BECK index

Lincoln’s War for Emancipation in 1864

by Sanderson Beck

US Civil War January-February 1864
US Civil War March-April 1864
US Civil War May-June 1864
US Civil War July-August 1864
US Civil War September-October 1864
US Civil War November-December 1864

United States & Civil War 1845-1868 has been published as a book. For ordering information, please click here.

US Civil War January-February 1864

      January 1864 began with cold weather and soldiers staying in their tented cabins or gathered around campfires. By January 1 the bronze statue of the Goddess of Liberty had been installed on top of the Capitol dome in Washington. The United States Congress on 23 December 1863 had passed a resolution to end on January 5 the $300 bounty that had been given for those volunteering for the army, but on the 5th President Abraham Lincoln sent a letter to the Congress asking them to extend the bounties at least until February 1.
      On January 11 the Unionist US Senator from Missouri John B. Henderson introduced a joint resolution to abolish slavery by amending the US Constitution. The next day General Sherman and War Secretary Stanton met with 20 black leaders in Savannah, Georgia to discuss the future of former slaves. On the 13th Lincoln wrote a letter to General Nathaniel Banks encouraging him to proceed with the idea that the general had suggested of organizing a government in Louisiana as a free state, and the President directed him to cooperate with the Collector Dennison at New Orleans.
      Also on January 13 Senator Charles Sumner became the chairman of the new Committee on Slavery and Freedmen. On February 9 he presented the first 100,000 signatures gathered by Susan B. Anthony and the Women’s Loyal National League. Sumner then proposed a constitutional amendment to declare, “All persons are equal before the law, so that no person can hold another as a slave.”1 Thus he introduced the phrase “equal before the law” to America which he had found in the 1791 French Declaration of the Rights of Man.
      The most popular American songwriter of this era Stephen Foster died in poverty on January 14 at the age of 37. Many of his songs were written for popular minstrel shows in which white performers put on black-face and made fun of stereotyped Negroes. In 1857 he sold the rights to all his future songs for $1,900. Foster wrote more than 200 songs, and some consider his last song “Beautiful Dreamer” his best.
      In western North Carolina, eastern Tennessee, and northwestern Georgia those favoring the Union met on January 18 to discuss opposing the Confederate conscription law, and three days later a meeting in Nashville proposed abolishing slavery in Tennessee.
      The Unionist Isaac Murphy had opposed secession for Madison County in February 1861, and on the 22nd Arkansas inaugurated him as the provisional governor. Yet on the same day Lincoln told the Arkansas delegation that he entrusted General Steele as the commander of both the military and civil administration of the state.
      On January 31 the Confederate Congress required that those who had paid for a substitute must serve in the army. They wanted to form their own units, but the government in Richmond would not permit that.
      On February 1 Lincoln called for the conscription of 500,000 more men on March 10 for three years or to the end of the war. Many in the infantry in Virginia were resisting re-enlistment after their first three years were ending. Grant made it clear he had no interest in running for President in 1864, and in February the Congress revived the rank of Lt. General so that he could be made the third in US history after George Washington and Winfield Scott.
      The southern economy was suffering as the Confederacy was lacking many things. Commissary-General Northrop in Richmond was hiring women, old men, and disabled soldiers to replace the men who were sent to the army. On February 3 President Davis asked the Confederate Congress to suspend the writ of habeas corpus so that he could restrain “citizens of well-known disloyalty” trying to bring about treason. Both senators from Georgia voted against that bill, and Vice President Stephens accused Davis of “aiming at absolute power.”
      On February 3 General William T. Sherman left Vicksburg with 26,000 Union infantry and about 7,000 cavalry under General William Sooy Smith who came from Memphis on the way to Meridian, Mississippi as they wrecked railroads and disrupted supplies bound for Confederate armies. General Leonidas Polk and about 20,000 Confederate soldiers tried to confront them at Champion’s Hill, Edward’s Ferry, and Bolton Depot. They skirmished against opposing forces at Brandon, Morton, and Satartia on the 7th as Polk’s army retreated. Sherman’s Meridian campaign would go on until February 27 destroying about 115 miles of railroad track, 61 bridges, and 20 locomotives, which the Confederacy could not replace, while they lost only 21 dead, 68 wounded, and 81 missing.
      On February 9 Col. Thomas E. Rose led 109 Union officers who escaped from Libby Prison in Richmond as 48 were recaptured and 2 drowned. The other 59 including Col. Streight made it to Union lines.
      After marching 140 miles Sherman’s army entered Meridian on February 14, and they freed slaves and captured farm animals. In the next five days about 10,000 men destroyed railroads, warehouses, shops, arsenals, supply depots, and other buildings.
      On the 16th the USS Octorana, the USS J.P. Jackson, and six mortar schooners began bombarding Fort Powell by Mobile, Alabama. The next day near Charleston the USS Housatonic became the first ship to be sunk in combat by a submarine, the Confederate H.L. Hunley. On the 18th Lincoln proclaimed that the port of Brownsville, Texas was opened for commerce, but military-related issues and articles were excepted.
      On February 17 the Confederate Congress passed a law extending conscription to men from the age of 17 to 50, but many class exemptions were retained. Vice President Stephens called the draft “radically wrong in principle.”
      Lincoln’s secretary John Hay went to Florida to get the 10% needed to readmit the state, and Hay invested $500 in Florida land. This could help Lincoln politically. On February 20 near Olustee, Florida a Union force of 5,500 men that included the 8th US Colored Troops fought about 5,000 Confederates. The Union forces then retreated to Jacksonville. The expedition led by General Truman Seymour had accomplished little besides destroying property, and 296 men were killed with 1,993 wounded. Several newspapers criticized Lincoln for sacrificing a thousand lives so that he could have three more votes for the Presidency. The Washington Chronicle, the New York Times, and Harper’s Weekly argued that war is murder and that the killing in Florida was like other manslaughters in battle. Lincoln felt hurt by this and prayed, “O Lord, if it is all the same to you, give us a little more light and a little less noise!”2
      US Senator Samuel C. Pomeroy of Kansas sent out a circular advocating Secretary Salmon Chase for President to a hundred prominent Republicans. Chase sent a letter to Lincoln claiming he knew nothing about it until it was printed in the Constitutional Union on February 20.
      On the 22nd Louisiana white voters restored a Union government by electing Michael Hahn their governor. Lincoln then appointed him Military Governor so that he could call out troops. On March 16 Louisiana’s new Secretary of State Wrotnowski proclaimed that a constitutional convention would be held in April.
      Near Memphis about 6,000 Union cavalry led by General W. S. Smith fought General Nathan Bedford Forrest who had 2,500 men and lost 110; but Sherman was angry that Smith fled from the smaller force on February 21 and 22. In the campaign Smith’s cavalry lost 388 men. Sherman’s army marched back to Vicksburg with more than 5,000 fugitive slaves. Sherman met with General Banks in New Orleans and loaned him 10,000 soldiers for a month, but according to Sherman the lack of cooperation from the Arkansas Department commander General Frederick Steele and Banks’ timidity would make his Red River campaign a failure.
      On February 24 the US Congress passed Legislation Providing Noncombatant Service for Conscientious Objectors. Those conscientiously opposed to bearing arms when drafted were to be considered non-combatants and were to be assigned to duty in hospitals or to the care of freedmen, or they had to pay $300 to benefit sick and wounded soldiers. To qualify one’s deportment had to be consistent with one’s declaration. Some Friends (Quakers) refused to work in hospitals or with freed slaves or pay $300 because they believed that the government did not have the right to violate their conscience by exacting a penalty on those who elect to obey God rather than man.
      President Lincoln pardoned many deserters who had been sentenced to death. On February 26 he commuted the sentences of all deserters to imprisonment during the war at Dry Tortugas, Florida, and he authorized commanding generals to restore them to duty in special cases.
      Lincoln believed that a constitutional amendment to abolish slavery would be worth a million more soldiers in the war effort; but an amendment had to be ratified by three-quarters of the states, and he calculated that they would need Nevada to become a state. Lincoln directed Assistant Secretary of War Charles A. Dana to persuade politicians to support the admission of Nevada. On February 24 the US Senate authorized a Nevada convention to meet on July 4 to organize a government with a constitution. Lincoln had Dana offer two appointments as revenue collectors and one for a customhouse position that was worth $20,000 a year.
      On February 27 the Confederacy opened Camp Sumter near Americus, Georgia for Union prisoners that would later be called Andersonville Prison. The next day Union General Judson Kilpatrick led 3,500 Union cavalry across the Rapidan River with Col. Ulric Dahlgren to try to free Union prisoners in Richmond.
      Lincoln loved Shakespeare, and his favorite play was Macbeth. He also studied King Lear, Richard III, Henry VIII, and Hamlet. Edwin Booth was the son of the famous actor Junius Booth and older brother of John Wilkes Booth. Edwin played the leading roles in several Shakespeare plays in Washington in late February and early March including Hamlet, Richard III, and as Brutus with his brothers in Julius Caesar and as Shylock in The Merchant of Venice.

