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Honors U.S. History Name:

Weeks 9 & 10
Mr. Irwin Period:

Chapter 4 - THE CIVIL WAR

From Southern Secession to the Surrender at Appomattox

Election of 1860:
When Abraham Lincoln won the election of 1860, southern supporters of slavery called
the south to secede from the Union. They argued that since they had voluntarily joined
the U.S., they could also voluntarily leave the U.S.

Southern Secession Begins:

First to secede was South Carolina, which left the Union on December 20, 1860. Over
the next six weeks, six other states followed suit, which brought the original “South” to

Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina & Texas.

The Confederacy is Formed:
On February 8, 1861, the Confederate States of America was established at a
convention that took place in Montgomery, Alabama. Montgomery became the original
capital of the Confederacy, but early on, the capital of the Confederacy was moved to
Richmond, Virginia.

On February 4, 1861, representatives from the seven states of Alabama, Florida,

Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas, that had already seceded
from the United States, met in Montgomery, Alabama, to form a new republic.

On February 8, the convention announced the establishment of the Confederate States

of America and declared itself the provisional Congress of the Confederacy.

Ft. Sumter - First Shots Fired:

Hopes for a nonviolent settlement to the splitting of the U.S. died after the attack on Fort
Sumter, which became the location of the first shots fired of the Civil War. In January of
1861, prior to Lincoln’s inauguration, a federal ship that had been sent to deliver
supplies to federal troops at the fort was fired upon, causing the ship to have to turn
back. This left Major Robert Anderson and his men at Ft. Sumter, short of supplies.

Upon taking office, President Lincoln was faced with the decision on how to handle the
situation at Ft. Sumter. Lincoln wanted to keep the country intact initially, he believed
that the South could be brought back into the Union. Should he react with strong
military action, that could agitate the South. On the other hand, he had to consider the
fate of Major Anderson and his men, who were surrounded by Confederate soldiers.
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Lincoln informed the governor of South Carolina that he was sending in supplies of food
and such, but that no soldiers or weapons were being sent in. He hoped that the
Confederacy would allow this action on humanitarian principles. As it turned out,
Confederate General Pierre G.T. Beauregard demanded that Anderson and his men
surrender. Anderson refused, whereupon, on April 12, 1861, Beauregard began a 34-
hour bombardment of Ft. Sumter. Two days later, on April 14, 1861, Major Anderson

President Lincoln accepts the reality that a quick reconciliation will not take place. He
sends word to the governors of the remaining Union states that the U.S. must assemble
a formidable army.

It was the opinion of most people of the time, both Northerners and Southerners, was
that the war would be a very short one. At the onset, it was unthinkable that the war
could possibly rage on for the next four years!

The Confederacy Gains New States:

After the shelling of Ft. Sumter, four more Southern states join the Confederacy:

Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas, and Tennessee, joined the Confederacy.

The War Begins:

After Ft. Sumter, both sides are confident of an early victory. In May 1861, Union troops
crossed the Potomac River, captured Alexandria, Virginia, and moved into northwest

The First Battle of Bull Run - Manassas, Virginia

• July 1861, Manassas, Virginia, a main railroad junction that is strategically
important to the Union Army and to the Confederacy, as well (just 25 miles from
Washington D.C.!).

• The Confederacy originally chose its capital to be Montgomery, Alabama, but

they later decided to change it to Richmond, Virginia. The Confederate
Congress was scheduled to begin meeting on July 20, 1861 at the new location
of their capital, in Richmond.

• Someone in the North thought it would be a good idea to send Union soldiers
down to Manassas and engage the Confederate army that was there. If this
worked, the Union could pinch off the Confederate supply lines that ran through
the Manassas junction.

• It was assumed that there would be a Union victory, and that from Manassas, the
Union soldiers could make the (relatively) short march down to Richmond.
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• It was believed that by taking control of Richmond, the Confederate Congress
would not be able to convene, that this would throw the Confederacy into chaos,
and as the result, it would be easy to bring the war to a quick end.

First Major Battle of the Civil War:

• On July 21, 1861, at Manassas, more specifically, at a small stream called Bull
Run, the FIRST MAJOR BATTLE of the Civil War took place.

• 35,000 (mostly inexperienced) Union troops, led by General Irvin McDowell,

would go up against a smaller Confederate contingent of about 20,000 men (also
quite inexperienced) that was commanded by General Pierre G.T. Beauregard.

