The Civil War (150 Years Later)
The Civil War is part of American history. We can’t know about American history in a full fashion without understanding what the Civil War was all about. It was the bloodiest war in American soil and its ended overt, legalized slavery in the USA. I wrote about the Civil War before, but this time it's different. It has been over 150 years since the end of the Civil War. Now, it is the perfect time to outline information about this bloody war. The Union and the Confederate forces fought each other across states and it pit even relatives against each other. I am from Virginia, so I am reminded of the Civil War all of the time. Many Virginians and people globally know about the Civil War greatly. Museums, statues, etc. remind us about the Civil War constantly. There were numerous factors that led into the Civil War like trade issues, political issues (like many Republicans seeking to expand free soil states while many Democrats including southern slaveowners wanting new states to embrace slavery), economic issues, sectarian disputes, and other factors. Yet, one primary factor on why the Civil War existed was the North and the South’s discussions on slavery and slavery itself. The Northern bankers wanted free labor while the Southern aristocracy wanted slavery to exist and their cotton crops to continue to grow. Black slaves were forced to grow cotton, while cotton resources were exported into the North, Britain, etc. Northern industries readily shipped cotton (which was grown in the South) to Great Britain. Northerners wanted tariffs to protect their resources. The murder, exploitation, and brutality inflicted on black people and Native Americans was directly tied to the origin of the American nation itself.
Since 1776, America was developed via numerous controversies. The bourgeois First American Revolution (which came about in opposition to the imperialist British Empire) was not completed fully, because black people, women, the poor, and other minorities were readily deprived of their human rights (by an oppressive, capitalist oligarchy). Many Founders feared that the Southerners would not approve of the Constitution, so they compromised to the evil Southern aristocracy as a way for them to allow the Constitution to count slaves as three-fifths of person and to allow slaves to have no citizenship rights. The Bill of Rights was also established as a way for extend human rights. Yet, the Bill of Rights was not applied back then to protect the rights of all American residents. It was not used back then to end slavery. This injustice (of continuing legalized slavery and oppression) among others plagued America for decades. The invention of the cotton gin, the growth of American imperialism in North America (i.e. the Louisiana Purchase and the broken treaties with Native Americans were injustices), and the growth of the abolitionist movement (which made up of blacks, whites, Native Americans, and others) caused the tensions in America to grow. Even Thomas Jefferson before he died knew that the nation was headed for a Civil War indirectly. President John Quincy Adams outright predicted that:
"...If slavery be the destined sword in the hand of the destroying angel which is to sever the ties of this Union, the same sword will cut in sunder the bonds of slavery itself. A dissolution of the Union for the cause of slavery would be followed by a servile war in the slave-holding States, combined with a war between the two severed portions of the Union. It seems to me that its result must be the extirpation of slavery from this whole continent; and calamitous and desolating as this course of events in its progress must be, so glorious would be its final issue that, as God shall judge me, I dare not say that it is not to be desired..."
Some of the Southerners wanted to expand territories into more areas beyond the Old South, but mny of the Northerners rejected this action (since they viewed it as a way for the South to gain more political power in Congress). The slave owners wanted to promote states' rights as a way for them to expand their power. Evil supporters of Jim Crow apartheid used states' rights arguments in promoting discrimination and racism. Today, the Tea Party and other reactionaries use the states' rights argument. The newly formed Republican Party had members who didn’t oppose slavery per se, but they didn’t want new territories in the Union to adopt slavery (they wanted new territories to be made up of free labor).
