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Contents

Editor's Introduction xvii

Prologue: From the Halls of Montezuma 3

1. The United States at Midcentury 6

2. Mexico Will Poison Us 47

3. An Empire for Slavery 78

4. Slavery, Rum, and Romanism 117

5. The Crime Against Kansas 145

6. Mudsills and Greasy Mechanics for A. Lincoln 170

7. The Revolution of i860 202

8. The Counterrevolution of 1861 234

9. Facing Both Ways: The Upper South's Dilemma 276

10. Amateurs Go to War 308

11. Farewell to the Ninety Days'War 339

12. Blockade and Beachhead: The Salt-Water War, 1861-1862

13. The River War in 1862 392

14. The Sinews of War 428

15. Billy Yank's Chickahominy Blues 454

16. We Must Free the Slaves or Be Ourselves Subdued 490

17. Carry Me Back to Old Virginny 511

18. John Bull's Virginia Reel 546

19. Three Rivers in Winter, 1862-1863 568

20. Fire in the Rear 591

21. Long Remember: The Summer of '63 626

22. Johnny Reb's Chattanooga Blues 666

23. When This Cruel War Is Over 689

24. If It Takes All Summer 718

25. After Four Years of Failure 751

26. We Are Going To Be Wiped Off the Earth 774

27. South Carolina Must Be Destroyed 807

28. We Are All Americans 831 Epilogue: To the Shoals of Victory 853

Abbreviated Titles 863 Bibliographic Note 865 Index 883

Illustrations appear following pages 332 and 684

Maps

The Southern Economy 101

The Election of i860 and Southern Secession 236

The Battle of Bull Run (Manassas) 343

The Kentucky-Tennessee Theater, Winter-Spring 1862 399

The Battle of Shiloh, April 6-7, 1862 411

Jackson's Shenandoah Valley Campaign, May-June 1862 459

The Peninsula Campaign, April-May 1862 465

The Seven Days' Battles 465

Confederate Raids and Invasions in the West, Summer-Fall 1862 521

The Battle of Second Manassas (Bull Run) 530

Antietam, September 17, 1862 542

Fredericksburg, December 13, 1862 573

Union Efforts to Get at Vicksburg, Winter 1862-63 581

Stones River (Murfreesboro), Dec. 31, 1862-Jan. 2, 1863 581

The Vicksburg Campaign, April-July 1863 632

Chancellorsville, May 2-6, 1863 643

Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863 658

The Road to Chickamauga, June-Sept. 1863 673

Chattanooga, Oct.-Nov. 1863 679

The Wilderness and Spotsylvania, May 5-12, 1864 727

Spotsylvania to Petersburg 736

The Campaign for Atlanta, May-Sept. 1864 746

Hood's Tennessee Campaign, Oct.-Dec. 1864 814

Editor's Introduction

No period of American history makes greater demands on the historian than that of the Civil War. To meet this extraordinary challenge all the classic accounts have resorted to multivolume solutions. The one by Allan Nevins, for example, required eight large volumes, and another has used that many without attempting to be comprehensive. One of the remarkable aspects of the present achievement is that the author has been able to cover the period so completely and admirably within the covers of one volume. It is a large volume, to be sure, and will probably be the longest of the ten in The Oxford History of the United States. That it should, despite its size, cover the shortest period assigned calls for some comment on the part of the editor.

First, a look at the disparity between the length of the book and the brevity of the period. Precious little correlation exists between the importance, complexity, and abundance of historical events and the length of the time it takes for them to occur. Some history of momentous consequence requires centuries to unfold, while history of comparable importance can take place with staggering speed. Here we are clearly dealing with history of the latter type. In his Preface to this volume, James McPherson has spoken of the Civil War generation as having "lived through an experience in which time and consciousness took on new dimensions." These new dimensions have to be reckoned with by the historians recording the experience. If participants in that era had the experience of "living a lifetime in a year," historians can reasonably xviii editor's introduction demand more pages and chapters to do justice to such years. That also helps to explain why far more has been written about these particular years than any others in American history. The more written, the more disclosed, and the more questions and controversies to be coped with by latter-day historians.

