The Closing Conflicts
As in the previous year, the military movements of 1864 began in the West. In the beginning of February General Sherman left Vicksburg with the purpose of destroying the railroad connections of Eastern Mississippi. Marching toward Alabama, he reached Meridian on the 15th of the month. Here, where the railroad from Mobile to Corinth intersects the line from Vicksburg to Montgomery, the tracks were torn up for a distance of a hundred and fifty miles. Bridges were burned, locomotives and cars destroyed, vast quantities of cotton and corn given to the flames. At Meridian General Sherman expected the arrival of a strong force of Federal cavalry which had been sent out from Memphis, under command of General Smith. The latter advanced into Mississippi, but was met, a hundred miles north of Meridian, by the cavalry of Forrest, and driven back to Memphis. Disappointed of the expected juncture of his forces, General Sherman retraced his course to Vicksburg. Forrest continued his raid northward, entered Tennessee, and on the 24th of March captured Union City. Pressing on, he reached Paducah, Kentucky, made an assault on Fort Anderson, in the suburbs of the town, but was repulsed with a loss of three hundred men. Turning back into Tennessee, he came upon Fort Pillow, on the Mississippi, seventy miles above Memphis. The place was defended by five hundred and sixty soldiers, about half of whom were negroes. Forrest, having gained the outer defenses, demanded a surrender, but was refused. He then ordered an assault, and carried the fort by storm.
To the spring of 1864 belongs the story of the Red River Expedition, conducted by General Banks. The object had in view was the capture of Shreveport, the seat of the Confederate government of Louisiana. A strong land force was to march up Red River, supported by a fleet of gunboats, under command of Admiral Porter. The Confederates retreated up the river to Alexandria, and on the 16th of March that city was occupied by the Federals. Three days afterward Natchitoches was captured; but here the road turned from the river and further cooperation between the gunboats and the army was impossible. The flotilla proceeded upstream toward Shreveport, and the land forces whirled off in a circuit to the left.
On the 8th of April, when the advanced brigades were approaching the town of Mansfield, they were suddenly attacked by the Confederates in full force and advantageiously posted. After a short and bloody engagement, the Federals were completely routed. The victors made a vigorous pursuit as far as Pleasant Hill, where they were met on the next day by the main body of the Union army. The battle was renewed with great spirit, and the Federals were barely saved from ruin by the hard fighting of the division of General Smith, who covered the retreat to the river. Nearly three thousand men, twenty pieces of artillery, and the supply trains of the Federal army were lost in these disastrous battles. With great difficulty the flotilla descended the river from the direction of Shreveport; for the Confederates had now planted batteries on the banks. When the Federals had retreated as far as Alexandria, they were again brought to a standstill; the river had fallen to so low a stage that the gunboats could not pass the rapids. The squadron was finally saved from its peril by the skill of Colonel Bailey, of Wisconsin, who constructed a dam across the river, raising the water so that the vessels could be floated over. The whole expedition returned as rapidly as possible to the Mississippi. To the national government the Red River expedition was a source of much shame and mortification. General Banks was relieved of his command, and General Candby was appointed to succeed him.
On the 2d of March, 1864, General Grant was appointed commander-in-chief of all the armies of the United States. The high grade of lieutenant-general was revived by act of Congress, and conferred upon him. This position had been held by only two men previously, George Washington and Winfield Scott. No less than seven hundred thousand soldiers were now to move at his command. The first month after his appointment was spent in planning the great campaigns of the year. These were two in number. The Army of the Potomac, under command of Meade and the general-in-chief, was to advance upon Richmond, still defended by the Army of Northern Virginia, under Lee. General Sherman, commanding the army at Chattanooga, now numbering a hundred thousand men, was to march against Atlanta, which was defended by the Confederates, under General Johnston. To these two great movements all other military operations were to be subordinate.
