finally, the constancy and apparent unanimity of the U.S. delegation
bore fruit. Throughout the negotiations, the British cabinet had debated
whether to conquer or conciliate the United States. Foreseeing greater
good in Anglo-American friendship than in lasting enmity between the
kindred nations, Castlereagh led the way toward compromise.
Several factors, some only vaguely relating to the war, confirmed
Castlereaghs judgment. The British were having difficulties at the Con-
February, 1815: Treaty of Ghent / 117

gress of Vienna with their recent allies in the Napoleonic Wars. It seemed
for a time that war with Russia was imminent. France was restive, portend-
ing Napoleons return from Elba in 1815. At home, the British people were
war-weary and growing resentful of taxation. To make matters worse, the
United States won a timely victory at Plattsburg on September 11, 1814.
The architect of the victory over Napoleon, the duke of Wellington, esti-
mated that a conquest of the United States would come only at a heavy cost
of men, money, and time. At this juncture, the British decided to compro-

American Proposals
The commissioners at Ghent still bargained hard, but the stakes were no
longer so great. On November 11, 1814, the United States presented a pro-
posal that would maintain prewar boundaries. They agreed that the treaty
would say nothing about impressment, which would be unnecessary in a
post-Napoleonic Europe. The British abandoned their designs on U.S. ter-
ritory and their desire for a buffer state. They still demanded the islands in
Passamaquoddy Bay, the right of navigation on the Mississippi River, and
prohibitions on U.S. rights to dry fish in Newfoundland.
In the end, the participants at Ghent delegated these matters to commis-
sions to resolve after peace had been concluded. The Peace of Ghent pro-
vided for a return to the status quo ante bellum. The two sides signed the
treaty on Christmas Eve, 1814. Given the slow communications of the era,
the treaty only took effect on February 17, 1815, after ratification by the
governments of both sides. In the meantime, the British had suffered a hu-
miliating defeat in the Battle of New Orleans on January 8, 1815.
Called Americas second war for independence, the War of 1812 had
several important results. Spawning a legacy of bad feeling between Great
Britain and the United States, which persisted for many years, the war
gave the U.S. people a greater feeling of national identity, simultaneously
paving the way for the decimation of native populations. The war stimu-
lated the growth of manufacturers and turned the U.S. people increasingly
toward domestic matters and away from foreign affairs.

The treaty had a major impact on U.S. relationships with both Canada
and the American Indian nations. Future war was averted by the Rush-
Bagot Agreement of 1817, which limited armaments around the Great
Lakes. Boundary commissions and subsequent treaties in 1818, 1842, and
1846 determined most of the border between the United States and British
North America (Canada). The Red River Valley went to the United States;
118 / War of 1812

the borders of Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan were moved south to

49 north latitude. Oregon Territory (Oregon, Washington, and British Co-
lumbia) was to be jointly administered by Great Britain and the United
States. The United States agreed to exact no retribution and to take no land
from the American Indians who had fought for the British. However, the
defeat of the British and their American Indian allies helped to open the
Old Northwest and Southwest to the waves of settlement that would lead
to white domination east of the Mississippi and eventually beyond.
At the time, the treaty was, in many ways, a victory for neither side. Yet
for the United States, there was cause for rejoicing. The United States had
stood firm against a great power. Castlereagh and the British had recog-
nized U.S. military potential and decided to court instead of conquer. Most
important, the peace that both sides wanted and needed was secure. The
treaty provided a steady foundation for an Anglo-American relationship
that, over a century, would transform the two nations foreign policies
from suspicious opposition to firm friendship.
Emory M. Thomas
updated by Randall Fegley

Further Reading
Albright, Harry. New Orleans: Battle of the Bayous. New York: Hippocrene
Books, 1990.
Antal, Sandy. A Wampum Denied: Procters War of 1812. Toronto: Carleton
University Press, 1997.
Borneman, Walter R. 1812: The War That Forged a Nation. New York:
HarperCollins, 2004.
DeGrummond, Jane Lucas. The Baratarians and the Battle of New Orleans. Ba-
ton Rouge, La.: Legacy, 1979.
Everest, Allan S. The War of 1812 in the Champlain Valley. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syr-
acuse University Press, 1981.
Fitz-Enz, David G. The Final Invasion: Plattsburgh, the War of 1812s Most De-
cisive Battle. Edited by John R. Elting. Foreword by Sir Christopher
Prevost. New York: Cooper Square Press, 2001.
George, Christopher T. Terror on the Chesapeake: The War of 1812 on the Bay.
Shippensburg, Pa.: White Mane Books, 2000.
Heidler, David S., and Jeanne T. Heidler. The War of 1812. Westport, Conn.:
Greenwood Press, 2002.
Hickey, Donald R. The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict. Urbana: University
of Illinois Press, 1989.
Hitsman, J. Mackay. The Incredible War of 1812: A Military History. Rev. ed.
Foreword by Sir Christopher Prevost. Toronto: Robin Brass Studio,
Horsman, Reginald. The War of 1812. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1969.
Lord, Walter. The Dawns Early Light. New York: W. W. Norton, 1972.
Muller, Charles G. The Darkest Day: The Washington-Baltimore Campaign
During the War of 1812. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press,
Patterson, Benton Rain. The Generals: Andrew Jackson, Sir Edward Pakenham,
and the Road to the Battle of New Orleans. New York: New York University
Press, 2005.
Pitch, Anthony S. The Burning of Washington: The British Invasion of 1814.
Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 1998.
Quimby, Robert S. The U.S. Army in the War of 1812: An Operational and Com-
mand Study. 2 vols. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1997.
Reilly, Robin. The British at the Gates: The New Orleans Campaign in the War of
1812. New York: Putnam, 1974.
Remini, Robert. The Battle of New Orleans. New York: Viking, 1999.
120 / War of 1812

Sheads, Scott S. The Rockets Red Glare: The Maritime Defense of Baltimore in
1814. Centreville, Md.: Tidewater, 1986.
Skaggs, David Curtis, and Gerard T. Altoff. A Signal Victory: The Lake Erie
Campaign, 1812-1813. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 1997.
Stagg, J. C. A. Mr. Madisons War: Politics, Diplomacy, and Warfare in the
Early American Republic, 1783-1830. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Univer-
sity Press, 1983.
Stanley, George F. G. The War of 1812: Land Operations. Toronto: Macmillan,
Sweetman, Jack, ed. Great American Naval Battles. Annapolis, Md.: Naval
Institute Press, 1998.
Turner, Wesley B. British Generals in the War of 1812: High Command in the
Canadas. Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 1999.
Welsh, William Jeffrey, and David Curtis Skaggs, eds. War on the Great
Lakes. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1991.
Mexican War
Mexican War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123
Censorship During the War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 132

Campaigns, Battles, and Other Events . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 134

June, 1835-October, 1836: Texas Revolution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 134
February-March, 1836: Battle of the Alamo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 137
April, 1836: Battle of San Jacinto . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 140
June, 1846-January, 1847: Occupation of California
and the Southwest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 140
September, 1846: Battle of Monterrey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144
February, 1847: Battle of Buena Vista . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145
April, 1847: Battle of Cerro Gordo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 146
September, 1847: Siege of Chapultepec . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 148
February, 1848: Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149

Further Reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 154

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Mexican War

At issue: Establishment of a permanent border between Mexico and the

United States
Date: May 6, 1846-February 2, 1848
Location: Mexico, Texas, New Mexico, California
Combatants: Americans vs. Mexicans
Principal commanders: American, Zachary Taylor (1784-1850), Winfield
Scott (1786-1866), Stephen W. Kearny (1794-1848); Mexican, Antonio
Lpez de Santa Anna (1794-1876), Mariano Arista (1802-1855), Pedro de
Principal battles: Palo Alto, Monterrey, Buena Vista, Cerro Gordo, Cha-
Result: In winning the war, the United States acquired new territory from
Mexico, and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo established the perma-
nent border between the United States and Mexico.

The United States, by the middle of the nineteenth century, had expanded
its western frontier to the Mississippi River through purchases of territory
from France and Spain. Many Americans, however, felt that the country
had a manifest destiny to expand its horizons across the continent to the
Pacific Ocean. Standing in the way of such an expansion was the even
younger republic, the United Mexican States, which had achieved its inde-
pendence from Spain in 1823.

The Texas Revolution

At the invitation of the Mexican government, a substantial number of
U.S. citizens had moved into Texas, setting up towns and ranches, often ac-
companied by their African slaves. In 1836, these Texan immigrants re-
belled against their Mexican overlords. After defeats at the Alamo and
Goliad, the Americans, under General Sam Houston, defeated the Mexican
army of Antonio Lpez de Santa Anna at San Jacinto, captured the Mexi-
can leader following the battle, and forced him to acquiesce to their inde-
pendence. However, they failed to establish a clear line of demarcation be-
tween Mexico and the new Texas Republic.
The U.S. government acceded to the wishes of the Texans and annexed
their republic in 1845. The U.S. Congress declared Texas the twenty-eighth
state in the Union on December 22, 1845. The Mexican government and
people reacted negatively. Because General Santa Annas actions had been
forced by the Texans, the Mexican government never officially recognized
124 / Mexican War

Time Line of the Texas Revolution

and the Mexican War

June 30, 1835 Texans seize Anahuac Garrison and the Texas Revolution
Feb. 23-Mar. 6, Battle of the Alamo: Overpowering Mexican force led by
1836 General Antonio Lpez de Santa Anna destroys the Ameri-
can defenders of the Alamos garrison.
Apr. 21, 1836 Battle of San Jacinto: General Sam Houston leads Texans
in victory.
Oct. 22, 1836 Texans declare independence and elect Houston president.
May 6, 1846 Mexican War begins.
May 8, 1846 Battle of Palo Alto: General Zachary Taylor leads the Amer-
ican army to victory.
May 9, 1846 Battle of Resaca de la Palma.
June 30, 1846- Occupation of California and the Southwest.
Jan. 13, 1847
Sept. 21-24, 1846 Battle of Monterrey: Important conquest for the U.S. be-
cause Monterrey is a key site on the approach to Saltillo.
Jan. 2, 1847 Battle of Santa Clara, California.
Jan. 8, 1847 Battle of Rio San Gabriel (Los Angeles), California.
Jan. 9, 1847 Battle of La Mesa (Los Angeles), California.
Feb. 22-23, 1847 Battle of Buena Vista: The narrow U.S. victory secures the
northern approaches to Mexico City.
Mar., 1847 Battle of Veracruz: Port city surrenders, and General Win-
field Scott begins march toward Mexico City.
Apr. 17-18, 1847 Battle of Cerro Gordo: Defeat of Mexican army blocking
the U.S. advance into central Mexico.
Aug. 20, 1847 Battle of Contreras: General Winfield Scott leads Ameri-
can troops in a crushing defeat of the Mexican army.
Aug. 20, 1847 Battle of Churubusco: Scotts forces suffer heavy casual-
ties, but Mexican army suffers overwhelming defeat.
Sept. 8, 1847 Battle of Molino del Rey.
Sept. 12-13, 1847 Siege of Chapultepec: Scotts troops occupy Mexico City
on Sept. 14., concluding the military stage of the war.
Feb. 2, 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ends the war. The Mexican
government cedes Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Cali-
fornia to the United States.
Mexican War / 125

Texas as independent. The Mexicans were even more reluctant to accept

Texass incorporation into the United States.

Tensions with Mexico

President James K. Polk sought to solve the border problem and the ac-
quisition of Texas by seeking to buy all the lands claimed by Mexico be-
tween the United States and the Pacific Ocean. He sent an emissary, John
Slidell, to Mexico to negotiate with the government. The Mexican state had
been politically chaotic since achieving its independence from Spain. Gen-
eral Mariano Paredes y Arrillaga, a fervent nationalist, refused to even re-
ceive the U.S. envoy. Thus the stage was set for a confrontation between the
two countries.
President Polk struck first. He ordered General Zachary Taylor to lead
an army into the disputed territory and take a stand at the Rio Grande, the
southernmost point in the land claimed by the Americans. Mexican Gen-
eral Mariano Arista, commander of the Mexican troops at Matamoros, re-
ceived his orders from Mexico City to attack the U.S. Army. On paper, the
odds favored the Mexicans, who outnumbered the Americans, 3,700 men
to 2,290. However, the Mexicans lacked modern artillery and were using
ordinance that still shot cannonballs. The Americans, who had cannons of
a much greater range, could fire explosive shells into the ranks of the Mexi-
can infantry at little risk to themselves. This difference in weaponry, to-

General Zachary Taylor, commander of American forces in the Mexican War. (Library of
126 / Mexican War

Antonio Lpez de Santa Anna, com-

mander of the Mexican armies and
several times president of the country.
(Library of Congress)

gether with the fact that the Mexican army consisted of ill-equipped, ill-fed
and poorly led draftees, led to convincing victories for the Americans un-
der Taylor at Palo Alto (May 8, 1846) and the battles in Texas and northern
Mexico that followed. In the Palo Alto battle, Taylor sustained only 9
killed, 44 wounded, and 2 missing. The Mexican forces at Palo Alto, and at
the Resaca de la Palma battle (May 9) that followed shortly thereafter, lost
more than 1,000 men, hundreds of prisoners, and huge quantities of war
equipment and supplies.
Mexican General Pedro de Ampudia had a force of approximately
10,000 troops to defend the major Mexican stronghold of Monterrey
(September 20-24, 1846). The defenders manned a stone fortress known
as the Black Fort, containing 400 defenders and a dozen guns, some of
them eighteen pounders. They awaited Taylors attack on September 21,
1846. Taylor saw the citys western defenses as the Mexican weak spot
and sent 2,000 men under General William Worth on a detour around
those points. When the Mexican cavalry rushed to attack the Ameri-
cans, the U.S. artillery opened up, sending the Mexican horsemen back
in disorder. Worth then cut off any supplies to the beleaguered city from
the south. However, Mexican defenses within the city itself proved to
be formidable. They poured heavy fire on the Americans from the win-
dows of the citys buildings. Taylor lost more than 400 men during a di-
rect frontal assault on the citys eastern positions. The next day, Worth, con-
Mexican War / 127

tinuing his attack on the western sector, had more success. He took the
major strongpoints there, turned captured guns on the retreating Mexi-
cans, and took the pressure off Taylors troops in the east. The Americans
advanced into the city, taking it street by street. On September 25, the Mexi-
cans surrendered the city and marched out, leaving behind virtually all
their artillery and ammunition as agreed to in the terms signed by Mexican
general Ampudia. Taylors total casualties, dead and wounded, amounted
to 453 men. Casualties suffered by Ampudias troops were considerably

Invasion of Mexico
In addition to the armies of Taylor and Winfield Scott, President Polk di-
rected those of General John E. Wool and General Stephen W. Kearny to
move against Mexico. General Wool and his army had orders to invade
Mexicos center and join Taylors force at Buena Vista (February 22-23,
1847), where the two combined to defeat the self-styled Napoleon of the
West, Santa Anna. The Mexican general had returned from exile follow-
ing his loss of Texas some eleven years previously. Although the Mexican
army acquitted itself well in this critical confrontation and appeared to be

Texas Revolution and the Mexican War

Santa Fe Red
Los Angeles River

San Diego TEXAS

Rio San Antonio

Palo Alto Gulf

Pacific Monterrey of

Ocean Mexico

Buena Vista

Area under dispute

Mexico City Cerro Gordo
Battle sites Veracruz
128 / Mexican War

winning the battle, Santa Anna chose to retreat toward the capital rather
than continue his engagement with Taylor.
Polk ordered General Kearny to lead a force into New Mexico and ul-
timately to California to secure these Mexican outposts. Polk also ex-
pected Commodore John D. Sloat to support Kearnys army by seizing
California ports with Sloats Naval Pacific Squadron. First General Kearny
marched nearly nine hundred miles from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and
occupied Santa Fe without firing a shot. Once the U.S. flag flew over
New Mexico, Kearny prepared to move farther west to the Pacific Coast.
At the same time, Brevet Captain John C. Frmont marched into Northern
California, at Sacramento. This invasion proved premature, for when
Frmont discovered that Mexican general Jos Castro proposed to block
his entry into Californias settled coastal area, he decamped and retreated
to Oregon.
Meanwhile, Kearney had entered Southern California, and after some
difficult negotiations and with the aid of the naval forces, he managed to
secure control of the state through a treaty with the resident Californios,
who did not identify with the government in Mexico City. Despite some
sporadic skirmishing with the locals in the takeover, Kearney managed to
secure California for the United States with little loss to the men under
him. Frmont agreed to accept Kearnys authority as well, thus ending his
independent effort.
While the Mexicans had attempted to defend themselves from Taylors
army in the north, other U.S. forces under General Scott landed at Veracruz

The Battle of Resaca de la Palma, the second major engagement of the Mexican War.
(Institute of Texan Cultures)
Mexican War / 129

In March, 1847, American ships bombarded the port city of Veracruz, preparing the way
for General Zachary Taylors march on Mexico City. (Library of Congress)

in March, 1847. The Americans experienced only minor opposition before

the port city surrendered. Scott then began the march toward Mexico City

The Mexican Defense

The Mexican defenders were led by General Santa Anna, fresh from his
retreat following the battle at Buena Vista. He had a force of more than
20,000 men, double that of Scotts. The two armies met at Cerro Gordo on
April 18, 1847. Captain Robert E. Lee found a path around Santa Annas
flank that led to a quick defeat of the Mexican forces. The Mexican general
left the battlefield so precipitously that all his personal possessionshis
silverware, official papers, money, even his dinnerfell into the hands of
the Americans. Puebla, at that time Mexicos second city, surrendered
without a fight on May 15. The U.S. forces were only one hundred miles
from the capital.
Santa Anna fell back to prepared positions around Mexico City itself.
Again he failed to anticipate the moves of his opposition, and one of his
commanders allowed himself to be surrounded. At the Battle of Contreras
on August 20, American forces, led by Scott, inflicted a crushing defeat on
the Mexican army. The Americans suffered only a few casualties, and the
Mexicans lost 700 men and their best cannons. Also on August 20, at al-
most the same time, American forces attacked Churubusco. Scotts forces
130 / Mexican War

General Zachary Taylor at the siege of Monterrey, Mexico. (F. R. Niglutsch)

also attacked at Molino del Rey (September 8). Scotts desire to keep the
pressure on a disorganized enemy cost him many casualties. At Churu-
busco alone, the Americans lost 137 killed, 879 wounded, and 40 missing in
action. This list contained the worst casualties sustained by the invaders
up to that time. Mexican losses were estimated at more than 2,000.
During the Churubusco battle, the Americans captured a group of Irish
deserters from the U.S. Army who had switched allegiance to the Mexi-
cans. Called the St. Patricks Battalion, the captured Irish received harsh
treatment at the hands of the Americans. Most were later executed by the
U.S. Army while the U.S. flag was raised over Chapultepec Castle.
The culminating battle of the Mexico City campaign centered on the
storming of Chapultepec Castle on September 13, 1847. Among the de-
fenders was a group of Mexican cadets, many of them children, who tried
to fight off the Americans. Several threw themselves off the battlements
wrapped in Mexican flags rather than surrender to the invaders. They are
known in Mexico as los nios hroesthe child heros. Shortly after the
castle fell, Mexican resistance in the capital for all intents and purposes
ceased. Scotts troops occupied Mexico City on September 14, 1847. The
United States had won the war.
Faced with U.S. occupation of its capital city as well as a number of
states along its northern border, the Mexican government was forced to
sue for peace. In the treaty, signed at the Villa de Guadalupe in the small
village of Guadalupe Hidalgo on February 2, 1848, the Mexican govern-
Mexican War / 131

ment ceded Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California to the United
States in exchange for $15 million. The Rio Grande became the boundary
between the two countries. The border line extended to the Pacific Ocean,
ending approximately fifteen miles below the city of San Diego.
General Santa Anna died impoverished in his native state of Veracruz.
General Taylor won election to the presidency of the United States in 1848,
only to die little more than one year after taking office. General Scott ran
for president in 1852 but was defeated by another Mexican War hero, Gen-
eral Franklin Pierce.
Carl Henry Marcoux

Censorship During the War

Issues arising from the lack of censorship during the Mexican War influenced later
U.S. government wartime censorship.

The Mexican War was the first American war reported daily in newspa-
pers across the country. The American public followed the conflict with
great interest and anticipation. Newspaper reports did more to influence
American attitudes toward the war than any other medium. They also
molded American perceptions of the war, its causes, and its effects on the
United States. Remarkably, government and military censorship of news-
paper reports did not exist.
Newspapers used war correspondents for the first time to report from
the front lines in Mexico and the Southwest. These reporters followed the
campaigning American armies and occasionally participated in the fight-
ing. Instead of rehashing often late and nondescript military dispatches,
reporters wrote firsthand accounts that fed the American publics desire to
know more about the war. War correspondents rapidly and efficiently
wrote their stories and sent them off to press. Their stories proved not only
more plentiful but also more accurate than their military counterparts. No
military or government authority censored their stories. Although some in
military and government circles complained about the lack of censorship,

President James K. Polk.

(Library of Congress)
Censorship During the War / 133

the large audience reached by the newspapers had a positive effect. The
journalistic freedom exercised by newspapers provided Americans more
information about this war than previous ones. Thus, the American people
may have been better able to form informed, intelligent opinions about the
Dissident opinion against the war also enjoyed widespread freedom.
The government did not attempt to silence those who spoke out against
Mr. Polks warnamely, radical Whigs. President James K. Polk pub-
licly complained about opposition to the war, but charges of treason for op-
posing the war rarely occurred. Authorities did not constrain civil liberties.
The Polk administration worried that dissident opinion might affect the
prosecution of the war, but not to the point of taking drastic measures to
curb opposition. While the war was not without controversy over which
side started the conflict and what motivated the United States in the war,
censorship had yet to become standard practice. War correspondents in-
formed the American public. Sketch artists, so prevalent in the Civil War,
provided uncensored visual depictions of battles to American readers.
This freedom caused concern, notably among the military, who worried
that reporters might unintentionally leak secret information to the enemy,
and that negative reporting might turn public opinion against military ac-
tion. Journalistic freedom and dissident opinion did not enjoy such free-
dom in later conflicts.

Campaigns, Battles, and

Other Events

June, 1835-October, 1836

Texas Revolution
Date: June 30, 1835-October 22, 1836
Location: Texas
Combatants: Texans vs. Mexicans
Principal commanders: Texan, General Sam Houston (1793-1863); Mexican,
President Antonio Lpez de Santa Anna (1794-1876)
Principal battles: Gonzales, Goliad (1835), Concepcin, Lipantitln, Bxar,
Alamo, San Patricio, Agua Dulce Creek, Refugio, Coleto Creek, Goliad
(1836), San Jacinto
Result: After winning its independence from Mexico, Texas remained an
independent republic for a decade before being annexed by the United

The creation of Texas is usually dated from 1821, when Spanish authori-
ties granted Moses Austin permission to colonize a large tract of largely
unpopulated land. Austins plea for the grant was based in part upon his
claim to Spanish citizenship by reason of his previous residence in Louisi-
ana. Moses Austins death in Missouri the same year and the creation of an
independent Mexico failed to stop the colonization project. Austins son,
Stephen, took over and spent a year in Mexico City persuading the new au-
thorities that his claim should be accepted. When additional grants were
made by the provincial government, Austins colonization scheme pros-
pered, as did those of other empresarios who had received grants. European
American settlers from the United States, sometimes accompanied by their
slaves, soon represented a large majority of the people of Texas.
Austin and officials of the province of Texas-Coahuila worked in har-
mony for several years. Slavery was opposed by Mexican officials, but the
province of Texas-Coahuila recognized labor contracts that made inden-
tured servants of the slaves. All settlers were required to be Roman Catho-
lics, but they were not required to attend church services. The empresario
settlers were given such generous terms for acquiring land that they usu-
June, 1835-October, 1836: Texas Revolution / 135

ally sided with the government against people from the United States who
were settling illegally in the eastern part of the province. It was with Aus-
tins backing, for example, that the Fredonian Uprising of 1826, led by the
brothers Haden and Benjamin Edwards against the government, was put

Growing Tensions
The rapid growth of the Euro-American population in Texas created un-
easiness among many Mexican officials. The frequent incidents between
Texan and Mexican officials, especially in eastern Texas, were viewed with
alarm; the attempts of Presidents John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jack-
son to acquire all or part of Texas were greeted with hostility. General
Manuel Mier y Teran proposed a plan to save Texas from being overrun by
Euro-Americans. Mier y Teran called for placing more Mexican troops in
the northern provinces, settling more Mexicans and Europeans in the area,
and increasing coastal trade between Texas and the rest of Mexico. The
Colonization Law of April 6, 1830, adopted Mier y Terans suggestions and
forbade further immigration from the United States. The plan to attract
more Mexicans and increase commerce with Texas failed to materialize,
and the limiting of legal immigration from the United States only served to
restrict the immigration to illegal settlers who had no vested interest in
supporting the Mexican government.
The military occupation of Texas was the only part of the plan that was
realized, and it only increased the friction between the government and the

Sam Houston, the leader of the Texas

rebellion, had an exceptional career.
Before coming to Texas, he had been a
Tennessee congressman and governor
of Tennessee. After Texass rebellion
succeeded, he became the first presi-
dent of the independent Texas Repub-
lic. When Texas was admitted to the
Union, he became one of the new
states first senators and later served
as governor.
(Library of Congress)
136 / Mexican War

settlers. The Texans looked to the presumably liberal revolutionary forces

of Antonio Lpez de Santa Anna for relief, and when he came to power,
they held a convention at San Felipe in April, 1833, to make plans to peti-
tion the new government for the redress of their grievances. Austin was
commissioned to present the new government with their requests, includ-
ing the separation of Texas from Coahuila and a liberalizing of the laws
governing immigration and import controls. Austin journeyed to Mexico
City, where the Mexican congress agreed to repeal the North American im-
migration exclusion. Austin, however, was arrested during his return trip
on the strength of a letter he had written that appeared to advise the Texans
to establish a separate state. He was jailed for two years and could not re-
turn to Texas until September 1, 1835.
During Austins absence, Texas-Coahuila made a number of conces-
sions to the Texans, but Santa Annas central government was moving to
centralize its authority. Although most Texans disapproved of the seizure
of the Anahuac Garrison on June 30, 1835, by a group led by William Barret
Travis, they were concerned about the apparent intention of the Mexican
government to send a greater number of troops to Texas. The Texans re-
sponded by calling conventions on August 15 at Columbia and on October
15 at San Felipe. A provisional government was created, although the Tex-
ans proclaimed their loyalty to a constitutional Mexican government. An
army was created and Austin called for war.

The Call to Arms

Not all Texans were committed to the call to arms, and opposition in-
creased during the seven-month war. The mainly Irish settlers in the San
Patricio region joined forces with the Mexican army and fought against the
rebels at Fort Lipantitln on November 5. Tejanos, or Mexican Texans, were
divided in their loyalties: Some were centralists; others supported the rebel
forces; still others tried, largely without success, to remain neutral. This
split in allegiances made the Texas revolution a civil war in the truest sense,
pitting family member against family member. Jos Antonio Navarro, a
hero to many latter-day Texans, supported the Texas Rebels, while his
brother Angel maintained his support for Mexico.
Many Euro-Americans attempted to remain neutral during the spring
of 1836. Although they did not support the centralists, many did avoid re-
cruitment into the armed forces. Personal and family protection was their
motivating force. Of the few Euro-Americans who did support the central-
ist cause, most were older and had resided in Texas for more than ten years.
There is little evidence that they were very active during the war.
The vast majority of Tejanos who supported the rebel cause were native-
February-March, 1836: Battle of the Alamo / 137

born Texans from San Antonio. Their knowledge of the area proved benefi-
cial to the rebels. The effects of the war on Tejanos, however, were devastat-
ing. After their homes and farms were ransacked and their supplies used
to feed and equip the Texas armies, their initial support for the rebellion
faded. Most received no compensation for their sacrifices during the war.

The Alamo
On February 23, 1836, Santa Anna and four thousand troops laid siege
to the Alamo. The 187 men inside, mainly newcomers from the United
States, held out until March 6, when the garrison, commanded by Travis
and including Davy Crockett and James Bowie, was assaulted and wiped
out. At Goliad, three hundred defenders under James Fannin surrendered
and then were massacred by the Mexican army on March 27.
The delegates who met on March 1, 1836, in Washington, Texas, knew of
the siege of the Alamo. Continuing their pattern of following the revolu-
tionary example of the United States, they issued a declaration of indepen-
dence on March 2 and subsequently adopted a constitution. The siege at
the Alamo gave commander-in-chief Sam Houston time to assemble an
army. Houston avoided a fight for weeks before surprising Santa Annas
divided army on the west bank of the San Jacinto River near Galveston Bay
on April 21, 1836. The Texans defeated twelve hundred Mexicans with
their force of eight hundred. Santa Anna was among the captives. Before
being released, Santa Anna pledged himself to secure the independence of
Texas, but the Mexican congress disavowed his actions. The Mexican army,
however, quickly left Texas and made no serious attempt to regain control.
Sam Houston was elected president of the Republic of Texas on October 22,
1836. Houston and most Texans were interested in joining the United
States, but for diplomatic and domestic reasons, annexation was not ac-
complished for almost a decade.
Mark A. Plummer
updated by Pamela Hayes-Bohanan

February-March, 1836
Battle of the Alamo
Date: February 23-March 6, 1836
Location: Mission San Antonio de Valero, San Antonio de Bxar, Texas
Combatants: 189 Texans and Tennesseans vs. 3,000-6,000 Mexicans
138 / Mexican War

Principal commanders: Texan, Lieutenant Colonel William Barret Travis

(1809-1836), Colonel Jim Bowie (1799-1836); Tennessean, Colonel Davy
Crockett (1786-1836); Mexican, General Antonio Lpez de Santa Anna
Result: An overwhelming Mexican force annihilated the American de-
fenders of the Alamos garrison.

In San Antonio de Bxar, Colonel Benjamin Rush Milam and 300 Texan vol-
unteers arose against the Mexican garrison under General Martn Perfecto
de Cs (December 5-10, 1835). When Cs surrendered, Milams men occu-
pied the Alamo and enhanced its fortifications. Colonel James C. Neill took
command of the Alamos garrison of about a hundred on December 21.
Acting as emissary and military attach for Governor Henry Smith and
General Sam Houston, Colonel Jim Bowie arrived in San Antonio on Janu-
ary 19, 1836. Lieutenant Colonel William Barret Travis came with thirty
more men on February 2. Colonel Davy Crockett brought about twenty
Tennesseans on February 8. With Neill on temporary furlough, Travis and
Bowie decided to share command on February 14.
General Antonio Lpez de Santa Anna arrived in Bxar on February 23
and immediately began bombarding the Alamo. The Mexicans had hun-
dreds of field pieces, but no heavy siege guns. The Alamo had fourteen
smoothbore cannons, the largest an eighteen pounder. When Santa Anna
demanded unconditional surrender on the first day of the siege, Travis an-
swered with a blast from that gun. Santa Anna ordered continuous bom-
Travis assumed sole command on February 24 when Bowie fell ill with
fever, perhaps pneumonia, and was incapacitated for the rest of the siege.
That day Travis wrote a famous letter promising that he would never sur-
render but begging for help.
The Mexican encircling of the Alamo was not tight. Messengers could
come and go almost at will, and the Texans could make night raids on the
Mexicans. Even reinforcements could get in. The last reinforcements to ar-
rive were 32 men from Gonzales on March 1. An unverifiable tradition says
that Travis, on March 3, having accepted that he would get no aid from ei-
ther Colonel James W. Fannin at Goliad or Houston at Washington-on-the-
Brazos, drew a line in the sand on the parade ground with his sword and
asked all who chose to die with him to cross it. All but one, Louis Rose,
crossed. Bowie, too weak to move, had to be carried across. That night, the
tradition continues, Crockett helped Rose escape.
By the twelfth day of shelling (March 5), Santa Anna had become impa-
tient. He announced that his troops would storm the Alamo at dawn. His
February-March, 1836: Battle of the Alamo / 139

The Alamo mission building from which the Texans tried to hold off a Mexican army is
now preserved as a museum. (Library of Congress)

officers advised waiting because the walls were about to crumble, the
north wall was already breached, and the Texans would soon run out of
food and ammunition. Few men on either side had yet been killed, but a di-
rect assault would result in considerable Mexican casualties. Santa Anna
overruled all these objections.
At 4:00 the next morning the first wave attacked. Antipersonnel charges
from the Alamos cannons took their toll as did the sharpshooters on the
parapets. The first two waves retreated with heavy losses, but the third
wave succeeded in scaling the west wall. Thereafter the fighting was hand-
to-hand. Within ninety minutes, all the defenders were dead. Estimates of
Mexican casualties range from 600 to 1,500.
The heroic defense of the Alamo provided the famous rallying cry, Re-
member the Alamo! that later boosted the morale of Houstons men in
their easy victory over Santa Anna at San Jacinto (April 21, 1836).
Eric v.d. Luft
140 / Mexican War

April, 1836
Battle of San Jacinto
Date: April 21, 1836
Location: LaPorte, Harris County, Texas
Combatants: 900 Texans vs. 1,600 Mexicans
Principal commanders: Texan, General Sam Houston (1793-1863); Mexican,
President Antonio Lpez de Santa Anna (1794-1876)
Result: Decisive Texan victory.

When news of the Alamo massacre reached Sam Houston in Gonzales

(March 11), he retreated east, followed by many terrified settlers in a move
known as the Runaway Scrape. He eluded the pursuing Mexicans for more
than a month, then established a strong defensive position at the inner con-
fluence of the San Jacinto River and Buffalo Bayou (April 20). Antonio
Lpez de Santa Anna camped about fifteen hundred yards downstream.
The next morning, Houston ordered Erastus Deaf Smith to destroy
Vinces Bridge, thus blocking the only escape route for both armies and
preventing further Mexican reinforcements.
About noon, Houston determined a course of action. At 3:30 p.m., his
men sneaked across no-mans-land in a wide skirmish line as the Mexicans
were enjoying their siesta, then suddenly attacked, yelling Remember the
Alamo! Remember Goliad! Remember La Bahia! The battle lasted about
twenty minutes. Texan losses were 9 killed and 30 wounded, against 630
Mexicans killed, 208 wounded, and 730 taken prisoner. Santa Anna, dis-
guised as a corporal, was captured the next day. Texas won its independence
from Mexico, the Alamo became a legend, and Houston became a hero.
Eric v.d. Luft

June, 1846-January, 1847

Occupation of California and the Southwest
Date: June 30, 1846-January 13, 1847
Location: Greater Southwest
Combatants: Americans vs. Mexicans
Principal commanders: American, Philip St. George Cooke (1809-1895),
Stephen Watts Kearny (1794-1848), Alexander W. Doniphan (1808-
1887); Mexican, Manuel Armijo (1792?-1853), Jos Castro (1818-1893)
June, 1846-January, 1847: Occupation of California / 141

Result: The Army of the West was charged with winning New Mexico and
California for the United States.

When the United States declared war on Mexico in May, 1846, the military
strategy of President James K. Polk and his advisers was to occupy the cap-
itals of the northern Mexican provinces and march on Mexico City itself.
Polk hoped the two campaigns would result in a quick end to the war. He
assigned the task of winning New Mexico and California to the Army of
the West, commanded by Brigadier General Stephen Kearny. In the spring
of 1846, Kearny assembled his forces at Fort Leavenworth. Under his com-
mand were three hundred regular dragoons and five hundred Mormon
youths, led by Lieutenant Colonel Philip St. George Cooke, who had been
recruited from their encampment at Council Bluffs, Iowa, where Brigham
Young was making plans to move westward to Deseret. Kearny also was
accompanied by a regiment of infantry and a train of wagons. Missouri
frontiersmen and recruits brought the total personnel under his command
to twenty-seven hundred.

The March to Santa Fe

On June 30, 1846, this army started for Santa Fe, following the Santa Fe
Trail for eight hundred miles, first to Bents Fort on the Arkansas River and
then southward into New Mexico. On the outskirts of Santa Fe, Kearny
learned that three thousand Mexicans under the command of Manuel
Armijo, the governor of New Mexico, had occupied a strategic canyon
through which Kearnys men would have to pass. Rather than risk a mili-
tary clash, Kearny resorted to diplomacy, sending forward intelligence
agent James Magoffin, who, acting on secret instructions from Polk, suc-
ceeded in convincing Armijo that he should flee southward.
Colonel Juan de Archuleta, Armijos second-in-command, proved more
difficult and would not withdraw the Mexican Army until Kearny prom-
ised that he would occupy only part of New Mexico, leaving the rest to
Archuleta. Kearnys army then marched into Santa Fe without contest, but
disregarding his promise to Archuleta, Kearny issued a proclamation an-
nouncing the U.S. intention to annex the whole of New Mexico. He prom-
ised the residents a democratic government and a code of law, and he
named Charles Bent as governor. When settlers in southern New Mexico
questioned his actions, Kearny took a detachment down the Rio Grande to
ensure the loyalty of Mexican villages.
With the first phase of his campaign completed, Kearny continued his
program by separating his army into three forces. One he left behind in
New Mexico to hold the province. Another, composed of three hundred
142 / Mexican War

volunteers from Missouri under Colonel Alexander Doniphan, went south

by way of El Paso to occupy Chihuahua City. Magoffin, sent ahead to en-
sure a peaceful occupation, was unsuccessful. Doniphans troops had to
fight the Battle of Brazito before occupying El Paso, and they had to drive
back a Mexican army of four thousand at Chihuahua City. Kearny had
taken the third force of three hundred dragoons out of Santa Fe on Septem-
ber 25, 1846, and headed for California.
Kearny was accompanied by Lieutenant William Emory and other offi-
cers of the Topographical Engineers, who were making observations on
the feasibility of wagon and railroad routes. The expedition moved rapidly
down the Rio Grande and then west along the Rio Gila. There it encoun-
tered a detachment led by Kit Carson, bringing the news east that Califor-
nia was in the hands of the United States. Assuming that a military cam-
paign would be unnecessary on the coast, Kearny ordered two-thirds of his
troops back to Santa Fe and commanded the reluctant Kit Carson, now a
lieutenant in the United States Army, to guide him and one hundred dra-
goons westward.
The division of Kearnys force was fortunate for the interests of the
United States, because the detachment returning to New Mexico arrived in
time to suppress the Taos Revolt led by the disgruntled Archuleta, in
which Governor Bent and other officials had been slain. The revolutionar-
ies took refuge within the adobe church there, and U.S. forces had to storm
the walls and kill many Mexican leaders before the revolt came to an end
and U.S. authority was restored.

The Struggle for California

At the same time, the United States extended its authority to California.
Before war had been declared between the United States and Mexico,
Thomas O. Larkin, the U.S. consul in California, had hoped that he could ef-
fect a peaceful transfer of the Mexican province to the United States. Larkins
hopes were dashed, however, by events surrounding John C. Frmonts
appearance in California between December, 1845, and June, 1846. Frmont
had secured permission from Governor Jos Castro for his scientific expe-
dition to winter in California on the condition that Frmont avoid coming
near any settlements. Frmonts failure to honor the agreement prompted
Castro to demand Frmonts departure from California. Avoiding hostili-
ties temporarily, Frmont led his detachment slowly up the Sacramento
River Valley until he was overtaken at Klamath Lake by Lieutenant Archi-
bald Gillespie of the U.S. Marines, carrying confidential messages and pa-
pers from the U.S. government and from relatives. The exact contents of
these communications have remained unknown; however, Frmont there-
June, 1846-January, 1847: Occupation of California / 143

upon returned to California, despite Castros order to leave, and made his
way to the vicinity of Sonoma. There, in June, he immediately became in-
volved in an uprising of settlers from the United States, a insurrection
known as the Bear Flag Revolt, so named for a flag bearing the symbols of a
red star and a bear, which the insurgents adopted as their standard.
Frmonts national reputation as a hero in the conquest of California
waned when the Bear Flag Revolt was assessed against the efforts of
Larkin to secure California peacefully for the United States, and when it
was learned that the war with Mexicowhich prescribed the U.S. con-
quest of California had been declared before the Bear Flag Revolt took
place. Critics have censured Frmont for having provocatively endan-
gered relations between the United States and Mexico at a time when
Frmont could not have known of the state of war. Historians point out
that the Bear Flag Revolt had little importance in the U.S. conquest of Cali-
fornia, because Commodore John Sloats first official act of conquest was to
sail into Monterey Bay and raise the United States flag over the customs
house on July 7, twelve days before Frmonts arrival in Monterey.
Events of the Bear Flag Revolt merged with the conquest by United
States forces. The first stage of operations, from July 7 to August 15, 1846,
resulted in the temporary occupation of every important settlement in Cal-
ifornia, including San Francisco, Sutters Fort, Monterey, and Los Angeles.
It was news of this success that Kit Carson was carrying to the east when he
met Kearny. Scarcely had Carson departed when a local revolt erupted in
Los Angeles on September 22, and the United States troops under Gillespie
were forced to retreat to the Pacific port of San Pedro, leaving southern Cal-
ifornia once again in Mexican hands. Commodore Robert F. Stockton, in
charge of U.S. naval forces, left Monterey for the south.

Meanwhile, the Mexicans, learning of Kearnys approach to San Diego,
had come out to meet him near present-day Escondido, California. In the
ensuing Battle of San Pasqual, United States troops were mauled badly
but managed to struggle on to San Diego. Kearny then joined Stocktons
forces in a successful march into Los Angeles. Frmont, in the meantime,
marched down the California coast with deliberation. The Mexican leaders
who had violated their paroles made at the time of the first capitulation
were afraid of retribution at the hands of Kearny or Stockton, and so
sought out Frmont in the mountains north of Los Angeles, where they
surrendered at Cahuenga on January 13, 1847.
The conquest of the Southwest was at last complete. A bitter quarrel
then ensued between Stockton and Kearny over who was in command in
144 / Mexican War

California. Frmont sided with Stockton, but Kearny appealed to Wash-

ington, D.C., and received confirmation of his authority. Diplomatic com-
plications delayed the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo until
February, 1848, more than a year after the fighting in the northern Mexican
provinces had ceased. As a result of the treaty, the United States acquired
all or portions of the future states of California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado,
New Mexico, and Arizona. Native Americans and Mexicans passed under
the suzerainty of the United States.
W. Turrentine Jackson
updated by Edward R. Crowther

September, 1846
Battle of Monterrey
Date: September 21-24, 1846
Location: Monterrey, Mexico (state capital of Nuevo Len, Mexico)
Combatants: 6,220 American vs. 7,303 Mexican troops
Principal commanders: American, Major General Zachary Taylor (1784-
1850); Mexican, Major General Pedro de Ampudia
Result: Successful U.S. takeover of Monterrey.

Contemporary engraving of the Mexican defense of Monterrey. (Institute of Texan

February, 1847: Buena Vista / 145

In the mid-afternoon on Sunday, September 20, 1846, General Zachary Tay-

lor issued orders for 6,220 U.S. troops to begin their two-pronged attack on
the city of Monterrey. Guarded by 7,303 Mexican soldiers, Monterrey lay
nestled between forts, earthworks, natural cliffs, and the Santa Catarina
Taylor planned to cut off the city from its supply line and only escape
route while at the same time taking the heights above the city. Then, de-
spite any defensive action by the army of General Pedro de Ampudia, the
city would fall quickly. Though the campaign was poorly executed and
hampered by driving rain, U.S. forces were successful after two days of
fierce fighting. On September 23, U.S. soldiers entered the city after finding
the Mexicans outer defenses abandoned.
Near dawn the next day, following bloody street warfare, Ampudia
asked for an armistice. In the melee, 367 Mexicans had been killed or
wounded defending the city. Americans dead numbered 120, with nearly
370 wounded.

Monterrey was a key locale on the approach to Saltillo, which, when oc-
cupied, would isolate Mexico City from northern Mexico.
John C. Pinheiro

February, 1847
Battle of Buena Vista
Date: February 22-23, 1847
Location: Hacienda San Juan de la Buena Vista (eight miles south of Saltillo)
Combatants: 4,594 American vs. 15,142 Mexican troops
Principal commanders: American, Major General Zachary Taylor (1784-
1850); Mexican, General Antonio Lpez de Santa Anna (1794-1876)
Result: Successful U.S. defense of its position near Saltillo.

On February 22, 1847, General Antonio Lpez de Santa Anna sent some
15,000 soldiers against the positions of American general Zachary Taylors
4,594, mostly volunteer, troops. Beginning with skirmishes, a full-scale bat-
tle ensued the following morning on rough terrain beneath the Sierra
Madre near Hacienda San Juan de la Buena Vista. Santa Anna possessed
intelligence of U.S. troop locations and hoped for a decisive defeat.
146 / Mexican War

Engraving of the Battle of Buena Vista made for Harpers New Monthly Magazine in
1855. (Institute of Texan Cultures)

Mexican cavalry and infantry threw themselves against U.S. lines

throughout the day. Taylors decision simply to defend U.S. positions
proved successful. Though bloodied and weary, his forces still held the
battlefield as night fell. As Taylors men anxiously awaited dawn, Santa
Annas army slipped away, demoralized at their inability to break through
U.S. positions. Mexican deaths numbered 691, with nearly 1,050 wounded.
American casualties included 272 killed and 387 wounded.
The narrow U.S. victory at Buena Vista was not only of strategic signifi-
cance but also of political importance for Taylor. The victory had secured
the northern approaches to Mexico City, and the generals fame would
help to elect him president of the United States.
John C. Pinheiro

April, 1847
Battle of Cerro Gordo
Date: April 17-18, 1847
Location: On the National Road between Plan del Rio and Cerro Gordo, in
the Mexican state of Veracruz
April, 1847: Cerro Gordo / 147

Combatants: 8,500 American vs. 12,000 Mexican troops

Principal commanders: American, Major General Winfield Scott (1786-
1866); Mexican, General Antonio Lpez de Santa Anna (1794-1876)
Result: Rout of Mexican army blocking the U.S. march into central Mexico.

Moving up from Veracruz along the National Road, Major General

Winfield Scotts 8,500-man army encountered Mexican forces at the Rio de
Plan on April 11. Over the next six days, U.S. engineers scouted the Mexi-
can positions. General Antonio Lpez de Santa Anna, commanding more
than 12,000 men, had established a strong defense on his right, which con-
trolled a defile through which the National Road ran. He relied on rough
terrain and two hills, El Atalaya and the larger El Telgrafo, to protect his
left. Scotts chief engineer, Captain Robert E. Lee, found a route around
Santa Annas left, however, and U.S. troops began to move into position on
April 17. Mexican sentries on El Atalaya discovered the movement, forcing
a successful American assault on the hill. Now aware of what he thought
was Scotts plan, Santa Anna reinforced his left and the summit of El
The next morning Brigadier General Gideon Pillow launched a badly
managed assault on the Mexican right. Scotts main attack, however, swept
around the Mexican left, while another force stormed El Telgrafo. Real-

U.S. forces under General Winfield Scott at the Battle of Cerro Gordo. (Library of
148 / Mexican War

izing Americans now commanded the National Road to his rear, Santa
Anna abandoned his army, and the Mexican defense collapsed.
Scott lost 65 killed and 353 wounded. The Mexicans lost an estimated
1,000 killed and wounded and 3,000 captured. Scotts men also captured
forty-three heavy guns and Santa Annas personal baggage. The victory al-
lowed Scott to establish himself in the Mexican highlands, escape the po-
tentially disastrous effects of being caught on the coast during yellow-
fever season, and reorganize his army for its descent on Mexico City.
Ronald L. Spiller

September, 1847
Siege of Chapultepec
Date: September 12-13, 1847
Location: Chapultepec Hill, Mexico City
Combatants: 7,180 American vs. about 7,100 Mexican troops
Principal commanders: American, General Winfeld Scott (1786-1866); Mex-
ican, General Antonio Lpez de Santa Anna (1794-1876)
Result: American troops captured the fortifications of Chapultepec Hill,
and thus Mexico City, ending the military phase of the Mexican War.

American troops storming the citadel of Chapultepec, which was defended by 5,000
troops. (Institute of Texan Cultures)
February, 1848: Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo / 149

American general Winfield Scott decided to attack Mexico City through its
western gate. However, to see his strategy succeed, Scott had to take the
high ground of Chapultepec Hill. When the American forces began ap-
proaching, Mexican General Antonio Lpez de Santa Anna placed a force
of some 7,100 soldiers throughout the hills fortifications, including the
buildings of a local military school.
The battle began when the American forces opened up with artillery
fire on September 12. The next day, Scott attacked from two fronts: A
storming party came from the south and east and a second force came from
the west. The American troops approaching from the west were able to
scale the walls of Chapultepec and engage in extensive hand-to-hand com-
bat with the Mexican defenders. By 9:30 on the morning of September 13,
the Americans had won, and General Santa Anna surrendered all of his
troops. The Mexican forces lost 1,800 soldiers; the Americans lost 450. The
battle for Chapultepec brought the surrender of Mexico City, forcing a
negotiated peace and bringing an end to the hostilities between the two
Tom Frazier

February, 1848
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
Date: February 2, 1848
Location: Guadalupe Hidalgo, near Mexico City
Principal figures: American, Secretary of State James Buchanan (1791-
1868), President James K. Polk (1795-1849), General Winfield Scott
(1786-1866), General Zachary Taylor (1784-1850); Mexican, President
Manuel de la Pea y Pea (1789-1850), General and President Antonio
Lpez de Santa Anna (1794-1876)
Result: The formal conclusion to the Mexican War resulted in cession of ex-
tensive Mexican lands to the United States.

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, drafted and signed at the Mexican vil-
lage of Guadalupe Hidalgo, near Mexico City, ended the Mexican War. The
war had been prompted partly by hawkish adherents of manifest destiny, a
belief in the inevitable expansion of the United States through the whole of
North America, although it had nominally erupted over disputed territo-
ries shortly after the United States annexed the Republic of Texas in 1845.
150 / Mexican War

The specific cause of the war was the dispute over which river the Rio
Bravo del Norte or the Nuecesmarked a boundary line between the two
countries. War had been declared formally in April of 1846, after Mexican
and U.S. troops clashed in the disputed territory between the two rivers.

The U.S. Victory

In Mexico, political turmoil and poor military strategy and prepared-
ness at first led to fairly easy U.S. victories. Successful campaigns in north-
eastern Mexico by General Zachary Taylor caused the collapse of the Mexi-
can government and the recall from exile of General Antonio Lpez de
Santa Anna, who fought a close but losing battle against Taylor at Buena
Vista in February of 1847. The tide turned fully against Mexico when Gen-
eral Winfield Scott invaded Mexico at Veracruz and fought his way inland
against tough resistance to capture Mexico City. The crucial battle in Scotts
march from the sea was fought against Santa Anna at Cerro Gordo on
April 18, 1847. Even with Santa Annas defeat, Scotts army had difficulty,
and it was not until September 14, 1847, that his troops entered and took
control of the Mexican capital.
Santa Anna, threatened with impeachment for his conduct of the war,
went once more into exile. In order to take direct command of the Mexican
forces, he earlier had named Manuel de la Pea y Pea interim president
and eventually had to ask the Pea government for permission to leave
Mexico. It was Pea who was forced to agree to the terms of the Treaty of
Guadalupe Hidalgo, negotiated under the weakest possible conditions for
Mexico. For a payment of $15 million and $3.25 million in claims of Mexi-
can citizens, Mexico ceded to the United States the territories of New Mex-
ico and Upper California. The agreement also established the Mexican-
American boundary, which followed the course of the Rio Grande from the
Gulf of Mexico to the southern border of New Mexico, west to the Gila and
Colorado Rivers, and eventually to a point just south of San Diego on the
Pacific Ocean.

The negotiations leading up to the treaty were complex. In April of
1847, President Polk had sent Nicholas P. Trist of the Department of State to
Scotts camp with a secret treaty proposal drafted by Secretary of State
James Buchanan. Trist was empowered to consider counterproposals and
secure an armistice, which was actually arranged in late August of that
same year. Scott had been in secret communication with Santa Anna, who,
without the knowledge of the Mexican government, was trying to arrange
treaty terms on his own. Santa Anna assured Scott that hostilities could be
February, 1848: Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo / 151

General Scotts troops storming

Molino del Rey, while advancing
toward Mexico City.
(Institute of Texan Cultures)

suspended and a treaty negotiated if and when Scotts army laid siege to
Mexico City. Scott had even written a memorandum in which he avowed
that he would fight a battle in view of the capital and then give those in
the City an opportunity to save the capital by making a peace.
Scott, with victories at Contreras and Churubusco in August, 1847, had
met Santa Annas conditions. The road to Mexico City was open, and the
remnants of Santa Annas army had been put to disordered flight, taking
refuge within the capital. Scott was certain that a peace with a compliant
Santa Anna could be quickly negotiated. Santa Anna, however, was as de-
ceitful and crafty as Scott was forthright and nave. He knew that Scotts
army was wracked by disease, declining morale, and logistics problems,
and he believed that time was an invisible ally. As his blame-shifting ma-
neuvers made clear, he also wanted to avoid making any treaty conces-
sions that would tarnish his national image. Thus, although a cease-fire
was arranged and agreed to, the efforts to draft a mutually acceptable set of
terms at the ensuing peace conference proved futile and were probably
doomed from the outset. The armistice broke off on September 6, and on
September 14 Scott took Mexico City. Santa Anna soon fled.
When it became clear to Buchanan and Polk that Santa Anna was stall-
ing, Polk ordered the recall of Trist, in part to counteract the impression
that the United States was anxious to achieve a peace, a view gaining cur-
rency among the Mexican people. Trist did not return, however; he stayed
152 / Mexican War

General Winfield Scotts entry into Mexico City completed the American victory.
(Library of Congress)

on after the futile negotiations broke off and fighting resumed. The war
dragged on past the departure of Santa Anna, who met his final defeat at
Puebla on October 11. It was abundantly clear that Mexico could not turn
the wars tide, and within two months, it sued for peace. Trist, never hav-
ing returned home, became the chief U.S. negotiator at Guadalupe Hi-
dalgo, where the treaty was finally signed.

The drafted terms, readied by January 24, 1848, more fully realized the
territorial ambitions of the United States than the terms that had been dis-
cussed during the earlier armistice conference, which had at least left the
Texas border question open. However, even from the outset of the earlier
negotiations, it had been clear that the United States was determined to an-
nex both Upper California and New Mexico. In the end, Santa Annas de-
laying tactics had proved a bit more costly to Mexico.
Because a flawed map was used during the treaty negotiations, the
boundaries between Mexico and the United States remained open to inter-
pretation. Surveyors could not agree on the identity of the first branch of
the Gila River, one of the important demarcation lines, and the boundary
line between Mexico and the United States in the area separating the Gila
River and the Rio Grande was not settled. However, both the Rio Grande
February, 1848: Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo / 153

and the Gila River were established as principal boundaries. Mexico

thereby ceded territories south of the Nueces River and all of Upper Cali-
fornia from one nautical league south of San Diego to the Northwest Terri-
tories. The United States gained all of the Territory of New Mexico, the dis-
puted lands in southern Texas, and Upper California. In consideration for
ceding this vast acreage, the United States was to pay only the stipulated
$15 million plus the $3.25 million in claims. It was a grand bargain for the
expansionist believers in manifest destiny. The treaty terms were quickly
accepted by Polk and, with some amendments, ratified by the U.S. Senate
on March 10, 1848.

