History of the United States
Volume IV


Chapter XX
The Work of '63

The war had now grown to enormous proportions. The Confederate States were draining every resource of men and means in order to support their armies. The superior energies of the North, though by no means exhausted, were greatly taxed. In the previous year, on the day after the battle of Malvern Hill, President Lincoln had issued a call for three hundred thousand additional troops. During the exciting days of Pope's retreat from the Rappahannock he sent forth another call for three hundred thousand, followed by a requisition of a draft of three hundred thousand more.

On the 1st day of January, 1863, the President issued one of the most important documents of modern times: The Emancipation Proclamation. The war had been begun with no well defined intention on the part of the government to free the slaves of the South. But the President and the Republican party looked with disfavor on the institution of slavery; during the progress of the war the sentiment of abolition had grown with great rapidity in the North; and when at last it became a military necessity to strike a blow at the labor system of the Southern States, the step was taken with but little hesitancy or opposition. On the 22d of September the preliminary proclamation was made. It was to the effect that after the first of the following year the slaves in the States then in rebellion should be forever free. It did not affect the other slaveholding States.

The military movements of the new year began on the Mississippi. After his defeat at Chickasaw Bayou, General Sherman laid a plan for the capture of Arkansas Post, on the Arkansas River. In the first days of January an expedition set out for that purpose, the land forces being commanded by General McClernand, and the flotilla by Admiral Porter. Entering the Arkansas, the Union forces reached their destination on the 10th of the month, fought a hard battle with the Confederates, gained a victory, and on the next day received the surrender of the post with nearly five thousand prisoners. After this success the expedition returned to the vicinity of Vicksburg, in order to co-operate with General Grant in a second effort to capture that stronghold of the Confederacy.

Again the Union forces were collected at memphis, and embarked on the Mississippi. A landing was effected at the Yazoo; but the capture of the city from that direction was decided to be impracticable. The first three months of the year were spent by General Grant in beating about the bayous, swamps, and hills around Vicksburg, in the hope of getting a position in the rear of the town. A canal was cut across a bend in the river with a view to turning the channel of the Mississippi and opening a passage for the gunboats. But a flood in the river washed the works awy, and the enterprise ended in failure. Then another canal was begun, only to be abandoned. Public opinion grew impatient and Lincoln ws importuned to dismiss Grant. Finally, in the first days of April, it was determined at all hazards to run the fleet past the Vicksburg batteries. Accordingly, on the night of the 16th, the boats were made ready and silently dropped down the river. All of a sudden the guns burst forth with terrible discharges of shot and shell, pelting the passing steamers; but they went by with comparatively little damage, and found a safe position below the city.

Elated with the successful passage of his fleet, General Grant now marched his land forces down the right bank of the Mississippi and formed a junction with the squadron. On the 30th of April he crossed the river and on the following day fought and defeated the Confederates at Port Gibson. The evacuation of Grand Gulf, at the mouth of the Big Black River, followed immediately afterward. The Union army now swept around to the rear of Vicksburg. On the morning of the 12th a strong Confederate force was encountered at Raymond, and after a severe engagement was repulsed. Pressing on toward Jackson, the capital of Mississippi, General Grant's right wing, under Sherman and McPherson, met the advance of General Johnston's division coming to re-enforce the garrison of Vicksburg. Here, on the 14th of the month, a decisive battle was fought; the Confederates were beaten, and the city of Jackson was captured. the communications of Vicksburg were now cut off, and General Pemberton was obliged to repel the Federals or suffer a siege. Sallying forth with the greater part of his forces, he met the Union army on the 16th at Champion Hills, on Baker's Creek. In the battle that followed, as well as in a conflict at the Black River Bridge on the 17th, Grant was again victorious, and Pemberton retired with his disheartened troops within the defenses of Vicksburg.