On the 7th of May General Sherman moved forward from Chattanooga. At Dalton he was confronted by the Confederate army, sixty thousand strong. After some maneauvering and fighting, he succeeded in turning Johnston's flank, and obliged him to fall back to Resaca. After two hard battles on the 14th and 15th of May, this place was also carried, and the Confederates retreated by way of Calhoun and Kingston to Dallas. Here, on the 28th, Johnston made a second stand, intrenched himself, and fought, but was again outnumbered, outflanked, and compelled to fall back to Lost Mountain. From this position he was forced on the 17th of June, after three days of desultory fighting. The next stand of the Confederates was made on the Great and Little Kenesaw Mountains. From this line on the 22d of June the division of General Hood made a fierce attack upon the Union center, but was repulsed with heavy losses. Five days afterward General Sherman attempted to carry the Great Kenesaw by storm. The assault was made with great audacity, but ended in a dreadful repulse and a loss of three thousand men. Among the dead was General Daniel McCook, one of the family of the famous "Fighting McCooks" of Ohio. Sherman, undismayed by his reverse, resumed his former tactics, outflanked his antagonist, and on the 3d of July compelled him to retreat across the Chattahoochee. By the 10th of the month the whole Confederate army had retired within the defenses of Atlanta.
This stronghold of the Confederacy was at once besieged. Here were the great machine shops, foundries, car works, and depots of supplies upon the possession of which so much depended. At the very beginning of the siege the cautious and skillful General Johnston was superseded by the rash but daring General J. B. Hood. It was the policy of the latter to fight at whatever hazard. This change was an unfortunate one for the cause of the Confederacy. On the 20th, 22d, and 28th of July he made three desperate assaults on the Union lines around Atlanta, but was repulsed with dreadful losses in each engagement. It was in the beginning of the second of these battles that the brave General James B. McPherson, the pride of the Union army, was killed while reconnoitering the Confederate lines. This was a distinct loss to the Union army. He had the entire confidence of General Grant and was one of the ablest generals of the war. In the three conflicts the Confederates lost more men than Johnston had lost in all his masterly retreating and fighting between Chattanooga and Atlanta. For more than a month the siege was pressed with great vigor. At last, by an incautious movement, Hood separated his army; Sherman thrust a column between the two divisions. Hood, finding his army hopelessly divided, escaped during the night of September 1. On the next day the Union army marched into the captured city. Since leaving Chattanooga General Sherman had lost fully thirty thousand men; and the Confederate losses were even greater.
By retiring from Atlanta, Hood saved his army. He remained in the neighborhood of Atlanta for some weeks with seemingly no definite object in view. It now became his policy to strike northward into Tennessee, and thus compel Sherman to evacuate Georgia. He hoped to defeat any portions of the Union army which he might meet in his northward march. He even dreamed that he would be able to take his victorious regiments across Kentucky and finally reach Louisville on the Ohio. But Sherman had no notion of losing his vantage ground; and after following Hood north of the Chattahoochee, he turned back to Atlanta and prepared for his march to the seaboard. The Confederate general with a force of fifty thousand now swept up through Northern Alabama, crossed the Tennessee at Florence and advanced on Nashville. Meanwhile, General Thomas, with the Army of the Cumberland, had been detached from Sherman's army at Atlanta and sent northward to confront Hood in Tennessee. General Schofield, who commanded the Federal forces in the southern part of the State, fell back before the Confederates and took post at Franklin, eighteen miles south of Nashville. Here, on the 30th of November, he was attacked by Hood's legions, and after a hard-fought battle held them in check till nightfall, when he escaped across the river and retreated within the defenses of Nashville. At this place all of General Thomas's forces were rapidly concentrated. A line of intrenchments was drawn around the city on the south. Hood came on, confident of victory. Thomas was not ready to accept the challange. Days passed and still no sign of action from the Union general. Grant grew impatient and telegraph lines were kept busy urging Thomas to do something. Even Lincoln shared in the idea that Thomas was not doing his utmost. Finally on December the ninth he was ready. Then came a storm of sleet which ocvered the ground with a glassy sheet of ice, making it impossible for an army to maneuver. Thomas decided to wait for a thaw. Another week passed and the President sent General John A. Logan to superseded Thomas. He got only as far as Louisville when he heard that the battle of Nashville had been fought and won for the Union forces.
On December 15th and 16th in accordance with the best plans of warfare, General Thomas marshaled his regiments. It was the most perfectly conceived battle of the Civil War, and is used today as a model in the European military schools. The execution of the battle was in accord with the plans. Whenever Thomas struck it was with sledge-hammer blows. Hood's army could not resist such onslaughts and it was completely demoralized and routed. For many days of freezing weather his shattered columns were pursued, until at last they found refuge in Alabama. The Confederate army was ruined, and the rash general who had led it to destruction was relieved of his command. "The Rock of Chickamauga" had fallen upon him and he was crushed.