Many Republicans back then did oppose slavery though. The Missouri Compromise of 1850 didn't work to end tensions in America. The disgraceful and evil 1850 Fugitive Slave Act penalized officials who did not arrest an alleged runaway slave, and made them liable to a fine of $1,000 (about $28,000 in present-day value). Law-enforcement officials everywhere were required to arrest persons suspected of being a runaway slave on as little as a claimant's sworn testimony of ownership. The suspected slave could not ask for a jury trial or testify on his or her own behalf. The 1850 Fugitive Act was part of the Missouri Compromise. Abolitionists like Frederick Douglas opposed the Fugitive Slave Act in the strongest terms. The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 allowed incoming settlers to decide for themselves on whether to permit slavery in Kansas and Nebraska. This act repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820 which prohibited slavery in the former Louisiana Territory north of the parallel 36°30′ north, except within the boundaries of the proposed state of Missouri. This caused white racist terrorists to attack abolitionists, black people, etc. in Kansas. The evil Supreme Court decision from 1857 prevented Dred Scott (who was a slave) to have full human rights. In 1859, John Brown led an unsuccessful attempt to incite a slave uprising at Harpers Ferry. He was courageous and he worked with many black people. He died and he was a hero just like other heroes who include Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey, etc. Harriet Tubman freed about 300 slaves in her 19 trips to the South. Sojouner Truth was another excellent abolitionist who inspired people and saved lives. President Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860. His original concern was maintaining the Union at all costs. Lincoln's views on race in his debates with Stephen Douglas were wrong and evil. Ideologically, Abraham Lincoln abhorred and hated slavery, but he didn't want the South to end slavery immediately. As time went on, Lincoln moved into the left and became more progressive on issues of slavery, race, and the Union. Therefore, the Abraham Lincoln of 1865 was a whole lot different from the Abraham Lincoln of 1860.
The 1860 U.S. election didn’t just involve the Republican Abraham Lincoln and John C. Breckinridge of the Southern Democrats. John Bell and Stephen A. Douglas ran for President as well. The debates dealt with popular sovereignty (or the right of states to establish slavery or not in their territories), slavery in general, the homesteads (which the Republican Party supported. Homesteads were government-funded lands given to immigrants and others in the free territories of the Midwest and the West). Abraham Lincoln won the election on November 6, 1860. That election represented the sectional struggle over the question of slavery. It was not solved in 1776. The Democratic Party’s President Andrew Jackson was a known supporter of the Southern planters and the slavery aristocracy. The Democratic administration of James K. Polk instigated a war with Mexico, so slavery can be opened to the vast territories of the West. Ironically, Abraham Lincoln opposed the Mexican-American war. Immediately, the South started to consider secession after Lincoln was voted President. The South passed a punitive fugitive slave law which deprived the human rights of black people. Frederick Douglas and other abolitionists praised the Lincoln electoral victory. Frederick Douglas said that: “...Lincoln’s election has vitiated their authority, and broken their power...More important still, it has demonstrated the possibility of electing, if not an abolitionist, at least an anti-slavery reputation to the presidency.” (James McPherson, The Struggle for Equality, Abolitionists and the Negro in Civil War and Reconstruction, (Princeton University Press second paperback edition), p. 26). Lincoln ended the nefarious era of Buchanan where the ex-President Buchanan submitted to Southern interests. On December 20, 1860, South Carolina seceded from the Union. Acting on his own initiative a few days after the South Carolina legislature voted for secession, the commander of the garrison of Fort Moultrie in Charleston decided to move his troops to the more powerful and less exposed Fort Sumter on an island in the middle of Charleston harbor. Meanwhile, Lincoln passed word to General Winfield Scott, commander of the US army, to hold or, if necessary, retake the fort. Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana all seceded in January 1861 alone. The Confederacy starts in early 1861 and they elect Jefferson Davis as its provisional Confederate President on February 9, 1861. Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated on March 4, 1861. The Confederates attacked first on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. This action by the Confederates officially started the Civil War. Soon, Fort Sumter surrenders to Southern forces. Virginia secedes on April 17, 1861.
The Civil War lasted for over 4 years. It existed from April 12, 1861 to May 9, 1865 (by declaration). The Confederacy had members with great military experience as many of its Generals and soldiers participated in the Mexican-American war. Yet, the Union had more people, more factories, more soldiers, and a stronger infrastructure than the Southern Confederacy. President Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis were adversaries. Even the compromising ex-President James Buchanan and the incoming Republicans rejected secession as illegal. Abraham Lincoln’s 1861 inaugural address wanted his administration to not provoke or initiate a civil war. Still, Confederate forces seized numerous federal forts within territories claimed by the Confederacy. A peace conference on February of 1861 failed for both sides to find a compromise. So, both sides prepared for war. The Civil War was a war of Southern aggression (against humanity) in which the planter class wanted to preserve its political dominance via slavery. The Confederates wanted European countries like Great Britain to help them out, but European nations never directly intervened in the Civil War militarily except with Russia’s intervention (Russia sent fleets to San Francisco and New York City as a way to protect Union interests. The Czar Alexander II emancipated the serf in 1861, which was very historic. This action gave the over 23 million Russian serfs human rights) and other actions by other countries.