• At first, it looked like a victory would be won by the Union, however, the battle
seemed to play out rather slowly. This enabled Beauregard to contact General
Joseph Johnson, in the nearby Shenandoah Valley. Johnson sent 11,000 men to
reinforce General Beauregard.

• As the fighting intensified, the tide turned against McDowell and his men. By this
time, there was incredible carnage on the battlefield. What was left of the Union
army turned around and began running away from the enemy in a disorganized

• No one was prepared for what they might experience on the battlefield that day.
Bodies, and parts of bodies were everywhere.

• The Southerners were too stunned to give chase. The Confederacy had gained
an important victory.

• The Union counted 460 dead, more than 1,100 wounded, and more than 1,300

• The Confederacy put its losses at 378 dead, 1,500 wounded, and 30 missing.

McClellan’s Appointment:
After Bull Run, President Lincoln replaced McDowell with General George B. McCllelan
as commander of the newly created Army of the Potomac. As the war would progress,
McClellan would be categorized as one who tended to over estimate enemy strength,
and one who proceeded with extreme caution. For these traits, he would find himself in
conflict with Commander in Chief, Lincoln.

The Border States:

Although militarily, most of 1861 is considered to have been a stalemate, the North was
successful in securing the border states of Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky, and Missouri,
even though there were pockets of secessionists within these states.
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Maryland was important because of its proximity to Washington D.C. Baltimore was
important because it was a major railroad link to the midwest. Kentucky and Missouri
were important to the North because they controlled the approaches to the Mississippi,
Tennessee, and Cumberland river valleys, through which the Union could use to
penetrate the South.

Divided States:
Secessionist governments were actually established in Kentucky and Missouri, but
these states officially remained in the Union. This means that the residents of these two
states were split on the issues of slavery and secession.

The western counties of Virginia chose to split from eastern Virginia. Virginia became
part of the Confederacy, West Virginia chose to become part of the Union, and was
admitted into the United States in 1863. That’s why today, we have the separate states
of Virginia, and West Virginia.

The Seven Days’ Battle - Virginia
In the spring of 1862, General McClellan, with an army of 100,000 men launches an
offensive, designed to take the Confederate capital of Richmond. In the Battle of Fair
Oaks and Seven Pines Confederate General Joseph Johnson is wounded and Robert
E. Lee is sent in to take command the Army of Northern Virginia.

The over-cautious McClellan, overestimates the enemy strength and halts his march to
Richmond, and requests reinforcements before attacking. Around the same time,
Confederate General, “Stonewall” Jackson moves an army within close proximity of
Washington D.C. The North, believing that Jackson’s troops might attack, deny
McClellan’s request for reinforcements and keep those troops close to the capital.

General Jackson retreats and reinforces Robert E. Lee near Richmond, giving Lee a
force of 85,000 men to attack McClellan. This becomes known as the Seven Days’
Battle. Although neither side was able to claim a clear victory, McClellan ends up
retreating, leaving Richmond under Confederate control.

Second Battle of Bull Run

On August 28-30, 1862, in the Second Battle of Bull Run, the combine Confederate
forces of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and James Longstreet inflicted heavy
casualties on Union troops, which once again, sends them reeling back to Washington

Battle of Antietam - Maryland

In September of 1862, Robert E. Lee, with 50,000 troops, startled the North by invading
Maryland. His goal was to demoralize the North and to prove to foreign nations that the
Confederacy was solid, and that it and should be recognized. Once again, in what
becomes the Battle of Antietam, McClellan, with a force of 90,000, goes head to head
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with Lee. It is estimated that Northern casualties totaled 12,000 killed or wounded, and
Confederate casualties totaled 12,700 killed or wounded. Lee was forced to retreat
back to Virgina. Surprisingly, McClellan made no attempt to cut off Lee’s retreat. This
angered President Lincoln, who in turn relieved McClellan from his command.

Battle of Fredericksburg - Virginia

In Late 1862, the Army of the Potomac, this time commanded by General Ambrose
Burnside, attempts to take Richmond. The Confederate defenses are too much for the
North. At Fredericksburg, Virginia, the Union suffers more than 10,000 killed or
wounded and retreats back to Washington D.C. For this failure, General Burnside is
relieved of his command.