The investment of the city was rapidly completed. Believing that the Confederate works could be carried by storm, General Grant, on the 19th of May, ordered an assault, which resulted in a repulse with terrible losses. Three days afterward the attempt was renewed, but the assailants were again hurled back with a still greater destruction of life. The Union loss in these two unsuccessful assaults amounted to nearly three thousand men. Finding that Vicksburg could not be taken by storm, General Grant began a regular siege, and pressed it with ever increasing severity. Admiral Porter got his gunboats into position and bombarded the unfortunate town incessantly. Re-enforcements swelled the Union ranks. On the other hand, the garrison of the city was in a starving condition. Sickness soon became prevalent. The people moved from their homes and lived in caves to escape the shells that Grant was throwing into the city. Still, Pemberton held out for nearly six weeks; and it was not until the 3d of July that he was driven to surrender. By the act of capitulation the defenders of Vicksburg, numbering thirty-seven thousand, became prisoners of war. Thousands of small arms, hundreds of cannon, vast quantities of ammunition and warlike stores were the fruits of this great Union victory, by which the national government gained more and the Confederacy lost more than in any previous struggle of the war.

Meanwhile, General Banks, who had superseded General Butler in command of the department of the gulf, had been conducting a vigorous campaign on the lower Mississippi. Early in January, from his headquarters at Baton Rouge, he advanced into Louisiana, reached Brashear City, and shortly afterward gained a victory over a Confederate force at a place called Bayou Teche. Returning to the Mississippi, he moved northward to Port Hudson, invested the place, and began a siege. The beleaguered garrison, under General Gardner, made a brave defense; and it was not until the 8th of July, when the news of the fall of Vicksburg was borne to Port Hudson, that the commandant, with his force of more than six thousand men, was obliged to capitulate.

For a while after the battle of Murfressboro Rosecrans remained inactive. Late in the spring Colonel Streight's command went on a raid into Georgia, met the division of the Confederate general Forrest, was surrounded, and captured. In the latter part of June, Rosecrans by a series of flank movements succeeded in crowding General Bragg out of Tennessee into Georgia. The Union general followed his antagonist and took post at Chattanooga, on the left bank of the Tennessee. during the summer months General Bragg was heavily re-enforced by Johnston from Mississippi, and Longstreet from Virginia. On the 19th of September he turned upon the Federal army at Chickamauga Creek, in the northwest angle of Georgia. During this day a hard battle was fought, but night fell on the scene with the victory undecided. On the following morning the fight was renewed, the Confederates moving on in powerful masses, and the Federals holding the ground with unflinching courage. After the conflict had continued for some hours, the national battle line was opened by General Wood, acting under mistaken orders. The Confederate general, seeing his advantage, thrust forward a heavy column into the gap, but the Union army in two, and drove the shattered right wing in utter rout from the field. General Thomas, with a desperate firmness hardly equaled in the annals of war, held the left until nightfall, and then, under cover of darkness, withdrew into Chattanooga, where the defeated army of Rosecrans had already found shelter. The batter is generally conceded to be a Confederate victory. Had it not been for General Thomas, who this day earned for himself the sobriquet of "The Rock of Chickamauga," a complete rout would have resulted.

General Bragg at once pressed forward to besiege Chattanooga. The Federal lines of communication were cut off, and for a while the army of Rosecrans was in danger of being annihilated. Food was getting scarce for both men and animals. Within a few weeks ten thousand horses and mules died from starvation. But General Hooker arrived with two crops from the Army of the Potomac, opened the Tennessee River, and brought relief to the besieged. At the same time General Grant, being promoted to the chief command of the Western armies, assumed the direction of affairs at Chattanooga. General Sherman also arrived with his division, so strengthening the Army of the Cumberland that offensive operations were at once renewed. Grant had about eighty thousand men. On the 24th of November, Lookout Mountain, with its cloud-capped summit overlooking the town and river, was successfully stormed by the division of General Hooker. On the following day Bragg's positions on Missionary Ridge were also carried, and hs army fell back in full retreat toward Ringgold, Georgia. The battle of Lookout Mountain, or the "Battle above the Clouds," is one of the unique contests of the Civil War. During the fight a heavy, cloudlike mist made the top of the mountain invisible from below. At Missionary Ridge some of the most desperate fighting of the war occurred. The Confederates occupied the summit of a long ridge. There were fifteen thousand of them, with fifty cannon. To take this ridge seemed next to impossible. In the face of this formidable opposition the Union charge was mde. They swept across the plain and then up the hill. It was here that General Philip H. Sheridan earned for himself an enviable name for his bravery. Dismounting at the foot of the hill, he plunged through the undergrowth with sword in hand at the head of his men. Without hesitation the attacking columns, with hundreds of their comrades falling beneath the blistering fire, soon reached the brow of the hill, from where the Confederates soon fled in wild disorder.

