Prologue "...there's a storm a comin'..."

   The Great Divide in the Unites States that ensued between the Industrial North and the Agrarian South had its Genesis long before a shot was fired at Fort Sumter, South Carolina, in April, 1861. It began with the forced Exodus of hundreds of thousands of people from their African Homelands, via the cane Plantations of the Caribbean, to their new homes in the Colonies of North America.

   Indigo, rice and tobacco were brought from the Colonies to England and, in return, slaves were brought to the Caribbean. Rum & seasoned slaves were then brought to the Colonies in an ever revolving "Triangle of Trade".

   Though the actual number is not known it is understood that between 14 and 20 Million slaves made the perilous journey across dark waters though 20% are known to have perished.

   157 years would pass from that 1st ship's landing before these Colonies would rise up in Revolution from their own oppression and declare their independence with Freedom and Equality for all men.

   In 1803 Thomas Jefferson Purchased Louisiana from the French which doubled, overnight, the size of America and its Cotton growing ability. In 1790 3,000 bales of cotton were produced. By 1801, with the advent of Whitney's cotton gin it had increased to 100,000 bales. By 1820 it was over 400,000 bales. By the Civil War it was over 4,000,000 bales. Cotton was King. and brought in more revenue than ALL the industries in the North combined.

   The 4th Article of The Bill of Rights protected "property", which slaves had been declared. There was mounting descent throughout the Slave States to NOT acquiesce to the Central Government's dictates. Secession was in the air.

   In 1828 came staggering tariffs on imports. Another seed in the growing root of descent and secession and the sovereign right of States to nullify "Federal Laws". 

   

   In 1793 the Fugitive Slave Act, which allowed Slave Owners to reclaim their escaped slaves, helped create a mechanism for Slaves to find their freedom across the Ohio River to the free North. Quakers & Abolitionists developed the Underground Railroad, routes to freedom.

   The South was ready to Secede.

"It's well that War is a terrible thing....or of this we'd become too fond"....

Robert E Lee

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THE GREAT STORM

April 12, 1861 - April 9, 1865

Chapter 1: Blue Into Grey

   In December, 1860, South Carolina seceded from the Union. Before Lincoln was inaugurated the first states had seceded and 11 federal arsenals and forts had been seized by state militias.

   Lincoln, as the new President, raised 75,000 troops to quell the Rebellion. No one could be prepared for the repercussions of this action. Robert E. Lee resigned his Union commission and went home to Virginia to stand with The Commonwealth.

   Though no fatalities occurred, Fort Sumter, South Carolina, was surrendered to The Confederacy on April 12th, 1861 officially beginning hostilities.

   Who were these warriors? From families both North & South they came walking, riding  from villages, towns and cities eager to test their metal, to join the great struggle. They knew little about politics or sovereignty rights. Glory was its own reward. Of the 3.5 million soldiers who enlisted on both sides, 2 million were 21 years old or younger. 250,000 were 15  years old or younger. The youngest boy to fire a shot was 10. It was dubbed "The Boys War".

   The righteousness of each side meant little to those looking for adventure or more money than many had ever known. Upwards of $13 per month.

   For the North it was a sacred Union being kept intact. The Southern soldier was fighting the aggression of the North onto their Sovereign Homelands.

Blue Into Grey

Chapter 2: Shiloh - April 6-7, 1862

   General Ulysses Grant had won two powerful victories early in 1862 with the unconditional surrender of Forts Henry & Donelson in Tennessee. 

   On April 6 & 7 he met a powerful Confederate Army under Generals Johnston & Beauregard.

   The Confederates attacked Pittsburgh Landing, Tennessee.

 General Sherman regrouped the scattering troops near Shiloh, a simple log meeting house by the river.

   Waiting for Buell's forces to come from the East they stood with heavy losses at "The Hornet's Nest".

   With Buell's arrival the tide shifted and the Greys retreated only after two days of ferocious fighting with over 25,000 casualties.

   The North claimed an important needed victory after the debacle of Manassas in 1861.

   The 1st cannon volleys in the early morning were called "Baby Wakers"

Shiloh

Chapter 3: Antietam - September 17, 1862

Even with the Union victories of early 1862 the South was gaining support abroad. Their hope was to be recognized by England to create enough sympathy to sue for a negotiated peace and thus create a sovereign nation unto themselves.