On the 14th of November General Sherman burned Atlanta and began his famous March to the Sea. His army of veterans numbered sixty thousand men. He took with him in his train sixty-four heavy guns, six hundred ambulances, and twenty-five hundred wagons, each drawn by six mules. Believing that Hood's army would be destroyed in Tennessee, and knowing that no Confederate force could withstand him in front, he cut his communications with the North, abandoned his base of supplies, and struck out bodly for the seacoast, more than two hundred and fifty miles away. As had been foreseen, the Confederates could offer no successful resistance. The Union army swept on through Macon and Milledgeville; reached the Ogeechee and crossed in safety; captured Gibson and Waynesborough; and on the 10th of December arrived in the vicinity of Savannah. On the 13th Fort McAllister, below the city, was carried by storm by the division of General Hazen. On the night of the 20th General Hardee, the Confederate commandant, escaped from Savannah with fifteen thousand men and retreated to Charleston. On the following morning the national advance entered, and on the 22d General Sherman made his headquarters in the city. He thereupon sent to President Lincoln the now familiar dispatch, "I beg to present to you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with one hundred and fifty heavy guns and plenty of ammunition and also twenty-five thousand bales of cotton." On his march from Atlanta he had lost only five hundred and sixty-seven men.
The month of January, 1865, was spent by the Union army at Savannah. On the 1st of February General Sherman, having garisoned the city, began his march against Columbia, the capital of South Carolina. At the various rivers the bridges had been destroyed nd his advance was feebly opposed; but the Confederates had no sufficient force to stay his progress. On the 17th of the month Columbia, defended by General Wade Hampton, was surrendered without serious resistance. From some cause the town took fire, which soon spread, and much of the city was reduced to ashes. On the same night General Hardee, having destroyed all the public property of Charleston and kindled fires which laid four squares in ashes, evacuated the city; and on the following morning the national forces entered from James's Island. From Columbia General Sherman directed his course into North Carolina, and on the 11th of March captured Fayetteville.
General Johnston had now been recalled to the command of the Confederate forces, and the advance of the Union army began to be seriously opposed. A short distance north of Fayetteville, General Hardee made a stand, but was repulsed with considerable loss. When, on the 19th of March, General Sherman was incautiously approaching Bentonsville, he was suddenly attacked by the ever vigilant Johnston, and for a while the Union army, after all its marches and victories, was in danger of destruction. But the tremendous fighting of General Jefferson C. Davis's division saved the day, and on the 21st Sherman entered Goldsborough unopposed. Here he was re-enforced by a strong column from Thomas's army under General Schofield, and another from Wilmington commanded by General Terry. The Federal army now turned to the northwest, and on the 13th of April entered Raleigh. This was the end of the great march; and here, thirteen days after his arrival, General Sherman received the surrender of Johnston's army.
Meanwhile, important events had occurred on the gulf and the Atlantic coast. In the beginning of August, 1864, Admiral Farragut bore down with a powerful squadron upon the defenses of Mobile. This was the most important harbor on the gulf coast. It had been a place for the Confederate blockade runners throughout the war. The entrance to the harbor of this city was commanded on the left by Fort Gaines, and on the right by Fort Morgan. The harbor itself was defended by a Confederate fleet and the monster ironclade ram Tennessee. On the 5th of August Farragut prepared for battle and ran past the forts into the harbor. He had been waiting for the presence of a land force to cooperate with him. Finally General Gordon Granger landed a considerable army on an island at the mouth of the bay. All was now in readiness for the battle. In order to direct the movements of his vessels, the brave old admiral mounted to the maintop of his flagship, the Hartford, lashed himself to the rigging that he might not fall if shot, and from that high perch gave his commands during the battle. The fleet passed through an incessant hail of shot and shell. One of the Union ships sruck a torpedo and went to the bottom. The rest attacked and dispersed the Confederate squadron; but just as the day seemed won the terrible Tennessee came down at full speed to strike and sink the Hartford. The latter avoided the blow; and then followed one of the fiercest conflicts of the war. The Union ironclads closed around their black antagonist and battered her with their beaks and fifteen-inch bolts of iron until she surrendered. Two days afterward Fort Gaines was taken; and on the 23d of the month Fort Morgan was obliged to capitulate. The port of Mobile was effectually sealed up.
