BECK index

United States Victory in 1865

by Sanderson Beck

US Civil War January-February 1865
US Civil War March 1865
United States Victory in April-May 1865

US Civil War January-February 1865

      On 1 January 1865 Union General Benjamin Butler tried to form a canal to attack Fort Fisher near Wilmington, North Carolina by exploding six tons of gunpowder; but this project, like a previous one, failed, and on January 7 President Lincoln followed General Grant’s advice and replaced Butler with General Ord.
      On January 11 a Constitutional Convention in Missouri passed a resolution to abolish slavery in the state. On that day Confederate General Thomas Rosser led an attack with only 300 men on Beverly, West Virginia and captured 580 prisoners and many rations.
      A large Union fleet gathered by Beaufort, South Carolina, and on January 12 they headed toward Wilmington, North Carolina, the main port receiving blockade-running ships. The next day they bombarded Fort Fisher which was defended by 1,900 Confederate soldiers while CSA General Hoke had 6,400 men on the peninsula. Union General Terry landed 8,000 men on the beach safely. After suffering 583 casualties the Fort Fisher garrison surrendered on the 15th. The Union forces lost more than a thousand men killed or wounded. Union Admiral Porter ordered the signal lights kept on all clear, and they would capture at least three unsuspecting blockade runners arriving in the port.
      Francis Preston Blair, Sr. discussed peace terms with Confederate President Jefferson Davis for several days and then on January 16 reported to Lincoln. The Davis letter wanted peace between the two nations, but Lincoln rejected that and insisted on reunifying the United States.
      Also on the 16th General Sherman issued a special field order designating islands at sea and land by rivers 30 miles inland between Charleston and Jacksonville to be settled by freedmen, giving each family 40 acres until Congress made regulations. General Rufus Saxton was an abolitionist and commanded Union forces in these areas, and he supervised settlements by 40,000 former slaves.
      On January 19 Sherman’s army left Savannah and Beaufort heading toward Goldsborough, North Carolina, but they would be slowed down by heavy rain and flooding.
      Confederate General Hood had resigned, and on January 23 he was replaced in Mississippi by General Richard Taylor, Zachary Taylor’s son. His Army of Tennessee had only 17,700 men, and many were sick. He sent more than half to General Johnston in the Carolinas, but Johnston reported that because of sickness and desertions only about 5,000 soldiers arrived. On January 24 the Confederate Congress proposed an exchange of prisoners, and Grant reversed his policy in order to get back suffering Union prisoners.
      On January 6 James M. Ashley of Ohio had reintroduced the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery. Only 4 Democrats had voted for it in 1864. Although 64 Democrats had lost the election, they could still vote in this session. The Lincoln administration needed 13 more votes, and the President offered lucrative jobs to these lame-duck Democrats. Nicolay advised Lincoln that they could get New Jersey Democrats to vote their way if he could persuade Senator Sumner to give up his bills to end the corruption which had incorporated a $27 million monopoly by New Jersey to levy tolls; but Lincoln replied that he could do nothing with Mr. Sumner on such matters. Various means were used to gain these votes, and 8 Democrats stayed away and did not vote on January 31 when the US House of Representatives finally approved the 13th Amendment by a two-thirds vote of 119 to 56 with the 8 abstentions. The Democrat S. S. Cox of Ohio later wrote about a

fund which was said to be
ready and freely used for corrupting members.
Can anything be conceived more monstrous
than this attempt to amend the Constitution
upon such a humane and glorious theme,
by the aid of the lucre of office-holders?1

The 13th Amendment abolished slavery, but to become part of the US Constitution it would need to be ratified by 27 of the 36 states. The abolition would wipe out $3 billion in human “property.”
      On February 3 on a steamboat at Hampton Roads, Virginia a peace conference was held between President Lincoln with US Secretary of State William Seward and the Confederacy’s Vice President Stephens, Secretary of War John Campbell, and President pro tempore of the CSA Senate Robert Hunter. An armistice was proposed; but Lincoln said that would not happen until the rebellious states recognized the authority of the United States. Hunter complained that Lincoln insisted on reunion and the abolition of slavery, and he wrote,