In the mean time, General Burnside was making an effort to hold East Tennessee. On the 1st of September he arrived with his command at Knoxville, whee he was received by the people with lively satisfaction. After the battle of Chickamauga, General Longstreet was sent into East Tennessee to counteract the movements of the Unionists. On his march to Knoxville he overtook and captured several small detachments of Federal troops, then invested the town and began a siege. On the 29th of November the Confederates made an attempt to carry Knoxville by storm, but were repulsed with heavy losses. After the retreat of Bragg from Chattanooga, General Sherman marched to the relief of Burnside; but before he could reach Knoxville, Longstreet raised the siege and retreated into Virginia.

On the day of the surrender of Vicksburg the Confederate general Holmes, with a force of nearly eight thousand men, made an attack on Helena, Arkansas, but was repulsed with a loss of one-fifth of his men. On the 13th of August the town of Lawrence, Kansas, was sacked and burned, and a hundred and forty persons killed by a band of desperate fellows led by a chieftain called Quantrell. On the 10th of September the Federal general Steele reached Little Rock, the capital of Arkansas, captured the city, and restored the national authority in the State.

To the summer of this year belongs the story of General John Morgan's great raid through Kentucky into Indiana and Ohio. His starting point was Sparta, Tennessee; the number of his forces three thousand. Pushing northward through Kentucky, he gathered strength, reached the Ohio below Louisville, crossed into Indiana, and began his march to the north and east. He was resisted at Corydon and other points by bodies of home guards, and hotly pursued by a force under General Hobson. Morgan crossed into Ohio at Harrison, made a circuit to the north of Cincinnati, passing almost beneath the eyes of the militia sent to intercept him. He crossed the southern part of Ohio, burning bridges and building, stealing horses to take the place of his jaded ones and, plundering as he went along, he attempted to cross the Ohio River at Buffington Island near Pomeroy. But the Ohio was now guarded by gunboats, and the raiders were ddriven back. He succeeded in getting a portion of his men on the other side, but seeing his inability to get all across, he swam his borse back to the Ohio side. With this remnant of his force--about six hundred--he continued his raid, hoping to make the passage farther up the river. With numbers constantly diminishing the Confederate leader pressed on, fighting and flying, until he came near the town of New Lisbon, where he was surrounded and captured by the brigade of General Shackelford. For nearly four monthsMorgan was held as a prisoner in the Ohio Penitentiary; then making his escape, he fled to kentucky, and finally reached Richmond.

The year 1863 was marked by some movements of important on the seacoast. On the 1st of January General Marmaduke, by a brilliant exploit, captured Galveston, Texas. By this means the Confederates secured a port of entry, of which they were greatly in need in the Southwest. On the 7th of April Admiral Dupont, with a powerful fleet of ironclads, made an attempt to capture Chrleston, but the squadron was driven back much damaged. In the last days of June the siege of the city was begun anew by a strong land force, under command of General Q. A. Gillmore, assisted by the fleet under Admiral Dahlgren. The Federal army first effected a lodgment on Folly Island, and soon afterward on the wouth end of Morris Island, where batteries were planted bearing upon Fort Sumter in the channel and Fort Wagner and Battery Gregg at the northern extremity of the island. After the bombardment had continued for some time, General Gillmore, on the 18th of July, made an attempt to carry Fort Wagner by assault, but was repulsed with a loss of more than fifteen hundred men. The attack on Fort Wagner is especially noted for the number of negroes who participated in the battle. The siege then progressed until the night of the 6th of September, when the Confederates evacuated the fort and Battery Gregg, and retired to Charleston. Gillmore thus obtained a position within four miles of the city, and brought his guns to bear on the wharves and buildings of the lower town. Meanwhile, the walls of Fort Sumter on the side next to Morris Island had been pounded into powder by the land batteries and guns of the monitors. The harbor and city, however, still remained under control of the Confederates, the only gain of the Federals being the establishment of a blockade so complete as to seal up the port of Charleston.