Not less important to the Union cause was the capture of Fort Fisher. This powerful fortress commanded the entrance to Cape Fear River and Wilmington--the last seaport held by the Confederates. In December Admiral Porter was sent with the most powerful American Squadron ever afloat to besiege and take the fort. General Butler, with a land force of six thousand five hundred men, accompanied the expedition. On the 24th of the month the bombardment began, and the troops were sent ashore with orders to carry the works by storm. When General Weitzel, who led the column, came near enough to the fort to reconnoiter, he decided that an assault could only end with the destruction of his army. General Butler held the same opinion, and the enterprise was abandoned. Admiral Porter remained before Fort Fisher with his fleet, and General Butler returned with the land forces to Fortress Monroe. Early in January the same troops were sent back to Wilmington, under command of General Terry. The siege was at once renewed by the army and the fleet, and on the 15th of the month Fort Fisher was taken by storm, and the blockade of the entire Confederate coast was now complete.
In the previous October the control of Albemarle Sound had been secured by a daring exploit of Lieutenant Cushing of the Federal navy. These waters were commanded by a tremendous iron ram called the Albemarle. In order to destroy the dreaded vessel a number of daring volunteers, led by Cushing, embarked in a small steamer, and on the night of the 27th of October entered the Roanoke. The ram was discovered lying at the harbor of Plymouth. Cautiously approaching, the lieutenant with his own hands sank a terrible torpedo under the Confederate ship, exploded it, and left the ram a ruin. The adventure cost the lives or capture of all of Cushing's party except himself and one other, who escaped.
During the progress of the war the commerce of the United States had suffered dreadfully from the attacks of Confederate cruisers. As early as 1861 the Southern Congress had granted commissions to privateers; but neutral nations would not allow such vessels to bring prizes into their ports, and the Privateering Act was of little direct benefit to the Confederacy. But the commerce of the United States was greatly injured. The first Confederate ship sent out was the Savannah, which was captured on the same day that she escaped from Charleston. In June of 1861 the Sumter, commanded by Captain Semmes, ran the blockade at new Orleans, and for seven months did fearful work with the Union merchantmen. but in February of 1862 Semmes was chased into the harbor of Gibraltar, where he was obliged to sell his vessel and discharge his crew. In the previous October the Nashville ran out from Charleston, went to England, and returned with a cargo worth three millions of dollars. In March of 1863 she was sunk by a Union ironclad in the mouth of the Savannah River.
The ports of the Southern States were now so closely blockaded that war vessels could no longer be sent abroad. In this emergency the Confederates turned to the ship yards of Great Britain, and from the vantage ground began to build and equip their cruisers. In spite of the remonstrances of the United States, the British government connived at this proceeding; and here was laid the foundation of a difficulty which afterward cost the treasury of England fifteen millions of dollars. In the harbor of Liverpool he Florida was fitted out; and going to sea in the summer of 1862, she succeeded in running into Mobile Bay. Escaping in the following January, she destroyed fifteen merchantmen, was captured in the harbor of Bahia, Brazil, and brought into Hampton Roads, where an accidental collision sent her to the bottom. The Georgia, the Olustee, the Shenandoah, and the Chickamauga, all built at the shipyards of Glasgow, Scotland, escaped to sea and made great havoc with the merchant ships of the United States. At the capture of Fort Fisher the Chickamauga and another cruiser called the Tallahassee were blown up by the Confederates. The Georgia was captured in 1863, and the Shenandoah continued abroad until the close of the war.
Most destructive of all the Confederate vessels was the famous Alabama, built at Liverpool. She was a powerful vessel of a thousand tons burden and with engines of four hundred horsepower. While building she was known as "290." Her purpose was early suspected and Mr. Adams, the American minister, made protest to the British government. She succeeded in making her escape, sailed to the Azores, where she received equipment from two British vessels, and then started upon her career of destruction. Her commander was Captain Raphael Semmes, the same who had cruised in the Sumter. A majority of the crew of the Alabama were British subjects; her armament was entirely British; and whenever occasion required, the British flag was carried. In her whole career, involving the destruction of sixty-six vessels and a loss of ten million dollars to the merchante service of the United States, she never entered a Confederate port, but continued abroad, capturing and burning. Early in the summer of 1864 Semmes entered the harbor of Cherbourg, France, and was there discovered by Captain Winslow, commander of the steamer Kearsarge. The commander of the Alabama sent a challenge to Captain Winslow to a naval duel. The challenge was accepted, and on the 19th of June he went out to give his antagonist battle. Seven miles from the shore the two ships closed for the death struggle. The contest was in plain view from the land. Thousands of spectators gathered upon the shore to witness the struggle between the ironclad monsters of the deep. The fight opened by the vessels circling around each other. On each revolution the distance between them was lessened. All the time they pured into each other broadside after broadside, and after a desperate battle of an hour's duration the white flag went up on the shattered Alabama; but before all the crew could be rescued, she went to the bottom of the sea, upon which she had plowed her way unmolested for three years. Semmes and a part of his officers and crew were picked up by the English yacht Deerhound and carried to Southampton.