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo did not immediately end the bound-
ary issue. In 1853, during the administration of Franklin Pierce, the current
border between Mexico and the United States was finally set when the
United States purchased the Arizona Territory from Mexico in the Gads-
den Purchase and described the boundary line between the two countries
in the disputed area.
An important provision of that treaty, Article VII, granted U.S. citizen-
ship with full constitutional rights to the Mexicans living in the ceded terri-
tories and guaranteed them ownership of their land. However, through the
invalidation of Spanish and Mexican land grants, federal courts and the
U.S. Congress allowed government agencies, ranchers, land speculators,
and business and railroad magnates to gobble up acreage that, by the
terms of the treaty, rightly belonged to Mexican Americans. Over two gen-
erations, almost twenty million acres of their land was lost to private own-
ers and state and federal agencies.
John W. Fiero

Further Reading
Bartlett, Robert Merril. Those Valiant Texans: A Breed Apart. Portsmouth,
N.H.: P. E. Randall, 1989.
Bauer, Karl Jack. The Mexican War, 1846-1848. New York: Macmillan, 1974.
____________. Zachary Taylor: Soldier, Planter, Statesman of the Old Southwest.
Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1985.
Binkley, William C. The Texas Revolution. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Uni-
versity Press, 1952.
Boethel, Paul C. Colonel Amasa Turner: The Gentleman from Lavaca and Other
Captains at San Jacinto. Austin, Tex.: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1963.
Brown, Gary. Volunteers in the Texas Revolution: The New Orleans Greys.
Plano: Republic of Texas Press, 1999.
Christensen, Carol, and Thomas Christensen. The U.S.-Mexican War. San
Francisco: Bay Books, 1998.
Crawford, Mark. Encyclopedia of the Mexican-American War. Santa Barbara,
Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 1999.
Davis, William C. Lone Star Rising: The Revolutionary Birth of the Texas Re-
public. New York: Free Press, 2004.
____________. Three Roads to the Alamo: The Lives and Fortunes of David
Crockett, James Bowie, and William Barret Travis. New York: Harper-
Collins, 1998.
Dawson, Joseph G. III. Doniphans Epic March: The First Missouri Volunteers
in the Mexican War. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1999.
Dixon, Sam Houston, and L. W. Kemp. The Heroes of San Jacinto. Houston:
Anson Jones, 1932.
Dufour, Charles L. The Mexican War: A Compact History, 1846-1848. New
York: Hawthorne Books, 1968.
Edmondson, J. R. The Alamo Story: From Early History to Current Conflicts.
Plano: Republic of Texas Press, 2000.
Eisenhower, John S. D. So Far from God: The U.S. War with Mexico 1846-1848.
New York: Random House, 1989.
Foos, Paul. A Short Offhand, Killing Affair: Soldiers and Social Conflict During
the Mexican-American War. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina
Press, 2002.
Griswold Del Castillo, Richard. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo: A Legacy of
Conflict. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1990.
Groneman, Bill. Battlefields of Texas. Plano: Republic of Texas Press, 1998.
Further Reading / 155

____________. Death of a Legend: The Myth and Mystery Surrounding the

Death of Davy Crockett. Plano: Republic of Texas Press, 1999.
Hardin, Stephen L. Texian Iliad: A Military History of the Texas Revolution,
1835-1836. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994.
Johannsen, Robert Walter. To the Halls of the Montezumas: The Mexican War
in the American Imagination. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985.
Johnson, Timothy D. Winfield Scott. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas,
Kemp, L. W., and Ed Kilman. The Battle of San Jacinto and the San Jacinto
Campaign. Houston: Anson Jones, 1947.
Kendall, George Wilkins. Dispatches from the Mexican War. Edited and with
an introduction by Lawrence Delbert Cress. Norman: University of Ok-
lahoma Press, 1999.
Lavender, David. Climax at Buena Vista: The Decisive Battle of the Mexican-
American War. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003.
Long, Jeff. Duel of Eagles: The Mexican and U.S. Fight for the Alamo. New
York: Morrow, 1990.
McCaffrey, James M. Army of Manifest Destiny: The American Soldier in the
War with Mexico. New York: New York University Press, 1992.
Matovina, Timothy M. The Alamo Remembered: Tejano Accounts and Perspec-
tives. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1995.
Miller, Robert Ryal. Shamrock and Sword, The Saint Patricks Battalion in the
U.S.-Mexican War. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1989.
Moore, Stephen L. Eighteen Minutes: The Battle of San Jacinto and the Texas In-
dependence Campaign. Dallas: Republic of Texas Press, 2004.
Nance, Joseph Milton. After San Jacinto: The Texas Mexican Frontier, 1836-
1841. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1963.
Nevin, David. Fight and Be Damned! Said Sam Houston. Smithsonian
23, no. 4 (July, 1992).
Nofi, Albert A. The Alamo and the Texas War of Independence, September 30,
1835 to April 21, 1836: Heroes, Myths, and History. New York: Da Capo
Press, 1994.
Olivera, Ruth R., and Liliane Crt. Life in Mexico Under Santa Anna, 1822-
1855. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991.
Peskin, Allan, ed. Volunteers: The Mexican War Journals of Private Richard
Coulter and Sergeant Thomas Barclay, Co. E, Second Pennsylvania Infantry.
Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1991.
Pohl, James W. The Battle of San Jacinto. Austin: Texas State Historical Asso-
ciation, 1989.
Walker, Dale L. Bear Flag Rising: The Conquest of California, 1846. New York:
Forge, 1999.
156 / Mexican War

Weems, John Edward. To Conquer a Peace: The War Between the United States
and Mexico. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1974.
Wharton, Clarence R. San Jacinto: The Sixteenth Decisive Battle. Houston:
Lamar, 1930.
Williams, John Hoyt. Sam Houston: The Life and Times of the Liberator of Texas,
an Authentic American Hero. New York: Promontory Press, 1993.
Winders, Richard Bruce. Mr. Polks Army: The American Military Experience
in the Mexican War. College Station: Texas A&M Press, 1997.
____________. Sacrificed at the Alamo: Tragedy and Triumph in the Texas Revo-
lution. Abilene, Tex.: State House Press, 2004.
Civil War
Civil War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 159
Weapons, Tactics, and Strategies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 175
Conscription . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 191
Censorship During the War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 195
Justice During the War. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 201
U.S. Supreme Court During the War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 206
Native American Combatants in the War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 213
Women in the War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 216

Campaigns, Battles, and Other Events . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 220

October, 1859: Harpers Ferry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 220
April, 1861: Battle of Fort Sumter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 224
July, 1861: First Battle of Bull Run . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 225
February, 1862: Battle of Fort Donelson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 230
March, 1862: Monitor vs. Virginia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 230
April, 1862: Battle of Shiloh . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 234
June-July, 1862: Seven Days Battles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 235
August, 1862: Second Battle of Bull Run . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 237
September, 1862: Battle of Antietam . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 239
October, 1862: Battle of Corinth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 240
December, 1862: Battle of Fredericksburg . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 241
May, 1863: Battle of Chancellorsville . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 243
July, 1863: Battles of Gettysburg and Vicksburg . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 245
September, 1863: Battle of Chickamauga. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 251
November, 1863: Battle of Chattanooga . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 252
May, 1864: Battle of the Wilderness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 253
May, 1864: Battle of Spotsylvania Court House . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 255
June, 1864: Battle of Cold Harbor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 256
June, 1864-April, 1865: Siege of Petersburg . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 258
November, 1864-April, 1865: Shermans March to the Sea . . . . . . . . 259
December, 1864: Battle of Savannah . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 262
December, 1864: Battle of Nashville . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 263
April, 1865: Surrender at Appomattox . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 264

Further Reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 269

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Civil War

At issue: Nature of the U.S. Constitution and national government, states

rights, and slavery
Date: April 12, 1861-May 26, 1865
Location: North America
Combatants: United States of America (the North, or Union) vs. Confeder-
ate States of America (the South)
Principal commanders: Union, Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865); Confederate,
Jefferson Davis (1808-1889)
Principal battles: Fort Sumter, First Bull Run, Fort Donelson, Shiloh, Seven
Pines, Seven Days Battles, Second Bull Run, Antietam, Perryville, Cor-
inth, Fredericksburg, Stones River, Siege of Vicksburg, Chancellorsville,
Gettysburg, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Overland Campaign, Wilder-
ness, Spotsylvania Court House, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, Atlanta,
Nashville, Savannah
Result: A Northern victory that preserved the Union and led to the freeing
of all the nations African American slaves

Decades of conflict and controversy between the North and the South fi-
nally culminated in war in 1861. Longstanding economic, political, social,
and constitutional differences had steadily divided the two areas during
the antebellum period. By 1860, the North had grown increasingly indus-
trial, and the South remained primarily agricultural. The Republican Party
dominated the free states of the North and the West, and the slave states of
the South were solidly Democratic. The majority of Northerners opposed
the spread of slavery, and Southerners wholeheartedly pushed for its ex-
pansion. Northerners believed the national government, the Union of the
states, was indivisible and not dissolvable, and Southerners subscribed to
the doctrine of states rights and the legitimacy of secession. Extremists on
both sides exacerbated tensions in an already charged political environ-
ment until compromise became impossible.

The November, 1860, election of Abraham Lincoln, the Republican
antislavery candidate, precipitated the secession of South Carolina, Geor-
gia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas by February 1,
1861. Representatives for these states met in Montgomery, Alabama, later
that month, formed the Confederate States of America, and demanded that
all federal property in the South be turned over to Confederate authorities.
(continued on page 165)
160 / Civil War

Time Line of the Civil War

Oct. 16-18, 1859 John Brown leads raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now
part of West Virginia).
Nov. 6, 1860 Abraham Lincolns election to the U.S. presidency
triggers the secession of South Carolina.
Dec. 20, 1860 South Carolina secedes from the Union, followed
by Virginia (Apr. 17), Arkansas (May 6), Tennessee
(May 7), and North Carolina (May 20). West Virginia
organizes its own government on June 11 and is ad-
mitted to the Union on June 20, 1863. Maryland, Ken-
tucky, and Missouri eventually join the Union after
bitter contention.
Apr. 12-14, 1861 Battle of Fort Sumter: South Carolinas Palmetto
Guard, under command of General P. G. T. Beaure-
gard, opens fire on Fort Sumter following President
Lincolns announcement that he is sending reinforce-
ments to that garrison. The Civil War begins.
Apr. 15, 1861 Lincoln calls for militiamen: Announcing that an in-
surrection exists, Lincoln calls for a volunteer militia
of 75,000 men for three months service.
Apr. 19, 1861 Blockade of the South: Lincoln announces that the U.S.
will blockade the Confederate shore along the Atlantic
and Gulf coasts. The declaration tacitly acknowledges
existence of a state of war, although the conflict is
still officially considered an insurrection. Lincoln asks
Robert E. Lee to head the Northern army; Lee, consid-
ering his first duty to be to his state, opts to lead the
Virginia militia instead.
July 21, 1861 First Battle of Bull Run: Near Manassas Junction, Vir-
ginia, Union General Irvin McDowell and his green
Union troops are routed by Southern forces under
General Beauregard, reinforced by Joseph E. Johnston
and Stonewall Jackson.
Feb. 11-16, 1862 Battle of Fort Donelson: In Tennessee, Confederate
troops at Fort Donelson under General Nathan Bed-
ford Forrest surrender to General Ulysses S. Grant.
Nashville falls on Feb. 25.
Mar. 6-8, 1862 Battle of Pea Ridge: Northern victory results in Union
control of the bitterly divided state of Missouri.
Civil War / 161

Mar. 9, 1862 Battle of Monitor vs. Virginia: The Souths ship Virginia
(a rebuilt version of the Merrimack) meets the Norths
Monitor in the first battle of two ironclad vessels, revo-
lutionizing naval warfare. The outcome of the battle is
considered a draw.
Mar. 17, 1862 McClellan begins his peninsular campaign: Failing to
move quickly enough for Lincoln, head of the Union
forces George B. McClellan is relieved of general com-
mand and placed in charge of the Army of the Poto-
mac. He ignores Lincolns orders to move directly
against the Confederate capital at Richmond and
launches his own campaign up the peninsula between
the James and York rivers. Despite advancing within
twenty miles of Richmond with superior forces, Mc-
Clellan waits for reinforcements rather than attack
while he has the advantage.
Apr., 1862 Confederate Conscription Act: Passed by the Confed-
eracy, this draft law arouses controversy, especially
because it exempts from the draft anyone who owns
twenty or more slaves.
Apr. 6-7, 1862 Battle of Shiloh: In the northern Mississippi River the-
ater, Union forces under Grant and Confederate forces
under Albert S. Johnston, after a number of battles for
control of the region, clash at Shiloh. The battle is a
two-day slaughter that ultimately results in a South-
ern retreat and Northern exhaustion. Both sides sustain
heavy losses totaling approximately 23,000. Johnston
is killed.
Apr. 28, 1862 Fall of New Orleans: Commander of the West Gulf
Blockading Squadron David G. Farragut destroys most
of the Confederate fleet as he moves up the Missis-
sippi River to bombard New Orleans. Union occupa-
tion of New Orleans is overseen by General Benjamin
F. Butler, whose dictatorial methods arouse contro-
May 25, 1862 Jackson forces Union retreat: Confederate General
Stonewall Jackson pushes Union troops in the
Shenandoah Valley back across the Potomac River and
forces Northern states to send militia to defend Wash-
ington, D.C.

162 / Civil War

Time Line of the Civil Warcontinued

May 31, 1862 Battle of Fair Oaks and Seven Pines: McClellans army,
now within five miles of Richmond but forced by
flooding of the Chicahominy River to split into two
groups, is attacked by General Joseph E. Johnston.
Both sides sustain losses totaling approximately 14,000.
June 25-July 1, 1862 Seven Days Battles: Confederate general Robert E.
Lee resolves to save Richmond, now under Union
threat from McClellan. In a string of engagements,
Stonewall Jackson and J. E. B. Jeb Stuart assist Lee in
driving back Union forces despite the Norths supe-
rior numbers. Casualties for both sides total approxi-
mately 25,000. Marks the end of McClellans peninsu-
lar campaign.
July 17, 1862 Confiscation Act: Congress passes legislation that frees
slaves whose masters serve in the Confederate Army,
but not slaves in the North. Has little practical emanci-
patory effect, but lays a legal foundation for the Eman-
cipation Proclamation.
Aug. 29-30, 1862 Second Battle of Bull Run: Union commander Henry
Halleck sends General John Pope to McClellans aid
near Richmond. Lee, moving to prevent the joining of
the two Union forces, sends Stonewall Jackson to at-
tack Popes troops. The two forces meet at Bull Run,
where the South succeeds in driving the North back to
Washington, D.C.
Sept. 13-15, 1862 Battle of Harpers Ferry: Confederate victory; more
than 12,000 total casualties.
Sept. 17, 1862 Battle of Antietam: Near Sharpsburg, Maryland, Union
troops under McClellan force a Confederate retreat
(under Lee) across the Potomac River. With over 26,000
casualties, the day is the wars bloodiest yet.
Sept. 23, 1862 Emancipation Proclamation: Lincoln releases the
Emancipation Proclamation to the newspapers. The
proclamation states that slaves whose masters are
Confederates as of Jan. 1, 1863, will be free as of that
date. The announcement adds a second objective
to the Union war: liberation of the slaves. In effect,
few Southern slaves see immediate emancipation, al-
though Union troops increase by the addition of Afri-
can Americans to their ranks.
Oct. 3-4, 1862 Battle of Corinth: Union troops resist the Confederate
offensive and hold the Mississippi city of Corinth.
Civil War / 163

Dec. 13, 1862 Battle of Fredericksburg: Exasperated by McClellans

delays and refusals to attack, Lincoln replaces him
with Ambrose E. Burnside. Burnside attacks Confed-
erates at Fredericksburg, Virginia, but sustains severe
losses and a defeat. Lincoln replaces Burnside with Jo-
seph Hooker.
Dec. 31, 1862 Battle of Murfreesboro: Confederate general Braxton
Bragg is forced to withdraw from Tennessee by Union
general William S. Rosecrans.
Mar. 3, 1863 Conscription Act: Congress passes the first federal
draft law. The creation of a national military incites
controversy regarding individual and states rights.
May 1-4, 1863 Battle of Chancellorsville: Lee, holding position below
the Rappahannock River since Fredericksburg, is at-
tacked by Hooker. Lee divides his contingent in two,
sending Stonewall Jackson through the dense area
called the Wilderness to strike one flank of the Union.
Results in a Union retreat but costs the South nearly
13,000 casualtiesincluding the death of Stonewall
May 18-July 4, 1863 Siege of Vicksburg: Union general Ulysses S. Grant
takes Vicksburg, on the Mississippi River, from the
command of Confederate general J. C. Pemberton af-
ter a grueling six-week siege. Secures the Mississippi
River for the North.
July 1-3, 1863 Battle of Gettysburg: Union forces under General
George G. Meade rout Confederates under Lee; each
side sustains heavy casualties. The casualties are the
worst yet, but the battle is a turning point: After a
string of Southern victories, the North now has the up-
per hand.
July 13-15, 1863 In New York City draft riots result in 128 killed
mostly blacks at the hands of Irish American immi-
Sept. 19-20, 1863 Battle of Chickamauga: Union generals William Rose-
crans and George Thomas engage Confederate gener-
als Braxton Bragg and James Longstreet; Both sides
suffer heavy casualties. Union troops retreat to Chat-
tanooga, where they are besieged by the Confederate

164 / Civil War

Time Line of the Civil Warcontinued

Nov. 19, 1863 Gettysburg Address: Lincoln delivers one of the brief-
est and most memorable speeches in history at the
dedication of Gettysburg Cemetery in honor of the
Gettysburg dead.
Nov. 23-25, 1863 Battle of Chattanooga: Now in command of the west-
ern armies, Grant joins forces with Generals William
Tecumseh Sherman, Joseph Hooker, and George
Thomas to push Confederate general Braxton Bragg
south from Tennessee. Bragg is driven off Lookout
Mountain but entrenches his troops on Missionary
Ridge; Union forces under Thomas then storm the
ridge and rout the Southern forces. This victory in
the Mississippi region drives a wedge into the South,
splitting the Confederacy.
Dec. 8, 1863 Lincolns Reconstruction plan: Lincoln announces a
plan for Reconstruction based on amnesty for Con-
federates who take a loyalty oath and recognition of
Southern states in which 10 percent of the population
has taken the oath and in which the state government
has accepted emancipation of the slaves. Radical Re-
construction, instituted in 1867, will prove much more
painful for the South.
May 5-7, 1864 Battle of the Wilderness: In the thickly overgrown area
near the site of the Chancellorsville battle one year be-
fore, the first confrontation in an unrelenting month of
warfare pits Lee against Grant. The battle is a tactical
draw and each side sustains heavy losses as well; ca-
sualties total more than 28,000. Wounded soldiers left
in the Wilderness are burned alive in a fire fueled by
dead leaves and other debris.
May 8-20, 1864 Battle of Spotsylvania Court House: The battles end in
a draw, but both sides suffer heavy casualties.
June 3-12, 1864 Battle of Cold Harbor: Grant, pushing toward Rich-
mond, suffers substantial casualties and is accused of
coldly sending his men into one of the most murder-
ous engagements of the war.
June 15, 1864- Siege of Petersburg: After a protracted siege, Union
Apr. 3, 1865 troops seize Petersburg.
Civil War / 165

June 27, 1864 Battle of Kennesaw Mountain: In Georgia, Joseph E.

Johnston defeats Union general William Tecumseh
Sherman, who has been in charge of the Unions west-
ern war while Grant is at Petersburg. Sherman will
rally to move toward Atlanta.
July 20-Sept. 2, Battle of Atlanta: After engaging Confederate gen-
1864 eral John Bell Hood in July outside Atlanta, Sher-
man forces the South to evacuate the city. This Union
victory breaks the Norths despondency over the stag-
nating siege of Petersburg and helps Lincoln win re-
election against unfavorable odds. Sherman will com-
pletely destroy Atlanta before leaving it on his march
towards Savannah.
Nov. 15, 1864- Shermans March to the Sea: On the principle that de-
Apr. 18, 1865 feat of the South requires defeat of civilian supplies
and infrastructure as well as troops, Sherman ruth-
lessly and methodically destroys everything in his
pathanimals, crops, buildings, equipmentas he
moves toward Savannah on Georgias Atlantic coast.
Dec. 9-21, 1864 Battle of Savannah: Sherman eventually seizes Savan-
nah, Georgias largest city and a significant port. Sher-
man then continues his trail of destruction into the
Dec. 15-16, 1864 Battle of Nashville: Union forces under Generals John
M. Schofield and George H. Thomas destroy Confed-
erate general John Bell Hoods forces and secure Ten-
nessee for the North.
Apr. 9, 1865 Lees surrender at Appomattox Courthouse: The Con-
federacys surrender formally ends the Civil War.

The Norths refusal to relinquish several forts within the Confederacy led
to the outbreak of hostilities in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina.
The war began when Southern artillery units attacked and captured Fort
Sumter (April 12-14, 1861).
Following the surrender of Fort Sumter, Lincoln declared a naval block-
ade of Southern ports and called 75,000 militiamen into national service.
Quotas were assigned to all the states still in the Union, including the slave
states of the Upper South. Compelled to decide whether to use force to
bring the seven seceded states back into the Union or to support their sis-
ter slave states, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina se-
ceded in April and May and joined what became the eleven-state Confed-
eracy. Lincoln, fearing further defections, labored effectively to keep the
166 / Civil War

four northern-most slave statesDelaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and

Missouriin the Union, thereby adding to the Norths great numerical su-
periority. Although the Union had more men, more industry, more re-
sources, and more of almost everything needed to wage war, the Confeder-
acy attracted many of the best officers in the prewar regular army. As a
result, the South early on enjoyed an advantage in military leadership.

The Fighting Begins

Both sides expected the war to be a brief, relatively painless, and suc-
cessful affair; however, despite these expectations, only one major battle
was fought in 1861. Near Manassas Junction southwest of Washington,
D.C., Union forces under Irvin McDowell attacked Confederates along
Bull Run (July 21, 1861). The armies, though small and inexperienced,
fought valiantly, but the late-afternoon arrival of reinforcements allowed
the Confederates to rout McDowell and send his army fleeing back to the
nations capital. Lincoln, who always suspected the war would be a long,
hard-fought struggle, soon thereafter called for 500,000 volunteers to serve
for up to three years. The Confederacy also sought long-term volunteers,
but as the wild enthusiasm for war waned, each of the rival governments
would eventually be forced to resort to conscription. Lincoln replaced

The raising of the Confederate flag over Fort Sumter signaled the start of the Civil War.
(To avoid confusion on battlefields, the design of the Confederate flag was later changed
from the Stars and Bars to the more familiar Southern Cross battle flags.) (National
Civil War / 167

From the moment he was inaugurated

president in March, 1861, until
shortly before he was assassinated in
April, 1865, Abraham Lincoln strug-
gled to keep the Union together. He
died a martyr to his cause but has
been ever afterward remembered as
the savior of the Union.
(Library of Congress)

McDowell with George B. McClellan who would command the rapidly as-
sembling army around Washington, the Army of the Potomac. Despite re-
peated pleas and orders from his commander in chief, McClellan refused
to advance until he, and he alone, was ready. That would not be until
March, 1862.
No major battles occurred in the western theater during 1861, but Union
forces were active in the critical border states, especially in Kentucky. Oc-
cupation of northern Kentucky in late 1861 allowed the Union forces the
following year to assail the center of the long Confederate defensive line
that stretched from the Mississippi River to the Cumberland Gap. Ulysses S.
Grant, recognizing the strategic value of the Tennessee and Cumberland
Rivers, seized control of these crucial waterways with his February capture
of Fort Henry (February 6, 1862) and Fort Donelson (February 11-16, 1862).
He pushed southward along the Tennessee until struck unexpectedly by
Confederates under Albert Sidney Johnston near Pittsburg Landing. The
ensuing two-day Battle of Shiloh (April 6-7, 1862) ended as a tactical draw;
however, the battered Confederates were forced to retreat. The unprece-
dented casualties at Shiloh shocked all Americans. Almost 25,000 Ameri-
can soldiers fell, making it the most severe, costliest battle in U.S. history to
that point. Shiloh merely hinted of things to come.
The Union concentrated its western forces, took the rail center of Cor-
inth, Mississippi (October 3-4, 1862), and began eying Vicksburg. Then, ac-
tion in the west shifted to eastern Tennessee where Braxton Bragg and his
168 / Civil War

Union general Ulysses S. Grant at

his Cold Harbor camp in June, 1864.
(National Archives)

Southern army were moving northward into Kentucky. The North hur-
riedly dispatched Don Carlos Buell to Louisville to meet the Confederate
threat. At Perryville (October 8, 1862), Bragg and Buell clashed in a strange
conflict that saw only small portions of the two armies actually engaged
because of an acoustic shadow. A drawn battle, Perryville turned into a
strategic defeat after Bragg retreated back into Tennessee. When Buell re-
fused to pursue, Lincoln replaced him with William S. Rosecrans. Near
Murfreesboro along Stones River (December 31, 1862-January 2, 1863),
Rosecrans and Bragg fought a vicious three-day battle that earned the dis-
tinction of having the highest combined casualty rate of the war, with 32
percent of the combatants killed, wounded, or missing. Although Stones
River ended inconclusively, Bragg withdrew toward Chattanooga.

McClellans Offensive
Back in the east, 1862 began auspiciously but ended miserably. Mc-
Clellans long-anticipated offensive on Richmond began in March when he
landed his army at the base of the peninsula formed by the James and York
Rivers. By mid-May, he had advanced to within five miles of the Confeder-
ate capital. Recognizing that McClellans plans to employ his artillery and
engineering skills to capture Richmond would probably succeed, Joseph
Eggleston Johnston attacked McClellan at Seven Pines or Fair Oaks (May
31-June 1, 1862). He made no headway and was severely wounded, but
Johnstons aggressiveness disturbed McClellanespecially in conjunction
Civil War / 169

with Stonewall Jacksons brilliant spring campaign in the Shenandoah Val-

ley, which prevented troops originally assigned to McClellan from reach-
ing him at Richmond.
Always guilty of overestimating the strength of his opponent and un-
willing to commit his forces fully when engaged, McClellan never took the
offensive around Richmond. Robert E. Lee, the fortuitous choice to replace
Johnston, attacked in late June, initiating the Seven Days Battles (June 25-
July 1, 1862). Despite his numerical superiority, the Union commander
steadily retreated across the peninsula until he assumed an impregnable
position around Harrisons Landing on the James. Stalemate developed.
Disappointed by McClellans lack of aggressiveness and inactivity, Lin-
coln began assembling another army in Northern Virginia to march over-
land against Richmond. He appointed John Pope to command the scat-
tered forces in the region as well as units being withdrawn from McClellan.
Lee, in mid-August, gambling that McClellan would not attack, marched
northward to meet Popes growing threat, and at Second Bull Run (August
29-30, 1862) he decisively defeated the inept Pope. Hoping to capitalize on
his summer success, Lee invaded Maryland the following week; how-

General Robert E. Lee in a photo-

graph made by Mathew Brady shortly
after the conclusion of the Civil War.
(National Archives)
170 / Civil War

ever, when the two armies fought near Sharpsburg along Antietam Creek
(September 17, 1862), Lee faced disaster. Had the recently restored-to-
command McClellan moved more quickly, had he fully utilized his two-to-
one advantage in a coordinated assault, or had he renewed his attack the
next day, he probably would have destroyed Lees army. He did not, and
thus Antietam ended as a draw, allowing Lee to retreat into Virginia.

The Momentum Shifts

The impact of Antietam cannot be overemphasized. This day of unprec-
edented carnage cost the two armies more than 26,000 casualties. The
blunting of Lees invasion also doused European enthusiasm for enter-
ing the war on the Souths side, but even more important, the draw at
Antietam gave Lincoln the opportunity he had been seeking to issue his
preliminary Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. His broadening of the
war from a political struggle to restore the Union into a moral crusade to
free the slaves virtually eliminated the possibility of foreign intervention
or recognition. Still, 1862 ended tragically for the North when Ambrose E.
Burnside, McClellans successor, futilely sacrificed his army at Fredericks-
burg (December 13, 1862). This devastating defeat sent morale in the army
and the North plummeting to its lowest level of the war.
Union plans in the west in 1863 centered on Vicksburg on the Missis-
sippi River and Chattanooga in eastern Tennessee. Grant, who began oper-
ations against Vicksburg in October, 1862, made several unsuccessful at-

Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of the

novel Uncle Toms Cabin (1852),
which exposed the horrors of slavery
and helped arouse the wrath of the
North against the South. When Abra-
ham Lincoln met Stowe in 1862, he
reportedly said to her, So you are the
little woman who wrote the book that
started this great war!
(National Archives)
Civil War / 171

Major Sites in the Civil War, 1861-1865

Pittsburgh Harrisburg Philadelphia
Wheeling Antietam Baltimore M A RY-

City Cincinnati
WEST Washington, D.C.


Lexington Chancellorsville


St. Louis Louisville Charleston Peninsular

IN campaign



Cairo Appomattox Petersburg Monitor
Columbus Bowling Green Courthouse Virginia
Island No. 10
Pea Ridge Fort Donelson Raleigh
Fort Henry Nashville
TENNE Murfreesboro
ARKANSAS Chattanooga Charlotte



Little Rock Corinth Chickamauga Atlanta AR Wilmington E


Tupelo NA

Jenkins M Columbia


Ferry Augusta
Mi s s i

Fort Sumter


Shreveport Vicksburg Savannah Port Royal
Fort Pulaski

Jackson Fort McAllister




Baton Jacksonville
L St. Augustine Atlantic
New Orleans



D Ocean

G u l f o f M e x i c o

tempts to take the river fortress, but in the spring of 1863, he conducted an
unconventional campaign to capture Vicksburg (May 18-July 4, 1863). Se-
vering his lines of supply and communication and fighting south and east
of Vicksburg, Grant successfully drove the Confederates back into the city
where he laid siege to the garrison. A six-week siegeperhaps the most
grueling of the warended on Independence Day when the Confederates
surrendered Vicksburg. With the fall of Port Hudson, Louisiana, five days
later, the Union conquered the Mississippi River line, dividing the Confed-
eracy by cutting off the trans-Mississippi west.
In eastern Tennessee, Rosecrans, though often slow to advance, con-
ducted a brilliant campaign of maneuver during the summer of 1863. He
first forced Bragg to abandon a strong position near Tullahoma and then,
amazingly, compelled the Confederates to retreat from Chattanooga with-
out a fight in early September. The two armies finally came to blows in
northwestern Georgia at Chickamauga (September 19-20, 1863). A Confed-
erate breakthrough on the second day threatened to destroy the Union
army, but a resolute holding action by the George H. Thomas allowed most
172 / Civil War

of Rosecranss men to escape to Chattanooga. Bragg pursued and laid

siege to the city as effectively as possible given the terrain and the size of
his army.
In October, following his appointment to overall command in the west,
Grant relieved Rosecrans and assumed personal control at Chattanooga.
He reopened supply lines and assembled a large army to break the siege.
During the battles for Chattanooga (November 23-25, 1863), elements from
three Union armiesTennessee, Mississippi, and Potomaccombined to
drive Braggs forces away from the gateway city and into winter quarters
in Georgia. The Union controlled all Tennessee.

The Army of the Potomac

In the east in 1863, Joseph Hooker reorganized and revitalized the
Army of the Potomac and moved against Lee in late April. His excellent
plan to compel Lee to fall back or to give battle under unfavorable condi-
tions disintegrated when Hooker lost his nerve near Chancellorsville (May
1-4, 1863). He surrendered the initiative to the bold Confederate and re-
treated, humiliated in defeat. Having just bested an army twice as large as
his, Lee decided, despite the death of Stonewall Jackson, that he must
again invade the North. Recognizing that Confederate military manpower
was at its peak in the spring of 1863 and that the fighting had to be taken
out of war-ravaged Virginia, Lee marched into Pennsylvania, hoping a de-
cisive victory on Northern soil would attract foreign intervention or break
the Norths will to fight.
The two major eastern armies met at Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863) and
fought the bloodiest battle of the entire war. More than 51,000 fell during
the three days of combat. Following the repulse of a charge led by George
E. Pickett, Lee retired to Virginia, painfully aware that his 28,000 casual-
ties had broken the offensive backbone of his army, confining him to
the strategic defensive in the future. Indeed, Gettysburg, Vicksburg, and
Chattanoogaall decisive Union victorieseliminated the Confederacys
chance of winning the war on the battlefield. Independence was not im-
possible because the North might still abandon its effort to restore the
Union, but by the end of 1863, the Northern military held the upper hand.

Grant Takes Command

As the war entered its fourth year in the spring of 1864, Lincoln ap-
pointed a new general in chief. In Grant, Lincoln finally found a man who
shared his strategic views, who would use all his resources to accomplish
his goals, and who would drive the Union to victory. In early May, Grant
initiated five separate offensives, the two largest and most important being
Civil War / 173

the Army of the Potomacs advance against the Army of Northern Virginia
and William T. Shermans move against Johnston in Georgia. The Over-
land Campaign in Virginia (May 4-June 12, 1864) began in early May.
Although Grant attempted a campaign of maneuver, Lees skillful
countering of all Grants flanking moves in the month and a half that fol-
lowed turned their combat into a brutal slugging match that saw the hard-
est-fought, longest-sustained fighting of the war. Both armies suffered ter-
rible losses in this war of attrition; however, the North could replace its
casualties, the South could not. At each battlethe Wilderness (May 5-7,
1864), Spotsylvania Court House (May 8-20, 1864), the North Anna River
(May 23-26, 1864), Totopotomy Creek (May 26-31, 1864), and Cold Harbor
(June 1-3, 1864)Lee stopped Grant momentarily, but the two armies
moved steadily closer to Richmond.
The Union attempt in mid-June to slip south of the James River and
seize Petersburg, twenty miles south of the capital, would have succeeded
had not Union commanders mistakes and lack of aggressiveness enabled
the Confederates to rush troops to the threatened area and stave off disas-
ter. With room to maneuver gone, the armies constructed extensive trench
networks around Richmond and Petersburg (June 15, 1864-April 3, 1865)
and a ten-month siege followed.

Shermans Atlanta Campaign

While fighting slowed in Virginia, Sherman matched wits with Johnston
in the Atlanta campaign (July 20-September 2, 1864). Sherman, advancing
from Chattanooga in early May, repeatedly tried to outflank the Confeder-
ates, but Johnston thwarted each move. Casualties in this cat-and-mouse
game of maneuver were light compared to the Virginia slugfest; however,
the two western armies moved ever closer to Atlanta.
In mid-July, Confederate president Jefferson Davis, believing that
Johnston would not fight, removed him from command. John Bell Hood,
Johnstons successor, assumed the offensive but could not defeat Sherman,
and on September 1, he evacuated Atlanta. The Union occupation of the
city the next day provided Lincoln with a powerful boost in his bid for re-
A strange situation developed after the fall of Atlanta. Although badly
outnumbered, Hood launched a desperate invasion of Tennessee in an ef-
fort to draw Union forces out of Atlanta and divert Sherman from his plan
to march to the sea. Hoods offensive ended disastrously at Nashville (De-
cember 15-16, 1864), where his army was effectively destroyed. Sherman,
on the other hand, brought a new psychological dimension to the war
when he cut a sixty-mile-wide swath of destruction through the defense-
174 / Civil War

Confederate president Jefferson Davis

in a photograph taken by Mathew
Brady before the Civil War began.
(National Archives)

less region between Atlanta and Savannah. He believed that his wholesale,
unhindered devastation of the areas resources and the Confederacys in-
ability to protect the Southern heartland would seriously damage, if not
destroy, Southerners will to resist. After capturing Savannah (December 9-
21, 1864) in late December, Shermans army rested and refitted and then
marched northward into the Carolinas toward Grant in Virginia.

The Union Victory

The four years of blood-letting ended in the spring of 1865. Grant finally
turned Lees flank west of Petersburg on April 1, cutting the Confederate
armys last major railroad supply line. Heavy Union attacks the next day
all along a more than forty-mile front necessitated Lees hurried evac-
uation of Petersburg and the Confederate capital. What ensued was a
weeklong chase that concluded at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9,
1865, when Lee surrendered to Grant. Other Confederate armies would
surrender in North Carolina on April 26, in Alabama on May 4, and in the
trans-Mississippi west on May 26. The war was over.
The Union victory vindicated Northerners interpretation of the Consti-
tution, ended Southerners dreams of independence, and ensured emanci-
pation of all slaves. The war preserved the Union, but reconstructing the
nation would be a difficult, divisive process.
Ralph L. Eckert

Weapons, Tactics, and Strategies

Long considered a watershed in American history, the Civil War was also a turn-
ing point in the execution of warfare. Although it did not begin as a radically new
kind of war, this conflict developed into the first total modern war, in which farm-
ers, artisans, and businessmen played as important a role as soldiers and sailors. It
was the first time that a nation, which was passing through the Industrial Revolu-
tion, put to large-scale military use new scientific discoveries and modern techno-
logical advances.

During the Civil War, breech-loading rifles replaced smoothbore muskets,

ironclads replaced wooden ships, and the telegraph replaced dispatch
bearers. Military leaders made use of such new weapons as land and naval
mines, machine guns, armored railroad cars, submarines, and aerial recon-
naissance from anchored hot-air balloons. The Civil War was also the first
war to be extensively photographed, the first to combine weapons technol-
ogies with mass production, and the first to transport large numbers of
men and equipment over long distances via railroad.

Political Considerations
The Civil War was rooted in the political paradoxes of the Revolution-
ary War of 1775-1783, which had been a civil war as well as a war for inde-
pendence. The American Revolution created the worlds leading democ-
racy, which was also a slave-based republic. Founders, such as George
Washington and Thomas Jefferson, established a union of states in which
white liberty and black slavery coexisted. In the decades following the
Revolution, Northern states instituted programs of emancipation, whereas
Southern states, spurred by the productivity of the cotton gin and the de-
mands of European textile factories for raw cotton, promoted the expan-
sion of slavery.
According to many scholars, the increasing political, economic, and cul-
tural tensions between Northern and Southern states made violent conflict
between these antagonistic civilizations inevitable. Others see the Civil
War as a constitutional or moral struggle, pitting libertarians against aboli-
tionists. Still others see the crisis in terms of technological history. The
Northern business class, friendly toward the technology that had made it
wealthy and powerful, was hostile toward a Southern plutocracy wedded
to an outdated agricultural society that resisted industrialization.
Although the war was ultimately decided by both military and techno-
logical achievements as well as by industrial and agricultural production,
176 / Civil War

the political context influencing these developments was also important.

In terms of international politics both the North and South had strong ties
of economic interdependence with European countries. For example, both
Great Britain and France relied on raw cotton from the South to keep their
textile mills productive, but these countries also had extensive investments
in Northern land and railroads.
In terms of domestic politics, the North and South, though claiming to
be equally dedicated to the principles of the Declaration of Independence
and the United States Constitution, had significant political differences
that would influence military developments. The Confederate leaders may
have seen themselves as the true heirs to the Founders of the United States,
but the Souths material and military weaknesses forced Confederate pres-
ident Jefferson Davis to reduce the rights of the seceded states in order to
expand the power of his central government. For example, he forced
through the Confederate Congress laws that resulted in the continents
first military draft, the impressment of goods and labor, and the suspen-
sion of certain civil and economic libertiesall to help secure the new re-

Northern Actions
For Northerners, the relative unanimity that followed the outbreak of
hostilities in 1861 quickly dissolved as leaders debated a series of contro-
versial war measures, including conscription and emancipation. The mili-
tary became enmeshed in politics when soldiers were required to capture
and imprison influential CopperheadsNortherners who sympathized
with Southern secession. Following the instructions of Republican politi-
cians, some state militia arrested draft dodgers and dissenting newspaper
editors. Particularly troublesome to many was the brutal suppression of
the 1863 Irish-immigrant riots against the draft in New York City. Because
the wealthy could buy substitutes, many less advantaged Irish felt that the
federal government was failing to live up to its egalitarian ideals.
President Abraham Lincoln did try to engage an important group of
Americans in the war effort when, in March, 1863, he signed an act of Con-
gress creating the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). The Academys
charter required its members, whenever called upon by government agen-
cies, to investigate and report on any subject of science or technology. Dur-
ing its first year and a half the NAS had committees studying such impor-
tant military matters as magnetic deviation on iron ships, the protection of
iron vessels from corrosion, the preparation of accurate wind and current
charts, and the development of efficient steam engines. Although the NAS
did much to encourage the invention and production of weapons that am-
Weapons, Tactics, and Strategies / 177

plified the abilities of Northern armies to inflict damage on Southern sol-

diers, it failed to improve significantly medical techniques and facilities,
with the result that disease killed twice as many Union soldiers as Confed-
erate weapons did.

The Balance of Power

The Civil War began with the fall of Fort Sumter in April, 1861. At this
time, the Union possessed overwhelming superiority in both manpower
and material resources needed to conduct war in an industrial age. Al-
though neither the South nor the North had made any special preparations
for a prolonged war, Northerners had many advantages over Southerners,
which politicians tried to turn into the means of victory. The North, exclu-
sive of the border and far western states, surpassed the South in popula-
tion, with 18.5 million Northerners to 5.5 million Southern whites (there
were also 3.5 million black slaves).
The disproportion in industrial strength was even greater: the North
had more than 100,000 factories with more than one million workers,
whereas the South had approximately 20,600 factories with only 111,000
workers. Northern industrial output was valued at $1.5 billion; Southern
output was valued at $155 million. Because the Civil War would be the first
modern war, iron and steel would become the basic material for the pro-
duction of munitions, railroads, bridges, and other equipment and struc-
tures. The total output of pig iron in the United States in 1860 was about
860,000 tons, of which the South produced only 26,000 tons, or 3 percent.
Pennsylvania alone manufactured 560,000 tons of iron, which helps to ex-
plain Southern raids into this state. In 1860 there were 30,500 miles of rail-
road track in the United States, 72 percent of which lay in the North.
In sum, political decisions and developments affecting technology, in-
dustry, and the military helped shape the course of the Civil War and
its resolution. Although the South was outmanned, outgunned, and out-
produced by the North, a case can be made that the Confederacys initial
success and ultimate failure owed much to such intangibles as moral and
religious concerns and civilian and military morale. Some Southern sym-
pathizers claimed that the South had waged this war in defense of an aris-
tocratic republic, and only the overwhelming force of Northern numbers
and arms had defeated it. Certain Northern sympathizers saw the war pri-
marily as a moral crusade against slavery. Lincoln himself believed that he
was using the men, matriel, and weapons at his disposal to save the
Union. Even his Emancipation Proclamation, which became effective Janu-
ary 1, 1863, actually freed no slaves but declared that only slaves in rebel-
lious states would be freed. After the war, emancipation reshaped Ameri-
178 / Civil War

can race relations, but during the war Lincolns political actions resulted in
increased federal power over civilians and the military.
The significance of the Civil War on the military has been a central con-
cern to scholars. Some have emphasized the role of traditional weapons
and techniques during most of the war, whereas others have located the
center of this wars modernity in its evolution into a total war. Both of these
views came under criticism in the 1980s, when some scholars argued that
technology, in the form of new rifles and other weapons, actually made lit-
tle difference on small-scale Civil War battlefields. Others questioned the
notion of the Civil War as the first total war, claiming that military leaders
rarely destroyed civilian lives and property in any systematic way. These
interpretations and reinterpretations of a war that has been so extensively
studied and so charged with moral, religious, and political meaning are
likely to continue.

Military Goals and Achievements

The military goals of both the Confederacy and the Union can be simply
stated. The South was fighting for independence, the North for restoration
of the Union. The Confederacy was thus forced into a war whose ultimate
goal was the defense of its own territory. Although it did occasionally ex-
pand the war into the enemys territory in the west and north, that was a

The photographic outfit of Mathew Brady, who was the leading photographer of the Civil
War. (National Archives)
Weapons, Tactics, and Strategies / 179

matter of operational strategy rather than national policy. The Norths

goals were different from those of the South and more difficult to accom-
plish. In order to restore the Union, Lincoln had to destroy the Confeder-
acy. To force a new country of several million people to cease to exist is a
much more daunting task than to protect such a country from external at-
tacks. At the start of the war, slaverys abolition was not one of the Norths
military goals. Both Lincoln and the Congress were explicit in asserting
that they wanted to restore the Union without interfering with slavery.
Military aims guided military achievements. To preserve its indepen-
dence, the Confederacy built an army but did not want to use it: It wanted
only to be left alone. In contrast the North had to be aggressive. Unless Lin-
coln could compel the rebellious states to return to the Union, he would
lose the war. The Union was initially successful in achieving some of its
goals. With the aid of military force it was able to keep the border states of
Maryland, Missouri, and Kentucky in the Union, but because of the small
number of Union sympathizers in the eleven seceded states, Northern ar-
mies eventually had to invade the Confederacys territory to destroy its ar-
mies and government.
Despite the Norths manpower and material advantages, the initial mil-
itary achievements in the Civil War were primarily Southern. The Confed-
erates won several early battles, helped by their excellent generals and the
introduction of new weapons. After the Battle of Antietam in September of
1862, Union leaders shifted to a defensive strategy in the East, accepting a
temporary stalemate in Virginia, but became more aggressive in the West.
By 1863 the Union had achieved control of the Mississippi River, effec-
tively dividing the Confederacy. Confederate general Robert E. Lee then
embarked on an invasion of the North by crossing into Pennsylvania. After
its defeat at Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863), however, the rebel army had to re-
turn to Virginia. The Union achieved a second major military goal in 1863
with its occupation of East Tennessee. In early 1864 Ulysses S. Grant was
promoted to general-in-chief of the Union forces, and he embarked on a
war of attrition to subdue Lees army. General William T. Sherman, Grants
replacement in the West, was able to capture Atlanta in the summer of 1864
and then march through Georgia to the sea, effectively splitting the Con-
federacy into still smaller pieces. By April 9, 1865, the war was over.

Weapons, Uniforms, and Armor

Despite its reputation as the first modern war, the Civil War was actu-
ally fought with both old and new weapons. During the wars early years
many soldiers were issued old flintlock or smoothbore muskets. In 1860
American arsenals held more than 500,000 small arms, and when the war
180 / Civil War

started, 135,000 of these were confiscated by the South. Only 10,000 of

these guns, however, were modern rifles. The two great government ar-
mories were at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, and Springfield, Massachusetts.
The North and South exchanged control of Harpers Ferry numerous times
during the conflict, and so its production of weapons was hampered,
whereas the Springfield armory was able to produce about two million ri-
fles during the four years of the war. These Springfield rifles, single-shot
muzzle-loaders, became the most widely used weapon of the U.S. Army.
The Confederacy found weapons to be in short supply, particularly
early in the war. In 1861 the weapons collected from citizens and confis-
cated from federal armories were insufficient to arm the increasing num-
bers of recruits. The Souths output of small arms measured in the hun-
dreds rather than the thousands, hence the need for European purchases.
However, lack of funds, competition from the North, and difficulty of ship-
ping across the Northern blockade handicapped the Souths attempts to
acquire arms for its troops. Only 50,000 arms had reached the South from
Europe by August of 1862. The situation improved later in the war, and by
the wars end the Souths Ordnance Bureau had imported some 330,000
arms, mostly Enfield rifles, through the blockade.
The North was in a much better position than the South to arm its
troops. The federal government was able to acquire arms from several pri-
vate armories, such as the Colt Arms Works at Hartford, Connecticut, in
addition to the arsenal at Springfield. The North also possessed supplies of
saltpeter for gunpowder, lead for cartridges, and copper for percussion
caps. Furthermore, three cannon factories were located in the North: at
South Boston, Massachusetts; West Point, New York; and Pittsburgh,
The war created a demand for improved and efficient weapons, which
were supplied by American inventors. The basic infantry weapon of both
North and South was the rifled musket, and although it resembled the
muskets of earlier wars, it actually incorporated several modifications that
transformed its performance. Smoothbore muskets had a killing range of
about 50 yards, whereas rifled muskets could kill at 500 yards. Most of
these rifles were muzzle-loaders, but a French officer, Claude-tienne
Mini, had devised a bullet with a hollowed base that allowed it to expand
when fired, forming a tight fit as it left the barrel. This Mini ball, so named
despite its cylindrical shape, vastly increased the range and accuracy of the
new rifled muskets. The Mini ball and rifled musket were responsible for
over 80 percent of battlefield casualties during the Civil War.
The South produced about 600,000 rifles during the war; the North im-
ported about 400,000 and manufactured another 1,700,000. Although a
Weapons, Tactics, and Strategies / 181

single-shot, breech-loading rifle had been developed at the Harpers Ferry

armory just before the war, large numbers of these breech-loading weap-
ons became available only late in the war. Repeating rifles, used mainly by
the cavalry, were also developed. Percussion caps, which were reliable in
all kinds of weather, improved the rate of fire and added to the range and
accuracy of the rifles. These improved weapons had the effect of extending
the killing zone in front of a line of soldiers.
Just as small arms were at a transitional stage at the beginning of the
war, so, too, was artillery. Cannon were both smoothbore and rifled, with
rifled cannon barrels becoming more widely adopted. During the four
years of the conflict, nearly one-half of the Union cannon, but only one-
third of Confederate cannon, were rifled. Rifled barrels gave projectiles
greater distance, velocity, and accuracy. Cannon were muzzle-loaded with
various projectiles, including solid shot and explosive shells such as canis-
ters. These canisters, which killed more men than all other artillery rounds
combined, were metallic cylinders packed with musket balls, nails, or
metal scraps that, when explosively propelled from cannon, scattered their
lethal pellets over a wide area.
At the start of the war, the U.S. Army had about 4,200 cannon, most
of which were heavy pieces in coastal fortifications; only 167 were field
artillery. The Union army used 7,892 cannon in the war, compared with
more than four million small firearms. These data imply that the Civil
War was basically an infantry war, in which artillery played a support-
ing role. Numbers can be deceiving, however; artillery, when properly
used, was often highly effective. Union artillery was superior to its Con-
federate counterpart in terms of numbers, quality, maintenance, and
skilled use.

If hit in the head or chest by bullets or shrapnel, infantry soldiers often
died. The Mini ball shattered bones, shredded tendons, and mangled ma-
jor organs beyond repair. Arm and leg wounds frequently required ampu-
tation. Soldiers wounded but not killed on the battlefield frequently suc-
cumbed to infections in camp hospitals. On the Northern side, the total
medical casualties recorded from May 1, 1861, to June 30, 1866, were
6,454,834. Of this number, at least 195,627 died. If the 425,274 cases due to
battle wounds and injuries (and the subsequent 38,115 deaths) are sub-
tracted from the total medical casualties, the remainder, constituting the
diseases, numbered 6,029,560 cases, and 157,512 deaths. Southern casual-
ties exhibited a similar pattern, but Confederate medical data are so incom-
plete and disordered that it is impossible to be specific.
182 / Civil War

Because of its weaknesses in small arms, artillery, and medical care, the
South had greater incentives than the North to develop new weapons. For
example, early in the war a Confederate general introduced land mines,
and a Confederate captain invented a machine gun. The first use of land
mines in war took place during a delaying action that the Confederate
army fought near Williamsburg, Virginia, on May 5, 1862. To cover his
withdrawal to Richmond, General Gabriel J. Rains ordered 10-inch shells
to be buried in the road, with strings attached to the fuses. Union cavalry
set off these buried shells, causing casualties and panic.
A breech-loading machine gun, invented by Confederate captain R. S.
Williams, was first used at the Battle of Seven Pines, or Fair Oaks (May 31-
June 1, 1862). This unwieldy weapon, weighing 275 pounds, with an am-
munition box of 600 pounds, was pulled by one horse and operated by
three men. Operators turned a crank that fed bullets from a hopper into the
breech, and the gun fired these at the rate of twenty to forty per minute,
with a range of 2,000 yards. When, in October of 1863, the Confederates
brought six of these machine guns into action at the Battle of Blue Springs,
Tennessee, the torrent of bullets caused mass confusion in the opposing
Union army. However, the Williams machine guns were prone to malfunc-
tion and saw little action in the remainder of the war. The same was true of
a similar machine gun invented in 1862 by Richard Gatling of Indiana. The
multibarreled Gatling gun could fire 250 shots a minute, but its unreliabil-
ity meant that it was only minimally used by the North.

Naval Weapons
A new weapon that did have significant use in the Civil War was
the ironclad warship. The ironclads advent came at a time of rapid naval
transitionfrom sail to steam, side-wheel to screw propeller, and thick
wood sides to iron armor. The first Confederate ironclad, the CSS Virginia,
quickly proved its effectiveness. This experimental craft was built from the
scuttled USS Merrimack, which was raised, armored with two layers of
thick iron plates, armed with six 9-inch guns, and fitted with a heavy cast-
iron prow for ramming. The renamed Virginia was designed to break the
Union blockade at Hampton Roads, Virginia, and on March 8, 1862, it sent
four large Union warships to the bottom of the channel without sustaining
any damage.
Union spies had alerted Northern officials to the construction of the CSS
Virginia, and Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles engaged Captain John
Ericsson, a brilliant engineer, to construct an ironclad in response to this
Southern threat. The USS Monitor, which was less than one-third the size of
the Virginia, had a distinctive revolving turret containing two 11-inch guns.
Weapons, Tactics, and Strategies / 183

The USS St. Louis, the first Eads class ironclad in the Union Navy. In October, 1862,
it was renamed the Baron de Kalb in honor of the German officer who fought on the
American side in the Revolutionary War. (National Archives)

On March 9, 1862, it confronted the Virginia in one of the most famous na-
val battles in history. For three hours each ship fired at the other, neither
able to inflict any serious damage on the other. The Virginia had shown that
wooden ships were helpless when attacked by an ironclad, and now the
Monitor had shown that an ironclad could neutralize another ironclad.
Ironclads clearly represented the future of naval warfare, consequently
dooming wooden navies. Within a week of the battle, Welles ordered six
new ironclads, called monitors after their prototype. Many others fol-
lowed, to be used on western rivers and to support the blockade of South-
ern ports.
Less successful than the ironclads was the submarine. Because South-
ern ports were desperate to break the blockade, private citizens con-
tributed to financing the CSS H. L. Hunley, a nine-man underwater vessel
designed to approach blockaders undetected and to sink them with explo-
sives. On February 17, 1864, the Hunley was able to attach an explosive
charge to the USS Housatonic by means of a long wooden spar. The explo-
sion sent this 1,800-ton, 23-gun corvette to the bottom of the sea just out-
side the entrance to Charleston Harbor. However, the Hunley also sank,
drowning its crew. Naval mines, which were used by both North and
South, proved to be more effective than submarines in sinking enemy
184 / Civil War

The Confederate submarine H. L. Hunley was powered by eight men working a

handcrank and had a maximum speed of about four knots. (U. S. Naval Historical

Uniforms, as well as weapons, evolved over the course of the Civil War.
In the early months of the conflict, individual states provided uniforms,
which led to a motley of styles and colors. For example, some Union sol-
diers wore uniforms patterned after those of the Zouaves, French colonial
soldiers in Algeria: baggy red breeches and brief blue coats with yellow
sashes. Some Union regiments were initially attired in gray, and some Con-
federate soldiers wore blue, leading to tragic confusion on early battle-
fields. The Confederate government soon adopted cadet gray as the official
color for its uniforms, but it was never able to clothe its soldiers consis-
tently. Confederate officers were expected to provide their own uniforms,
and these often did not conform to the standards set by the War Depart-
ment in 1861. Coats were of many different cuts and materials, but after the
first year of the war, they were generally a shade of gray. Not until 1862
were Union soldiers consistently uniformed in blue. As with weapons, the
North had an advantage over the South, because their uniforms were
made by the newly invented sewing machine, which had helped create a
highly developed Northern clothing industry. Northern textile mills were
converted to war production, and the factories of Lowell and Lawrence,
Massachusetts, were soon turning out thousands of pairs of blue trousers
and dark blue fatigue jackets.
Weapons, Tactics, and Strategies / 185

Underneath their uniforms many Union volunteers wore body armor

to protect themselves against enemy bullets. At least three New England
firms manufactured and aggressively marketed the soldiers bullet-proof
vest. This vest, containing large pockets into which steel plates were in-
serted, weighed 3.5 pounds. In some regiments more than half the soldiers
used these steel-plated vests, but, as the war progressed, enthusiasm for
this uncomfortable body armor waned, especially when enemy sharp-
shooters chose to aim at soldiers heads instead of their chests. These bul-
letproof vests were far less common among Confederate soldiers because
steel was in short supply in the South.