Neither Lincoln nor Seward showed
any wise or considerate regard for the whole country,
or any desire to make the war
as little disastrous to the whole country as possible.
If they entertained any such desires
they made no exhibition.
Their whole object seemed to be
to force a reunion and an abolition of slavery.
If this could be done, they seemed to feel little care
for the distress and suffering of the beaten party.2

Lincoln would not recognize the Confederacy as a separate government nor would he cooperate with them against the French in Mexico. The southerners asked if they were demanding unconditional surrender, and Seward said they did not mention that. Lincoln promised a liberal policy on reconstruction but admitted he could not control the US Congress. They did manage to agree on an exchange of prisoners-of-war. Lincoln told Stephens, his friend when he was in Congress for two years, that he would not change his mind. Yet he asked what he could do for Stephens who asked for the release of his nephew who had been imprisoned for 20 months. Lincoln did so and aided him after his release.
      On February 5 Lincoln presented to the Cabinet his plan to provide $400 million compensation to states based on their slave populations; but after every Cabinet member opposed this, he abandoned the idea.
      Robert E. Lee, was made General-in-Chief, and at Richmond on February 9 he persuaded President Davis to approve the pardoning of deserters who return to duty in the next 30 days.
      On February 12 Sherman’s army began tearing up railroad tracks around Orangeburg, South Carolina, and fires they set to the town of 800 people spread and burned half the buildings. Sherman punished South Carolina for having been the state that instigated the war by giving them a “bellyful of war” which he considered “hell.” They burned bridges, cotton bales, vacant buildings, and barns.
      Five Confederate ships at Nassau in the Bahamas had supplies and tried to run the blockade to reach Charleston Harbor. Only the ironclad CSS Chicora got there. On the 17th the US Navy used 7 gunboats to support the landing of General Foster’s troops at Bull’s Bay, Charleston. That night Confederates abandoned 5 forts at Charleston including Sumter and Moultrie, and they blew up or scuttled 4 Confederate ironclad ships in the harbor. The next morning the Union Brigadier General Schimmelfennig led his troops into Charleston, and the mayor surrendered the city.
      On February 17 the mayor of Columbia, South Carolina surrendered the capital to General Sherman as General Hampton’s Confederate cavalry burned bales of cotton and left as a strong wind spread the fire. Union soldiers destroyed weapons in depots and railroads including 19 locomotives and 20 boxcars. They ruined mills and factories along the Congaree River. Confederates abandoned their defensive positions in Wilmington, North Carolina on February 18, and the next day General Bragg ordered the evacuation of Fort Anderson, retreating toward Fort Strong.
      The 13th Amendment banning slavery was ratified by 16 states before February 22 when Kentucky became the first state to reject the measure, followed by New Jersey on March 1. Ratification would not be completed until Georgia became the 27th state to accept it on December 6. Also on February 22 Tennessee amended their constitution to abolish slavery.
      In late February some rebels were killing Union foragers, and General Sherman ordered generals Kilpatrick and Howard to retaliate by hanging or shooting prisoners. Union soldiers were working to remove Confederate torpedoes from the Cape Fear River.

US Civil War March 1865

      On March 2 at Waynesborough, Virginia in the last major battle in the Shenandoah Valley the Union General Custer led 5,000 cavalry against General Early’s diminished force of 1,600 men and took more than a thousand of them prisoners while losing only 9 men. On that day General Lee, whose Army of Northern Virginia was down to about 50,000 men with only 35,000 fit for duty, sent a message to General Grant proposing a meeting. Grant received it the next day and telegraphed Washington. From Lincoln and Stanton came the following reply:

The President directs me to say that he wishes you
to have no conference with General Lee
unless it be for the capitulation of Gen. Lee’s army,
or on some minor or purely military matter.
He instructs me to say that you are not
to decide, discuss or confer upon any political question.
Such questions the President holds in his own hands, and
will submit them to no military conferences or convention.
Meanwhile you are to press
to the utmost your military advantages.3