US Civil War March-April 1864

      The Union’s Red River campaign began with Admiral D. D. Porter sending a reconnaissance fleet up the Black and Ouachita rivers in Louisiana on March 1. Confederate cavalry led by General Fitzhugh Lee pursued them, and the next day ambushed them at Mantapike Hill, killing Admiral John Dahlgren’s son Ulric and capturing about 100 men.
      On March 4 the US Senate confirmed Andrew Johnson as Military Governor of Tennessee, and Michael Hahn was inaugurated as Governor of Louisiana. The next day the Confederacy required blockade runners to carry half their cargo for the government, and they put General John Breckinridge in command of the West Virginia Department. In Richmond rumors accused Ulric Dahlgren of plotting to assassinate President Davis, and they had papers as proof. On March 7 Davis urged General Longstreet to invade Kentucky, but he refused to do so without reinforcements.
      General Grant reached Washington on March 8 and was welcomed by Lincoln at his weekly reception. The next day the President with his Cabinet commissioned Grant as Lt. General and the day after that as commander of all armies of the United States. Grant asked that General Halleck be his chief of staff, and Lincoln agreed. Grant met with General Meade to discuss the Army of the Potomac and then took a train to Nashville to meet on March 17 with Sherman who replaced Grant as commander of the West and was accompanied by the generals James McPherson, John A. Logan, Philip Sheridan, and Grenville Dodge. Grant told Sherman that Lincoln agreed not to interfere with his plans and to let him control the commissary, quartermaster, ordnance, and other staff.
      On March 12 Admiral Porter sent more than 20 ships up the Red River and into the Atchafalaya River, and two days later they bombarded and captured Fort De Russy. Nine ships helped land Union soldiers who occupied Alexandria, Louisiana on the 16th.
      In Arkansas more than 12,000 citizens who had sworn allegiance to the Union voted overwhelmingly on March 14-16 for a constitution, and the former schoolteacher and lawyer Isaac Murphy, who opposed secession, was elected governor with 12,430 votes.
      Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens had resided in Georgia in 1863. On 16 March 1864 he spoke to the Georgia legislature on civil rights, and his concerns were reported in the South and the North. He was concerned about the suspensions of the writ of habeas corpus by President Davis that gave the President, the War Secretary, and military commanders

the power to arrest and imprison any person
who may be simply charged with certain acts,
not all of them even crimes under any law.
And this is to be done without any oath or affirmation
alleging probable cause as to the guilt of the party….
In my judgment
this is not only unwise, impolitic, and unconstitutional
but exceedingly dangerous to public liberty….
It attempts to deprive the judiciary department
of its appropriate and legitimate functions.3

