The American Civil War
CIVIL WAR IN AMERICA. The conflict between the Northern and Southern States of the Union, in 1861-65, ostensibly and immediately occasioned by disagreement between the two sections on the subject of the control of slavery, but perhaps not less the result of longstanding differences in political and economic theories. The public agitation of the Abolitionists; the nomination of antislavery candidates for the presidency, at each election, from 1840; the introduction in Congress of the " Wilmot Proviso" (q.v.) in 1846; the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law in 1850, and the incidents connected with its enforcement; the repeal of the Missouri Compromise in 1854; the "Dred Scott" case (q.v.) in the United States Supreme Court in 1857; the adoption of the Lecompton Constitution for Kansas in 1858; the John Brown raid at Harper's Ferry in 1859--served to force slavery into conspicuous notice as the leading political issue, to accentuate the irreconcilable divergence of beliefs relative thereto, and to intensify the bitterness which rendered a peaceful settlement of the problem still more difficult. The projection into politics of a sectional issue served to divide the only party that still retained a following both North and South-the Democratic-and to bring about the nomination of four presidential candidates in 1860; Stephen A. Douglas, of Illinois, and John C. Breckenridge, of Kentucky, who were nominated by the two wings of the Democratic party; John Bell, of Tennessee, who was nominated by the so-called Constitutional Union party; and Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois, who was nominated by the Republican party. Abraham Lincoln was elected President, exclusively by the votes of the North; and the immediate effect of his election was to precipitate the secessionist movement. A State convention met at Charleston, December 17, and on the 20th passed an ordinance declaring that "the union now existing between South Carolina and other States, under the name of the United States of America, is hereby dissolved." This example was followed by acts, similarly phrased, passed by conventions of 10 other Southern States, in the following order: Mississippi, Jan. 9, 1861; Florida, January 10: Alabama, January 11; Georgia January 19; Louisiana, January 26; Texas, February l: Virginia, April 17; Arkansas, May 6; North Carolina, May 20; Tennessee, June 8. The States of Missouri, Maryland, and Kentucky were divided in sentiment on the question of secession, and in the ensuing war had representatives in the governments and armies of both sections. The western counties of Virginia remained loyal to the Union and separated themselves from the rest of the State. On Feb. 4, 1861, a Congress met at Montgomery Ala., in which were represented all the States that had passed ordinances of secession previous to that date. This Congress adopted for the new organization a Provisional Federal Constitution, which was later ratified, and the title "Confederate States of America." Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi, was elected President, and Alexander H. Stephens, of Georgia Vice President, of the new Confederacy. In the meantime the State forces of South Carolina had seized the United States Customhouse, Post Office, and Arsenal in Charleston, and had taken possession of Forts Pinckney and Moultrie in the harbor of that city; Major Robert Anderson, in command of Fort Moultrie, with a force of only 128 men, many of whom were noncombatants, having withdrawn to Fort Sumter, which he considered more defensible. On April 12, 1861, hostilities began with the bombardment of Fort Sumter, which, after a brave defense, although several times set on fire by shells, was surrendered on the 14th by Major Anderson-the small garrison withdrawing with the honors of war. There were no casualties on either side. On the day following this event, President Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for 75,000 volunteers, for three months; this was followed by a proclamation declaring the blockade of the Southern ports: and on May 3 a second call was issued for 64,000 men for the army and 18,000 for the navy, to serve "during the war." The United States regular army consisted, Jan. 1, 1861, of 16,402 officers and men; but these had been dispersed by John B. Floyd, Secretary of War under Buchanan, to distant parts of the country. Under his directions, also, quantities of arms and ammunition had been transferred from Northern to Southern arsenals during 1860; and the ships of the United States navy were mostly absent at foreign stations by direction of the Secretary of the Navy, Toucey. A very large proportion of the Southern army officers resigned and entered the Confederate service, though this course was by no means so general on the part of Southern officers in the navy. In the Southern States preparations for war were carried on with great energy. Gen. Robert E. Lee was appointed commander in chief of the Confederate forces in Virginia, their main body being concentrated. at Manassas Junction. On June 10 a Union force was repulsed by the Confederates at Big Bethel, Va. (q.v.), and on July 21 was fought the first battle of Bull Run (q.v.), when the Confederates, under Generals Johnston and Beauregard, completely defeated the Federals, under General McDowell, and threatened the capital. This was the first important battle of the war, and its effect was to rouse both sides to what now promised to be a long and bloody struggle. Meanwhile General McClellan (q.v.) had succeeded in wresting the western portion of Virginia from the Confederates; and immediately after the disastrous defeat at Bull Run he was appointed commander in chief of the Army of the Potomac. His skill in organizing and disciplining large bodies of men, and making valuable soldiers out of raw and inexperienced recruits, doubtless qualified that army for the magnificent part it afterward took in the war.