      Also on March 3, the last day of the 38th US Congress, they established the Bureau for the Relief of Freedmen and Refugees that would support Negroes with food, clothing, and other aid for the next 20 years. Senator Sumner opposed the recognition of the new Louisiana state government, and his threat of a filibuster stopped the appropriation bill as the session closed on March 4 without a vote. The House of Representatives had also declined to recognize the three men recently elected in Louisiana.
      Treasury Secretary Fessenden had been elected again to the US Senate and resigned. Lincoln appointed Hugh McCulloch, a banker from Indiana. Then Interior Secretary Usher resigned because he was also from Indiana; Lincoln replaced him with James Harlan of Iowa. During his 4 years and 41 days in office President Lincoln replaced 1,457 of the 1,639 officials he could appoint.
      At his inauguration on March 4 in the Senate Chamber the new Vice President Andrew Johnson of Tennessee was quite ill and had been taking medication. In his speech he rambled on and made odd comments, and his political enemies would accuse him of having been drunk; but Lincoln later said

I have known Andy for many years.
He made a bad slip the other day,
but you need not be scared.
Andy ain’t a drunkard.4

The heavy rain had stopped outside on a windy and cloudy day; when Lincoln appeared, bright sunshine came out. He made his famous Second Inaugural address before taking the oath again. This is his entire speech.

Fellow Countrymen:
   At this second appearing to take the oath
of the presidential office there is less occasion
for an extended address than there was at the first.
Then a statement, somewhat in detail
of a course to be pursued seemed fitting and proper.
Now, at the expiration of four years during which
public declarations have been constantly called forth
on every point and phase of the great contest
which still absorbs the attention
and engrosses the energies of the nation
little that is new could be presented.
The progress of our arms,
upon which all else chiefly depends,
is as well known to the public as to myself; and
it is I trust reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all.
With high hope for the future
no prediction in regard to it is ventured.
   On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago
all thoughts were anxiously directed
to an impending civil war.
All dreaded it—all sought to avert it.
While the inaugural address
was being delivered from this place,
devoted altogether to saving the Union without war
insurgent agents were in the city
seeking to destroy it without war—
seeking to dissolve the Union
and divide effects by negotiation.
Both parties deprecated war;
but one of them would make war
rather than let the nation survive;
and the other would accept war rather than let it perish.
And the war came.
   One eighth of the whole population were colored slaves
not distributed generally over the Union
but localized in the Southern part of it.
These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest.
All knew that this interest was somehow
the cause of the war.
To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest
was the object for which
the insurgents would rend the Union, even by war
while the government claimed no right to do more
than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it.
Neither party expected for the war the magnitude
or the duration which it has already attained.
Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease
with or even before the conflict itself should cease.
Each looked for an easier triumph
and a result less fundamental and astounding.
Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God,
and each invokes His aid against the other.
It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask
a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread
from the sweat of other men’s faces,
but let us judge not that we be not judged.
The prayers of both could not be answered—
that of neither has been answered fully.
The Almighty has His own purposes.
“Woe unto the world because of offences!
for it must needs be that offenses come;
but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh!”
If we shall suppose that American slavery
is one of those offences which, in the providence of God,
must needs come, but which having continued
through His appointed time, He now wills to remove,
and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war,
as the woe due to those by whom the offence came,
shall we discern therein
any departure from those divine attributes
which the believers in a Living God always ascribe to Him?
Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—
that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away.
Yet if God wills that it continue until all the wealth
piled by the bond-man’s two hundred and fifty years
of unrequited toil shall be sunk,
and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash
shall be paid by another drawn with the sword
as was said three thousand years ago,
so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord,
are true and righteous altogether.”
   With malice toward none with charity for all
with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right
let us strive on to finish the work we are in
to bind up the nation’s wounds,
to care for him who shall have borne the battle
and for his widow and his orphan—
to do all which may achieve a just
and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.5

      Thousands of people went to the White House, and from 5 to 8 Lincoln shook hands with about 6,000. Police seized black Frederick Douglass until Lincoln was informed and let him in. The President asked him what he thought of his speech, and Douglass said that it was “a sacred effort.”
      On March 6 Sherman’s army began crossing the Pee Dee River into North Carolina. The next day he sent General Jacob Cox with a force to take over the New Bern port and rebuild the railroad from there to Goldsborough. By March 11 Sherman’s troops had surrounded most of Fayetteville and were destroying the military machinery moved there from Harper’s Ferry. On the 12th Sherman ordered that about 25,000 white and black refugees be shipped to Cape Fear.
      On March 11 President Lincoln proclaimed a pardon for deserters who return to service in the next sixty days.
      Sheridan’s cavalry had arrived outside of Richmond. There on March 13 the Confederate Congress passed a law authorizing the use of Negro troops. On March 17 Lincoln told an Indiana regiment,