During the spirng and summer of 1863 the Army of the Potomac was engaged in several desperate conflicts. After his fatal repulse at Fredericksburg General Burnside was superseded by General Joseph Hooker, who, in the latter part of April, moved forward with his army in full force, crossed the Rappahannock and the Rapidan, and reached Chancellorsville. Hooker made his boasts that Lee would either have to come out and fight or flee. Lee concluded to do the former. The first day of May found the two armies opposite each other. Hooker seems to have completely lost his head. To the surprise of everyone he gave up a strong position and fell back to one that was untenable. The fury of the battle did not come until, on the evening of the 2d of May, he was attacked by the veteran Army of Northern Virginia, led by Lee and Jackson. The latter general, with extraordinary daring, put himself at the head of a division of thirty thousand men, filed off from the battlefield, marched fifteen miles, outflanked the Union army, burst like a thundercloud upon the right wing, and swept everything to destruction. The Unionists fought as well as they could, but they had been trapped and Stonewall Jackson's legions were irresistible. But it was the last of Stonewall's battles. As night came on, with ruin impending over the Federal army, the brave Confederate leader, riding through the gathering darkness with his staff, received a valley from his own lines, and fell mortally wounded. His party had been mistaken for Union horsemen. He lingered a week, and died at Guinea Station, leaving a gap in the Confederate ranks which no other man could fill.

On the morning of the 3d the battle was furiously renewed. General Sedgwick, attempting to re-enforce Hooker from Fredericksburg, was defeated and driven across the Rappahannock. The main army was crowded between Chancellorsville and the river, where it remained in the utmost peril until the evening of the 5th, when General Hooker succeeded in withdrawing his forces to the northern bank. The Union losses in these terrible battles amounted in killed, wounded, and prisoners to about seventeen thousand; that of the Confederates was less by five thousand. Taken altogether, the campaign was the most disastrous of any in which the Federal army had yet been engaged.

The defeat of General Hooker was to some extent mitigated by the successful cavalry raid of General Stoneman. On the 29th of April he crossed the Rappahannock with a body of ten thousand men, tore up the Virginia Central Railroad, dashed on to the Chickahominy, cut General Lee's communications, swept around within a few miles of Richmond, and on the 8th of May recrossed the Rappahannock in safety. At the same time, General Peck, the Federal commandant of Suffolk, on the Nansemond, was successfully resisting a siege conducted by General Longstreet. The Confederates retreated from before the town on the very day of the Union disaster at Chancellorsville.