He was concerned that this could affect and wrongfully oppress loyal and good citizens, and he believed that it denied to citizens the right to “question whether he is liable to military duty under the laws tried and adjudicated by the courts.” He noted that if there were traitors, they could be “legally arrested by judicial warrant, upon oath or affirmation, setting forth probable cause.” He was especially troubled that conscription had been extended to all between the ages of 17 and 50.
      On March 18 Lincoln spoke at the Sanitary Commission fair in Washington praising American women for their service during the war. On March 19 Generals Grant and Sherman with Dodge took a train from Nashville to Cincinnati where they planned their campaigns to destroy the Confederacy. Their plan was for Grant’s army to go after General Lee and Sherman’s to attack General Joe Johnston. General George Thomas had 120,000 men in the Cumberland Department, but only about 60,000 could be mustered. Sherman with those and the armies of Tennessee and Ohio had 120,000 men which was twice what Johnston could muster. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia had 61,025 soldiers. General Lewis Wallace became commander of the Middle Department that included Maryland and the occupied portion of Virginia. General G. K. Warren, who had led the men to Little Round Top in the Gettysburg battle, was in command of the 5th Corps in the Army of the Potomac. Sherman’s army would need about a thousand railroad cars to transport the 1,300 tons of supplies every day to feed and outfit his army. In late March he closed the railways between Nashville and eastern Tennessee in order to use them only for military traffic.
      Lincoln wrote a letter to the New York Workingmen’s Democratic Republican Association on March 21 out of concern for working people who had been hanged in their city the previous summer, writing also, “The strongest bond of human sympathy, outside of the family relation, should be one uniting all working people, of all nations, and tongues, and kindreds.”4
      On March 25 the Confederate forces that included Forrest’s cavalry were repulsed in a heavy attack on Paducah, Kentucky. The next day Grant established his permanent headquarters at Brandy Station in Culpepper, Virginia. In Charleston, Illinois on March 28 about a hundred anti-war Democrats (Copperheads) clashed with Union soldiers on leave, resulting in 5 killed and 20 wounded.
      General Grant in April prepared his army of 535,000 men in 17 departments. Union advances required many troops to occupy the 100,000 square miles of conquered Confederate territory, and many divisions were stationed in the border slave states. On February 17 the Confederate Congress had forced its army veterans of three years to re-enlist. The US Congress did not do that, but they offered 3-year veterans who re-enlisted a chevron patch on the sleeve, 30 days furlough, a $400 federal bonus on top of state and local bounties, and regiments in which three-quarters of the men re-enlisted would retain their unit identity. About 136,000 of these 3-year Union veterans re-enlisted, but around 100,000 did not. The Army of the Potomac had suffered the most casualties, and only half re-enlisted. Many of the new recruits soon deserted, and Grant complained that only one out of five was an “effective soldier.” He hoped to win the war before the November election. On April 4 General Philip Sheridan was put in command of the cavalry of the Army of the Potomac.
      General Nathaniel Banks was ordered to take Mobile and move north in Alabama, but the Lincoln administration decided to send them up the Red River in Louisiana instead. On April 8 Banks led about 12,000 Union forces who were defeated by 14,000 Confederates under General Richard Taylor at Sabine Crossroads in Mansfield, Louisiana. The rebels suffered more killed and wounded, but they captured 1,541 Union soldiers. The next day they attacked the US Federals at Pleasant Hill, and both sides had about equal losses. US Col. Joseph Bailey directed thousands of soldiers that included many lumberjacks who cut down trees and built dams, cribs, and chutes to raise the water seven feet to get boats through the rapids of the Red River on May 1. The army of Banks would not get back to southern Louisiana until May 26. This enabled 15,000 Confederate troops in Alabama to reinforce General Johnston in Georgia, and Sherman did not get back the 10,000 men he had loaned to Banks for one month. The Red River campaign was a failure, and Grant persuaded Lincoln to replace General Banks with General Canby. Then Lincoln appointed Banks to work on reconstruction in Louisiana.
      Alexander Long of Ohio was a “free-soil” Democrat who was elected to the House of Representatives in 1862. He led peace Democrats who were called “Copperheads,” and on 8 April 1864 he gave a speech in which he proposed making peace by recognizing the independence of the Confederacy. Speaker Colfax moved to expel Long. Then Benjamin Harris of Maryland, another peace Democrat, agreed with Long. Washburne had the clerk read the words of Harris and urged expelling him too. Fernando Wood of New York also gave a speech in support of Long’s views. After weeks of arguing, the House voted 81 to 58 to expel them, but a two-thirds vote was required. Then by a vote of 93-18 they “severely censured” Long.
      Also on April 8 the United States Senate approved by a vote of 38 to 6 a joint resolution for a 13th amendment to the US Constitution to abolish slavery. Senator Sumner argued that Congress could eliminate slavery and that it would be constitutional by the general welfare clause, the 5th amendment, and the guarantee that each state must have a republican government. Senator Trumbull’s proposed amendment preferred to use the language of the 1787 Northwest Ordinance, but the US House failed to get a two-thirds vote. Sumner also wanted to repeal all the laws that supported slavery especially the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. He criticized the segregated street cars in Washington DC, but Henry Lane of Indiana argued that it is better to keep whites and blacks separate. Yet white men interfered with cars used by colored people.
      On April 9 General Grant ordered General Meade’s Army of the Potomac to follow Robert E. Lee’s army wherever they go.
      On April 12 General Bedford Forrest’s 2,000 cavalry attacked Fort Pillow by the Mississippi River in Tennessee and probably killed about 350 Union soldiers including almost all the 262 Negro troops, many while the 577 defending the fort were trying to surrender. On the 18th Lincoln spoke at the Sanitary Fair in Baltimore, and he informed them that his government would investigate the Fort-Pillow affair thoroughly. Senator Ben Wade and Rep. Daniel Gooch of Massachusetts interviewed witnesses and reported that at least 300 people were murdered after the defenders had surrendered.
      On the 17th Grant announced that he would permit no more prisoner exchanges until the Confederates agreed to trade them one for one with no distinction whatever between white and colored prisoners. Very few black prisoners were sold into slavery; but the Confederacy returned captured slaves to their owners, and they refused to exchange black prisoners. Thus the number of prisoners of war would increase greatly during the last year of the war. An estimated 194,743 Union soldiers were held in Confederate prisons, and 30,218 of them died. Northern prisons had 214,865 Confederate fighters, and 25,976 died. At the notorious Andersonville Prison in Georgia about 13,000 of the 45,000 prisoners died, but the highest death rate was 77% at Rock Island, Illinois.
      In four days of fighting ending in the garrison’s surrender on April 20 about 4,500 Confederates defeated the 2,500 Union soldiers at Plymouth in eastern North Carolina. The Union no longer could defend Washington County, and many left.
      On April 30 Lincoln ordered a pardon of 25 Sioux who were imprisoned at Camp McClellan near Davenport, Iowa so that they could return to their families.