I have always thought that all men should be free;
but if any should be slaves,
it should be first those who desire it for themselves
and secondly those who desire it for others.
Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery,
I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.6

      On March 18 Confederate General Johnston had an army of 21,900 men near Bentonville, North Carolina hoping to attack about 30,000 of Sherman’s army of 100,000 men but ended up fighting about 60,000 Union soldiers for three days before withdrawing on the 21st. In the battle 433 men were killed with 2,806 wounded and 894 captured or missing. The Union lost 1,527 men, the Confederates 2,606.
      On March 25 General Lee sent General John B. Gordon with 10,000 men in an attack on Fort Stedman early in the morning, and they took over the fort; but the Union counter-attacked with 15,000 soldiers and defeated the Confederates who had 600 killed, 2,400 wounded, and about 1,000 captured or missing while the Union forces lost 1,044 men.
      Also on the 25th the Union army and navy besieged the port of Mobile, Alabama with 45,000 troops, and they removed 150 Confederate torpedoes from the mouth of the Blakely River.
      On March 28 President Lincoln traveled by steamer to City Point, Virginia and conferred with his top generals Grant and Sherman and with Admiral Porter. Later Sherman wrote about what Lincoln told him.

He was all ready for the civil reorganization of affairs
at the South as soon as the war was over;
and he distinctly authorized me to assure Governor Vance
and the people of North Carolina that,
as soon as the rebel armies laid down their arms,
and resumed their civil pursuits,
they would at once be guaranteed
all their rights as citizens of a common country;
and that to avoid anarchy the State governments
then in existence, with their civil functionaries,
would be recognized by him as the government de facto
till Congress could provide others.7

Lincoln wanted to end the war quickly, and afterward he wanted a lenient policy. The next day Grant began the Appomattox campaign. On March 31 Lee’s 10,000 men at Petersburg faced about 50,000 Union soldiers. On that day General Sheridan’s Union force at Dinwiddie Court House broke through the Confederate lines of General Pickett. Grant knew the war was costing $4 million per day and could bankrupt the nation if it went on much longer. Thus he was intent on ending it soon.