Elated with his success on the Rappahannock, General Lee determined to carry the war into Maryland and Pennsylvania. In the first week of June he moved forward with his whole army, crossed the Potomac, and captured Hagerstown. He had left General Stewart and Hill with a large force to prevent the Union army from following. On the 22d of June the invaders entered Chambersburg, and then pressed on through Carlisle to within a few miles of Harrisburg. The desire of the Confederates to carry the war into the North was now gratified. But they were not to be unmolested in their efforts, for General Hooker, at the head of the Army of the Potomac, pushed forward to strike his antagonist. It was evident that a great and decisive battle was at hand. General Lee, abandoning his purpose of invasion, raidly concentrated his forces near Gettysburg, the capital of Adams county, Pennsylvania. On the very eve of battle the command of the Union army was transferred from General Hooker to General George G. Meade, who hastened to the scene of the impending conflict. Here the two armies, each numbering about eighty thousand men, were brought face to face. Gettysburg was a rural village with a population of about fifteen hundred. Near the town were two prominent parallel ridges to which had been given the names of Seminary Ridge and Cemetery Ridge. These were occupied respectively by the Confederate and Union forces. Between and about these two ridges, the greatest battle ever fought on the American continent was about to take place. On the 1st of July the fearful struggle began, and for three days the conflict raged. On the first afternoon the fighting was severe. The Federals were being gradually pressed back toward Gettysburg. Evening came nd the Union ranks were in a state of disorganization. The gallant Reynolds had met his death early in the fight and Meade had not yet arrived. About four o'clock Hancock the Superb came upon the field. His presence gave courage to the disheartened men and they waited patiently for the coming of another day to renew the battle. The second day dawned clear and bright. All forenoon and the earlier hours of the afternoon the two giant armies lay before each other. At last the Union left moved out and soon the roll of musketry became a continuous roar. The Union lines were pressed back and the ground over which they had passed was covered with the bodies of their fallen comrades. The Confederates had gained a real advantage in taking Culp's Hill, one of the strong positions held by the Federals. The battle was renewed early the next day. It began was renewed early the next day. It began with a heavy bombardment that shook the hills about Gettysburg. The Union army after severe fighting regained the position it had held the previous day. Then there came a lull, for Lee was massing his artillery on Seminary Ridge. At one o'clock from the mouths of two miles of bristling cannon, a sheet of fire burst across the crest of the ridge. The Union guns made answer and the deep cannonading reverberated across the Pennsylvania hills. The battle reached its climax on the afternoon of the 3d, when a Confederate column, nearly three miles long, headed by the Virginians under General Pickett, made a final and desperate charge on the Union center. They belonged to the corps of Longstreet. From behind the wooded crest of Seminary Ridge, they emerged in a magnificent double column. With banners flying and bayonets glittering they marched toward the Union lines where Hancock stood with his men awaiting them. Suddenly the cannon boomed and the hissing shells were sent exploding into their ranks. Still on they came. Then the musketry hissed its message of death into their midst, and still they came. The fire from the throats of cannon and the leaden hail from the musketry doubled in volume, and still they came. Would nothing stop the brave Southerners! Up to the Union works they rushed, but their strength had gone and with it went the hope of the Conferacy. The onset had been in vain, and the brave men who made it were mowed down with terrible slaughter. The victory remained with the national army, and Lee was obliged to turn back with his shattered legions to the Potomac. The fear of an invasion of the North had now passed. The entire Confederate loss in this greatest battle of the war, was nearly thirty thousand; that of the Federals in killed, wounded, and missing, twenty-three thousand a hundred and eighty-six. General Lee withdrew his forces into Virginia, and the Union army resumed its old position on the Potomac and the Rappahannock.

During this year the administration of President Lincoln was beset with many difficulties. The war debt of the nation was piling up mountains high. The last calls for volunteers had not been fully met. The anti-war party of the North had grown more bold, and openly denounced the measures of the government. The most acute form of this opposition occurred in Ohio. President Lincoln had freely used the power of suspending the writ of habeas corpus. There was considerable opposition to substituting the military for the civil authority, even among the political friends of the administration. Many arbitrary arrests had been made and this gave the opposition party an opportunity for more vigorous denunciation of the President's policy. Clement Laird Vallandigham was a popular leader of the opposition. Because of certain alleged incendiary remarks he had made in a speech he was arrested, tried by a court-martial, and sentenced to imprisonment. This sentence was changed to banishment to the Confederacy. He escaped into Canada and while there the Democratic party in Ohio nominated him for governor. Feeling ran high, but he was over-whelmingly defeated. On the 3d of March the Conscription Act was passed by Congress, and two months afterward the President ordered a general draft of three hundred thousand men. All able-bodied citizens between the ages of twenty and forty-five years wer subject to the requisition. The measure was bitterly denounced by the opponents of the war, and in many placed the draft officers were forcibly resisted. On the 13th of July, in the city of New York, a vast mob rose in arms, demolished the buildings which were occupied by the provost marshals, burned the colored orphan asylum, attacked the police, and killed about a hundred people, most of whom were negroes. For three days the authorities of the city were set at defiance; but a large force of regulars and volunteers gathered at the scene, and the riot was suppressed with a strong hand. After the fall of Vicksburg and the retreat of Lee from Pennsylvania, there wee fewer acts of domestic violence.

As a means of procuring soldiers the draft amounted to nothing; only about fifty thousand men were thus directly obtained. But volunteering was greatly quickened by the measure, and the employment of substitutes soon filled the ranks of the army. Such, however, were the terrible losses by battle and disease and the expiration of enlistments that in October the President issued another call for three hundred thousand men. At the same time it was provided that any delinquency in meeting the demand would be supplied by a draft in the following January. By these active measures the columns of the Union army were made more powerful than ever. In the armies of the South, on the other hand, there were already symptoms of exhaustion, and the most rigorous conscription was necessay to fill the thinned but still courageous ranks of the Confederacy.


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