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
forces. 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. CUTTING OFF THE SOUTH 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. THE END IS PLANNED 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 there. THE PUSH FOR THE END General Grant
returned back to his troops who were in the process of besieging Petersburg and

Richmond. These battles had been going on for months. On March 24, before the
meeting with President Lincoln, Grant drew up a new plan for a flanking movement
against the Confederates right below Petersburg. It would be the first large
scale operation to take place this year and would begin five days later. Two
days after Grant made preparations to move again, Lee had already assessed the
situation and informed President Davis that Richmond and Petersburg were doomed.

Lee's only chance would be to move his troops out of Richmond and down a
southwestern path toward a meeting with fellow General Johnston's (Johnston had
been dispatched to Virginia after being ordered not to resist the advance of

Sherman's Army) forces. Lee chose a small town to the west named Amelia Court

House as a meeting point. His escape was narrow; they (the soldiers) could see

Richmond burn as they made their way across the James River and to the west.

Grant had finally broke through and Richmond and Petersburg were finished on the
second day of April. LINCOLN VISITS FALLEN RICHMOND On April 4th, after visiting

Petersburg briefly, President Lincoln decided to visit the fallen city of

Richmond. He arrived by boat with his son, Tad, and was led ashore by no more
than 12 armed sailors. The city had not yet been secured by Federal forces.

Lincoln had no more than taken his first step when former slaves started forming
around him singing praises. Lincoln proceeded to join with General Godfrey

Weitzel who had been place in charge of the occupation of Richmond and taken his
headquarters in Jefferson Davis' old residence. When he arrived there, he and

Tad took an extensive tour of the house after discovering Weitzel was out and
some of the soldiers remarked that Lincoln seemed to have a boyish expression as
he did so. No one can be sure what Lincoln was thinking as he sat in Davis'
office. When Weitzel arrived, he asked the President what to do with the
conquered people. Lincoln replied that he no longer gave direction in military
manners but went on to say: "If I were in your place, I'd let 'em up easy,
let 'em up easy" (Johnson, Robert Underwood, and Clarence Clough Buel,
eds., Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, Vol 4. New York: The Century Co.,

1887). THE CHASE BEGINS Lee's forces were pushing west toward Amelia and the

Federals would be hot on their tails. Before leaving Richmond, Lee had asked the

Commissary Department of the Confederacy to store food in Amelia and the troops
rushed there in anticipation. What they found when they got there however was
very disappointing. While there was an abundance of ammunition and ordinance,
there was not a single morsel of food. Lee could not afford to give up his lead
over the advancing Federals so he had to move his nearly starving troops out
immediately in search of food. They continued westward, still hoping to join
with Johnston eventually, and headed for Farmville, where Lee had been informed,
there was an abundance of bacon and cornmeal. Several skirmishes took place
along the way as some Federal regiments would catch up and attack, but the

Confederate force reached Farmville. However, the men had no more that started
to eat their bacon and cornmeal when Union General Sheridan arrived and started
a fight. Luckily, it was nearly night, and the Confederate force snuck out under
cover of the dark. But not before General Lee received General Grants first
request for surrender. NOWHERE TO RUN The Confederates, in their rush to leave

Farmville in the night of April 7th, did not get the rations they so desperately
needed, so they were forced to forage for food. Many chose to desert and leave
for home. General Lee saw two men leaving for home and said "Stop young
men, and get together you are straggling" and one of the soldiers replied
"General, we are just going over here to get some water" and Lee
replied "Strike for your home and fireside" (Freeman, Douglas Southall,

R.E. Lee: A Biography, Vol 3. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1935): they
did. Rebel forces reached their objective, Appomattox Court House, around 3pm on

April 8th. Lee received word that to the south, at Appomattox Station, supplies
had arrived by train and were waiting there. However, the pursuing Union forces
knew this also and took a faster southern route to the station. By 8pm that
evening the Federals had taken the supplies and would wait there for the
evening, preparing to attack the Confederates at Appomattox Court House in the
morning. Meanwhile, Lee scribbled out a brave response to Grant's inquiry simply
asking for explanation of the terms to be involved in the surrender. THE FINAL

BATTLE At daybreak the Confederate battle line was formed to the west of

Appomattox. The Union soldiers were in position in front of the line with
cannons. When the Federal cannons started to fire, the Confederate signal for
attack was sounded and the troops charged. One soldier later remarked: "It
was my fortune to witness several charges during the war, but never one so
magnificently executed as this one." (McCarthy, Carlton, Detailed Minutiae
of Soldier Life in the Army of Northern Virginia 1861-1865. Richmond: Carlton

McCarthy, 1882) This Confederate advance only lasted from about 7am to 9am, at
which time the Rebels were forced back. The Confederates could no longer hold
their lines and Lee sent word to Grant to meet at 1pm to discuss surrender. The
two men met at the now famous McLean House and a surrender was agreed upon. It
was 2pm on April 9, 1865. Johnston's army surrendered to General Sherman on

April 26 in North Carolina; General Taylor of Mississippi-Alabama and General

Smith of the trans Mississippi-Texas surrendered in May ending the war
completely. SUMMARY The Civil War was a completely tragic event. Just think, a
war in which thousands of Americans died in their home country over nothing more
than a difference in opinion. Yes, slavery was the cause of the Civil War: half
of the country thought it was wrong and the other half just couldn't let them
go. The war was fought overall in probably 10,000 different places and the
monetary and property loss cannot be calculated. The Union dead numbered 360,222
and only 110,000 of them died in battle. Confederate dead were estimated at

258,000 including 94,000 who actually died on the field of battle. The Civil War
was a great waste in terms of human life and possible accomplishment and should
be considered shameful. Before its first centennial, tragedy struck a new
country and stained it for eternity. It will never be forgotten but adversity
builds strength and the United States of America is now a much stronger nation.

Bibliography
"The

Civil War", Groliers Encyclopedia, 1995 Catton, Bruce., A Stillness at

Appomattox. New York: Doubleday, 1963 Foote, Shelby., The Civil War, Vol. 3. New

York: Random, 1974 Garraty, John Arthur, The American Nation: A History of the

United states to 1877, Vol. 1, Eighth Edition. New York: HarperCollins College

Publishers, 1995 Miers, Earl Schenck, The Last Campaign. Philadelphia: J.B.

Lippincott Co., 1972 Korn, Jerry, Pursuit to Appomattox, The Last Battles.

Virginia: Time-Life Books, 1987