United States Victory in April-May 1865

      On April 1 General Sheridan led 22,000 Union soldiers at Five Forks and defeated General Picketts’ 10,600 men who suffered 605 casualties while 2,400 were taken as prisoners; the Union army lost only 830 men. That night General Lee withdrew his army from Petersburg. Jefferson Davis wrote to Lee that little had been done to raise Negro troops and that distrust was increasing. A Richmond newspaper reported that more than 50,000 Confederate soldiers were absent without leave. The next day Union forces moved against Petersburg, and the Confederate General A. P. Hill was killed. Lee ordered Petersburg evacuated. That night President Davis and his cabinet left Richmond. Navy Secretary Mallory ordered the James River Squadron blown up. Union forces defeated Bedford Forrest’s cavalry at Selma, Alabama capturing 2,700 men, but Forrest escaped. On April 3 a fire destroyed the Richmond Arsenal, and the Confederate Government had the army burn the business district, bridges, military supplies, and tobacco warehouses. The Davis government with the archives and treasury bullion moved to Danville, and the next day Davis made his last appeal for the Confederates to keep fighting against their enemies. The Union army took over Richmond as General Godfrey Weizel accepted the city’s surrender.
      On April 4 Lincoln and Admiral Porter visited Richmond, and Lincoln toured the Davis home. Lincoln and Grant reviewed the troops in Petersburg. When General Weitzel asked what he should do with the conquered people, Lincoln replied, “If I were in your place, I’d let ‘em up easy.”8 General Sheridan’s army pursued Lee’s army and kept them from using railroads. The next day Lincoln came back to Richmond and announced that Federal authority must be reestablished in the South to make peace possible. On April 6 the capture of General Ewell’s corps at Saylor’s Creek was the last battle for Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. On that day Secretary of State Seward was thrown from a carriage and was seriously injured.
      General Lee made it to Farmville on April 7 and received a message from General Grant asking him to surrender his Army of Northern Virginia. Lee declined but asked what terms he would offer. The next day the Spanish Fort and Fort Alexis surrendered at Mobile. Meade’s Army of the Potomac was following Lee, and Sheridan’s force blocked the rebels from reaching Lynchburg and had seized their supplies at Appomattox.
      On Palm Sunday April 9 at dawn Confederate General Gordon tried to punch through Sheridan’s lines, but they pulled back at 7:30. With a flag of truce General Lee met with Grant at the Appomattox Court House and was satisfied when the officers were allowed to retain their side arms, horses, and baggage. Grant assured him that the other soldiers would also be able to keep their own horses and mules to work their farms. The papers were signed by 4 p.m. Grant told his staff that the war is over, and he telegraphed Washington, where celebrations began that night. Grant and Lee met the next day and talked for more than an hour while sitting on their horses.
      The next day Lee issued his last general orders urging officers and soldiers to return to their homes as the Army of Northern Virginia disbanded. He told them that any more war would be a “useless sacrifice.” Lee declined to meet with Lincoln because, not knowing what President Davis was going to do, he could not make terms. In the next few days Grant provided food for 28,231 paroled soldiers.
      Jefferson Davis and his cabinet reached Greenwood, North Carolina on April 11. On that evening people gathered outside the White House to serenade the President, and Lincoln gave a speech about how 12,000 citizens in Louisiana had adopted a new state government, arguing for it as a start even though the US Congress had rejected their legislators. The actor John Wilkes Booth heard the speech with his friends Lewis Powell and David Herold. Booth feared that Lincoln was planning Negro citizenship and decided to kill him.
      In a speech at a White House celebration on April 11 Senator Harlan asked what they should do with the rebels, and someone shouted, “Hang them!” Later Lincoln’s young son Tad commented, “No, no, papa. Not hang them. Hang on to them!” His father agreed that they must hang on to them.
      General Canby’s Union forces had taken over Fort Blakely in Mobile, Alabama on April 9. Two days later the last two forts in Mobile surrendered as Confederates destroyed the remaining ships. On April 12 Mobile’s mayor surrendered the city, and General Wilson’s Union cavalry took over Montgomery, Alabama. Also on the 12th the Confederate troops at Appomattox, Virginia formally surrendered. General Sherman and his army entered Raleigh, North Carolina on April 13, and on that day War Secretary Stanton halted conscription and military purchases.
      Before leaving town Ward Hill Lamon asked Lincoln to promise that he would not go out at night during his absence, especially to the theatre. The President wondered why anyone would want to assassinate him and said that anyone who wanted to do so could give up his life for Lincoln’s. Stanton was also worried and noted that they had an envelope labeled “Assassination” with 80 letters from late March. Lincoln told his wife Mary about a dream he had in which people were mourning the death of the President in the White House.
      On the Good Friday of April 14 President Lincoln after breakfast met with House Speaker Schuyler Colfax and other members of Congress. Major Anderson raised the US flag at Fort Sumter on the 4th anniversary of his surrender there. Grant was the honored guest at the weekly Cabinet meeting at 11, and he said he expected news from Sherman soon. Lincoln then explained he believed there would be good news because he had a recurring dream the previous night. Navy Secretary Welles recorded in his diary Lincoln’s explanation.

Generally the news had been favorable
which succeeded this dream,
and the dream itself was always the same.
I inquired what this remarkable dream could be.
He said it related to your (my) element, the water;
that he seemed to be in some singular, indescribable vessel,
and that he was moving with great rapidity
towards an indefinite shore; that he had this dream
preceding Sumter, Bull Run, Antietam, Gettysburg,
Stone River, Vicksburg, Wilmington, etc.9

The cabinet agreed to have few judicial proceedings. They discussed reconstruction, and Lincoln said,

I hope there will be no persecution,
no bloody work after the war is over.
No one need expect me to take any part
in hanging or killing those men, even the worst of them….
We must extinguish our resentments
if we expect harmony and reunion.
There is too much of a desire on the part
of some of our very good friends to be masters,
to interfere with and dictate to those States,
to treat the people not as fellow-citizens;
there is too little respect for their rights.10