Military Organization
Because many officers of both the Union and Confederate armies had
been trained at West Point, both armies were similar in military organiza-
tion. The regiment, which initially had about 1,000 men, was the basic unit.
It was led by a colonel, with a lieutenant colonel as second and a major as
third in command. A regiment was divided into 10 companies, each offic-
ered by a captain and 2 lieutenants. There were three kinds of regiments:
infantry, artillery, and cavalry. Infantry regiments were the nucleus of both
the Union and Confederate armies. Artillery regiments were of two basic
kinds: heavy artillery positioned in fortifications and light or field artillery
attached to mobile armies. Cavalry regiments were organized in the same
way as infantry, but the South expected its cavalrymen to provide their
own horses, whereas the Union supplied its troops with horses. During the
Civil War the Union raised 2,047 regiments: 1,696 infantry, 272 cavalry, and
78 artillery. The numbers of regiments in the Confederacy is unknown be-
cause of the loss of relevant records, but rough estimates range from 750 to
Military regiments were organized into increasingly larger units: bri-
gades, divisions, corps, and armies, each commanded by a brigadier or
major general. Union armies were normally named after rivers in the area
of their command, for example, the Army of the Potomac, whereas Con-
federate armies often took their names from a state or part of a state, for ex-
ample, the Army of Northern Virginia. Although regimental organization
and numbers varied from army to army, time to time, and place to place,
overall structures tended to remain constant. As the war continued, how-
ever, both the North and South failed to maintain the strengths of existing
regiments in the face of attrition due to casualties, deaths, and desertions.
States preferred to set up new regiments rather than re-man old ones.
Thus, as the war proceeded, the number of regiments became a very unre-
liable guide to the actual strength of armies.
186 / Civil War

Doctrine, Strategy, and Tactics

Throughout history soldiers have performed according to their and
their leaders understanding of the nature of war itself. This understand-
ing, which is an important component of military doctrine, is concerned
with the beliefs that drive soldiers to fight and the methods by which they
actually fight. These doctrines are also related to the means by which lead-
ers establish military standards and how, in battle, they determine the
balance between offense and defense, individual and group action, and
traditional and modern technologies. Theoretically, a nations founding
principles help to shape its military doctrines, which, in turn, influence its
military strategies and tactics. Practically, military doctrines determine
how wars are fought.
At the start of the Civil War, the military doctrines of both North and
South were guided by French military ideas about the organization and
use of large numbers of soldiers. For Napoleon, a military campaign was
an orderly sequence of informed decisions leading to a clear objective.
American soldiers of both Northern and Southern armies entered the Civil
War prepared to fight a version of war more than fifty years old. However,
technological progress modifies military doctrines, even though conserva-
tive leaders often fight a new war with the techniques of an old one. Some
Civil War officers were aware of the disjunction between old doctrines and
new realities. For example, they realized the folly of lines of troops advanc-
ing into areas enfiladed by highly accurate small-arms and artillery fire.
Some officers believed that the only way to conserve their troops during
such an assault was to disperse them, even though this meant surrender-
ing strict control of troop movements. This tactic generated controversy,
since tight formations caused heavy casualties, but dispersed formations
led to dangerously purposeless actions.
Like military doctrine, strategy has evolved in meaning over time. Ini-
tially strategy meant the military leaders art of war, but by the Civil War
its sense had become generalized to mean the science of war, or the use of
reason to achieve national goals by military means. For example, the over-
all grand strategy of the Union was to reconquer and reoccupy all original
U.S. territory and to restore federal authority throughout. The grand strat-
egy of the Confederacy was to defend its political independence and terri-
torial integrity.

Union Strategy
The Northern strategy of preserving the Union at first seemed to require
a military strategy of limited war: first suppress the insurrection in the
eleven seceded states, then arrest Confederate leaders, and finally put
Weapons, Tactics, and Strategies / 187

Unionists in control. On May 3, 1861, General-in-Chief Winfield Scott pre-

sented an offensive plan to bring the rebels to accept these terms with as lit-
tle bloodshed as possible. He proposed economically strangling the Con-
federacy by blockading its ocean and river ports and gaining military
control of the border states. Several newspapers contemptuously called
this the Anaconda Plan, because it would take an interminably long time
for the strangulation to become effective. Meanwhile, public opinion was
clamoring for an immediate invasion to crush the rebellion.
By 1862 Union military strategy had evolved, under pressure from pub-
lic opinion and President Lincoln, to a policy of conquest of Confederate
territory. This new plan succeeded in Tennessee and the lower Mississippi
Valley but was stalemated by Lees victories in the East. Consequently,
Northern military strategy changed yet again, in 1863, to a conviction that
the Confederate armies would have to be destroyed. However, despite a
significant Northern victory at Gettysburg, Lees army survived and the
Confederacy continued to resist. Thus, by 1864, Union strategists realized
that it was inadequate to conquer territory and cripple armies. They had to
destroy the capacity of the Southern people to wage war. Shermans march
of conquest and destruction through Georgia and South Carolina in 1864
contributed significantly to weakening the will of Southerners to continue
to fight. To many, the Civil War had become, by 1865, a total war, and this
fact finally led to the Confederacys capitulation.

Confederate Strategy
Although the Confederacys national strategy of preserving its inde-
pendence remained constant throughout the four years of the war, the mil-
itary strategies devised to achieve this goal continually shifted. Initially
Confederate leaders sparsely spread their troops around the circumference
of their new country to repel potential invaders, but this tactic proved to be
an unwise use of the Souths limited manpower. Another unwise military
strategy was the political decision to move the Confederacys capital from
Montgomery, Alabama, to Richmond, Virginia, about 100 miles from
Washington, D.C. This move turned northern Virginia into one of the
wars principal battlegrounds. The concentration of Confederate forces in
the East weakened the West, allowing Union forces to gain control of the
Mississippi River and divide the Confederacy.
On the other hand, the Confederacy proved more adept than the Union
expected at countering the Anaconda Plan; Southern blockade runners
were successful in bringing much-needed military supplies from Europe.
Lee was also successful in persuading Confederate leaders to modify the
dispersed defensive strategy into an offensive-defensive strategy. This
188 / Civil War

meant that, although the national strategy remained the protection of the
Confederacy, this goal could sometimes best be achieved by attacking the
enemy in Confederate territory or by attacking the enemys territory itself.
Lee thus sought to break the Unions will to reunite the country by defeat-
ing its armies. However, in the end Lees army could not withstand the un-
remitting pressure of the large, well-armed, and amply supplied Union ar-

The strategies of North and South were implemented by various tactics.
In military terminology, tactics is the management of soldiers on a battle-
field. The tactical systems of the Civil War were modifications of deploy-
ments in eighteenth century battles. Under the traditional system, soldiers
in several long lines advanced toward enemy positions while exchanging
controlled volleys. This continued until either the offensive or defensive
lines broke down. Although military leaders on both sides continued to
use this old tactic, the long range and high accuracy of such new weapons
as rifled muskets and cannon, and, later, rapid-fire breechloaders, made its
use extremely costly for the attackers. As the war evolved, some com-
manders developed new tactics that allowed infantry formations to be
flexible, even to the point of granting individual soldiers free-handed ini-
tiative to achieve their mission.
Improved weapons also brought about the end of the classic cavalry
charge, because Mini bullets and raking artillery fire easily downed
horses and cavalrymen long before they could reach enemy positions. In
the latter part of the war military leaders used cavalry strictly for recon-
naissance and the capture of critical road junctions. Because of the failures
of traditional assault tactics, both Union and Confederate leaders used,
during the campaigns of 1864 and 1865, a new technique that came to be
called trench warfare, in which defensive lines were protected by forts
with artillery, pits with riflemen, and elaborate breastworks of logs and
dirt piles.
The Civil War was also the first American conflict in which the tactic of
the rapid movement of men and matriel by railroad played a major role.
However, during the initial phases of the war, railroads were used to trans-
port supplies, not troops. By the summer of 1862, when thousands of
Union troops were transported to Washington by rail to prevent Lees
army from capturing the capital, the advantages of train over foot and
horse transport became obvious. The South, too, quickly realized the mili-
tary significance of railroads, and Southern raiders destroyed Northern
tracks, bridges, and locomotives. These tactics led to the creation of a spe-
Weapons, Tactics, and Strategies / 189

One of the many technological advances of the Civil War was the use of railroads to move
troops and heavy armaments, such as this thirteen-inch mortar, rapidly over great dis-
tances. (National Archives)

cial corps in the Union army to repair torn-up tracks and destroyed
bridges. This corps used standardized, interchangeable parts and made a
science of track and bridge reconstruction. This construction corps was
also a destruction corps, because its men developed new ways of destroy-
ing enemy rails and bridges. For example, they both bent and twisted
heated rails to render them irreparable and useless. The armored railroad
car was yet another contribution to military transport technology that
made its first appearance during the Civil War. These bulletproof cars
were used to patrol important railroads, protecting key supply and troop-
transport lines for Union armies.

Naval Battles
Finally, naval tactics, like land tactics, experienced radical changes dur-
ing the Civil War. Before the war, naval tactics had involved the effective
detection of enemy ships and the countermeasures to neutralize or destroy
them. Guns were a fleets decisive weapons, and a tightly spaced line of
ships was its most advantageous formation. The tactical aim was to bring
the maximum amount of firepower to bear on the enemy. The Battle of
Hampton Roads changed all this. In terms of strategy, the mission of the
Monitor was to protect the Union warships that had not yet been destroyed
190 / Civil War

by the Virginia. Because the Monitor did this, the battle was a strategic vic-
tory for the North. From a tactical viewpoint, both the Monitor and the Vir-
ginia left the battle in almost the same condition as they entered it, with the
Monitor a bit more damaged than the Virginia. As for how the battle af-
fected the strategic situation in Virginia, the battle was also a draw, because
the Union still controlled Hampton Roads while the Confederates held the
Like this battle between the Monitor and Virginia, the military doctrines,
strategies, and tactics of the Civil War helped to change the nature of war-
fare throughout the world. The First Battle of Bull Run (1861) would have
been familiar in its weapons and tactics to a veteran of the Napoleonic
Wars (1803-1815), whereas the trench warfare around Petersburg (1864-
1865) and Richmond (1865) was a harbinger of World War I. Furthermore,
Shermans march through Georgia was an early intimation of the German
Blitzkrieg of World War II. The Norths emphasis on outproducing rather
than outfighting the South also had a profound influence on future strate-
gic and tactical military thinking. Thus, in its weapons, strategies, and tac-
tics, the Civil War may have begun with an eye to the past, but it ended as a
portent of the future.
Robert J. Paradowski


Before the Civil War, the traditional method of increasing the size of the army was
to expand the state militias and to form a volunteer emergency national army re-
cruited through the states. The war introduced military conscription, which pro-
voked widespread opposition in both the North and the South.

The firing on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, at the beginning of the Civil
War, came at a time when the regular U.S. Army numbered only about
16,000 officers and troops. The immediate response of President Abraham
Lincoln to the attack was to call for 75,000 militia volunteers for three
months service. This call was exceeded, and some volunteers were turned
away because the expectation was that a mere show of force would be suf-
ficient to defeat the South. Congress and the president subsequently found
it necessary, however, to call for more volunteers.
Repeated defeats of the Union army and the resultant loss of men
moved Lincoln to call for 300,000 volunteers in the summer of 1862. The
difficulty of obtaining volunteers was soon apparent; bounties were in-
creased, and the threat of the draft was invoked. Congress passed the
Militia Act of July, 1862, which allowed the states to draft men into the
militia and encouraged enlistments. Lincoln called for another 300,000
men to be enrolled into the militia. Although the Militia Act of 1862 gave
the federal government power to enroll men in situations where the state
machinery was inadequate, the short-term (nine-month maximum) nature
of the militia draft and the inequities of the system made it less than satis-

Conscription Begins
Spurred by the loss of 75,000 men, by news of a conscription law passed
by the Confederacy, and by the failure of the states to provide men promptly
for the various calls, Congress passed its own Conscription Act on March
3, 1863. Henry Wilson, chairman of the Senate Committee on Military Af-
fairs, was responsible for the introduction of a bill that eventually was
passed and labeled An Act for Enrolling and Calling Out the National
Forces and for Other Purposes. This act was the first national draft law in
the history of the nation. It called for the creation of the national forces,
which were to consist of all able-bodied male citizens and alien declarants
between twenty and forty-five years of age, including African Americans.
White opposition to blacks in federal army uniforms noticeably lessened
192 / Civil War

as a result of the draft. In all, more than 168,000 African American recruits
were drafted. Certain high officials, medically unfit persons, and hardship
cases were exempted. Exemption could also be obtained by paying three
hundred dollars or by securing a substitute.
The system was operated by the War Department under the direction
of Colonel James B. Fry, provost-marshal-general. Provost-marshals were
appointed in districts similar to the congressional districts and enroll-
ments began. Quotas were established, and credit was given for enlist-
ments. If the quotas were not met, drawings were held to determine
who should be drafted. Small cards were placed in sealed envelopes in a
large trunk, and the names were drawn in public by a trustworthy citizen
wearing a blindfold. The system of paying three hundred dollars for ex-
emption from service subsequently was abolished, but the privilege of hir-
ing a substitute was continued. The names of more than three million men
were gathered, but only about 170,000 were drafted, and 120,000 of those
produced substitutes. The primary intent for passage of the law was to
speed up voluntary enlistment, and more than one million men enlisted.
The chief motivation for these enlistments was probably the threat of the

The draft brought Lincoln and Secretary of War Edwin McMasters
Stanton into conflict with state governors. Those governors who were un-
enthusiastic about the conduct of the war openly criticized the president
and the draft, while governors who favored a more vigorous prosecution
of the war often complained that their states had not been given full credit
for previous enlistments. Lincoln and Stanton often temporized with the
governors by granting postponements or additional credits as the end of
the war drew near.
There was considerable resistance to the draft. Pennsylvania, Illinois,
Indiana, and Kentucky had considerable problems with enrollment, and
draft offices and officers were attacked in those states. The Irish in New
York and New Jersey were particularly incensed by the draft, many view-
ing the conflicts as a rich mans war and a poor mans fight. With fifty-one
categories of diseases qualifying men for medical exemption, the system
was fraught with medical resistance problems. Surgeons administering
medical qualifying exams were confronted by faked hernias (the most
widespread cause of exemption), eye problems caused by applying eye ir-
ritants, and pretended deafness. Giving incorrect birth dates, claiming
false dependents, and even the enrollment of dead people were other
methods of noncompliance. Finally, there were the runaways. Given time
Conscription / 193

to settle their affairs before departing for camp, a considerable number of

draftees either relocated or fled to Canada.
With the public generally hostile to the draft, the best way for a commu-
nity to avoid it was to fill the quota with volunteers. Consequently, bounty
taxes were implemented to raise revenues to attract foreigners, new immi-
grants, and the poverty-stricken to enlist. The paying of bounties cor-
rupted the draft system. It produced bounty jumpers who, attracted by
lump-sum payments, were willing to jump off trains or boats to escape

Notorious resistance to the draft instigated the draft riots in New York
City. Governor Horatio Seymours speech of July 4, 1863, attacking the Lin-
coln administration for violations of individual liberty, did nothing to de-
crease the hostility of the New York Irish toward African Americans and
the abolitionists. Antidraft rioting, which took place between July 13 and
15, destroyed property and physically harmed many African Americans.
Some New York militia units that had been engaged at Gettysburg were
hastily ordered back to New York to stop the rioting. Estimates of the casu-
alties in the violence range up to more than one thousand. In spite of the vi-
olence, the federal government was determined to enforce the draft with
even more fervor.

The Confederacy
The Confederacys calls for volunteers and its national conscription law
antedated those of the Union. Jefferson Daviss call for 100,000 volunteers
came before the firing on Fort Sumter, and the Conscription Act was
passed on April 16, 1862, almost a year before similar legislation was
passed by the United States. The Confederate act conscripted men from
eighteen to thirty-five years of age; later the same year, it was extended to
include those between seventeen and fifty years of age. The Confederate
law included a substitute system and a controversial list of exempted per-
sons held to be essential at home. The category that caused the most dis-
cussion was that which exempted one slave owner or overseer for each
twenty slaves. The Confederate draft was also controversial because it was
a national levy; it made no concession to the doctrine of states rights for
which most Southerners claimed to be fighting.
It appears that the Confederacys early use of a conscription law en-
abled General Robert E. Lees armies to continue their general success in
the Civil War well into 1863. It was only after the North also began drafting
194 / Civil War

men that Lincoln could be confident of victory. The North, with a much
larger population, was able to sustain its losses and to continue the war in-
definitely; the Confederacy could not. Continuance of the draft under-
scored Northern determination to continue the war to its conclusion. The
result was Lees surrender at Appomattox and the restoration of the
Mark A. Plummer
updated by Irwin Halfond

Censorship During the War

The Civil War proved that public communications could provide vital information
to the enemy; policies developed during the war served as precedents for future
censorship policies.

Technologies developed during the decades preceding the Civil War al-
lowed news and information to be transmitted more rapidly and effi-
ciently. The telegraph enabled reporters to send stories to their home of-
fices almost immediately. The steam printing press increased production
and lowered costs, and throughout the nation newspaper circulation rose
dramatically. New transportation systems, especially railroads, permitted
the speedy distribution of newspapers and mail over wide areas. These re-
markable changes posed unprecedented challenges for military and civil-
ian leaders in the North and the South at the outbreak of the Civil War in
April, 1861. The easy transmission of information raised fears that military
secrets could intentionally or inadvertently be made available to the en-

Early Censorship
Lacking clearly established precedents for censorship, the Union gov-
ernments early policies were conducted in a haphazard fashion. Author-

Field reporters for the New York Herald. (National Archives)

196 / Civil War

ities were uncertain as to which government department was responsible

for creating and implementing censorship policies. The Post Office waited
for days after war had been declared before it refused to send mail into en-
emy territory. Although the State Department began censoring telegraph
communications from Washington, D.C., in April, 1861, transmissions be-
tween the North and South continued for more than a month until Union
officials seized thousands of telegrams that implicated Northerners in
Southern plots.
In July, 1861, the commander of the Union Army, General Winfield
Scott, issued a censorship order that banned telegraph companies from
transmitting any military information without his approval. Scott changed
the order a few days later, permitting reporters to send reports concerning
battles in progress that did not include information about troop move-
ments. Less than two weeks later, during the disastrous Union defeat at
Bull Run, the first major battle of the war, Scott again changed his order
and imposed full censorship on reporters. Unaware of the battles true out-
come, newspapers in New York and Washington reported a fantastic
Union victory. The confusion that resulted in the Northern press and popu-
lace as a result of Scotts censorship orders indicated the need for a more
coherent policy.
In August, 1861, several prominent Northern reporters met with Union
general George B. McClellan and agreed not to report any information that
would assist the enemy. In return for their voluntary self-censorship, the
reporters would receive full government cooperation in obtaining and re-
porting all other news. McClellan could not ensure government coopera-
tion, however, because the official censor, H. E. Thayer, was under the
authority of the State Department. When Secretary of State William H.
Seward ordered Thayer to ban all telegraph communications from Wash-
ington, D.C., concerning military and civil operations, the press argued
that the government had violated the agreement and the voluntary censor-
ship plan was abandoned.
Press complaints about Sewards order prompted a congressional in-
vestigation in December, 1861. Released four months later in March, 1862,
the investigating committees final report cited the numerous failures of
the censorship policy, including inefficiency, favoritism toward certain re-
porters, and the censoring of material that violated no military secrets. The
report concluded that Sewards censorship order was far too broad and
that censorship should be limited to military information that would be
useful to the enemy.
By the time the committee released its report important policy changes
had already occurred. Congress had already clarified the issue of depart-
Censorship During the War / 197

Constructing telegraph lines in early 1864. While the introduction of telegraphy greatly
increased the speed and efficiency of military communications, it also made it easier for
enemies to communicate information, so the Union government imposed strict regula-
tions on telegraphic communications. (National Archives)

mental authority in January, 1862, when it granted the president the power
to regulate the use of telegraph transmissions. Secretary of War Edwin M.
Stanton requested that President Abraham Lincoln transfer responsibility
for controlling the telegraph lines from the State Department to the War
Department, a request that Lincoln approved that same day. Stanton im-
mediately acted to articulate and enforce a new censorship policy.

Stanton and Censorship

On February 25, 1862, Stanton issued a new censorship order that re-
quired all telegraph communications regarding military operations to re-
ceive official military approval before they were transmitted. Stanton ap-
pointed a military supervisor to manage all telegraph messages and a
military superintendent to manage the telegraph lines and offices through-
out the United States. Stanton also threatened to punish any newspaper
that published unauthorized military news by prohibiting that paper from
using the telegraph or the railroads. This threat raised such an outcry from
the press that Stanton quickly modified that order to ban only the publica-
tion of military news that had occurred that same day.
198 / Civil War

Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton.

(National Archives)

Stanton hoped that his strict censorship order would eliminate sensitive
military information from news reports, but the order proved difficult to
enforce. Censors did a poor job, newsmen looked for alternative methods
for sending stories to their editors, and officers could be convinced to re-
lease a questionable story in return for a positive mention in the press. The
main achievement of Stantons order was the establishment of a precedent
of a formal censorship policy and the clarification of lines of authority for
that policy.
Generals in the field proved the most effective enforcers of censorship.
Many generals hated reporters, whom they believed put the militarys
plans and its men at risk when they wrote their stories. Weary of press criti-
cism, General Henry W. Halleck banned all noncombatants from his army.
While Halleck justified the order as a security measure aimed at Southern
spies, press correspondents claimed that the general intended to silence
the press. Union general William T. Sherman nursed a special contempt for
the press. He had little patience for reporters, accusing them of informing
the enemy and of sowing dissension in the Union ranks. In return reporters
constantly attacked Shermana story published early in the war claimed
that he was insane. Angered by a New York Herald story, Sherman had the
reporter, Thomas Knox, arrested on charges of spying. Sherman knew that
Knox was not a spy, but hoped to set an example. Knox was later acquitted
of the spying charge, but he was banned from the army. By banning most
Censorship During the War / 199

reporters from the field, Halleck, Sherman, and other generals censored
the press and prevented the passage of information to the enemy and to the
American public.
Although military leaders often scorned newspaper reporting, at-
tempts at total censorship of military information proved disastrous to the
war effort. In late 1862 General Halleck ordered a complete news blackout
on information concerning the Army of Virginia, which was responsible
for protecting Washington, D.C. In the absence of any reliable news, ru-
mors spread through the city that the army had been defeated and the
Confederates were preparing to invade. Confusion and a sense of crisis
seized the populace, and confidence in the government waned. The black-
out ended and government leaders learned that the public required reli-
able news in order to support the war. Selectivity, not a complete gag on the
press, was required for censorship to be effective.
Military news was not the only information subject to censorship in the
North. Opposition to the war, especially from Northern Democrats known
as Copperheads, resulted in harsh criticism of the government and the mil-
itary. President Lincoln was a frequent target. Northern officials had to de-
termine at what point the expression of opposition became detrimental to
the conduct of the war, or perhaps even treasonous.
In April, 1863, Union general Ambrose E. Burnside issued General Or-
ders Number Thirty-eight, which declared that anyone expressing sympa-
thy for the enemy would be arrested and face possible execution if found
guilty of violating the order. Former Ohio congressman Clement L. Vallan-
digham, a vocal opponent of the war who detested Lincoln, responded to
the order by giving two speeches in which he fiercely attacked the presi-
dent. Burnside had Vallandigham arrested three days later. Convicted of
violating the order, Vallandigham was sentenced to prison. Lincoln or-
dered Vallandigham transported to Confederate lines and banished from
the Union. While Lincoln and his cabinet supported Burnside during the
Vallandigham episode, Lincoln later decided that the government had ex-
ceeded its authority in the incident.
Press stories and criticism also brought official reaction. In May, 1864,
two New York newspapers printed a forged presidential document order-
ing the drafting of 400,000 men. The printing of the false document could
have caused bloody draft riots similar to those that racked the city in 1863.
Military censors leaped at the chance to suppress the papers, both of which
had been critical of the war. The papers were closed, and their editors were
imprisoned for two days. In the Midwest, Wilbur F. Storey, owner and pub-
lisher of the Chicago Times, published a series of editorials condemning ab-
olition and the conduct of the war. In late May, 1864, the paper printed a
200 / Civil War

story that maligned General Burnside, Republican leaders, and the presi-
dent, whom the article implied had become mentally unbalanced. Two
days later Burnside ordered the paper closed for three days. While Lincoln
sympathized with Burnsides reaction, he deemed his response as too ex-
treme and politically imprudent. The order was rescinded. Lincolns cau-
tious attitude toward the Vallandigham and Storey cases reveals that the
president believed that speech and press censorship were politically sensi-
tive issues in a democracy. Requiring public support to continue the war,
the president could not alienate potential allies who might be offended by
a strict censorship policy. Lincoln ably balanced the needs of a nation at
war with the tradition of a free press in America.

Southern Censorship
Lacking adequate resources to cover the war, several Southern publish-
ers met in 1862 and formed a pool for sharing correspondents and informa-
tion. Headed by J. S. Thrasher, the Press Association of the Confederate
States of America fought military censorship of news dispatches. Thrasher
met with Confederate general P. G. T. Beauregard in 1863 to protest censor-
ship policies. He maintained that Southern newspapers held to the highest
standards and would never publish sensitive information. Impressed by
Thrashers arguments, Beauregard ordered military commanders to assist
reporters in transmitting their dispatches. Compliance was spotty, how-
ever, and throughout the war obstinate Confederate officers refused to aid
Although Southern military commanders often attempted to prevent
the press from using telegraph lines to send messages, the most significant
problems that Southern publishers faced stemmed from popular attitudes
and material conditions. Always ready to criticize the government and the
military for their failures, the Southern press nonetheless supported the
Confederate cause. Any editor unwise enough to condemn the ultimate
aims of the South faced the publics wrath and indignation. Southern pub-
lishers who might hold unpopular attitudes toward slavery or the Confed-
eracy imposed a degree of voluntary censorship on their editorial policy
out of self-interest. As the war progressed, manpower and paper shortages
limited the effectiveness of the Southern press far more than any govern-
ment censorship policy.
Thomas Clarkin

Justice During the War

The Civil War established the primacy of the federal government over the states in
the administration of justice, and it elevated the ethical system of free-labor capi-
talism as the national standard.

The Civil War redefined both the relationship between the U.S. govern-
ment and the individual and between the central and state governments.
During the course of the conflict, the Union and Confederate governments
pursued aggressively nationalistic policies that undermined states rights,
civil liberties, and property rights.

The Slavery Issue

By the mid-nineteenth century, the free-labor ideal had taken hold in the
states of the North. It was believed that economic opportunity should be
open to all. To many in the North, the slave system in the South appeared
to be the antithesis of the free-labor ideal. Northerners believed that slav-
ery was inefficient, that it degraded labor as a whole, and that it created
economic stagnation. Though most were willing to tolerate slavery where
it existed, they wanted the western territories reserved for free white labor.
They interpreted the Constitution as a document that made freedom na-
tional and slavery local.
Southerners shared a belief in the positive benefits of economic oppor-
tunity, but they identified it with the acquisition of land and slaves. Slavery
was thus seen as a positive good, and Southerners dreamed of extending
the slave system into the territories. Southerners argued that the territories
were the common property of all Americans; to prohibit slavery within
them deprived Southern people of their right to share in the nations
The Republican victory in 1860 brought to power an administration
pledged to restrict slavery in the territories. Fearing that the new adminis-
tration would undermine slavery, seven Southern states asserted their
right to secede from the federal union and form a new government. Abra-
ham Lincolns administration denied the right of secession and refused to
relinquish federal property in the South to the new Confederacy. When the
state of South Carolina fired on a federal fort in Charleston harbor, Presi-
dent Lincoln called upon the states to supply troops to suppress the rebel-
lion and preserve the federal union. Four additional states believed Lin-
colns action to be an unjust usurpation of federal power and joined the
202 / Civil War

For the Lincoln administration, the highest good was the preservation
of the Union. All issues of justice were considered in relation to that objec-
tive. The Confederacy was dedicated to the proposition that human prop-
erty was an unalienable right and must be preserved. For the first year
of fighting, the Lincoln administration took no action to destroy slavery.
It enforced the provisions of the Fugitive Slave Law, and Lincoln rebuked
Union general John C. Fremont when he issued a proclamation freeing the
slaves of Confederate sympathizers in Missouri. Lincolns Emancipation
Proclamation did not take effect until January 1, 1863. When he issued the
proclamation, Lincoln justified his action in terms of military necessity.
The proclamation freed only the slaves behind Confederate lines, but after
the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, the Union Army became a
force for liberation.

Civil Liberties
Both the Union and Confederate governments restricted traditional
civil liberties during the conflict. In early 1862, the Confederate Congress
authorized President Jefferson Davis to suspend the writ of habeas corpus
and to declare martial law in areas in danger of attack. That same year Pres-
ident Davis ordered the first military draft in North America and estab-
lished a Conscription Bureau to carry it out. Even more striking, the Con-
federacy never established a Supreme Court and allowed the attorney
general to judge the constitutionality of laws. That omission seriously un-

A former slave and a leading aboli-

tionist, Frederick Douglass was an
outspoken advocate of allowing Afri-
can Americans to fight for the Union.
(National Archives)
Justice During the War / 203

dermined the notion of judicial independence and gave the executive

branch unprecedented powers over the administration of justice.
Thousands of civilians were arrested by the Union government during
the war, and many were tried by military courts. In response to civil distur-
bances in Baltimore, Lincoln suspended the privilege of habeas corpus on
April 27, 1861, along the rail line from Philadelphia to Washington. The
suspension was later extended to other areas of the North and gradually
became general in certain types of cases.
Most military arrests by the Union government were not political. The
vast majority of civilian prisoners were blockade-runners, residents of
Confederate states, army deserters, draft dodgers, foreign nationals, peo-
ple who dealt in contraband goods, or fraudulent war contractors. A loyal
opposition continued to function in the North throughout the war and ac-
tually won control of several state legislatures.
Among those arrests early in the war was John Merryman. Merryman
was a member of a pro-Confederate Maryland cavalry unit that had dam-
aged railroad bridges in April, 1861. Merrymans attorney successfully pe-
titioned a federal circuit court for a writ of habeas corpus to show just cause
for his arrest. The commander of Fort McHenry, where Merryman was be-
ing held, refused to honor the writ on the grounds that President Lincoln
had suspended the privilege in Maryland. Judge Roger B. Taney re-
sponded by issuing a circuit court ruling stating that only the Congress
had the power to exercise such a suspension (Ex parte Merryman, 1861). In
spite of the ruling, Lincoln continued to maintain his right to suspend the
writ as an essential power necessary to suppress the rebellion.
For purposes of election propaganda, unscrupulous Republican politi-
cians and military officers attempted to exploit fears that traitorous secret or-
ganizations existed in the Midwest. Recent scholarship has demonstrated
that the major Copperhead societies, such as the Knights of the Golden Cir-
cle and the Sons of Liberty, were little more than paper tigers. In the wake
of Democratic victories in the state elections of 1862, Republican newspa-
per editors frequently printed tales of treasonable Democratic activities.
When Ohio Democrat Clement L. Vallandigham declared that the war
was being fought to free blacks and enslave whites, General Ambrose
Burnside ordered his arrest. A military commission convicted Vallan-
digham of attempting to hamper the governments efforts to suppress the
rebellion and recommended imprisonment. President Lincoln altered the
sentence to banishment, and Vallandigham was escorted to Confederate
lines. Lincoln justified his action by arguing that it made no sense to shoot
a simple-minded deserter and do nothing to the man who induced him to
204 / Civil War

Later in the war, Democratic activist H. H. Dodd of Indiana organized

the Sons of Liberty to protect the civil liberties of those opposed to the
Republican administration. Acting on rumors that the Sons of Liberty
had aided Confederates, Union general Henry Carrington arrested Indi-
ana Democrats linked to the Sons of Liberty, including editor Lambdin
Milligan. A military commission sentenced three of the defendants to
death. Others received prison terms. The death sentences were never car-
ried out, but it is clear that the men were tried on questionable evidence by
military commissions in areas where civil courts were functioning. After
the war, the Supreme Court ruled in Ex parte Milligan (1866) that such trials
were illegal.

Treatment of Black Troops

When the conflict began, neither the Union nor Confederate govern-
ments would sanction the use of African American soldiers. As the Union
government moved toward an acceptance of emancipation, however, it
also began to organize African American regiments.
In spite of the large-scale recruitment of black soldiers during the last
two years of the war, the Union army discriminated against African Amer-
icans in a wide variety of ways including pay, chance of promotion, and the
amount of fatigue duty (manual labor) black units were expected to per-
form. While a few blacks did receive commissions, the vast majority of offi-
cers in the United States Colored Troops (USCT) were white combat veter-
ans. The men of the USCT proved their courage at the battles of Port
Hudson, Millikens Bend, and Fort Wagner, where they took heavy casual-
ties. Generally, however, the prejudice of many commanding officers led to
the use of USCT regiments for fatigue or guard duty while saving white
units for combat.
The Confederacy reacted harshly to the use of black troops by the Union
army. President Davis approved of the execution of black prisoners of war
in South Carolina in November, 1862. Later, Davis ordered that all former
slaves captured while serving in the Union army be returned to the states
for trial. The massacre of black prisoners by Confederate troops on several
occasions forced Union authorities to threaten retaliation in order to stem
the injustice.
The use of large numbers of black troops by the Union war effort helped
pave the way for universal emancipation. Throughout his political career,
Lincoln consistently asserted that slavery was morally wrong. Though
emancipation began as a military tactic, it became a war aim. The courage
of black soldiers allowed Lincoln to secure passage of the Thirteenth
Amendment, providing for an end to slavery throughout the country.
Justice During the War / 205

Military Justice
The system of military justice employed within the army was seriously
flawed. At least 267 soldiers were executed by the Union army during the
Civil War era. More than half of those executed were either foreigners or
African Americans. A number of black soldiers were convicted of mutiny
for protesting unequal pay in the Union army. Racial tensions accelerated
during the final months of the conflict. A high number of black soldiers
were executed for alleged sexual offenses against white women. The Con-
federacy had an incomplete record of military justice. Since many South-
ern officers had received their training in the prewar U.S. army, the proce-
dural flaws of courts-martial were similar in both armies.
The Civil War moved the United States toward a more perfect applica-
tion of its ideals of equality and justice. The United States entered the war
as a federal union with contrasting standards of justice, one based on free-
labor ideals, the other on the slave system of the Southern states. Property
rights took precedent over human rights, and equal justice was denied Af-
rican Americans in virtually every section of the country. The Union gov-
ernment, through its policy of emancipation and the enlistment of African
Americans into its armed forces, transformed the war from a crusade to
preserve the Union into a war of liberation. In doing so, it expanded the na-
tions concept of justice to include equality for African Americans.
Thomas D. Matijasic

U.S. Supreme Court During the War

The Civil War was a profound threat to the stability of the U.S. constitutional or-
der. The Supreme Court played a role in the wars inception, the response by Presi-
dent Abraham Lincoln and Congress, and the wars conclusion and aftermath. Ex-
cept for a few important and controversial decisions, however, the Court had
limited significance during the Civil War.

The Civil War raised questions of fundamental importance to the U.S. con-
stitutional order. Among these were questions about whether a state could
secede from the Union, the distribution of the war-making powers be-
tween the president and Congress, and the authority of the Supreme Court
to review those powers. What was undoubtedly a crisis for the country
was no less a crisis for the Court. In the end, these fundamental constitu-
tional issues were decided and resolved, not through appeals to the law or
to the Supreme Court, but through political force.

The Road to War

A number of factors led to the war. Prominent among them was the is-
sue of slavery, left unresolved at the nations founding. Congress formally
prohibited the slave trade in 1808 and tried to end the debate with the Mis-
souri Compromise of 1820, but the problems slavery raised for the Union
did not dissipate. The Court took up the issue in the case of Scott v. Sandford
(1857). Dred Scott, a slave, claimed that he had become a free man because
he had resided in areas where slavery was illegal under the Missouri Com-
promise. Writing for the Court, Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney held that
persons of African American descent, whether slaves or emancipated,
were not citizens of the United States. For more than a century, Taney
wrote, African Americans had been regarded as beings of an inferior or-
der, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race . . . and so far infe-
rior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.
The chief justice also ruled that the Missouri Compromise was uncon-
stitutional because Congress had no constitutional authority to regulate
slavery in the territories. Some critics of the Court complain that it should
not have tried to resolve a divisive political issue through a legal decision.
On the other hand, the Court had not come to the issue uninvited. Presi-
dent James Buchanan, for example, had encouraged the Court to rule on
the issue, stating in his inaugural speech that slavery was a judicial ques-
tion, which legitimately belongs to the Supreme Court, before whom it is
now pending and will . . . be speedily settled. The Courts controversial
U.S. Supreme Court During the War / 207

ruling, far from settling the matter, galvanized forces on both sides of the
slavery question. Just four years later, the country was at war with itself.

Secession and the Constitution

In late 1860 South Carolina and several other states sought to secede
from the Union. Such claims were not novel, at least as a matter of constitu-
tional theory. The nullification controversy of 1832-1833 had involved sim-
ilar claims. During that controversy, South Carolina had argued that each
state of the Union has the right, whenever it may deem such a course nec-
essary . . . to secede peaceably from the Union, and that there is no constitu-
tional power in the general government . . . to retain by force such stake in
the Union. President Buchanan thought secession illegal, but he agreed
that the federal government lacked the authority to prevent states from
leaving. In Kentucky v. Dennison (1861), the Court sanctioned this under-
standing of the limits of federal power. The case involved a fugitive who
had helped a slave escape from Kentucky. The fugitive ran to Ohio, and the
Ohio governor refused to return him to Kentucky. Ruling for the Court,
Chief Justice Taney refused to order the governor to turn over the fugitive,
stating that criminal extradition clause of the Constitution depended on
the states for its enforcement. There is, he argued, no power delegated to
the General Government . . . to use any coercive means to force a governor
to act. Implicit in this opinion is the clear sense that President Abraham
Lincoln lacked any constitutional authority to keep the states in the Union.
In his inaugural address, President Lincoln argued instead that the
Union of these States is perpetual. Perpetuity is implied, if not expressed,
in the fundamental law of all national governments. Lincoln thus con-
cluded that the Union, older than the Constitution, authorized him to pre-
vent states from dissolving the bonds of the Union. One of his first actions
was to resupply the Union troops at Fort Sumter. Forces in Charleston fired
upon the fort, and the constitutional nature of the Union was left to be de-
cided by military force and not by the Supreme Court.

Presidential Authority to Make War

When he assumed office, President Lincoln was faced with the prospect
of war. In his first inaugural address, he responded directly to the Courts
decision in Scott. I do not forget the position assumed by some, that con-
stitutional questions are to be decided by the Supreme Court. . . . At the
same time the candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the govern-
ment, upon vital questions, affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably
fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court . . . the people will have ceased to
be their own rulers. Lincolns insistence upon his own authority to inter-
208 / Civil War

pret the Constitution foreshadowed his interaction with the Court through-
out the Civil War.
The first significant issue concerned the presidents authority to con-
duct war without prior congressional approval. The issue was raised when
Lincoln, responding to the Souths declaration of independence from the
Union, ordered a naval blockade of Southern ports in April, 1861. Acting
pursuant to Lincolns order, Union warships seized a number of Southern
and foreign ships and put them and their cargoes up for sale. In the Prize
Cases (1863), the owners of four such ships argued that the president had
no constitutional authority to order the blockade, for the power to declare
war [and] make rules concerning captures on land and water was given
by the Constitution to Congress, not the president. Congress did not ratify
the presidents decision until July, 1861.
In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled for Lincoln. Writing for the majority,
Justice Robert C. Grier admitted that the Constitution gave to Congress
alone the power to declare a national or foreign war. He noted also that the
Constitution entrusts the position of commander-in-chief to the presi-
dency. If a war be made by invasion of a foreign nation, Grier continued,
the President is not only authorized but bound to resist by force. In this
case, the President was bound to meet [the war] in the shape it presented
itself, without waiting for Congress to baptize it with a name. The Court
further underscored the presidents autonomy by declaring that whether
the President, in fulfilling his duties, as Commander-in-Chief, in suppress-
ing an insurrection, has met with such armed resistance, and a civil war of
such alarming proportions as will compel him to accord to them the char-
acter of belligerents, is a question to be decided by him, and this Court must
be governed by the decisions and acts of the political department of the
Government to which this power was entrusted.
In dissent, Justice Samuel Nelson agreed that in one sense, no doubt
this is war, but it is a statement simply of its existence in a material sense,
and has no relevancy or weight when the question is what constitutes war
in a legal sense . . . and of the Constitution of the United States. The
Courts deference to the presidents decision about when the war began
was mirrored at wars end by its decision in Freeborn v. the Protector,
(1872), which held that the war was formally concluded when the presi-
dent said so. Together, these cases have provided strong support for presi-
dential decisions to initiate military actions without first seeking congres-
sional authorization.

The Court and Civil Liberties

President Lincolns decision to impose a naval blockade on Southern
U.S. Supreme Court During the War / 209

Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney.

(Library of Congress)

ports was just one part of a larger war effort. In addition to the blockade,
Lincoln undertook a series of actions that amounted to the imposition of
martial law. Among these were orders directing military authorities to
search homes without warrants, imprisonment without charge or trial in
civilian or in military courts, and suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.
The most expansive order suspending the writ was issued in September,
1862; Lincoln did not seek congressional authorization for this order, and
Congress did not finally authorize the president to suspend habeas corpus
until the following March. Thousands of citizens were detained by the mil-
itary and held without charge and without trial in either a civilian or a mili-
tary court.
The constitutionality of Lincolns decision to suspend the writ was first
tested in a federal circuit court in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1861. The mili-
tary had arrested John Merryman for his participation in an attack on
Union forces. Merryman petitioned the court for a writ of habeas corpus.
Chief Justice Taney, riding circuit, granted the writ and had it sent to the
general in command of the fort where Merryman was detained. Sending
an aide in his place, the general replied that he would not obey the writ be-
cause Lincoln had suspended its operation. In response, Chief Justice
Taney found the general in contempt of court, an action with little practical
effect, and issued an opinion that directly addressed the constitutionality
210 / Civil War

of Lincolns decision. Taney held that Lincoln had no authority to suspend

the writ because Article I of the Constitution entrusted that authority to
Congress in language too clear to be misunderstood by anyone. Taney
ordered a copy of the opinion sent to Lincoln.
Lincoln failed to respond directly, instead stating in a later special ses-
sion of Congress: Now it is insisted that Congress, and not the Executive,
is vested with [the power]. However, the Constitution itself, is silent as to
which, or who, is to exercise the power. In the same speech, Lincoln of-
fered a more fundamental objection: Are all the laws, but one, to go
unexecuted, and the government itself go to pieces, lest that one be vio-
The Supreme Court was presented with another claim concerning ha-
beas corpus just two years later, in the case of Ex parte Vallandigham (1864).
Vallandigham was arrested and tried by the military. He sought a writ of
habeas corpus, but the Court dismissed his case, claiming that it had no au-
thority over a military court. The Courts reluctance to entertain the case
was symbolic of its silent posture on military interferences with civil liber-
ties throughout the Civil War. Moreover, the Court would not again con-
sider the constitutionality of Lincolns wartime suspensions until well af-
ter the war was over, in the case of Ex parte Milligan (1866).

The end of the Civil War left the Union with difficult questions about
how to bring the Southern states back into the fold. Congressional repre-
sentatives from the Northern states had denied that the Southern states
could validly leave the Union, but a return to the status quo that had ex-
isted before the hostilities was unlikely. Some congressional representa-
tives and President Andrew Johnson, Lincolns successor, favored a policy
of accelerated reconstruction that included provisional state governments.
However, so-called Radical Republicans in Congress insisted that the
Southern states could be readmitted only on whatever terms Congress im-
posed. What followed was the imposition of military rule, which included
trials in military courts and the use of federal troops to maintain order. The
result was a great contest between the president and Congress, a contest
that revolved around the question of how the South should be recon-
structed and about which branch of government would be responsible for
the process. The Supreme Court played a small, but nonetheless signifi-
cant, part in this contest.
Initially the Court cast some doubt on the constitutionality of various
Reconstruction measures. In the Test Oath Cases (1867, Cummings v. Mis-
souri and Ex parte Garland), for example, the Court found the loyalty oaths
U.S. Supreme Court During the War / 211

required of voters, attorneys, and others in the Southern states a violation

of the ex post facto clause. In the well-known Milligan case, the Court
seemed to cast further doubt on the constitutionality of congressional re-
construction by holding that military courts could not try civilians in those
areas in which the civilian courts were functioning. In this case, the mili-
tary had arrested Milligan, and he was convicted and sentenced to be
hanged by a military commission. He sought a writ of habeas corpus. Not-
withstanding its earlier decision in Vallandigham, the Court ruled for
Milligan. In his opinion for the Court, Justice David Davis wrote

The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and for people,
equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all
classes of men, at all times, and under all circumstances. No doctrine, involv-
ing more pernicious consequences, was ever invented by the wit of man than
that any of its provisions can be suspended during any of the great exigencies
of government.

The Court did agree, though, that there are occasions when martial law
can be properly applied. If civilian courts are actually closed and it is
impossible to administer criminal justice according to law, then the mili-
tary may supply a substitute for civilian authority. In Milligans case, the
courts had been open and functioning; consequently, Milligans arrest by
military authorities had been unconstitutional.
Although the Court did not fervently protect civil liberties until the
war was overin stark contrast to its behavior during the warmany
congressional leaders saw in the case a more general threat to Reconstruc-
tion policy, which included military governments and tribunals. Thaddeaus
Stevens, for example, complained that the decision although in terms not
as infamous as the Dred Scott decision, is yet far more dangerous in its op-
eration. Several bills were introduced in Congress to curb the Court, in-
cluding one by Representative John Bingham of Ohio, who warned omi-
nously of a constitutional amendment that could result in the abolition of
the tribunal itself.

Opposition to Reconstruction
Many congressional leaders believed that a case then working its way
through the federal courts would give the Court a chance to declare much
of the Reconstruction effort unconstitutional. The case, Ex parte McCardle
(1869), concerned a newspaper editor in Mississippi who had been ar-
rested and tried by a military commission. McCardle petitioned for a writ
of habeas corpus, arguing that the Reconstruction statute that had autho-
rized his trial was unconstitutional. An appellate court denied the writ,
212 / Civil War

whereupon McCardle appealed to the Supreme Court under an 1867 stat-

ute that governed such appeals. The Court accepted the appeal and heard
arguments on the case. Fearful of the ruling, Congress reacted by passing a
new law repealing the 1867 statute. This led the Court to reschedule oral
argument, this time focusing on the question of whether Congress could
withdraw jurisdiction from the Court in a pending case. A unanimous
Court concluded that the statute withdrawing its jurisdiction in McCardle
was constitutionally permissible. No longer having jurisdiction, the Court
dismissed McCardles appeal.
Milligan aside, the Court generally refrained from inquiring into the
constitutionality of Reconstruction. Thus, in Mississippi v. Johnson (1867),
the Court ruled that a president is immune from an injunction by a court to
restrain enforcement of Reconstruction legislation. Mississippi had asked
the Court to enjoin President Johnson from executing the Reconstruction
acts because they were, according to Mississippi, unconstitutional. The
Court declined to intervene, finding that such interference would be an
absurd and excessive extravagance. One year later, in a similar case (Geor-
gia v. Stanton, 1868), the Court again indicated that it was unwilling to in-
quire into the details of Reconstruction policy by refusing to enjoin en-
forcement of the Reconstruction acts by the secretary of war.
In 1869 the Court put its imprimatur on Reconstructionand on Lin-
colns insistence that the Union was perpetualin Texas v. White. The
Court ruled, first, that Texass decision to leave the Union was invalid be-
cause when Texas became one of the United States, she entered into an in-
dissoluble relation. . . . There was no place for reconsideration, or revoca-
tion. Therefore, Texas had remained a state in the Union throughout the
war. In some ways, the Court simply reaffirmed the result of the war, but
the opinion is also an important statement of constitutional principle, for it
held that the Union was not a mere compact of states. The case is also
important for a second reason: The Court conceded that the initial respon-
sibility for Reconstruction rested with the president in his capacity as com-
mander-in-chief; however, that authority must be considered as provi-
sional to the greater authority of Congress to guarantee to every state in
the Union a republican form of government.
John E. Finn

Native American Combatants in the War

Native Americans made significant contributions to both sides during the Civil
War. Approximately 3,500 Indians fought for the Union, and a similar number
fought for the Confederacy. Most of the Indians who participated in the war were
from the so-called Five Civilized Tribes, and a Cherokee leader named Stand Watie
(1806-1871) became one of the Confederacys most distinguished generals.

With the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, both the Union and the Confed-
eracy looked toward the Indian Territory for support. American Indians
there, mostly members of the famed Five Civilized Tribes (the Cherokee,
Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole), had connections with the fed-
eral government through various agencies, but most also had Southern
roots in the Carolinas, Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia, and Tennessee.
In March, 1861, Confederate president Jefferson Davis commissioned
Albert Pike to visit Indian Territory to seek treaties with the Five Civilized
Tribes. It was hoped that a strong Confederate force in Indian Territory
would prevent Union sympathizers in Kansas from raiding Texas. Pikes
visit with all the tribes in Indian Territory was largely successful. Shortly
afterward, General Ben McCulloch raised two American Indian regiments:
one led by Colonel John Drew and the other by Colonel Stand Watie. Drew
and Stand Watie were bitter enemies, and during much of the war com-
manders on the western front kept the two Cherokee regiments separated
as much as possible. Stand Watie, a mixed-blood Cherokee, had been born
in Georgia and was one of the signers of the New Echota Treaty, which sold
Cherokee lands in Georgia to the United States government. He was also a
prosperous Cherokee landowner and businessman, a brilliant warrior, and
a member of an opposition faction within the Cherokee tribe. His signature
on the new Echota Treaty put him at odds with the more dominant faction
of the Cherokee Nation, led by John Ross.

Stand Watie
Stand Watie was a great leader, and even in the face of extreme hard-
ships, especially during the winter months, he kept his regiment together
and participated in numerous battles. Although the treaties that had been
signed with the Confederacy promised that Indian regiments would not
be required to fight outside Indian Territory, Stand Waties troops also
were called to duty in Missouri and Arkansas. Over a four-year span,
the old Cherokee warrior and his forces fought at Wilsons Creek, New-
tonia, Bird Creek, Pea Ridge, Spavinaw, Fort Wayne, Fort Gibson, Honey
214 / Civil War

Springs, Webbers Falls, Poison Spring, Massard Prairie, and Cabin Creek.
Stand Waties abilities on the battlefield were widely recognized and
greatly heralded by both his contemporaries and historians. His greatest
skills were gaining and keeping the confidence of his troops and his wily
guerrilla tactics. Stand Waties regiment, without his presence on the field,
also fought the Second Battle at Newtonia in Southwest Missouri in 1864.
The first Newtonia battle, fought in 1862, is of major historic significance,
because it was the only Civil War battle in which American Indians fought
on both sides.
In most battles, Stand Waties Confederate Cherokees fought admirably.
In a losing cause at the Battle of Pea Ridge in Arkansas, however, they and
Colonel Drews troops were accused of bad conduct because they were too
easily routed during the battle and because they allegedly scalped some of
the federal casualties. This act, when reported to the upper command of
the Confederate Army, created a great embarrassment among officers,
most of whom had been trained at such prestigious military academies as
West Point, where cadets were taught to be gentlemen as well as warriors.
The loss at Pea Ridge was made even greater by the death of General
McCulloch, who had organized and fought with the Cherokees from the

Shifting Allegiances
Despite the overwhelming support given the Confederacy in 1861,
when the tide of war turned in favor of the Union and the Confederacy be-
came unable to supply its forces on the frontier, disenchantment took hold
of the leaders of the various tribes. In February, 1863, the Cherokee Council
met on Cowskin Prairie in Indian Territory and voted to end its alliance
with the Confederacy. Colonel Stand Watie refused to accept the vote and
vowed to continue his fight. This created an even deeper split in the Chero-
kee tribe.
Stand Waties forces and Cherokee civilians with attachments in the
South remained loyal to Stand Watie, even establishing a government that
they claimed was the legitimate government of the Cherokee Nation.
These Southern sympathizers elected Stand Watie as the principal chief.
Those now aligned with Union forces recognized John Ross as their chief,
although he left Indian Territory and returned to his wifes family in Penn-
sylvania. At the time of this deepening split, there were about ten thousand
Cherokees with Union sympathies and seven thousand supporters of the
Confederacy. This situation actually created a civil war within a civil war.
On May 10, 1864, Stand Watie was promoted to the rank of brigadier
general, the only American Indian to attain this rank in the Civil War. In the
Native American Combatants / 215

remaining months of the conflict, General Stand Watie fought without res-
ervations for the Confederacy. One of his most spectacular successes was
the sinking of the steam-driven ferry J. R. Williams on the Arkansas River at
Pleasant Bluff and making off with food and clothing for his Cherokee and
Creek troopers, breaking a major supply route for Union forces at Fort Gib-
son. Successful raids on Union supplies kept Stand Waties forces busy,
supplied, and inspired to stay in the fight.
Because the battlefield situation for the Confederacy was growing
worse, Stand Watie called all the Cherokee units to his camp on June 24,
1864. At that meeting, the Cherokee Troops, Confederate States of Amer-
ica, resolved to unanimously re-enlist as soldiers for the war, be it long
or short. In September of 1864, Stand Watie masterminded a plan to at-
tack and steal a Union supply-wagon train worth one million dollars. This
battle was fought at Cabin Creek in Indian Territory and is said to have
been Stand Waties greatest success. His brilliance and bravery were not
enough, however, as the Confederacy was losing battle after battle. On
April 9, 1865, General Robert E. Lee surrendered for the Confederacy at
Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia. General Stand Watie fought on, hop-
ing to win the battle for the West, but it was not to be. On June 23, 1865,
when Brigadier General Stand Watie surrendered at Doakesville in Indian
Territory, he became the last Confederate general to lay down his sword.
The contribution made by American Indians in the Civil War was enor-
mous. An estimated 3,500 fought for the Union and 1,018, or more than 28
percent, died while in service to their country. Census figures in the Chero-
kee Nation showed a population of 21,000 in 1860. By 1867, that number
had dropped to 13,566. Approximately one-third of the nation had been
lost, either in battle or to hunger and exposure, which were suffered by sol-
diers and civilians alike. After the war, General Stand Watie became more
involved in the political activities of the Cherokee Nation and in resettling
his people in the aftermath of the conflict. On September 7, 1871, the great
general became ill and was taken to his old home at Honey Creek, where
he died on September 9.
Kay Hively

Women in the War

The Civil War is an excellent illustration of how gender roles are transformed
during a military conflict when women are allowed to enter into previously male-
dominated positions of power.

The Civil War generated a considerable amount of social, economic, and po-
litical change for American women. Because the conflict called for a substan-
tial number of men to leave their families and enter military service, women
were required to accept responsibilities and tasks that had previously been
limited to men. Yet, although these contributions had a direct impact on
the outcome of the war, the majority of American women were forced to re-
turn to their traditional domestic roles following the end of the war in 1865.