The Congress of the United States met in extra session July 4, 1861, and, in response to the President's call, voted 500,000 men and $500,000,000. The Northern States, in their individual capacity, had before this time drawn upon their own resources in behalf of the Union cause-New York and Pennsylvania each voting $3,000,000 for the prosecution of the war; Massachusetts and other New England States sending regiments into the field fully armed and equipped; while in every city, town, and village volunteers were gathering and forming themseIves into companies and regiments, to be afterward offered to the governors of the respective States, and through these officials to the country. The latter half of the year 1861 was devoted mainly to organization, and the engagements that occurred were generally without great importance. At the South the enlistment of 400,000 men was going on under a call from the Confederate Congress. The Confederates also had possession of the United States Arsenal at Harper's Ferry and of the Navy Yard at Norfolk, Va., where they had seized 2000 cannon and the steam frigate Merrimac, one of the finest in the United States navy. General Lyon succeeded in securing Missouri for the Union by a series of engagements which terminated, however, in the defeat at Wilson's Creek (near Springfield), August 10, in which he fell. On October 21 the Confederates gained a success by almost annihilating the Federal force of 1500 to 1700 men which had been sent to Ball's Bluff (q.v.) on the Potomac and left there unsupported. Gen. U. S. Grant, after having seized Paducah, at the mouth of the Tennessee River, and another important strategic point at the mouth of the Cumberland, captured, on November 7, the Confederate camp at Belmont, Mo., though he was soon driven back by the Confederate General Pillow, acting under orders from General Polk. On the same date a United States naval force under Admiral Dupont captured Forts Walker and Beauregard at Port Royal, S. C. On the following day the Confederate commissioners, Mason and Slidell, were taken, by Captain Wilkes of the United States frigate San Jacinto, from the British mail steamer Trent, while on their way to their respective missions to England and France. Complications with England were averted by the prompt disavowal of Captain Wilkes's act by the United States government. The Federal force in the field in the beginning of 1862 was about 450,000 men; the Confederate force about 350,000. During January some successes were gained in Kentucky, at Prestonburg and Mill Springs, by the Federals, under Colonel Garfield and General Thomas. General Grant, aided by a naval force under Commodore Foote, captured Fort Henry, on the Tennessee River, February 6; and 10 days later General Grant attacked Fort Donelson, on the Cumberland, which surrendered with nearly 15,000 prisoners and 40 cannon. A naval expedition under General Burnside and Commodore Goldsborough captured Roanoke Island, Newbern, N. C., on February 8. On March 7-8 occurred the battle of Pea Ridge, in western Arkansas, in which the Federals under Gen. S. R. Curtis defeated the Confederates under Gen. Earl Van Dorn. On March 9 the Confederate ironclad Virginia (formerly the Merrimac), after having on the preceding day inflicted great loss on the wooden vessels of the Union squadron in Hampton Roads, was herself defeated in a remarkable naval engagement by the newly constructed Monitor, under Worden. In the West the Northern campaign was directed towards opening the Mississippi, and towards cutting the Memphis-Charleston railroad line. In the course of the southward movement for the latter purpose, General Grant fought the great two days' battle of Shiloh (or of Pittsburg Landing), on the Tennessee River, April 6-7. On the first day the attack of the Confederates, under Generals A. S. Johnston (who fell) and Beauregard, threatened the destruction of the Union force, but on the second day Grant, reŰnforced by Buell, drove the enemy from the field. In this theatre of the war, at the close of the following month, the Federals, under Halleck, compelled the evacuation by Beauregard of the important strategic point of Corinth, Miss. On April 8 General Pope and Commodore Foote captured Island No. 10 (q.v.), in the Mississippi River. Fort Pulaski, near Savannah, Ga., was bombarded and captured by Major Gillmore, April 11; and at the close of this month New Orleans was captured by Farragut and occupied by Northern forces. The Army of the Potomac, which