Union Success at Ft. Henry and Ft. Donelson – Tennessee

General U.S. Grant comes up with a plan to split the Confederacy in two, by taking
control of the Mississippi Valley. This cuts off the flow of Confederate men and supplies
from Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas. With the support of some ironclad ships, Grant is
able to capture Ft. Henry (February 6, 1862) and Ft. Donelson (February 16, 1862),
both in Tennessee. This gives the Union strategic control of the Mississippi River.

The Capture of New Orleans - Louisiana

In April of 1862, Admiral David Farragut penetrates Confederate defenses at the mouth
of the Mississippi and forces the surrender of New Orleans.
The Emancipation Proclamation
In looking back on the Civil War, one might incorrectly assume that the Union was
fighting the South to end the institution of slavery. In actuality, the North was at war with
the South because of the belief that it was unconstitutional to secede. President Lincoln
believed that he was bound by the Constitution to reunite the South with the North, by
any means.

In a letter to Horace Greeley, an abolitionist newspaper editor, President Lincoln

expressed his views about abolition as a Civil War objective, when he wrote:

“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not to either
save or destroy slavery…”

On a personal level, Lincoln was opposed to slavery. As president, however, he felt that
he lacked the legal authority to abolish it. By 1862, it was clear that slave labor was an
economic tool that the Confederacy was effectively using for its war effort. Every slave
working in a field or in a factory was thus producing something of value that could be
used directly against the North, or that could be converted into cash for the purchase of
war supplies, weapons and ammunition. Although not an original objective of the
Northern war strategy, freeing the slaves became a Lincoln decision that slowly
developed, as the war progressed.

In the fall of 1862, as Lee retreated south from Antietam, Lincoln announced that on
January 1, 1863, slaves in areas of rebellion against the government of the U.S. would
be free.
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The Emancipation Proclamation - continued
When January 1, 1863 arrived, President Lincoln formalized the Emancipation
Proclamation by writing:

“I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me
vested as Commander-in-Chief, …in time of actual armed rebellion against the
authority and government of the United States, and as fit and necessary war
measure for suppressing said order and declare that all persons
held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are and
henceforward shall be free…”

Students should understand that the Emancipation Proclamation only applied to places
that were under Confederate control. The Proclamation did nothing to free slaves in
enslaved border states, nor did it free slaves living in the South where the Union had
taken control, thus, it should be noted that the Emancipation Proclamation did not bring
an immediate end to slavery.

Immediate Effects of the Emancipation Proclamation:

1. Slaves in Confederate controlled territory were motivated to escape to freedom in
the North.

2. It encouraged African Americans to join the Union Army in its fight against the

3. By 1865, nearly 180,000 African Americans had enlisted in the Union army.

4. In total, African Americans comprised 10% of the troops that served in the Union

Battle of Vicksburg - Mississippi

May – July 1863: U.S. Grant attacks the last remaining Confederate stronghold in the
west, Vicksburg. The Confederate defenses are too strong for Grant to break, and he is
unsuccessful in his attack. Grant is able to regroup, and in a second assault on
Vicksburg, he prevails. With the taking of Vicksburg, the Union has fully accomplished
its objective of splitting the Confederacy.

Battle of Chancellorsville - Virginia

By 1863, General “Fighting Joe” Hooker is in command of the Union’s Army of the
Potomac. With an army of 130,000 he prepares to engage Lee, whose strength is
about 60,000 men at that time, at Fredericksburg. Hooker attempts to flank Lee’s army,
which turns out to be an unsuccessful maneuver. Hooker is then forced to retreat to
nearby Chancellorsville, where a three-day battle ensues. Hooker suffers heavy losses
and retreats fully from the area. Lee ends up losing 1/5 of his men. He also loses
Stonewall Jackson, who was considered to be a brilliant general.
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Battle of Gettysburg - Pennsylvania
Encouraged by his victory at Chancellorsville, Lee advances his army into Northern
territory. He hopes to win a major northern battle, in order to set the stage for a
negotiated peace between the Union and the Confederacy. In June, 1863, a
Confederate army of 75,000 men reaches southern Pennsylvania. Once again, it is the
Army of the Potomac that responds. This time under the command of General George
Meade, with a Union strength of approximately 85,000. The two massive armies of Lee
and Meade converge near the small town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The fighting
begins on July 1, 1893, and lasts for 3 days. Many historians cite Gettysburg as the
battle that turned the tide of the Civil War.

