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Chapter 21
Part II
Ulysses S. Grant, 1864 by Mathew Brady
Both General Grant and General Lee were West Point graduates and had served in
the U.S. Army during the War with Mexico. Their bloody battles against each other
in 1864 stirred northern revulsion to the war even as they brought its end in sight.
(National Archives)
Copyright © Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Ulysses S. Grant
His life was one of pathetically ordinary failure in everything save the waging
or writing of war.
The son of a tanner, he had no taste for his father's trade. He graduated from
West Point in 1843 and compiled a solid record of service in the Mexican War,
but his army career collapsed in the peacetime boredom of a long isolated
tour of duty in northern California and Oregon.
A drinking problem hastened his resignation from the army in 1854. Next he
tried farming and real estate ventures without success. When the Civil War
broke out in the spring of 1861, he was working as a clerk for his father in
Galena, Illinois.
Grant found his calling in the Civil War. The conflict energized him and
restored his confidence. First commissioned as a colonel of the Twenty-first
Illinois Volunteer Infantry, he was promoted in August 1861 to brigadier
general of volunteers.
He commanded the land forces that captured Fort Henry on the Tennessee
River and Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River in February 1862.
This was his first important battle and the first major Union victory of the war.
Confederate armies counterattacked at the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862.
Aided by timely reinforcements, a surprised and initially outgeneraled Grant
was able to hold his position and force a Confederate retreat into Mississippi.
• Grant's most stunning victory in the West came out of the Vicksburg
campaign in the spring of 1863. In a brilliant display of strategic
audacity, he outflanked the Confederate defenders of Vicksburg by
using the Union navy to run his army downriver from the city.
• He then defeated surprised and scattered Confederate armies and
successfully besieged Vicksburg from the east. The city, the last major
Confederate position on the Mississippi River, surrendered on July 4,
• Having been given the top Union command in the West in October,
Grant lifted the Confederate siege of Chattanooga the next month and
routed Braxton Bragg's Confederate Army of Tennessee. The way was
now open for the Union campaign against Atlanta.
• Congress revived the rank of lieutenant general specifically for Grant,
and President Abraham Lincoln appointed him supreme commander of
the Union armies in March 1864.
• In a series of bloody, grinding encounters Grant finally wore down
Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia between May 1864 and April
1865. Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9,
May 19-July 4, 1863
• Major military engagement of the Civil War.
• Guarding the Mississippi River between Memphis and
New Orleans, the heavily armed Confederate city of
Vicksburg, Mississippi, proved a challenge to Union
general Ulysses S. Grant, who sought to split the
Confederacy in two.
• After his attacks had been repeatedly repulsed by the
Confederates, Grant laid siege to the city, approaching
from the south and east.
• For six weeks the bombardment continued.
• Finally outmanned and out of food and supplies,
Confederate general John Pemberton surrendered to
Grant on July 4, 1863 (one day following the Southern
defeat at Gettysburg), thus giving control of the
Mississippi River to the North and dividing the
The 17th Illinois Infantry, 1864
Veterans of the six-week siege of Vicksburg, the 17th Illinois Infantry remained to
garrison the Mississippi town. Posing for the camera in 1864, these battle-hardened
troops suggest the determination of the Union Army. (National Archives)
Copyright © Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
• Reopening the Mississippi helped to quell
the Northern peace agitation in the
“Butternut” area of the Ohio River valley
• Tipped the political scales in favor of the
– Britain stopped delivery of the Laird rams to
– The French killed a sale of naval vessels to
the Richmond Government
• By 1863 all hopes for foreign help were
• Site of a Confederate prisoner of war camp
established in 1864 during the Civil War.
• Conditions at Andersonville were the worst of
any prison camp on either side.
• Almost 50,000 Union prisoners passed through
this prison; more than 12,000 died of disease,
mistreatment, neglect, or malnutrition.
• Capt. Henry Wirz, in charge of the prison, was
the only Confederate soldier to be tried and
hanged for war crimes after the war.
Andersonville Prison
Started in early 1864, the overcrowded Andersonville prison in southwest Georgia
provided no shelter for its inmates, who built tentlike structures out of blankets,
sticks, or whatever they could find. Exposure, disease, and poor sanitation
contributed to a mortality rate almost double that in other Confederate prison camps
and made Andersonville a scandal that outlived the war. (Library of Congress)
Copyright © Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Union Prisoner at Salisbury, NC
Civil War prison camps were not all deprivation. This illustration shows Union
prisoners of war playing baseball. (Library of Congress)
Copyright © Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Robert E. Lee
Both General Grant and General Lee
were West Point graduates and had
served in the U.S. Army during the War
with Mexico. Their bloody battles
against each other in 1864 stirred
northern revulsion to the war even as
they brought its end in sight. (National
Copyright © Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
General Robert E. Lee
Lee was born in Virginia, the son of Ann Carter Lee and Henry ("Light-Horse Harry") Lee, who
had earned fame as a cavalry commander in the American Revolution.
Lee served in the Engineer Corps at various posts until the Mexican War broke out, when he
joined the staff of Winfield Scott in the campaign against Mexico City. His skill and daring at
Cerro Gordo and Chapultepec won for him Scott's lasting admiration and a promotion to
brevet colonel.
From 1852 to 1855 Lee was superintendent of West Point.
Then he commanded a regiment in Texas, where in 1857 he learned of the death of his fatherin-law. He took protracted leave to settle the snarled estate and was still living at Arlington
when news of John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry reached Washington in October 1859. In
command of a detachment of marines, Lee captured Brown and several of his followers with
no harm to Brown's thirteen hostages.