US Civil War May-June 1864

      In the Confederacy inflation and the depreciating currency caused starvation in cities while those in the country had plenty of food. The Second Confederate Congress began their first session on May 2 while the Confederacy did not have recognition by any foreign nation. President Davis hoped for military victories and accused Union forces of attacking civilians. The Union prisoners captured at Plymouth, North Carolina were delivered to the Confederate prison at Andersonville. War Secretary Stanton in May reduced rations for Confederate prisoners to be the same as what Confederate soldiers got and what Union prisoners were supposed to get. By June starving prisoners at Andersonville were robbing and killing so often that prisoners informed Commandant Henry Wirz they would riot if they were not allowed to organize police to enforce regulations. He agreed, and after a trial on July 5 they sentenced many and hanged six gang leaders. This reduced murder but not stealing. Daily death tolls increased from about 150 a day in July to more than 220 in August. The prisoner John L. Ransom wrote in his Anderson Diary on July 20 that he was “troubled with poor sight, together with scurvy and dropsy. My teeth are all loose and it is with difficulty I can eat.”5
      On May 3 General Grant ordered General Meade to move the Army of the Potomac across the Rapidan River, and he did so the next day heading for the Wilderness crossroads. This Union army had 122,000 men trying to confront Lee’s army of 66,000. General Sherman’s army of 98,000 was heading toward Joe Johnston’s Confederate army at Dalton, Georgia. On the 5th US General Warren’s 5th Corps fought General Ewell’s Confederate 2nd Corps at the Orange Turnpike. The next day Confederate General Longstreet attacked a Union flank, and on the second try he was severely wounded. Grant smoked cigars while the Union Army of 101,895 men suffered 17,666 casualties compared to Lee’s loss of 11,033 in the Wilderness. The Union soldier Frank Wilkinson wrote in his Recollections that fires in the forest caused many of the wounded to suffocate from the smoke or perish in the flames.
      Also on May 5 Union General Ben Butler had landed 39,000 troops on the north side of the Appomattox River mouth. In the next three days they tried to take over the Richmond & Petersburg Railroad but could not hold the line. On May 12 Butler’s army invested Drewry’s Bluff by the James River; but General Beauregard’s 10,000 Confederates forced them to retreat, and Butler after reconnoitering had his men camp.
      On May 7 General Sherman’s three armies led by generals Thomas with over 60,000 men, McPherson with 30,000, and Schofield with 17,000 attacked Johnston’s army of 60,000 men at Rocky Face Ridge near Dalton, Georgia for five days; but total casualties were only 1,437 before Johnston withdrew his army to Resaca on May 12. On the 17th Sherman’s force of 4,174 men defeated 4,477 of Johnston’s Confederates at Cassville.
      General Robert E. Lee moved his Confederate army to Spotsylvania to dig in defensive positions by May 9. The next day Grant’s army of about 105,000 men attacked about half of Lee’s force. On May 11 Sheridan’s cavalry began a circuit around Lee’s army, and in a battle against the Confederate cavalry Jeb Stuart was killed. On the 12th in the Bloody Angle battle total casualties on that day were 17,000, and the Union captured 3,000 rebels. On May 15 at New Market in Shenandoah County John Breckenridge’s Confederate force of 4,087 men including 247 cadets from the Virginia Military Institute forced General Franz Sigel’s Union army of 6,245 to retreat. The Spotsylvania fighting went on until May 21. Grant’s army had more than twice as many killed and wounded as the Confederates; but Confederates had 4,000 men captured out of 5,700 missing compared to 2,258 missing Federals. The total numbers were about 4,200 killed and more than 19,000 wounded.
      On May 26 the Montana Territory was formed out of what had become the Idaho Territory in 1863. That year Lincoln had appointed the Republican Sidney Edgerton the Chief Justice of the Idaho Territory. The President named him the governor of the Montana Territory on 22 June 1864, and the town of Bannack became the capital.
      On May 27 Sherman sent General Howard’s 4th Corps of 14,000 men against Cleburne’s Confederate division at Pickett’s Mill. The rebels were prepared and inflicted more than three times as many casualties on the Union force. Confederate General John Hunt Morgan with his cavalry invaded Kentucky on May 30.
      Grant’s army in the month of May maneuvered Lee’s army into gradually retreating south toward Richmond while Sherman’s army pushed Johnston’s Army of Tennessee south toward Atlanta. By May 31 Lee’s army of about 60,000 was in the area of Cold Harbor where they fought against Grant’s army of more than 110,000 for 13 days. On June 3 the Union army suffered 7,000 casualties, but the Confederates lost less than 1,500. Later in his Memoirs Grant regretted making those assaults in the first three days, and he admitted, “No advantage whatever was gained for the heavy loss we sustained.”6 On June 5 Grant and Lee began negotiating a truce in order to retrieve wounded men; but Lee suspected they would spy on his positions, and the truce did not become effective until June 7. By then Grant found that only two wounded men left on the field for four days had survived. The Union army could afford to lose more men, and at Cold Harbor their casualties were about 13,000 compared to some 5,000 rebel losses; but neither side won.
      On May 31 about 350 Radical Democrats including Frederick Douglass, Wendell Philips, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton gathered at Cleveland, and they nominated for US President John C. Frémont with New York Attorney General John Cochrane for Vice President. Most of the War Democrats and Peace Democrats did not support this Radical Democracy Party which would dissolve in September to support President Lincoln.
      Conventions in 14 states had declared their preference to renominate Lincoln for a second term by the end of February 1864. On June 8 the Republicans called their meeting at Baltimore the National Union convention and nominated Lincoln again for US President. On the first ballot he got 484 votes to 22 from Missouri for Grant, and then they made it unanimous. Lincoln let them decide on his running mate, and they nominated Andrew Johnson of Tennessee, a state which the Republicans had accepted in their convention along with delegates from Louisiana and Arkansas, though the US Senate had rejected the two senators elected in Arkansas. Seward’s men had promoted the acceptance of those states so that they would help nominate the southerner Johnson to prevent nomination of a New Yorker who would endanger Seward’s position by too much influence from New York in the Cabinet. Their platform emphasized the war, the Union, and the US Constitution, and they pledged to quell the rebellion. They planned to end slavery with a constitutional amendment, and the next day Lincoln called for that amendment.
      Also on June 8 the Confederate raider Morgan captured the town of Mt. Sterling, Kentucky and its garrison and then robbed the bank of $18,000. At Brice’s Crossroads near Corinth, Mississippi on June 10 Bedford Forrest’s Confederate cavalry with 3,500 men defeated 8,000 Union cavalry led by General Sam Sturgis, taking 1,500 men, artillery, and 170 wagons filled with supplies. On June 12 Union forces in Kentucky beat Morgan’s raiders who fled toward Abingdon, Virginia.
      The large Army of the Potomac built a pontoon bridge and crossed the James River from June 12 to 18 and began the long siege of Petersburg on the 15th. The US Attorney General Bates persuaded the Congress to give Negro soldiers equal pay, and they passed it on June 15. They made it retroactive, and in September the Massachusetts 54th regiment received all their back pay. On the 20th the pay for all privates was increased from $13 per month to $16 with comparable raises for officers. President Lincoln spoke at a fundraiser for the Sanitary Commission in Philadelphia on June 16, and he declared that he would continue the war even if it took three more years.
      On June 15 General Benjamin Butler had sent 16,000 men led by General W. F. Smith against Beauregard’s army at Petersburg. The next day General Meade’s army reached Petersburg, and they attacked that evening and the next morning. After another fight on June 18 Grant ordered his men to rest. In four days of fighting the Union Army had lost 1,688 killed, 8,513 wounded, and 1,185 missing or captured while the Confederates had only 200 killed and 2,900 wounded with 900 missing. Butler put Clara Barton in charge of the nurses working for the Army of the James, and she became responsible for feeding 1,200 soldiers.
      In Richmond on June 14 the Confederate Congress raised taxes on property and income. Confederate state legislatures in 1863 had started exempting civil officials and militia officers from conscription, and issues of states’ rights were debated in 1864 especially by Georgians and North Carolinians.
      On June 15 the Peace Democrat Vallandigham returned to Ohio from his exile in Canada, and he advised people not to use armed resistance against Federal or State authorities.
      On the 17th Confederate forces led by generals Early and Breckinridge fought off attacks on Lynchburg, Virginia by General Hunter’s Union army.
      On the 19th the armored USS Kearsarge sank the CSS Alabama near Cherbourg, France while 15,000 watched from cliffs. In less than two years the Alabama had taken 65 prizes worth nearly $6 million.
      On June 22 Lee sent General A. P. Hill with an army that attacked Union forces at the Petersburg-Weldon railroad in North Carolina and took 1,700 prisoners. On the same day Sheridan’s cavalry stole 900 wagons full of supplies from a depot at White House north of the James River.
      Senator Sumner’s effort to repeal the Fugitive Slave Acts was accomplished by the US Congress on June 28. He also succeeded in getting the coastal slave trade outlawed and in opening the federal courts to black witnesses as Lincoln signed both those bills on July 4. Sumner and Lincoln had become close friends by the winter of 1863-64, and they spent much time together talking.
      On June 27 Sherman’s Union force of 16,225 was slightly outnumbered by Johnston’s men at Kennesaw Mountain in Georgia. In their attack they lost 3,000 men while the Confederates had only 1,000 casualties.
      During the battles of May and June each side was diminished by about the same percentage of their troops and managed to replace about half those losses. Grant’s army had lost nearly 54,926 men while Lee’s army was reduced by between 30,000 and 35,000.
      On June 30 President Lincoln finally accepted the resignation of Treasury Secretary Chase. Lincoln wanted to appoint the first war governor of Ohio, David Tod, but he declined. Also on the 30th the US Congress passed another Internal Revenue Act that raised the rates from the 1862 Act from 3% to 5% on income over $600 up to $10,000 and on income over that from 5% to 10%.
      The painter Francis Bicknell Carpenter worked on a portrait of Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation from February to July. Once while walking together he told Lincoln of a news story about an organized conspiracy of more than 500 men to assassinate him. Lincoln asked for details and then told Carpenter that he had received so many death threats that he had gotten used to them. Yet he did doubt that he would survive until the war was over.

US Civil War July-August 1864

      The radical Republicans, Senator Ben Wade of Maryland and Henry Winter Davis of Maryland, had presented a bill to guarantee the southern states rejoining the Union would have a republican form of government, and they changed Lincoln’s 10% vote needed from former secessionists to 50%. This would make reconciliation and reconstruction more difficult. The bill had come out of committee in February and would give Congress more influence on reconstruction than the President. The US Congress passed the bill on July 2 along with another that authorized Treasury agents to lease seized land for one year to benefit former slaves, and then they adjourned on the 4th. In response Lincoln issued his “Proclamation Concerning Reconstruction” on July 8 expressing his concern that the progress toward reconstruction in Arkansas and Louisiana would “be set aside and held for naught.” He indicated his support for an amendment to abolish slavery and declined to sign the Wade-Davis bill. Thus it died by what was called a “pocket veto.” Wade and Davis went on and issued their manifesto “To the Supporters of the Government” on August 4 denouncing Lincoln and supporting Republicans who wanted to nominate someone other than Lincoln. They wrote,

It was the solemn resolve of Congress to protect
the loyal men of the nation against three great dangers:
(1) the return to power of the guilty leaders of the rebellion;
(2) the continuance of slavery;
(3) the burden of the rebel debt.7