had devoted its time during the winter of 1861-62 to organization, moved early in the spring to the peninsula formed by the James and York rivers, and gained an equivocal success at Williamsburg, Va., May 5. The army then advanced up the peninsula to the Chickahominy, and won the battle of Fair Oaks (Seven Pines), on May 31-June 1, against Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, but the approach of "Stonewall" Jackson, with a force fresh from a victorious advance through the Shenandoah valley, to cooperate with Lee, made it necessary, in the judgment of McClellan, to effect a change of base to the James River; and this hazardous movement was accomplished at the expense of some of the hardest fought engagements of the war, known collectively as the Seven Days' Battles --those of Oak Grove, June 25; Mechanicsville, June 26; Gaines's Mill, June 27; Savage's Station, June 29; Frazier's Farm, June 30; and Malvern Hill, July 1. In July, Halleck was appointed commander in chief of the Union armies, but he did not assume personal command. As a result of the peninsula movement and the "change of base," the advantage remained with the Confederates, who had successfully defeated the original plan for the capture of Richmond by this route. The scene of the Eastern campaign was thus again shifted to northern Virginia; and on August 29-30 occurred the second battle of Bull Run (q.v.), between the Federal forces commanded by Gen. John Pope and the Confederates under Lee, Jackson, and Longstreet. Pope was utterly defeated, and his broken and dispirited columns were driven back upon Washington. Lee now undertook the invasion of the Union territory, and crossed the Potomac into Maryland. McClellan encountered him successfully at South Mountain, September 14, and definitively checked his progress in the severe battle of Antietam, September 16-17, forcing him to retreat across the Potomac. Harper's Ferry, which had been evacuated by the Confederates in June, 1861, was recaptured by Stonewall Jackson (q.v.), Sept. 15, 1862, when 11,583 men and a great quantity of munitions of war fell into the hands of the Confederates. On September 22 President Lincoln issued a proclamation decreeing the emancipation on Jan. 1, 1863, of all slaves in the States which should till then continue in a state of rebellion. This was followed on January 1 by a proclamation definitively emancipating the slaves in the rebellious States. On Nov. 7, 1862, General McClellan was superseded in the command of the Army of the Potomac by General Burnside, against the wish of the latter, who was defeated disastrously at Fredericksburg, Va., December 13. (See FREDECKSBCRG.) On Jan. 26, 1863, General Burnside was relieved by General Hooker, who was defeated by Lee in a great battle at Chancellorsville (q.v.) on May 2-4. The death of Stonewall Jackson made the victory a dearly bought one for the Confederates. Lee followed up this success by invading Maryland again, and early in June entered Pennsylvania. On June 28 Hooker was relieved from the command of the Army of the Potomac by Gen. George G. Meade (q.v.), and the latter at once pursued the Confederates with such celerity and determination that Lee was forced to stop and give battle. The two armies met in the great battle of Gettysburg, which lasted July 1-3. General Reynolds was killed during the first day's fight, and on the last day General Hancock was dangerously wounded. The result of the three days' battle was a most complete Federal victory. Lee having recrossed the Potomac, now retreated to a position on the Rapidan, and strategic movements on the part of the two armies, accompanied by occasional heavy skirmishing, occupied the time until winter. In the southwest, since the close of 1862, the main operations had centred about Vicksburg, converted by the Confederates into a great stronghold. After various attempts at its capture had failed, General Grant, by a series of brilliant strategic movements, succeeded in May, 1863, in closely investing the city, and on July 4, almost at the moment of the victory of Gettysburg, General Pemberton was forced by famine to surrender the place with his army of 30,000 men. The fall of Port Hudson, July 8, secured the complete control of the Mississippi by the Union forces and thus separated the two sections of the Confederacy. The struggle for the middle ground of Kentucky and Tennessee was marked by the battles of Perryville, Oct. 8, 1862, and of Murfreesboro, Dec. 31, 1862, and Jan. 2, 