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LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
355. Sherman's March from Atlanta to the Sea. After the fall of Atlanta, Jefferson Davis ordered the Confederate army to abandon the state of Georgia, his intention being to strike General Thomas, who held Nashville. He hoped in this way to compel Sherman to turn back to help Thomas. But Sherman believed that "the Rock of Chickamauga" (§ 345) was quite able to take care of himself; he therefore resolved to push forward. About the middle of November (1864) Sherman cut the telegraph and railway lines which connected him with the North. Thus
Chattanooga to Atlanta; Atlanta to Savannah; Savannah to Raleigh.
"detached from all friends, dependent on its own resources and supplies," his army set out on its great march to the sea. For four weeks Sherman and his men disappeared. The North knew nothing of his movements. But Grant had faith that his friend would not get lost, and that sometime the country would hear from him.
Meanwhile, Sherman was going forward with 60,000 veterans, plenty of provisions, and practically no force to resist him. He cut a clean swath sixty miles wide1 from Atlanta to Savannah
1 "So we made a thoroughfare for Freedom and her train,
Sixty miles in latitude, three hundred to the main,"
"Marching through Georgia."
THOMAS DESTROYS HOOD'S ARMY
(Map, p. 320), destroying railways and stripping the plantations and towns bare of everything, -- cows, pigs, chickens, hay, whatever, in fact, man or horse could devour, vanished before the advancing army. Along this broad track of desolation several thousand negroes followed in the wake of "Massa Sherman," shouting and singing as they trudged on.
356. Thomas destroys Hood's Army. While Sherman was pressing forward, the Confederate General Hood -- one of the best fighters in the South -- moved from the vicinity of Atlanta into Tennessee to attack Thomas (§ 355). A battle was fought at Franklin (November 30, 1864), in which Hood was severely repulsed. Then Hood advanced and besieged Thomas in Nashville. Thomas was slow, but when he did strike, it was with sledge-hammer force.
He attacked Hood (December 15-16, 1864) and cut his army all to pieces. The miserable remnant, ragged, barefooted, wet to the skin by incessant winter rains, shivering and starving, escaped, as best they could, leaving their sick and wounded to die along the roadside. This ended the war in Tennessee. The Confederacy had now practically shrunk from eleven states to three, -- Virginia, and North and South Carolina; the rest were either inactive, or they were under the control of the military power of the United States.
357. Sherman takes Savannah and moves Northward. In a little less than a month from the day when he left Atlanta, Sherman reached Savannah. He stormed and took Fort McAllister on the south of the city (December 13, 1864); he entered Savannah eight days later (December 21) and the next day he sent the following message to the President:
"SAVANNAH, GEORGIA, Dec. 22, 1864.
To his Excellency, President Lincoln, Washington, D. C.:
"I beg to present you as a Christmas gift the City of Savannah, with one hundred and fifty heavy guns and plenty of ammunition; also about twenty-five thousand bales of cotton.
"W. T. SHERMAN, Major General."1
1 General Sherman sent this message by a vessel to Fort Monroe. It reached the President on Christmas eve.
SHERMAN'S ANNOUNCEMENT OF LEE'S SURRENDER
[Special Field Orders, No. 54]
Headquarters Military Division of the
Mississippi, in the Field, Smithfield,
North Carolina, April 12, 1865.
The General commanding announces to the army that he has official notice from General Grant that General Lee surrendered to him his entire army, on the 9th inst., at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia.
Glory to God and our country, and all honor to our comrades in arms, toward whom we are marching!
A little more labor, a little more toil on our part, the great race is won, and our government stands regenerated, after four long years of war.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major General commanding.
(See Sherman's "Memoirs")
The above order was issued while the Union army was marching from Goldsboro, North Carolina, in pursuit of Johnston's army. Johnston did not make a stand, but surrendered near Durham Station, about twenty-five miles northwest of Raleigh, North Carolina, April 26, 1865.
When Sherman's men learned that Lee had surrendered they went wild with excitement. They shouted, they flung up their caps, they turned somersaults in their delight.
The whole land seemed full of rejoicing that the long, terrible struggle was practically over. Confederate as well as Union soldiers were glad to see peace at hand; and a Southern woman, who heard the hurrahs of Sherman's "boys in blue" as they marched past her house, looked upon her wondering children and said, while tears streamed down her checks, "Now father will come home."
-- See General Jacob D. Cox's "The March to the Sea."
LEE'S LETTER TO GRANT RESPECTING THE SURRENDER OF THE
CONFEDERATE ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
Long before they reached Savannah, Sherman's men had come to the conclusion that the seacoast was not their final destination, and they would call out to the General as he rode past, "Uncle Billy, I guess Grant is waiting for us at Richmond!"1
They were right, for early in the new year (1865) Sherman set out with his army northward. It was a seven weeks' march through mud, rain, and swamps. He reached Columbia, the capital of South Carolina, about the middle of February, and ordered the destruction of all buildings which might be of use to the Confederates in prolonging the war. Unfortunately the town caught fire, and in spite of all the efforts of the Union army to extinguish the flames, the greater part of the place was burned to the ground. On his advance Sherman had to fight General J. E. Johnston with a strong Confederate force near Goldsboro, North Carolina (March 19, 1865). Meanwhile, Charleston and Wilmington had been captured by Union forces: the Confederacy had lost its last seaports.
About a week later (March 27, 1865) General Sherman, leaving his victorious army at Goldsboro (Map, p. 320), went to City Point,2 on the James River, Virginia, to consult with Grant. A month later (April 26, 1865) Johnston surrendered to Sherman near Raleigh, North Carolina.