Given the latitude granted in the matter of pages, is it not reasonable to expect a more complete treatment of all aspects and themes of the period? Normally so, yes. But again, this is hardly a normal period. What normality can be claimed for it consists largely of the continuation of familiar themes of American history: westward expansion and settlement, Indian removal and resistance, economic growth and development, the tides of European immigration, the back-and-forth of diplomatic exchange. None of these classic themes are missing from the Civil War period, and all get some attention in these pages, but they are necessarily subordinated to the dominant theme or integrated with it. It is hard to imagine a historian in his right mind pausing between the roar of Gettysburg and the fall of Vicksburg for a topical chapter on internal improvements or the westward movement. Like other historians engaged in writing the Oxford History, McPherson has made agreements with the authors of the previous and following volumes regarding responsibility for full treatment of overlapping themes.

Of the ten periods covered in this series there is not one when Americans were not involved in some war or other. Two of them are called world wars—three counting one in the eighteenth century. What then is to be said to justify the exceptional attention and space allotted to this particular war? There are numerous criteria at hand for rating the comparative magnitude of wars. Among them are the numbers of troops or ships committed, the years the conflict lasted, the amount of treasure spent, the numbers of objectives gained or lost, and so on. One simple and eloquent measurement is the numbers of casualties sustained. After describing the scene at nightfall on September 17, 1862, following the battle called Antietam in the North and Sharpsburg in the South, McPherson writes:

The casualties at Antietam numbered four times the total suffered by American soldiers at the Normandy beaches on June 6, 1944. More than twice as many Americans lost their lives in one day at Sharpsburg as fell in combat in the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the Spanish-American War combined.

editor's introduction xix

And in the final reckoning, American lives lost in the Civil War exceed the total of those lost in all the other wars the country has fought added together, world wars included. Questions raised about the proportion of space devoted to military events of this period might be considered in the light of these facts.

C. Vann Woodward

William H. Seward

Library of Congress

Stephen A. Douglas

Louis A. Warren Lincoln Library and Museum

Free-state men ready to defend Lawrence, Kansas, in 1856

The Kansas State Historical Society

U.S. Military Rail Roads locomotive with crew members pointing at holes in the smokestack and tender caused by rebel shells

U.S. Army Military History Institute

Stockpile of rails in the U.S. Military Rail Roads yards at Alexandria

U.S. Army Military History Institute

U.S. Military Rail Roads locomotive with crew members pointing at holes in the smokestack and tender caused by rebel shells

U.S. Army Military History Institute

Stockpile of rails in the U.S. Military Rail Roads yards at Alexandria

U.S. Army Military History Institute

B & O trains carrying troops and supplies meeting at Harper's Ferry

U.S. Military Academy Library

B & O trains carrying troops and supplies meeting at Harper's Ferry

U.S. Military Academy Library

Railroad bridge built by Union army construction crew in Tennessee after rebel raiders burned the original bridge

Minnesota Historical Society

Blockade-runner Robert E. Lee, which ran the blockade fourteen times before being captured on the fifteenth attempt

Library of Congress

U.S.S. Minnesota, 47-gun steam frigate, flagship of the Union blockade fleet that captured the Robert E. Lee

Minnesota Historical Society

Louis A. Warren Lincoln Library and Museum

Right: George B. McClellan

Louis A. Warren Lincoln Library and Museum

Above: Abraham Lincoln

Louis A. Warren Lincoln Library and Museum

Right: George B. McClellan

Louis A. Warren Lincoln Library and Museum

Below: U.S.S. Cairo, one of "Pook's turtles," which fought on the Tennessee and Mississippi rivers until sunk by a Confederate "torpedo" in the Yazoo River near Vicksburg in December 1862 U.S. Army Military History Institute