   General Lee decided to invade the North and meet General McClelland in Maryland near Sharpsburg at Antietam Creek.

   It would become the bloodiest single day battle in all of American history even surpassing WW11 D-Day invasion with the combined death & injured standing at 23,000.

   Lee withdrew yet McClelland remained cautious and did not pursue which allowed to regroup.

   The claimed victory was exactly what Lincoln needed. To this point the fight had been to preserve the Union at all costs, however, that strategy had been declining in popularity. A new strategy was implemented and The Emancipation Proclamation was written.

   Lincolns hope was that all slaves would merely walk off their plantations crippling the Southern economy. It was a naive strategy.

  It was carefully crafted so as not to offend any of the border states who were Union but still held Slaves. ONLY states that were part of the rebellion were affected. It was a political stratagem to ward off England's recognition of the South and to promote insurrection n the South.

Antietam

Chapter 4: Fredericksburg - December 13, 1862

                         (Angel of Marye's Heights)

   McClelland's failure to pursue Lee's army at Antietam promted Lincoln to relieve him of command and place Ambrose Burnside as commander.

   In December of 1862 Burnside took his 'Army of The Potomac' across the Rappahannock River towards Fredericksburg, Virginia.

   After an initial artillery bombardment of 5,000 shells crumbled much of the town, wave after wave of infantry was sent across a 600 yard open field towards a well secured stone wall below Marye's Heights, the Confederate's strong position.

   The rebel defenders laid down a continuous storm of bullets. No Union soldiers ever reached the stone wall. Burnside lost 7,000 men in the assault. This was a stunning defeat for the Union, who settled into Winter quarters without much hope or confidence. 

"It's well that war is a terrible thing or of this we'd become too fond.".......Gen. Robert E. Lee

"If there's a worse place than hell, I am there"..Abraham Lincoln

   Confederate Sgt. Kirkland, of Kershaw's Brigade, took canteens of water to the dying Union soldiers on the field of battle. No one raised their musket to try to stop him. It was a moment of supreme compassion and Kirkland quickly became know as the "Angel of Marye's Heights"

Fredericksburg

Chapter 5: Gettysburg - July 1-3, 1863 

   The time had come for Gen. Lee to make a bold move into Union territory. A victory there would surely bring support and recognition from England. To become defensive and send troops Southward to protect Richmond was untenable for Lee. He would take the fight North. A victory in Pennsylvania meant a free line of march towards Washington, the downfall of Lincoln and a negotiated end to the war.

   Lee met Union General Meade in a sleepy crossroads town across the Virginia border in Pennsylvania called Gettysburg.

   Union commander Buford's cavalry arrived just ahead of the Confederate army and immediately took up positions on the high ground surrounding Gettysburg with their new generation of Breech-Loading Carbine rifles.

   As thousands of men poured into the area the Confederates launched an attack. It appeared that Lee may have the victory he desired, however, General Ewell, misinterpreting Lees orders, rested his troops rather than attacking. Had Stonewall Jackson been there he would have understood Lee's nuanced order and the Battle of Gettysburg may have ended there.

   90,000 Union troops were now massed on the high ground outside Gettysburg. Battles at The Round Top and The Devil's Den, where the South was repulsed by heroic Union charges, proved disastrous for the Confederacy. The Battle of the Wheat Field saw 4,000 soldiers stricken on the battlefield next to a hog farmer's home. The hogs broke through their pens and began devouring the dead. Blue & Grey lay unrecognizable on the field bringing a poignant relief to the fight of Brother against Brother. When the cannons were silenced on July 3rd, 1863, more than 50,000 were on the list of Dead & Wounded. It would be the greatest battle ever fought on American soil.

   

 

Gettysburg

Chapter 6: Pickett's Charge - Gettysburg,  July 3, 1863

   Both, Union Col. Chamberlain's bayonet charge of the 20th Maine and the 1st Minnesota Volunteer's nearly suicidal charge on day two, began to turn the tide for the Union at Gettysburg.