The Abolitionist Movement

In 1860 and 1861, many Southern states decided to secede from the
United States and fight a civil war rather than dismantle their system of Af-
rican American slavery. For decades, female activists had flocked to the ab-
olitionist movement and exerted considerable pressure on the Southern
slavocracy. Individuals such as author Lydia Maria Child published
pamphlets and books condemning this institution. Her coverage of John
Browns 1859 raid at Harpers Ferry in Virginia attracted national attention
and helped to increase support for African American freedom. Harriet
Tubman, a former slave from Maryland, escaped to Philadelphia in 1849
and, during the 1850s, organized the Underground Railroad to help run-
away slaves obtain freedom in the North. Other activists, bolstered by the
first successful womens rights convention at Seneca Falls, New York, in
1848, also agitated for slaverys demise and demanded equal rights for all
Americans regardless of race or sex. In fact, although many male politi-
cians continued to search for a negotiated settlement, female abolitionists
refused to accept any compromise on slavery.
During the first two years of the war, many women delivered speeches,
conducted letter-writing campaigns, and pressured President Abraham
Lincoln to free all slaves still held in bondage in the South. When Lincoln
eventually issued his famous Emancipation Proclamation on January 1,
1863, most female abolitionists remained skeptical and lobbied for a consti-
tutional amendment that would eliminate this practice forever. Two lead-
ing feminist reformers, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony,
formed the Womans National Loyal League in 1863. During the next two
years, they enlisted the assistance of numerous other leading feminists and
Women in the War / 217

ultimately attained nationwide support in 1865 for the Thirteenth Amend-

ment to the Constitution, which banned slavery in the United States. In ad-
dition, this organization provided women with an opportunity to cham-
pion equal rights for women, and many of the leagues members later
served as the leaders of the emerging woman suffrage movement.

Industrial Developments
The war also granted women greater access to newly developing indus-
trial jobs and economic household power. With more and more men enter-
ing the conflict, women were required to oversee farm production, planta-
tions, and rural businesses. This task became increasingly difficult in the
South following the introduction of the Union blockade. Unable to secure
goods from foreign sources, Southern women assumed responsibility for
sustaining the food supply for both the troops and the home front. Other
shortages forced them to produce cotton and wool clothing, construct
tents, sew flags, and manufacture medical bandages. Wealthy women su-
pervised lumber mills, widows served as government clerks, and other
women became schoolteachers. Although critical shortages of goods and
services would ultimately contribute to the Souths defeat in 1865, South-
ern women performed duties well beyond their prewar domestic sphere of
influence, and consequently, their efforts enabled the Confederate Army to
withstand and survive countless material hardships.
While the South struggled with shortages, wartime production created
an unprecedented need for industrial goods in the North. Clothing, muni-

One of the most famous women to

serve with Union troops during the
Civil War was Mary Tippee (also
known as Tebe or Tepe), who carried
water and provided laundry and sew-
ing services for the men in the 114th
Pennsylvania infantry company. In
this photo she wears a medal that she
won for valor in combat.
(National Archives)
218 / Civil War

tions, and other manufactured goods were in high demand, and with the
loss of income because their husbands and sons were fighting at the front,
women flocked to the mills. These opportunities, however, did not result
in increased prosperity. Women were forced to accept substandard wages,
and many barely escaped starvation.
In New York City alone, more than twenty thousand women were em-
ployed in the clothing industry as stitchers and sewers. Working fifteen-
hour days, they were forced to pay for their own thread and any damaged
goods, but these women refused to accept their fate. In 1863, they formed
the Working Womens Union, and by the end of the war, they were able to
mobilize female clothing workers throughout the Northern industrial belt.
These efforts eventually helped to produce greater female participation in
the emerging American labor movement; similar to the abolitionist experi-
ence, this venture significantly contributed to the rise of modern feminism
in post-Civil War America.

The Military Front

Despite all the adversities and difficulties women suffered on the home
front, their contributions on the military front as nurses and spies provided
vital support throughout the war. By mid-1861, Elizabeth Blackwell, the
first woman to earn an M.D., in 1849, organized the United States Sanitary
Commission. This organization raised funds for medical supplies and re-
cruited and trained nurses. It also labored to improve sanitation in Army
camps. Through the establishment of several local chapters, the commis-
sion ensured that soldiers received their back pay and pensions. It pro-
vided help for disabled veterans, obtained jobs for soldiers wives, and
eventually, by the wars end, raised more than $50 million.
Other women achieved similar successes. Dorothea Dix, a renowned
prison reformer and advocate for the mentally ill, also trained nurses and
eventually was appointed as superintendent of army nurses. Clara Barton,
a former patent office clerk, labored endlessly in hospitals and battlefields
as a one-woman aid society. She helped families locate relatives missing in
action, and she was able to provide a dignified grave site for more than
thirteen thousand men who perished at the notorious Andersonville
prison in Georgia. These accomplishments, moreover, generated long-
term gains that facilitated the rise of modern American feminism. After the
war, Barton and others eventually formed the American Red Cross and
helped the nursing profession gain legitimacy in the medical field.
Southern women followed a similar path. Several middle- and upper-
class women quickly erected army hospitals following the outbreak of hos-
tilities. In Virginia, Sally Louisa Thompkins, who later received a commis-
Women in the War / 219

Clara Barton.
(National Archives)

sion as a captain in the Confederate Army, established a hospital in Rich-

mond. Others served in military stations at the front and helped to create
fund-raising agencies similar to the United States Sanitary Commission. In
September, 1862, the Confederate Congress passed a law granting women
official positions in the army medical service, and, like their Northern
counterparts, Southern nurses helped to eliminate barriers for others.

Female spies on both sides also provided military leaders with indis-
pensable logistical information. Some helped prisoners of war escape; oth-
ers befriended generals and politicians in order to destroy the enemys ele-
ment of surprise. More than four hundred women, moreover, concealed
their sex and fought in the war. Although military combat was largely
limited to men, female spies and soldiers are further indications of how
the war affected the rise of modern feminism.
Although the majority of women were forced to return to their domestic
roles following the Civil War, this period marked a significant turning
point in womens history. Wartime experiences shattered the myth that
women could not endure the rigors of economics, politics, and war. No
longer content to sit at home and leave the decision making to men,
women gained self-confidence from their wartime ordeals, which fortified
the growing feminist movement and eventually helped countless women
achieve unprecedented personal success in post-Civil War affairs.
Robert D. Ubriaco, Jr.

Campaigns, Battles, and

Other Events

October, 1859
Harpers Ferry
Date: October 16-18, 1859
Location: Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now part of West Virginia)
Principal figures: John Brown (1800-1859), John H. Kagi (1835?-1859),
Robert Edward Lee (1807-1870), Franklin Benjamin Sanborn (1831-1917),
Governor Henry Alexander Wise (1806-1876)
Result: The raid was an attempt by a militant abolitionist to liberate and
arm Virginia slaves and help force a civil war.

John Browns abortive raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia
(now West Virginia), in October, 1859, stands out as a critical episode in the
spiraling sequence of events that led Northerners and Southerners into the
Civil War in 1861. Brown, long a militant abolitionist, emigrated to Kansas
Territory in 1855 with five of his sons to participate in the struggle between
proslavery and antislavery forces for control of the territory. Their insur-
rection was in the same spirit as earlier violence perpetrated by abolition-
ist, Free State militias such as the Border Ruffians following election of a
proslavery, territorial legislature in 1854. With a small band of Free State
men, Brown helped initiate civil war in Kansas by murdering five alleg-
edly proslavery settlers along Pottawatomie Creek, in May, 1856. Histo-
rians would later dub this era Bleeding Kansas.

John Brown
Browns experience in the Kansas civil war convinced him that a con-
spiracy existed to seize the national territories for slavery. Having long
since lost faith in combating slavery by peaceful means, Brown vowed to
strike a violent blow at the heart of slavery. An intense Calvinist, Brown
had come to believe that he was Gods personal instrument to eradicate the
inhuman institution. As early as 1857, he had decided to seize a mountain
fortress in Virginia with a small guerrilla force and incite a bloody slave re-
bellion that would overthrow the slave powers throughout the South.
October, 1859: Harpers Ferry / 221

To that end, Brown sought funds and arms from abolitionists in the
North. Under the guise of seeking money to continue the Free State fight in
Kansas, Brown secured the friendship and financial aid of the Massachu-
setts State Kansas Committeea group dedicated to helping the Free-Soil
forces in Kansas and elsewhere. The resolute and persuasive Brown won
the support of six prominent antislavery figures, who agreed to form a
secret Committee of Six to advise him and raise money for his still-secret
The Secret Six consisted of a well-educated group of dedicated abolition-
ists and reformers: Franklin B. Sanborn, a young Concord schoolteacher
and secretary of the Massachusetts State Kansas Committee; Thomas Wen-
tworth Higginson, a disunion abolitionist and outspoken Unitarian
minister; Theodore Parker, a controversial theologian-preacher; Samuel
Gridley Howe, a prominent physician and educator; George Luther Stearns,
a prosperous merchant and chairman of the Massachusetts State Kansas
Committee; and Gerrit Smith, a wealthy New York landowner and re-

Throughout the remainder of 1857, the indefatigable Brown trained a
small group of adventurers and militant abolitionists in preparation for his
mission. In May, 1858, Brown moved on to Chatham, Canada, holding a se-
cret constitutional convention attended by thirty-four African Ameri-

John Brown, from a daguerreotype

made around 1856.
(National Archives)
222 / Civil War

cans and twelve whites. There, he outlined his plans to invade Virginia, lib-
erate and arm the slaves, defeat any military force brought against them,
organize the African Americans into a government, and force the Southern
states to concede emancipation. Under Browns leadership, the convention
approved a constitution for a new state once the slaves were freed, and
elected Brown commander in chief with John Kagi, his chief lieutenant, as
secretary of war.
Browns proposed invasion was delayed in 1858, when a disgruntled
follower partially betrayed the plans to several prominent politicians. The
expos so frightened the Secret Six that they urged Brown to return to Kan-
sas and create a diversionary operation until rumors of the Virginia plan
dissipated. Brown also agreed not to inform the Secret Six of the details of
his plans, so that they could not be held responsible in case the invasion
failed. In December, 1858, Brown conducted the diversion as planned, by
leading a raid into Missouri, liberating eleven slaves, and escorting them to
Canada. He then began final preparations for the invasion of Virginia.

The Raid
Harpers Ferry, situated at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenan-
doah Rivers in northern Virginia, was the initial target in Browns plan, be-
cause he needed weapons from the federal arsenal to arm the liberated

Confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers at Harpers Ferry, in 1865. (National
October, 1859: Harpers Ferry / 223

slaves. Brown and three of his men arrived at Harpers Ferry on July 3, 1859,
and set up headquarters at the Kennedy farm, seven miles east of Harpers
Ferry in Maryland. The rest of Browns twenty-one young recruits (sixteen
whites and five African Americans) slowly trickled in. On the night of Oc-
tober 16, 1859, after several months of refining his plans, Brown led eigh-
teen of his followers in an assault on the arsenal and rifle works at Harpers
Ferry. They quickly captured the arsenal, the armory, and a nearby rifle
works, and then seized hostages from among the townspeople and sur-
rounding countryside.
Fearing a slave insurrection, the armed townspeople gathered in the
streets, and church bells tolled the alarm. Brown stood his ground, anx-
iously waiting for the slaves from the countryside to rally to his cause.
By 11:00 a.m. the next day, Browns menholed up in the small fire-
enginehouse of the armoryengaged in a pitched battle with the assem-
bled townspeople, farmers, and militia. By dawn the following morning, a
company of horse Marines under the command of Colonel Robert E. Lee
took up positions in front of the armory. When Brown refused Lees
summons to surrender unconditionally, the Marines stormed the armory,
wounded Brown, and routed his followers. Seventeen people died in the
raid; ten of the dead, including two of Browns sons, were raiders. Five
raiders were captured, two were taken prisoner several days later, but five
escaped without a trace.

Governor Henry A. Wise of Virginia decided that Brown and his
coconspirators should be tried in Virginia rather than by federal authori-
ties, even though their attack had been against federal property. Brown
and the captured raiders stood trial at Charles Town, Virginia; on October
31, the jury found them guilty of inciting a slave rebellion, murder, and
treason against the state of Virginia. After the trial, in a final attempt to save
his life, Browns lawyers collected affidavits from many of his friends and
relatives alleging that Brown suffered from hereditary insanity and mono-
mania. Brown rejected his defense, claiming that he was sane. He knew
that he could better serve the abolitionist cause as a martyr, a sentiment
shared by Northern abolitionists. Governor Wise agreed that Brown was
sane, and on December 2, 1859, John Brown was hanged at Charles Town.
Six of his fellow conspirators met a similar fate.
Browns raid intensified the sectional bitterness that led to the Civil
War. Although the vast majority of Northerners condemned the incident as
the work of a fanatic, the outraged South, racked by rumors of a slave in-
surrection, suspected all Northerners of abetting Browns crime. Republi-
224 / Civil War

can denials of any link with Brown were of little avail. Northern abolition-
ists, including the Secret Six, who had been cleared of complicity, gathered
by the hundreds throughout the North to honor and acclaim Browns mar-
tyrdom. The South was in no mood to distinguish between the Northern
Republicans who wanted to contain slavery and the small group of aboli-
tionists who sought to destroy the institution. The South withdrew even
further into a defense of its peculiar institution, stifled internal criticism,
and intensified its hatred and suspicion of the Black Republican Party. In
1861, Northerners marched to war to the tune of John Browns Body
fulfilling Browns prophecy that the crimes of this guilty land will never
be purged away; but with Blood.
Terry L. Seip
updated by Richard Whitworth

April, 1861
Battle of Fort Sumter
Date: April 12-14, 1861
Location: Charleston, South Carolina
Combatants: 80 Union vs. 2,000 Confederate troops
Principal commanders: Union, Major Robert Anderson (1805-1871); Con-
federate, General P. G. T. Beauregard (1818-1893)
Result: By capturing Fort Sumter, the Confederacy opened the war with a
important symbolic victory.

On April 12, 1861, at 4:30 in the morning, Confederate forces began the
Civil War with a bombardment of the large masonry fort commanding the
shipping lanes into Charleston harbor. Thousands of Confederates filled
the city and occupied outer islands, surrounding the installation and mak-
ing escape or reinforcement nearly impossible. Defending the fort was a
skeleton garrison, which lacked necessary manpower and supplies for an
effective defense. Major Robert Anderson kept his men under cover and
gave limited return fire. General P. G. T. Beauregard kept up the shelling
from batteries carefully positioned around the harbor. For thirty-four
hours, the shells rained down until a fire within the fort near the powder
magazine prompted surrender. Surprisingly, neither side suffered casual-
ties nor were any civilians hurt, and the only deaths came when a gun sa-
lute exploded at the surrender ceremony. Union President Abraham Lin-
July, 1861: First Bull Run / 225

Confederate gunners bombarding the Union-held Fort Sumter. (Library of Congress)

coln responded to the loss of the fort by calling for 75,000 volunteers to
suppress the Southerners rebellion.
The firing on Fort Sumter meant the beginning of war between the
Union and Confederacy. The Confederate victory boosted Southern mo-
rale. For the Union, the loss only strengthened resolve to preserve the
Union at all costs. Across the nation, war fever swept up many men who
joined the armies of both sides.
Henry O. Robertson

July, 1861
First Battle of Bull Run
Date: July 21, 1861
Location: Bull Run Creek, or Manassas Junction, Virginia
Combatants: 35,000 Union vs. 30,000 Confederate troops
Principal commanders: Union, Brigadier General Irvin McDowell (1818-
1885); Confederate, Brigadier General P. G. T. Beauregard (1818-1893),
Brigadier General Stonewall Jackson (1824-1863)
Result: The first major armed confrontation of the war resulted in a victory
for the South and a mutual realization of the terrible brutality of battle.
226 / Civil War

The Civil War began on April 12, 1861, at Charleston, South Carolina, when
Confederate forces fired on Fort Sumter. For three months thereafter, small
fights but no major battles occurred from the Atlantic coast west to Mis-
souri. Then, during July, in the vicinity of a watercourse in northern Vir-
ginia called Bull Run, Union and Confederate soldiers met in the largest
battle ever fought to that time on the North American continent. That great
conflict, the First Battle of Manassas, or Bull Run, was the first of many
bloody engagements that marked the road between Washington and Rich-
mond, the capitals of the old Union and the new Confederacy.
With the decision, in May, 1861, to make Richmond the infant nations
capital, Confederate leaders began to strengthen their forces in northern
Virginia. President Jefferson Davis brought his countrys military hero,
General Pierre G. T. Beauregard, the conqueror of Fort Sumter, to help di-
rect those forces. These troops could both threaten Washington, D.C., and
protect Richmond, from a suitable distance. The Confederates were di-
vided into two main groups: one, under Beauregard, numbering about
twenty-four thousand troops, was centered on Manassas Junction, thirty
miles southwest of Washington; the other, under General Joseph E.
Johnston, numbering about eleven thousand, was situated sixty miles west
of Manassas, near Winchester, Virginia.

Union Preparations
While the Confederates were establishing themselves in these posi-
tions, the North was beginning to build its military machine. After the bat-
tle at Fort Sumter, President Abraham Lincoln had issued an initial call for
seventy-five thousand volunteers. Across the Union, armies were being
formed. Directing this mobilization from Washington, seventy-five-year-
old Winfield Scott, veteran of a half-century of military service and general
in chief, tried to make order out of chaos. Under Scott, Brigadier General
Irvin McDowell was in command of the Union forces stationed across the
Potomac River in Virginia. From his headquarters in Arlington House,
which had been the home of Robert E. Lee, McDowell strove to weld his
raw recruits into an effective fighting force.

Scotts Plan
General Scott, who had more experience than any other officer in the
United States Army, developed a plan for the war known as the Anaconda
Plan. According to Scotts strategic concepts, the Union fleet would seize
the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, thereby dividing the Confederacy in two.
The Navy would then blockade all major Southern ports, prohibiting ex-
portation of cotton and importation of war material. The South then would
July, 1861: First Bull Run / 227

Confederate fortifications at the first Battle of Bull Run, which the Confederacy called the
Battle of Manassas. (National Archives)

be strangled slowly in a vise-like grip (hence the name Anaconda Plan).

There would be few casualties, and best of all, a wholesale bloodbath in-
volving Americans would be avoided, making reconciliation easier.
Scott, who had worked so well with the Navy in the Mexican War, knew
that it would take time to train the flood of volunteers, and the longer com-
bat could be avoided, the better it would be for all concerned. Scott, a sol-
dier, thought in military terms, and he did not have to face the tremendous
political pressures that Lincoln was experiencing. Except for the naval
blockade, Lincoln rejected Scotts plan in favor of more direct, immediate
attacks demanded by his Northern constituency. (Through bitter experi-
ence, the Union would eventually gain victory by a process that, in most
essentials, resembled Scotts original plan.)
The troops pouring into Washington were totally ignorant of war, and
they had not the slightest idea of drill, military discipline, or camp sanita-
tion. Many Northern units wore gray uniforms, and many Southern troops
wore blue uniforms. For both sides, there was a bewildering variation in
weapons. Some Rebels and Yankees arrived in their camps with anti-
quated flintlock muskets and obsolete smoothbore muskets. Officers on
both sides read the drill manual while putting their troops through the re-
228 / Civil War

quired formations. With many units bringing cooks from the best restau-
rants in New York or New Orleans, the opposing camps took on the air of
summer outings rather than schools for war. Scott knew that these green
attitudes would spell disaster when the issue was finally joined on the bat-
While Scott and McDowell wanted time to organize and train their
troops, Northern public opinion demanded action. A clamor arose for a
march to Richmond to put down the rebellion in order to teach the Rebels a
lesson. President Lincoln also urged offensive movement, for he believed
the North had to attack to win. Finally, upon Lincolns order, McDowells
untried army of about thirty-five thousand moved south toward Beau-
regards Confederates. No previous American had ever taken so large an
army into battle.

The Battle
Beauregard, with his army drawn up behind a small stream named Bull
Run, knew about McDowells advance. To reinforce the defending army,
the Confederate government ordered General Joseph E. Johnston to come
to Beauregards aid. Johnston began transferring his troops eastward, but
before Beauregard could launch his attack, McDowell struck. On the morn-
ing of July 21, he ordered his army across Bull Run and hit Beauregards
left flank. His well-planned assault drove the Confederates back in chaos
and confusion. The inexperienced troops on both sides fought well, but the

Union troops retreating at the first Battle of Bull Run. (F. R. Niglutsch)
July, 1861: First Bull Run / 229

Union soldiers steadily forced the Confederates to retreat toward Henry

House Hill, the commanding topographical feature on the battlefield.
As the advancing Union regiments approached the hill, they ran into el-
ements of Johnstons army. Johnston had used the railroad to transport his
soldiers (a first in warfare), which enabled him to move rapidly to make
his junction with Beauregard. Just as the Confederate line on Henry House
Hill seemed about to break, General Bernard Bee of South Carolina
pointed to a Virginia brigade on the crest and shouted to his beleaguered
comrades that it was standing like a stone wall against the Union on-
slaught. General Thomas J. Jacksons stand saved the day for the Confeder-
ate troops and earned the general the sobriquet Stonewall.
With Johnstons fresh troops, the Confederates began advancing. Ini-
tially, the Northern units withdrew in an orderly fashion. Suddenly Union
units were attacked with great violence by Colonel Jeb Stuarts First Vir-
ginia Cavalry. Heat, weariness, and lack of water and food began to take
their toll, and the Northern troops began, often with no orders, to with-
draw from the field. Officers tried with varying degrees of success to keep
the troops on the field, while some took charge of the withdrawing regi-
ments to ensure some semblance of order. When Confederate artillery fire
caused the blocking of a key bridge, the retreat became a rout. Caught up in
the Union rout were dignitaries from Washington, including congressmen,
who had come down to have a Sunday picnic in the countryside and watch
the gallant Northern boys whip the Rebels.

Although the Confederates had defeated their enemy and possessed
the battlefield, they could not press their advantage. They were too ex-
hausted and too disorganized to mount a major pursuit and threaten
Washington. The Confederates had administered the Union a smashing
defeat, yet, like most of the battles that were to follow, this one was indeci-
sive, for it produced neither serious military disadvantage for the North
nor advantage for the South. The First Battle of Bull Run was widely cele-
brated in the South, but it was Lincoln and the North that began a serious
training and supply program for their troops. In this, the Union gained a
slight advantage from the battle.
Although it would be dwarfed in size and ferocity in the months ahead,
this first great battle clearly demonstrated that the North and the South
were faced, not with a romantic adventure, but with a real and brutal war.
William J. Cooper, Jr.
updated by James J. Cooke
230 / Civil War

February, 1862
Battle of Fort Donelson
Date: February 11-16, 1862
Location: Tennessee River in western Tennessee
Combatants: 24,000 Union vs. 12,000 Confederate troops
Principal commanders: Union, Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant (1822-
1885), Flag Officer Andrew Foote (1806-1863); Confederates, Brigadier
General John Floyd (1806-1863), Brigadier General Gideon Pillow
(1806-1878), Brigadier General Simon Buckner (1823-1914)
Result: Union victory and surrender of a Confederate garrison.

Early in February, 1862, Union general Ulysses S. Grant began a campaign

along the Tennessee River to open the western portion of the state. On Feb-
ruary 6, sixteen transports and gunboats carried 15,000 of Grants troops in
a combined attack on Fort Henry, forcing its surrender.
The next day, Grant marched his army toward Fort Donelson, a distance
of twelve miles. On February 14, an assault on the fort by Grants troops
was repulsed. Grant and Flag Officer Andrew Foote spent the next two
days surrounding the fort, which was commanded by General John Floyd,
who was assisted by General Gideon Pillow and General Simon Buckner.
Despite a partial breakout led by Nathan Bedford Forrest, most of the Con-
federate forces were trapped. On February 16, Grant sent a message to
General Buckner, demanding unconditional and immediate surrender,
earning the nickname Unconditional Surrender (U.S.) Grant. Buckner
accepted the terms.
Union casualties in the campaign totaled approximately 2,300, and
Confederate losses totaled more than 1,400. The capture of Forts Henry
and Donelson represented the first victories for forces under the command
of General Grant. The victory ensured that Kentucky would remain in the
Richard Adler

March, 1862
Monitor vs. Virginia
Date: March 9, 1862
Location: Hampton Roads, Virginia
Combatants: USS Monitors 58-man crew vs. CSS Virginias 150-man crew
March, 1862: Monitor vs. Virginia / 231

Principal commanders: Union, Lieutenant John Worden (1818-1887), Lieu-

tenant Samuel Dana Greene (1840-1884); Confederate, Captain Franklin
Buchanan (1800-1874), Lieutenant Catesby ap R. Jones (1821-1877)
Result: This historic battle between ironclad ships marked the beginning
of a new era in naval warfare.

To build a new navy while his new nation was engaged in a war for survival,
Confederate secretary of the navy Stephen R. Mallory determined to adapt
new technologies. First on his agenda was equipping his navy with ironclad
warships. Although both France and England were building such vessels,
the Union navy had maintained its faith in wooden frigates, sloops, and
gunboats. The new Southern nation, agrarian in outlook and character,
had neither the skilled shipbuilding personnel nor the iron-manufacturing
industry to lay down a fleet of iron-armored war vessels immediately. Yet
Mallory lobbied the Confederate Congress for such new and expensive
technology, telling them, I regard the possession of an iron armored vessel
as a matter of the first necessity. The Confederacy could never compete
with the U.S. Navy in numbers of vessels, he said; thus, armored ships that
could stand up to squadrons of wooden-walled frigates were essential.
Mallory sent agents to England to order ironclads from British and Scot-
tish naval yards, and at home, he put naval lieutenant John M. Brooke and
naval constructor John L. Porter to work designing an ironclad to be built
for the Confederacy. Independently, both developed the same designthe
ships gun deck protected by an armored casemate, its sides sloping in-
ward to ricochet enemy shot. The decks fore and aft of the casemate would
ride at water level, and boilers and machinery would be carried below the
waterline to further protect them from enemy fire.

The Union Navy

Union secretary of the navy Gideon Welles, blessed with a strong fleet
of conventional wooden warships, was less inclined toward new tech-
nology than were others, such as Swedish-born inventor John Ericsson.
Ericsson took a number of recent ideas and combined them into a new and
radical ironclad design. Instead of a long casemate housing many guns, his
ironclad would mount two huge cannons in a round, revolving turret, set
squarely in the center of a flat-decked iron ship.
When the Union navy abandoned its base at Norfolk, Virginia, to the
Confederates, it burned and scuttled several war vessels, including the six-
year-old steam frigate Merrimack. The frigates hull, the Rebels found,
would make a good platform for their casemated ironclad, and the con-
version began. When word of it reached President Abraham Lincoln and
232 / Civil War

Secretary Welles, it spurred the Union navy into immediate action on

ironclads. The peculiar vessel John Ericsson called the Monitor was now a
top naval priority.
The Confederates named the ship they built from the remains of the
Merrimack the CSS Virginia. Yet, perhaps because of the alliterative proper-
ties of the Monitor and the Merrimack, the name of the earlier, U.S.
wooden frigate has been used most often to identify the Confederate ves-
sel. Even during the war, Confederate citizens and newspapers referred to
the Confederate ironclad Virginia as the Merrimack.
The race to have an ironclad combat-ready and on the eastern fighting
front resulted in a draw. The Monitor, built in one hundred days, showed
development problems on its trial runs. Its speed was minimal because of a
malfunctioning blower, and it would barely answer the helm, weaving like
a drunkard between the shores of Brooklyn and Manhattan. Ericsson fixed
these problems, and on March 6, 1862, the Monitor left New York bound for
Hampton Roads to meet the threat of the Virginia.

The Virginia
The Confederates Virginia made its trial run on March 8, steaming to-
ward the U.S. blockading squadron in Hampton Roads. The vessels com-
mander, Franklin Buchanan, made it a trial by fire, steaming with an un-
tried, ten-gun vessel into the teeth of the enemys naval might. The Virginia
rammed and sank the forty-four-gun Cumberland and chased aground the
fifty-gun Congress, the forty-six-gun Minnesota, and the forty-six-gun St.
Lawrence. The Virginias shells set the Congress afire. The Yankees return
fire had no effect on the ironclad.
Burning and aground, the Congress surrendered. Confederate gunboats
moved in to evacuate wounded sailors from the vessel, drawing small-arms
fire from U.S. soldiers ashore. Captain Buchanan returned fire from the Vir-
ginias foredeck and was wounded in the thigh. Command of the ironclad
passed to his executive officer, Catesby ap R. Jones. With the tide falling, two
Union ships destroyed, and two more aground and awaiting execution,
Jones avoided grounding the Virginia by taking it back to its moorings near
Norfolk. The next morning, with the rising tide, the Virginia steamed back
into the Hampton Roads to finish off the wooden fleet. Unexpectedly, they
encountered the Monitor, which had arrived during the night. The two
ironclads immediately locked in combat, the wooden ships all but forgotten.

The Battle
Carrying only explosive shell (no solid shot) in anticipation of fighting
only wooden ships, the Virginia was unable to penetrate the Monitors ar-
March, 1862: Monitor vs. Virginia / 233

mor. One of its shells damaged the Monitors pilot house, however, wound-
ing the captain, Commander John L. Worden. Lieutenant S. Dana Greene
assumed command. The Monitors shot broke some iron plating on the Vir-
ginia but could not penetrate its armor. For four hours, the two heavy-
weights fought it out, giving spectators around Hampton Roads a show
some thought to be the greatest naval battle of all time.
A falling tide finally forced the deep-draft Virginia to break off the en-
gagement and steam for home. The Virginia returned to a heros welcome,
but Jones and others aboard were frustrated at having sunk neither the
Monitor nor the Minnesota. In four hours combat, Jones had developed a
great respect for the Monitor. Give me that vessel, he told a friend, and I
will sink this one in twenty minutes. In subsequent days, the Virginia was
unable to force the Monitor to resume the duel. Secretary Welles forbade
the Monitor the option of renewing the fight unless it were absolutely nec-
essary to save the wooden blockading fleet.

Southerners looked to subsequent Confederate ironclads to break the
Union blockade of their port cities. Mallory had thought that the Virginia
could steam to New York, carrying the war to the north and laying that city
under tribute. Buchanan told him that was impossible: The Virginia was
not seaworthy. (Neither was the Monitor. It went down at sea within weeks
after the Virginia was burned when McClellans army forced the evacua-

Near-contemporary illustration of the battle between the USS Monitor and the CSS Vir-
ginia. (National Archives)
234 / Civil War

tion of Norfolk.) This quick dashing of Mallorys offensive hopes may have
made him more amenable to President Jefferson Daviss idea of fighting a
strictly defensive war. Thus, the score and more of Confederate ironclads
the Virginia spawned stayed mostly on the defensive, successfully holding
the ports of Mobile, Savannah, Charleston, and Wilmington, as well as the
capital city of Richmond, against the Union Navy. All were taken, like Nor-
folk, by armies from the rear.
The Monitor, too, begat copies. This style of Union ironclad proved su-
perior, with its lighter draft, heavily armored turret, and larger guns, when
tried in battle against the Confederate ironclads Atlanta and Tennessee; and
its revolving turret became the standard of the worlds navies for the next
Armored ships and floating batteries had seen combat before the Vir-
ginia fought the Monitor, but the devastation the Virginia wrought on the
U.S. wooden ships, and the publicity surrounding the entire Hampton
Roads affair, made the contest of the Virginia and the Monitor the defining
moment in the worlds move from wood to armor in naval warfare.
Maurice K. Melton

April, 1862
Battle of Shiloh
Date: April 6-7, 1862
Location: Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee (Tennessee River; 110 miles east of
Combatants: 66,812 Union vs. 44,700 Confederate troops
Principal commanders: Union, Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885); Confederate,
Albert Sidney Johnston (1803-1862)
Result: Union defeat of Confederate forces.

On April 6, 1862, about 44,700 Confederate troops under command of Al-

bert Sidney Johnston launched a surprise attack on Ulysses S. Grants
Union troops camped at Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee. During twelve
hours of fighting, Confederate forces concentrated sixty-two pieces of ar-
tillery in the hornets nest, which was the largest concentration to this
date of artillery on the North American continent. General Johnston was
fatally wounded, and General P. G. T. Beauregard replaced him as com-
mander of the Confederate troops. Despite Grants attempts to make a
June-July, 1862: Seven Days Battles / 235

General Pierre G. T. Beauregard.

(National Archives)

strong defensive stand, the Confederates forced his troops to retreat to the
Tennessee River. The first day of fighting ended at sundown.
During the night, Union General Don Carlos Buell arrived from Nash-
ville with 17,918 reinforcements. With fresh troops increasing his strength,
Grant attacked the Confederates at dawn. Beauregard, unable to posi-
tion his troops effectively, retreated to Corinth, Mississippi. Union ca-
sualties were 13,087 and Confederates 10,697. The Confederate defeat
at Shiloh helped the Union army gain control of the Mississippi River
Stacy W. Reaves

June-July, 1862
Seven Days Battles
Date: June 25-July 1, 1862
Location: Virginia
Combatants: 70,000 Union vs. 90,000 Confederate troops
Principal commanders: Union, General George B. McClellan (1826-1885);
Confederate General Robert E. Lee (1807-1870)
Result: The Confederacy forced Union forces to retreat.
236 / Civil War

A typical ruse employed during the Civil War was the Confederacys mounting of logs in
place of cannons at this Centerville, Virginia, fortification, to fool Union troops. The
dummy cannons were known as Quaker guns, after the pacifist Society of Friends.
(National Archives)

Union general George B. McClellans Peninsula campaign was underway

in the summer of 1862; the general hoped to lead Union troops to the Con-
federate capital of Richmond. However, in several encounters with rebel
forces, McClellan failed to strike the city. General Robert E. Lee had as-
sumed command of the Confederate forces after General Joseph Eggleston
Johnston had been wounded at the Battle of Seven Pines a few weeks ear-
lier. Lee began preparations to defend Richmond and attacked a Union
corps just south of Chickahominy. During the next week, both sides
clashed at Mechanicsville (June 26), Gaines Mill (June 27), Savage Station
(June 29), White Oak Swamp (June 30), and Malvern Hill (July 1). In this
last battle, Lee ordered waves of infantry up a hill where the Union forces
cut them down with well-positioned artillery. However, although the
Union lost only the Gaines Mill engagement, McClellan made the decision
to retreat.
The Peninsula campaign, especially McClellans failure to pursue Lee
after the Seven Days Battles, reinforced McClellans reputation as a field
commander who lacked aggressiveness. Lee took the offensive in the East;
two months later, Lee and McClellan would meet at Antietam.
Gayla Koerting
August, 1862: Second Bull Run / 237

August, 1862
Second Battle of Bull Run
Date: August 29-30, 1862
Location: Near Manassas Junction, Virginia
Combatants: 75,000 Union vs. 60,000 Confederate troops
Principal commanders: Union, Major General John Pope (1822-1892); Con-
federate, Major General Stonewall Jackson (1824-1863), Major General
James Longstreet (1809-1865)
Result: This decisive Confederate victory set the stage for General Robert
E. Lees first invasion of the North.

Major General John Pope displayed his unfitness for command through-
out the Second Battle of Bull Run (also known as the Second Manassas Bat-
tle). Confused by Stonewall Jacksons destruction of the huge Union sup-
ply depot at Manassas Junction on August 27, Pope ordered his scattered
army to concentrate at Centerville and try to cut off Jackson. However, in-
stead of thinking about escape, Jackson assumed a strong defensive posi-
tion along an abandoned railroad on the battlefield at Bull Run and
awaited attack.

Pontoon bridge at Bull Run, Virginia. (National Archives)

238 / Civil War

Union general John Popes mistakes during the Second Battle of Bull Run gave a victory
to the Confederacy and caused a drop in Union morale. (Library of Congress)

On August 29, Pope attacked Jackson, repeatedly sending in troops as

they arrived on the battlefield. The piecemeal, uncoordinated nature of
these assaults gained little headway; still, when Jackson adjusted his line
that evening, Pope misinterpreted it as a retreat and ordered the attack to
continue the following morning.
These assaults were heavier and better organized, but Pope focused so
much on Jackson that he completely ignored the arrival of Major General
James Longstreets 30,000 Confederates. Consequently, when Longstreet
attacked Popes exposed left on the afternoon of August 30, he sent the en-
tire Union army into a hurried retreat. Only an effective holding action
around Henry House Hill prevented disaster. Union losses exceeded
16,000, while Confederate casualties numbered about 9,200.
Coupled with George B. McClellans withdrawal from the Virginia Pen-
insula, Popes defeat sent Union morale spiraling downward. When Rob-
ert E. Lee moved northward the following week, Abraham Lincoln fired
Pope and restored McClellan to overall command in the east.
Ralph L. Eckert
September, 1862: Antietam / 239

September, 1862
Battle of Antietam
Date: September 17, 1862
Location: Near Sharpsburg, Maryland
Combatants: 70,000-75,000 Union vs. 40,000 Confederate troops
Principal commanders: Union, Major General George B. McClellan (1826-
1885); Confederate, General Robert E. Lee (1807-1870)
Result: A drawn battle that ended General Lees first invasion of the North.

After a copy of his plans detailing the widely scattered nature of his army
fell into Union hands, Confederate general Robert E. Lee hurriedly concen-
trated his troops at Sharpsburg. His Union rival, George B. McClellan, pur-
sued cautiously, assembling his army along Antietam Creek. There on
September 17, the wars bloodiest single-day battle was fought.
Enjoying a nearly two-to-one advantage, McClellan planned to attack
both flanks simultaneously; however, failure by the Union left to advance
in the morning prevented a coordinated assault and allowed Lee to shift
his outnumbered forces frequently throughout the day. No battle during
the American Civil War exceeded Antietams intensity and ferocity. The

President Abraham Lincoln and General George B. McClellan visiting the Antietam bat-
tlefield two weeks after the battle. (National Archives)
240 / Civil War

confused fury of charges and countercharges on the Confederate left raged

from dawn until almost noon. Action shifted to the center where combat-
ants hammered away at each other along the Bloody Lane to the point of
exhaustion. When the Union left finally drove toward Lees rear late in the
afternoon, only the arrival and attack by the last Southern reinforcements
saved Lee from disaster.
There was no fighting the following day, but that evening, Lee with-
drew across the Potomac. Union casualties exceeded 12,400 and Confeder-
ate losses topped 13,700.
Although a tactical draw, Antietam profoundly affected the war. Five
days after the battle, President Abraham Lincoln issued his preliminary
Emancipation Proclamation, broadening the war to include a moral cru-
sade to free the slaves. In doing so, he effectively ended the prospect of for-
eign intervention.
Ralph L. Eckert

October, 1862
Battle of Corinth
Date: October 3-4, 1862
Location: In and around Corinth, Mississippi
Combatants: 128,315 Union vs. 112,000 Confederate troops
Principal commanders: Union, General William S. Rosecrans (1819-1898);
Confederate, General Earl Van Dorn (1820-1863), General Sterling Price
Result: Union troops resisted the Confederate attack and held the Missis-
sippi city of Corinth.

Although the major fighting of the Battle of Corinth took place on October
3-4, 1862, there had been skirmishes dating back to the Battle of Shiloh on
April 6-7. In fact, Shiloh was an attempt by the Confederates to keep the
Union forces away from the city of Corinth, where two major railroads in-
tersected. The Mobile and Ohio Railroad (M&O) and the Memphis and
Charleston Railroad, which crossed at Corinth, connected the Confederate
States from the Mississippi River at Memphis to the Atlantic Ocean at
Charleston, Richmond, and Savannah, and to the Gulf of Mexico at Mobile.
If the Confederacy was to win the war, it had to keep these rail lines open.
After Shiloh, the Confederates retreated to Corinth awaiting the Union
December, 1862: Fredericksburg / 241

attack. On May 29, more than 128,000 Union troops, under General Wil-
liam S. Rosecrans, invaded Corinth in what the Union generals thought
would be the last battle of the war. However, although the Union forces
took the city, the Confederates, led by Generals Earl Van Dorn and Sterling
Price, had evacuated Corinth in the dark of night and retreated to Tupelo.
The Confederates tried to retake the city on October 3, but following two
days of heavy fighting, the assault failed and the Confederates retreated to
The Union controlled the railroads until 1865. Altogether during the
war, more than 300,000 troops were stationed in Corinth, including 200
generals. There were more than one hundred skirmishes in the area.
Dale L. Flesher

December, 1862
Battle of Fredericksburg
Date: December 13, 1862
Location: At and near Fredericksburg, Virginia
Combatants: 130,000 Union vs. 75,000 Confederate troops

Fredericksburg, Virginia, from across the Rappahannock River, a few months after the
battle there. (National Archives)
242 / Civil War

Principal commanders: Union, Major General Ambrose E. Burnside (1824-

1881); Confederate, General Robert E. Lee (1807-1870)
Result: A Confederate victory that was a decisive, dispiriting defeat for the

Even though the Confederates, led by General Robert E. Lee, established a

strong seven-mile defensive line west and south of Fredericksburg, Major
General Ambrose E. Burnside decided to attack there on December 13. His
plan had no chance of succeeding. A diversionary effort to the south
achieved a brief breakthrough in the morning, but failure to press the
advantage guaranteed that the main attack would be made at Fredericks-
burg against an almost impregnable Confederate position along Maryes
Advancing uphill across open ground swept by artillery toward infan-
try well posted on a sunken road behind a stonewall, the Union troops
attacked throughout the afternoon. Given the terrain and Confederate
placements, the offensive degenerated into a series of piecemeal, sui-
cidal, frontal assaults, all of which were repulsed. Nightfall mercifully
ended the slaughter, and two days later, the Union army withdrew
across the Rappahannock River. Fredericksburgone of the most lopsided
battles of the warcost the Union 12,700 lives, the Confederacy barely

General Joseph Hooker.

(National Archives)
May, 1863: Chancellorsville / 243

The futile, almost criminal, sacrifice of Union soldiers at Fredericksburg

drove morale in the North and in the Army of the Potomac to a new low in
the winter of 1862-1863. Burnside was replaced in January, 1863, by Joseph
Hooker, who restored the army to its fighting trim.
Ralph L. Eckert

May, 1863
Battle of Chancellorsville
Date: May 1-4, 1863
Location: Northern Virginia (between Fredericksburg and the Wilderness)
Combatants: 134,000 Union vs. 60,000 Confederate troops
Principal commanders: Union, Major General Joseph Hooker (1814-1879);
Confederate, General Robert E. Lee (1807-1870)
Result: A Confederate victory that thwarted another Union move toward

Major General Joseph Hooker formulated an excellent tactical plan. He

would hold General Robert E. Lees army near Fredericksburg with 40,000
troops under John Sedgwick while he marched around Lees left flank with

General Thomas J. Stonewall

Jackson scored a brilliant victory at
Chancellorsville but died a week
afterwardthe victim of an acciden-
tal shot from one of his own men.
(National Archives)
244 / Civil War

Dead Confederate soldiers lining a trench after the Battle of Chancellorsville. (National

75,000. If Lee moved against Hooker, Sedgwick would advance against the
Confederate rear.
Initially, the plan worked perfectly, but on May 1, Confederates struck
the advancing Union soldiers near Chancellorsville. Inexplicably, Hooker
surrendered the initiative, ordering his army back into the Wildernesss
wooded maze, which neutralized his manpower and artillery advantages.
On May 2, Stonewall Jackson and 28,000 Confederates marched across and
around the Union front and delivered an early evening surprise attack
against Hookers exposed right flank, which crumbled before the on-
slaught. Despite the wounding of Jackson, Lee renewed his attack on
May 3, convincing a dazed and whipped Hooker to retreat.
Having turned back Hooker, Lee on the afternoon of May 3 marched
back toward Fredericksburg where he met and stopped Sedgwick. By
May 6, Hookers army had retreated north of the Rappahannock River,
leaving the Union with another humiliating defeat. Union casualties ex-
ceeded 17,200, and Confederate losses numbered nearly 13,000.
This Confederate victory against an army twice its size is recognized as
Lees greatest battle. His audacity and boldness allowed him to exploit
Hookers loss of nerve and timidity; nevertheless, Chancellorsville cost the
South the invaluable services of Stonewall Jackson, who died on May 10.
Ralph L. Eckert
July, 1863: Gettysburg and Vicksburg / 245

July, 1863
Battles of Gettysburg and Vicksburg

Battle of Gettysburg
Date: July 1-3, 1863
Location: Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Combatants: 75,000 Confederate vs. 90,000 Union troops
Principal commanders: Union, Major General George G. Meade (1815-
1872); Confederate, General Robert E. Lee (1807-1870)

Battle of Vicksburg
Date: July 4, 1863
Location: Vicksburg, Mississippi
Combatants: 70,000 Union vs. 30,000 Confederate troops
Principal commanders: Union, General Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885); Con-
federate, General John C. Pemberton (1814-1881), Joseph Eggleston
Johnston (1807-1891)
Result: Marking the turning point in the Civil War, these Union victories
effectively ended the Souths offensive capabilities.

Following the First Battle of Bull Run in July, 1861, there was no serious
campaigning in the Eastern theater that year. In 1862, George B. McClellan,
the commander of the Union Army of the Potomac, tried to take Richmond
by attacking westward on the peninsula between the York and James
Rivers. His campaign failed, and Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confed-
erate Army of Northern Virginia, invaded Maryland. McClellan repulsed
him at the Battle of Antietam on September 17. During the ensuing winter,
Ambrose Burnside replaced McClellan and attempted to get at Richmond
from the north. Lee stopped Burnsides advance at the Battle of Fredericks-
burg on December 13. President Abraham Lincoln then put Joseph Hooker
in Burnsides place. Early in the spring of 1863, Hooker tried to move
around Lees left flank, but Lee counterattacked and defeated him at Chan-
cellorsville on May 3.

Lee then launched his second invasion of the North, moving in the gen-
eral direction of Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania. The Army of the
Potomac followed, keeping between Lee and the national capital at Wash-
ington. On July 1, the two armies came in contact at Gettysburg, a small
246 / Civil War

Pennsylvania college town southwest of Harrisburg. George G. Meade,

who had just taken command of the Union forces, rushed his men to the
town, as did Lee, for what would become the greatest land battle ever
fought in the Americas. On the first day, there was fierce fighting on the
northern end of the line, where, despite heavy losses (amounting to 80 per-
cent in one brigade), the Union forces held. On July 2, Lee attacked with his
right wing, with similar results.
On July 3, Lee ordered a massive assault on Meades center, which was
fixed on Cemetery Hill. After a planned artillery bombardment of one
hour, there ensued an infantry attack of approximately twelve thousand
troops under the operational command of Lieutenant General James Long-
street. Longstreet, commanding First Corps and Lees Old War Horse,
had argued strongly against any fight at Gettysburg and bitterly opposed
the attack on July 3. Longstreet had three divisions, the strongest of
which was Major General George Picketts Virginia division. Union artil-
lery and massed infantry fire inflicted casualties of more than 50 percent
on the assaulting force and broke up attacking divisions. After an hour
of bitter fighting, shattered and dispirited Confederates streamed back
from Cemetery Hill. At the same time, east of Gettysburg, General Jeb
Stuarts once seemingly invincible Confederate cavalry was soundly de-

General Jeb Stuart, the leading

Confederate cavalry commander.
(National Archives)
July, 1863: Gettysburg and Vicksburg / 247

Artists depiction of the Battle of Gettysburg. (F. R. Niglutsch)

July 3, 1863, was Lees worst day as commander of the Army of North-
ern Virginia. Lee suffered twenty-eight thousand casualties; Meade, twenty-
three thousand. Lee, his army sorely depleted, retired to Virginia. He could
now do no more than defend Virginia and hope that the North would
abandon its effort to conquer the South, for the Army of Northern Virginia
would never again be capable of assuming the offensive.

In the Western theater, meanwhile, the Union was on the offensive.
Early in 1862, Ulysses S. Grant had captured Confederate positions at Fort
Donelson on the lower Cumberland River and Fort Henry on the Tennes-
see River. The Confederates fell back to Mississippi, but counterattacked at
Shiloh on April 6-7 without success. The Union then took control of all
points north of Vicksburg on the Mississippi River. In October, 1862, Grant
began an advance down the Mississippi Central Railroad headed for
Vicksburg, a fortified city on the Mississippi River. Vicksburg was impor-
tant because it was on a high bluff, and Confederate artillery there denied
passage of the river to the Union boats. While Grant moved along the rail-
road line with forty thousand men, William T. Sherman, with thirty-two
thousand, moved along the river. In December, Confederate cavalry
moved into Grants rear flank and burned his supply dumps at Holly
Springs, Mississippi. Grant fell back to bases in Tennessee. Sherman, not
248 / Civil War

Artists romantic depiction of Union troops storming a Confederate post at Vicksburg.

(F. R. Niglutsch)

realizing that he was unsupported, attacked Vicksburg and suffered heavy

Grant was determined to take Vicksburg by any means, and during the
winter of 1862-1863 he tried to bypass Vicksburg by digging a canal oppo-
site the city. This scheme failed, but Grant did not give up the idea of taking
the heavily fortified city. Preparing for a spring campaign, he built up a
vast quantity of supplies, most placed on barges, which were floated
downriver. He had decided on a daring campaign to move south of
Vicksburg, cross from Louisiana to Mississippi, and then march his army
into the heart of Mississippi, taking the capital city of Jackson, which was
forty miles east of Vicksburg.
Once Jackson was taken and his rear secured, Grant would move on to
Vicksburg, attacking from the east. The prepared supply barges that would
be offloaded south of Vicksburg would keep Grants highly mobile army
well supplied with ammunition and food. It was a daring plan with many
dangers, but taking advantage of surprise, mobility, and a unified com-
mand, Grant was confident that he could keep Confederates confused and
incapable of massing forces against Grants smaller army.
On April 30, Grant was on dry ground on the east bank of the Missis-
sippi River. He then began a campaign in which he achieved six victories in
seventeen days. Moving north, he defeated two Confederate brigades at
July, 1863: Gettysburg and Vicksburg / 249

Port Gibson on May 1. Continuing his move inland, he headed toward

Jackson, the capital of Mississippi and a major railroad center directly east
of Vicksburg. With Jackson secure, he would not have to worry about his
rear flank when he struck out for Vicksburg.
Joseph E. Johnston, Confederate commander in the area, was unable to
discover Grants intentions, and John C. Pemberton, in immediate com-
mand at Vicksburg, was equally confused over the Union commanders in-
tentions. The result was that Grant, although far outnumbered in the area
(seventy thousand to forty thousand), fought each successive battle with
overwhelming superiority. On May 12, one of his three corps defeated a
Confederate brigade at Raymond, and two days later, his entire army scat-
tered the six thousand Confederates defending Jackson.
Grant burned the city, destroyed the railroad facilities, and turned west
toward Vicksburg. Pemberton finally realized where Grant was and with
most of his force, but without help from Johnston, he engaged Grant half-
way to Vicksburg at Champions Hill on May 16. Again, Grant drove the
enemy from the field, as he did the next day when Pemberton tried to
mount a defense a few miles outside Vicksburg at the Big Black River,
where Union troops routed the Confederates, forcing a headlong retreat to
the earthworks. Pemberton then withdrew inside his defenses at Vicksburg.

Gettysburg, 1863


Cemetery Culps
Hill Hill

Lees Charge
ry R


250 / Civil War

On May 19, Grant and his troops, filled with confidence, assaulted the
fortress. The Confederates, safely inside their trenches, easily repulsed the
attack. Three days later, Grant tried again, with heavy losses. Grant then
realized that he could not take the city by assault and settled into a siege.
Reinforcements arriving from the North increased the size of his force to
seventy thousand, while abundant supplies allowed his artillery to main-
tain a constant barrage on the enemy positions.
The Confederates were short of supplies. By early July, the citizens were
starving, the troops were eating mule meat, and the gunners could fire their
artillery pieces only three times a day. On July 3, Pemberton asked Grant
for surrender terms. Grant allowed the twenty thousand Confederate sol-
diers to leave Vicksburg upon signing paroles, an agreement not to fight
again until properly exchanged. Pemberton accepted. On July 4, Grant
raised the Union flag over Vicksburg. With the fall of Port Hudson in Loui-
siana immediately thereafter, the Mississippi River was in Union hands,
and the third of the Confederacy to the west was permanently cut off.

Union and Confederate casualties after the Battle of Gettysburg. The invention of photog-
raphy before the Civil War helped to bring home the full horrors of war for the first time
in history. When President Abraham Lincoln visited the battle site during the following
November and delivered his famous Gettysburg Address, he made a point of honoring the
dead of both sides. (National Archives)
September, 1863: Chickamauga / 251

The union strategic and operational victories at Vicksburg and Chatta-
nooga marked the emergence of Ulysses S. Grant as the premier general of
the war at that time. Chattanooga confirmed that Grant could win cam-
paigns. In Washington, D.C., Abraham Lincoln, who had dismissed a
string of generals and was dissatisfied with Meades performance after
Gettysburg, made Grant the overall commander of Union forces. Leaving
Major General William T. Sherman behind in the West, Grant went east to
confront and finally defeat Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Vir-
Stephen E. Ambrose
updated by James J. Cooke

September, 1863
Battle of Chickamauga
Date: September 19-20, 1863
Location: Chickamauga Creek, twelve miles south of Chattanooga, Ten-
Combatants: 60,000 Union vs. 70,000 Confederate troops
Principal commanders: Union, General William S. Rosecrans (1819-1898),
General George H. Thomas (1816-1870); Confederate, General Braxton
Bragg (1817-1876), General James Longstreet (1809-1865)
Result: A Confederate victory that drove Union forces back into Chatta-
nooga, where they were besieged.

By September 19, 1863, General William S. Rosecrans had assembled his

widely scattered forces and established a defensive line near Chickamauga
Creek. The densely wooded terrain resulted in generally desultory fight-
ing as the opposing armies sought each others positions. General Braxton
Bragg planned to assault both Union flanks on September 20, followed by
an assault on the Union center. A blunder by Union forces resulted in a gap
in the Union center only minutes before General James Longstreet at-
tacked. The Union right flank crumpled, but the defense of Snodgrass Hill
by George H. Thomasthe Rock of Chickamaugasaved the Union
army from annihilation. Having suffered 16,000 casualties, the Union army
retreated into Chattanooga. There a severely weakened Confederate army
that had sustained nearly 18,500 casualties besieged it.
252 / Civil War

Chickamauga battlefield. (National Archives)

The Confederate victory restored Southern morale after the twin de-
feats of Gettysburg and Vicksburg in early July. Union general William T.
Sherman replaced Rosecrans and broke the siege with the victory at Chat-
tanooga (November 23-25, 1863).
William S. Brockington

November, 1863
Battle of Chattanooga
Date: November 23-25, 1863
Location: Chattanooga, Tennessee
Combatants: Union vs. Confederacy
Principal commanders: Confederate, Braxton Bragg (1817-1870); Union,
General Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885), George H. Thomas (1816-1870)
Result: Mainly because of good luck, the Union general Ulysses S. Grant
won another important victory that solidified the growing Union strength
in the South.

Following his victory at Vicksburg, Mississippi, in July, 1863, General Ulys-

ses S. Grant, accompanied by General William T. Sherman and his corps,
May, 1864: Battle of the Wilderness / 253

went east to Chattanooga, Tennessee, where a Union army was under

siege. Chattanooga was a railroad center and the largest city in eastern Ten-
nessee, an area noted for its Union sentiments. Braxton Bragg, leading the
Confederate forces, had won a victory south of the city at Chickamauga
(September 20, 1863), forcing the Union Army to fall back into Chatta-
nooga. Grant arrived in mid-October.
After restoring the supply line that Bragg had cut, Grant launched his
attack on November 25. He planned to strike Braggs flanks, with a feint in
the center. The troops of George H. Thomas, commander of the Union
Army of the Cumberland, made the feint up Missionary Ridge, drove out
the Confederates who had been facing them in their trenches, and to the
amazement of the Union commanders, continued, without orders, right
up the hill to destroy Braggs line. Bragg lost sixty-seven hundred troops,
Grant fifty-eight hundred. With Vicksburg and Chattanooga firmly in the
hands of the Union, the Confederate position in the West had become tenu-
ous at best.
Stephen E. Ambrose
updated by James J. Cooke

May, 1864
Battle of the Wilderness
Date: May 5-7, 1864
Location: West of Chancellorsville, Virginia
Combatants: 115,000 Union vs. 70,000 Confederate troops
Principal commanders: Union, Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant (1822-
1885); Confederate, General Robert E. Lee (1807-1870)
Result: This first battle of the 1864 Overland Campaign was a tactical

On May 4, 1864, when Ulysses S. Grant crossed the Rapidan River, Robert
E. Lee moved quickly to strike the Union army in the dense, overgrown
Wilderness, hoping to minimize the Unions manpower and artillery ad-
vantages. Fighting began the following morning along the Orange Turn-
pike and later along the Orange Plank Road. Fed into battle as they arrived,
soldiers rarely saw their opponents in this wooded maze and were forced
to fire blindly in the direction from which bullets and noise came. Combat
was furious, incredibly confused, but inconclusive on the May 5.
254 / Civil War

Burying the dead at Fredericksburg, Virginia, after the Battle of the Wilderness.
(National Archives)

May 6 brought another day of vicious, disoriented fighting, during

which the tide of battle shifted frequently. A heavy, early morning Union
assault drove the Confederates back and threatened disaster until just-
arriving reinforcements stopped the advance. Later, though outnumbered,
Lee managed to turn both of Grants flanks, but lines stabilized after dark.
The situation that evening was similar to that in Chancellorsville the previ-
ous year. Joseph Hooker had retreated; Grant, however, pressed on toward
Richmond on the night of May 7. Union losses numbered 17,000 and Con-
federate casualties exceeded 11,000.
Although the Battle of the Wilderness was a costly tactical draw, Grants
decision to continue his offensive, to move southward toward Spotsyl-
vania Court House, marked the beginning of the end. Grant maintained
pressure on Lee and concluded the war on his terms.
Ralph L. Eckert
May, 1864: Spotsylvania Court House / 255

May, 1864
Battle of Spotsylvania Court House
Date: May 8-20, 1864
Location: Around Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia
Combatants: 110,000 Union vs. 60,000 Confederate troops
Principal commanders: Union, Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant (1822-
1885); Confederate, General Robert E. Lee (1807-1870)
Result: Indecisive series of battles in the 1864 Overland Campaign.