After the Fort Sumter attack, President Abraham Lincoln called for every Union state to provide troops to retake the fort. Lincoln controlled the Border States by arresting state legislators and suspending habeas corpus. This ignored the ruling of the Supreme Court’s Chief Justice that such suspension was unconstitutional. Lincoln formed a naval blockade in the Atlantic Ocean. This action was crucial in crippling the Southern economy. It was one reason out of many on why the Union ultimately won the war (which was a good thing. The Confederacy was an evil empire). Union General Winfield Scott created the Anaconda Plan to support a naval blockade of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. In that sense, it would keep European nations out and prevent them from helping the Confederacy economically, militarily, or otherwise. Lincoln supported this Anaconda plan and on April 1861, Abraham Lincoln announced the Union blockade of all Southern ports. Commercial ships couldn’t get insurance and regular traffic ended. The South decreased its exports of cotton. There was the Eastern Theater which was inconclusive from 1861-1862.
The Battle of First Manassas or Bull Run took placed in Virginia in the date of July 21, 1861. There were about 4,878 casualties. The Union forces in this battle were led by Major General Irvin McDowell. McDowell’s troops were forced back to Washington D.C. by the Confederates under the command of Generals Joseph E. Johnston and P.G.T. Beauregard. During this battle, Confederate General Thomas Jackson was nicknamed “Stonewall” because he stood like a stone wall against Union troops. The Union lost the Battle of Bull Run. Alarmed at the loss, and in an attempt to prevent more slave states from leaving the Union, the U.S. Congress passed the Crittenden-Johnson Resolution on July 25 of that year, which stated that the war was being fought to preserve the Union and not to end slavery. On July 26, 1861, Major General George B. McClellan took command of the Union Army of the Potomac.
Throughout the year of 1862, the Confederate government wanted to entice Britain to recognize its legitimacy. For the Union side, they wanted to execute simultaneous advances along four axes. McClellan would lead the main thrust into Virginia towards Richmond. Ohio forces would go through Kentucky into Tennessee. The Missouri Department would drive south along the Mississippi River and the westernmost attack would originate from Kansas. The Civil War had many Naval battles too. The ironclad warship was a new addition in the theater of warfare. The Confederacy created ironclads as a means for them to meet or match the Union’s naval superiority and to fight the Union blockade. These ironclads had floating batteries, ram bows, and they should were used to threaten Union ships. The CSS Virginia was built from the sunken ship called the Merrimack. It traveled on March 8, 1862 to try to decimate the Union’s wooden fleet. The next day it encountered the first Union ironclad called the USS Monitor (to challenge the CSS Virginia). The Battle resulted in a draw and it was the worldwide transition to ironclad warships. The Confederacy lost the Virginia when the ship was scuttled to prevent capture and the Union many ironclads. The Confederacy would obtain warships from Britain, because they lacked the technology to build more effective warships. Confederate General Leonidas Polk invaded Columbus, Kentucky. This caused Kentucky to end their neutrality and turned the state against the Confederacy. Ulysses S. Grant used river transport and Andrew Foote’s gunboats of the Western Flotilla to threaten the Confederacy’s “Gibraltar of the West” at Columbus, Kentucky. Grant was rebuffed at Belmont, but cut off Columbus. The Confederates didn’t have their own gunboats and they were forced to retreat. In early 1862, the Union forces won Nashville and central Tennessee. Soon, the Union took control of western Kentucky in March 1862. Shipyards in Cairo, Illinois and St. Louis created more warships from modified steamboats. The Union Navy took control of the Red, Tennessee, Cumberland, Mississippi, and Ohio rivers after victories at Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, and supplied Grant's forces as he moved into Tennessee.