   On the 3rd day 15,000 Confederates faced the Union posts on Cemetery Ridge. 150 cannons fired relentlessly at the Union position answered equally by the Union cannons. The sound could heard 150 miles away in Pittsburgh.

   Following Gen. Pickett's orders  thousands of Confederates advance uphill towards the Union army. The artillery bombardment ceased as they had run out of ammunition. There was also the difficulty in climbing the many fences in the valley between the Confederate line and the Ridge.

   The Union line was penetrated only briefly. 4,000 Confederates were captured. 75% of Pickett's men were killed. Pickett's Charge, though heroic, was a fatal blow to Lee who would never again enter a Northern Territory.

   Gettysburg was over. A day later Vicksburg surrendered severing the South in two. The Confederate Death Knell had been sounded.

Pickett's Charge

Chapter 8: The 54th - July 18, 1863

   Union Brig. Gen. George Morgan took off his uniform as a protest against an impending shift in national policy regarding Blacks as soldiers. Maj. Gen. John Logan, of Illinois, threatened to lead his troops home if Blacks were permitted to fight. Maj. Gen. Lew Wallace was delighted to xee Federal Brigades using Black Regiments "for digging trenches and driving teams".

   The Emancipation Proclamation was not supported throughout the North. Many opposed the idea of using Blacks for anything other than manual labour.

   Governor John Andrew of Massachusetts persuaded wealthy George L. Stearns, a prominent abolitionist, to help raise a Black Regiment. Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, from a wealthy Massachusetts abolitionist family, became its commander. The 54th was born.

   Their greatest test was the storming of Battery Wagner on the Charleston Beach on July 18, 1863 just two weeks after Gettysburg. Most of the regiment was killed as was Gould Shaw. When his father asked for his remains the Confederate Captain said, "We buried him along with his Niggers". The failed attack, however, 

became famous for the fighters' heroism.

William Harvey Carney became the 1st Black soldier to receive the Medal of Honour.

   Although recruitment did not begin until 1863 Blacks made up over 15% of the Union Army. even the most vocal critics of the Proclamation came to see it as an essential step towards victory over the South. Coupled with Lincoln's reluctant decision to use Blacks as soldiers the proclamation became the most effective War Measure adopted by the President.

   

   

The 54th

Chapter 7: Vicksburg - July 8, 1863

   The siege of Vicksburg began on May 18th, 1863. Vicksburg was the last major Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi. Grant had driven Pemberton into a defensive line around the fortress of Vicksburg.

   2 major assaults on May 19 & 22 were repulsed by the Pemberton's troops and Grant decided to besiege the   city on May 25th. For 40 days they bombarded the city and removed all possibility of supplies being brought in and on July 4th Vicksburg surrendered.

   Considered to be as important a victory as Gettysburg just days before Vicksburg was now under Union control and with the Trans Mississippi Department (Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana) blocked the South was undeniably cut in two. It was considered a turning point in the war. 

Vicksburg

Chapter 9: The Wilderness - May 5-7, 1864

   Following the Confederate route at The Battle Of Chickamauga, Georgia, Grant's troops settle in for the siege and eventual Grant then went into Virginia to meet Lee's forces in the Wilderness Campaign. From May to mid-June, 1864, Grant's enormous force of over 100,000 men met Lee's beleaguered 60,000 troops in what can only be called a Battle of Attrition. Lee's goal was to prevent Grant's army from reaching Richmond. Grant's strategy was to decimate lee's army. From The Wilderness to Spotsylvania Courthouse, Hanover Courthouse, The Mule Shoe, The Bloody Angle & Cold Harbour (where Maj. Gen McMahon said the Union lost 7,000 in 8 minutes), these two great iconic figures battles, each succeeding in their mission.

   Grant was left with deciding on a new strategy which took him South of Richmond to Petersburg where he would begin a 9 month siege.

The Wilderness Campaign

Chapter 10: Petersburg - (The Crater) - July 30, 1864

   General Burnside had a plane to literally blow a hole in the Confederate defenses. Members of the 48th Pennsylvania, miners led by Lieutenant Colonel Henry Pleasants, began digging a long tunnel towards the Confederate lines at Petersburg. 8,000 lbs of explosives were placed in the end of the 5' high and 4' wide tunnel. 