Following the Battle of the Wilderness (May, 1864), Ulysses S. Grant tried
to slip around Robert E. Lees right and seize Spotsylvania Court House.
However, vigilant Confederates beat the Union forces to this crucial cross-
roads early on May 8. Lees men erected field fortifications and fierce fight-
ing developed as the armies converged. On May 10, a compact mass of
Union soldiers pierced the Mule Shoe salient in the center of Lees line but
could not exploit the penetration.
Convinced that a tactically similar, though massive assault against
the salient could achieve a decisive breakthrough, Grant ordered an en-
tire corps to attack on May 12. At 4:30 a.m., Union troops attacked, cap-
tured Confederate trenches, prisoners, and artillery, and drove down the
Mule Shoe. Disaster threatened, but desperate Confederate counterattacks
pushed the Union forces back to the original lines. Some of the most savage

General Ulysses S. Grant (at left)

studying a map over the shoulder of
General George G. Meade (seated),
shortly after the Battle of
Spotsylvania Court House.
(National Archives)
256 / Civil War

fighting of the war ensued as soldiers fought long into the nightoften at
arms lengthwhile Lee constructed a new defensive line.
Grant attacked again on May 18 but was easily repulsed as was a Con-
federate reconnaissance in force the following day. The battles around
Spotsylvania ended in a draw but cost the North 18,000 casualties and the
South at least 12,000. Almost two weeks of combat around Spotsylvania
Court House provided further evidence of Grants relentless determina-
tion. Despite appalling casualties, he would not retreat, but rather pressed
on toward Richmond.
Ralph L. Eckert

June, 1864
Battle of Cold Harbor
Date: June 3-12, 1864
Location: Central Virginia
Combatants: 100,000 Union vs. 50,000 Confederate troops
Principal commanders: Union, Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885), George G.
Meade (1815-1872); Confederate, Robert E. Lee (1807-1870)
Result: Against well-fortified Confederate defenders, the Union army suf-
fered heavy casualties.

Image not available

Workers bury the remains of men who died at the Battle of Cold Harbor. (Corbis)
June, 1864: Cold Harbor / 257

General George G. Meade

(National Archives)

When Ulysses S. Grant was appointed to lead the various Union armies in
March, 1864, he was upset by the lack of a coordinated plan for victory. He
believed a policy of unrelenting attrition would eventually ground down
the Confederacy. He ordered George G. Meade to advance toward Rich-
mond. To ensure Meades continual advance, Grant attached himself to the
combined force. Opposing this Union thrust was the Army of Northern
Virginia, ably led by Robert E. Lee.
The first major battles were at the Wilderness (May 5-7) and Spotsyl-
vania (May 8-20). In both of these conflicts, Union forces suffered substan-
tial casualties, but Grant continued moving to the Confederate right, seek-
ing to outflank his opponent. On June 3, the Northern armies launched a
massive assault on the entrenched Confederates at Cold Harbor. The
Southerners decimated the Union infantry. Gunners firing from fortifica-
tions mowed down waves of foot soldiers. Ultimately, the Union suffered
7,000 casualties, compared with only 1,500 for the defenders.
After the Battle at Cold Harbor, Grant again moved south, then ad-
vanced on Petersburg. The heavy losses incurred at Cold Harbor caused
Grant to later comment that he regretted this assault more than any other
he had ever ordered.
Thomas W. Buchanan
258 / Civil War

June, 1864-April, 1865

Siege of Petersburg
Date: June 15, 1864-April 3, 1865
Location: Petersburg, Virginia, twenty miles south of Confederate capital,
Combatants: 64,000 Union vs. 42,000 Confederate troops
Principal commanders: Union, General Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885); Con-
federate, General Robert E. Lee (1807-1870)
Result: After a prolonged siege, Union troops captured Petersburg.

Union general Ulysses S. Grant repeatedly failed in previous operations to

turn General Robert E. Lees flank so that Richmond would be exposed to
attack. Grant changed his strategy, making his main objective to capture
Petersburg, an important railroad and supply junction, after crossing the
James River from the south. He would then be in a good position to make
a direct assault against the Confederate capital once Petersburg was un-
der Union control. Grants Army of the Potomac managed to keep Lees

Union soldiers waiting in their trenches for the start of the Battle of Petersburg.
(National Archives)
November, 1864-April, 1865: Shermans March to the Sea / 259

Army of Northern Virginia unaware of his movements for several days.

However, misunderstanding, a lack of coordination, and disorganization
among Union commanders put a halt to the original plan.
Lees forces were able to reinforce and defend Petersburg; a ten-month
siege began. The Union forces bungled the situation further by exploding a
mine, costing many lives. Grant eventually took Petersburg after Union
forces routed the rebels at Five Forks. This Union victory placed a tremen-
dous strain upon Lees limited manpower and resources.
Gayla Koerting

November, 1864-April, 1865

Shermans March to the Sea
Date: November 15, 1864-April 18, 1865
Location: Georgia and the Carolinas
Principal figures: Confederate, John Bell Hood (1831-1879); Union, William
T. Sherman (1820-1891), Oliver Otis Howard (1830-1909), Henry Warner
Slocum (1827-1894)
Result: Practicing total war and demoralization, General Sherman carved
a path of destruction through Georgia and the Carolinas.

Following his victory at Chattanooga, Ulysses S. Grant went to Washing-

ton, D.C., to become the general in chief of the Union army. His succes-
sor in the Western theater was William T. Sherman. In the spring of 1864,
both generals launched offensives, Grant against Robert E. Lees Army of
Northern Virginia, and Sherman against Joseph E. Johnstons Army of Ten-
nessee. Grant spent the spring and summer fighting Lee in northern Vir-
ginia, suffering heavy casualties but forcing the Confederates to fall back.
By fall, the Union forces were besieging Richmond in overwhelming num-

The Campaign Begins

Sherman began his campaign on May 7, starting from Chattanooga
with a hundred thousand troops and heading toward Atlanta. Johnston,
his opponent, had a strength of about sixty-two thousand. Johnston used
delaying tactics, refusing to fight a major battle and falling back toward At-
lanta. Johnstons tactics exasperated Confederate president Jefferson Da-
vis, who replaced Johnston with John Bell Hood. Despite inferior numbers,
260 / Civil War

Artists depiction of the destruction wreaked during Shermans march through Georgia.
(F. R. Niglutsch)

Hood attacked Sherman twice, at Peachtree Creek on July 20 and in the

Battle of Atlanta on July 22. Hood lost eighty-five hundred soldiers to
Shermans loss of thirty-seven hundred and had to abandon Atlanta. Hood
then slipped around Shermans flank, heading toward the Union supply
dumps at Chattanooga and Nashville, Tennessee.
Grant, Union chief of staff Henry Halleck, and President Abraham Lin-
coln all wanted Sherman to follow Hood and to destroy his army, but in-
stead, Sherman left a comparatively small force under George Thomas at
Nashville and prepared to march across Georgia to the Atlantic seaport of
Savannah. After burning Atlanta, he began the march on November 15.
With Hood moving against Thomas in Nashville (where he eventually lost
most of his army in the Battle of Nashville), the Confederates could oppose
Shermans sixty thousand troops with only thirteen thousand soldiers,
mostly cavalry.
Sherman moved in two wings, brushing all opposition aside. His men
lived off the land. Bummers went out each morning to the flanks, taking
chickens, cows, vegetables, and whatever else they could find. They
burned down homes and buildings and destroyed the railroad system.
Sherman was determined to see to it that Georgias civilians realized the
horrors of war, and he succeeded. He also wished to cut off Lees food sup-
ply and to encourage desertion in the Army of Northern Virginia, hoping
November, 1864-April, 1865: Shermans March to the Sea / 261

that Confederate soldiers would return to their homes to protect them

from Union bummers. As Sherman expressed his philosophy, Until we
can repopulate Georgia, it is useless to occupy it; but the utter destruction
of its roads, houses and people will cripple their military resources. . . . I
can make the march, and make Georgia howl.
Sherman reached Savannah on December 10. He sent Lincoln a tele-
gram stating that he wished to offer Savannah as a Christmas present to
the commander in chief. After refitting his army with supplies brought
down from Washington by sea, he marched north into the Carolinas. Again
his troops, facing no major opposition, devastated the countryside.
The Northern troops were even more severe in South Carolina than
they had been in Georgia, since they tended to blame South Carolina, the
first state to secede, for the war. As Sherman put it: We can punish South
Carolina as she deserves. . . . I do sincerely believe that the whole United
States, North and South, would rejoice to have this army turned loose on
South Carolina to devastate that State, in the manner we have done in
Georgia. South Carolinas capital city, Columbia, was engulfed in flames
in late February.

Union Victory
By late March, 1865, Sherman was in the middle of North Carolina,
where his old opponent, Joseph Johnston, had scraped together a small
force to resist him. In Virginia, meanwhile, Grant had forced Lee to aban-
don Richmond and retreat toward western Virginia. By early April, Grant
was in close pursuit. Lee, his army almost gone as a result of starvation and
desertion, surrendered on April 9 at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia. By
then, the proud Army of Northern Virginia was reduced to a force of
26,700, while Grant had nearly 113,000 troops.
Johnston, with the major Confederate Army gone, decided to follow
Lees example, and on April 18 he signed an armistice with Sherman.
The Civil War was over. As Sherman, who earlier in his career had di-
rected a Louisiana military school, explained succinctly, The South bet
on the wrong card and lost. His fifty-seven-mile-wide path of destruction
demoralized the Souths population and, with Grants military success,
helped hasten the wars end.
Stephen E. Ambrose
updated by Joseph Edward Lee
262 / Civil War

December, 1864
Battle of Savannah
Date: December 9-21, 1864
Location: Savannah, Georgia
Combatants: 62,000 Union vs. 15,000 Confederate troops
Principal commanders: Union, Major General William T. Sherman (1820-
1891); Confederate, Lieutenant General William J. Hardee (1815-1873)
Result: Sherman eventually captured Savannah, Georgias largest city and
a major port.

By late 1864, the forces of Confederate general John Bell Hood had been
driven back into northern Alabama. General William T. Sherman, no lon-
ger fearing opposition from the enemy, planned his March to the Sea cam-
paign after occupying Atlanta. His main goal was to continue operations
in Georgia and capture Savannah. To achieve this objective, Sherman
marched his troops 285 miles. As they marched, they destroyed anything
of military value in their path. Sherman wanted to demoralize the south-
ern population by using total warfare tactics. His forces reached Savannah
in early December, but Lieutenant General William J. Hardee maintained
strong defensive fortifications.
A siege ensued until December 13, when one of Shermans divisions
took Fort McCallister along the Ogeechee River. This action allowed Sher-

General William T. Sherman.

(National Archives)
December, 1864: Nashville / 263

man to surround the city and seize it eight days later. Sherman later tele-
graphed President Abraham Lincoln and presented the city to him as a
Christmas gift. The occupation of Savannah signaled the ultimate triumph
of Shermans March to the Sea. Sherman then continued his path of de-
struction into the Carolinas.
Gayla Koerting

December, 1864
Battle of Nashville
Date: December 15-16, 1864
Location: Nashville and Franklin, Tennessee
Combatants: 65,000 Union vs. 40,000 Confederate troops
Principal commanders: Union, General George H. Thomas (1816-1870),
Major General John Schofield (1831-1906); Confederate, General John
Bell Hood (1831-1879)
Result: The Union victory left General Hoods Army of Tennessee in sham-

Confederate general John Bell Hood planned to move into middle Tennes-
see to cut off Union general William T. Shermans advance into the lower
south. However, Hoods operation was doomed from the start because he
did not begin until mid-November and lacked troops to execute such a
campaign. He failed to strike a serious blow against retreating Union
forces commanded by General John Schofield. This allowed Schofield time
to set up a defensive perimeter outside of Franklin, twenty-five miles
south of Nashville. Unfortunately, Hood ordered a frontal assault against
Union positions and suffered huge casualties including a number of gener-
als. Hoods offensive was shattered, but Union general George H. Thomas
delayed in delivering a counterstrike because of bad weather. On Decem-
ber 15, Thomas finally attacked Hoods flank. The next day, Union troops
launched an all-out offensive and soundly defeated the rebel forces.
Hoods army was in complete ruins after Nashville, and he resigned
from command. With Hood no longer a threat, Sherman completed his
March to the Sea, and Union troops captured Savannah, Georgia, later that
Gayla Koerting
264 / Civil War

April, 1865
Surrender at Appomattox
Date: April 9, 1865
Location: Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia
Principal figures: Confederate, General Robert Edward Lee (1807-1870),
John Wilkes Booth (1838-1865); Union, General Ulysses S. Grant (1822-
1885), President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), Vice President Andrew
Johnson (1808-1875), Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton (1814-1869)
Result: The Confederacys surrender formally brought an end to the Civil
War. Five days later, a Confederate sympathizer shot and killed Presi-
dent Abraham Lincoln while he was attending a play in Washington,

The assassination of President Abraham Lincoln occurred only five days

after Confederate general Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union general
Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865. The other
Confederate armies soon surrendered, and the Civil War came to an end.
Lincolns body was taken back to Springfield, Illinois, on a circuitous
seventeen-hundred-mile route that retraced his 1861 journey to Washing-
ton, D.C.

The Union Victory

President Lincoln had been the chief architect of the Union victory that
ended the long war. In March, 1864, he called General Grant to the White
House and placed him in overall command of the Union Armies. Grant
then embarked upon a vigorous campaign aimed at Richmond, engaging
Lees Army of Northern Virginia in two important battles west of Fred-
ricksburg, VirginiaWilderness, May 5-7, and Spotsylvania, May 8-9,
1864. Grant suffered heavy casualties but pushed on to Cold Harbor
(June 1-3). There, the Confederates repulsed his attack which, had it been
successful, would have led to the fall of Richmond. Grant then attempted
to outflank Lee by crossing the James River and driving toward Peters-
burg, where he intended to cut vital rail connections. Lee was able to check
Grants advance short of Petersburg, however, and a nine-month stalemate
Meanwhile, General William T. Sherman had completed his destruc-
tive march from Atlanta to the sea at Savannah, Georgia. He then moved
northward in a march that was to take him through South Carolina
and North Carolina. All signs pointed to a Confederate defeat in 1865:
April, 1865: Surrender at Appomattox / 265

The Union blockade was increasingly effective; Great Britain no longer

showed much sympathy for the Confederacy; the economy of the South
was breaking down under the impact of the war; and Grant continued
to receive troop replacements, whereas Lees troops were becoming ex-
hausted. A peace conference, which Confederate president Jefferson Davis
had suggested, was held on February 3, 1865. Confederate vice presi-
dent Alexander H. Stephens led the delegation from the South, while
Lincoln spoke for the Union. Lincoln insisted upon the disbanding of
the Confederate forces, but the Confederacy was not then willing to sur-
In April, 1865, Grant was able to extend Lees lines to the breaking
point, and Lee was forced to evacuated the Confederate capital of Rich-
mond as well as Petersburg. Lees escape route lay to the west and
south; he hoped to join forces with General Joe Johnston in North Caro-
lina, but Grants forces blocked his escape. Lee, now convinced of the fu-
tility of continuing the war, met Grant at the McLean house in Appo-
mattox Courthouse, where he surrendered. Grant, following the spirit of
President Lincolns instructions, agreed to release Lees officers and
men on parole. Lees troops were allowed to keep their horses, mules,
and sidearms and then return home. In short order, the other scattered

Appomattox Court House. (National Archives)

266 / Civil War

After Abraham Lincolns assassina-

tion, Vice President Andrew Johnson
became president and assumed
responsibility for implementing the
Unions Reconstruction policies
in the defeated South.
(National Archives)

Confederate armies followed General Lees lead and began the ordeal
of surrender. The last significant group of men under arms, those under
the command of General Joseph Johnston, began surrender negotia-
tions with Sherman on April 17. The war had wrought a death toll far
greater than anyone could have imagined four years earlier: 360,000
Union soldiers, 260,000 men from the South, and unknown numbers of
civilians. The economic havoc would leave the South devastated for a cen-
News of Lees surrender reached Washington the same day it took
place, and it was received with great rejoicing. Lincoln made several ex-
temporaneous speeches and one prepared address during the course of the
next several days in response to the demands of exuberant crowds. It was
Lincolns view that the South should be welcomed back as brothers to en-
able healing to begin. In this regard, he was strongly opposed by the Radi-
cal Republicans within Congress. It was their view that the South had
started the war and should be made to pay. Whether Lincoln might have
curbed their hatred remains an unanswered question.

Lincolns Assassination
At approximately 8:30 p.m. on April 14, President and Mrs. Lincoln, in
company with Miss Clara Harris and Major Henry R. Rathbone, en-
tered Fords Theater to see a performance of Our American Cousin. About
April, 1865: Surrender at Appomattox / 267

10:15 p.m., John Wilkes Booth, a twenty-six-year-old actor who sympa-

thized with the South, slipped into the presidents box and fired one shot
into the back of Lincolns head. The president was mortally wounded and
died the next morning at 7:22, without ever having regained conscious-
ness. After shooting Lincoln, Booth jumped onto the stage, breaking a
small bone in his leg as he landed. From the stage he shouted the motto of
Virginia, Sic semper tyrannis (thus ever to tyrants). In the confusion, he
managed to evade capture in Washington, escaping over the bridge into
Virginia. There, his broken leg was set by Dr. Samuel Mudd. It remains un-
clear whether Mudd was aware of the significance of his patient. Booth
was eventually trapped in a tobacco shed near Port Royal, Virginia, on
April 26. There Booth died, either by his own hand or from a shot fired by
one of the soldiers attempting to arrest him.
The presidents assassination was only one part of a major plot to
murder the most important Union officials. Secretary of State William
Seward and his sons, Frederick and Augustus, suffered knife wounds at
the hands of Lewis Paine, a former Confederate soldier and devotee of
Booth. George A. Atzerodt, an alcoholic, was assigned by Booth to kill Vice
President Johnson, but he failed to make the attempt. Secretary of War
Edwin Stanton took charge of the investigation and ordered the arrest of
Paine, Atzerodt, David Herold, Edward Spangler, Samuel Arnold, Michael
OLaughlin, Dr. Samuel Mudd, and Mrs. Mary E. Surratt, owner of the
boardinghouse in which the conspirators met. The likelihood is that Mrs.
Surratt knew nothing of Booths plot. However, she was caught up in the
passion for revenge that followed Lincolns murder.

Fate of the Conspirators

The alleged conspirators were tried before a military commission whose
jurisdiction was questionable. The trial lasted from May 10 to June 30,
and all the defendants were found guilty. Atzerodt, Paine, Herold, and
Surratt were hanged seven days after the trial ended, while Spangler,
Arnold, Mudd, and OLaughlin were sentenced to life imprisonment.
Surratts execution was almost certainly a miscarriage of justice that could
not have been carried out if a few weeks or months had been allowed
for passions to cool. By contrast, her son John escaped immediate cap-
ture and, when tried in 1867, was released after a jury failed to agree on a
Those sentenced to life imprisonment were pardoned in 1869, with the
exception of OLaughlin, who died of yellow fever at the Dry Tortugas
prison off Key West. Dr. Mudd was found guilty as an accessory after
the fact, and also sentenced to life imprisonment. However, his heroics
268 / Civil War

during the yellow fever epidemic resulted in a commutation of his sen-

tence, and he also was freed in 1869. Mudds descendants have continued
to argue for his innocence. Former president of the Confederacy Jefferson
Davis was taken prisoner soon after Lees surrender. Although he was in-
dicted for treason and imprisoned two years at Fort Monroe, he never
came to trial.
Mark A. Plummer
updated by Richard Adler

Further Reading
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paigns of 1864. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000.
____________. War and Ruin: William T. Sherman and the Savannah Campaign.
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Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004.
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Civil War Era. New York: Fordham University Press, 1998.
Beringer, Richard E., Herman Hattaway, Archer Jones, and William N. Still,
Jr. Why the South Lost the Civil War. Athens: University of Georgia Press,
Bernstein, Iver Charles. The New York City Draft Riots: Their Significance for
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University Press, 1990.
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sity Press, 1956.
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ington: Indiana University Press, 2001.
270 / Civil War

Burton, E. Milby. The Siege of Charleston, 1861-1865. Columbia: University

of South Carolina Press, 1987.
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Pa.: Combined Publishing, 1997.
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Connelly, Thomas L., and Archer Jones. The Politics of Command: Factions
and Ideas in Confederate Strategy. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Univer-
sity Press, 1983.
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Tennessee. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1997.
Cox, Jacob D. The March to the Sea: Franklin and Nashville. New York:
J. Brussel, 1959.
Cozzens, Peter. The Darkest Days of the War: The Battles of Iuka and Corinth.
Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997.
____________. The Shipwreck of Their Hopes: The Battles for Chattanooga. Ur-
bana: University of Illinois Press, 1994.
____________. This Terrible Sound: The Battle of Chickamauga. Urbana: Uni-
versity of Illinois Press, 1992.
Cozzens, Peter, and Robert I. Girardi, eds. The Military Memoirs of General
John Pope. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998.
Cullen, Joseph P. The Peninsula Campaign, 1862: McClellan and Lee Struggle
for Richmond. Harrisburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books, 1973.
Cunningham, Frank. General Stand Waties Confederate Indians. San Anto-
nio, Tex.: Naylor, 1959.
Dale, Edward Everett, and Morris L. Wardell. History of Oklahoma. New
York: Prentice-Hall, 1948.
Daniel, Larry J. Shiloh: The Battle That Changed the Civil War. New York: Si-
mon & Schuster, 1997.
____________. Days of Glory: The Army of the Cumberland, 1861-1865. Baton
Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2004.
Davis, William C. Battle at Bull Run: A History of the First Major Campaign of
the Civil War. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1977.
____________. Death in the Trenches: Grant at Petersburg. Alexandria, Va.:
Time-Life Books, 1986.
____________. Duel Between the First Ironclads. New York: Doubleday, 1975.
Further Reading / 271

Detzer, David. Allegiance: Fort Sumter, Charleston, and the Beginning of the
Civil War. New York: Harcourt, 2001.
____________. Donnybrook: The Battle of Bull Run, 1861. Orlando, Fla.: Har-
court, 2004.
Dowdy, Clifford. The Seven Days: The Emergence of Robert E. Lee. New York:
Fairfax Press, 1978.
Dudley, G. W. Lost Account of the Battle of Corinth and Court Martial of General
Van Dorn. Jackson, Tenn.: McCowat-Mercer Press, 1955.
Emery, Michael, and Edwin Emery. The Press and America: An Interpretive
History of the Mass Media. 6th ed. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall,
Engle, Stephen D. Struggle for the Heartland: The Campaigns from Fort Henry
to Corinth. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2001.
Evans, Sara M. Born for Liberty: A History of Women in America. New York:
Free Press, 1991.
Fairman, Charles. History of the Supreme Court of the United States: Recon-
struction and Reunion 1864-88. 2 vols. New York: Macmillan, 1971.
Faust, Patricia L., ed. Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War.
New York: Harper & Row, 1986.
Fellman, Michael. Citizen Sherman: A Life of William Tecumseh Sherman. New
York: Random House, 1995.
First Blood: Fort Sumter to Bull Run. Alexandria, Va.: Time-Life Books, 1983.
Foote, Shelby. The Civil War: A Narrative. 3 vols. New York: Random House,
Fordney, Ben Fuller. Stoneman at Chancellorsville: The Coming of Age of Union
Cavalry. Shippensburg, Pa.: White Mane Books, 1998.
Frank, Allen, and George A. Reaves. Seeing the Elephant: Raw Recruits at
Shiloh. New York: Greenwood Press, 1989.
Freeman, Douglas Southall. Lees Lieutenants: A Study in Command. New
York: Charles Scribners Sons, 1942-1944.
Friend, Jack. West Wind, Flood Tide: The Battle of Mobile Bay. Annapolis, Md.:
Naval Institute Press, 2004.
Furgurson, Ernest B. Chancellorsville, 1863: The Souls of the Brave. New York:
Alfred A. Knopf, 1992.
____________. Not War But Murder: Cold Harbor, 1864. New York: Knopf,
Gaines, W. Craig. The Confederate Cherokees: John Drews Regiment of Mounted
Rifles. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989.
Gallagher, Gary W., ed. The Antietam Campaign. Chapel Hill: University of
North Carolina Press, 1999.
272 / Civil War

____________. Chancellorsville: The Battle and its Aftermath. Chapel Hill:

University of North Carolina Press, 1996.
____________. The Fredericksburg Campaign: Decision on the Rappahannock.
Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995.
____________. The Richmond Campaign of 1862: The Peninsula and the Seven
Days. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000.
____________. The Spotsylvania Campaign. Chapel Hill: University of North
Carolina Press, 1998.
____________. The Wilderness Campaign. Chapel Hill: University of North
Carolina Press, 1997.
Geary, James W. We Need Men: The Union Draft in the Civil War. Dekalb: Illi-
nois University Press, 1991.
Glatthaar, Joseph T. Forged in Battle: The Civil War Alliance of Black Soldiers
and White Officers. New York: Free Press, 1990.
____________. The March to the Sea and Beyond: Shermans Troops in the Sa-
vannah and Carolinas Campaigns. New York: New York University Press,
Gott, Kendall D. Where the South Lost the War: An Analysis of the Fort Henry-
Fort Donelson Campaign, February 1862. Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole
Books, 2003.
Greene, A. Wilson. Breaking the Backbone of the Rebellion: The Final Battles of
the Petersburg Campaign. Madison City, Iowa: Savas Publishing, 2000.
Harsh, Joseph L. Taken at the Flood: Robert E. Lee and Confederate Strategy in
the Maryland Campaign of 1862. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press,
Haskins, James. The Day Fort Sumter Was Fired On: A Photo History of the
Civil War. New York: Scholastic, 1995.
Hattaway, Herman, and Archer Jones. How the North Won: A Military His-
tory of the Civil War. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1983.
Hearn, Chester G. Six Years of Hell: Harpers Ferry During the Civil War. Baton
Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1996.
Hendrickson, Robert. Sumter, the First Day of the Civil War. New York:
Promontory Press, 1996.
Hennessy, John J. Return to Bull Run: The Campaign and Battle of Second
Manassas. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993.
Hess, Earl J. Banners to the Breeze: The Kentucky Campaign, Corinth, and
Stones River. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000.
____________. Picketts Chargethe Last Attack at Gettysburg. Chapel Hill:
University of North Carolina Press, 2001.
Hirshson, Stanley P. The White Tecumseh: A Biography of General William T.
Sherman. New York: J. Wiley, 1997.
Further Reading / 273

Hoeling, A. A. Vicksburg, Forty-seven Days of Siege. Mechanicsburg, Pa.:

Stackpole Books, 1996.
Huddleston, Edwin. The Civil War in Middle Tennessee. Nashville, Tenn.:
Nashville Banner, 1965.
Hyman, Harold. A More Perfect Union: The Impact of the Civil War and Recon-
struction on the Constitution. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1973.
____________. The Reconstruction Justice of Salmon P. Chase: In Re Turner
and Texas v. White. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1997.
Johnston, Robert M. Bull Run: Its Strategy and Tactics. Boston: Houghton
Mifflin, 1913.
Jones, Archer. Civil War Command and Strategy: The Process of Victory and De-
feat. New York: Free Press, 1992.
Josephy, Alvin M., Jr. Civil War in the American West. New York: Alfred A.
Knopf, 1991.
Klement, Frank L. Dark Lanterns: Secret Political Societies, Conspiracies, and
Treason Trials in the Civil War. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University
Press, 1984.
Kobre, Sidney. Foundations of American Journalism. Westport, Conn.: Green-
wood Press, 1970.
Kohn, Stephen M. Jailed for Peace: The History of American Draft Law Viola-
tion, 1658-1985. New York: Praeger, 1987.
Korn, Jerry. The Fight for Chattanooga: Chickamauga to Missionary Ridge. Al-
exandria, Va.: Time-Life Books, 1985.
Kutler, Stanley. Judicial Power and Reconstruction Politics. Chicago: Univer-
sity of Chicago Press, 1968.
Lee Takes Command: From Seven Days to Second Bull Run. Alexandria, Va.:
Time-Life Books, 1984.
Leonard, Elizabeth D. All the Daring of the Soldier: Women of the Civil War
Armies. New York: W. W. Norton, 1999.
Long, E. B. The Civil War Day by Day: An Almanac, 1861-1865. Garden City,
N.Y.: Doubleday, 1971.
Longacre, Edward G. Army of Amateurs: General Benjamin Butler and the Army
of the James, 1863-1865. Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books, 1997.
McDonald, JoAnna H. We Shall Meet Again: The First Battle of Manassas (Bull
Run), July 18-21, 1861. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
McDonough, James L. Nashville: The Western Confederacys Final Gamble.
Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2004.
____________. Shiloh in Hell Before Night. Knoxville: University of Tennes-
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New York: Viking, 1996.
274 / Civil War

____________. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. New York: Oxford
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____________. Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam. New York: Oxford Univer-
sity Press, 2002.
____________. Drawn with the Sword: Reflections on the American Civil War.
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McWhiney, Grady, and Perry D. Jamieson. Attack and Die: Civil War Mili-
tary Tactics and the Southern Heritage. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama
Press, 1982.
Maney, R. Wayne. Marching to Cold Harbor: Victory and Failure, 1864. Ship-
pensburg, Pa.: White Mane, 1995.
Marszalek, John. Sherman: A Soldiers Passion for Order. New York: Free
Press, 1993.
Martin, David G. The Second Bull Run Campaign, July-August 1862. New
York: Combined Books, 1996.
Marvel, William. Burnside. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press,
____________. Lees Last Retreat: The Flight to Appomattox. Chapel Hill: Uni-
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Maslowski, Peter. Treason Must Be Odious: Military Occupation and Wartime
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Matter, William D. If It Takes All Summer: The Battle of Spotsylvania. Chapel
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Miles, Jim. Piercing the Heartland. Nashville, Tenn.: Cumberland House,
Mokin, Arthur. Ironclad: The Monitor and the Merrimack. Novato, Calif.: Pre-
sidio, 1991.
Mott, Frank Luther. American Journalism: A History, 1690-1960. 3d ed. New
York: Macmillan, 1962.
Murfin, James V. The Gleam of Bayonets: The Battle of Antietam and Robert E.
Lees Maryland Campaign, 1862. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University
Press, 1965.
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Monitor and the Merrimack. New York: William Morrow, 2004.
Nevins, Allan. The War for the Union. 4 vols. New York: Scribner, 1959-
Further Reading / 275

Nolan, Alan T. Lee Considered: General Robert E. Lee and Civil War History.
Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991.
Nosworthy, Brent. The Bloody Crucible of Courage: Fighting Methods and Com-
bat Experience of the Civil War. New York: Carroll & Graf, 2003.
The Official Military Atlas of the Civil War. New York: Fairfax Press, 1983.
Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion.
30 vols. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1894-1922.
OReilly, Francis Augustn. The Fredericksburg Campaign: Winter War on the
Rappahannock. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2003.
Pfanz, Harry Willcox. Gettysburg: Culps Hill and Cemetery Hill. Chapel Hill:
University of North Carolina Press, 1993.
____________. Gettysburg: The First Day. Chapel Hill: University of North
Carolina Press, 2001.
____________. Gettysburg: The Second Day. Chapel Hill: University of North
Carolina Press, 1987.
Rable, George C. Civil Wars: Women and the Crisis of Southern Nationalism.
Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1989.
____________. Fredericksburg! Fredericksburg! Chapel Hill: University of
North Carolina Press, 2002.
Rafuse, Ethan S. A Single Grand Victory: The First Campaign and Battle of
Manassas. Wilmington, Del.: SR Books, 2002.
Randall, James G. Constitutional Problems Under Lincoln. Urbana: Univer-
sity of Illinois Press, 1964.
Rhea, Gordon C. The Battle of the Wilderness, May 5-6, 1864. Baton Rouge:
Louisiana State University Press, 1994.
____________. The Battles for Spotsylvania Court House and the Road to Yellow
Tavern, May 7-12, 1864. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press,
____________. Cold Harbor: Grant and Lee, May 26-June 3, 1864. Baton
Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2002.
____________. To the North Anna River: Grant and Lee, May 13-25, 1864. Ba-
ton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2000.
Ropes, John C. The Army Under Pope. New York: C. Scribners Sons, 1881.
Rowland, Thomas J. George B. McClellan and Civil War History: In the Shadow
of Grant and Sherman. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1998.
Scott, Anne Firor. The Southern Lady: From Pedestal to Politics: 1830-1930.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970.
Sears, Stephen W. Chancellorsville. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1996.
____________. Controversies and Commanders: Dispatches from the Army of the
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276 / Civil War

____________. The First News Blackout. American Heritage 36, no. 4

(June-July, 1985).
____________. Gettysburg. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2003.
____________. Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam. Boston:
Houghton Mifflin, 1983.
Shea, William L., and Terrence J. Winschel. Vicksburg Is the Key: The Struggle
for the Mississippi River. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2003.
Smith, Merritt Roe. Harpers Ferry Armory and the New Technology: The Chal-
lenge of Change. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1977.
Sommers, Richard J. Richmond Redeemed: The Siege at Petersburg. New York:
Doubleday, 1981.
Spruill, Matt. Storming the Heights: A Guide to the Battle of Chattanooga.
Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2003.
____________, ed. Guide to the Battle of Chickamauga. Lawrence: University
Press of Kansas, 1993.
Steere, Edward. The Wilderness Campaign: The Meeting of Grant and Lee. 2d
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Sutherland, Daniel E. Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville: The Dare Mark
Campaign. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998.
____________. Seasons of War: The Ordeal of a Confederate Community, 1861-
1865. New York: Free Press, 1995.
Sword, Wiley. Embrace an Angry Wind: The Confederacys Last Hurrah: Spring
Hill, Franklin, and Nashville. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.
____________. Mountains Touched with Fire: Chattanooga Besieged, 1863. New
York: St. Martins Press, 1995.
____________. Shiloh: Bloody April. Dayton, Ohio: Morningside Press, 1974.
Thomas, Emory M. The Confederate Nation: 1861-1865. New York: Harper &
Row, 1979.
Trudeau, Noah Andre. Bloody Roads South: The Wilderness to Cold Harbor,
May-June 1864. 1989. Reprint. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University
Press, 2000.
____________. The Last Citadel: Petersburg, Virginia, June 1864-April 1865.
Boston: Little, Brown, 1991.
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Lawrence Chamberlain and the American Civil War. Chapel Hill: University
of North Carolina Press, 1992.
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Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. 128 vols. Washington, D.C.:
U.S. Government Printing Office, 1880-1901.
Further Reading / 277

Venet, Wendy Hamand. Neither Ballots nor Bullets: Women Abolitionists and
the Civil War. Richmond: University Press of Virginia, 1991.
Welker, David A. Tempest at Ox Hill: The Battle of Chantilly. Conshohocken,
Pa.: Combined Publishing, 2001.
Wert, Jeffry D. Gettysburg, Day Three. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001.
Wertheimer, Barbara Mayer. We Were There: The Story of Working Women in
America. New York: Pantheon Books, 1977.
Whan, Vorin E. Fiasco at Fredericksburg. University Park: Pennsylvania
State University Press, 1961.
Wheeler, Richard. On Fields of Fury: From the Wilderness to the Crater, an Eye-
witness History. New York: HarperCollins, 1991.
Winik, Jay. April 1865: The Month That Saved America. HarperCollins, 2001.
Winschel, Terrence J. Triumph and Defeat: The Vicksburg Campaign. Mason
City, Iowa: Savas, 1999.
____________. Vicksburg: Fall of the Confederate Gibraltar. Abilene, Tex.:
McWhinney Foundation Press, 1999.
Woodworth, Steven E. Jefferson Davis and His Generals: The Failure of Confed-
erate Command in the West. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1990.
____________. Six Armies in Tennessee: The Chickamauga and Chattanooga
Campaigns. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998.
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Spanish-American War
Spanish-American War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 281
Censorship During the War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 288

Campaigns, Battles and Other Events . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 290

July, 1898: Battle of San Juan/El Caney. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 290
February, 1899-July, 1902: Philippine Insurrection . . . . . . . . . . . . 291

Further Reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 296

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Spanish-American War

Date: April 24-December 10, 1898

Location: Principally Cuba and adjacent waters, and the Philippines
Combatants: Spanish vs. Americans
Principal commanders: American, General William R. Shafter (1835-1906),
Rear Admiral William T. Sampson (1840-1902), Rear Admiral George
Dewey (1837-1917); Spanish, General Arsenio Linares Pomba (1848-
1914), Admiral Pascual Cervera y Topete (1839-1909)
Principal battles: Manila Bay, Las Gusimas, El Caney, San Juan Hill, San-
tiago de Cuba
Result: The U.S. victory over Spain launched an American colonial empire
and made the United States an international power.

The United States entered the Spanish-American War to liberate its Cu-
ban neighbors from foreign rule. It emerged from the conflict in posses-
sion of a distant Philippine empire whose inhabitants rebelled against
U.S. dominance. The war with Spain marked a significant turning point
in U.S. history. Acquisition of an overseas empire made the United
States a major power on the world stage. Within a few years, however,
the people of the United States decided that the expansion achieved dur-
ing 1898-1899 should not be extended. Disillusionment about the results
of imperialism characterized historical memories of the conflict with

Cuba became an issue for the United States after Cubas residents
staged a revolution against Spain in 1895. The Spanish regarded Cuba as
an integral part of their nation. It was the ever faithful isle, and no Span-
ish government could long remain in power if it accepted the loss of Cuba
without a military struggle. A bitter war ensued, in which the Spanish con-
trolled major cities such as Havana, while the rebels dominated the coun-
In 1896, the Spanish captain general in Cuba, Valeriano Weyler, an-
nounced a tough policy of reconcentration. Cuban civilians in certain parts
of the island were to be herded into the Spanish-held towns, where they
could no longer assist and supply the rebel armies. Thousands of women
and children died of disease or malnutrition in these overcrowded camps.
U.S. opinion, already sympathetic to the Cubans, was outrage. Popular
newspapers in the United States published sensational stories about Cu-
282 / Spanish-American War

Time Line of the Spanish-American War

Feb. 24, 1895- Cuban war of independence.

Apr. 13, 1898
Apr. 24, 1898 Spain declares war on the United States.
May 1, 1898 Battle of Manila Bay: Commodore George Dewey and
the U.S. Asiatic Squadron rout the Spanish fleet at Ma-
nila Bay in the Philippines.
May 21, 1898 U.S. Navy takes control of Guam.
June 29, 1898 Engagement between U.S. and Spanish troops at Las
Gusimas, near Santiago, Cuba.
July 1, 1898 Battle of San Juan/El Caney: The United States seizes
Santiago. The collapse of Santiago causes Admiral Pas-
cual Cervera y Topetes fleet to flee the harbor and face
destruction by the U.S. Navy.
July 25, 1898 U.S. forces land in Gunica, Puerto Rico.
Aug. 12-13, 1898 Armistice between the United States and Spain.
Dec. 10, 1898 Treaty of Paris formally ends the war. The treaty rec-
ognizes Cuban independence and cedes Puerto Rico,
Guam, and the Philippines to the United States. By way
of partial compensation, the United States pays Spain
twenty million dollars.
Feb. 4, 1899 Philippine insurrection begins. Early U.S. attempts at
colonial administration mark the tenuous beginnings of
U.S.-Philippine relations and set the Philippines on a
path toward independence.

ban suffering and Spanish brutalities that fed discontent with the rule of
President Grover Cleveland, who occupied the White House during the
first two years of the Cuban rebellion, took the position that Spain de-
served the chance to defeat the rebellion. He resisted pressure from Con-
gress to intervene in the Caribbean. By the time that Cleveland left office in
March, 1897, his policy had failed to persuade the Spanish of the need to
negotiate with the rebels, and he had lost the trust of the U.S. people over
foreign policy.
Clevelands successor, William McKinley, came into office with two
main reactions to the fighting. First, Spain could try to repress the rebel-
lion, but it had only a limited time to do so. Second, any outcome of the war
Spanish-American War / 283

must be acceptable to the Cuban rebels. The latter condition ensured even-
tual fighting between the United States and Spain, because the rebels
would accept nothing less than Cuban independence. McKinley played for
time, hoping that the Spanish could be persuaded to leave Cuba. The Span-
ish stalled on their side, expecting U.S. resolve to falter.
Spanish efforts to conciliate the United States included a modifica-
tion of the reconcentration policy in November, 1897, and limited auton-
omy for Cuba. Spain retained control over Cubas international relations.
These steps did not resolve the issues between the United States and
Spain. Early in 1898, two events pushed the nations toward war. In Febru-
ary, the Cubans published a private letter from the Spanish minister in
Washington, Enrique Dupuy de Lme, in which the diplomat made dis-
paraging remarks about President McKinley; the letter also revealed that
the Spanish were using delaying tactics. Dupuy de Lme resigned in dis-
A week later, the United States battleship Maine exploded in Havana
harbor. Two hundred sixty men of the U.S. Navy were killed. Modern sci-
entific research has concluded that an internal cause probably produced
the explosion. In 1898, however, many in the United States decided that
Spain had either blown up the ship or failed to prevent its destruction. The
episode put the two countries on a collision course toward war. As diplo-

Hull of the battleship Maine after it

was raised from the bottom of Havana
Harbor in early 1912. After the ship
was examined and bodies and various
artifacts were removed, it was towed
out to sea and resunk with military
(Library of Congress)
284 / Spanish-American War

Cuba during the Spanish-American War

Miami Atlantic
Gulf of Nassau

Key West
o ri Ocean
Mexico Fl
of THE
Santa Clara Santiago
Ba de Cuba San Juan
Isle of Pines igs Heights

Las Gusimas HAITI

Sier ra
Caribbean Sea Maestra

matic negotiations proceeded, it became apparent that Spain would not

grant Cuban independence. The most it would concede was to suspend
hostilities, a proposal that neither Washington nor the Cuban rebels would

United States Declares War

On April 11, McKinley sent a message to Congress asking for the au-
thority to intervene (April 20), and officials informed Spain that failing to
grant independence to Cuba would result in the United States putting the
resolutions into effect. Spain broke relations with the United States, a U.S.
blockade of Cuba ensued, and Spain declared war on April 24. The presi-
dent had resisted the popular pressure for war until it became clear that
Spain would not yield. After Congress passed resolutions to grant the
president the right to intervene, Spain declared war and Congress fol-
lowed suit. The war came about because both nations saw no way out of
the diplomatic impasse other than armed conflict. In the United States, the
war was very popular. Volunteers jammed U.S. Army and Navy recruiting
The first U.S. victory came on May 1, 1898, when Commodore George
Dewey and the U.S. Asiatic Squadron defeated the Spanish fleet at Manila
Bay in the Philippines. The Navy attacked the Philippines as part of a long-
standing war plan to induce the Spanish to negotiate an end to the war
by threatening their possession in Asia. The victory presented Washing-
ton with a new challenge of what to do with this unexpected territorial
Spanish-American War / 285

opportunity. The McKinley administration sent reinforcements to Ma-

nila and kept its options open about taking all the islands in a peace settle-
During June and July, the main focus of military and public attention
was on Cuba and the sea and land battles that occurred in the Caribbean.
Initial plans for Army action in Cuba called for a large-scale landing near
Havana during the autumn of 1898. In June, the White House decided to
dispatch an expeditionary force of seventeen thousand men to the south-
eastern Cuban coast. There, in the harbor of the city of Santiago de Cuba,
Admiral Pascual Cervera y Topetes decrepit Spanish fleet had taken ref-
uge. The U.S. Atlantic Squadron, commanded by Admiral William T. Samp-
son, was stationed outside Santiago ready to do battle if Cervera ventured
forth. The revised U.S. strategy called for the capture of Santiago by land
invasion, which would force the Spanish fleet to steam out to virtually cer-
tain destruction.
Near Tampa Bay in Florida, the bulk of the regular army, under the com-
mand of General William R. Shafter, prepared to leave for Cuba. Along
with the regulars was the Rough Rider volunteer regiment, of which Lieu-
tenant Colonel Theodore Roosevelt was second in command. Shafters

The Battle of Manila Bay may have been the most one-sided major naval engagement in
history. The United States captured the entire Spanish squadron without the loss of a sin-
gle ship or sailor. The victory made Admiral George Dewey a national hero and nearly
propelled him to candidacy for the presidency. (F. R. Niglutsch)
286 / Spanish-American War

landing along the coast near Santiago was accomplished late in June. De-
spite logistical difficulties, the U.S. forces moved forward to engage the
Spanish on July 1 near Santiago at the twin battles of El Caney and San Juan
Hill. Both battles were U.S. victories. Shafters troops subsequently occu-
pied the strategic heights above the port city. On July 3, Admiral Cervera,
on orders from Madrid, headed out of Santiago harbor and vainly tried to
evade the U.S. fleet. By the end of the day, all Spanish ships had been sunk
or beached.

End of the War

Following Cerveras defeat, the end of the war came swiftly. On July 17,
after lengthy negotiations, the Spanish soldiers in Santiago surrendered.
Puerto Rico was occupied almost without resistance later that month. The
Spanish had asked Washington to discuss an end to hostilities during July,
which culminated in an armistice on August 12. A peace commission from
the United States, led by former Secretary of State William R. Day, met with
Spanish envoys in Paris in October to arrange peace terms. The Treaty of
Paris, signed on December 10, 1898, recognized Cuban independence and
ceded Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines to the United States. By way
of partial compensation, the United States paid Spain twenty million dol-

Under the command of Admiral William T. Sampson, the U.S. fleet pursues Spanish ad-
miral Pascual Cervera y Topetes fleet off Santiago, Cuba. (F. R. Niglutsch)
Spanish-American War / 287

U.S. scouting party advancing on Santiago in June, 1898. (U.S. Army War College)

The war revealed inadequacies in the U.S. Armys ability to mobilize to

meet a foreign policy crisis. The resulting outcry over shortages and ineffi-
ciencies focused the blame on Secretary of War Russell A. Alger. President
McKinley appointed a commission to probe these problems, and out of
these deliberations came later military reforms. For the most part, the
armed forces performed well under McKinleys leadership. Following the
signing of the peace treaty, a bitter struggle over ratification took place in
the United States. McKinley effectively mobilized public opinion to secure
approval. The outcome of the war left the United States with an overseas
empire and new world responsibilities.
William I. Hair
Updated by Lewis L. Gould

Censorship During the War

The United States government imposed censorship restrictions on military per-

sonnel and on newspaper correspondents covering the military operations of the

On April 25, 1898, the United States declared war on Spain. The declaration
came after several years of repeated newspaper accounts of Spanish atroci-
ties against the Cuban people and the sinking of the battleship USS Maine
on February 15, 1898, in the Cuban harbor at Havanaan act most Ameri-
cans believed was perpetrated by the Spanish.
In the several decades prior to the war with Spain, correspondents of
the major American newspapers had freely covered both domestic and in-
ternational events unhampered by any form of official censorship. In
fact, the government often relied on reports sent by correspondents from
around the world, and in some cases even used reporters in semiofficial ca-
pacities to deliver government information. When government censorship
was finally imposed for reasons of military security, the press was shocked.
The first act of censorship during the war took place on April 23, 1898,
just two days before the U.S. Senate officially declared war. On that day, the

Joseph Pulitzer, publisher of the

New York World. Pulitzers sensa-
tionalist treatment of the Spanish-
American War gave rise to the term
yellow journalism for irresponsible
journalistic practices.
(Library of Congress)
Censorship During the War / 289

U.S. Navy Department took control of the Key West, Florida, cable office in
order to monitor all cable correspondence passing through. Key West
stood squarely in the path of American naval convoys sailing to the island
of Cuba, some ninety miles away.
Two days later, on April 25, 1898, on President William McKinleys or-
ders, the Army Signal Corps placed an official censor in each of the six ca-
ble companies located in New York City, the headquarters for most of
Americas major papers. Censorship by the government was not restricted
exclusively to the press, but included reviewing all forms of cable corre-
spondence and any mail going to or coming from Spain. Another form of
censorship placed restrictions on the U.S. military itself. Orders from Navy
Secretary John D. Long forbade naval personnel from speaking with repre-
sentatives of the press on matters pertaining to the Navy. Secretary of War
Russell A. Alger followed suit by issuing a directive making all War De-
partment records confidential and unavailable for discussion with news-
paper representatives.

Censorship of the press was enforced in several ways. Typically, stories
were edited so that no information thought detrimental to the military was
printed. Often the stories that correspondents cabled back to their home
newspapers ended up on publishers desks with so many details missing
that they proved useless. Another method of enforcement employed by
the Army was threatening newspaper correspondents with the loss of their
military-issued press credentials if they were caught bypassing censorship
rules. Loss of military press credentials precluded correspondents from ac-
companying troops into battle areas.
Although censorship restrictions worked well overall, persistent re-
porters found ways to get around them. Some sent messages to cable of-
fices in Haiti or Jamaica, which were then forwarded to the United States.
Other reporters sent their stories with stipulations that they were not to be
published until they returned home. Given the fierce competition among
the papers for fresh news from the front, especially the New York papers,
some unscrupulous publishers, such as William Randolph Hearst of the
New York Journal and Joseph Pulitzer of the New York World, printed stories
that their correspondents had asked be delayed without regard for the re-
percussions that their reporters would face.

Campaigns, Battles and

Other Events

July, 1898
Battle of San Juan/El Caney
Date: July 1, 1898
Location: Hills east of the harbor of Santiago in eastern Cuba
Combatants: 10,000 Spanish vs. 17,000 Americans
Principal commanders: Spanish, General Arsenio Linares Pomba (1848-
1914); American, General William R. Shafter (1835-1906)
Result: The United States captured Santiago.

Spanish General Arsenio Linares Pomba confronted the possibility of at-

tacks from the west by the powerful U.S. fleet that blockaded the harbor

Theodore Roosevelt (center) with his Rough Rider regiment at San Juan Hill.
(U.S. Army War College)
February, 1899-July, 1902: Philippine Insurrection / 291

and from the east by General William R. Shafters army. He chose to con-
centrate his defenses to the west and stationed only 500 soldiers atop San
Juan Heights (including Kettle Hill) and another 520 on his northern flank
at El Caney.
The offensive came from the east. Shafter sent 5,000 men against El
Caney, but instead of a quick victory, the U.S. soldiers struggled for nine
hours before the stubborn Spanish fell back. Meanwhile, the main U.S.
force advanced on San Juan Heights. While Spanish soldiers poured down
deadly fire, a group of volunteers under Colonel Theodore Roosevelt
launched their famous charge up Kettle Hill. Roosevelts Rough Riders
were at the forefront of an 8,000-man offensive that eventually over-
whelmed the outnumbered Spanish. Both sides endured heavy casualties.
The United States lost 205 killed and 1,180 wounded. The Spanish suffered
215 killed and 376 wounded. The fall of Santiago prompted Admiral
Pascual Cervera y Topetes fleet to flee the harbor and face destruction by
the U.S. Navy.
John A. Britton

February, 1899-July, 1902

Philippine Insurrection
Date: February 4, 1899-July 4, 1902
Location: Philippine Islands
Principal figures: American, Rear Admiral George Dewey (1837-1917),
President William McKinley (1843-1901), Governor William Howard
Taft (1857-1930); Filipino, Emilio Aguinaldo (1869-1964), Apolinario
Mabini (1864-1903)
Result: Early U.S. attempts at colonial administration marked the tenuous
beginnings of U.S.-Philippine relations and set the Philippines on a path
toward independence.

The Philippine Insurrection, known as the War of Independence by Filipi-

nos was an offshoot of the Spanish-American War. It is an early example of
a countrys resisting the rise of the United States as an imperial power. It re-
sulted from misunderstanding and indecision on both sides. U.S. and Fili-
pino forces, which had worked together to end Spanish control of the Phil-
ippines, found themselves fighting as enemies in a long, brutal struggle for
domination of the Philippine Islands.
292 / Spanish-American War

United States involvement in the Philippines began during the Spanish-

American War of 1898. U.S. naval strategists already had a plan for attack-
ing the Spanish fleet at Manila Bay in the event of war with Spain. As rela-
tions between the United States and Spain worsened in 1897, Commodore
George Dewey, commander of the U.S. Navys Asiatic Squadron, was or-
dered to move his fleet to Hong Kong, with instructions to attack Manila
Bay in case of war. War was declared by Spain on April 24, 1898. On the
morning of May 1, Deweys fleet steamed into Manila Bay. By noon, his
ships had sunk or disabled every Spanish ship.
The U.S. government was slow to react to the victorious news. The
quick defeat of the Spanish fleet was unexpected, and President William
McKinley had not planned what to do with the Philippines once the war
was ended. McKinley considered either taking the entire archipelago, es-
tablishing a naval base, or returning the islands to Spain. Complete inde-
pendence for the islands was never seriously considered. While McKinley
contemplated the fate of the Philippines, relations between the U.S. mili-
tary occupation force at Manila Bay and the Filipino population deterio-
rated. At first, the Filipinos welcomed Deweys forces as liberators. The Fil-
ipinos soon realized that the Americans intended to control the islands at
least until the end of the war, perhaps longer. In early May, McKinley dis-
patched an expeditionary force, under the command of General Arthur
MacArthur, to Manila Bay. MacArthur arrived just in time to accept the
Spanish garrisons surrender at the end of the war, an honor Filipino forces
had assumed would be theirs.