When asked if Confederate leaders were to go unpunished and if he would not be sorry if they escaped, Lincoln replied, “I should not be sorry to have them out of the country, but I should be for following them up pretty close to make sure of their going.”11 On a carriage ride with his wife Mary she observed that he was happier than ever as he had been just before their son Willie died. While walking to the War Department with his bodyguard Col. Crook, the President said he thought that men would take his life. Lincoln had not met with Vice President Johnson recently, but on this day they met and discussed the future. After supper he talked again with Colfax and said that he did not intend to summon a special session of Congress.
      That evening Lincoln was watching Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theater. Grant had declined to join the Lincolns and went with his wife to see their children in New Jersey. Lincoln’s guard that night was John R. Parker, who had a record of neglecting his duties, and he left his post by the President’s box to take a seat and watch the play. John Wilkes Booth had prepared for his crime and shot Lincoln in the back of the head with a Deringer pistol. He then jumped from the balcony to the stage and shouted, “Sic semper tyrannis!” before fleeing. About the same time at William Seward’s home another conspirator Lewis Powell stabbed the Secretary of State five times, but he survived; Seward’s son Frederick was also wounded.
      Lincoln died at 7:22 the next morning, and less than three hours later Chief Justice Chase swore in Vice President Andrew Johnson as President in the presence of the Cabinet and a few Congressmen. Johnson said,

I feel incompetent to perform duties so important
and responsible as those
which have been so unexpectedly thrown upon me….
My past public life, which has been long and laborious,
has been founded, as I in good conscience believe,
upon a great principle of right,
which lies at the basis of all things.
The best energies of my life have been spent
in endeavoring to establish and perpetuate
the principles of free government,
and I believe that the Government in passing through
its present perils will settle down upon principles consonant
with popular rights more permanent
and enduring than heretofore.
I must be permitted to say,
if I understand the feelings of my own heart,
that I have long labored to ameliorate and elevate
the condition of the great mass of the American people.
Toil and an honest advocacy of the great principles
of free government have been my lot.
Duties have been mine; consequences are God’s.12

      Generals Sherman and Johnston signed an armistice on April 18. The next day Lincoln’s funeral began in Washington. Then the funeral train took his body north through major cities as far as Buffalo and reached its destination at Springfield, Illinois for the burial on May 4. On April 24 Grant told Sherman that Johnston had to surrender unconditionally within 48 hours to end hostilities. On April 26 General Johnston surrendered all Confederate forces east of the Mississippi River. The next day a steamer blew up near Memphis, killing 1,400 former prisoners of war.
      Also on the 26th the assassin Booth was cornered in a barn. Herold surrendered, but Booth refused. The barn was set on fire. While Booth was trying to escape, Sgt. Boston Corbett mortally wounded him. The eight suspected conspirators in the Lincoln assassination were arrested and taken to the Old Capital Prison on April 30.
      On May 1 President Andrew Johnson appointed a military tribunal to judge the conspirators. As Jefferson Davis fled, one by one his cabinet officers resigned and went home. US Navy Secretary Welles reduced the Potomac fleet by half. On May 4 General Richard Taylor surrendered the Confederate forces in Alabama and Mississippi.
      President Johnson on May 9 recognized Governor Francis Pierpont of Virginia hoping that would facilitate bringing Virginia back into the Union. On that day the military trial of the conspirators began. Written evidence of a conspiracy was found in Booth’s things, but no one in the Confederate Government was implicated. Lawyers refused to defend even Mrs. Surratt and Dr. Mudd who were most likely innocent. Henry R. Douglas, author of I Rode with Stonewall, saw the trial from where he was imprisoned and wrote,

The Commission illustrated the very spirit
and body of the times; and passion decided everything.
Of judicial decorum, fairness, calmness,
there was absolutely none.13