   After the explosion an entire Confederate Regiment was buried in the debris. Straws were drawn for who would lesd the Union charge. James Ledlie drew it. Instead of charging around the Crater he charged into it. General Mahone's Southern troops filled the gap. It was a Turkey Shoot. The Battle of The Crater proved a disaster for the Union with over 5,000 casualties and signaled the end to Ambrose Burnside's military career.

Petersburg

Chapter 11:

Savannah Campaign - November 15 - December 21, 1864

   As Grant left Chattanooga to meet Lee in The Wilderness Campaign, General Sherman was on his way with 80,000 troops into Georgia. He arrived in Atlanta after several months of fighting and the destruction of Dalton, Georgia.

   He prepared for an all out assault after a two month siege. He planned to make sure Atlanta would no longer contribute to the Confederate war effort. It was to be destroyed by the rearguard of the army.  It was November of 1864 and Sherman's 'March to the Sea' was about to begin. Lincoln called the taking of Atlanta a "Gift from God". It most assuredly secured Lincoln's election victory.

   Sherman's troops spread out in a 60 mile wide swath of destruction towards Savannah, 300 miles away on the coast.

   His 'scorched earth' policy was to destroy all possible supplies and all  Southern capability of resistance. All livestock that could not be used was to be killed. All railways were to be torn up. He lit huge bonfires and laid the rails in them until they softened and them proceeded to wrap them around trees rendering them useless. They were called "Sherman Bow Ties".

   On Dec 22nd, 1864, Sherman delivered Savannah to Lincoln as a Christmas present. On the night before Sherman entered Savannah people could enumerate their wealth by millions. At sunrise their fortunes were worthless. Their property had been in Cotton, Negroes, Houses, Land, Confederate Bonds & Currency, Railroad and Bank Stocks.

   Now the government had seized their Cotton; their slaves had possession of their lands; their slaves had become freemen; their houses were occupied by Union troops; Bonds were waste paper; their railroads were destroyed; their Banks insolvent. They had not only lost their wealth. They had lost their cause.

   The stunning defeats of the Union at Manassas 1 & 2, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania & Chickamauga and the hope of a negotiated peace were buried in the ruins of Atlanta & Savannah, Georgia & Columbia, South Carolina. The death knell had sounded. It would be only 4 more months before the conclusion of the great struggle would take place in a small courthouse in Virginia.

Savannah Campaign

Chapter 12: Dirt Road, April 9, 1865 - Going Home

   For many long months soldiers walked back to their homesteads, towns, farms and cities along the same roads that had carried them, 4 years earlier, into the jaws of battle.

   Battle scarred and weary they would trudge along and meet each other along the dusty dirt roads. They would sharer their tales and tip their caps and march slowly onward. Their rusted muskets were now silent and used as simple crutches or merely resting quietly on weary shoulders.

   Many came South to help rebuild in the new 'Reconstruction" not only of buildings but of a society. Many came with their carpet bags wide open, hence the term "Carpetbaggers". These entrepreneurs came to re-establish the economy of the South, many of whom took advantage of the impoverished. Others were former Confederates who were seen as jumping on the Northern bandwagon, The Scalawags.

   Congressman Thaddeus Steven's was one of the many Radical Republicans  who felt that The South had to be punished for their secession. The Reconstruction Act of 1867 held that the Southern States had committed 'suicide' and their return to the Union should become much more punitive.

   In the South 20,000 Federal Troops would remain for another 12 years in a form of Marshall Law over an already defeated people.

They would remove thousands of civil officials and would actively register Black voters. Former slaves were now in a position to dominate their previous masters. This would create a strong animosity even towards those who came South to help and would leave a wound that is still not healed after more than150 years.

   Societies like "the Red Shirts" and "The Ku Klux Klan" became magnets for those who felt the Northern oppression, the losses and still believed in the institution of slavery.

Dirt Road

Chapter 13: Andersonville Prison - Feb. 1864 - Apr. 1865

   Andersonville, in Georgia, held more prisoners than any other Confederate prison. Built in 1864 and ended in April of 1865 it held 45,000 prisons of which 13,000 perished.