With Union advances in the war that was not to be, and Henry Davis himself did not get nominated and lost his seat in the House.
      On July 4 Republicans in the US Congress passed the Act to Encourage Immigration that created a Commissioner of Immigration to fill the need for more workers with so many men in the military. President Lincoln on July 5 made Senator William Fessenden of Maine the Secretary of the Treasury, and he also suspended habeas corpus in the state of Kentucky because of insurgent activities there.
      Confederate General Jubal Early had reached Harper’s Ferry by July 3, and three days later his 18,000 soldiers crossed the Potomac River near Frederick, Maryland. Early forced that town to pay $200,000 for damage done to the Shenandoah Valley. They were at the northern defenses for Washington DC only 5 miles from the city by July 11, and on that day they burned the home of US Postmaster General Montgomery Blair at Silver Spring, Maryland. Grant had rail lines built around Petersburg, and he ordered 6th Corps troops led by General Wright to go from City Point, Virginia by steamer to defend Washington.
      Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston retreated across the Chattahoochee River on July 10. General William Sherman ordered his cavalry to destroy the railroads around Atlanta, and they did so by turning rails into “Sherman neckties” by heating them in the middle and bending them around trees. General Schofield led a force upstream and used a pontoon bridge that enabled two divisions to cross the Chattahoochee River. Sherman‘s army crossed the Chattahoochee on the night of July 17.
      On July 10 Lincoln had written to General Grant asking him to make sure that enemies in the vicinity of Washington be destroyed. While Lincoln was visiting the ramparts of nearby Fort Stevens on July 12, he wanted to observe the sharpshooters; but Captain Oliver Wendell Holmes, not recognizing the President, shouted at him, “Get down you fool, before you get shot!” On July 17 Lincoln wrote to Grant asking him to avoid “great loss of life.” On the 18th Lincoln called for 50,000 more troops with deficiencies filled by a draft to begin on September 6. He also issued safe-conduct passes to those attempting to negotiate the restoration of peace. On the 19th Lincoln appointed three directors for the Union Pacific Railroad which was to run from the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean.
      On July 14 General Andrew Jackson Smith had led about 14,000 Union cavalry and defeated the usually victorious Bedford Forrest who lost 1,350 men out of 9,500. On the 17th the Confederate General Johnston got a telegram ordering him to give the command to General John B. Hood. President Davis had asked Robert E. Lee if Hood could do the job. Lee replied that Hood is a “bold fighter,” but he doubted that he had the “other qualities necessary.” On July 20 General Hood ordered an attack north of Atlanta on Union forces led by General Thomas who had 20,000 men and lost 1,800, but Confederate casualties were nearly 4,800. The major battle for Atlanta followed on the 22nd. Sherman’s army of 34,863 defeated Hood’s 40,438 with total casualties exceeding 9,000. The Union General McPherson was killed as was the Confederate General William H. T. Walker.
      Near Kernstown, Virginia on July 24 the Confederate generals Breckinridge and Early defeated a smaller Union force that suffered 1,200 of the 1,800 casualties.
      On July 27 Sherman replaced the late McPherson with General Otis Howard who the next day fought a larger Confederate force at Ezra Church and lost only 642 men while the Confederates had 3,000 casualties.
      The 48th Pennsylvania infantry during the siege of Petersburg used coal miners who on June 25 started digging a tunnel 511 feet long. On July 30 they blew up four tons of gunpowder, killing 280 Confederates and creating a trench 170 feet long, 60 feet wide, and 30 feet deep. About 15,000 Union troops used it to assault Petersburg and then retreated, suffering 4,000 casualties while Confederates had only 1,500.
      Also on the 30th General Early demanded that Chambersburg, Pennsylvania pay $500,000 in cash or $100,000 in gold; when they could not pay, he had 278 buildings burned sparing only a Masonic Temple and the home of a respected veteran.
      Lack of a major Union victory in July made those desiring peace more active as many wondered if Lincoln would be re-elected. On July 18 Horace Greeley met with Lincoln’s private secretary John Hay at Niagara Falls in Canada, but Lincoln insisted on reunion and emancipation as prior conditions to peace negotiations. The northern journalist James Gilmore and Col. James Jaquess, who was also a Methodist minister, had met with CSA President Davis and his Secretary of State Judah Benjamin at Richmond on July 17; but Davis rejected reunion because he said they were fighting for independence.
      General Grant’s larger army had Robert E. Lee’s army confined to Petersburg. On August 1 Grant sent General Sheridan to command the Army of the Shenandoah in order to remove the threat of Early’s force there. Sherman’s artillery began bombarding besieged Atlanta. The city had become a hub for factories and supply depots in the region, and its population had doubled to about 20,000 during the war.
      On August 4 Union troops landed on Dauphin Island to besiege Fort Gaines and prepare for an attack on Mobile Bay, Alabama. Admiral Farragut requested that the ironclad Tecumseh be sent there. Lt. J. C. Watson had a crew working on finding and sinking torpedoes in the channel. Soon after dawn on August 5 Farragut led 18 ships including four ironclad monitors past three forts. The USS Tecumseh began the battle by firing on Fort Morgan. CSN Admiral Buchanan had four ships, and the Tecumseh was sunk by a torpedo, killing 90 of the 114 on board. Farragut on the USS Hartford shouted, “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead.” By 10 in the morning the Confederate ships were defeated. In the afternoon the ironclad Chickasaw bombarded Fort Powell and forced its men to evacuate. After two weeks of bombardment Fort Morgan would capitulate on August 23, and by the 26th Union soldiers took over the other two forts.
      Starting from Wilmington, North Carolina on August 6 Commander John Taylor Wood on the CSS Tallahassee eluded the blockading fleet and went north to raid commercial ships. On the 11th off the New Jersey coast they destroyed six ships and used another to send the crews and passengers to New York. Wood kept doing this, and by August 25 they had captured 31 commercial ships and destroyed 23 of them.
      President Lincoln in August emphasized that reunion was the goal of his war. He argued that 130,000 black soldiers were helping them win the war, and he would keep his promise of freedom for those enslaved. On August 14 he wrote to Grant asking him to confer with General Lee to discontinue “house-burning and other destruction of private property.” On the 16th Grant wrote in a letter to Rep. Elihu Washburne of Illinois,

The rebels have now in their ranks their last man.
The little boys and old men are guarding prisoners,
guarding rail-road bridges and forming
a good part of their garrisons for intrenched positions.
A man lost by them can not be replaced.
They have robbed the cradle and the grave equally
to get their present force.
Besides what they lose in frequent skirmishes and battles
they are now losing from desertions and other causes
at least one regiment per day.8

      On August 22 the Republican Party and Henry Raymond urged Lincoln to offer peace if President Davis acknowledged the supremacy of the US Constitution; but three days later Lincoln told Raymond that he would rather lose the election than surrender. On the 23rd Lincoln gave his cabinet a memorandum advising that if he lost the election, he would cooperate with the President elect to save the Union before the inauguration to prevent it from being lost afterward. The next day candidate McClellan told a reporter,

If I am elected, I will recommend an immediate armistice
and a call for a convention of all the states
and insist upon exhausting all and every means
to secure peace without further bloodshed.9

      On August 17 General Lee had a Confederate gunboat help drive Union soldiers off Signal Hill by the James River below Richmond. On the 19th General A. P. Hill led a Confederate attack on Union soldiers along the Weldon railroad south of Petersburg, and they captured more than 2,500 Union soldiers from General Warren’s 5th Corps. In four days of fighting the Union army had 4,500 casualties while Lee’s army lost 1,600 out of 14,000. The Confederate rail link between Richmond and Petersburg was severed. Hill’s force of about 9,000 men attacked General Hancock’s equal number of Union forces at Ream’s Station on August 25 and captured 2,073 Federals, but other Union soldiers kept on destroying the rail line.
      General Forrest led 2,000 Confederate cavalry into Memphis on August 21; they held it for a while and then left to continue their rampaging.
      The Democratic Party at their convention in Chicago on August 30 nominated General George B. McClellan for President and George Pendleton of Ohio for Vice President. The next day McClellan received 174 votes and a majority on the first ballot, and then Clement Vallandigham moved that it be unanimous. Pendleton and their platform advocated peace. McClellan accepted the nomination with a letter on September 9. Although he did not want to see the war fail, his desire for peace might allow the Confederate states to return to the Union with all their constitutional rights which could include the right to hold slaves.
      On August 31 Sherman’s Union army of 70,000 men led by generals Howard and Thomas at Jonesboro attacked 24,000 Confederates led by generals Hood and Hardee and defeated them on September 1, cutting the last rail link to Atlanta from Macon. The Confederates lost more than twice as many as the 1,149 Union casualties.