The Insurgents
Filipino insurgents had been fighting the Spanish since early 1896.
Spanish efforts to destroy the infant revolution had failed, as rebel lead-
ers fled to the hills of the islands to hide out and organize bases for guer-
rilla warfare against the Spanish. In 1897, both sides, weary of the increas-
ingly bloody war, agreed to a cease-fire to discuss peace. The Spanish
authorities refused to consider independence, forcing the Filipino insur-
gents to continue their rebellion. Under the military leadership of Emilio
Aguinaldo and the intellectual direction of Apolinario Mabini, rebel lead-
ers established a base of operations at Hong Kong, where they could pur-
chase supplies and arms. It was at this time that the Spanish-American War
began, bringing an unexpected opportunity for the rebels.
Filipino leaders first believed that the United States would assist them
in expelling the Spanish and establishing an independent Philippine state.
Aguinaldo accepted anticolonial statements by U.S. consular officers at
face value. The Filipinos soon found, however, that Dewey was more cau-
February, 1899-July, 1902: Philippine Insurrection / 293

A U.S. soldier signals the capture of Philippine rebel leader and provisional president
Emilio Aguinaldo. After being released from captivity, Aguinaldo retired from public life
and lived until 1964. He is now remembered as a national hero and the first president of
the Philippines. (F. R. Niglutsch)

tious, speaking only of military cooperation to defeat Spain and saying

nothing of independence. Aguinaldo organized an army of thirty thou-
sand men and won notable victories; nevertheless, the United States held
supreme authority, accepting the surrender of Manila Bay and refusing to
allow Filipino forces into the city without permission. When the Spanish
flag came down, the Stars and Stripes, not the Filipino revolutionary flag,
replaced it.
Faced with the realization that the United States was going to annex the
islands, Aguinaldo moved to organize a new government. On June 12,
1898, he proclaimed independence for the Philippines. In September, a
constituent assembly was convened, and on November 29, a constitu-
tion was adopted. The United States largely ignored this move toward
independence. The McKinley administration, mainly because of racial
prejudice, arbitrarily decided that the Filipinos were not ready for self-
government. In addition, there was a fear that an independent Philippines
might fall easy prey to an ambitious European power, such as Germany or
Great Britain. Therefore, the United States proceeded to obtain full control
by a provision for annexation of the Philippines in the peace treaty ending
the war with Spain.
294 / Spanish-American War

Members of the Eagle Troop of the Ninth Cavalry before going to the Philippines in 1900.
One of the most distinguished predominantly African American units in U.S. Army his-
tory, E Troop was formed shortly after the Civil War. (U.S. Army War College)

Armed Clashes
While the United States Senate debated ratification of the peace treaty, a
series of clashes between U.S. and Filipino forces beginning on February 4,
1899, soon escalated into large-scale fighting. The Philippine Insurrection
against U.S. rule had begun. The United States, because of its decision to
assume responsibility for civilizing the Filipinos, was forced to wage a
bitter war, which would cost much more money and take many more hu-
man lives than the war with Spain.
The Philippine Insurrection was, in many ways, a prototype of modern
guerrilla warfare. Filipino revolutionary leaders quickly lost the support of
conservative Filipinos who accepted U.S. rule. As a result, Aguinaldo and
his forces retreated to fight the U.S. troops in the jungles, as they had done
earlier against Spanish forces. In early 1899, United States forces moved
into central Luzon, where they captured and burned Malolos, the rebel capi-
tal. Rebel forces, however, escaped into the hills, where they were supplied
by sympathetic villagers until spring rains forced U.S. troops to withdraw.
U.S. commanders finally admitted that Aguinaldo had extensive popu-
lar support and that total war was necessary to pacify the islands. The
February, 1899-July, 1902: Philippine Insurrection / 295

government responded by sending reinforcements, bringing the number

of U.S. troops in the Philippines to seventy-four thousand. As the scale of
the fighting rose, vicious tactics and brutality on both sides also increased.
Both sides committed atrocities involving soldiers and civilians. U.S.
forces systematically burned villages and took hostages in an effort to deny
popular assistance to rebel forces. Gradually, the overwhelming strength
of the United States prevailed, as U.S. forces took rebel strongholds in the
hills and rural regions. By 1901, 639 U.S. garrisons dotted the islands,
breaking Filipino resistance.

Collapse of the Insurrection

The insurrection finally collapsed with Aguinaldos capture in March,
1901. He was seized by Colonel Frederick Funston and three other U.S. of-
ficers pretending to be the prisoners of a group of Filipino defectors, who
led the officers directly to Aguinaldos headquarters in northeastern
Luzon. After his capture, Aguinaldo reluctantly took an oath of allegiance
to the United States. By July 4, 1901, civil government, under United States
auspices, was instituted everywhere in the Philippines, except in southern
Mindanao and the Sulu Islands, where Moro tribesmen continued resis-
On July 4, 1902, the Philippine Insurrection was formally declared over.
The United States issued a proclamation of general peace and amnesty. As
a result of the struggle, the United States suffered 4,200 dead and 2,800
wounded. While close to 20,000 rebels were killed in the war, another
200,000 Filipinos died from disease, famine, and other war-related causes.
William Howard Taft served as the first U.S. governor of the Philip-
pines. Taft continued to be heavily involved in the administration of the is-
lands as secretary of war and president of the United States. It was Taft
who coined the phrase little brown brothers, which referred to his hope
that the United States could somehow Americanize these native peo-
ples. This phrase remained a strong racial force in U.S. relations with the
states in the Pacific and Latin America. The Philippine Islands remained
under U.S. jurisdiction until 1934, when Congress passed the Tydings-
McDuffie Act, granting independence to the Philippines. World War II de-
layed complete independence for the islands until 1946.
Theodore A. Wilson
updated by William Allison

Further Reading
Bradford, James C., ed. Crucible of Empire: The Spanish-American War and Its
Aftermath. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 1993.
Corry, John. 1898: Prelude to a Century. New York: Fordham University
Press, 1998.
Feuer, A. B., ed. America at War: The Philippines, 1898-1913. Forewords by
Dominic J. Caraccilo and Michael G. Price. Westport, Conn.: Praeger,
OToole, G. J. A. The Spanish War: An American Epic, 1898. New York: W. W.
Norton, 1984.
Roosevelt, Theodore. The Rough Riders: An Autobiography. New York: Li-
brary of America, 2004.
Rosenfeld, Harvey. Diary of a Dirty Little War: The Spanish-American War of
1898. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2000.
Shaw, Angel Velasco, and Luis H. Francia, eds. Vestiges of War: The Philip-
pine-American War and the Aftermath of an Imperial Dream, 1899-1999.
New York: New York University Press, 2002.
Smith, Joseph. The Spanish-American War: Conflict in the Caribbean and the
Pacific, 1895-1902. London: Longman, 1994.
Tebbel, John. Americas Great Patriotic War with Spain. Manchester Center,
Vt.: Marshall Jones, 1996.
Trask, David F. The War with Spain in 1898. New York: Macmillan, 1981.
Troxel, David. 1898: The Birth of the American Century. New York: Alfred A.
Knopf, 1998.
Walker, Dale. The Boys of 98: Theodore Roosevelt and the Rough Riders. New
York: Tom Doherty, 1998.
World War I
World War I . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 299
Weapons, Tactics, and Strategies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 312
The Air War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 326
Censorship During the War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 332
Propaganda and Civil Liberties During the War . . . . . . . . . . . . . 337
U.S. Supreme Court During the War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 342
Women in the War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 346

Campaigns, Battles, and Other Events . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 351

June, 1917: The Espionage Act . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 351
July, 1917: Mobilization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 354
September, 1918: Battle of St. Mihiel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 358
September-November, 1918: Meuse-Argonne Offensive. . . . . . . . . 360
November, 1918: Postwar Demobilization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 364
January, 1919-July, 1921: Treaty of Versailles. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 369

Further Reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 375

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World War I

At issue: German domination in Europe, French desire to regain Alsace-

Lorraine, Slavic nationalism, British security concerns, and U.S. con-
cerns about democracy, freedom of the seas, and the Monroe Doctrine
Date: 1914-1918
Location: France and Belgium from the Channel coast to the Swiss Alps
(western front), Russia, Poland, and East Prussia (eastern front); the Bal-
kans, Eastern Europe, Turkey, Italy, the Middle East, Africa, and China
Combatants: Allies: France, Great Britain, Russia, and United States vs.
Central Powers: Germany, Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Turkey
Principal commanders: German, Helmuth von Moltke (1848-1916), Erich
von Falkenhayn (1861-1922), Paul von Hindenburg (1847-1934), Erich
Ludendorff (1865-1937); Russian, Pavel Rennenkampf (1854-1918),
Aleksandr Samsonov (1859-1914), Grand Duke Nicholas (1856-1929),
Aleksei Brusilov (1853-1926); English, John French (1852-1925), Douglas
Haig (1861-1926), Lord Allenby (1861-1936), Winston S. Churchill (1874-
1965); French, Ferdinand Foch (1851-1929), Robert-Georges Nivelle
(1856-1924), Henri-Philippe Ptain (1856-1951), Joseph-Jacques Csaire
Joffre (1852-1931); American, John J. Pershing (1860-1948)
Principal battles: Frontiers, Mons, Tannenberg, Masurian Lakes, Marne,
Ypres (1914), Falkland Islands, Gallipoli Campaign, Verdun, Somme,
Brusilov Offensive, Jutland, Champagne, Aisne, Flanders, Ypres (1917),
Caporetto, Baghdad, Beersheba, Jerusalem, Ludendorff Offensive, Lys,
Aisne, Chteau-Thierry/Belleau Wood, Amiens, St. Mihiel, Meuse-
Result: The Allied victory resulted in the breakup of the Ottoman, Austro-
Hungarian, Russian, and German Empires, and the imposition of harsh
conditions on Germany that helped foster the conditions leading to
World War II.

World War I had its roots in several developments in the previous half cen-
tury. Following the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871)
and the French loss of Alsace-Lorraine, Otto von Bismarck, the chancellor
of the new German nation, sought to keep France isolated by constructing
a complex series of alliances with the major powers. After Bismarcks dis-
missal in 1890, the German Re-Insurance Treaty with Russia was not re-
newed. Within four years, Russia signed a military alliance with France. In
1904, France reached a treaty of friendship with England, and in 1907, Rus-
sia joined the agreement, forming the Triple Entente. Peacetime Europe be-
300 / World War I

Time Line of World War I

June 28, 1914 Gavrilo Princip, a Serbian nationalist, assassinates

Austria-Hungarys Archduke Francis Ferdinand at
July 28 Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia; Russia
mobilizes for war.
August 1 Germany declares war on Russia.
August 3 Germany declares war on France.
Aug. 4, 1914 Great Britains declaration of war on Germany.
Aug. 14-25, 1914 Battle of the Frontiers.
Aug. 23, 1914 Battle of Mons.
Aug. 26-31, 1914 Battle of Tannenberg.
Sept. 5-9, 1914 Battle of the Marne.
Sept. 9-14, 1914 Battle of Masurian Lakes.
Oct. 30-Nov. 24, 1914 First Battle of Ypres.
Dec. 8. 1914 Battle of Falkland Islands.
Feb. 19, 1915- Gallipoli Campaign.
Jan. 9, 1916
Apr. 22-May 25, Second Battle of Ypres.
May 2-June 27, 1915 Battle of Gorlice-Tarnow.
June 23, 1915- Eleven Battles of the Isonzo.
Sept. 12, 1917
Dec. 8, 1915- Siege of Kut-al-Amara.
Apr. 29, 1916
Feb. 19-Dec. 18, 1916 Battle of Verdun.
May 31-June 1, 1916 Battle of Jutland.
June 4-Sept. 30, 1916 Brusilov Offensive.
June 24-Nov. 13, Battle of the Somme.
Mar. 11, 1917 Battle of Baghdad.
Apr. 6, 1917 United States declares war on Germany.
Apr. 9-15, 1917 Battle of Vimy Ridge.
June 15, 1917 Espionage Act: United States Congress passes the
Espionage Act. Implementation of this act leads to
the suppression of free speech and the press during
the war and to the prosecution and incarceration of
political dissenters.
World War I / 301

July-Oct., 1917 United States forces mass in eastern France. General

John J. Pershing establishes headquarters in Chau-
July 31-Nov. 10, 1917 Third Battle of Ypres.
Oct. 24-Nov. 12, 1917 Battle of Caporetto.
Oct. 31, 1917 Battle of Beersheba.
Nov. 20-Dec. 7, 1917 Battle of Cambrai.
Dec. 7, 1917 United States declares war on Austria-Hungary.
Apr. 6, 1918 Piccardy Offensive: Germans attack Allied lines near
May 27-July 1, 1918 Battle of Chateau-Thierry/Belleau Wood.
July 8, 1917 Mobilization: U.S. government organizes the War
Industries Board to direct economic resources for the
war effort.
Aug. 8-Sept. 4, 1918 Battle of Amiens.
Sept. 12-16, 1918 Battle of St. Mihiel: Offensive mounted almost to-
tally by United States; ends German threat in the re-
gion and demonstrates U.S. military force.
Sept. 20, 1918 Battle of Megiddo.
Sept. 26-Nov. 11, Battle of Meuse-Argonne: U.S. offensive cuts off rail-
1918 road supplies to Germans. Heavy casualties are suf-
fered by the United States in this last significant bat-
tle of the war.
Nov., 1918- Postwar demobilization: Two million members of
Jan., 1923 the American Expeditionary Force are reintegrated
into the U.S. economy.
Nov. 11, 1918 Armistice ends the war.
Jan. 18, 1919 Peace conference opens in Paris.
June 28, 1919 Germany signs Treaty of Versailles.
July 2, 1921 Joint resolution of U.S. Congress recognizes a formal
end to the war.

came divided into two rival blocs: the Triple Entente and the Central
Powers of Germany and Austro-Hungary.

European Militarism and Nationalism

Militarism was also rampant in early twentieth century Europe. The
French Schneider works and German Krupp works competed to produce
more massive artillery and superior fortifications, and England and Ger-
many were locked in a race to produce large numbers of state-of-the-art
302 / World War I

battleships (dreadnoughts). Both France and Germany instituted peace-

time conscription laws to maintain large reserves of trained manpower.
Nationalism was flourishing in all major nations and the Balkans,
where it resulted in two wars in 1912 and 1913. The fate of Bosnia-
Herzegovina, taken over by the Austrian Empire in 1908 was particularly
troublesome, setting off Serbian nationalism and angering Russia, which
was the leader of Slavic nationalism. Disputes over imperialism, industrial
competition between a rising Germany and a declining England, and the
lack of an international body authorized to mediate national disputes were
additional contributing factors.
Consequently, the assassination of Austrias Archduke Francis Ferdi-
nand in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, by Bosnian nationalists allied to Serbia,
set off a chain of events leading to the outbreak of war in early August. En-
couraged by Germany, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia (July 28),
and Russia mobilized, resulting in a German declaration of war on Russia
(August 1). Germany then declared war on France (August 3). Under its
Schlieffen Plan, Germany intended to invade Belgium in order to rapidly
capture Paris and end the war.
Initially, most of the involved nations desired this war; however, none
of them wanted it to last four years or be as destructive. All previous wars
for the past century had been short and relatively bloodless. No nation had
plans for fighting more than a three-month war, and all expected to return
by Christmas with a short and decisive victory that would achieve their na-
tional objectives. In all European capitals, the war was greeted not with
somberness but rather popular celebration. Men rapidly enlisted in order
not to miss out on a short and glorious event.

Fighting Begins
Using precisely planned railroad timetables, in early August, 1914,
Germany massed a five-front attack through Belgium in an effort to en-
circle Paris and bring France to its knees in the first months of the war. Bel-
gian forts proved formidable. It took three weeks for Belgium to fall. The
violation of Belgian neutrality brought England into the war on August 4.
Germans met Anglo-French armies in a group of actions called the Battle of
the Frontiers (August 14-25, 1914). Frances Plan Seventeen, which in-
volved sending a highly motivated army to retake Alsace-Lorraine, failed
miserably. French tactics did not take into account the dramatic changes
that had taken place in the technology of killing since the Napoleonic era.
At the Battle of Mons (August 23, 1914), outnumbered British forces bat-
tled the Germans but were forced to withdraw after French forces with-
World War I / 303

Allied offensives on the Western Front

N o r t h NETHER-

Meuse River

AUG. 19-NOV. 11





Arm IU

l ent M
nne S om iere

Cha SOMME me River s r

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Rheims SAAR


JULY 18-AUG. 6 L

F R A N C E Paris

AUG. 18-NOV. 11 SEPT. 26- ST. MIHIEL
Armistice line (Nov. 11)
NOV. 11 SEPT. 12-16
Farthest German advance (July 18)

The airplane, still in its infancy, was used in the first year of the war
largely for observation of enemy movements. Eventually, pistols, rifles,
and machine guns were brought along to drive off enemy planes. A major
problem persisted in that airmen tended to shoot off their own propel-
lers in the heat of combat. The Germans made the engineering break-
through on their Fokker planes by developing a synchronized propeller
with mounted machine guns. However, this technology was soon copied
by the Allies.
The Russian offensive through East Prussia (August 17-20, 1914) was
formidable. To meet the Russian advance, two corps from the western
front, under generals Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff were
sent to revitalize the German Eighth Army in East Prussia. The Russian
offensive was smashed in the Battle of Tannenberg (August 26-31, 1914)
and Masurian Lakes (September 9-14, 1914). Russias poorly led and in-
adequately equipped forces suffered heavy casualties and lost more than
one million soldiers as prisoners. As German troops were replaced by
Austro-Hungarian forces, the eastern front of the war remained huge and
fluid. Russian supply difficulties and the poor leadership of Generals
Pavel Rennenkampf and Aleksandr Samsonov and Grand Duke Nicholas
would be matched by Austro-Hungarian incompetence in fighting a mod-
ern war.
On the western front, German forces reached the Marne River, twenty
miles outside of Paris. In a less than heroic stand, the French government
fled southward to reestablish itself at Bordeaux. However, the French com-
mander, General Joseph-Jacques Csaire Joffre, committed every available
reserve and commandeered every wheeled vehicle, including bicycles, to
304 / World War I

rush troops to fight the Battle of the Marne (September 5-9, 1914). Blocked
in their efforts to take Paris, the German army, led by Helmuth von Moltke,
turned to the west, capturing the Belgian ports of Zeebrugge and Ostend.
However, after heavy fighting in the First Battle of Ypres (October 18-
November 30, 1914), the German advance was stopped.
Germanys failure to produce a clear victory destined it to fight a two-
front war of attrition. On the western front, both sides dug in until a system
of trenches extended from the English Channel to the Swiss Alps. Any op-
portunity for flanking movements had disappeared. Trenches could be
taken only by costly frontal assault across no-mans-land. Because neither
side had planned to fight more than a three-month war, common sense
might have dictated a negotiated settlement of the deadlock. Instead, each
side tried to improvise.

Naval Warfare
The Allies had command of the high seas during 1914, effectively cut-
ting off Germany from trade and contact with its colonies. Germanys main
port in China, Qingdao (Tsingtao), was easily taken over by Japan after it
joined the Allied side on August 23. Following the minor Battle of Falkland
Islands (December 8, 1914), most of the German fleet remained in German
ports. However, the submarine, an unexpectedly effective weapon that the
German navy had only passing interest in before the war, began to take a
heavy toll on Allied shipping beginning in 1915.

The crew of a German submarine posing on their vessel in 1916. The development of Ger-
manys submarine fleet revolutionized naval warfare. (Library of Congress)
World War I / 305

By February, neutral nations such as the United States were warned that
ships sailing to British ports risked attack. On May 17, 1915, the British pas-
senger ship Lusitania was sunk off the coast of Ireland by a German U-boat,
causing 1,201 casualties, including 139 Americans. The United States was
so enraged that Germany suspended U-boat attacks on passenger ships
and diverted much of its submarine fleet to the Mediterranean.
Although an initial Austro-German offensive in the Carpathians (Janu-
ary 23, 1915) was blunted within a month by a large Russian army, new
German forces siphoned from the western front under General August
von Mackensen drove Russian forces out of Poland by August, 1915.
Austro-German forces successfully invaded Serbia in early fall, 1915, and
were helped in their efforts by Bulgaria, a new entrant in the war. The
Allies focused on the taking of the Gallipoli Peninsula (1915-1916) in an ef-
fort to capture the Gallipoli Straits.
The Ottoman Empire had joined the Central Powers on October 28,
1914, closing the Allied maritime route to Russia. To break this strangle-
hold, Winston S. Churchill, British first lord of the admiralty, envisioned a
bold plan. An Anglo-French naval force would heavily shell Ottoman forts
for almost a month (beginning February 19, 1915); shelling would be fol-
lowed by the amphibious landing of large expeditionary forces intent on
seizing control of the Dardanelles. Not taking into account the high cliffs
on the shoreline or the spirited opposition of well-entrenched Turkish
forces, Australian, New Zealand, and Canadian forces under General Ian
Hamilton soon became pinned down on the Gallipoli Peninsula, while a
second landing force suffered a similar fate at Sulva Bay. This disastrous
campaign, which almost ended Churchills political career, resulted in
252,000 Allied casualties and the withdrawal of forces beginning on De-
cember 20, 1915. The withdrawal occurred exactly at the time the Turks
were using the last of their munitions.
Clearly the war was not going well for the Allies, and a change in com-
mand was undertaken. Marshal Joffre was appointed commander of
French forces and Field Marshal Douglas Haig was appointed British com-
mander to replace John French. Another Christmas slipped by, and an end
to the war was nowhere in sight.

New German Offensive

Early in 1916, Germany decided to break the stalemate by attacking the
French fortress city of Verdun (February 19-December 18, 1916), a strategi-
cally central part of the French defensive system on the western front.
While fortified positions changed hands many times during the lengthy
battle, French forces under the command of Marshal Henri-Philippe Ptain
306 / World War I

Much of the combat in the western front of the war was static, with armies mired in
trenches, often suffering numerous casualties with little to show for their sacrifices.
(U.S. Army War College)

ultimately prevailed, although France lost 315,000 men as compared with

281,000 German casualties. In order to take the pressure off Verdun, the
Allies launched three attacks from June 24-November 13, 1916, collectively
known as the Battle of the Somme. Anglo-French forces suffered 60,000 ca-
sualties on the first day of the offensive, which would stand as the bloodi-
est day in the war.
Anglo-French forces made massive artillery barrages meant to destroy
German barbed wire and machine-gun nests. However, neither objective
was attained. By the end of the disastrous offensive, the Allies had lost
nearly 800,000 men and the Germans 530,000. At the Somme, the tank was
first used as a weapon of warfare in an attack near Courcelette (September
15, 1916) with inconsequential effect. In August, Ludendorff replaced
Erich von Falkenhayn as Hindenburgs chief of staff. Ludendorff was an
advocate of total war, which meant military control at home, and striking
decisive blows on the battle front.
Berated for not doing its share, Russian forces led by Aleksei Brusilov
launched a campaign (June 4-September 30, 1916) known as the Brusilov
Offensive into Galicia and the Carpathians. The attack wreaked havoc on
poorly trained Austrian forces, which suffered 1.5 million dead, wounded,
or captured to Russias comparatively smaller loss of 500,000. Romania en-
tered the war on the Allied side during the attack, its appetite whetted by
promises of territorial gains made in the secret Treaty of Bucharest (August
World War I / 307

17). However, the Romanian push into Transylvania was halted. By De-
cember 6, much of Romania, including the capital city of Bucharest, was
occupied by a German-Bulgarian army. Christmas, 1916, saw considerable
disillusionment in soldiers on both fronts of the war.

Naval and Air Battles

The major naval battle of the war took place at Jutland (May-June, 1916)
as twenty-eight British dreadnoughts and nine cruisers faced sixteen Ger-
man dreadnoughts and five cruisers. The naval battle itself is viewed by
most military historians to be a draw. However, the fact that the German
fleet remained at port for the rest of the war makes the end result of the bat-
tle a British victory. Jutland also caused Germany to resume heavy reliance
on its U-boats. In 1917, as Germany resumed unrestricted submarine war-
fare, Great Britain lost two million more tons of ships than were con-
structed, and the British Isles faced an acute food shortage.
Although the English experimented with squadron formations in 1916,
air battles were usually duels between groups of planes, contests some-
what similar to the gallant jousting of knights of old. Heroes such as Baron
Manfred von Richthofen, or the Red Baron, arose in this otherwise imper-
sonal war. Bombing at first was merely tossing hand-held bombs from
planes onto enemy troops below, but by 1917, wing-mounted bombs had
been developed. Still, bombing played a very minor role in combat. The
zeppelin, huge and slow, nevertheless became a terror weapon developed
by the Germans. Zeppelins could deliver a large bomb payload, and at-
tacks on England caused considerable panic among the population. How-
ever, zeppelins achieved their lift by using highly explosive hydrogen gas
and were easy targets.

Allied Counteroffensives
Early in 1917, the new French commander, General Robert-Georges
Nivelle attempted a breakthrough by launching a series of diversionary at-
tacks at German positions along the Somme River and then launching a
major offensive in Champagne (April 16, 1917). The offensive failed at the
Second Battle of Aisne (May 9, 1917). Faced with mutinies by French troops
during and after the battle, Nivelle was replaced by Marshal Ptain, who
used courts-martial, firing squads, and other stringent measures to restore
Nivelles disaster was followed by an equally calamitous British effort
by Haig to launch an offensive in Flanders (June 7, 1917) aimed at captur-
ing the Flemish port cities of Ostend and Zeebrugge. The resulting Third
Battle of Ypres (July 31-November 4, 1917) succeeded only in capturing
308 / World War I

Passchendaele Ridge. Both sides suffered heavy losses in this evident war
of attrition and were bleeding each other dry. However, the Allies merely
had to hold on, because a new and powerful nation was entering the war
on their side.

United States Enters the War

The German resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare on Febru-
ary 1 angered the United States, led by President Woodrow Wilson, an An-
glophile. Two days later, the United States terminated diplomatic relations
with Germany and proceeded to pressure most of the major Latin Ameri-
can nations to do likewise. A miscalculated countermove to make the
United States worry about events close at home resulted in the famous
Zimmermann telegram (March 2) promising Mexico help, in the event of
conflict, in regaining the American Southwest, lost in the Mexican War
(1846-1848). This violation of the Monroe Doctrine, a sacred pillar of policy
for the United States, was all that Wilson needed to move an isolationist
nation to declare war on April 6. Since czarism had toppled in Russia sev-
eral weeks earlier, to be replaced by the democratic provisional govern-
ment, the United States could enter the war on the side of the democratic
Allies against the autocratic central powers.
Wilson set the objective of the war as making the world safe for democ-
racy, thus supplanting British prime minister David Lloyd Georges ratio-
nale that this was a war to end all wars. The initial American Expedition-

General John J. Pershing.

(Library of Congress)
World War I / 309

ary Force of 175,000, led by General John J. Pershing, arrived in France on

June 25, greatly boosting French morale. By the end of the war, U.S. combat
troops numbered two million and five million were in uniform. If the war
of attrition were to continue, it was evident that Germany would atrophy
first. However, other developments indicated that the war, in the short run,
was turning in favor of Germany.
In order to knock Italy out of the war in one blow, Ludendorff sent
seven well-trained German divisions, equipped with heavy artillery, to at-
tack Italian forces at Caporetto (October 24-November 12, 1917) in Slove-
nia. One million Italian soldiers entered into a three-week-long retreat in
which 350,000 were taken prisoner, and 40,000 were killed. German suc-
cess against Italy was coupled with an even more spectacular event. In No-
vember, Vladimir Ilich Lenin, who had been smuggled by the Germans
into Russia in a sealed train in early spring, had succeeded in seizing
power in Russia. To maintain power, Lenin withdrew from the war. In the
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (1918), Lenin gave Germany control of nearly one-
third of Russias most productive territory.

Other Theaters of the War

If things were going well for the Allies, it was in a secondary theater of
the war, namely the Middle East. The British Mesopotamian campaign
succeeded in capturing Baghdad on March 11, 1917, while General Lord
Allenby took Jerusalem on December 9, after a victory at Beersheba on Oc-
tober 31. In Greece, an Allied invasion had convinced the pro-German
King Constantine to abdicate in favor of his son Alexander (June 12). As
planned, Alexanders new premier, Venizelos, brought Greece into the war
on the Allied side two weeks later.
With the end of the war on the Russian front, the Germans were able to
reinforce their strength on the western front and plan a major offensive
aimed at bringing the war to a decisive conclusion. The Ludendorff Offen-
sive (1918) was intended to launch German divisions between French and
English forces, enabling them to drive the English to the channel coast and
then attack Paris. Beginning the offensive on March 21, four major attacks
were made on Allied forces. The first attack, aimed at British forces south
of Arras, hurled British lines back forty miles, before the front could be sta-
bilized on April 5. In a second offensive at Lys (April 9-29, 1918), the Ger-
mans took Messines Ridge and Armentieres from the British.
A powerful attack on the Aisne (June, 1918) allowed German forces to
drive to the Marne at a point thirty-seven miles from Paris. It was during
this drive that U.S. forces played a significant role, halting the German ad-
vance at Chteau-Thierry/Belleau Wood (May 27-July 1, 1918). German
310 / World War I

U.S. troops fighting in France. (Library of Congress)

forces were successfully able to cross the Marne in mid-July, but at this
juncture Ferdinand Foch, who had been appointed Allied commander on
April 24, ordered a counterattack, which began with a successful British at-
tack on German forces at Amiens (August 8-September 4, 1918). Following
German defeats at the Second Battle of the Somme, and the Fifth Battle of
Arras, German forces were driven back to the Hindenburg Line (Septem-
ber 5). Allied forces also removed the Germans from the St. Mihiel salient
(September 12-16, 1918).
In September, the Americans launched the Meuse-Argonne Offensive
(September 26-November 11, 1918), advancing through the Argonne For-
est and breaking through German lines between Metz and Sedan. In Oc-
tober, the French took St. Quentin, and Britain occupied Cambrai and
Ostend. By early November, the Hindenburg Line was broken, with Ger-
man forces in full retreat. Austria-Hungary rapidly signed an armistice
(November 3), joining Turkey, which had withdrawn from the war several
days before, and Bulgaria, which had withdrawn from the war in late Sep-

Allied Victory
The defeat of the German army set off a naval mutiny, which in turn
stimulated popular uprisings. Kaiser William II decided to leave Germany
World War I / 311

and seek refuge in the Netherlands. On November 9, 1918, Germany de-

clared itself to be a democratic republic, hoping for a lenient peace treaty
under Wilsons Fourteen Points, the American presidents program for
peace, which Wilson had laid out in a January, 1918, speech. At 5:00 a.m. on
November 11, an armistice was signed. Six hours later, the guns were silent
on the western front.
The armistice called for Germanys surrender. Germany was to evacu-
ate immediately all occupied territory and Alsace-Lorraine as well as Ger-
man territory west of the Rhine and three bridgeheads over the Rhine. It
was to surrender immediately a great deal of war equipment, including
guns and machine guns, as well as its submarines.
The war broke up four empires: Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman, Rus-
sian, and German. It left nine million dead and seven million severely
wounded. The Treaty of Versailles (June 28, 1919) imposed harsh condi-
tions on Germany, including financial reparations based on its war guilt,
or responsibility in starting the war, and considerable loss of territory.
These conditions would play a part in the rise of the Nazis and the start of
World War II.
Irwin Halfond

Weapons, Tactics, and Strategies

World War I was the first truly modern war conducted on a worldwide scale.
Building on military advances coming out of the Civil War in the United
States, the Crimean and Franco-Prussian Wars in Europe, and the South Afri-
can (Boer) War, World War I introduced large-scale armored naval combat, aerial
warfare, tank warfare, and other destructive innovations. However, despite all
these technological advances, the actual conduct of war remained mired in nine-
teenth century concepts, and the heaviest land combat of the war was largely

Beginning in 1871, with the unification of Kaiser Wilhelm (William) Is

German Reich through the diplomacy of Chancellor Otto von Bismarck
and the efficiency of the Prussian army, the balance of power in Europe be-
gan to change. The swift German defeats of Denmark in 1864, Austria in
1866, and France in 1870-1871 had created a central European state that
alarmed all nine of its neighbors. France, clearly seeking revenge for its de-
feat and for the loss of Alsace-Lorraine, was ready to join other states in a
coalition against Germany. Bismarck maintained friendly agreements with
Russia and Austria, thus isolating France. By 1882 this agreement had cul-
minated in a Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy, as
well as a nonaggression understanding with Russia.
The Bismarck system was weakened by the 1887 refusal of German
banks to extend new loans to Russia, causing the czar to turn to French
bankers. After Bismarcks 1890 dismissal by Kaiser Wilhelm (William) II,
the German treaty with Russia lapsed, and a Franco-Russian defensive
military alliance followed in 1894. Britains search for allies after the South
African (Boer) War (1899-1902) led to an alliance with Japan, a 1904 colo-
nial entente with France, and a similar understanding with Russia in
Although Britain was not bound under the agreement to support France
and Russia, and Italy had expressed reservations on its obligations to the
alliance, the average European citizen saw the powers as rival camps
Triple Alliance versus Triple Entente. In 1914 neither the people nor the
leaders of the larger European powers were planning for or seeking war,
although they all sought military security and considered their windows
of opportunity for military success. After the war broke out, the forces
aligned with the Triple Alliance became known as the Axis, or Central,
Powers. The forces aligned with the Triple Entente became known as the
Allied Powers.
Weapons, Tactics, and Strategies / 313

Competing War Aims

Whereas Russia had the manpower and Britain the sea power for a long
war, Germanys chances seemed better in a short conflict. General Alfred
von Schlieffen, the German chief of staff from 1891 to 1905, devised a plan
for a quick march through central Belgium aimed at enveloping Paris
within six weeks, so that some German troops could be entrained back to
Berlin to save that city from the slower advance of the Russians. This
meant, however, that Germany would have to invade Belgium within a
few days of any Russian mobilization.
In the 1914 crisis following the assassination of the Austrian crown
prince Francis Ferdinand and his wife by pro-Serb extremists on June 28,
1914, Germany gambled that Russia would stay neutral while Austria de-
feated the Serbs. When the czar ordered mobilization on July 30, Ger-
manys Kaiser Wilhelm II, Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg,
and Chief of Staff General Helmuth von Moltke all felt compelled to put
the Schlieffen Plan into action, declaring war on Russia and mobilizing on
August 1 to attack France through Belgium. In all the belligerent states of
1914, the leaders, press, and public felt sure that they had no choice but to
fight, that their enemies had forced them to defend themselves.
Nationalism and moral righteousness fanned by newspaper jingoism
excited overwhelming support for a war that was expected to be brief, with
winners and losers determined by a few battles. Many young men were
ready to volunteer for a bit of excitement before settling down. As Winston
S. Churchill put it, they sought adventure but found death.
The invasion of Belgium became a serious moral handicap for Germany.
Allied propaganda built on this violation of neutrality and treaties with
stories of atrocities in occupied Belgium that depicted the Germans as
bestial criminals. Further, the German advance on Paris bogged down in
stalemated trench warfare, and the German defeat of the Russians at
Tannenberg in August, 1914, and at the Masurian Lakes in September,
1914, was not decisive, partly due to Austrias poor showing on the eastern
Although a negotiated peace might have been possible at the end of
1914, public opinion was not prepared for it, and it would not have met the
demand for future security against aggression. The German armies were
successful enough in 1914 to overrun most of Frances northern industrial
zone. As they held off the Russians, the Ottoman Empire joined the Central
Powers, the former Triple Alliance, in October, 1914, hoping to pay off old
scores against Russia, Britain, and France. Japan also joined with Germany
in August, occupying Germanys Far Eastern bases, especially that of
Qingdao, in Chinas Shandong province.
314 / World War I

In 1915 French marshal Joseph-Jacques Csaire Joffre mounted offen-

sives that he termed as nibbling against the German troops, now com-
manded by General Erich von Falkenhayn. On the eastern front, the failure
of Russias offensive encouraged Bulgaria to join the Central Powers, com-
bining with Austria to drive the Serb army out of Serbia. An August 6,
1915, Anglo-French naval attempt to open the Dardanelles, a narrow strait
between Turkey and Europe, as a supply route to Russia failed. These de-
bacles brought about a coalition cabinet in Britain, and Winston S. Chur-
chill was dropped from the Admiralty. The British also committed an expe-
dition to occupy Basra, a southeastern Iraqi port, and to move up the Tigris
River toward Baghdad in Turkish Mesopotamia. Italy joined the Axis
Powers, with the promise of land in the Trentino, the Tyrol, and the Dalma-
tian coast as well as extra-European colonies. In a further Eastern diver-
sion, Axis troops occupied Salonika as a check to Bulgaria. Germany fell
into a quarrel with the United States over American lives lost in the May 7,
1915, torpedoing of the British liner Lusitania. When U.S. president Wood-
row Wilson threatened war, the Germans promised in May of 1916 to re-
strict their submarine tactics to the nearly prohibitive terms demanded by
the United States.

Year of Decision
It was widely expected that 1916 would be a year of decisive battles. The
Allied plan for simultaneous convergence on Germany was anticipated
when Falkenhayn launched a major assault on French fortifications at
Verdun in February. Russias June attack on Austria, the Brusilov Offen-
sive, encouraged Romania to join the Allies, while the British Expedition-
ary Force under Sir Douglas Haig made a major attack on the Germans in
the Battle of the Somme (1916). The Germans did not take Verdun, but they
rescued the Austrians and overran nearly all of Romania. This success did
not quite make up for a potato blight in Germany and a subsequent turnip
winter for the civilians. In Mesopotamia the British advance army of
10,000 was defeated and surrendered. The May, 1916, naval Battle of
Jutland proved a tactical success for Germany but a strategic success for
the continuing British blockade. The British losses on the Somme were
heavy, and the Easter Rebellion in Ireland rounded out another grim year.
In the United States, 1916 was a year of preparedness rallies and appro-
priations. After his reelection, President Wilson asked both the Allied and
the Axis Powers to state their specific war aims, but each side replied in
vague terms. The restriction of territorial annexations gained support
among those tired of the war, but there was no agreement on the posses-
sion of the Alsace-Lorraine region on the French-German border.
Weapons, Tactics, and Strategies / 315

By March of 1917, street demonstrations in the Russian cities of St. Pe-

tersburg and Moscow had become uncontrollable. Czar Nicholas II abdi-
cated, and a government of moderates was formed, headed by Prince
Georgy Lvov and dominated by Aleksandr Kerensky. Attempts to con-
tinue the war were unsuccessful. Peace, bread, and land were the popular
demands, and on that program, Vladimir Ilich Lenin and the Bolsheviks
took power in November, signed an armistice on December 15, and ac-
cepted a treaty at Brest-Litovsk (now in Belarus) on March 3, 1918.

Renewed German Offensive

The German General Staff, headed since 1916 by Paul von Hindenburg,
with Erich Ludendorff as his strategic guide, viewed the Russian collapse
as Germanys chance for total victory. The Germans calculated that an all-
out submarine campaign would defeat Britain by 1918, that America
would never risk sending troops across a submarine-dominated Atlantic,
and that German soldiers from the eastern front would give the Reich the
manpower it needed to crush France in 1918. Diplomatic alternatives were
not explored. The resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare in Febru-
ary, 1917, was an open challenge to Wilsons policy. The so-called Zimmer-
mann telegram, an intercepted German message made public proposing
an alliance of Germany, Mexico, and Japan in war against the United
States, was clearly a hostile act that Americans treated as such. The United
States declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917. The United States chose
to fight as an Associated Power, against war and autocracy and for
peace, humanity, and justice, without seeking territory as the spoils of vic-
After the failure of a French offensive in April, 1917, was followed by a
mutinous sit-down in several French army divisions, General Henri-
Philippe Ptain became French commander in chief, restoring confidence
with a strategic choice to wait for the tanks and the Americans. The Ital-
ians were outgeneraled in the autumn Battle of Caporetto (1917), losing
heavily in prisoners as they were driven from the Isonzo River back to the
Piave River. These German successes, however great, could not make up
for the facts that Britain had been saved by the transatlantic convoy system
and that U.S. troops had begun arriving in France in June of 1917.

Ideological Changes
The Russian (Bolshevik) Revolution, which had also begun in 1917,
and the American entrance into the war had, by 1918, given the war an in-
creasingly ideological meaning. After the Bolsheviks published the Axis
Powers secret treaties, The New York Times editorialized that Russian revo-
316 / World War I

One of the great technological advances of World War I was the introduction of heavily
armored and highly mobile tanks. However, it would not be until World War II that the
mobility of tanks was used to advantage on a large scale. (U.S. Army War College)

lutionary leader Leon Trotsky was not a gentleman, but, in fact, the trea-
ties evidence of haggling over territorial loot insulted the sacrifice of mil-
lions of lives.
The promise of self-determination, democracy, and justice espoused in
both Wilsons program for a just settlement of the war, known as the Four-
teen Points, and Lenins propaganda encouraged separatism in Austria-
Hungary and the Ottoman Empire, as well as in Ireland and Asia. Luden-
dorff ignored the political trends and the possibilities of defensive strategy
and gambled that he could find military victory in France with a well-
planned attack and revised infantry tactics. His offensive broke the front
and gained ground, but again the troops outran their reinforcements and
supplies. When the Allies, finally united under the command of French
marshal Ferdinand Foch, struck back in mid-June with the advantage of
tanks and air support, the overextended German lines could no longer halt
the Allied attacks.
In September, Ludendorff declared victory out of reach, and in October
the German chancellor asked Wilson for armistice terms based on the
Fourteen Points. Negotiations proceeded as Bulgaria made terms on Sep-
tember 29, Turkey on October 31, and Austria on November 4. Part of the
German navy mutinied on October 29, and an armistice delegation left
Berlin for France on November 7. Demonstrations in Berlin led Kaiser Wil-
liam II to abdicate on November 9 and flee to Holland the following day.
The German delegates, now representing a new government, signed an
Weapons, Tactics, and Strategies / 317

Armistice at Compigne on November 11. President Wilson arrived in Eu-

rope on December 13, 1918, hailed as a powerful idealist bringing peace,
democracy, justice, and security at the end of the Great War.

Military Achievement
Germanys goal in the major theater of World War I was to defeat France
by taking Paris within six weeks and then shifting troops eastward to stop
the invading Russians. The drive for Paris failed. The Germans were sty-
mied by problems with supplies and reinforcements that were multiplied
with the distance from the German railheads, whereas the French used
their own transport network, centered on Paris, for rapid countermoves.
Falkenhayns 1916 attrition strategy in the attack of Verdun killed al-
most as many Germans as Allies and was basically unsound, given the
Allied predominance in manpower. Colonel Max Hoffmans 1917 cam-
paign on the eastern front took advantage of the Russian Revolution to
drive the Russians to accept German peace terms and created an opportu-
nity for a negotiated peace that was acceptable to Germany. Ludendorff, in
the west, preferred to gamble on submarines and a 1918 capture of Paris
before American intervention could be effective. A better German foreign
policy might have been the avoidance of a two-front war or the negotiation
of an acceptable peace plan in late 1916 or early 1917. Germanys wartime
aims for territory or dominance in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East
were militarily impractical.
The French offensive aims never achieved their ostensible goals until
the Ludendorff Offensive of 1918 depleted German manpower. Only then
could the French achieve the obvious goal of gaining Alsace-Lorraine plus
security. Frances Plan 17 in 1914 was geographically unsound and mis-
judged the location of the German attack, but it drew the German battle
eastward and away from Paris. Joffres 1915 nibbling with bombard-
ments was ineffective, and General Robert-Georges Nivelles surprise
breakthrough in 1917 had been too widely advertised to surprise anyone.
Ptains defensive strategy gave the French army a chance to recover, a
sensible goal after the French army mutinies of 1917. The French general
staff was generally less effective than its German counterpart but made
fewer costly mistakes.
The Russian goals of taking Berlin, threatening Vienna, and dominating
Constantinople at least had the advantage of a numerous, courageous, and
usually uncomplaining infantry. Against Austrian and Turkish forces, the
Russians had many successes, limited only by inadequate transportation.
Against the Germans, however, the Russian army officers seemed to be too
preoccupied by the probability of defeat to act on the possibility of success.
318 / World War I

With a shortage of both experienced noncommissioned ranks and compe-

tent officers, the quality of Russian army leadership was so bad that the
troops were losing faith in the army leaders, even as the home front was
losing faith in the government and the czar.
Britain achieved some limited and peripheral goals: It prevailed nar-
rowly in the Battle of Jutland; it maintained a blockade of the Central
Powers; it brought world, and especially U.S., resources to the western
front despite German submarines; it helped to finance the Allies; it did
most of the fighting in Germanys African colonies, in the Middle East, and
at the Dardanelles and Gallipoli; and it committed a sizable army to the
western front. These were significant goals and achievements. Without
victory over the submarines, there might well have been no Allied victory
in the European theater. On the other hand, Germanys chief threat to Brit-
ain was economic, and on that score, the liquidation of Britains overseas
investments to finance the war benefited the United States more than it
hurt Germany and was certainly an important step in Britains later de-
cline as a world power.
Austria did occupy Serbia in 1915, thereby more or less achieving
Austria-Hungarys goal to eliminate Serbia as a factor in Balkan politics. It
also held off the Italians until the collapse of 1918, but its campaigns
against Russia lacked direction; the 1918 wave of self-determination
simply dissolved the polyglot Habsburg Empire. The Treaty of Versailles
that ended the war in 1919 drew very restricted boundaries for Hungary
and forbade the Austrian remnant from making any political or commer-
cial union with Germany.
The Allied Powers had made generous territorial promises to Italy for
joining them in 1915, and the Italian armys military goal from 1915 to 1918
was to take the Austrian capital of Vienna. Adverse geography and an
army that was both poorly equipped and poorly trained stalled the Italians
on the Isonzo River, until their defeat at Caporetto forced them to de-
velop assault squads that finally won the Battle of Vittorio Veneto (1918)
as Austria-Hungary collapsed. Even though Italy did gain the Trentino,
Tyrol, and, later, Fiume, in the Treaty of Versailles, it still felt shortchanged.
The Ottoman Empire wished to gain territory, such as the Suez Canal, from
the British, and land in the Caucasus from Russia, but was more success-
ful in defensive campaigns, such as Gallipoli. In the Balkans, the Serbian
army had been forced out of Serbia into Salonika, a French territory, but in
the Treaty of Versailles, the Serbian premier gained leadership over the
kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. Bulgaria had joined the Central
Powers to invade Serbia but lost border enclaves in the Treaty of Versailles.
Romanias goal had been to gain Transylvania, and despite a complete mil-
Weapons, Tactics, and Strategies / 319

itary defeat, did so at Paris; it had also regained Bessarabia from Russia un-
der the earlier Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Greece had the distinction of being
forced into the war by the British and French for modest territorial gains.
Belgium had wanted Luxembourg but had no means of armed occupation.
Japans goal had been to acquire German bases and islands in the Far East,
and its army and navy enforced these claims. Japans military presence in
Shandong and Siberia and its naval construction program aroused U.S.
The United States entered the war on April 6, 1917, participating in
the battles of 1918 as an Associated Power on the Allied side. The Ameri-
can political goals were to defeat Germany, making the world safe for de-
mocracy, and to end war by means of a League of Nations based on self-
determination and justice. The U.S. military goal was German surrender.

Land Weapons
In 1914, as oversized armies met in the European theater, increased fire-
power made battlefields impassable for conventional infantry assaults.
The previously ineffective mitrailleuse came into its own: Situated to cover
enemy troop concentrations and used in short bursts to avoid overheating
and jamming, these machine guns, whether water-cooled Maxims or air-
cooled Hotchkiss types, fired 400 to 600 rounds per minute. Also, bolt-
action repeating rifles, such as the German Mauser Gewehr 98, the British
Lee-Metford, the Austrian Mannlicher Model 1895, the Italian Mannlicher-
Carcano, the French Lebel M-1e 1886/93, the Russian Nagant, and later,

An air-cooled Hotchkiss machine gun. (U.S. Army War College)

320 / World War I

the American Springfield, achieved a range, accuracy, and rate of fire un-
precedented in European warfare. Battles of encounter became a story of
heavy losses, entrenchment, barbed wire, and stalemate.
Light field artillery was used to attack the trenches, ranging from the 75-
millimeter gun (known in French as the soixante-quinze) to the 105-millime-
ter howitzer. The Germans used 30.5-centimeter Skodas and 42-centimeter
Krupps Big Berthas for howitzer shelling of the forts at Lige and Namur.
Larger artillery, such as the Paris gun, used by the Germans to shell Paris
in 1918, had to be moved by rail. Antitrench bombardments, however, so
cratered the terrain as to slow down the assault troops, a self-defeating re-
The mining of enemy trenches, as by the British at Messines Ridge in
June, 1917, was effective but caused massive terrain dislocation and took a
great deal of time for a limited gain. Flamethrowers were tried with good
results at close quarters but without achieving major breakthroughs. Poi-
son gas, under the right conditions, could break down a line of defense, but
advancing in gas masks was slow work and some gases persisted for days.
Repeatedly, attacking armies were hampered in moving men and supplies
across ravaged battlefields while retreating armies drew on rapid support
from the rail center it was defending. For most of World War I, defense was
a stronger position than offense in terms of reinforcement and supply.
Another defensive form, the blockade, dominated the war at sea, but
undersea and aerial weapons threatened the traditional line of battle style
of naval warfare. Submerged mines kept the British from entering the
Dardanelles in 1915 and effectively kept them out of the Baltic Sea. Aerial
reconnaissance at sea by dirigibles, blimps, and airplanes became a new
factor, and German diesel-electric submarines did much more damage to
Allied warships and world commercial shipping than did any of its surface
warships. These submarines were also a major factor in the 1917 entry of
the United States into the war, which ensured Germanys defeat.

The Air War

Aerial warfare captured the imagination of the public, but the compara-
tive airpower of the European states in 1914 is difficult to put into quantita-
tive terms, because too many variables are involved. France apparently
had from 200 to 250 serviceable airplanes. Germany had a few more, as
well as zeppelins. Britain claimed only 35 planes but could be compared at
135. Austria-Hungary had 36, and Belgium 24. Russia purchased 250 for-
eign planes in 1913 to add to those of its own production but listed only
about 100 total pilots. Wartime production greatly increased these num-
Weapons, Tactics, and Strategies / 321

The first aerial reconnaissance and bombing began in 1914, when ma-
chine guns were mounted on airplanes. Dutch aircraft designer Anthony
H. G. Fokker equipped his 1915 German planes with interrupter gears for
forward firing through the propeller. Germanys zeppelins were useful
only in long-range bombing, and its airplane production was limited by an
inadequate supply of engines. During the war, airplanes improved greatly
in both general reliability and strength of construction. Pilots were not usu-
ally issued parachutes, giving them an incentive to land their planes safely
if hit. Survivors could not remember any dogfights quite as crowded as
those depicted in later Hollywood films.

Armored Vehicles
Armored trains and armored cars were not new, but they could not
cross trenches. In 1916, British colonel Ernest Swinton developed a land
warship, code-named tank, with a caterpillar tractor-type continuous
tread stretched over a long and rigid track. This tread gave the 30-ton vehi-
cle the ability to cross trenches while carrying 6-pound guns or machine
guns in side-mounted gun platforms as it advanced through the German
In 1918 Britain produced a 14-ton Whippet model tank with a machine
gun, and France introduced the 6.5-ton Renault Char-Mitrailleuse with a
360-degree turret. The British used a few tanks on the Somme in 1916 and
successfully at Cambrai in 1917. Germany produced a few 30-ton tanks
and only prototypes for a lighter machine. Germanys western offensive in
1918 depended chiefly on the use of captured Allied tanks. Despite their
persistent tendencies to ditch or break down, tanks were the Allies best
new weapon in 1918. Although the tank became a tactical breakthrough
weapon in World War I, it was not yet capable of leading a sustained offen-
Several elements of civilian life came to have military significance.
Trucks became necessary links between railheads and battlefields, al-
though horses still pulled field artillery. Telephones and wireless telegra-
phy became variably useful. Voice radio would have been very useful for
conveying reports and orders over large combat areas, but the transmitting
and receiving equipment had a limited range.
By 1914 armor at sea had been maximized. Waterline blisters were
added to battleships for protection against mines and torpedoes, but the
addition of any more deck armor to protect against aerial bombs or the
plunging fire of long-range shooting would have made ships top-heavy
and ready to capsize. German compartmentalization and wider dry docks
gave the Germans stronger ships at Jutland.
322 / World War I

Armor on land principally concerned tanks. Although World War I

tanks had enough armor to stop ordinary rifle or machine-gun bullets, .50-
caliber or larger high-velocity bullets would penetrate them. The size of
tank needed to cross trenches meant a large vehicle that was only thinly
covered. Basically, tanks needed more horsepower, which ideally came
from diesel engines.

European uniforms became discreetly drab after the Russo-Japanese
War showed the advantage of camouflage. Khaki or gray-green colors pre-
vailed. Shoulder and collar patches identified units and rank. Headgear,
such as a forage cap, tin hat, turban, or fez, was distinctive. In 1914 the ex-
ceptions in uniform uniformity were the French, whose press and politi-
cians had insisted on the troops traditional blue coat and red trousers, and
the Scots, whose kilts were covered by khaki aprons for the field.

Military Organization
The belligerents, or warring nations, of World War I originally orga-
nized their military forces along the same general lines developed during
the French Revolution (1789-1799). The head of the government or the war
cabinet determined war policies for the army and navy. The service chiefs
developed and executed the military war plans. This latter group was de-
scribed as General Headquarters (GHQ) in Britain and the United States,
as Grand Quartier Gneral (GQG) in France, as Stavka in Russia, and as
Oberste Heeresleitung (OHL) in Germany.
The land forces were divided into army groups of field armies com-
posed of corps. The corps was an all-arms group including two infantry di-
visions, a cavalry brigade or division, an artillery brigade, and several sup-
port groups. The division continued to be a basic all-arms unit capable of
independent action if ordered and composed of brigades, regiments, bat-
talions, companies, platoons, and squads in diminishing order of size. A
typical infantry division included headquarters personnel, two or three
brigades of infantry, one or two regiments of field artillery, a squadron or
up to a regiment of cavalry, a battalion or regiment of engineers, one or
more signal companies (in the United States, this included airplanes as
well as telegraph and radio), ambulance companies, field hospitals, a base
hospital, ammunition and supply services, and food services. European
divisions might number 10,000 to 15,000, and U.S. divisions in Europe
25,000 to 30,000. Cavalry divisions were much less numerous in personnel.
Some divisions were specialized, such as investment divisions for sieges or
mountain (Alpine) divisions.
Weapons, Tactics, and Strategies / 323

This multiplicity of functions meant that while battlefield firepower in-

creased, the number of riflemen decreased in favor of the new special ser-
vices. In military jargon, there was less teeth and more tail, especially in
U.S. overseas divisions. Indeed, some servicemen might find that apart
from boredom, mud, and the danger of being killed or wounded, they
were better fed and cared for than they had been in civilian life.
The development during World War I of infiltration squads and sup-
porting assault battalions meant special selection, training, and organiza-
tion for these shock troops, or combat teams, as they would later be called.
At the time, this separation of an elite infantry force was controversial for
being potentially harmful to general army morale. Is is considered in some
accounts as a factor in Germanys 1918 military defeat.
The new weapons of World War I were sometimes seen as a threat to se-
nior army ranks. Young officers ambitious for promotion might be drawn
to a new technical field, to which older officers found it difficult to adjust,
and claim the need for an independent organization with its own system of
funding, control, and promotion. Submarines were safely under navy con-
trol, and aircraft carriers could be limited, but a separate Royal Air Force,
such as the British established in 1918, was an unwelcome competitor for
shrinking postwar military budgets. There was widespread agreement
that tanks should be nothing more than ancillary to infantry operations.
The general staff system of army administration, planning, and com-
mand, used with great success by Germany in the nineteenth century, was
widely copied but with very mixed results in World War I. The German
staff was efficient in the military field but calamitous in trying to shape
general strategy and foreign policy. The French staff managed its generals
fairly well but did not do much for the front-line soldiers. Otherwise, gen-
eral staffs tended to defer to the commanding general without giving him
needed information. Britains imperial general staff suffered from the fact
that the British had little regard for military desk jobs and opted instead for
field commands. Although the United States had capable staff chiefs, it still
seemed that General John J. Pershing did too much of his own staff work.
On the whole, most countries felt that their own general staff needed im-
provement and that the German staff should be abolished. The abolition
turned out to be only a matter of form.