358. The End of the War; Assassination of President Lincoln. Sheridan now made a raid south through the Shenandoah valley, in which he destroyed the railway and canal from Lynchburg, on the west of Richmond, nearly up to the Confederate capital. This had the effect of cutting off a large part of the provisions for Lee's army. Sheridan next (March 29, 1865) made a similar raid to the south of Richmond. Lee had now only 40,000 men to Grant's 100,000. While the Confederate general was trying to guard against Sheridan, Grant threw his whole force on Petersburg (§§ 349, 352) and captured it (April 2, 1865). Lee retreated from Richmond, and the next day (April 3, 1865) Grant's forces entered the capital of the Southern Confederacy and raised the Stars and Stripes over the city. Jefferson Davis escaped to North Carolina,
1 See Sherman's "Memoirs," II, 179.
2 City Point is 40 miles below Richmond.
ASSASSINATION OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN
but was captured in May and sent as a prisoner to Fort Monroe. He was released two years later.1 Lee's forces were completely broken up; many of his men were so weak from want of food that they could not shoulder a musket. Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, a little place about seventy-five miles west of Richmond (April 9, 1865). Nothing could be more nobly generous than the terms given by General Grant to the defeated Confederates. The only conditions he demanded were that the men should lay down their arms and return to their homes. Those who had horses were permitted to take them with them; for, as Grant remarked, they "would need them for the plowing."
Finally, General Grant issued an order to serve out 25,000 rations of food to Lee's half-starved men. That meant that the strife was over, and that peace and brotherhood were restored.
Five days afterward (April 14, 1865) General Anderson hoisted over Fort Sumter the identical flag under whose starry folds he had fought against Beauregard (§ 320). It was exactly four years to a day since the Confederates had won their first victory in the Civil War.
Thus ended the great contest, which had cost in all probably over half a million of lives and thousands of millions of dollars.2 But the triumphant joy of those who had fought to save the Union was quenched in tears; for on the evening following the celebration at Fort Sumter (April 14, 1865), the President was shot by an assassin.3 Many of those who had fought against him in the South wept at his death. He was the friend of every
1 By the end of May all the Confederate forces had surrendered and disbanded. None of the leaders or men engaged in the War of Secession were brought to trial for having taken up arms against the national government; but Henry Wirz, the Swiss commandant at Andersonville, Georgia, was charged with cruel treatment of Union prisoners, and was tried and convicted by court-martial; he was hanged November 10, 1865.
2 The total war debt of the North was nearly $3,000,000,000; this, however, represented but a part of the expense. The greatest number of men engaged in the Union armies at any one time was probably about 1,000,000. Colonel Livermore thinks that the Confederate forces engaged during the war (1861-1865) did not exceed 600,000. See Colonel T. L. Livermore's "Numbers and Losses in the Civil War," p. 9.
3 President Lincoln was shot at the theater by John Wilkes Booth, an obscure actor, who was the leader of a conspiracy for the assassination of the President, Vice President, the cabinet, and General Grant. Booth was pursued and shot, four of the other conspirators were hanged, and four imprisoned.
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
American; none of us or of our children, North or South, will ever know a more unselfish or a truer man than Abraham Lincoln.
359. The North and the South in the War. In the North there was sore anxiety for friends who might never return; and sisters, wives, and mothers were mourning for those who had fallen on the battlefield or died in prison. In the South there was the same terrible loss of life, the same mourning for those who had left their homes never to return. The material privations and sufferings of the war fell mainly on the South. Except at Gettysburg all the fighting was done on Southern soil. No armies marched through the North. Two new states -- West Virginia (1863) and Nevada (1864)-had been added to the Union. All business went on as usual, or with increased activity. Every seaport was open, and trade and commerce flourished. There were many quiet homes not directly touched by the hardships and horrors of the struggle, where the progress of the war was only known by newspaper reports.
Thanks to the financial ability and the unfailing energy of Secretary Chase, the government never lacked means to carry on the contest. Whatever money could do for the equipment and comfort of the Union forces was done without stint or murmur, even when the expenses exceeded $3,500,000 a day.
In addition to all this care for the men by the government, the Sanitary and the Christian Commissions were unwearied in their great work of love and mercy among the wounded and the sick. Once in hospital no one was ever asked on which side he had fought; but tender hands ministered to his needs, and soothed his sufferings, whether he wore the "blue" or the "gray."
With the people of the South all was different. Their ports were blockaded, their business ruined. The country had no money, no manufactures; the negroes had been set free. In their extremity Southern ladies cut up their carpets to make blankets and clothes for the soldiers, and churches gave their bells to be cast into cannon. Long before the final surrender there was grievous want everywhere throughout the South, and everywhere the people were suffering from the destruction necessarily caused by invading
armies or from the dread of such invasion. It is a noble evidence of the fortitude of the American character that the Southern people, however mistaken in their purpose, "fought," as General Grant says, "so bravely, so gallantly, and so long."1
360. Summary of the Fourth and Last Year of the War (April, 1864-April, 1865). This year was marked by Grant and Sherman's "hammering campaign," which ended in the destruction of the Confederate power in the west and in the east, and was followed by the surrender of Lee. President Lincoln was assassinated a few days later. The surrender of General J. E. Johnston,2 soon after, ended the war, and established the Union on a solid foundation of freedom for all men.
1 See General Grant's "Personal Memoirs," II, 426.
2 In his last orders to his troops, General J. E. Johnston said: "I earnestly expect you to observe faithfully the terms of pacification agreed upon, and to discharge the obligations of good and peaceful citizens as well as you have performed the duties of thorough soldiers in the field." Like a brave officer, Johnston led the way in the execution of this order by his own example. He died March 21, 1891, shortly after he had acted as pallbearer at the funeral of his friend, General W. T. Sherman.