During the secession crisis in 1861, Lee declined an offer of principal field command from
Scott and followed Virginia into the Confederacy.
That fall he presided over a failed campaign in western (now West) Virginia and spent the
winter overseeing coastal defenses in Georgia and South Carolina.
Recalled to Richmond in March 1862, Lee advised Confederate president Jefferson Davis as
the peninsular campaign of Union general George B. McClellan developed.
Then in the Battle of Seven Pines/Fair Oaks, Confederate general Joseph E. Johnston
suffered serious wounds, and on June 1, 1862, Davis appointed Lee to command what
became the Army of Northern Virginia.
Lee in the Civil War
During the spring of 1863 Lee became ill, probably with the onset of the heart
disease that plagued him thereafter. He recovered in time to confront Joseph
Hooker's federal offensive at Chancellorsville, May 1-4, 1863. Lee daringly
divided his inferior numbers and dispatched Thomas J. ("Stonewall") Jackson
on a day-long march to the Union rear. Chancellorsville may have been Lee's
greatest battle. Jackson, however, sustained accidental wounds that proved
When Ulysses S. Grant assumed command of all Union armies, and his men
confronted Lee's southerners in the Wilderness, at Spotsylvania Court House,
and at Cold Harbor. Grant then appeared south of Richmond and the James
River and attacked a crucial railroad junction at Petersburg. But Petersburg
held, and Lee made brilliant use of trenches to compensate for his dwindling
numbers. The siege persisted through the winter, until on April 2, 1865, Lee's
lines broke, and he evacuated Richmond. Grant's forces overtook and
surrounded Lee's remnant army, and on April 9 Lee surrendered at Appomattox
Court House, Virginia.
After the war Lee counseled reconciliation and served as president of
Washington College (later Washington and Lee University) in Virginia. Called
the American Napoleon, Lee displayed audacity and initiative in his zeal to
"strike a blow" as an offensive commander. His use of trenches to offset his
inferior numbers proved his genius on the defense. He has remained an
American hero—revered for the strength of his character and the brilliance of
his battles.
Lee with his son after the surrender
After opposing secession, General Robert E. Lee accepted a commission in the Confederate
army and commanded the Army of Northern Virginia for most of the war. Photographer
Mathew Brady took this picture of Lee (center), his son Major General G.W.C. Lee (left), and
his aide Colonel Walter Taylor (right) eight days after Lee's surrender to General Grant. The
forlorn expression on the general's face vividly demonstrates the agony of defeat. (Library of
Copyright © Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
General William Tecumseh
• Sherman's Atlanta campaign in May to September 1864 won the
Confederate prize that ensured Lincoln's reelection that year.
• Sherman ordered a civilian evacuation of Atlanta, burned everything of
any military value, and in November headed out of the city on his famous
"march to the sea."
• More than any other Civil War commander, Sherman grasped the brutal
logic of total war. In such a war, civilian morale and economic resources
are just as much military targets as the enemy's armies.
• For Sherman, war unleashed the fury of hell, and he refused to
sentimentalize the killing and pillaging required for victory.
• After capturing Savannah on December 21, 1864, he swung his army
north and led another devastating march through the Carolinas.
• On April 26, 1865, Gen. Joseph Johnston, the commander of the last
major Confederate army in the East after Lee's capitulation at
Appomattox, surrendered to Sherman in North Carolina.
Atlanta's Depot, 1864
Atlanta's depot in ruins after Sherman's
siege of the city in 1864. (Library of
Copyright © Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Sherman's March to the Sea
Determined to "make Georgia howl," William Tecumseh Sherman and his band of
"bummers" slashed their way through the South during the winter of 1864,
destroying military and civilian property along the way. This painting shows
Sherman astride a white horse looking on while his men rip up a rail line and burn
bridges and homes. (Collection of David H. Sherman)
Copyright © Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Election of 1864
• With the loss of Stephan A. Douglas the
Democratic party was divided.
• After several Northern victories Lincoln's
popularity grew
• Popular vote closer than electoral vote
– McClellan received 45% of popular vote
• South lost any chance at winning
– Desertions increased sharply
The Wars End
• Grant takes over with a vengeance
• Assail the enemy’s armies simultaneously
so they could not assist one another; then
be destroyed on at a time
• Wilderness of Virginia: 50,000 casualties
on both sides
• Cold Harbor : 7,000 men killed or
wounded in a matter of minutes
The Wars End 2
• Lincoln meets with Confederate
Representatives aboard a Union ship
moored at Hampton Roads, Virginia
– Neither could come to terms
• The end came with dramatic suddenness
– Northern troops captured Richmond and
cornered Lee at Appomattox Courthouse in
– After the Union soldiers cheered Grant
silenced them: “The war is over; the rebels
are our countrymen again.”
The Assassination of Lincoln
• April 14, 1865 Lincoln was killed by John Wilkes
• Died in the arms of victory
• Death helped to erase the memory of his
shortcomings and caused is nobler qualities to
stand out in clearer relief.
• Southerners realized they lost a leader of
• Northerners bitter at south for his death.
• Sets the stage for a wrenching ordeal of
The Aftermath
• Over a million were killed or seriously wounded.
– Most died of disease.
• Lost a generation of men and a large part of the
next generation
• Cost $15 Billion; although biggest cost cannot be
• But at last it proves that a country of such
principles “can endure”
• Also sends a message of inspiration to other
nations working towards democracy