The opposition to Mr. Lincoln's conduct of the war was not confined to the Democratic party. Within the Republican ranks appeared, as the Presidential campaign of 1864 apporached, quite a formidable opposition. It was headed by such men as Horace Greeley, henry Ward Beecher, and Thaddeus Stevens. It became the purpose of this radical element of the Republican party to bring about the nomination of Salmon P. Chase. While Chase was not averse to accepting the nomination, he finally concluded not to allow his name to be used. At a convention held in Clevelnd, Ohio, John C. Fremont was nominated for the Presidency. Senator Benjamin F. Wade, of Ohio, and Representative Henry W. Davis, of Maryland, had caused to be published a manifesto, which severely arraigned the President. In the meantime the Republican Convention had met in Baltimore and had renominated Mr. Lincoln. The name Union was substituted for Republican to enlist the support of the War Democrats. As a further concession to this class of voters, one of the most ardent War Democrats and defenders of the Union, Andrew Johnson, of Tennessee, was selected for the Vice-Presidency. The Democratic party placed in nomination General George B. McClellan for President, and George H. Pendleton, of Ohio, for Vice-President. It declared in its platform that the war had been a failure and demanded an immediate cessation of hostilities and the calling of a convention of the States, to restore peace to the Union. This declaration was ill-timed and Lincoln was triumphantly reelected. McClellan only carried three border States--Kentucky, Delaware, and New Jersey.
Several overtures were made looking toward peace. But Lincoln held that the only way to close the war would be on the basis of a restored Union and the abolition of slavery. As late as February, 1865, Alexander H. Stephens on the part of the Confederates met Mr. Lincoln and Secretary Seward at Fortress Monroe. The President maintained his former position and in addition refused to treat with the Confederacy as a government. Mr. Stephens reminded the President that Charles I had treated with his rebellious subjects. Whereupon Mr. Lincoln sagely remarked that he was not strong on history, but that he did remember that Charles had lost his head.
The great campaign of the Army of the Potomac, under Grant and Meade, has been reserved for the closing narrative of the war. On the night of the 3d of May, 1864, the national camp at Culpepper was broken up, and the march on Richmond was begun. In three successive summers the Union army had been beaten back from that metropolis of the Confederacy. Now a hundred and forty thousand men, led by the lieutenant-general, were to begin the final struggle with the veterans of Lee. On the first day of the advance Grant crossed the Rapidan and entered the Wilderness, a country of oak woods and thickets west of Chancellorsville. He was immediately confronted and attacked by the Confederate army. Grant had not intended to offer battle here. During the 5th and 6th of the month the fighting continued incessantly with terrible losses on both sides. So terrible was the musketry that saplings and trees were cut off by the flying shells. Lee retired within hs intrenchments, and Grant made a flank movement to the left in the direction of Spottsylvania Courthouse. Here followed, from the morning of the 9th till the night of the 12th, one of the bloddiest struggles of the war. The Federals gained some ground and captured the division of General Stewart, the noted Confederate leader, who lost his life in the battle. On the last day General Hancock led a successful attack against a weak place in the Southern line. Four times the Confederates desperately tried to regain the position. The hand-to-hand fighting at "Bloody Angle" was something terrible. Men fell like flies until their bodies piled upon each other. The battle of Spottsylvania was one of the most bloddy of modern times. The losses of Lee, who fought on the defensive, were less dreadful than those of his antagonist, but the toll of death on both sides reached thirty-six thousand.