At Gettysburg, Lee’s judgment and tactical errors cost him the battle, and he is forced to
retreat back to Virginia. Although the war will rage on for nearly two more years, the
Confederate Army never fully recovers from the huge loss at Gettysburg.

The Gettysburg Address – November 19, 1863

When it was decided to dedicate a cemetery to the Union soldiers who had fought and
died at Gettysburg, President Lincoln was invited to deliver a speech, in order to fill out
the program. The key speaker was to be Edward Everett, who was the most famous
public speaker of the time. Mr. Everett’s speech went on for two hours. In contrast to
Everett, Lincoln delivered his remarks in a mere two minutes! Although short, President
Lincoln, in those two minutes, very succinctly reminded the listeners just exactly what
the Civil War fight was about.

The Gettysburg Address is the speech that begins with:

“Four Score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a
new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are
created equal…”

At the time, some did not comprehend the power in Lincoln’s short and simple address.
Mr. Everett, however seemed to grasp the eloquence of Lincoln’s speech. He
immediately sent a letter to the president, in which he wrote:

“I wish I…had come as near to the central idea of the occasion in two hours as
you did in two minutes.”

The Gettysburg Address has become one of the most quoted speeches in the English
language. It expresses both grief at the terrible cost of the war, as well as the reasons
for renewed efforts to preserve the Union and the noble principles for which it stands.

Battle of the Wilderness
In May, 1864, General Grant once again attempts to take Richmond. This time Grant’s
forces total 115,000 men, with Lee’s army at about 64,000. In May and June the two
armies engage in three major successive battles, beginning with the Battle of the
Wilderness. This two day battle is fought at virtually the same place as in the Battle of
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Chancellorsville, the year before. In the Battle of the Wilderness, Grant’s army takes
major casualties but does not retreat. Instead of retreat, Grant attempts to maneuver
his troops around the Confederates, in order to continue on to Richmond.

Battles at Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor

Two days after the Battle of the Wilderness, the Confederates catch up with Grant and
fighting begins on May 8, 1864 near the small town of Spotsylvania, Virginia. The
fighting plays out over a period of almost two weeks. Once again, Grant incurs heavy
losses, but he is able to continue a southward march towards Richmond.

By June, Grant has reached Cold Harbor, just 8 miles from Richmond. At dawn on June
3, Grant launches two direct charges against the heavily fortified Confederates. Grant
loses 7,000 men and must change direction.
Fighting at Petersburg
Unable to reach Richmond, or to defeat Lee’s army, Grant attempts to cut off a supply
line to Richmond by attacking the railroad town of Petersburg, Virginia. His hope is to
force a surrender by cutting off the supplies of food to Richmond. Although he virtually
destroys Petersburg, Grant’s attack fails. Beginning with the Battle of the Wilderness,
casualties to Grant’s army reaches 65,000. Even though Lee’s army is able to hold
against Grant, it becomes difficult for the Confederates to get replacement soldiers. In
essence, the South was running out of men.

Sherman Takes Atlanta

As Grant’s army advances against Robert E. Lee, General William T. Sherman moves a
Union army of 98,000 men from Chattanooga, Tennessee, south, towards Atlanta,
Georgia. His goal is force the Confederates to fight his army, in which case, he believes
he will prevail. Should the Confederates avoid an engagement, Sherman’s plan will be
to take control of Atlanta, which at that time is an important center of industry.

In an effort to slow down Sherman’s advance upon Atlanta, Confederate commander

Joseph Johnson employs a series of blocking maneuvers. Despite Johnson’s best
efforts, General Sherman is able get to within a few miles of Atlanta, where in July,
1864, he is met by a Confederate army under the command of General James Hood. A
series of battles unfold between the two armies, with Hood’s army incurring heavy
casualties. With his troop strength reduced from about 62,000 to 45,000 at the hands of
Sherman’s army, Hood retreats to Atlanta. By September, 1864, the Confederate army
is forced to abandon Atlanta.