1863, with a result favorable to the Federals. On Sept. 9, 1863, General Rosecrans occupied Chattanooga. On September 19-20 he fought a bloody battle at Chickamauga and was defeated, the heroic stand made by General Thomas alone saving the Union army from destruction. This reverse was more than redeemed by the great victory of Grant over Bragg at Chattanooga (November 23-25-storming of Lookout Mountain, November 24, and of Missionary Ridge, November 25). This made it possible for Sherman to raise the siege of Knoxville, where General Burnside had been hard pressed by the Confederates under Longstreet. At the close of the year the Federal forces held Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, a large part of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida, and the Rio Grande frontier of Texas, and had control of the Mississippi River. A draft in the Northern States for 300,000 men, with an exemption clause, had added 50,000 men to the Federal armies.
In the early part of 1864 General Banks, assisted by Gen. A. J. Smith and a fleet under Admiral Porter, undertook an expedition up the Red River. A defeat at the hands of Generals Kirby Smith and Richard Taylor at Sabine Cross Roads, April 8, ruined the prospects of the expedition, which ended in complete failure.
General Grant was made lieutenant general and commander in chief in March, 1864. He turned over his command in the West and South to Sherman and took personal command of the armies of the East. A combined movement against the two remaining armies of the Confederates, those of Lee and Johnston, was now to be made under the personal direction of these two great generals. Sherman's army was in motion from Chattanooga by May 7, and forced General Johnston through Georgia as far as Atlanta, defeating the Confederates at almost every point in a series of vigorous engagements, including those at Dalton, Rome, and Resaca, though he met with a severe defeat at Kenesaw Mountain. General Hood, who now replaced General Johnston, made repeated but disastrous attacks upon Sherman's forces (July 20, 22, 28) and, after being beleaguered in Atlanta, evacuated the city, which was occupied by Sherman on September 2. In the meantime the Army of the Potomac, with General Meade in immediate command, had broken camp on the Rapidan and undertaken the tremendous campaign of the Wilderness, with the design of forcing the fighting straight to Richmond. During this campaign of 43 days, fully 130,000 men on the Federal side and about 70.000 men on the Confederate side, with constant reenforcements, were engaged almost continuously. On May 5-6 was fought the battle of the Wilderness, which was followed by the battles of Spottsylvania Courthouse, the sharp engagement on the North Anna, and the terrible repulse of the Federal army at Cold Harbor on June 3. Finally, on the night of June 12, the Army of the Potomac crossed the Chickahominy and took position on the south side of the James River. The design of this movement was to threaten Richmond by way of Petersburg; and, to thwart it, Lee at once threw a large portion of his army within the defenses of the latter city, which proved to be impregnable to assault, and only to be reduced by regular approaches and a skillful siege. The regular investment of Petersburg was begun on June 19. While this protracted siege was in progress; the Confederate General Early made a rapid movement across the Potomac, achieving a success on the Monocacy, July 9, and threatening Washington itself. He then withdrew into the Shenandoah valley, and engaged in a vigorous campaign against General Sheridan, which ended, after a defeat near Winchester on September 19, in General Early's utter rout at Cedar Creek October 19. On June 19 the Kearsarge ended the destructive career of the Confederate cruiser Alabama, by sinking her off Cherbourg, France. In the month of August Admiral Farragut forced his way into Mobile Bay and defeated the Confederate squadron. General Sherman set out from Atlanta on his famous "March to the Sea" on November 15, carrying his compact army of 60,000 men through the heart of Georgia, and occupied Savannah on December 21, after carrying Fort McAllister by assault on the 13th. While Sherman was thus successful, General Hood had invaded Tennessee, driving the Federal forces before him. His movement ended in the battle of Nashville, December 15-16, where his army was destroyed by General Thomas. Thus at the close of the year the Federal forces were in possession