After the battle of Spottsylvania, Grant again moved to the left, crossed the Pamunkey at Hanovertown, and came to a place called Cold Harbor, twelve miles northeast of Richmond. Here, on the 1st of June, he attacked the Confederates, strongly posted, but was repulsed with heavy losses. On the morning of the 3d the assault was renewed, and in the brief space of half an hour nearly twelve thousand Union soldiers fell dead or wounded before the Confederate intrenchments. The repulse of the Federals was complete, but they held their lines as firmly as ever. Since the beginning of the campaign the losses of the Army of the Potomac, including the corps of Burnside, had reached the enormous aggregate of sixty thousand. During the same period the Confederates had lost in killed, wounded, and prisoners about thirty-five thousand men.
General Grant now changed his base to James River with a view to the capture of Petersburg and the conquest of Richmond from the southeast. This was the plan that mcClellan had been force to abandon two years before. General Butler had already moved with a strong division from Fortress Monroe, and on the 5th of May had taken Bernuda Hundred and City Point, at the mouth of the Appomattox. Advancing against Petersburg, he was met on the 16th by the corps of General Beauregard and driven back to his position at Bermuda Hundred, where he was obliged to intrench himself and act on the defensive. Here, on the 15th of June, he was joined by General Grant's whole army, and the combined forces moved against Petersburg. On the 17th and 18th several assaults were made on the Confederate intrenchments, but the works could not be carried. Lee's army was hurried within the defenses, and in the latter part of June Petersburg was regularly besieged.
Meanwhile, movements of great importance were taking place in the Shenandoah valley. When General Grant moved forward from the Rapidan, he sent General Sigel up the valley with a force of eight thousand men. While the latter was advancing southward he was met at New Market, fifty miles above Winchester, by an army of Confederate cavalry, under General Breckinridge. On the 15th of May, Sigel was attacked and routed, and the command of his flying forces was transferred to General Hunter. Deeming the valley cleared, Breckinridge returned to Richmond, whereupon Hunter faced about, marched toward Lynchburg, came upon the Confederates at Piedmont, and gained a signal victory. From this place he advanced with his own forcs and the cavalry troops of General Averill against Lynchburg; but finding that he had run into peril, he was obliged to retreat across the mountains into West Virginia. By this movement the valley of the Shenandoah was again exposed to an invasion by the Confederates.
In the hope of compelling Grant to raise the siege of Petersburg, Lee immediately dispatched General Early with orders to cross the Blue Ridge, sweep down the valley, invade Maryland, and threaten Washington city. With a force of twenty thousand men Early began his movement northward, and on the 5th of July crossed the Potomac. On the 9th he met the division of General Wallace on the Monocacy, and defeated him with serious losses. But the check given to the Confederates by the battle saved Washington and Baltimore from capture. After dashing up within gunshot of these cities, Early ordered a retreat, and on the 12th his forces recrossed the Potomac with vast quantities of plunder.
General Wright, who was sent in pursuit of Early's army, followed him as far as Winchester, and there, on the 24th of July, defeated a portion of his forces. But Early wheeled upon his antagonist, and the Union troops were in turn driven across the Potomac. Following up his advantage, the Confederage general next invaded Pennsylvania, burned Chambersburg, and returned into the valley laden with spoils. Seeing the necessity of putting an end to these devastating raids, General Grant in the beginning of August appointed General Philip H. Sheridan to the command of the consolidated army on the upper Potomac. The troops thus placed at Sheridan's disposal numbered nearly forty thousand, and with these he at once moved up the valley. On the 19th of September he came upon Early's army at Winchester, attacked, and routed him in a hard-fought battle. On the 22d, he overtook the defeated army at Fisher's Hill, assaulted Early in his intrenchments, and gained another complete victory.
In accordance with orders given by the commander-in-chief, Sheridan now turned about to ravage the valley. He destroyed everything that could be used by the enemy. The ruinous work was fearfully well done. Dwellings were spared, but the barns filled with the season's harvest and the mills with flour fell beneath his consuming hand; and what with torch and ax and sword, there was nothing left between the Blue Ridge and the Alleghanies worth fighting for. Maddened by this destruction and stung by his defeats, the veteran Early rallied his shattered forces, gathered re-enforcements, and again entered the valley. Sheridan had posted his army in a strong position on Cedar Creek, a short distance from Strasburg, and feeling secure, had gone to Washington. On the morning of the 19th of October, Early cautiously approached the Union camp, surprised it, burst in, carried the position, captured the artillery, and sent the routed troops flying in confusion toward Winchester. The Confederates pursued as far as Middletown, and there, believing the victory complete, paused to eat and rest. On the previous night Sheridan had returned to Winchester, and was now coming to rejoin his army. On his way he heard the sound of battle, rode twelve miles at full speed, met the panic-struck fugitives, rallied them with a word, turned upon the astonished Confederates, and gained one of the most signal victories of rhe war. Early's army was disorganized and ruined. Such was the end of the strife in the valley of the Chenandoah.