Doctrine, Strategy, and Tactics

Nineteenth century military theory, attempting to borrow its principles
of war from the French Revolutionary Wars (1792-1802), concluded that
mass citizen armies had outmoded the older professional armies of the
eighteenth century and that the offensive campaigns of French emperor
324 / World War I

Napoleon Bonaparte showed how these mass armies should be used to

win wars. The doctrine of the offensive became established at military
academies. In the Crimean War (1853-1856), the Civil War (1861-1865),
the Wars of German Unification (1864, 1866, 1870-1871), and the Russo-
Japanese War (1904-1905), victory went to invaders pursuing the offensive,
although the cost to the attacking infantry increased. Breech-loading rifles
with longer effective ranges made frontal assaults increasingly costly, and
railways gave defenders a quick deployment against any strategic flank at-
tack. Although it took little training to fire a rifle from a defensive position,
the half-trained recruits of mass armies might not be as willing and able to
press home a successful bayonet attack.
In France the doctrine of the offensive became even more imperative as
military leaders appreciated that the predictable speed of a German offen-
sive aimed at Paris would need to be matched by a fast-moving Franco-
Russian offensive converging on Berlin. According to the French high com-
mand, the French infantry would need to have the spirit, discipline, and
courage to attack and win by the bayonet against ever-increasing odds.
The Germans held a similar philosophy.
The western front battles of 1914 began as open-field encounters of
deadly firepower that drove the troops into hasty trenches. The short les-
son was bullets kill men, and earth stops bullets. The dominant tactic
from 1915 to 1917 was bombardment by more and bigger howitzers. This
offensive was undeniably more wracking for the target infantry, and fatal
for some outposts, but it destroyed the element of surprise and left a
scarred no-mans-land of a battlefield that was too chewed up for an offen-
sive advance. Extensive mining could destroy an entire enemy entrench-
ment, but again, the zone of destruction was difficult for the attackers to
cross. This method was effective, but time-consuming and expensive. At-
tacks with poisonous gases were frequently surprising and damaging to
the defenders but also caused problems for the attackers. Tank attacks
were promising but not very effective in 1916 and 1917.
French general Nivelle promised a new kind of offensive when he re-
placed Marshal Joffre in 1917. On paper his plan did seem to incorporate
some of the flexible infiltration ideas advocated by earlier theorists, but
when the plan was fully explained to the politicians, and through the press
to the public, including the Germans, its failure became inevitable.
Vertical infiltration was more successfully developed by the Germans
for their breakthrough against the Russians at Riga (1917). The same meth-
ods accounted for some of the Austro-German success against Italy at
Caporetto. The surprising strength of the Ludendorff Offensive in 1918
again showed the effectiveness of these methods. The Allies followed
Weapons, Tactics, and Strategies / 325

somewhat similar offensive methods later in 1918, but these tended to be

tank-led breakthrough and penetration tactics against German troops who
were increasingly willing to surrender.
Vertical infiltration, as developed by the Germans during World War I,
was basically an infantry attack involving several new tactics. The spear
point was to be a squad of fourteen to eighteen storm troopers, or (in Ger-
man) Sturmtruppen, attacking on several principles. The first was the use of
reconnaissance to find weak spots, infiltrating in surprise night penetra-
tions, deceptive preparations, and short bombardments, moving forward
bypassing strong points. After this initial infiltration, platoons, companies,
and larger units would also move forward and widen the breakthrough.
The infiltration squad would use light machine guns or portable sub-
machine guns such as the Madsen, Bergmann, or Parabellum, as well as
grenades and grenade launchers, light trench mortars, gas shells, and
sometimes flamethrowers. Battalion support followed with machine gun
companies, light artillery companies, and heavier, individually placed
guns. Ideally aerial bombing and strafing would find targets of opportu-
nity. The principle of momentum held that the assault and support units
should always keep moving. The assault team included engineers to en-
sure that reinforcements, replacements, and supplies could be moved di-
rectly from the rear to the front.
Clearly, these were ideal principles. In practice, the logistical problems
of moving equipment from the railhead to the forward storm troopers
could not keep an advance going indefinitely. Also, many generals rejected
the idea of elite storm troopers as bad for general army morale. However,
the resemblance of these early troops to World War II German Panzer divi-
sions and to later U.S. assault team formations is clear enough to show the
eventual significance of these tactics for future offensives.

Lessons of the War

In Britain and France the lessons that generals learned in 1918 mattered
less to the public, press, and political leaders than did the preceding four-
year western front stalemate and slaughter. The doctrine of the offensive
and the strategy of attrition were discredited among the postwar disillu-
sioned, or lost, generation. Without American or Soviet support, the re-
maining Allies adopted a defensive doctrine, believing that the Maginot
line, a line of fortifications along the French-German border, and a British
naval blockade would be enough to defeat Germany economically. This
strategy was crushed by the German Blitzkrieg of 1940.
K. Fred Gillum

The Air War

World War I, the first truly global conflict, was also the first war in which rapidly
developing aviation technology allowed for the widespread use of fighter planes
and bombers in support of ground troops.

At the start of World War I, often known as the Great War, airplanes were
little more than ten years old. The Blriot XI type airplane, only five years
old, had first gone to war in 1911 with Italian forces in North Africa. At the
outbreak of World War I, the British Royal Flying Corps (RFC) brought
twenty-three Blriot XIs to France with its expeditionary force. These
planes served as reconnaissance aircraft with six RFC squadrons. The
French Air Service also furnished Blriots to eight of their escadrilles, or air
squadrons, and Italy went into action with its own previously acquired
Blriot XIs in six squadrons.
The first airplanes were looked upon not as weapons of destruction but
rather as scouts. Even at the end of the war, fighters such as the Sopwith
Snipe and the Fokker D-VIII were still classified as scouts. At the start of
the war, planes were unarmed, and pilots from opposing sides would
wave as they flew by each other, in a sort of camaraderie of the sky. This
arrangement did not last.

Armed Aircraft
On the night of June 17, 1915, in a Morane Saulnier L, Lieutenant R. A. J.
Warneford of the Royal Naval Air Force (RNAF) was flying toward Evere,
Belgium, to bomb zeppelin bases. Warneford spotted the LZ-37, a German
zeppelin, 521 feet long, kept aloft by 935,000 cubic feet of dangerously
flammable hydrogen gas and armed with four machine guns.
Warnefords single-seater carried only a few bombs and a carbine. The
zeppelin crew fired at Warneford as it dumped ballast and rapidly rose
higher into the sky. On through the night and early into the morning,
Warneford pursued the zeppelin, which eventually began to lose altitude.
Warneford pushed his Morane to higher altitudes until he was above the
zeppelin, at which point Warneford released his bombs. The bombs made
contact with the zeppelin, resulting in a tremendous explosion. The dirigi-
ble, engulfed in flames, plummeted to the earth. Lieutenant Warneford
was the first Allied flier to bring down a zeppelin.
Air fighting began as the exchange of shots from small arms between
enemy airmen meeting one another in the course of reconnoitering.
Fighter aircraft armed with machine guns, however, made their first ap-
The Air War / 327

pearance in 1915. Tactical bombing and the bombing of enemy air bases
were also gradually introduced at this time. Contact patrolling, with air-
craft giving immediate support to infantry, was developed in 1916.

Fighter Group Organization

On the German side of the western front, aviation units in the field were
at first divided into thirty-four flying sections, or flights, known as
Feldfliegerabteilungen. Each flight had six aircraft for reconnaissance, photo-
graphic duties, and artillery target-spotting. Two additional aircraft were
later added for escort work. When, in 1915, the need for more specialized
duties was clear, units solely for reconnaissance and fighting were formed,
known as Kampf und Feldfliegerabteilungen.
The British established the Air Battalion of the Royal Engineers in 1911.
In April, 1912, the RFC was established and the Military Wing of the RFC
absorbed the Air Battalion. The Military Wing initially had seven squad-
rons of planes with twelve aircraft to a squadron, an aircraft for each
squadron commander, and one airship and manned kite balloon squad-
ron. The RFC was still attached, however, to the army. The Royal Air Force
(RAF), the worlds first separate air military service, was brought into ac-
tive existence by a series of measures taken between October, 1917, and
June, 1918.
The French Air Service had a structure similar to those of the British and
the Germans. The French had a unit of American volunteers that was cre-
ated in April, 1916, and renamed the Lafayette Escadrille in December,
1916. The Lafayette Escadrille saw much frontline action and suffered
heavy casualties. In January, 1918, the Lafayette Escadrille was reorga-
nized in the U.S. Army as the 103d Pursuit Squadron.

Development of Fighter Planes

After a few months into the war, pilots were unanimous in their desire
for fixed machine guns. Pusher aircraft presented no problem in this mat-
ter, because their propellers were placed behind the cockpit compartment.
Thus, a machine gun could be mounted in front of the pilot with a clear line
of fire. In contrast, a tractor aircraft, with the propeller at the front of the
planes fuselage, had no clear line of fire ahead of the pilot. A machine gun
mounted along the line of the fuselage would have shot off the propeller
During the month before the outbreak of the war, French engineer
Raymond Saulnier had been working on an interrupter gear that would
allow a machine gun to be fired through the propeller arc. He had grown
impatient with hang-fire failures, so he attached steel deflection plates on
328 / World War I

the propeller where the bullets passed through the arc. The famous sport-
ing pilot and friend of Saulnier, Lieutenant Roland Garros, asked Saulnier
to attach steel deflector plates to his propeller blades and to mount a fixed
machine gun in front of the cockpit. Garros relied upon the steel plates
to ward off the bullets that hit the airscrew. Shortly thereafter, Garros
shot down five German planes and was awarded the French Legion of
The problem of perfecting a machine gun that would synchronize its fir-
ing with the rotation of the propellers was the assignment given to the
Dutch engineer Anthony Fokker. In 1915, Fokker considerably improved
upon Garross innovation. Fokker Eindecker E-Is armed with synchro-
nized Spandau machine guns roamed the skies virtually unopposed. Ger-
man aces such as Lieutenant Max Immelman and Captain Oswald Boelcke
led a reign of terror in the skies, known as the Fokker Scourge. However,
the Allies soon came up with a synchronized gun designed by Georges

Early Losses
British losses in the air in 1915 were serious. The British workhorse air-
craft was the BE.2 of pre-1914 Geoffrey De Havilland design. The BE.2, un-
der mass production in a way not accorded to any other British machine,
was used on all fronts for all types of work. By 1915, improvements to the
BE.2s original design had been made, but the Fokker Eindecker E-I, with
its interrupter-geared, forward-firing machine gun, still outmatched the
BE.2. Any effective British response to the Fokker scourge was often ham-
pered by the difference in the tactics of the British and the Germans. British
tactics were to cover as much of the war theater as possible while the Ger-
mans would concentrate their strength at key areas where it was felt that
an effort was needed. The latter approach proved the more effective.
From the winter of 1914-1915, the practice of British squadrons in
France was to have one or two single-seat scouts with some form of arma-
ment that enabled them to act as fighters, not merely as faster reconnais-
sance aircraft. The successful RFC single-seat fighter was the Airco DH.2
pusher biplane. RFC Squadron Twenty-four, equipped with these planes,
went to France in February, 1916, and momentarily overcame the Fokker
monoplane and the German two-seaters in the struggle for aerial su-

The Fighter Planes

Of the German fighter planes, the D-types were single-seat, single-
engine biplanes, which usually had two fixed Maxim (Spandau) machine
The Air War / 329

guns. The Dr-types were single-seat, single-engine, armed triplanes, such

as that used by the Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen. The Drs had
the same armament as the D-types. The E-types were single-seat, occasion-
ally two-seat, single-engine, armed monoplanes. The Fokker E-IV was
equipped with three synchronized machine guns.
The Airco D.H.2 finally put an end to the Fokker scourge in 1916, but
was soon outclassed by faster and more agile German fighters. With the
Albatros D.II, the Germans reclaimed the skies in early 1916. The Fokker
Dr.I, the triplane made famous by the Red Baron, was not as fast as many
other aircraft of the time, but it could outmaneuver them. The Fokker D-
VII was the best fighter aircraft that Germany had. The D-VII could hang
on its prop, or, point straight up, and shoot the underside of an enemy
Next to the Sopwith Camel, the S.E. 5 was one of Britains most success-
ful fighters during World War I. The S.E. 5 was designed by Royal Aircraft
and used the 150-horsepower Hispano-Suiza engine. It was introduced in
1916 and modified first with a 200-horsepower engine, then later with a
Wolselev W.4a Viper engine. The latter engine proved very successful.
Large numbers of this aircraft did not reach the front until early 1918. Brit-
ish fighter pilots, such as J. B. McCudden, William A. Bishop, and Edward
Mannock, had a lot of success flying this plane. The S.E. 5 was one of the
fastest fighters of the war and was also used for sneaking up under the en-
emy and shooting into its belly.
Of the French planes, the Spad S. VIII was a very good climber and was
favored by many pilots, such as Captain Eddie Rickenbacker of the United
States. The main problem with the plane was that when the engine power
or speed was reduced, the plane would drop like a dead weight.

Strategic bombing was initiated very early in the war. British aircraft
from Dunkirk bombed Cologne, Dusseldorf, and Friedrichshafen in the
autumn of 1914. Their main objective was to destroy the sheds of the Ger-
man dirigible airships or zeppelins. Raids by German planes or seaplanes
on English towns in December, 1914, heralded a great zeppelin offensive
sustained with increasing intensity from January, 1915, to September, 1916.
London was first bombed in the night of May 31 to June 1, 1915. In October,
1916, the British, in turn, began a more systematic offensive from eastern
France against industrial targets in southwestern Germany.
While the British directed much of their new bombing strength to at-
tacks on the bases of German U-boats, the Germans used theirs largely
to continue the offensive against the towns of southeastern England. On
330 / World War I

One of the most glamorous American heroes of the war was fighter pilot Eddie Ricken-
backer (center), who scored twenty-six victories in aerial combat. After the war, he par-
layed his fame into a successful business career, and he helped to build the modern airline
industry. (U.S. Army War College)

June 13, 1917, in daylight, fourteen German bombers dropped 118 high-
explosive bombs on London and returned home safely.
Many World War I bombers, such as the Blackburn Kangaroo, were con-
verted passenger planes that returned to passenger service after the war.
The Breguet Br-14B2, probably one of the best French-made bombers, was
produced until 1926. The Caudron R-11 was the last bomber the French
built during the war.

Aces and Bloody April

The honorific title of ace was given to any pilot who had downed five
or more aircraft, including balloons, unarmed observation planes, and ma-
chine gun-armed fighter planes. The dark side of being a fighter pilot was
that the vast majority of pilots flew until the war ended or they were killed.
It often was only a matter of time until the odds went against individual pi-
lots. This was true of the Red Baron, who was killed on April 21, 1918, as
well as of many others, such as Boelcke and Immelman of the Fokker
scourge. The top aces who survived the war were truly lucky.
The British often referred to April, 1917, as Bloody April. During this
month, the British listed 316 RFC pilots and observers as killed or missing
The Air War / 331

and 224 RFC aircraft as having been destroyed. Credit for the losses was
given to the inadequate training of new British pilots and to the superiority
of the German fighter planes, principally the Albatros D.III, the effect of
their shrewdly concentrated organization, aerial tactics, and the skill of the
German pilots.

Other Theaters of the War

The RFC was active in northern Italy, Egypt, Palestine, Macedonia
(northern Greece), Mesopotamia (Iraq), northern Persia, the Dardanelles
and the Aegean Sea, and East Africa. The RFCs efforts in most of those the-
aters were in support of ground troops. However, on the Austro-Italian
front in northern Italy, the RFC had a strong presence. Great Britain sent
seasoned fighter units to northern Italy because the Austro-Hungarian Air
Service was very experienced and supported by German fighter and
bomber forces. By May, 1918, the British squadrons had shot down eighty-
three enemy aircraft on the Austro-Italian front.
In Egypt and Palestine, the RFC aided the breakout of the British Expe-
ditionary Force from the Suez Canal area of Egypt into Palestine. In Mace-
donia, the RFC primarily was engaged in patrolling over the Bulgarian po-
sitions using kite balloons. In the Dardanelles and the Aegean Sea area, the
RFC primarily scouted and bombed Turkish positions. The British rarely
encountered significant aerial opposition in those diverse areas, with the
notable exception of Macedonia.
In the areas of Macedonia, northern Greece, and Bulgaria, a German
ace, Rudolf von Eschwege, had twenty victories, three of which were
against kite balloons. Von Eschweges Bulgarian allies called him The Ea-
gle of the Aegean. In October and November, 1917, von Eschwege proved
to be a serious threat to the Seventeenth Balloon Section of the Royal Flying
Corps (RFC) at Orljak in Macedonia. On November 21, 1917, the Allies pre-
pared a decoy balloon with a dummy observer and 500 pounds of explo-
sives. When von Eschwege made his expected attack, the explosive was
electronically detonated from the ground. The destructive radius of the
blast was sufficient to cripple von Eschweges aircraft, and the plane
crashed, killing its pilot.
Dana P. McDermott

Censorship During the War

World War I ushered in a new era of modern media censorship, creating a proving
ground for techniques of government control and propagandistic manipulation of
the press which would be used in subsequent conflicts.

During World War I, at the time the largest and most costly war in human
history, censorship was pervasive, involving a complex web of ministries
and laws in all belligerent, or warring, nations. Thousands of censors were
used on battlefields, in government offices, and in newspaper pressrooms
to limit the access of press and public to the wars often terrible truths. As
the war progressed, censorship in the principal combatant nations evolved
in strikingly similar ways; for the sake of clarity, World War I censorship
can be divided into three general phases, or periods.

First Phase
The beginning of the war witnessed the so-called eyewash period, nick-
named later by those who were appalled at tendentious lies and canards
that had filled the press of all belligerent nations. This initial phase lasted
through 1914, but the inaccuracies were most blatant in August and Sep-
tember. Editors and reporters filled news columns with misleading mate-
rial, often because they were unable to obtain news from the war zones.
Strict military censorship not only kept correspondents from the front but
also maintained a nearly complete silence regarding the major battles of
fall, 1914. Faced with anxious readers clamoring for war news, editors re-
sponded with exhortations to patriotism and fabricated stories of doughty
troops relentlessly advancing; one famous French headline, for example,
optimistically reported that Allied soldiers were only five steps from
Editors in the belligerent nations, especially the democracies of Great
Britain and France, accepted, with surprisingly little initial protest, the
strict military censorship that made it almost impossible to obtain reliable
information. In Britain, Lord Kitchener, commanding the British Expedi-
tionary Force, intensely disliked the press. In France, General Joseph-
Jacques Csaire Joffre, commanding the French armies, believed, as did
most of the French military, that press indiscretions had led to the coun-
trys defeat during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871. He was not
about to let such a hazard again befall French military operations.
In fact, neither Germany, Austria-Hungary, nor Russia generally al-
lowed war correspondents at the front during this period. A partial excep-
Censorship / 333

tion was Germany, which, during the first weeks of war, allowed corre-
spondents from neutral countries, such as the United States, to follow
German troops as they advanced through northern France. This meant
that the press of neutral nations offered a more accurate perception of the
fall battles than the press of combatant nations. Reporters who tried to
sneak past military police risked being jailed or even executed as spies, al-
though none apparently received the ultimate punishment for trying to
evade military censorship.
Accompanying this silence from the front was a haphazard but deter-
mined effort to set up a censorship arm of government at home. Wartime
press offices, designed to offer censorship guidelines and punishment for
betrayal, sprouted from all ministries. French censorship was typical: A
day before France declared war, a press office was set up; two days later,
before parliament adjourned to let the government fight unimpeded by
politics, the Law of August 5, 1914, forbade publication of a wide variety of
news. It covered news of a military nature, such as troop and ship move-
ments; mobilization, armament, and provision operations; and changes in
high command. However, it also covered lists of killed and wounded, as
well as any news having a troubling influence on the spirit of the army or
population. This last part was the origin of a new conceptthat of politi-
cal censorship during wartime. It would become the most controversial as-
pect of censorship during World War I.
In August, 1914, however, the press in most belligerent nations agreed
with little protest to harsh limitations on freedom of expression. The key to
understanding this, especially in nations such as France and Britain, which
had enjoyed great press freedom, is the concept of a short but sacred
union. In every fighting nation, nearly everyone assumed that the war
would be brief: a few weeks, perhaps; a few months, at most; home by
Christmas, for sure. For this short crisis period, nearly everyone agreed
that the most effective and patriotic response was silence, a brief suspen-
sion of political discourse during a short war. If for a few weeks there could
be no news other than patriotic hyperbole, it did not really matter, because
after the war was overand no country considered the possibility of a
long strugglenormality would return.
The tight screws of censorship meant that few people, even in neutral
nations, were aware of the scale of slaughter during the fall of 1914. As it
became clear that the war would last longer than a few weeks, however,
journalists began trying to reclaim their lost rights as reporters, especially
in Britain and France.
The Allied military relented slightly at the end of 1914, when Britain,
and then France, began to give journalists tours of the front. It was becom-
334 / World War I

ing clear to government and military leaders that carefully censored news
articles could have a propagandistic effect more powerful than silence.

Second Phase
The second year of war inaugurated a new phase of censorship based
not on the elimination of all war news but on the development of a struc-
tured system to carefully manage the news. At the beginning of the war,
censorship generally developed haphazardly, with no underlying plan or
structure. Of the conflicts major original belligerents, Britain had fought in
other wars most recently, and therefore had more experience of press cov-
erage during modern war. France, however, had a stronger central bureau-
cracy and had enjoyed only three decades of press freedom, while Ger-
many and Austria-Hungary were not committed to democratic principles
of a free press, although prewar publications in those countries had been
quite outspoken. Russia had never had a free press at all. As censorship co-
alesced into bureaucracy, France established the most pervasive of all sys-
tems. Censors were employed in every city, large and small, to review ev-
ery publication in France, from the smallest rural magazines to the largest
metropolitan dailies. Offending news columns could literally be scraped
off the metal plates already molded, leaving huge blocks of blank space in
the printed paper. No other countrys press was physically so scarred by
The capriciousness of political censorship increasingly became an ob-
ject of press protests. Governments discovered that their censors not only
could stop military reports but also could offer a means to control morale
on the home front. Frances censorship law against troubling influence
left censors wide latitude to cut any sort of antigovernment criticism or
negative news. Britains Defence of the Realm Acts provided the govern-
ment broad powers to control criticism that might weaken morale, al-
though Britain did not resort to on-site censorship as France did. However,
as the terrible human and material costs of a stalemated war often ineptly
fought over four hundred miles of front began to become clear, wartime
governments also began to realize that, in order to win, public opinion
would have to be mobilized for a long siege.
The need to mobilize public opinion, as well as industry, the economy,
and men in uniform, became a significant new feature of this war, one
which would heavily influence the centurys later wars as well. By 1916
military commanders and government leaders were persuaded: The
phases of great secrecy and begrudging acceptance gave way to the wars
third phase of censorship, one in which the United States would play a ma-
jor role.
Censorship / 335

Third Phase
Part of World War I lore is the story of the 1916 Verdun battle: The tena-
cious heroes of French forts, the sacred way supplying the front, and the
ultimate sacrifices under the most difficult conditions became an inspira-
tion for French and Allied morale throughout the rest of the war. This was,
however, a legend produced by the French militarys own correspondents,
writer-soldiers in the field who dispatched battle stories to the press back
home. The French military had replaced secrecy with an energetic public-
ity campaign designed to strengthen morale and sway world opinion to
the Allied side. Britain, Germany, and soon the United States were also to
build elaborate propaganda operations, which provided a blizzard of bro-
chures, photos, articles, and reference materials to the worlds press. A sys-
tem of battlefield accreditation allowed Allied correspondents greater ac-
cess to the front, and every government now encouraged reporters to
publish more, and still more, about the war, as long as the press published
the right kinds of story. Generally speaking, after 1915 no major battle was
actually misrepresented in the Allied press.
The United States, outraged over renewed German submarine attacks
on neutral ships as well as over the German atrocity stories spread primar-
ily by British propagandists, declared war on the Central Powers in April,
1917. The United States military had been little different from its European
counterparts in its intense distrust of the press, but President Woodrow
Wilsons government had learned from the trials and errors of its allies.
The Committee on Public Information, directed by journalist George Creel,
was charged with coordinating censorship and publicity but avoiding
rigid controls; it encouraged the government to be as open and honest with
the press as possible.
Still, the appearance of an American censorship more flexible than that
of European powers belies the often coercive nature of U.S. censorship law.
For accreditation, American war correspondents were required to take an
oath not to disclose facts helpful to the enemy, and their sponsoring publi-
cations were required to post ten-thousand-dollar bonds to guarantee their
proper behavior. Reporters in Europe chafed at the American general John
J. Pershings rigid control; in one case, New York Tribune correspondent
Heywood Broun, fed up with the enforced silence over the U.S. militarys
monumental supply blunders, broke the story in December, 1917, after
evading on-site censors by returning to the United States. The newspaper
forfeited its ten thousand dollars. Pershing was furious.
Another reporter determined to evade military censors, George Seldes,
joined a group of five American correspondents shortly after the armistice
to sneak into Germany from Luxembourg. The adventure of the runaway
336 / World War I

correspondents made the men celebrities, especially after Seldes and his
group landed a short but sensational interview with the German field mar-
shal Paul von Hindenburg. The reporters were arrested and tried in courts-
martial on their return to the Allied lines, but they escaped punishment.
At home, American publications generally were not harassed as long as
they reflected mainstream, patriotic concerns. Most did. Those that did
not, particularly radical and socialist publications, were harassed not only
by federal authorities but also by an extensive patchwork of state and local
censorship laws designed, as per a government directive to accredited war
correspondents, to withhold information liable to injure the morale of our
forces abroad, at home, or among our allies.
Three new federal laws limited free speech: the Espionage Act (1917),
the Trading with the Enemy Act (1917), and the Sedition Act (1918). These
formed the first set of U.S. laws controlling press freedom since the early
1800s, but, influenced by wartime patriotic fervor, few editors complained.
Offending publications were denied access to the mails and confiscated
from street corners. More than one thousand Americans were sentenced to
banishment or long jail terms under the Espionage and Sedition acts, al-
though most of their jail terms were commuted after the fear of German
spies and postwar Bolsheviks faded in the early 1920s.
During World War I, the United States and other combatant nations es-
tablished a sprawling web of censorship and propaganda unprecedented
in its comprehensive influence. Germany was perhaps least skillful of the
major powers in organizing this network to mobilize public opinion. Such
Germans as Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels, however, so obsessed with
the control of public opinion, clearly learned from their enemies successes
in World War I; they would use these and other, similar techniques to great
effect during the Nazi era, which would begin a mere fifteen years after
World War I ended.
Ross F. Collins

Propaganda and Civil Liberties

During the War

Government and public action in wartime curtails civil liberties to ensure national

On the evening of April 6, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson, in deliv-

ering his war message to Congress, said that the United States was to
embark upon a crusade to make the world safe for democracy. Unfor-
tunately for socialists, pacifists, German Americans, and the leadership
of the Industrial Workers of the World (popularly known as the Wob-
blies), who opposed this intervention, the president said nothing about
the protection of democracy at home. U.S. participation in World War I
gave rise to an alarming attack upon civil liberties, as Congress enacted
laws to curtail constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of speech and press.
For the first time, the government embarked on a concerted propaganda
campaign to sell a war to its citizens. As a result, hysteria swept the
country. The responsibility for these occurrences rests with Wilson, with
George Creel, with Congress, and with thousands of superpatriotic citi-
zens who saw a monumental foreign menace rather than its meager sub-

Challenges to the Government

Two problems faced the government. First, citizens had to be mobilized
behind a war that did not involve a direct attack on the United States and
that had been entered into slowly and unwillingly. Second, internal secu-
rity needed to be guaranteed against enemies, real and imagined. On April
13, 1917, Wilson established the Committee on Public Information (CPI),
under the leadership of Creel, whose name soon became synonymous
with the office. The committee was established to convince wavering citi-
zens that the war was a righteous one and to educate them about the gov-
ernments war aims. Similar offices of war information had been created in
Great Britain, Germany, and France.
Propaganda came of age during World War I. Its purposes were multi-
faceted: to mobilize hatred of the enemy; to preserve friendship among al-
lies; to maintain the friendship of neutrals and, if possible, to gain their co-
operation; to demoralize the enemy; to promote the economical use of
commodities; to stimulate war production; to encourage the purchase of
war bonds; and to alert citizens to the danger of spies and saboteurs. The
338 / World War I

British-born film star Charles Chaplin (center) was one of many celebrities who appealed
to the patriotism of Americans by publicly calling on them to purchase war bonds during
World War I. (National Archives)

mobilization of the civilian mind for total war was seen as more important
than the preservation of human rights.
George Creel was an excellent choice for chairman of the CPI. A veteran
Progressive from Denver and one of Wilsons earliest supporters, Creel
had built a reputation as a crusading journalist. Because of his reform
record, Creels appointment was cheered by the press, which had feared
repressive censorship. Instead, Creel called for voluntary censorship and
usually received cooperation. The committee relied on securing publica-
tion of a torrent of government-sponsored reports and stories.
During the course of the war, Creel hired 150,000 artists, writers, lectur-
ers, actors, and scholars to sell the war to the public. Colorful posters urged
citizens to join the Army or Navy, buy Liberty Bonds, knit socks for soldiers,
and guard against the ever-present danger of spies and saboteurs. Writers
turned out hundreds of true stories concerning German atrocities and
accounts of what the Hun planned to do to the United States. Columbia
University professor Charles Hazen wrote The Government of Germany, a
booklet exposing the medievalism of a military-dominated Germany.
Teams of speakers toured the country delivering anti-German talks. Anti-
German motion pictures included Pershings Crusaders, The Prussian Cur,
and The Kaiser, the Beast of Berlin. The public was encouraged to see the Cen-
tral Powers as constituting a clear and present danger to civilization.
Propaganda and Civil Liberties / 339

Although the Creel Committee became synonymous in the public mind
with censorship, it had no such power. That authority was vested in the
Post Office Department and the Department of Justice. Public confusion
was understandable. On June 15, 1917, the Espionage Act was passed, after
considerable debate and many amendments. This act gave the government
authority to limit the rights of speech and the press. Somehow, the public
had become convinced that the act conferred enforcement powers upon
the CPI, a misconception that Creel never attempted to dispel. This illusion
of power was effective in securing public cooperation.
Title I, section 3, of the Espionage Act made it a crime to make false
reports that would aid the enemy, incite rebellion in the armed forces,
or obstruct recruitment or the draft. In practice, this section was used
to stifle criticism. Those prosecuted included socialists Victor Berger and
Eugene V. Debs, and Big Bill Haywood, one of the leaders of the In-
dustrial Workers of the World. Socialist and pacifist newspapers were
denied use of the mails under Title XII. The editors of The Messenger,
a New York African American newspaper, were imprisoned for ques-
tioning the war. Ricardo Flores Magon, a Mexican American labor or-
ganizer, was sentenced to twenty years in prison for his dissent. In Octo-
ber, 1917, another law required foreign-language newspapers to submit

The most enduring propaganda image

of World War I is James Montgomery
Flaggs I Want You Army recruit-
ing poster with a compelling picture
of Uncle Sam pointing his finger at
prospective recruits.
(U.S. Army)
340 / World War I

translations of all war-related material before distribution to local readers.

The Espionage Act was bolstered in May, 1918, by the Sedition Act,
which provided penalties of up to ten thousand dollars and twenty years
imprisonment for the willful writing, utterance, or publication of material
abusing the government, showing contempt for the Constitution, for incit-
ing others to resist the government, for supporting the enemy, or for hin-
dering production of war matriel. Under this law, it was unnecessary to
prove that the language in question had affected anyone or had produced
injurious consequences. The postmaster general was empowered to deny
use of the mails to anyone who, in his opinion, used them to violate the act.
A total of 2,168 people were prosecuted under the Espionage and Sedition

Restrictions on Dissent
The limitations placed on dissent by Congress and the Departments of
Justice and the Post Office, together with the Creel Committees encour-
agement of pro-Allied sentiment, might have been expected to produce a
climate of loyalty in the United States without help from unofficial sources.
However, there also appeared a number of superpatriotic volunteer orga-
nizations dedicated to spreading propaganda and discovering alleged trai-
tors, saboteurs, and slackers. The most influential of these groups were the
National Security League and the National Protective Association. The
Boy Spies of America, the Sedition Slammers, and the Terrible Threateners
had more picturesque names but were less powerful. These volunteer
groups carried patriotism to excess and often were responsible for human
rights violations, which the government made no real attempt to discour-
age. As a result, coercion became the order of the day, and the government
never regained control of the explosive situation.
The brunt of government and vigilante activity was borne by the coun-
trys largest minority: German Americans. Although German Americans
never were interned in camps, their plight during World War I paralleled
that of Japanese Americans in World War II: Both were suspected as trai-
tors. Attempts were made to eradicate anything German from American
life. Schools and colleges banned the teaching of German, as a language
that disseminates the ideals of autocracy, brutality, and hatred. South Da-
kota prohibited the use of German on the telephone.
Fewer than one hundred of the twelve hundred U.S. German-language
periodicals survived to 1920. Thousands of Pennsylvania German parents,
seventh- and eighth-generation Americans, forbade their children to learn
German. Several cities, including Boston, banned the music of Ludwig von
Beethoven, Richard Wagner, and other German composers. Pretzels were
Propaganda and Civil Liberties / 341

removed from saloon lunch counters in Cincinnati. German sausages, sau-

erkraut, German shepherd dogs, German measles, and pinochle were all
renamed, as were many American towns with names such as Berlin,
Frankfurt, and Bismarck. Many people hastened to Americanize their
German surnames, for example, by changing Schmidt to Smith.
The superpatriotic volunteers, encouraged by the Creel Committees
propaganda, produced a wave of hysteria that targeted innocent citizens.
IWW organizer Frank Little was tortured and lynched in Montana. In
April, 1918, a mob in East St. Louis humiliated and hanged a young Ger-
man American, Robert Prager. Ringleaders were eventually acquitted on
the grounds that the murder was patriotic. In Los Angeles, three pacifist
clergymen were beaten by a mob and then jailed for expressing thoughts
calculated to cause any American citizen then and there present to assault
and batter them.
Once unleashed, antiforeign biases could not be controlled when the
war ended. These sentiments eventually backfired on Wilson: His dream
of a League of Nations would be rejected by the U.S. public, and one of his
own books was banned in Nebraska. Somewhere during the fight to make
the world safe for democracy, the United States almost lost its most demo-
cratic ideals: tolerance and compassion. When new challenges arose, they
were often met with newer, more repressive laws and public hysteria, ex-
emplified in the Red Scare, the race riots of 1919-1920, and other postwar
Anne Trotter
updated by Randall Fegley

U.S. Supreme Court During the War

World War I brought legal challenges to the federal governments power to draft
citizens into the military, regulate industrial production for wartime purposes,
and control public utterances. The Supreme Courts rulings, taking place after the
war, did not affect wartime activities but rather postwar freedom of speech and the
press issues and the expansion of federal government powers.

The United States entered World War I in April of 1917, generating the need
to create a mass army comparable to the armies of the great European pow-
ers; to train, equip, and transport that army to Europe; to supply and main-
tain it for the duration of hostilities; and to control the economic, political,
and social impact on the American population as a whole. The crisis was
managed in part by statutes and executive orders, most notably the Selective
Service Act (1917), the Lever Food and Fuel Control Bill (1917), the Espio-
nage Act (1917), the Trading with the Enemy Act (1917), the Sedition Act
(1918), the Federal Control Act (1918), and the War Prohibition Act (1918).
In an emotional situation that encouraged fear of spies, foreign agita-
tion, and sabotage, these measures tended to contain harsh and overdrawn
provisions. The Sedition Act banned any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or
abusive language about the form of government of the United States, or
the Constitution of the United States, or the flag of the United States, or the
uniform of the Army or Navy. The Trading with the Enemy Act made the
publication of foreign-language newspapers almost impossible by requir-
ing that before publication, editors submit to the postmaster general En-
glish translations of any pieces discussing the conduct of the war or men-
tioning any of the governments then at war. Moreover, bureaucrats often
enforced these laws in an extreme and unreasonable way, making legal
challenges to them inevitable. Many of these challenges eventually re-
quired action by the Supreme Court.
The most basic power of the federal government to be contested was the
power to conscript persons for military service. In Arver et al. v. United
States (1918), the Court rejected the contention that the military draft was a
form of slavery violating the provisions of the Thirteenth Amendment and
in Cox v. Wood (1918), it ruled that draftees could be required to perform
their military service outside the United States.

Freedom of Speech and the Press

The Espionage Act of 1917 not only was directed at acts of espionage
but also made it a crime during wartime to make false statements to aid
Supreme Court / 343

U.S. enemies or to impede military operations, to foment disobedience in

the armed forces, or to interfere with military recruiting. Its extension, the
Sedition Act of 1918, contained impossibly broad and vague language that
made almost any kind of debate about the war potentially illegal. Of more
than two thousand people prosecuted under these statutes, about half
were convicted.
Only after the war was over did the Supreme Court have occasion to
rule on any of these convictions. In March of 1919, decisions were handed
down in three cases, Schenck v. United States, Frohwerk v. United States, and
Debs v. United States. Applying the time-honored bad tendency test, which
limited freedom of speech when it had a tendency to provoke illegal action,
the Court unanimously upheld the conviction of Charles Schenck for dis-
tributing antidraft pamphlets, Jacob Frohwerk for publishing antidraft ar-
ticles, and Eugene V. Debs for making a speech praising persons convicted
of interfering with military recruitment.

Clear and Present Danger

Writing for the Court in the Schenck case, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes
went beyond the bad tendency test to enunciate a new standard for mea-
suring freedom of speech. The question in every case, he wrote, is
whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a
nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the
substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent. He was severely

Eugene V. Debs speaking at a labor convention. (Library of Congress)

344 / World War I

criticized by liberal friends for his vote in these decisions. In November,

1919, when the Court voted seven to two in Abrams v. United States to up-
hold the conviction of Jacob Abrams and four others for publishing pam-
phlets encouraging resistance to the war, Holmes clarified his clear and
present danger doctrine by dissenting. Downplaying the importance of the
appellants, whom he termed these poor and puny anonymities, he held
that nobody can suppose that the surreptitious publishing of a silly leaflet
by an unknown man . . . would present any danger. The following year, he
and Brandeis both dissented in Schaefer v. United States (1920), when the
Court upheld the conviction of a German-language newspaper editor who
published pro-German articles and in Pierce v. United States (1920), which
denied the appeal of three socialists convicted of publishing an antiwar
The Courts support of the federal governments prosecutions in free
speech and freedom of the press cases had a chilling effect on civil liberties
and added fuel to postwar attacks on the civil rights of socialists, labor
leaders, and foreigners. Following the trend, President Woodrow Wilson
in 1919 called for the adoption of a peacetime sedition act to replace the
wartime legislation that would expire in 1921. By the late 1920s, however,
the persistent efforts of Holmes and Brandeis had clarified and strength-
ened the clear and present danger test, and it was increasingly being used
with great effect in defending the civil rights of dissenters.

Government v. Business
Supreme Court decisions in cases arising from World War I also had the
effect of strengthening the hand of the federal government in regulating
business, particularly utilities. Railroads were vital to the war effort and
were severely burdened by the increasing volume of passengers and
freight. The federal government assumed direction of the railroads, raised
the wages of railway workers, undertook repairs and improvements, and
increased shipping rates to meet the cost. Owners were distressed at their
loss of control, which would continue nearly two years after the end of the
war; shippers and the general public were dismayed at rate hikes; and op-
ponents of the extension of federal power were enraged at the govern-
ments highhandedness. However, the Court upheld federal power to use,
set rates for, and otherwise control railways in Northern Pacific Railway Co.
v. North Dakota (1919).
Challenges to the federal governments control of telephone, telegraph,
and cable facilities were disposed of in Dakota Central Telephone v. South Da-
kota (1919) and Commercial Cable v. Burleson (1919). Under the Trading with
the Enemy Act, the president was given broad powers to deal with any
Supreme Court / 345

business or financial linkages between the United States and the Central
Powers with which it was at war. This resulted in the U.S. government con-
fiscating millions of dollars of German and Austrian investments and
holding money from the sale of enemy assets to use in settling claims for
U.S. property seized in Europe. It penalized U.S. firms that bought, sold, or
exchanged goods or transferred money to or from any firms anywhere in
the world that were owned or controlled by persons or groups in enemy
countries. A week before the end of hostilities, amendments to this act per-
mitted the alien property custodian to sell patents held by firms in enemy
countries. Some U.S. industries and businesses benefited; however, a great
many found their commercial and financial relationships disrupted. Vari-
ous challenges to the operations of this act were turned back by the Court
in Rumely v. McCarthy (1919), Central Union Trust Co. v. Carvin (1921), and
Stoehr v. Wallace (1921).
Utilities and firms linked to belligerent powers were not the only busi-
nesses to experience government regulation. By 1917, temperance advo-
cates had already persuaded nineteen states to adopt prohibition of alco-
holic beverages. When they persuaded the government to place national
restrictions on the sale and use of alcoholic beverages, including banning
liquor sales in the vicinity of military camps and barring uniformed service
personnel from buying drinks, the liquor industry brought challenges. In
the War Prohibition Cases (1919), Hamilton v. Kentucky Distilleries and Ware-
house Co. (1919), and Rupert v. Caffey (1920), the Court upheld such wartime
restrictions, clearing a bit more ground for the adoption in 1919 of the Eigh-
teenth Amendment prohibiting the production, distribution, and sale of al-
coholic beverages nationwide.
At the end of World War I, the powers of the federal government over
the economy were far greater than they had been before the war. Never be-
fore had the United States had to organize a national effort so huge in so
short a time. It was carried out so effectively not only because of public en-
thusiasm for the task but also because of the unprecedented extension of
the power of the presidency and of the federal bureaucracy by a willing
and eager Congress and the rejection of challenges to those powers by the
Court. Though the wartime powers and controls lapsed at the end of the
war according to provisions in most of the legislation establishing them,
the precedents had been set for the federal governments economic leader-
ship and control in crisis situations. The legal and conceptual foundations
for the even greater federal efforts in the New Deal and World War II had
been firmly laid.
Joseph M. McCarthy

Women in the War

More educated and more independent than ever before, American women found
World War I both a challenge to pacifist beliefs and an opportunity to advance their
cause as full equals in society

The early years of the twentieth century presented a dichotomy in terms

of societys view of the role of women. The traditional or Victorian
view held that womens role centered on motherhood, household, and
caregivinga role well distanced from the economic mainstream. A sec-
ond, emerging perspective was one of militant but pacifist feminism. This
view centered on a violent, flawed world guided by male posturing and
blundering, one that could be improved by full incorporation of a feminist
A synthesis between the two viewpoints was eventually forged by fe-
male activists, correlating the more gentle, feminine nature with pacifist,
antiwar tendencies. Military pacifism grew as an important plank support-
ing the woman suffrage movement, in Europe as well as America. Im-
plicitly, it held that allowing women the vote would reduce the possibili-

Women factory workers inspecting parts for handguns in 1917. (National Archives)
Women in the War / 347

ties for war. Pacifist women became strident in their espousal of antiwar
views. Emmeline Pankhurst, leader of British suffragists, drew a distinc-
tion between destruction of property (for which she was jailed) and de-
struction of human life, which could never be condoned.
The onset of World War I, however, created a dilemma for pacifist femi-
nists. Should women continue in blind opposition to the reality of an-
other war, or should they use the war to forward womens causes by en-
listing underutilized feminine resources in the process of war? They did

The Pacifist Movement

The declaration of war in 1914 inspired greater fervency within the
global peace movement, in which women held leadership positions. In
part because of the close association between woman suffrage and peace,
in part because many women regarded civilization as having progressed
beyond war as a means of settling disputes, and in part because women
were widely held as morally superior to men, women banded together
to find ways of ending the war. In the United States, many womens or-
ganizations, from the Young Womens Christian Association (YWCA) to
the Daughters of the American Revolution, went on record as seeking an
early resolution to the conflict. To coordinate national efforts toward
peace, Carrie Chapman Catt founded the Womens Peace Party (WPP). In
turn, the WPP made plans for an international peace conference. In 1915,
the International Congress of Women, presided over by Jane Addams, so-
cial reformer, pacifist, and ultimate cowinner of the 1931 Nobel Peace
Prize, met at The Hague to discuss conditions for a permanent state of
peace. The neutrality of the meeting was underlined by the full participa-
tion of a German womens contingent. Heckled by the press but unawed
by the seemingly impossible task facing them, the congress attendees es-
tablished a set of principles as cornerstones of a lasting peace. President
Woodrow Wilson is said to have borrowed the WPP conference principles
in establishing his Fourteen Points as the foundation for a League of Na-

Women in Uniform
Drawing on the immense contributions of nurses to the recovery and
welfare of military patients during both the Civil War and the Spanish-
American War, Congress authorized an Army Nurse Corps in 1901 and
Navy Nurse Corps in 1908. Both nurse corps, however, existed outside the
regular military establishment. Nurses did not receive military rank, pay,
or retirement benefits. Yet, the permanency of the congressionally man-
348 / World War I

Women were permitted to serve in the U.S. Marines during World War I, but they were
all discharged soon after the war ended. (National Archives)

dated nurse corps illustrated their integrity to the military mission. By the
end of World War I, the Army Nurse Corps had expanded to twenty thou-
sand and the Navy Nurse Corps to more than one thousand women.
In 1917, while mobilizing U.S. forces for entry into the war, both Secre-
tary of War Newton Baker and Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels
found the Army and Navy short on skilled administrative clerks. Their
solutions to the problem, however, were markedly different. Finding no
legal requirement that a Navy clerk (yeoman) be a man, Daniels ordered
that sufficient clerically skilled women be enlisted as yeomen in the naval
reserve, with the same pay and rank as men. Thus, 12,500 female yeomen
were enlisted and ultimately came to function as draftsmen, fingerprint
experts, intelligence experts, and clerks. Despite the stated demand for
the skills of enlisted women by many Army officers, including General
John J. Pershing, Baker was uncomfortable with any formal military sta-
tus for women and hired female clerical workers on a civilian contractual
By wars end, more than 34,000 uniformed women had served in the
Army and Navy nurse corps, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard. With the
exception of the two nurse corps, however, all the female military person-
nel were discharged.
Women in the War / 349

The Civilian War Effort

More than 25,000 American women served overseas during World
War I under a host of civilian war relief organizations. All told, fifty-two
American organizations and forty-five foreign organizations made up the
war relief effort in Europe. The women who volunteered were in their thir-
ties or older, with above-average levels of education and socioeconomic
status. The new American woman was perceived by foreigners as skilled,
independent, and, most of all, determined.
The plethora of organizations made for some duplication of effort and
complexities in distribution. General John Pershing, commander of the
American Expeditionary Forces, commented about the difficulties of coor-
dinating military and civilian efforts among the multitude of agencies.
Nevertheless, the immense civilian (and largely female) war relief effort
was vital from both a humanitarian and a military perspective. While
many of the U.S. organizations operated under the umbrella (and impres-
sive financial resources) of the American Red Cross, others functioned
independently. American civilian women wishing to serve abroad could
select among a host of quasi-government agencies, church organizations
such as the Quakers, the Young Mens Christian Association (YMCA),
the YWCA, the Red Cross, and the Salvation Army. They might opt to
serve in private charities established by the rich and famous, such as Edith
Wharton. They might enlist in foreign relief and medical agencies (as am-
bulance drivers, among other hazardous occupations) or the relief agen-
cies sponsored by womens universities in the United States, such as
Smith, Vassar, Wellesley, and Pembroke colleges. In all, more than three
hundred American women in service would perish by the end of World
War I.

The Canadian Experience

The Canadians anticipated putting 500,000 men in uniform (from a na-
tional population of eight million). Therefore, women were substituted for
men in mens jobs to a greater degree than in the United States. For ex-
ample, the chief armament supplier, the Imperial Munitions Board, even-
tually employed 250,000 Canadians, of whom 40,000 were women. As in
the United States, a strong feminist movement reinforced the substitution
effect in changing the way society regarded womens roles.

In the aftermath of World War I, womens role in society had irrevoca-
bly changed. The war would act as a propellant of womens interests such
350 / World War I

as suffrage and greater equality in the workplace. The war allowed women
a unique opportunity for responsible, fulfilling action independent of men.
Moreover, it proved to society that women were completely capable in
mens occupations such as factories, shipyards, and aircraft construc-
tion. The Victorian perception of women as retiring, frail ancillaries to men
was eclipsed.
John A. Sondey

Campaigns, Battles, and

Other Events

June, 1917
The Espionage Act
Date: June 15, 1917
Significance: Enforcement of this act led to the suppression of free speech and the
press during World War I and to the prosecution and incarceration of political dis-

In June, 1917, two months after the United States declared war against Im-
perial Germany and a month after the Selective Service Act went into ef-
fect, the U.S. Congress passed the Espionage Act. Concerned about the
German American and Irish American opposition to the U.S. support of
Great Britain and its allies, as well as about potential interference with con-
scription, Congress defined three new criminal offenses. The act penalized
false statements or reports with intent to interfere with the operation of
military forces, causing insubordination in the military, and obstructing
enlistment services.
Passage of the Espionage Act did not end Congresss efforts to suppress
dissent. The attorney general of the United States, Thomas Gregory, recom-
mended several relatively minor adjustments in the acts wording, but
Congress enacted a series of amendments in 1918 that collectively became
known as the Sedition Act. Among other offenses, it became a crime to ut-
ter . . . print . . . write [or] publish any disloyal language intended to
cause contempt for the form of government of the United States or the
Constitution, or the flag or the uniform of the Army or Navy. Conviction
could bring fines of twenty-thousand dollars, prison terms of up to twenty
years, or both.

Sedition Sections of the Act

The act was used during World War I to suppress any speech or act al-
leged to be disloyal to the United States or disparaging of the national war
352 / World War I

effort. No one, poor or rich, prominent or unknown, was immune from

prosecution. For example, a California fortune teller who told a customer
that liberty bonds were worthless and that her husband had been
wounded in France was sentenced to two years in prison. A German
American saloon keeper in Ohio who cursed President Woodrow Wilson
and the United States was given a twenty-year sentence. A would-be poet
in Pennsylvania who wrote doggerel in a disrespectful letter about the Lib-
erty Bell was sentenced to five years in prison. Rose Pastor Stokes, the wife
of an aristocratic and wealthy New Yorker, was convicted under the Espio-
nage Act for saying that she was for the people and the government is for
the profiteers. (Her conviction was later reversed by an appeals court.) An
Alabama man angry at the United States for entering the war was sen-
tenced to prison for fifteen months. In all, approximately two thousand
personsincluding many German Americans and Socialist Party mem-
berswere convicted under the law.

Constitutionality of the Espionage Act

The constitutionality of convictions under the Espionage Act was not
decided by the U.S. Supreme Court until after the end of the war when the
Court considered six cases. These concerned a Socialist Party handbill sent
to military inductees, a speech by Eugene Victor Debs, two newspapers
that printed objectionable material, a protest against U.S. intervention in
the Russian Revolution, and a pamphlet opposing the U.S. war effort. The
first case, Schenck v. United States, was perhaps the most important in the
doctrinal history of the First Amendment. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes,
Jr., wrote the unanimous opinion for the Supreme Court, enunciating the
clear and present danger test for construing the boundaries of permissi-
ble speech. In the third case, Holmes affirmed the conviction of Debs, the
three-time Socialist candidate for president who ran again from his prison
cell in 1920. Debs was pardoned by President Warren G. Harding the fol-
lowing year.

Frohwerk v. United States

Jacob Frohwerk and Carl Glesser, the editor and the publisher of a small
German-language newspaper in Kansas City, had been indicted for con-
spiracy to violate the Espionage Act. They had written and published
twelve articles between late 1917 that were pro-German and anti-British.
One article argued that it was an error in policy to send American soldiers
to the trenches in France and praised the undiminished strength of the
German nation. Another referred to the Oklahoma draft riots and to the
suffering of men drafted into the armed forces. Still another exhorted the
June, 1917: The Espionage Act / 353

Anti-German films such as The Kaiser exaggerated German atrocities during the war
and helped build public support for laws against espionage and sedition. (Universal
Film Co., Courtesy National Archives)

American public to wake up to the fact that we are led and ruled by En-
gland and that our sons, our taxes and our sacrifices are only in the interest
of England. Glesser had pleaded guilty and had been sentenced to five
years; Frohwerk had gone to trial and been convicted, fined, and given a
ten-year sentence.
The Frohwerk case was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in March,
1919, with, once again, Justice Holmes writing the Courts unanimous
opinion. As the record in the Frohwerk case came to the high tribunal, no ev-
idence was present about who read the newspaper or what the attitudes
and feelings of Kansas Citys German community were. Only the articles
themselves were presented as evidence. In affirming their convictions,
Holmes wrote that the Court could act only on the basis of the record as it
existed, and that on that record it was impossible to say that it might not
have been found that the circulation of the paper was in quarters where a
little breath would be enough to kindle a fire and that the fact was known
and relied upon by those who sent the paper out.
Frohwerks sentence was later commuted to one year, and Justice
354 / World War I

Holmes, after the Debs case, broke with his colleagues on the Court and
authored dissenting opinions in Abrams v. United States (the handbill case
protesting U.S. intervention in the Russian Revolution) and in Pierce v.
United States (the pamphlet case criticizing the American war effort). Dur-
ing the war, however, the Espionage Act was a potent weapon in govern-
ment suppression of civil liberties and the prosecution and persecution of
political dissenters.
David L. Sterling

July, 1917
Date: Beginning July 8, 1917
Location: Washington, D.C.
Principal figures: Bernard Mannes Baruch (1870-1965), F. A. Scott (1873-
1949), Daniel Willard (1861-1942), Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924)
Result: The U.S. government established the War Industries Board to man-
age economic resources for the war effort.

The War Industries Board (WIB) was organized on July 8, 1917, to coordi-
nate and control the industrial resources of the United States in its World
War I effort against Germany. Establishment of the WIB was the climax of
several frustrating months of efforts to mobilize agencies of production
and distribution following the nations entry into the war in April.