There was the famous battle of Shiloh from April 6-8, 1862 in southwestern Tennessee (in the Western Theater of the American Civil War). The battle started when the Confederates made a surprise attack on Union forces. This pushed the Union troops against the river as night fell. Overnight, the Navy landed additional reinforcements and Grant counter attacked. Grant and the Union finally won a decisive victory. This is the first battle of the Civil War with a high casualty rate which would be a pattern throughout the Civil War. The Union advances continued. Memphis fell to Union forces and became a key base for further advances south along the Mississippi River. By April of 1862, U.S. Naval forces under Farragut ran past Confederate defenses south of New Orleans. Confederates abandoned the city of New Orleans, which gave the Union a critical anchor in the Deep South. Many scholars have written about Karl Marx and the Civil War. Regardless of how we view Karl Marx's economic views, he was right to mention that slavery was a big factor of why the Civil War began in the first place. Also, Karl Marx corresponded with President Abraham Lincoln. They exchanged letters during the end of the Civil War. In their letters, they disagreed on many issues. Yet, they agreed on ending slavery and the growth of free labor. Karl Marx wrote: "The war of the Southern Confederacy is...not a war of defense, but a war of conquest, a war of conquest for the extension and perpetuation of slavery."
Early Major Battles
President Abraham Lincoln pressured General McClellan to begin offensive operations in Virginia during 1862. By spring of 1862, McClellan attacked Virginia by way of the peninsula between the York and James River. This was southeast of Richmond, where many of my kinfolks live at. McClellan’s army reaches the gates of Richmond via his Peninsula Campaign. Confederate General Joseph Eggleston Johnson halted his advance at the Battle of Seven Pines. Later, General Robert E. Lee (including top subordinates James Longstreet and Stonewall Jackson) defeated McClellan in the Seven Days Battles and forced the Union General McClellan to retreat. The Northern Virginia Campaign that included the Second Battle of Bull Run ended in another victory for the South. McClellan resisted General-in-Chief Halleck's orders to send reinforcements to John Pope's Union Army of Virginia, which made it easier for Lee's Confederates to defeat twice the number of combined enemy troops. The summer of 1862, Confederate victories came about in the Eastern Theater. Meanwhile, in the Western Theater, the Confederate armies of Generals Braxton Bragg and Edmund Kirby Smith moved into Kentucky and Tennessee and threatened Louisville and Cincinnati.
During the early stages of the Civil War, the Confederacy had many early victories. During the autumn of 1862, the Confederate campaign came into Maryland (a Union state). In June 7-8, 1862, there was the first Battle of Chattanooga. The battle was an artillery battle.
After Mitchel received command of all Federal troops between Nashville and Huntsville on May 29, he ordered Brig. Gen. James Negley with a small division to lead an expedition to capture Chattanooga. This force arrived before Chattanooga on June 7. Negley ordered the 79th Pennsylvania Infantry out to reconnoiter. It found the Confederates entrenched on the opposite side of the river along the banks and atop Cameron Hill. Union General Negley brought up two artillery batteries to open fire on the rebel troops and the town and sent infantry to the river bank to act as sharpshooters. The Union bombardment of Chattanooga continued throughout June 7 and until noon on June 8. The Confederates replied, but it was uncoordinated since the undisciplined gunners were allowed to do as they wished. On June 10, Smith, who had arrived on June 8, 1862 reported that Negley had withdrawn and the Confederate loss was minor. This attack on Chattanooga was a warning that Union troops could mount assaults when they wanted. The Union was victorious.
In the Western Theater, General Braxton Bragg’s second Confederate invasion of Kentucky had a victory over Maj. General Carlos Buell at the Battle of Perryville. Bragg was later forced to end his attempt to invading Kentucky because of a lack of support. The Confederates won the Battle of Chickamauga. There was the heroic defensive stand of Union Maj. General Henry Thomas. The Second Bull Run Southern victory caused the Confederacy to be motivated to invade much further into the North for the first time. General Robert E. Lee led 45,000 men of the Army of Northern Virginia to go across the Potomac River into Maryland on September 5, 1862. Lincoln then restored Pope's troops to McClellan. McClellan and Lee fought at the Battle of Antietam near Sharpsburg, Maryland on September 17, 1862. This was the bloodiest single day battle in United States military history. Later, the Confederates retreated at the Battle of Antietam, which dissuaded British intervention. Robert E. Lee’s army returned to Virginia before McClellan could completely destroy it. Antietam is considered a Union victory because it halted Lee's invasion of the North and provided an opportunity for Lincoln to announce his Emancipation Proclamation.
The Union won the Battle of Perryville in Kentucky too. Abraham Lincoln wanted a victory, so he sacked the conservative Democratic General George McClellan for McClellan’s refused to pursue the defeated Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. General McClellan was cautious, so Lincoln replaced him with Major General Ambrose Burnside. Burnside was defeated in the Battle of Fredericksburg on December 13, 1862. This battle caused more than 12,000 Union soldiers to be killed or wounded. The frontal assaults against Marye’s Heights were futile. Union Maj. General Joseph Hooker replaced Burnside after this battle.