All fall and winter long, General Grant pressed the siege of Petersburg with varying success. on the 30th of July a mine was exploded under one of the forts. An assaulting column sprang forward to carry the works, gained some of the defenses, but after many of the assailants had found in the yawning crater their death as well as their graves, they were finally repulsed with heavy losses. On the 18th of August a division of the Union army seized the Weldon Railroad and held it against several desperate assaults, in which each army lost thousands of men. On the 27th of October there was a hard-fought battle on the Boydton road, south of Petersburg; and then the army went into quarters for the winter.
Late in February the struggle began anew. On the 27th of the month General Sheridan, who had moved from the Shenandoah, gained a victory over the forces of General Early at Waynesborough, and then joined the commander-in-chief at Petersburg. The last days of the Confederacy had come. Lee realized he could hold out but little longer. His purpose now was to escape from Petersburg and take his army southward to unite with Johnston. But he determined to make one more attack upon Grant's lines. He selected for the task General John B. Gordon, one of his most gallant commanders. General Gordon had made the successful attack the autumn before upon the sleeping army of Sheridan at Cedar Creek. Fort Stedman seemed to the strategic eye of the Southern commander a vulnerable point. With a valor that was born from sheer desperation, Gordon led his men to the Union walls. Grant had forstalled such action, for he had been expecting it and was prepared for it. His artillery plowed through the ranks of gray and the venture ended in failure. On the 1st of April a severe battle was fought at Five Forks, on the Southside Railroad, in which the Confederates were defeated with a loss of six thousand prisoners. The occasion of this battle was Grant's sending Sheridan to cut off Lee's route of escape. In his attempt to gain the Confederate rear he ran into a strong force under Pickett. On the next day Grant ordered a general assault on the lines of Petersburg, and the works were carried. All of that April Sunday, the shells from Grant's guns were hurled into the streets of the beleaguered city. President Davis was at church when a note was handed him from Lee saying that Richmond much be evacuated. The news rapidly spread. Excitement reigned everywhere. People ran hither and thither in terror. The citadel of the Confederacy had fallen. On that night the army of General Lee and the members of the Confederate government fled from Richmond; and on the following morning that city, as well as Petersburg, was entered by the Federal army. The warehouses of the illfated Confederate capital were fire by the retreating soldiers, and the better part of the city was reduced to ruins.
The strife lasted but a few days longer. General Lee retreated as rapidly as possible to the southwest, hoping to join the army of General Johnston from Carolina. Once, at Deatonsville, the Confederates turned and fought with desperation, but were defeated with great losses. For five days the retreat and pursuit were kept up, and then the great general, who had done his best to save the falling Confederacy, was brought to bay with the broken remnants of his army at Appomattox Court House. There, on the 9th of April, 1865, the work was done. General Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia, and the military power of the Confederate States was hopelessly broken. General Grant signalized the end of the strife by granting to his conquered antagonist the most liberal and magnanimous terms. The army was released on parole, not to take up arms against the United States again. The officers retained their side arms, baggage, and horses, while the private soldiers were permitted to keep their horses, for, as Grant said, "they might need them in their spring plowing." After four dreadful years of bloodshed, devastation, and sorrow, the Civil War in the United States was at an end.
The Federal authority was rapidly extended over the Southern States. After the surrender of Lee and Johnston, there was no further hope of reorganizing the Confederacy. Mr. Davis and his cabinet escaped to Danville, and there for a few days kept up the forms of government. From that place they fled into North Carolina and were scattered. The ex-President with a few friends continued his flight through South Carolina into Georgia, and encamped near the village of Irwinsville, where, on the 10th of May, he was captured by General Wilson's cavalry. He was conveyed as a prisoner to Fortress Monroe, and kept in confinement until May of 1867, when he was taken to Richmond to be tried on a charge of treason. He was admitted to bail; and his cause, after remaining untried for a year and a half, was finally dismissed.