of a large portion of the South, and Sherman was in a position to have the co÷peration of the navy, and thus to move northward securely, so that he and Grant might hold between their two armies the weakened forces of both Lee and Johnston. In 1864 Abraham Lincoln was renominated by the Republicans, and General McClellan was nominated by the Demoerats, who put forth a platform declaring the war a failure. Twenty-five States took part in this election; the electoral vote was 233, of which Lincoln received 212; the popular vote of Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, of Tennessee, was 2,223,035, and that of McClellan and Pendleton 1,811,714. During the latter part of December and .January, General Sherman had remained in Savannah, resting his troops; but on Feb. 1, 1865, he again took the field. Marching through South Carolina, he took possession of Columbia on February 17, and on the following day Charleston, which had been besieged since 1863, was occupied by the Federals. Sherman now pushed on into North Carolina, where, on January 15, Fort Fisher, near Wilmington, had been captured, and where now two other Federal armies-under Schofield from Newbern, and Terry from Wilmington-co÷perated with him, the three armies meeting at Goldsboro, N. C. Gen. J. E. Johnston, with the main army of the Confederates in that region, made an ineffectual attempt to cheek Sherman's advance at Bentonville, N. C. On March 24 General Grant issued an order for a combined movement of the armies operating against Richmond, to take place on the 29th. But on the 25th General Lee made a desperate attempt to break through the Federal line on the Appomattox River, and Fort Stedman was captured by the Confederates, only to be immediately retaken. On March 31-April 1 General Sheridan defeated the Confederates at Five Forks, which protected the South-Side Railroad, and thereby Lee's connections with Richmond, and captured 6000 prisoners. This was the final and irretrievable blow to the Confederate army. On the following day, April 2, General Grant attacked along the whole line in front of Petersburg, and on the evening of that day both Petersburg and Richmond were abandoned. General Lee retreated towards Lynchburg, but was intercepted by Sheridan, and on April 9 surrendered his army to General Grant at Appomattox Courthouse. General Johnston finally surrendered his army on April 26, although he had practically surrendered eight days earlier. On May 4 General Taylor surrendered the Confederate forces in Alabama to General Canby. The last fight of the war took place, May 13, 1865, on the Rio Grande. The last Confederate army in the field-the trans-Mississippi-was surrendered by Kirby Smith, on May 26. At the moment of final victory occurred the assassination of President Lincoln, on April 14.
The number of Federal soldiers in the field during the war was 2,666,999, the number drafted and held to service being 43,347; furnished substitutes, 73,607; paid commutation, 86,724; total drafted, 206,678, to which should be added 87,588 credited to the States under the draft of 1862; making in all, drafted, 294,266. The amount of commutation moneys received by the government was $26,366,316.78; the amount of bounties paid by the United States government was $300,223,500; by State and local authorities, $285,941,036. The casualties in the Federal army numbered 359,528; 110,070 men were killed in action or died of wounds; and 249,458 men died from disease, accident, or other causes. The entire available force capable of active service in the field, enrolled in the Confederate armies, was about 500,000 men, the number of enlistments being estimated from 1,239,000 to 1,400,000. Their entire loss in killed and wounded during the war was about 95,000 men; that from disease, accident, and other causes probably amounted to 164,000. During the war Confederate cruisers, fitted out mostly in British ports, scoured the ocean, doing irreparable damage to the commerce of the United States. (See ALABAMA CLAIMS.) After the evacuation of Richmond, Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, fled south, and was captured May 10, 1865, at Irwinville, Ga., by General Wilson's forces, as he was attempting to make his escape farther south. In company with certain others of the prominent leaders of the Confederacy, he was imprisoned for a time, but was not eventually punished.
The New International Encyclopaedia, Vol V (New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1920) 380-384.