The Emancipation Proclamation
Lincoln soon issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which banned slavery in Confederate territories. The Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln on the date of January 1, 1863. It was a very historic proclamation and it shaped Lincoln's political evolution. He was becoming more progressive albeit slowly. Lincoln wanted to issue it after a great Union victory, which occurred. Afterwards, the Union forces increased their motivation to end slavery as a war goal. Abolitionists (both Black and white) organized meetings and demonstrations to oppose the Confederacy. Antislavery papers such as Frederick Douglass’s North Star or William Lloyd Garrison’s The Liberator helped to sway public opinion. The Abolitionists, the Radical Republicans (who were progressives), and others pressured Abraham Lincoln to be more strong on not only defeating the Confederacy, but to end slavery once and for all. The Emancipation Proclamation energized ex-slaves and it grew more black people into the Union armies. The draft persisted. States and local communities offered higher and higher cash bonuses for white volunteers. Congress tightened the law in March 1863. Hooker was humiliated in the Battle of Chancellorsville in May of 1863. This battle caused General Stonewall Jackson to be mortally wounded by his own men during battle. He died as product of the complications. Hooker was gone and the Union Maj. General George Meade replaced him. Meade fought during Lee’s second invasion of the North during June of 1863. Abraham Lincoln readily replaced Generals since he wanted the best person for the job.
The Turning Point
One of the greatest strategist and tacticians of the Civil War was General Ulysses S. Grant. He was trustworthy and he won victories at Fort Henry and Donelson. He allowed the Union to control the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers. He won the Battle of Shiloh. He led the fight in the Battle of Vicksburg. Vicksburg was a Confederate fortress. Once the Union won the battle of Vicksburg, it cemented Union control of the Mississippi River. This caused the Union to cause more victories. Grant marched to the relief of the Rosecrans and defeated Bragg at the Third Battle of Chattanooga. It drove the Confederates out of Tennessee. This opened the route to Atlanta and the heart of the Confederacy. The Union siege of Vicksburg split the Confederacy in two at the Mississippi River. By May 19, 1963, Grant’s army marched 180 miles through the Mississippi River. They fight and won five battles and later the Union forces surrounded Vicksburg. Grant’s troops at first failed to attack the city, so Grant settles for a siege later on.
Robert E. Lee’s Confederate incursion in the North ended at the Battle of Gettysburg. This was one of the most famous battles of the Civil War. It lasted from July 1 to 3, 1863. It was the bloodiest battle of the war and it was a turning point. After the battle, the Union began to win the war in a decisive fashion. Meade’s Union forces defeated Lee’s forces. Pickett’s Charge came on July 3. The Union suffered 23,000 casualties and Lee’s army suffered 28,000 casualties. 29,000 rebels surrendered. The battle of Vicksburg was a huge victory for the Union. On July 4, 1865, General John Pemberton, Confederate commander of the fortress of Vicksburg, Mississippi, surrendered his entire 32,000-man garrison to Major General U.S. Grant. Grant's brilliant and relentless seven-month long campaign to seize Vicksburg, culminating in a 48-day siege, secured control of the entire extent of the Mississippi River for the commerce and military operations of the Union, even as it split the Confederacy into two considerably weakened parts. After the fall of Vicksburg in July 1863, General Kirby Smith in Texas was informed by Jefferson Davis that he could expect no further help from east of the Mississippi River. Although he lacked resources to beat Union armies, he built up a formidable arsenal at Tyler, along with his own Kirby Smithdom economy, a virtual "independent fiefdom" in Texas, including railroad construction and international smuggling. The Union in turn did not directly engage him. Texas remained in Confederate hands throughout the war. On July 18, 1863, the black American 54th Massachusetts Infantry attacked Battery Wagner at Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. The Infantry showed great courage.