During the latter part of May the war-worn Union veterans, sixty-five thousand in number, with their faded uniforms and tattered banners, passed in Grand Review through the broad streets of the National Capital. Then the regiments disbanded and the men returned to pursue the walks of peace and to bind up their country's wounds.
At the outbreak of the Civil War the financial credit of the United States had sunk to a very low ebb. By the organization of the army and navy the expenses of the government were at once swelled to an enormous aggregate. The price of gold and silver advanced so rapidly that the redemption of bank notes in coin soon became impossible; and on the 30th of December, 1861, the banks of New York, and afterward those of the whole country, suspended specie payments. Mr. Chase, the secretary of the treasury, first sought relief by issuing Treasury Notes, receivable as money and bearing seven and three-tenths per cent interest. This expedient was temporarily successful, but by the beginning of 1862 the expenses of the government had risen to more than a million of dollars daily.
To meet these tremendous demands other measures had to be adopted. Congress accordingly made haste to provide an internal revenue. This was made up from two general sources: First, a tax on manufactures, incomes, and salaries; second, a stamp duty on all legal documents. The next measure was the issuance by the treasury of a hundred and fifty millions of dollars in non-interest-bearing Legal Tender Notes of the United States, to be used as money. These are the notes called Greenbacks. The third great measure adopted by the government was the sale of United States Bonds. These were made redeemable at any time after five and under twenty years from date, and were from that fact called Five-Twenties. The interest upon them was fixed at six per cent, payable semi-annually in gold. Another important series of bonds, called Ten-Forties, was afterward issued, being redeemable by the government at any time between ten and forty years from date. In the next place, Congress passed an act providing for the establishment of National Banks. The private banks of the country had been obliged to suspend operations, and the people were greatly distressed for want of money. To meet this demand it was provided that new banks might be established, using national bonds, instead of gold and silver, as a basis of their circulation. The currency of these banks was furnished and the redemption of the same guaranteed by the treasury of the United States. By these measures the means for prosecuting the war were provided. At the end of the conflict the national debt had reached the astounding sum of nearly three thousand millions of dollars.
On the 4th of March, 1865, President Lincoln was inaugurated for his second term. Three days after the evacuation of Richmond by Lee's army the President visited that city, conferred with the authorities, and then returned to Washington. On the evening of the 14th of April he attended Ford's theater with his wife and a party of friends. As the play drew near its close a disreputable actor, named John Wilkes Booth, stole unnoticed into the President's box, leveled a pistol at his head, and shot him through the brain. Mr. Lincoln fell forward in his seat, was borne from the building, lingered in an unconscious state until the following morning, and died. It was the greatest tragedy of modern times--the most wicked, atrocious, and diabolical murder known in American history. The assassin leaped out of the box upon the stage, brandishing a dagger and crying "Sic Semper Tyrannis," escaped into the darkness, and fled. At the same hour another murderer, named Lewis Payne Powell, brust into the bedchamber of Secretary Seward, sprang upon the couch of the sick man, stabbed him nigh unto death, and made his escape into the night. The city was wild with alarm and excitement. It was clear that a plot had been made to assassinate the leading members of the government. Troops of cavalry and the police of Washington departed in all directions to hunt down the conspirators. On the 26th of April Booth was found concealed in a barn south of Fredericksburg. Refusing to surrender, he was shot by Sergeant Boston Corbett, and then dragged forth from the burning building to die. Powell was caught, convicted, and hanged. His fellow-conspirators, David E. Herrold and George A. Atzerott, together with Mrs. Mary E. Surratt, at whose house the plot was formed, were also condemned and executed. Michael O'Laughlin, Dr. Samual A. Mudd, and Samuel Arnold were sentenced to imprisonment for life, and Edward Spangler for a term of six years. So ended in darkness, but not in shame, the career of Abraham Lincoln. He was one of the most remarkable men of any age or country--a man in whom the qualities of genius and common sense were strangely mingled. He was prudent, far-sighted, and resolute; thoughtful, calm, and just; patient, tender-hearted, and great. The manner of his death consecrated his memory. From city to city, in one vast funeral procession, the mourning people followed his remains to their last resting place at Springfield. From all nations rose the voice of sympathy and shame--sympathy for his death--shame for the dark crime that caused it.
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