The American Civil War

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The American Civil War

The American Civil War

The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the events surrounding
the end of the American Civil War. This war was a war of epic
proportion. Never before and not since have so many Americans died in
battle. The American Civil War was truly tragic in terms of human
life. In this document, I will speak mainly around those involved on
the battlefield in the closing days of the conflict. Also, reference
will be made to the leading men behind the Union and Confederate
The war was beginning to end by January of 1865. By then,
Federal (Federal was another name given to the Union Army) armies were
spread throughout the Confederacy and the Confederate Army had shrunk
extremely in size. In the year before, the North had lost an enormous
amount of lives, but had more than enough to lose in comparison to the
South. General Grant became known as the "Butcher" (Grant, Ulysses
S., Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant, New York: Charles L. Webster &
Co.,1894) and many wanted to see him removed. But Lincoln stood firm
with his General, and the war continued. This paper will follow the
happenings and events between the winter of 1864-65 and the surrender
of The Confederate States of America. All of this will most certainly
illustrate that April 9, 1865 was indeed the end of a tragedy.


In September of 1864, General William T. Sherman and his army
cleared the city of Atlanta of its civilian population then rested
ever so briefly. It was from there that General Sherman and his army
began its famous "march to the sea". The march covered a distance of
400 miles and was 60 miles wide on the way. For 32 days no news of
him reached the North. He had cut himself off from his base of
supplies, and his men lived on what ever they could get from the
country through which they passed. On their route, the army destroyed
anything and everything that they could not use but was presumed
usable to the enemy. In view of this destruction, it is
understandable that Sherman quoted "war is hell" (Sherman, William T.,
Memoirs of General William T. Sherman. Westport, Conn.:Greenwood
Press, 1972). Finally, on December 20, Sherman's men reached the city
of Savannah and from there Sherman telegraphed to President Lincoln:
"I beg to present you as a Christmas gift the city of Savannah, with
150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about 25,000 bales
of cotton" (Sherman, William T., Memoirs of General William T.
Sherman. Westport, Conn.:Greenwood Press, 1972).
Grant had decided that the only way to win and finish the war
would be to crunch with numbers. He knew that the Federal forces held
more than a modest advantage in terms of men and supplies. This in
mind, Grant directed Sherman to turn around now and start heading back
toward Virginia. He immediately started making preparations to
provide assistance to Sherman on the journey. General John M.
Schofield and his men were to detach from the Army of the Cumberland,
which had just embarrassingly defeated the Confederates at Nashville,
and proceed toward North Carolina. His final destination was to be
Goldsboro, which was roughly half the distance between Savannah and
Richmond. This is where he and his 20,000 troops would meet Sherman
and his 50,000 troops.
Sherman began the move north in mid-January of 1865. The only
hope of Confederate resistance would be supplied by General P.G.T.
Beauregard. He was scraping together an army with every resource he
could lay his hands on, but at best would only be able to muster about
30,000 men. This by obvious mathematics would be no challenge to the
combined forces of Schofield and Sherman, let alone Sherman. Sherman's
plan was to march through South Carolina all the while confusing the
enemy. His men would march in two ranks: One would travel northwest
to give the impression of a press against Augusta and the other would
march northeast toward Charleston. However the one true objective
would be Columbia.
Sherman's force arrived in Columbia on February 16. The city was
burned to the ground and great controversy was to arise. The
Confederates claimed that Sherman's men set the fires "deliberately,
systematically, and atrociously". However, Sherman claimed that the
fires were burning when they arrived. The fires had been set to
cotton bales by Confederate Calvary to prevent the Federal Army from
getting them and the high winds quickly spread the fire. The
controversy would be short lived as no proof would ever be presented.
So with Columbia, Charleston, and Augusta all fallen, Sherman would
continue his drive north toward Goldsboro. On the way, his progress
would be stalled not by the Confederate army but by runaway slaves.
The slaves were attaching themselves to the Union columns and by the
time the force entered North Carolina, they numbered in the thousands
(Barrett, John G., Sherman's March through the Carolinas. Chapel
Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1956). But Sherman's
force pushed on and finally met up with Schofield in Goldsboro on
March 23rd.


Sherman immediately left Goldsboro to travel up to City Point and
meet Grant to discuss plans of attack. When he arrived there, he
found not only Grant, but also Admiral David Porter waiting to meet
with President Lincoln. So on the morning of the March 28th, General
Grant, General Sherman, and Admiral Porter all met with Lincoln on the
river boat "River Queen" to discuss a strategy against General Lee and
General Johnston of the Confederate Army. Several times Lincoln asked
"can't this last battle be avoided?" (Angle and Miers, Tragic Years,
II) but both Generals expected the Rebels (Rebs or Rebels were a name
given to Confederate soldiers) to put up at least one more fight. It
had to be decided how to handle the Rebels in regard to the upcoming
surrender (all were sure of a surrender). Lincoln made his intentions
very clear: "I am full of the bloodshed. You need to defeat the
opposing armies and get the men composing those armies back to
their homes to work on their farms and in their shops." (Sherman,
William T., Memoirs of General William T. Sherman. Westport,
Conn.:Greenwood Press, 1972) The meeting lasted for a number of hours
and near its end, Lincoln made his orders clear: "Let them once
surrender and reach their homes, they won't take up arms again. They
will at once be guaranteed all their rights as citizens of a common
country. I want no one punished, treat them liberally all around. We
want those people to return to their allegiance to the Union and
submit to the laws." (Porter, David D., Campaigning with Grant. New
York: The Century Co., 1897) Well with all of the formalities
outlined, the Generals and Admiral knew what needed to be done.
Sherman returned to Goldsboro by steamer; Grant and Porter left by
train back north. Sherman's course would be to continue north with
Schofield's men and meet Grant in Richmond. However, this would never
happen as Lee would surrender to Grant before Sherman could ever get


General Grant returned back to his troops who were in the process
of besieging Petersburg and Richmond. The

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