   Upon the "pigeon roost", as the prisoners called the 15' high walls were soldiers ready to shoot anyone who stepped passed the "dead line" near the perimeter of the walls.

   Conditions were abominable with very little food or water or medical supplies.

   A ruthless Captain Wirz was tried and hanged for war crimes on November 10, 1865. He would be the ONLY person hanged for war crimes in the entire Civil War.

  A former prisoner, Dorence Atwater, kept a personal log of the dead in order to notify families of the soldier's death. Because of his efforts only 460 out of 13,000 dead were placed in an "unknown soldier's" grave.

Andersonville Prison

Chapter 14: The Great Storm - 1861 - 1865

   In 1619 a Dutch ship brought indentured servants to the Colony at Jamestown thus beginning the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. This Trade was a continuous flow of ships until 1808 when it ended. Within this Slave Trade lay the seeds of Secession and War.

   From Manassas to Atlanta to Appomattox to Assassination the underlying principal was clear. The Union must survive and slavery must end.

   For many slaves on the Plantations, the Civil War was understood as a Great Storm or Hurricane. Many slaves never saw soldiers or felt the impact of the war upon themselves. 

   Once the war had ended Republican Congressman Thaddeus Stevens called for "40 acres & a mule" to be given to ALL free Blacks. 800,000 acres of land was confiscated from former Southern land owners.

   Once Vice President Johnson assumed office he quickly pardoned the Southern land owners, reinstated their lands and provided little choice for Blacks other than that of Sharecropping.

   A new form of Slavery had arrived in the Reconstructed South.

   With the institution of The Black Codes, 1st established in Mississippi to restrict Blacks from voting, owning property, receiving education and the Jim Crow Laws (Segregation Laws), the South returned to the same intolerances that they had struggled with prior to the War.

The Great Storm
Blue Into Grey

Chapter 15: April 15th, 1865 - Assassination

   5 days after General Lee surrendered at Appomattox, Virginia President Lincoln went to Ford's Theatre in Washington, to watch a Comedy called "Our American Cousin". At the height of laughter John Wilkes Booth entered Lincoln's booth, shot and killed him. General Grant was going to be there with him but changed his mind due to his wife's distaste for Mary Lincoln.

  He was shot on April 14th and died the next day.

   It was a Conspiracy to execute Lincoln(President), Ulysses Grant, William Seward(Secretary of State) and Andrew Johnson(Vice President) and in so doing revive the Confederate cause.

April 15, 1865

Chapter16: All Along The Avenue - Memorial Day

   The 1st National Commemoration of Memorial Day was held in Arlington National Cemetery, where many Union & Confederate soldiers are buried, on May 30, 1868. 

All Along The Avenue

                       Epilogue

 

Since 1619 indentured servitude had grown in depth and scope to become the threads in a tapestry of woven political and economic struggle whose undoing could only be resolved through bloodshed of the largest magnitude.

   Abraham Lincoln, over 150 years ago, stated that Blacks & Whites could never live "together on terms of social and political equality".

   Lincoln believed Blacks were entitled to reap the fruits of their labour and improve their condition in society. In this regard slavery was abhorrent to him.

   He did believe that Slavery was morally wrong, however, it was sanctioned by the highest Law of the land, The Constitution. Though slavery is not explicitly written in the Constitution there are clauses which protect the institution. The Fugitive Slave Clause, and the 3/5th clause which allowed Southern States to count their enslaved people for the purpose of representation in the Federal Government.

  "To see the future, view the past".

Therein lie the seeds of hope or destruction.

Bibliography

Don't Know Much About The Civil War - Kenneth C. Davis

Civil War Curiosities - Webb Garrison

Defining Moments of The Civil War - George Grant & Michael Swift

The Destructive War - Charles Royster

Bitterly Divided - David Williams

We Lived In A Little Cabin In The Yard (slave narratives)

Mighty Rough Times, I Tell You (slave narratives)

Gullah Cultural Legacies - Emory S. Campbell

Lee & Grant A Dual Biography - Gene Smith

Great Civil War Heroes & Their Battles - Walton Rawls

Great Battles Of The Civil War - John MacDonald

plus 100's of articles from The Library of Congress