Lincoln was angry that Meade failed to intercept Lee's retreat, and after Meade's inconclusive fall campaign, Lincoln turned to the Western Theater for new leadership. At the same time, the Confederate stronghold of Vicksburg surrendered, giving the Union control of the Mississippi River, permanently isolating the western Confederacy, and producing the new leader Lincoln needed, General Ulysses S. Grant. In many places of the North and the South, the draft was unpopular. Men who were selected for the draft can have substitutes or until mid-1864, pay commutation money. Many eligibles pooled their money to cover the cost of anyone drafted. Families used the substitute provision to select which man should go into the army and which should stay home. There was evasion and overt resistance to the U.S. draft in many Catholic areas especially. There was the great racist draft riot in New York City on July of 1863. This involved how many Irish immigrants voted for the city’s Democratic political machine. This made them eligible for the draft. Many people (including newspaper reports) scapegoated black people in NYC for the economic situation in New York City. White racist riots (about 50,000 mostly Irish people) burned buildings and murdered innocent black men, black women, and black children in those riots.
Confederate gangs like the Quantrill’s Raiders stroke military places and civilian settlements in Missouri and Kansas. On August 21, 1863, Confederate William C. Quantrill’s guerilla raid on Lawrence, Kansas killed 150 civilians. A regular Union infantry division ended the Quantrill’s Raiders’ reign of terror against human beings. On November 19, 1863, Abraham Lincoln spoke of the Gettysburg Address. He dedicated a battlefield cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. His speech was one of his greatest speeches. It was delivered in the afternoon at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery. The speech was short only lasting 2 minutes, but it eloquently talked about the principles of human equality and the words from the Declaration of Independence. He spoke about the Civil War as a struggle for not only the preservation of the Union (which has been in danger of collapsing via secession), but the war would result in a “new birth of freedom” that would bring true equality to all of its citizens. Edward Everett gave a two hour oration before Abraham Lincoln gave his address. It is ironic that Abraham Lincoln said that people will not remember what he would say, but over 150 years later, people of every color and every creed would remember exactly what he would say in Gettysburg on 1863.
The Union Continues to Advance
Western successes led to Ulysses S. Grant’s command of all Union armies in 1864. Grant made his headquarters with the Army of the Potomac. He put the Maj. General William Tecumseh Sherman (he was known for his racism and abrasive personality) in command of most of the Union western armies. Grant knew about the concept of total war. He and others believed that the Confederacy must be utterly defeated and their economic base must fall if the Union were to win the war. Lincoln and definitely Sherman believed in this philosophy. Total war was not about killing civilians (according to its proponents), but it did involve taking provisions and forage. Some people destroyed homes, farms, and railroads (which were controlled by the rebels). Grant formed a coordinated policy. He wanted to strike the entire Confederacy from many different directions. Generals George Meade and Benjamin Butler were ordered to go against Lee near Richmond. General Franz Sigel (and later General Philip Sheridan) was to attack the Shenandoah Valley. General Sherman was to capture Atlanta and March to the sea or the Atlantic Ocean. Generals George Crook and William W. Averell were to go against railroad supply lines in West Virginia. Maj. General Nathaniel P. Banks was to capture Mobile, Alabama. Grant’s army went on the Overland Campaign, which tried to draw Lee into the defense of Richmond. Therefore, Lee’s forces would get pin down and destroy Confederate process. The Union army made their offensive at Wilderness, Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor. Both sides suffered heavily loses. Lee’s Confederate troops felll back repeatedly. Lee made a comeback against Butler being trapped in the Bermuda Hundred river bend. The Union had setbacks, but Grant never gave up. He was tenacious and kept pressing Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia back to Richmond.
On April 12, 1964, there was Massacre at Fort Pillow on the Mississippi River in Tennessee. 431 people died. It occurred in Henning, Tennessee. The battle ended with the massacre of Federal Union troops, most of them were black African Americans. These federal troops were attempting to surrender. Confederal Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest was in the battle. Military historian David J. Eicher concluded, "Fort Pillow marked one of the bleakest, saddest events of American military history." A 2002 study by Albert Castel concluded that the Union forces were indiscriminately massacred after Fort Pillow "had ceased resisting or was incapable of resistance." To the west, by the summer of 1864, the Union destroyed the Confederate river naval ships. Lee prepared for a Union attack on Richmond. Grant later used the tactic of crossing the James River and began the Siege of Petersburg. Both armies engaged in trench warfare for over nine months. Grant used the new commander General Philip Sheridan to be aggressive enough to prevail in the Valley Campaigns of 1864. Sheridan was at first repelled at the Battle of New Market by former U.S. Vice President and Confederate Gen. John C. Breckinridge. The Battle of New Market was the Confederacy's last major victory of the war. After redoubling his efforts, Sheridan defeated Maj. Gen. Jubal A. Early in a series of battles, including a final decisive defeat at the Battle of Cedar Creek. Sheridan then proceeded to destroy the agricultural base of the Shenandoah Valley, a strategy similar to the tactics Sherman later employed in Georgia. Sherman maneuvered from Chattanooga to Atlanta. He defeated Confederate Generals Joseph E. Johnston and John Bell Hood along the way.