US Civil War September-October 1864

      Richmond’s food supply was getting more desperate in September while northern crops provided for the Union troops. The Confederate cavalry had a policy of each man supplying his own horse. When a soldier lost a horse, he would get a 30-day furlough to go home to bring back another horse; but many of the cavalry took to horse trading and stealing so that they could go home. Confederates began evacuating Atlanta on September 1. As they were destroying explosives and 80 railroad cars, fires broke out and burned some houses. On the 2nd Lincoln learned by telegram that Atlanta had fallen, and he was also pleased that Union forces had taken Mobile. In a thoughtful letter to the Quaker Eliza P. Gurney on September 4 Lincoln expressed the hope that God “intends some great good to follow this mighty convulsion.”
      Sherman entered Atlanta on September 3 and began negotiating with civic leaders on keeping order and feeding the people. On the 7th he ordered all the civilians to leave Atlanta, and 446 families left their homes. Sherman said they were free to go south or north. A prisoner exchange was organized, and 1,380 Union prisoners who could walk left Andersonville and were put on trains that took them on September 12 to Charleston, South Carolina where they would remain until October 1. On September 10 Grant suggested that Sherman move east to Augusta. Sherman received a letter from Atlanta’s Mayor James M. Calhoun and the City Council on September 11, and in his reply he wrote,

We must have peace, not only at Atlanta, but in all America.
War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it;
and those who brought war into our country deserve
all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out.10

On 11 August 1880 Sherman would tell fellow soldiers,

There is many a boy here today
who looks on war as all glory, but, boys, it is all hell.
You can bear this warning voice to generations yet to come.
I look upon war with horror.11

This comment was soon shortened to “War is hell” and has become one of the most popular phrases in history.
      On September 5 pro-Union voters ratified Louisiana’s new constitution which abolished slavery. Farragut had men work dismantling and sinking torpedoes in Mobile Bay, but many would remain and sink Union ships for several months.
      General Lee ordered General Early to send General R. H. Anderson’s corps back to Petersburg, though leaving Early with only 12,000 men increased the numerical advantage of Sheridan’s army in the Shenandoah Valley. Grant met with Sheridan at Charles Town, Virginia on September 16 to plan strategy.
      On September 15 President Lincoln extended his suspension of habeas corpus throughout the United States until the end of the war.
      Radical Republicans persuaded nominee Frémont to withdraw his name from the presidential ballot in November in order not to divide the Republican vote which would have aided McClellan. Frémont agreed in exchange for the resignation of US Postmaster Montgomery Blair. On September 22 Frémont withdrew, and the next day Lincoln, already having Blair’s letter, accepted his resignation. Blair told his wife it was best for all.
      Sheridan’s army of about 37,000 men fought around 11,000 of Early’s Confederates north of Winchester on September 19 and lost 4,018 Union soldiers, but the 3,921 Confederate casualties were more consequential. They fought again at Fisher’s Hill, and Early’s army suffered 1,234 casualties to only 528 Union losses. On the 24th Sheridan had his men begin burning crops and barns, and on October 7 he would report that they had

destroyed over 2,000 barns
filled with wheat and hay and farming implements;
over 70 mills filled with flour and wheat;
have driven in front of the army over 4,000 head of stock,
and have killed and issued to the troops
not less than 3,000 sheep.12