Committee on Industrial Preapredness

Federal coordination of industry had begun in 1915, when Congress au-
thorized the creation of a Committee on Industrial Preparedness to study
the supply requirements of the Army and Navy. The committees work
was narrow in scopeits primary accomplishment was the preparation of
an inventory of plants able to manufacture munitions. As the war emer-
gency in the United States became more acute, the government extended
its power over the nations industrial life. By the National Defense Act of
June, 1916, Congress authorized the president to place orders for war
matriel with any source of supply and to commandeer plants when it was
in the national interest to do so.
Two months later, Congress approved a Military Appropriations Act
providing for a Council of National Defense consisting of the secretaries of
July, 1917: Mobilization / 355

war, the Navy, the interior, agriculture, commerce, and labor, and an advi-
sory commission comprising civilian representatives from all the major
sectors of the nations economy. The purpose of both committees was to
plan for the most efficient use of the countrys resources in case of war.
The advisory commission, which served as the executive committee of
the Council of National Defense, did most of the work and mapped out ex-
tensive preparations to meet wartime needs. Each of the seven members of
the commission took charge of a special segment of the economy, such as
transportation, engineering and education, munitions and manufacturing,
medicine and surgery, raw materials, supplies, and labor. The commission
soon became the nucleus of numerous committees and boards that were
the forerunners of several wartime agencies, including the WIB. Finally,
Bernard Baruch, a Wall Street investor and the commissioner in charge of
raw materials, formulated an elaborate plan whereby representatives of
various businesses were organized into committees of the industries to
work with the council in coordinating the countrys resources. For their ef-
forts, they received one dollar a year, and thus were known as the dollar-
a-year men.
Because the Council of National Defense had been formed to plan for,
rather than direct, industrial mobilization, its powers were only advisory.
Moreover, its organization was extremely loose; many of its ablest men

President Woodrow Wilson formally announcing to Congress that he has cut diplomatic
relations with Germany, on February 3, 1917. (National Archives)
356 / World War I

served only in a part-time capacity. It was ill-prepared, therefore, to as-

sume the responsibility of directing mobilization, which was forced upon
it after the U.S. entry into war in 1917. That unpreparedness was readily
apparent in the councils attempt to coordinate the purchases required
by the U.S. Departments of the Navy and War. For that purpose, the advi-
sory commission first established a Munitions Standard Board and then
replaced it with a General Munitions Board, on which members of the
commission and representatives from the military purchasing bureaus
served. The power and authority of the latter board were poorly defined,
and its machinery nearly broke down under the pressure of the war or-
ders. Within a month after its establishment, it was found that the board
merely overlapped in jurisdiction and authority with many of the other
committees formed by the Advisory Commission. As a result, it was un-
able to coordinate the purchases of the military bureaus, which, jealous of
their own prerogatives, continued to go their own ways. Realizing that a
central coordinating agency was needed, the Council of National Defense,
on July 18, 1917, replaced the General Munitions Board with the WIB, com-
prising five civilians and one representative each from the Army and the

U.S. soldiers leaving for France. (National Archives)

July, 1917: Mobilization / 357

War Industries Board

Before the Civil War, the United States had adopted a policy of procur-
ing manyif not mostwartime goods and weapons from civilian busi-
nesses. With the exception of a few shipyards or munitions plants, the gov-
ernment therefore relied primarily on private industry to provide a steady
stream of war goods and combat weapons. Coordinating that production
and flow was a major problem for a nation that allowed the market to de-
termine the type and number of goods to be supplied. In wartime, the ur-
gency of delivery dictated that coordination of production and delivery
systems fall to the government.
While the War Industries Board was given broad responsibilities for the
direction of war industry needs, its ability to do effective work suffered
from the lack of any executive power. As a result, the governments effort
to coordinate the nations military and industrial efforts continued to
flounder for the next eight months. The boards first chairman, F. A. Scott,
broke down under the strain of the war; its second, Daniel Willard, re-
signed because he believed that the board lacked authority.
In the spring of 1918, President Woodrow Wilson reorganized the board
and named Bernard Baruch as its chairman. In effect, the president trans-
ferred to Baruch the power to coordinate industry that Congress had
granted to the president in the National Defense and Military Appropria-
tions Acts of 1916, as well as giving Baruch certain controls over the mili-
tary that Wilson had in his capacity as commander in chief. Endowed with
this authority, Baruch was able to determine priorities, requisition sup-
plies, conserve resources, commandeer plants, and make purchases for the
United States and the Allies. The only important control he did not exercise
directly was that of fixing prices, which was left to a separate committee
within the board.
Despite some sharp criticism later by congressional critics regarding the
extent of power that the War Industries Board assumed, the board was
highly effective in coordinating the nations industrial and military effort.
The pattern of organization created by the board became the model for the
war regulation of industry by the Allies in World War II. Moreover, the in-
troduction of businessmen into government procurement placed profes-
sional business managers in close proximity with bureaucrats. This led to
an appreciation by business for the role of control and planning, and con-
vinced many in government that business management practices would
be effective in improving the government during peacetime. Business al-
ready had undergone a managerial revolution that emphasized planning;
therefore, the new, centralized control reinforced the notion that stability
could be achieved by proper accounting and forecasting. The quintessen-
358 / World War I

tial proponent of that approach was Herbert Hoover, elected president in

1928, who attempted to apply such nostrums to the Great Depression.
On December 31, 1918, President Wilson directed that the board be dis-
solved, and it was liquidated on July 22, 1919. Other wartime agencies that
were involved in economic mobilizationsuch as the War Trade Board,
which licensed exports and imports and rationed supplies to neutrals, and
the United States Railroad Administration, which controlled the nations
railroadsalso were dissolved gradually after the war ended.

Big Business and Government

The friendly relationship between big business and government that
emerged from the war cemented an alliance that lasted until the Great De-
pression. In the short term, business thought that it was the beneficiary of
that relationship, receiving government contracts and favorable treatment.
Although the boom provided by the 1920s proved nourishing to many
small businesses, as witnessed by the extensive growth of all business dur-
ing that decade, the special treatment afforded to such new enterprises as
airplane and some shipping companies, based on future wartime needs,
served to align government with some industries at the expense of others.
More important, however, were the lessons learned by the government
during wartime that were inapplicable during peacetime. The government
assumed that wartime planning based on the coercive powers yielded to
bureaucrats by citizens facing a national emergencywould provide the
same degree of effectiveness in the absence of the emergency. Since the na-
tional tendency of government was to increase during emergencies, but
never to recede to its original levels, the war intruded federal authority
into the lives of millions of people who had never before experienced it.
Thus, although the WIB was disbanded after World War I, the notion that
government planning and direct management of businesses could keep
the economy stable was revived on a larger scale during the Great Depres-
Burton Kaufman
updated by Larry Schweikart

September, 1918
Battle of St. Mihiel
Date: September 12-16, 1918
Location: St. Mihiel, France, thirty-five miles southwest of Metz, France
Combatants: 248,000 American and French troops vs. 85,000 German
September, 1918: St. Mihiel / 359

Principal commanders: American, General John J. Pershing (1860-1948);

German, General Erich Ludendorff (1865-1937)
Result: The victory gave the Americans recognition as a fighting force.

In September, 1918, American forces attacked the salient at St. Mihiel. Gen-
eral John J. Pershings intent was to flatten the salient and seize a strategic
railroad. The Germans, led by Erich Ludendorff, had held St. Mihiel since
1914 but could no longer afford to occupy the whole perimeter. On Sep-
tember 10, they began to withdraw, just as the Americans and French at-
tacked nine depleted German divisions with 3,000 artillery pieces and 267
tanks. Although the Germans intended to withdraw, the speed of the
American attack and the use of phosgene gas resulted in the capture of
13,000 prisoners and 200 guns. The offensive used nearly 1,500 aircraft un-
der the command of Colonel Billy Mitchell, the largest concentration of
military aircraft up to that date.
The Americans gained access to a new railroad line but suffered 8,000
casualties in the process. The salient was cleared and the Americans re-
ceived recognition as a fighting force.
C. E. Wood

An American army officer tests a field

telephone abandoned by the Germans
during their retreat from St. Mihiel in
September, 1918.
(National Archives)
360 / World War I

September-November, 1918
Meuse-Argonne Offensive
Date: September 26-November 11, 1918
Location: Northeastern France
Combatants: Americans vs. Germans
Principal commanders: American, General John J. Pershing (1860-1948);
French, Ferdinand Foch (1851-1929), supreme commander of the Allied
Armies; British, Douglas Haig (1861-1928), commander in chief, British
Expeditionary Forces
Result: Heavy American casualties in this final major battle of World War I
underscored the necessity of having well-trained troops in combat.

When the United States declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917, the
U.S. Army, consisting of only about 125,000 officers and enlisted men, was
not an organized, professional army with modern equipment or training
doctrines. The United States found itself embarrassingly short of weapons,
uniforms, accoutrements, aircraft, and other critical items. The National
Guard, called to service by President Woodrow Wilson, numbered only
73,000 to add to the army regulars. The United States did have a huge res-
ervoir of eager recruits, however, and plans were made to raise, via the
1917 Conscription Act, a national army to augment regular and National
Guard forces.
The commander of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF), General
John J. Pershing, knew that his force was ill-prepared for combat on the
Western Front and, after his arrival in France, announced to the Allies that
U.S. troops would need to be trained. The ultimate goal of the AEF, how-
ever, was to have a strictly American army, with its own sector of the line.
Pershing received support in the form of training assistance and facilities
from French general Ferdinand Foch and from Field Marshall Sir Douglas
Haig, commander of British forces in France and in Flanders. Neither Foch
nor Haig, however, was optimistic about an exclusive U.S. zone and the
creation of a U.S. army.
Pershing firmly believed in a doctrine of maneuver warfaregetting
the troops out of the static trenches, forcing an end to the war by destroying
the enemy, and seizing terrain. He argued that trench warfare sapped the
aggressive spirit of an army, and he distrusted the morale of both British
and French armies after four years of trench fighting. Despite these feel-
ings, Pershing placed the incoming 28,000-soldier infantry divisions under
foreign tutelage in training areas and then in the trenches in so-called quiet
September-November, 1918: Meuse-Argonne / 361

areas. Pershing, however, stressed maneuver warfare without really know-

ing the impact of modern artillery, machine guns, aircraft, and chemicals
on the battlefield.
By December of 1917, Pershing had four divisions (the First, Second,
Twenty-sixth, and Forty-second) in training, but it was not until the Ger-
man offensives that began on March 21, 1918, that Pershing allowed AEF
divisions to see combat. They were then primarily under the operational
control of French senior commanders.

Command Structure
One result of the German offensives was the naming of Ferdinand Foch
as the Supreme Allied Commander. While Foch was frustrated with
Pershings obstinacy, he understood Pershings desire to have a U.S. army
in the field. In August, Pershing was allowed to form the First U.S. Army,
with himself as commander. Pershing divided his army into three corps,
selecting solid but inexperienced commanders for the corps. The divisions
that would make up those corps were of varying quality. Those divisions
that arrived early in France had extensive training and experience, but
many of the new divisions did not. Division commanders and staffs had
difficulty writing and overseeing the implementation of orders for subor-
dinate brigades and regiments, let alone integrating air assets, tanks, and
the like, which were habitually attached to the divisions.
During May and June, four hundred thousand troops made the danger-
ous ocean crossing. Supplies for this growing force were shipped by rail
from the huge Service of Supply (SOS) base in Tours to depots near the
western front. Yet the SOS remained critically short of heavy-duty trucks;
aircraft, artillery, and heavy weapons had to be begged from the Allies. De-
spite the shortfall in supply and the tentative training of many AEF divi-
sions, Pershing pushed ahead with plans to reduce the St. Mihiel salient, a
large bulge that jutted into the Allied lines. The bulge resembled a triangle,
with the town of St. Mihiel at its apex and the city of Metz a few miles from
the base.

The Attack
Setting the attack for dawn on September 12, Pershing moved his most
experienced units into line for the attack. The French sent combat divisions
and augmented U.S. artillery with a large number of guns. Brigadier Gen-
eral William Billy Mitchell assembled more than fourteen hundred air-
craft for the attack, and Major General James Harbords SOS brought up
vast quantities of supplies. When the attack began, however, heavy rains
made roads impassible for the trucks of the SOS, tanks became bogged
362 / World War I

Members of the U.S. Thirty-fifth Coast Artillery loading a mobile railroad gun on the
Argonne front in September, 1918. (National Archives)

down, and aircraft had difficulty flying. Unknown to the AEF, the German
High Command had chosen to evacuate the salient, fighting the oncoming
U.S. troops with well-placed machine guns and artillery. For four days,
U.S. soldiers reduced the St. Mihiel salient, and Pershing firmly believed
that maneuver warfare had been proven. He also had promised Foch to
have a large U.S. force in place to begin the Meuse-Argonne offensive on
September 26.
Pershing hurried forces to staging areas for the offensive. His opera-
tional planners, including Colonel George C. Marshall, did not have time
to reflect upon reports from the St. Mihiel operation, and a false sense of
optimism reigned at the headquarters of the First U.S. Army. Pershing
himself wrote that everyone at army headquarters felt alert and confi-
dent, but they set impossible objectives, disregarding terrain, the enemy,
the climate, and the ability to resupply. Pershings best and most combat-
experienced divisions had yet to leave the St. Mihiel area. The attack
would begin with less experienced, less trained combat divisions.
The Meuse-Argonne area resembled a box twenty miles long and about
forty miles in depth. There were dense forests such as the Argonne and
ranges of rugged, thicketed hills that had been turned into formidable de-
fensive positions by the Germans. There were three solid defensive lines,
the strongest being the second line, the Krimhilde Stellung (the Hindenburg
September-November, 1918: Meuse-Argonne / 363

Line). Unlike at St. Mihiel, the Germans had continually improved their
defensive positions with machine guns and more artillery; most impor-
tant, they had sent first-class infantry to the defense. Against these deter-
mined, dug-in defenders, the AEF arrayed divisions with little training or
experience. The Thirty-fifth Infantry Division, for example, had had no
time to work with its artillery prior to starting the assault against the first
defensive line, and by the end of the first day, it was showing signs of con-
While Pershing was overly optimistic about the combat capabilities of
his troops, his operational instincts were correct. He arrayed from left to
right three corps of four divisions each on the start linethe First, Fifth,
and Thirdwhich were to advance together. The Meuse-Argonne was not
the battle of maneuver that Pershing had preached. It was a head-on, fron-
tal assault that pitted muscle against muscle, and the casualties were ap-
palling. By the end of the operation, 120,000 U.S. troops had been killed or
wounded, and the number of stragglers, those who wandered off from
their units, numbered near 100,000.
Heavy rains continued, supplies went forward very slowly, and many
of the wounded languished in agony for days before they could be re-
moved to combat hospitals. By November, 1918, the AEF was reaching the
end of its rope as a result of combat, fatigue, lack of supplies, climatic con-
ditions, and the German defense.
The attack had begun on September 26 and in four days had ground to a
halt. On October 7, Pershing ceased all operations and ordered the Twenty-
eighth and Eighty-second Divisions to clear the Argonne Forest of German
defenders. This they did, at great cost, for several days, but the Krimhilde
Stellung had not yet been reached.
In mid-October, the AEF attacked the Krimhilde Stellung. Some of the
best divisions of the AEF, such as the First and the Forty-second, were used
up in the attack. On October 15, a brigade of infantry of the Forty-second
Division, under Brigadier General Douglas A. MacArthur, established a
foothold on one key position of the line. After another lull, U.S. forces
attacked on November 1 with great success. By this time the Germans were
in full retreat. Continuing to take casualties against a stiff German rear-
guard action, the AEF finally reached the Meuse River on November 11,
when the armistice was announced. The date would later be dubbed Armi-
stice Day. Later still, it became Veterans Day in the United States.

German Collapse
The fighting in the Meuse-Argonne came to an end because Germany
was at an end. The AEF fought with grim determination, but the army that
364 / World War I

Pershing commanded was near collapse. Despite the horrendous casual-

ties, Pershing and his many disciples came to believe that the battle had
confirmed the correctness of their doctrine: that determined infantry with
rifle and bayonet, supported by artillery and machine guns and air, was
the decisive factor in war.
Due to strict censorship, few civilians realized the horrendous condi-
tions under which U.S. soldiers fought. For decades, the extent of the
slaughter in the Meuse-Argonne remained undiscussed. The Meuse-
Argonne offensive, however, showed the fighting spirit of the AEF and
fixed the concept that only trained, well-schooled soldiers should be com-
mitted to battle. Memories of the early confusion and subsequent combat
in the Meuse-Argonne motivated men like General George C. Marshall to
train and prepare troops extensively for the next great global conflict.
James J. Cooke

November, 1918
Postwar Demobilization
Date: November, 1918-January, 1923
Significance: Two million members of the American Expeditionary Force are re-
integrated into the U.S. economy.

At 11:00 a.m. Paris time, Thursday, November 11, 1918, World War I, the
Great War, ended. News of the German surrender reached the United
States at 3:00 a.m. via Associated Press. From the White House that same
day, President Woodrow Wilson announced the armistice:

Everything for which America fought has been accomplished. It will now be
our fortunate duty to assist by example, by sober, friendly counsel, and by
material aid in the establishment of just democracy throughout the world.

Events of the next two years indicate that Wilson was thinking primarily of
his plans for the peace conference soon to open in Paris. The more immedi-
ate problems of demobilizing the U.S. armed forces and managing U.S. so-
ciety itself seems not to have concerned him. By November, 1918, Wilson
had planned virtually nothing in the way of a domestic program of post-
war reconstruction. Preoccupied with the coming peace conference, he
provided no program of his own and encouraged none from his adminis-
November, 1918: Postwar Demobilization / 365

Even the Army seemed surprised when it suddenly faced the problem
of disbanding the American Expeditionary Forces. Preparations for mili-
tary demobilization got under way just before the armistice, when a War
Department committee began making tentative plans and was faced with
certain immediate problems. Should soldiers be demobilized by military
units, and as quickly as possible, without reference to their employment
opportunities or the industrial needs of the country? Should the Army take
the soldiers home before releasing them from service, or would several
major mustering-out centers make for a more effective demobilization? In
making its plans, the Army had no comparable precedent and few Euro-
pean procedures to emulate.
With the armistice, massive pressure arose to demobilize quickly. The
soldiers families wanted them home at once, and economic arguments
were as strong as family sentiment. On November 11, the war was costing
the United States approximately $50 million a day; every days delay in de-
mobilization added to the burden of taxation required to finance the
armys upkeep.

Unfortunate Timing
One great problem faced by General John Pershing was timing. Pershing
had planned for a massive U.S. offensive in the spring of 1919. Plans had
been made for a huge buildup of AEF forces, including the procurement of
supplies and the letting of contracts for facilities. After the armistice, all of
those plans had to be reversed immediately. On the afternoon of Novem-
ber 11, Pershing received a cable from Washington, D.C., stating that on
November 12, all overtime pay and Sunday work would end in the United
States. It was clear to Pershing that economy was now all-important.
Working with Major General James Harbord, his chief of supply, Pershing
quickly identified a large number of contracts with the British and French
that would have to be canceled immediately. There were loud protests
from both London and Paris, as well as from local contractors and suppli-
ers, but Pershing was bound by his instructions from Washington.
Pershing also ordered that all AEF schools be closed as rapidly as possi-
ble. Only those soldiers already in schools and halfway through their
course of study would be allowed to complete the training. The massive
Air Service training center at Issoudun, which was the largest in the world,
would be closed by December, 1918. Several thousand pilot trainees were
released from Issoudun by the end of November and ordered to report to
processing stations for return to the United States. All over France, the pro-
cess was repeated, despite the hardships caused to local concerns and pro-
tests from the French government.
366 / World War I

Troops and Materials

The AEF at the time had some two million troops, equipped with thou-
sands of horses, trucks, motorcycles, railroad cars, weapons, tanks, and
planes. Most of the equipment, animals, vehicles, and weapons remained
in France, there to rust, to die, or to be sold in a huge salvage operation. To
bring the men home, the Army had to find transportation. More than half
the AEF had been transported to France in foreign ships, mostly English.
At wars end, the British government, wanting to return its people to their
countries and also eager to restore its maritime trade, immediately with-
drew its ships from use by the United States, as did France and Italy.
The U.S. Army began to convert cargo carriers into troop ships. The U.S.
Navy did the same with fourteen battleships and ten cruisers. Several con-
fiscated German ships were added to the demobilization fleet. By June,
1919, that fleet reached its maximum: 174 vessels with one-trip accommo-
dations for 419,000 troops. The fleet could have carried the entire AEF in
five trips, with room to spare.
Acting with dispatch, U.S. Army chief of staff Peyton March, on No-
vember 16, issued orders for mustering out the first two hundred thousand
troops. March expected to release thirty thousand soldiers per day when
the process was in full operation. In the months to come, the War Depart-
ment occasionally tried to demobilize according to a soldiers occupational
skill, but such sporadic gestures did not occur until the great machine of
military demobilization had begun pouring the AEF back into the United
States from stations abroad. For nearly a year thereafter, the homecoming
stream continued, reaching a peak in June, 1919, when almost 350,000
troops reached the United States. By September, 1919, only forty thousand
U.S. troops remained in Europe, all of them either logistical units or part of
the U.S. occupation force in Germany.

The Home Front

At home, demobilization went even more rapidly. In December, 1918,
the Army discharged more than 600,000 of those then stationed in the
United States. By April 1, 1920, the U.S. Army contained fewer than one-
eighth of 1 percent of those who had enlisted for emergency duty during
the war. The U.S. Navy discharged with equal dispatch, releasing 400,000
persons within a year after the armistice. The U.S. Marine Corps demobi-
lized 50,000 in the same period.
Efficient though it was, this massive demobilization suffered delays
and frustrations. In France, after the armistice, fifty-one new companies of
military police were organized and kept busy as soldiers began to grumble
and discipline began to break down. Paris and the French embarkation
November, 1918: Postwar Demobilization / 367

ports began to collect soldiers who were absent without leave. Barracks
graffiti appeared: Lafayette, we are still here.
Meanwhile, the machinery of demobilization did its job. The U.S. Quar-
termaster Service chose Brest, Bordeaux, and Saint-Nazaire as French ports
of embarkation. Midway between Paris and the Biscay coast of France, at
Le Mans, the U.S. Army built an enormous assembly area for troops bound
for the coast. At Le Mans or at the embarkation port itself, the troops re-
ceived medical examinations, treatment from barbers and dentists, and
new or supplementary outfits of clothing. They also went through a de-
lousing center. Coming in from the western front, nine out of ten U.S. ser-
vice personnel brought with them the infamous louse, or cootie, parasite
of the trenches.

Returning Home
Once they had made the routine voyage across the Atlanticduring
which not one life was lostthe troops docked at one of four ports: Boston,
New York, Newport News, or Charleston. Each person leaving the Army
kept a complete outfit of clothing and various items of equipment, such as
a safety razor. The enterprising Gillette Razor Company had designed and
sold this item to the Army, thereby changing the shaving habits of a gener-
ation of Americans while making a fortune for itself. The soldiers duffle
bags often bulged with souvenirs. Their eagerness for German Iron Crosses
had become so great during and after the war that, according to one report,
the Germans began to manufacture the item for the overseas trade.
Once back in the United States, soldiers were rushed through process-
ing stations. Many were told to take all of their military equipment home;
the government would send for it later. It never did. Each soldier was to
receive sixty dollars in cash to buy a new suit of clothes. The processing
was so rapid that a majority of the soldiers did not receive their Victory
Medals. When soldiers arrived back home, they found they had no job pro-
tection, and many remained unemployed for some time after the war.
Recordkeeping tended to be sloppy, given the emphasis on a speedy de-
mobilization, and a large number of soldiers never had wounds or disabili-
ties recorded properly.

Occupation of Germany
While Pershing was under orders to send the troops home as rapidly as
possible, he still had to send a sizable military force, eventually numbering
thirty divisions, to occupy Germany. This newly created Third Army had
to be ready to commence combat operations if the Versailles peace talks
failed. The forces sent were the oldest, most experienced combat divisions
368 / World War I

Pershing had, which caused a good deal of grumbling among those sol-
diers who had been in combat the longest. U.S. troops were scattered from
the port of Antwerp, Belgium, to the west bank of the Rhine River, with
U.S. Army headquarters in Coblenz, Germany. By the spring of 1919,
Pershing had begun to send those divisions back to the United States.
Many of those troops returning from the occupation suffered the most
from the lack of employment.
Until the army of occupation had come home and until the U.S. Army
had disposed of its huge properties in Europe, demobilization did not offi-
cially end. Portions of the occupation army remained on the Rhine until
January, 1923.

War Surplus
Well before that date, the Army disposed of its European properties.
Pershing had been authorized to sell all surplus property on the spot, and
the supply section of the AEF remained busy with contracts. Except for
some 850,000 tons of artillery, road-making machinery, and other heavy
equipment that it shipped home, the U.S. Army sold its holdings in Europe
or simply allowed them to disintegrate or disappear. The French govern-
ment agreed to pay four hundred million dollars for some of it. The Czechs
bought overcoats; Estonia bought army bacon; the Portuguese bought
shoes. At home, the Army disposed of much unneeded property through
surplus stores. It gave up other items in sundry ways. For example, four-
teen National Guard camps, three embarkation camps, sixteen training
camps, four flying fields, four hospitals, and various other buildings
brought a total return to the government of $4.2 million. One camp in Loui-
siana, built at a cost of $4.3 million, sold for $43,000 in salvage recovery.
As U.S. Army property diminished, so did its regular workforce. As
soon as the war ended, debate over the size and function of the peacetime
military force began. In June, 1920, through the new National Defense Act,
Congress cut the regular army to 280,000 soldiers. It reduced this number
still more in the next two years; by 1927, the U.S. Army had been reduced
to little more than a token force. The U.S. Navy was reduced in 1921 to
fewer than 138,000 men.
When Woodrow Wilson left the White House, the great military force
raised to fight the war had been demobilized. Readjustment of those forces
to civilian life, the dismantling of war industries, the return of people and
of property (such as the railroads) to private industry, and countless other
adjustments in United States society after war, all created enormous diffi-
culties, many of which would be felt for another generation. Mustering out
its service personnel was, by comparison, a matter of relative ease to the
January, 1919-July, 1921: Treaty of Versailles / 369

nation. In its broader meaning, demobilization and the consequent adjust-

ment from war to peace would influence the history of the next two de-
cades, until another war brought on an even greater mobilization.
Burl L. Noggle
updated by James J. Cooke

January, 1919-July, 1921

Treaty of Versailles
Date: January 18, 1919-July 2, 1921
Location: Paris, and Washington, D.C.
Principal figures: American, President Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924), Sena-
tor William Edgar Borah (1865-1940), Senator Hiram Warren Johnson
(1866-1945), Senator Robert Marion La Follette (1855-1925), Senator
Henry Cabot Lodge (1850-1924); French, Premier Georges Clemenceau
(1841-1929); British, David Lloyd George (1863-1945); Italian, Premier
Vittorio Emanuele Orlando (1860-1952)
Result: The peace settlement that came out of the war established a fragile
basis for European peace by creating the League of Nations, which was
the first global collective security organization, presaging the United

While World War I raged in Europe, President Woodrow Wilson began to

articulate the hopes of many people in the United States for a liberal peace.
He believed that the victors could not indulge themselves in the luxury of
vengeance: Only a just and merciful settlement could ensure a lasting
peace. In early 1917, three months before the United States entered the con-
flict, Wilson called for a peace without victory, with no indemnities and
annexations to sow the seeds of future wars. Wilson sought more than a
just settlement; he wanted to create a new, rational, international order. On
January 8, 1918, addressing a joint session of Congress, he outlined his fa-
mous Fourteen Points. The first five applied to all nations: open diplomacy,
freedom of the seas, removal of barriers to free trade, arms reductions, and
impartial adjustments of colonial claims.
The next eight points revolved around the principle of national self-
determination, listing the French, Belgian, and Russian territory that Ger-
many must evacuate and promising autonomy to the subject nationalities
of Eastern Europe. The capstone was Wilsons fourteenth point: the cre-
370 / World War I

ation of an international League of Nations. Wilson envisioned, above all,

the United States playing a permanent role in world affairs through mem-
bership in a collective security organization. Great Britain and France
had already made secret treaties that violated several of Wilsons points,
but on November 11, 1918, representatives of Germany, the United States,
and the Allies, meeting in a railroad car in the Compigne Forest, signed an
armistice based substantially on Wilsons program. The Great War was

The Peace Conference

Two months later, on January 18, 1919, the peace conference convened
at Paris amid an atmosphere of crisis. The war had left Europe in confu-
sion. A half dozen small wars still raged. As the Bolsheviks tightened their
hold on Russia, communist hysteria swept through Eastern Europe. The
conference, although sensing the need for haste, had to consider calmly the
fate of much of the world. Thirty-two nations sent delegations, but the ac-
tual decision making devolved on the Big Four: Great Britains David
Lloyd George, Frances Georges Clemenceau, Italys Vittorio Orlando, and
President Woodrow Wilson of the United States.
Clemenceau, the cynical French Tiger, was suspicious of Wilsonian
idealism. God gave us the Ten Commandments, and we broke them, he
said. Wilson gives us the Fourteen Points. We shall see. The Big Four
approved the demilitarization of Germany, Allied occupation of the
Rhineland, the return of Alsace-Lorraine to France, and an Anglo-French-
U.S. mutual defense pact. These provisions, if maintained, would guaran-
tee French security. Italy received Southern Tyrol, a region populated by
some two hundred thousand Austrians.
The conference also redrew the map of Eastern Europe. A series of new,
independent nations sprang to life: Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia,
Austria, Hungary, Estonia, Lithuania, and Finland. The boundary areas of
Poland and Czechoslovakia included large populations of German-speak-
ing people. In the Far East, Japan took over German economic rights in the
Chinese province of Shantun, while Great Britain and France divided up
the other German colonies in the Pacific and Africa. The conference forced
Germany not only to take full responsibility for causing the war but also to
provide a blank check for reparations, including damages to civilian
properties and future pensions. The Germans signed the treaty on June 28.
They would later learn that they owed thirty-three billion dollars.
While the Treaty of Versailles did not live up to Wilsons ideas of self-
determination, it left a smaller proportion than ever of European people
living under foreign governments. Nor was it a peace without victory. Wil-
January, 1919-July, 1921: Treaty of Versailles / 371

son did win acceptance for the League of Nations, however, with the
League Covenant being incorporated into the treaty itself. The League, he
hoped, would later correct any imperfections in the work of the confer-

American Reactions to the Treaty

When Wilson returned to the United States from Paris, public opinion
favored ratification of the treaty and membership in the League of Nations,
but the Senate had the final decision. In March, 1919, Senator Henry Cabot
Lodge had ominously secured a round robin resolution with the sig-
natures of thirty-seven senatorsmore than enough to kill the treaty
announcing their opposition to the League Covenant in its current form.
Wilson could count on the support of most of the Senate Democrats, but he
could not meet the two-thirds majority necessary for ratification without a
large block of Republican votes. A dozen or so Republican senators had
mild reservations about the League; another group had strong reserva-
tions. These latter opposed Article 10 of the League Covenant, a provision
binding nations to preserve the territorial integrity and independence of

British prime minister David Lloyd George (left), Italian premier Vittorio Emanuele Or-
lando, French premier Georges Clemenceau, and U.S. president Woodrow Wilson in
Paris in May, 1919. (Library of Congress)
372 / World War I

all League members against aggression. Senator William E. Borah was the
leader of the irreconcilables, who unconditionally opposed the treaty.
As chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Lodge played a
crucial role in the fight over the League of Nations. Unlike the irreconcil-
ables, he was no isolationist. He claimed to favor the League but with
strong reservations. Yet Lodge possessed an intense personal dislike for
Wilson and a distrust of his leadership. For two weeks, Lodge stalled
for time by reading aloud the text of the treaty, all 268 pages of it. Then he
held six weeks of hearings, calling witnesses who opposed ratification. At
last, he drew up a list of fourteen reservations, as if to ridicule Wilsons
Fourteen Points. Gradually, the mood of the country shifted against the
Wilson, overworked and ill, decided to go to the people in a whirlwind
speaking tour. In three weeks, he traveled eight thousand miles and deliv-
ered thirty-six major speeches, typing them out himself on his portable
typewriter. On the night of September 25, he fell ill in Pueblo, Colorado.
The presidential train rushed him back to Washington. On October 20, in
the White House, he collapsed: He had suffered a stroke that paralyzed his
left side. For the next six weeks, the country was virtually without a presi-
dent, and Wilson never fully recovered. When the treaty came to a vote, he
passed word for Democrats to vote against the treaty with the Lodge reser-
vations. On November 19, 1919, and in a second vote on March 19, 1920, a
coalition of Democrats and irreconcilables sent the treaty to defeat.

A Crippled League
The failure of Wilsons efforts to win support for unqualified U.S. par-
ticipation in the League of Nations ultimately reduced the Leagues effec-
tive operation. As for the peace itself, the U.S. Congress passed a joint reso-
lution formally bringing hostilities to an end on July 2, 1921. Despite the
isolationist mood of the country, the United States eventually participated
in a number of League activities, although never as a formal member. The
absence of the United States from the League Council hampered its peace-
making capacity. More deadly to the Leagues future, however, were the
growing nationalism throughout Europe, the deep resentment among the
Germans with regard to what they viewed as unfair Versailles Treaty pro-
visions, and the lack of consensus about how to deal with violations of
League Covenant provisions.
Like many of Wilsons idealized Fourteen Points, the League of Nations
was a noble experiment that foundered on political realities. The world
was not ready for a global collective security organization, but the Leagues
work in a number of economic and humanitarian areas did substantially
January, 1919-July, 1921: Treaty of Versailles / 373

advance international cooperation. These efforts, coupled with greater re-

alism about power politics and keeping international peace, led to more re-
alistic structures in the Leagues successor, the United Nations. U.S. policy-
makers played the lead role in fashioning the new organization, as Wilson
had with the League, but they were more careful to build bipartisan do-
mestic support for the United Nations as they seized, rather than spurned,
global leadership.
Donald Holley
updated by Robert F. Gorman
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Further Reading
Arthur, Max, comp. Forgotten Voices of the Great War: A History of World
War I in the Words of the Men and Women Who Were There. Introduction by
Sir Martin Gilbert. Guilford, Conn.: Lyons Press, 2004.
Asprey, Robert B. The German High Command at War. New York: William
Morrow, 1991.
Binkin, Martin, and Shirley L. Bach. Women and the Military. Washington,
D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1977.
Boemeke, Manfred F., Gerald D. Feldman, and Elisabeth Glaser, eds. The
Treaty of Versailles: A Reassessment After Seventy-five Years. New York:
Cambridge University Press, 1998.
Braim, Paul F. The Test of Battle: The American Expeditionary Forces in the
Meuse-Argonne Campaign. 2d ed. Shippensburg, Pa.: White Mane Books,
Chafee, Zechariah, Jr. Free Speech in the United States. Cambridge, Mass.:
Harvard University Press, 1946.
Collins, Ross F. The Development of Censorship in World War I France.
Journalism Monographs 131 (February, 1992).
Cowin, Hugh W. German and Austrian Aviation of World War I. New York:
Osprey, 2000.
Currie, David P. The Constitution and the Supreme Court: 1910-1921.
Duke Law Journal, December, 1985.
Devilbiss, M. C. Women and Military Service. Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.:
Air University Press, 1990.
Ebbert, Jean, and Marie-Beth Hall. The First, the Few, the Forgotten: Navy and
Marine Corps Women in World War I. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute
Press, 2002.
Farwell, Byron. Over There: The United States in the Great War. New York:
W. W. Norton, 1999.
Ferrell, Robert H. Collapse at Meuse-Argonne: The Failure of the Missouri-
Kansas Division. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2004.
Fleming, Thomas J. The Illusion of Victory: America in World War I. New
York: Basic Books, 2003.
Franks, Norman. Who Downed the Aces in WWI? New York: Seven Hills,
Gilbert, Martin. The First World War: A Complete History. New York: Henry
Holt, 1994.
376 / World War I

Griffith, Paddy. Battle Tactics of the Western Front. New Haven, Conn.: Yale
University Press, 1994.
Hallas, James H. Squandered Victory: The American First Army at St. Mihiel.
Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1995.
Halpern, Paul G. A Naval History of World War I. Annapolis, Md.: Naval In-
stitute Press, 1994.
Herwig, Holger. The First World War: Germany and Austria, 1914-1918. Lon-
don: Edward Arnold, 1997.
Holm, Jeanne. Women in the Military. Novato, Calif.: Presidio Press, 1992.
Horne, Allistair. The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916. 1963. Reprint. New York:
Penguin Books, 1993.
Jensen, Joan M. The Price of Vigilance. Chicago: Rand McNally, 1969.
Johnson, Donald O. The Challenge to American Freedoms: World War I and the
Rise of the American Civil Liberties Union. Lexington: For the Mississippi
Valley Historical Association, University of Kentucky Press, 1963.
Keegan, John. The First World War. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999.
Kennedy, David M. Over Here: The First World War and American Society.
New York: Oxford University Press, 1980.
Knightley, Phillip. The First Casualty. London: Pan Books, 1989.
Larzelere, Alex R. The Coast Guard in World War I: An Untold Story. Annapo-
lis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 2003.
Lasswell, Harold D. Propaganda Technique in the World War. New York: Al-
fred A. Knopf, 1927.
Layman, R. D. Naval Aviation in the First World War: Its Impact and Influence.
Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 1996.
Liddle, Peter H. The Airmans War, 1914-1918. New York: Sterling, 1987.
Luebke, Frederick. Bonds of Loyalty: German-Americans and World War I.
DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 1974.
Lyons, Michael J. World War I: A Short History. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.:
Prentice-Hall, 1994.
Macdonald, Sharon, Pat Holden, and Shirley Ardener, eds. Images of
Women in Peace and War. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988.
Macmillan, Margaret. Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World. New
York: Random House, 2002.
Maslowski, Peter, and Allan Millett. For the Common Defense. New York:
Free Press, 1984.
Matloff, Maurice, ed. American Military History. Washington, D.C.: Center
of Military History, United States Army, 1985.
Messimer, Dwight R. Find and Destroy: Antisubmarine Warfare in World
War I. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 2001.
Further Reading / 377

Millett, Allan R., and Peter Maslowski. For the Common Defense. New York:
Free Press, 1984.
Mock, James R. Censorship 1917. New York: Da Capo Press, 1972.
Morton, Desmond. A Military History of Canada. Edmonton, Alberta: Hurtig,
Murphy, Paul L. The Constitution in Crisis Times, 1918-1969. New York:
Harper & Row, 1972.
____________. World War I and the Origin of Civil Liberties in the United
States. New York: W. W. Norton, 1979.
Ousby, Ian. The Road to Verdun: World War Is Most Momentous Battle and the
Folly of Nationalism. New York: Doubleday, 2002.
Palazzo, Albert. Seeking Victory on the Western Front: The British Army and
Chemical Warfare in World War I. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press,
Persico, Joseph E. Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh HourArmistice
Day, 1918: World War I and Its Violent Climax. New York: Random House,
Pohlman, H. L. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: Free Speech and the Living Con-
stitution. New York: New York University Press, 1991.
Polenberg, Richard. Fighting Faiths: The Abrams Case, the Supreme Court, and
Free Speech. 1987. Reprint. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1999.
Ragan, Fred D. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Zechariah Chaffee, Jr.,
and the Clear and Present Danger Test for Free Speech: The First Year,
1919. Journal of American History, June, 1971.
Revell, Alex, and Bob Pearson. Victoria Cross: WWI Airmen and Their Air-
craft. Boulder, Colo.: Paladin Press, 1999.
Salvatore, Nick. Eugene V. Debs: Citizen and Socialist. Urbana: University of
Illinois Press, 1982.
Samuels, Martin. Doctrine and Dogma: German and British Infantry Tactics in
the First World War. New York: Greenwood Press, 1992.
Schneider, Dorothy, and Carl Schneider. Into the Breach. New York: Viking
Press, 1991.
Smith, Leonard V. Between Mutiny and Obedience: The Case of the French Fifth
Infantry Division During World War I. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Univer-
sity Press, 1994.
Stone, Norman. The Eastern Front, 1914-1917. New York: Penguin Books,
Strachan, Hew. The Outbreak of the First World War. New York: Oxford Uni-
versity Press, 2004.
Taylor, A. J. P. The First World War: An Illustrated History. New York: Capri-
corn, 1972.
378 / World War I

Triplet, William S. A Youth in the Meuse-Argonne: A Memoir of World War I,

1917-1918. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2000.
Tuchman, Barbara. The Guns of August. 1962. Reprint. New York: Ballantine
Books, 1994.
Tucker, Spencer. The Great War, 1914-1918. Bloomington: Indiana Univer-
sity Press, 1998.
Vaughn, Stephen. Holding Fast the Inner Lines. Chapel Hill: University of
North Carolina Press, 1980.
White, G. Edward. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: Law and the Inner Self. New
York: Oxford University Press, 1993.
Wright, William M. Meuse-Argonne Diary: A Division Commander in World
War I.
World War II
World War II . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 381
Weapons, Tactics, and Strategies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 397
The Naval War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 407
The Air War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 414
U.S. Supreme Court During the War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 422
Women in the War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 427
Censorship During the War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 431

Campaigns, Battles, and Other Events . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 437

August, 1939: Mobilization for Possible War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 437
September, 1939-May, 1945: Battle of the North Atlantic . . . . . . . . . 441
March, 1941: Lend-Lease Act . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 442
December, 1941: Battle of Pearl Harbor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 446
December, 1941: Axis Declaration of War on the United States . . . . . 451
December, 1941-April, 1942: Battle of Bataan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 455
February, 1942: Japanese American Internment. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 457
May, 1942: Battle of the Coral Sea . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 462
June, 1942: Battle of Midway . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 464
June, 1942: Manhattan Project. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 468
August, 1942-February, 1943: Battle of Guadalcanal . . . . . . . . . . . 472
November, 1942: North Africa Invasion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 477
July-September, 1943: Italy Invasion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 482
September-October, 1943: Battle of Salerno . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 485
November, 1943: Battle of Tarawa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 487
June, 1944: Operation Overlord. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 488
June-July, 1944: Battle for Saipan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 493
June, 1944: Superfortress Bombing of Japan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 494
July-August, 1944: Battle of Guam . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 498
July-August, 1944: Battle of Tinian . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 500
October, 1944: Battle for Leyte Gulf. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 501
December, 1944: Battle of the Bulge. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 507
February, 1945: Yalta Conference . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 512
February-March, 1945: Battle for Iwo Jima. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 515
April-July, 1945: Battle of Okinawa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 517
May, 1945: V-E Day. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 518
July-August, 1945: Potsdam Conference. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 522
August, 1945: Atomic Bombing of Japan. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 525

Further Reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 530

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World War II

At issue: Democracy and communism vs. fascism; German or Soviet dom-

inance in Eastern Europe; Japanese or American dominance in the Pa-
Date: September 1, 1939-August 14, 1945
Location: Europe, Asia, Africa, Middle East, and Pacific and Atlantic
Combatants: Allies: Great Britain, France, United States, Soviet Union vs.
Axis Powers: Germany, Italy, Japan
Principal commanders: British, Bernard Law Montgomery (1887-1976);
French, Charles de Gaulle (1890-1970); American, Dwight D. Eisenhower
(1890-1969), Chester W. Nimitz (1885-1966), Douglas MacArthur (1880-
1964), George S. Patton (1885-1945); Soviet, Georgy Zhukov (1896-1974);
German, Erwin Rommel (1891-1944), Adolf Hitler (1889-1945); Japanese,
Isoroku Yamamoto (1884-1943)
Principal battles: France, Britain, Operation Barbarossa, Pearl Harbor,
Singapore, Coral Sea, Midway, Guadalcanal, El Alamein, Stalingrad,
Kursk, Normandy, the Bulge, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Berlin
Result: A total Allied victory over the Axis in which Germany lost territory
and was occupied and partitioned, the Soviet Union replaced Germany
as the dominant power in Eastern Europe, and Japan lost territory and
was occupied.

World War II was the largest, most destructive, and most widespread war
in history. During the conflict, more than 50 million people died and hun-
dreds of millions were wounded, physically and psychologically. The war,
fought on land, sea, and air, was the epic struggle of the twentieth century
and was central to the whole century. It was caused in large part by the un-
resolved issues of World War I (1914-1918), and its aftermath became the
Cold War (1945-1991).
Two coalitions of nations, the Axis and the Allies, fought the war. The
Axis states were fascist and militaristic. Fascism was an extreme form of
racist nationalism under the leadership of dictators who claimed to ex-
press the collective will of their peoples. The major powers of the Axis
were Germany, Italy, and Japan. The major Allied Powers were Great
Britain, France, the United States, and the Soviet Union. Some nations
switched allegiances during the war. Italy changed sides in 1943. After
1940, France had forces on both sides, the Free French and Vichy French.
The Soviet Union cooperated with Germany until attacked in June, 1941,
(continued on page 386)
382 / World War II

Time Line of World War II

Dec., 1937-Jan., 1938 Japanese troops invade China, beginning World War
II in East Asia.
Sept. 15-29, 1938 British and German leaders meet in Munich.
Aug., 1939 The possibility of American involvement in the
war developing in Europe and East Asia prompts
conversion of domestic production to meet military
Sept. 1, 1939 Germany invades Poland, beginning World War II
in Europe.
Sept. 3, 1939- Battle of North Atlantic: Eventual definitive victory
May 4, 1945 for Allied forces.
Oct., 1939- Polish Campaign.
Dec. 7, 1941
Apr. 9, 1940 Germany invades Norway.
May-June, 1940 Germany occupies France.
May 10, 1940 Germany invades Luxembourg, the Netherlands,
and Belgium.
June 10, 1940 Italy declares war on France and Great Britain. Ital-
ian forces enter southern France.
July 10-Oct. 31, 1940 Battle of Britain: Germany bombs Great Britain in
preparation for a land invasion. Despite great losses
on both sides, the British repulse German air power
and avoid German occupation.
Sept. 27, 1940 Japan signs the Tripartite Pact with Germany and It-
aly, becoming a member of the Axis powers.
Oct. 8, 1940 Germany begins occupation of Romania.
Oct. 28, 1940 Italy invades Greece.
Nov. 11, 1940 Battle of Taranto.
Dec. 9-13, 1940 Battle of Stdt Barr3ni.
1941-1942 Battle of Moscow.
1941-1944 Siege of Leningrad.
Mar. 11, 1941 Before the United States becomes formally involved
in the war, it uses the Lend-Lease program to sup-
port Great Britains war effort while declaring offi-
cial neutrality.
May 20-31, 1941 Crete campaign.
World War II / 383

July 24, 1941 Japan occupies French Indochina (modern Vietnam).

United States halts trade with Japan, sends General
Douglas MacArthur to oversee military forces in the
Sept. 16-26, 1941 Battle of Kiev.
Nov. 18, 1941- Battles of Tobruk.
June 21, 1942
Dec., 1941-Apr., 1942 Battle of Bataan: A Japanese victory that is a major
step in Japans attainment of the Philippines.
Dec. 7, 1941 Battle of Pearl Harbor: Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor
in the Hawaiian Islands, sinking or disabling five of
eight U.S. battleships, as well as other ships and air-
planes. Nearly 2,500 persons, including 68 civilians
are killed. Japan simultaneously attacks Guam, the
Philippines, Midway Island, Hong Kong, and the
Malay Peninsula.
Dec. 8, 1941 United States declares war on Japan.
Dec. 10, 1941- Battle of Singapore.
Feb. 15, 1942
Dec. 11, 1941 Axis nations declare war on the United States.
1942-1943 Battles of Kharkov.
Feb. 19, 1942 U.S. government begins relocating persons of Japa-
nese descent on the Pacific Coast.
Feb. 27-Mar. 1, 1942 Battle of the Java Sea: Severe U.S. losses; Japan occu-
pies Java.
Mar. 9, 1942 Japan occupies Rangoon, Burma, cutting off Allied
access to China.
May 3-8, 1942 Battle of the Coral Sea: For the first time in history, all
fighting in a naval battle is conducted by planes
launched off aircraft carriers. Japanese advance into
Australia is halted.
May 6, 1942 Bataan Peninsula and Corregidor fall to the Japa-
June 3-21, 1942 Japan bombs Alaska, occupies the Aleutian Islands,
and shells the Oregon coast.
June 3-5, 1942 Battle of Midway: Japans advance across the Pacific
is stopped, and Japan suffers severe losses. Turning
point in the Pacific war.
June 17, 1942 President Roosevelt approves the Manhattan Pro-
ject, which is to build an atomic bomb.

384 / World War II

Time Line of World War IIcontinued

Aug. 7, 1942- Battle of Guadalcanal: United States prevents Japa-

Feb. 9, 1943 nese from landing reinforcements, ensuring Allied
conquest of Guadalcanal. Japanese evacuate Gua-
dalcanal on Feb. 9, 1943.
Aug. 19, 1942 Raid on Dieppe.
Aug. 23, 1942- Battle of Stalingrad.
Feb. 2, 1943
Aug. 23-25, 1942 Battle of Eastern Solomons: United States inflicts se-
vere damage on Japanese ships.
Sept. 13-14, 1942 Battle of Bloody Ridge: Six thousand Japanese troops
are routed.
Oct. 23-Nov. 4, 1942 Battle of El Alamein.
Nov. 7-8, 1942 North Africa Invasion: An Allied campaign designed
to drive the Germans out of North Africa, this opera-
tion provides a training ground for U.S. forces in
World War II.
Feb., 1943 Casablanca Conference.
July 5-15, 1943 Battle of Kursk.
July 6, 1943 Battle of Kula Gulf: First U.S. victory in South Pa-
July 9-Sept. 19, 1943 Italy Invasion: This campaign forces Germany to
use troops and resources that might otherwise have
been used in northern France.
Aug. 15, 1943 United States regains Aleutian Islands.
Sept. 8, 1943 Italy surrenders unconditionally.
Sept. 9-Oct. 1, 1943 Battle of Salerno: The Allies accomplish their objec-
tive, taking the port of Naples.
Nov., 1943- Battle of Monte Cassino.
June, 1944
Nov. 2, 1943 Battle of Empress Augusta Bay: Japanese defeat in
South Pacific secures Solomons for the Allies.
Nov. 20-23, 1943 Battle of Tarawa: Costly U.S. victory in which U.S.
forces use the captured airstrip to support invasions
of the Marshall Islands.
Jan. 22-May 25, 1944 Battle of Anzio.
Jan. 31-Nov. 25, 1944 United States takes Marshall Islands, Mariana Is-
lands, Guam, and the Palaus.
June 6, 1944 D Day: Operation Overlords Normandy invasion
World War II / 385

June 15-July 9, 1944 United States seizes the island of Saipan, headquar-
ters for the Japanese defense of the Central Pacific.
Its fall impairs the Japanese defense strategy and
gives the Americans an air base from which B-29
Superfortress bombers can reach Tokyo.
June 15, 1944 Superfortress bombing of Japan begins.
June 19-20, 1944 Battle of the Philippine Sea: Inflicts severe losses on
Japan, of both sea vessels and airplanes.
June 22-July 11, 1944 Soviets send 166 divisions against German positions
in Belorussia in Operation Bagration.
July 20-Aug. 10, 1944 Battle of Guam: United States recaptures a strategic
base in the Pacific from the Japanese.
July 24-Aug. 1, 1944 Battle of Tinian: United States swiftly takes Tinian
from the Japanese; it becomes the launching site for
numerous B-29 bombing raids against the Japanese
main islands.
Aug. 25, 1944 Liberation of Paris.
Sept. 11, 1944 Liberation of Luxembourg.
Sept. 17-26, 1944 Battle of Arnhem.
Oct. 23-26, 1944 Battle of Leyte Gulf: In three major naval engage-
ments, United States destroys remaining Japanese
naval forces and takes control of Philippines. The
largest naval battle of the war.
Dec. 16, 1944- Battle of the Bulge: German forces are routed in a
Jan. 25, 1945 desperate campaign to halt advancing Allied ar-
Feb. 4-11, 1945 Yalta Conference: This significant meeting of the
Big Three Allied powers marks the height of Allied
cooperation but also reveals conflicting agendas.
Feb. 19-Mar. 26, 1945 Battle of Iwo Jima: U.S. Marines seize a Japanese is-
land air base located southeast of Japan.
Mar., 1945 Battle of Mandalay.
Mar. 7-May 8, 1945 Rhine Crossings.
Apr. 1-July 2, 1945 Battle of Okinawa: United States invades Okinawa,
occupying it by June 21. Japanese suicide flights con-
tribute to making this the costliest battle of the war.
Apr. 19-May 2, 1945 Battle of Berlin.
May 7, 1945 Germany signs surrender documents.
May 8, 1945 V-E Day: President Harry S. Truman declares victory
in Europe.

386 / World War II

Time Line of World War IIcontinued

July 17-Aug. 2, 1945 Potsdam Conference: The third and final Big Three
meeting plans a peace settlement at the end of World
War II.
Aug. 6 and 9, 1945 United States drops atomic bombs on Hiroshima
and Nagasaki, Japan.
Aug. 14, 1945 V-J Day: Japan accepts terms of surrender and occa-
sion is declared Victory in Japan day.

and the United States did not officially participate until attacked by Japan
on December 7, 1941.

Causes of the War

World War II grew out of grievances produced by the aftermath of
World War I. Germans were outraged by the harsh Treaty of Versailles
(1919), which had taken away German territory in the east and west, de-
stroyed the Austro-Hungarian Empire, humiliated Germans by including
a war guilt clause, imposed disarmament, and demanded payments for
war damage. Racked by inflation and depression, a substantial minority of
Germans voted the extremist Nazi Party into power in 1933. Adolf Hitler,
the charismatic and fanatical nationalist, pursued policies of economic
control and rearmament. The Nazis were both anticommunist and anti-
Semitic, blaming Reds and Jews for Germanys problems. Hitler saw a
need for living space for superior Germans, which was to be carved
from lands occupied by inferior Slavic peoples living to the east.
Hitler pursued a policy of aggression in foreign policy, with the express
aim of bringing all ethnic Germans into the new Reich, or empire. German
forces entered the demilitarized German Rhineland in 1936, Austria in
1938, and Czechoslovakia in 1938 and 1939. Meanwhile, Britain and France
sought to appease the Nazis by granting concessions in the hope that this
would satisfy German ambitions. The height of the policy of appeasement
came at the Munich Conference in 1938, which dismembered Czechoslova-
kia. However, in the eyes of the Western democracies, concessions to Hitler
appeared only to encourage more aggression. Britain and France decided
to guarantee the integrity of several small states in Europe, including Po-
Hitlers demands on Poland centered on the surrender of territory that
had been shifted from Germany to Poland after World War I, particularly
the Polish corridor and the city of Danzig. The Poles resolved to resist dis-
World War II / 387

memberment of their country, and World War II began on September 1,

1939, when Germany attacked Poland. Britain and France honored their
commitment to Poland and went to war.
Just before attacking Poland, Hitler made an unexpected agreement, the
German-Soviet Pact of 1939, with Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. It called for
peace and economic cooperation between Germany and the Soviet Union
and divided Poland between them. It was Stalins hope that Germany and
the Western powers would destroy themselves while a neutral Soviet
Union would continue to gain strength.
Italy did not join the war on the German side until 1940. Italy had been
appeased when it attacked Ethiopia in 1935. Another important fascist
state, Spain, whose leader, Francisco Franco, had been aided by the Ger-
mans during its civil war of 1936, managed to remain neutral throughout
the war.
A major question decided by World War II was whether Germany or the
Soviet Union would dominate the lands of Eastern Europe and control the
Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Hungarians, and many South Slavs. Germans had
enjoyed economic predominance in this area for centuries, and Russians
had long regarded the Slavic peoples as ethnic and cultural relatives who
needed their protection. The Russo-German phase of the war, beginning
with the sudden German invasion of the Soviet Union in June, 1941,

German chancellor Adolf Hitler receiving an ovation from the Reichstag after announc-
ing his annexation of Austria in March, 1938. (National Archives)
388 / World War II

Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav

Molotov signs the German-Soviet
nonaggression pact in Moscow on
August 23, 1939, while Soviet pre-
mier Joseph Stalin (in white jacket)
and German foreign minister Joachim
von Ribbentrop (behind Molotov) look
on. (National Archives)

brought the wars most ferocious fighting and worst attrition to the plains
of Eastern Europe. Before the invasion of the Soviet Union, some military
leaders had favored a war against the Soviet Union.

The War in Asia

The war in Asia began earlier, in 1931, when Japan moved against the
rich Chinese province of Manchuria. Japan had modernized rapidly and
wanted the provinces raw materials for its industries. Military figures
came to dominate Japanese domestic politics as ruthless aggression led to a
full-scale war between Japan and China. The United States favored China
and began an anti-Japanese foreign policy that ultimately led to the Japa-
nese attack on Pearl Harbor. Both Japan and the United States had large
naval forces in the Pacific. One of the great questions to be decided by
World War II was which of these nations would dominate the Pacific.
Japan signed a defensive pact with Germany and Italy in 1936. Partly as
a result of Germanys success in invading the Soviet Union in 1941, the Jap-
anese decided to strike southward against the European nations holdings
in Asia. By attacking European holdings in Asia, Japan could claim to be
freeing Asians from European rule. Southeast Asia would give Japan an
abundance of resources, particularly oil and rubber. Japan and the Soviet
Union maintained neutrality toward each other until the Soviets attacked
the Japanese in 1945.
World War II / 389

Only the U.S. Navy stood in the way of Japan. The United States
had a large, modern navy, divided between the Atlantic and the Pa-
cific. President Franklin D. Roosevelt sought to curtail Japanese expan-
sion in Asia at the same time that he opposed German advances in Europe.
He had the utmost concern for the plight of Britain in 1940, when Britain
stood alone in Europe against Hitler. Like many Americans, Roosevelt
thought that German victory in Europe would bring tyranny to millions
and eventually threaten democracy in the United States as well. What
hampered Roosevelt from joining outright in Britains defense was very
strong isolationist sentiment in the United States. Isolationists did not
want to support or participate in foreign wars, which they claimed had
nothing to do with the United States. Roosevelt could not risk deeply
offending the isolationists because he needed their support to be reelected.
However, he gave as much aid to Britain as possible under legislative
constraints, allowing the U.S. Navy to help protect convoys destined for

Pacific Theater of World War II