The End of the War
The fall of Atlanta came about on September 2, 1864. This guaranteed the reelection of Abraham Lincoln as President. Abraham Lincoln would be reelected as President for a second term on November 8, 1964. He received more than 55 percent of the popular vote. Hood left Atlanta and swing around and menace Sherman's supply lines and invade Tennessee in the Franklin-Nashville Campaign. Union Maj. Gen. John Schofield defeated Hood at the Battle of Franklin, and George H. Thomas dealt Hood a massive defeat at the Battle of Nashville, effectively destroying Hood's army. General Sherman continued his March to the Sea. 20 percent of the farms of Georgia were destroyed in the process. He reached the Atlantic Ocean at Savannah, Georgia in December 1864.
On February 19, 1865, Confederate forces abandoned Charleston, South Carolina. On March 3, 1865, the Union Congress creates the Freedmen’s Bureau (an organization to help newly freed black slaves and black people in general to live their own lives). Robert E. Lee’s army became smaller and smaller by desertion and causalities. One of the last Confederate attempts to break the Union hold on Petersburg failed at the decisive Battle of Five Forks. This battle was called the Waterloo of the Confederacy on April 1, 1865. After that battle, the Union controlled the entire perimeter surrounding Richmond-Petersburg, completely cutting it off from the Confederacy. Realizing that the capital was now lost, Lee decided to evacuate his army. The Confederate capital fell to the Union XXV Corps, composed of black troops. The remaining Confederate units fled west and after a defeat at Sayler's Creek. Lee didn’t want to surrender at first, but regroup at the village of Appomattox Court House where supplies were to be waiting (and he could continue the war). Yet, Grant had other plans. Grant chased Lee and got in front of him. Therefore, when Lee’s army reached Appomattox Court House, they were surrounded. After an initial battle, Lee decided that the fight was now hopeless, and so he surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia on April 9, 1865, at the McLean House. In an untraditional gesture and as a sign of Grant's respect and anticipation of peacefully restoring Confederate states to the Union, Lee was permitted to keep his sword and his horse, Traveller.
President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865 was shot by John Wilkes Booth while in Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. That date was on Good Friday too. He died a day later in the morning. We do know that the assassination of Abraham Lincoln was a conspiracy. John Wilkes Booth, Lewis Powell, David Herold, Mary Surratt, and others were involved in the conspiracy to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln. John Wilkes Booth was an evil man. On April 11, 1865, Abraham Lincoln gave a speech at the White House where he said that he supported the idea of enfranchising the former slaves. This caused John Wilkes Booth to be infuriated and Booth soon killed Lincoln.
Andrew Johnson became President. Meanwhile, Confederate forces across the South surrendered as news of Lee's surrender reached them. President Andrew Johnson officially declared a virtual end to the insurrection. On May 9, 1865, Confederate President Jefferson Davis was captured the following day. On June 23, 1865, Cherokee leader Stand Watie was the last Confederate General to surrender his forces.
The American Civil War was one of the first true industrial wars. There was massive usage of railroads, steamships, and mass produced weapons. There was the mobilization of factories, mines, shipyards, banks, etc. About 750,000 soldiers died in the Civil War including thousands of civilians. The end of the Civil War caused overt physical slavery to end and it destroyed the slave-owners’’ power as a class. The war caused revolutionary changes in American society. It was one chapter in the overall human rights struggle for justice and equality. We will always remember the Civil War. Black people were a crucial factor in why the Union won the Civil War too. A final great point is to be mentioned as well. The fight for justice is not over. There are numerous cops killing innocent people in broad daylight with impunity. We see unjust laws. We see the growth of Empire (with the extension of the military industrial complex) and income inequality. We still witness other injustices. So, the end of the Civil War didn't end the system of racism/white supremacy. That is why we have to continue to defend truth, speak truth, and fight for justice as human beings.