Sherman’s March to the Sea

After taking Atlanta, General Sherman receives permission from Ulysses Grant to
capture the port of Savannah, Georgia. Before leaving Atlanta, he orders the city to be
evacuated and burned. With Atlanta in ruins, Sherman marches a force of 62,000
Union soldiers the 300 miles to Savannah. By destroying bridges, factories, and
railroad lines along the way, he leaves a trail of destruction behind. The small
Confederate force at Savannah flee before Sherman’s arrival. On December 21, 1864,
Sherman’s army is able to enter the city without having to fight its way in.
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The Election of 1864
As the Election of 1864 approached, Lincoln, running for reelection, was concerned that
the war was not going well, and that this reality would cause his defeat. Furthermore,
members of his own party split off to form the “Radical Republicans,” and launch a
candidate to run against the president. In an ironic twist, another candidate who runs
against Lincoln, is General George McClellan, who Lincoln had earlier removed as
commander of the Army of the Potomac. This becomes McClellan’s chance to even the
score with his former boss. As the election plays out, Sherman’s capture of Atlanta
changes the political climate in the north, which helps Lincoln to win reelection with
90% of the total electoral vote.

The Thirteenth Amendment
In February 1865, three months after Lincoln’s reelection, Congress passes the 13th
Amendment, which outlaws the institution of slavery in the United States of America.
Looking Ahead
In his Second Inaugural Address, Lincoln speaks of how slavery had divided the nation.
Included in his speech, was language aimed towards reconciliation and reunification
with the South. It seems that he was looking ahead, towards an overall Union victory,
and was thinking about what the best course of action would be for the country, once
the fighting was over.

Sherman’s Takes the Carolinas

In February 1865, General Sherman sets out to take South Carolina. Since South
Carolina was the first state to secede the Union, the idea is to lay conquer to the most
treasonous of the Confederate states. Sherman’s goal is to destroy the South’s
remaining resources and to demoralize the South. He accomplished both goals. Once
in South Carolina, he utilized the same destructive tactics of burning virtually everything
in sight.

On February 17, 1865, Sherman’s forces enters Columbia, the capital of South
Carolina, whereupon half of the city is burned to the ground. By this stage of the Civil
War, there is very little left of the Confederate army, but Sherman will have to fight
General Johnson before completely taking North Carolina.

Surrender at Appomattox
By April of 1865, General Grant was attempting to put the final nail in the coffin of the
Lee’s army, and thereby force the Confederates to give up completely. What was left of
the Confederate fighting force, was approximately 35,000 poorly supplied men in and
around the Confederate capital of Richmond. With Grant in pursuit of Lee’s army, Lee
tries to avoid heavy battle contact, and attempts to slip around Grant’s army. On April 9,
1865, Lee’s army arrives at the small Virginia town of Appomattox Court House. At
Appomattox, Grant is finally able to surround Lee. Realizing that he has no way out,
Lee forces himself to do what he truly dreads as he says:

“There is nothing left for me to do but go and see General Grant, and I would rather die
a thousand deaths.”
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When Generals Grant and Lee meet, the terms of surrender are discussed and agreed
upon. Grant informs Lee that in return for his surrender, Lee and his men can takes
their horses and mules, and go home; that they would not be punished as traitors as
long as they obeyed the laws where they lived. The two men signed the surrender
papers and Lee rode away. When Union soldiers begin firing canon rounds in
celebration, Grant orders them to stop, as a matter of respect to the beaten Confederate
soldiers, who “…are our countrymen again.”.

Lincoln is Assassinated
Tragically, Abraham Lincoln did not live to see the official end of the Civil War. On April
14, 1865, while attending a play at Ford’s Theater in Washington D.C., the president
was shot and killed by Southern sympathizer, John Wilkes Booth.

Booth escaped the theater but was chased by soldiers who caught up with him on a
Virginia farm. Booth dies of a gunshot wound, and it is not clear whether or not the
bullet came from one of the soldiers, or from Booth’s own gun.
Lincoln’s Funeral Train
It is decided to ship the body of the dead president from Washington D.C. to the
president’s hometown of Springfield, Illinois. As the train that carried the body of Lincoln
made the trip, it stopped at towns along the way where millions of people came out pay
their last respects to the president who had led the nation through the Civil War.

The Legacy of Lincoln

• Lincoln accomplished his goal of reuniting the United States.

• With the passage of the 13th Amendment, Lincoln was instrumental in bringing a
permanent end to the institution of slavery in the U.S.

• Lincoln’s plan for reconstruction quickly restored the Southern economy, which
ultimately strengthened America.

- End of Lecture -
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