David Herold, Lewis Payne, and Mrs. Surratt were hanged on July 7. One man was acquitted. Dr. Mudd and two others were imprisoned for life, and the other defendant got six years in prison at hard labor.
      On May 10 the guerrilla leader Quantrill was mortally wounded in Kentucky, and on that day President Johnson announced that armed resistance against the Federal Government had ended. Also on the 10th Michigan cavalry captured Jefferson Davis at Irwinville, Georgia, and he was imprisoned at Fort Monroe on the 19th.
      In Texas on May 13 General Edmund Kirby Smith met with the Confederate governors of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Missouri, and General Joseph Shelby encouraged them to keep on fighting. On that day the last fatality in the war was the black Sgt. Crocker at White’s Ranch in Texas. On the 17th General Sheridan was put in command of territory west of the Mississippi and south of the Arkansas rivers. The Confederate Navy Secretary Mallory was arrested on May 20 at his home and charged with treason; he was taken to Fort Lafayette in New York where he was held until his parole in March 1866.
      On May 22 President Johnson ended the blockade of most southern ports, and on the next two days the Army of the Potomac paraded in Washington. Former VP Alexander Stephens was arrested on the 25th and was taken to Fort Warren in Boston Harbor. The next day General Buckner surrendered the last significant Confederate army at Shreveport, Louisiana, but General Shelby with some men went to Mexico. On May 27 President Johnson ordered the release of most political prisoners arrested by the military, and two days later he proclaimed a general amnesty and pardon for all who had participated in the rebellion.
      During this Civil War least 360,000 Union soldiers and 260,000 Confederates died, though only about 204,000 were killed in battles. Recent estimates suggest that as many as 755,000 people may have died because of the Civil War. The Union had 275,175 wounded and the Confederates at least 100,000. About 390,000 died by disease. The Union had about 2,100,000 men in military service including some 180,000 African Americans, and the Confederates had about 880,000. The Union captured 462,634 Confederates while 211,411 Union soldiers were held as prisoners. According to records, of the 194,743 Union prisoners in southern prisons 30,218 died while 25,976 of the 214,865 Confederates in northern prisons died during the war. In his Memoirs General Grant wrote that this war “was a fearful lesson and should teach us the necessity of avoiding wars in the future.”14 By the end of the war the United States national debt had reached about $2,600,000,000.
      The United States had a record wheat crop in 1859. Yet in 1862 and again in 1863 the northern states managed to grow even more wheat. They also exported wheat, corn, and beef to western Europe in the early 1860s when Europeans were suffering from crop failures. In 1860 the South had about 30% of the wealth in the United States with per capita income including slaves about two-thirds of the average in the North; but after the war southern income was less than 40% of the northerners, and it stayed at that level until the end of the century.
      W. E. B. Du Bois wrote that black workers won the war by transferring their labor from Confederate planters to the “Northern invader.” He observed,

War is murder, force, anarchy and debt.
Its end is evil, despite all incidental good.
Neither North nor South had before 1861
the slightest intention of going to war.
The thought was in many respects ridiculous.
They were not prepared for war.
The national army was small,
poorly equipped and without experience.
There was no file from which
someone might draw plans of subjugation.15

He noted that the South had 3,953,740 black slaves and 261,918 free Negroes, but nine-tenths of the slaves could neither read nor write.


1. Three Decades of Federal Legislation by S. S. Cox, p. 329 quoted in The War for the Union Vol. 4 by Allan Nevins, p. 213-214.
2. The Peace Commission of 1865, SHSP, Vol. III by R. M. T. Hunter, p. 173-174 quoted in Never Call Retreat by Bruce Catton, p. 421-422.
3. Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Vol. VIII, p. 330-331.
4. Quoted in Abraham Lincoln: The War Years, Vol. 4 by Carl Sandburg, p. 91.
5. Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Vol. VIII, p. 332-333.
6. Ibid., p. 361.
7. Sherman Memoirs 813 quoted in Upon the Altar of the Nation by Harry S. Stout, p. 452.
8. Quoted in The War for the Union Vol. 4, p. 323.
9. Diary of Gideon Welles entry for April 14, 1865.
10. Quoted in Abraham Lincoln: The War Years, Vol. 4 by Carl Sandburg, p. 264.
11. Ibid., p. 179.
12. Quoted in The War for the Union Vol. 4, p. 339.
13. Ibid., p. 331.
14. Memoirs and Selected Letters by Ulysses S. Grant, p. 774.
15. Black Reconstruction in America by W. E. B. Du Bois, p. 55.

Copyright © 2020 by Sanderson Beck

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United States Victory in 1865
Canada and British Provinces
US Peacemakers & Women Reformers 1845-65
American Literature 1845-56
Preventing United States Civil War
Summary & Evaluating America 1845-1865

World Chronology to 1830
Chronology of America to 1865

BECK index