      On September 27 a guerilla force led by “Bloody Bill” Anderson murdered 24 unarmed Union soldiers on leave at Centralia, Missouri and then ambushed arriving Federal soldiers, killing about 120 including the wounded whom they shot in the head. His gang included Frank and Jesse James. Also on the 27th a Confederate force of 9,000 men led by General Sterling Price defeated the Union force at Fort Davidson in Missouri while most of the 1,500 Union soldiers escaped.
      On September 29 General Butler’s 26,600 Union men defeated 14,500 Confederates at Chaffin’s Farm and took over Fort Harrison which had been part of Lee’s outer defense of Richmond with losses proportional for each side. The next day Warren’s Union army of 29,800 met A. P. Hill’s 10,000 Confederates again, and they fought for three days at Peeble’s Farm near Petersburg. The Union force had 2,889 casualties; but 1,239 rebel losses still meant defeat because the Union siege extended its lines three miles. Confederate soldiers’ poor food caused many to desert.
      Robert Gilchrist was the president of the Trades’ Assembly and League of Friendship in Louisville, Kentucky, and he promoted labor organization by publishing a letter in a trade magazine on August 13 to invite workers to an assembly which met in Louisville on September 21 and formed the International Industrial Assembly. He noted that already more than 200,000 mechanics were in protective unions in the United States and Canada.
      On October 1 the Union prisoners who had been moved from Andersonville to Charleston were taken from there by train to Florence, Alabama where they stayed until December 15 because Grant refused to exchange prisoners who might rejoin the Confederate army.
      By October 1864 there were 140 black regiments with 101,950 men, and by the end of the war the Union Army had 178,985 blacks with 7,122 officers, who were mostly white, and about 29,000 in the US Navy. Black soldiers were more susceptible to disease, and a total of 68,178 died including 2,751 from combat.
      On October 2 Confederate General Hood’s Army of Tennessee reached the Union’s Chattanooga rail link and began tearing up the tracks. At Petersburg, Virginia Lee’s Confederate army was gradually being depleted by those being killed, wounded, or taken prisoner while others deserted to the Union lines.
      General Sheridan on October 3 was told that three men dressed in Union uniforms had murdered his engineer Lt. John R. Meigs. In retaliation Sheridan ordered all houses within five miles burned, and General Custer supervised the punishment. Later they learned that Meigs had died while trying to escape from Confederate captors.
      General Sherman left one corps at Atlanta and sent his army up the rail line to confront Hood’s soldiers who on October 5 were attacking the Union garrison at Allatoona Pass. Each side had about 2,000 men; the Confederates lost 799 men and the Union 706. Also on the 5th the USS Restless led by Ensign Henry Eason destroyed the 150 buildings at the saltworks on St. Andrew’s Bay, Florida. On October 6 General Custer’s two regiments defeated a Confederate attack led by Col. Rosser at Brock’s Gap, Virginia. The next day General Robert E. Lee ordered an assault on Union lines by the Darbytown and New Market roads that failed.
      The CSS Florida had gone to the port of Bahia, Brazil to refuel and get supplies on October 4. The USS Wachusett led by Napoleon Collins followed and challenged the Florida to a duel outside the harbor. Brazil’s government warned both sides there should be no fighting in Brazilian waters. Florida captain Morris declined; but before dawn on the 7th Collins had his ship ram the Florida which surrendered, and the Wachusett towed the Florida to Hampton Roads, Virginia by November 12. Because international law had been violated, the US Government ordered the Florida sent back to Brazil; but it sank inexplicably at Hampton Roads. Collins was court martialed and dismissed from the US Navy, but Navy Secretary Welles restored him to his command.
      On October 9 generals Custer and Wesley Merritt pursued Confederate cavalry in the Shenandoah Valley and captured 300 soldiers. On the 11th Grant telegraphed Sherman that he could either pursue Hood’s army in Tennessee or march across Georgia to Savannah. Although Grant preferred the former, the next day he accepted Sherman’s desire to smash things on his way to the sea and approved it in a letter to Lincoln and Stanton on the 13th. Sherman assured Grant that General Thomas and his army would defeat Hood’s forces.
      Republicans did well in the elections as Indiana re-elected Governor Oliver Morton on October 11. The new state of Nevada elected Republican Henry G. Worthington governor on October 31, the day that Lincoln proclaimed its admission into the Union. In Ohio the Republicans increased their numbers in the US Congress from 5 to 17 while the Democrats were reduced from 14 to 2. Pennsylvania had an even split of 12 each, but after the October election their Republicans outnumbered the Democrats 15 to 9.
      US Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney, after serving for 28 and a half years, died on October 12. Lincoln waited until after the election to replace him by nominating his former Treasury Secretary Salmon Chase of Ohio on December 6. Justice Peter Daniel of Virginia had died on 31 May 1860, and Justice John McLean of Ohio died on 4 April 1861. Justice John A. Campbell of Alabama resigned on April 20. Lincoln declined to appoint anyone from a seceded state. For a while he refrained from packing the court with northerners because that could make reconciliation difficult. Thus he did not nominate anyone in 1861, but in 1862 he nominated Noah Swayne of Ohio who became a justice on January 27, Samuel Miller of Iowa on July 21, and his friend David Davis on December 10. On 3 March 1863 the US Congress had increased the Supreme Court to ten justices, and Lincoln’s nominee Stephen Johnson of California joined the Court on May 10. These appointments swung the Supreme Court to favor the North.
      On October 17 six southern governors met in Augusta, Georgia, and they all continued to demand Confederate independence as did President Jefferson Davis, General Robert E. Lee, and Secretary of State Robert Toombs who had opposed the attack on Fort Sumter.
      On October 13 Maryland voters with 30,174 in favor and 29,779 against narrowly accepted a new state constitution that abolished slavery. Only those taking an oath that they had never aided the rebellion were allowed to vote, and about a hundred refused the oath. The same day Mosby’s Confederate raiders near Harper’s Ferry robbed a train of $173,000 and then burned the train and tore up tracks.
      While General Sheridan was conferring on strategy at Washington, General Early led about 13,500 Confederates who on the night of October 18 attacked Sheridan’s Union army of 31,610 men at Cedar Creek and lost about 2,910 men. Union soldiers caught sleeping fled four miles down the Valley and had 4,074 casualties and 1,591 missing.
      On the 19th a few Confederates crossed the Canadian border and stole $200,000 from three banks in St. Albans, Vermont. After they fled across the border, they were arrested; but only $75,000 was recovered.
      On October 23 about 22,000 Union cavalry led by Alfred Pleasanton defeated 8,500 Confederates led by General Sterling Price at Westport along the Missouri-Kansas border. On the 25th the Union Army of the Border with only about 2,500 men defeated 7,000 Confederates at Mine Creek in Linn County, Kansas. Union General James G. Blunt led a force that attacked Sterling Price’s rebels in southwest Missouri on the 28th. Price’s Missouri campaign ended, but Union forces were too scattered to prevent his escape. On October 31 the US Navy took over Plymouth and the Albemarle Sound in North Carolina.

US Civil War November-December 1864

      On November 2 General Lee warned President Davis that if he did not get fresh troops, a calamity would befall them. The last session of the Confederate Congress at Richmond began on November 7. On that day Davis supported a plan to purchase 40,000 slaves to fight for the Confederacy with the promise of freedom after the war. Howell Cobb of Georgia, who had been president of the provisional Confederate Congress for a year until February 1862, replied,

The day you make soldiers of them
is the beginning of the end of the revolution.
If slaves will make good soldiers,
our whole theory of slavery is wrong—
but they won’t make good soldiers.13

Yet the Union army was already proving that the former slaves were making good soldiers.
      In the election on November 8 President Lincoln got 55% of the popular vote and won in 20 states with 212 electoral votes while the Democrat McClellan got only 21 electoral votes from Kentucky, New Jersey, and Delaware. In the 12 states that counted the ballots of soldiers separately Lincoln got 78% of their votes. The Republicans’ National Union Party gained 40 seats in the US House of Representatives. Republicans also gained two seats in the US Senate while the Democrats lost one.
      General Sherman reduced the baggage of his army as he expected them to live off the land while they marched from Atlanta east toward Augusta. Before leaving they destroyed most of what had value. General Slocum commanded the west wing and General Howard the right wing. Sherman ordered the railroads in Georgia destroyed as well as mills and factories. His army had 60,000 infantry and 5,500 cavalry. They set out with 1.2 million rations, 3,000 cattle, 2,500 wagons, 600 ambulances, 65 cannons, and 17,000 horses and mules. Every brigade had at least 50 men foraging for food. As they moved, they devastated an area 60 miles wide. Foragers confiscated food, livestock, wagons, and whatever else they could use. They burned crops and outbuildings, leaving people without food. Burning bridges also burned nearby houses. They easily defeated some militia and limited military units, notably Georgia’s state militia and General Wheeler’s cavalry at Griswoldville on November 22. Also on that day General Slocum’s force sacked the state capital at Milledgeville.
      US Attorney General Edward Bates gave Lincoln his letter of resignation on November 24. He had supported Lincoln with arguments for suspending the writ of habeas corpus. He also recognized persons of color as US citizens who deserved equal pay in the military. Lincoln did not want to appoint another northerner and chose Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt of Kentucky to replace Bates; but he declined and recommended the Kentuckian James Speed, brother of Joshua Speed, a longtime friend of Lincoln, who was glad to appoint him Attorney General.
      On November 25 Confederate agents burned at least ten hotels and Barnum’s Museum in New York City before the conspirators were arrested for having chemical bombs.
      In the Colorado Territory at Sand Creek near Denver on November 29 Union troops led by Col. J. M. Chivington infamously massacred as many as 500 Arapaho and Cheyenne including women and children at Sand Creek, though Major E. W. Wynkoop in his report to the Congressional committee on 16 January 1865 testified that only 69 bodies had been counted with two-thirds of them being women and children. He also testified that the Cheyenne and Arapaho had not committed any depredation prior to the massacre. After the murders the betrayed Indians took vengeance and killed more than a hundred whites, and the Cheyenne and Arapaho allied with the Kiowa, Comanche, and Sioux.
      General Hood’s Confederate army of 27,000 met an equal number led by Union General Schofield at Franklin, Tennessee on November 30. The victorious Union army lost 2,326 men. Hood reported that he lost 4,500, but Schofield estimated Confederate losses at 6,252 men including six generals who were killed.
      The Philadelphia North American in November included a statistical table which estimated that the Lincoln Administration by the war had freed at least 1,300,000 slaves, about one-third of the total. The National Union Party had included the proposed 13th Amendment in its platform, and they had won the election by 411,000 votes.
      The old US Congress met on December 5, and the newly elected Congress would not meet until December 1865. On December 6 Lincoln’s secretary John Hay read the President’s annual message to the Senate and then to the House of Representatives. Lincoln’s message began with gratitude to God for health and abundant harvests. He reported that foreign affairs were “reasonably satisfactory.” He noted that the civil war in Mexico was continuing and that the US maintained strict neutrality. He recognized the government of Venezuela for implementing a liberal constitution that the people accepted. The government had spent $27,505,600 for civil service, $7,517,931 for pensions and Indians, $690,791,843 for the War Department, $85,733,293 for the Navy Department, and $53,685,422 for interest on the public debt, and with receipts of $884,511,448 the cash balance in the Treasury was $18,842,559. As of July 1 the total public debt had increased to $1,740,690,490. Lincoln asked the Congress to reconsider the constitutional amendment to abolish slavery that had passed the Senate but not the House. He concluded,

A year ago general pardon and amnesty, upon specified terms,
were offered to all except certain designated classes,
and it was at the same time made known that the excepted classes
were still within contemplation of special clemency….
In stating a single condition of peace I mean simply to say
that the war will cease on the part of the Government
whenever it shall have ceased on the part of those who began it.14

In my opinion both sides began it because they would not agree to settle their differences without violence.
      On December 2 General Sherman turned his army south toward Savannah. The next day they saw the ruins of the prison stockade at Millen where 750 prisoners had died. On the 5th US Navy Secretary Welles reported to Lincoln that the Navy had increased from 42 ships in March 1861 to 671 with 4,600 guns. They had built 203 new ships including 62 ironclads. The Navy also had increased from 7,600 men to 51,000. On December 8 Sherman complained about “land torpedoes” buried in the roads to Savannah. General Francis Preston Blair ordered Confederate prisoners to dig up those land mines.
      Salmon Chase was sworn in as Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court on December 15 while Senator Sumner was watching. The Negro John S. Rock, an abolitionist lawyer from Massachusetts, who had been rejected by the Taney court, wrote to Sumner asking his help to be admitted to practice before the Supreme Court. In February 1865 Sumner presented a petition to Chase, and his court accepted Rock, overturning Taney’s infamous Dred Scott decision which had held that Negroes were not US citizens and which Sumner said was “more thoroughly abominable than anything of the kind in the history of the courts.”15 Harper’s Weekly considered this change “a remarkable indication of the revolution which is going on in the sentiment of a great people.”16
      On December 10 Sherman’s army had reached Savannah which had been defended by Confederate General Hardee’s 18,000 men; but about half of them escaped before the Union army arrived. Hardee had them flood the rice fields so that only a few roads led to the city. Confederates had destroyed the bridge over the Ogeechee River to Fort McAlister, and on the 11th Sherman ordered his men to begin rebuilding the bridge that was 1,000 feet long. Just before sunset on the 13th the Union’s 15th Corps with 4,000 men crossed the new bridge and took over the fort from about 200 defenders. The next day Union ships bombarded Savannah’s defenses. Sherman estimated that his march to the sea had taken things worth $20 million and destroyed about $80 million while very few people had been killed. Hardee refused to surrender and managed to escape with 9,089 men on the night of December 20. The next day the Confederates destroyed three of their ships and the ironclad CSS Georgia. Sherman treated Savannah much better than Atlanta by letting office holders continue functioning and by allowing marketplaces for farmer’s to feed those in the city.
      After waiting despite the impatience of Lincoln and Grant for several days for the bad weather to end and melt the ice, on December 15 General Thomas finally ordered the assault by his army of 55,000 troops on Nashville, Tennessee where Confederate General Hood had about 25,000 men. The Union army had 3,105 casualties in the 2-day battle while the Confederates lost about 6,000 men. In seven weeks Hood had lost half his men, and he went back to Tupelo with 20,000. Confederate dollars had dropped to 2% of their original value in 1861. Mary Chestnut on December 19 began her diary that day with “The deep waters closing over us,” and then she reported the “dismal news.”17
      Three draft calls in March, July, and December 1864 brought into the armed forces 168,649 men, and 74,207 of these were substitutes. Those paying commutation were 86,724. On December 19 Lincoln reported that the July call had left a deficiency of 260,000 men, and so he issued a call for 300,000 more volunteers. During the Civil War the Union informed 776,829 men that their number was called, but 161,244 failed to report. Married men were not drafted unless all the unmarried had been exhausted.
      On December 23 the Union army led by General Butler tried to capture Fort Fisher which protected the port of Wilmington, North Carolina; but Butler’s plan to put 200 pounds of gunpowder on the USS Louisiana which was disguised as a blockade runner had little effect, and 2,000 Union soldiers could not penetrate the defenses on the 25th nor again on the 27th. On that day Grant approved Sherman’s plan to invade the Carolinas, and the next day Grant telegraphed Lincoln that the Wilmington expedition had failed.
      George Perkins Marsh was a lawyer and diplomat, and in 1864 he published Man and Nature which was reissued in 1874 with the title The Earth as Modified by Human Action. He wrote,

We have now felled forest enough everywhere,
in many districts far too much.
Let us restore this one element of material life
to its normal proportions, and devise means of maintaining
the permanence of its relations to the fields, the meadows,
and the pastures, to the rain and the dews of heaven,
to the springs and rivulets with which it waters the earth.18

      Thomas Low Nichols was a physician and writer promoting hydrotherapy, vegetarianism, spiritualism, and women’s rights. In 1856 he founded the Memnonia Institute as a “school for life” at Yellow Springs, Ohio. In 1864 he published the novel Uncle Argus and his bestselling autobiography Forty Years of American Life in which he observed that Americans were not very happy, writing,

In no country that I know of is there
so much hard, toilsome, unremitting labor;
in none so little of recreation and enjoyment of life.
Work and worry eat out the hearts of the people,
and they die before their time….
Nowhere is money sought so eagerly;
nowhere is it so much valued;
and in no civilized country does it bring so little to its possessor….
The poor struggle to be rich, the rich to be richer.
Everyone is tugging, trying, scheming to advance—to get ahead….
Socialism, in America, in its various forms,
has been a protest and reaction against Mammonism
and a growing and almost universal selfishness.19


1. Charles Sumner and the Rights of Man by David Donald, p. 149.
2. Abraham Lincoln: The War Years, Volume 3 by Carl Sandburg, p. 8.
3. The Annals of America, Volume 9, p. 493-494.
4. Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Vol. VII, p. 259.
5. The Annals of America, Volume 9, p. 525.
6. Grant, Memoirs, II, 276 quoted in The War for the Union Vol. 4 by Allan Nevins, p. 43.
7. Trial by Fire: A People’s History of the Civil War and Reconstruction by Page Smith, p. 522.
8. Memoirs and Selected Letters by Ulysses S. Grant, p. 1064-1065.
9. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era by James M. McPherson, p. 771.
11. Ohio State Journal August 12, 1880 quoted in Sherman: Fighting Prophet by Lloyd Lewis, p. 636.
12. Report of History Committee of Grand Camp C. V., p. 117 quoted in Upon the Altar of the Nation by Harry S. Stout, p. 382.
13. The Wars of Reconstruction by Douglas R. Egerton, p. 87.
14. Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Vol. VIII, p. 152.
15. Cong. Globe, 38 Cong., 2 Sess, p. 1012 quoted in Charles Sumner and the Rights of Man, p. 193.
16. Harper’s Weekly, February 25, 1865 quoted in Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin, p. 681.
17. Mary Chestnut’s Civil War, p. 694.
18. The Annals of America, Volume 9, p. 536.
19. Ibid., p. 540-542.

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