Above: Abraham Lincoln

Robert E. Lee

Library of Congress

Jefferson Davis

Library of Congress

Robert E. Lee

Library of Congress

Jefferson Davis

Library of Congress

Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson

Library of Congress

James E. B. "Jeb" Stuart

Library of Congress

Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson

Library of Congress

James E. B. "Jeb" Stuart

Library of Congress

Mary Anne "Mother" Bickerdyke

U.S. Army Military History Institute

Wounded soldiers and nurse at Union army hospital in Fredericksburg

Library of Congress

Clara Barton

Library of Congress

Mary Anne "Mother" Bickerdyke

U.S. Army Military History Institute

Clara Barton

Library of Congress

Wounded soldiers and nurse at Union army hospital in Fredericksburg

Library of Congress

Black soldiers seated with white officers and freedmen's teachers standing behind them

Library of Congress

"Before" and "after" photographs of a young contraband who became a Union drummer boy

U.S. Army Military History Institute

Black soldiers seated with white officers and freedmen's teachers standing behind them

Library of Congress

Blue and Gray lie together in peace at the foot of Little Round Top

Library of Congress

Blue and Gray lie together in peace at the foot of Little Round Top

Library of Congress

Unwounded survivors of the original eighty-six men in Co. I of the 57th Massachusetts after six weeks of fighting from the Wilderness to Petersburg in 1864

U.S. Army Military History Institute

Port and rail facilities at City Point, Virginia, on the James River, Union supply base in the Petersburg campaign

Library of Congress

Sherman's soldiers tearing up the railroad in Atlanta before setting forth on their march to the sea Library of Congress

Confederate soldiers captured at Gettysburg

U.S. Army Military History institute

Confederate soldiers captured at Gettysburg

U.S. Army Military History institute

Andersonville prison, with Confederate guards along the fence in the background and the prisoners' sinks (latrines) in the foreground

Library of Congress

William Tecumseh Sherman

Louis A. Warren Lincoln Library and Museum

Joseph E. Johnston

Louis A. Warren Lincoln Library and Museum

On deck of the U.S.S. Hartford, Admiral Farragut's flagship, with the wheel manned by John McFarland, who won a Congressional Medal of Honor for his helmsmanship in the battle of Mobile Bay

U.S. Naval Historical Center

Battery A, 2nd U.S. Colored Artillery, which fought at the battle of Nashville

Chicago Historical Society

Battery A, 2nd U.S. Colored Artillery, which fought at the battle of Nashville

Chicago Historical Society

Union trenches at Petersburg

Library of Congress

Union trenches at Petersburg

Library of Congress

Confederate trenches at Petersburg, with chevaux-de-frise (pointed stakes) and dead soldier, after the successful Union assault on April 2, 1865

U.S. Army Military History Institute

Confederate soldier killed in the Petersburg trenches

Library of Congress

Confederate soldier killed in the Petersburg trenches

Library of Congress

An end of fighting: Confederate trenches at Petersburg after the Union assault on April 2, 1865 Minnesota Historical Society

The fruits of war: remains of a plantation house near Fredericksburg

Library of Congress

The fruits of war: remains of a plantation house near Fredericksburg

Library of Congress

Richmond on April 4, 1865, as viewed from the Confederate Treasury building, with Yankee cavalry horses tied in the foreground as their owners finish putting out the fires set by departing rebels

U.S. Army Military History Institute

Battle Cry of Freedom

Prologue From the Halls of Montezuma

On the morning of September 14, 1847, brilliant sunshine burned off the haze in Mexico City. A mild breeze sprang up to blow away the smell of gunpowder lingering from the bloody battle of Chapultepec. Unshaven, mud-stained soldiers of the United States army in threadbare uniforms marched into the Plaza de Armas, formed a ragged line, and stood at weary attention as a shot-torn American flag rose over the ancient capital of the Aztecs. Civilians looked on in disappointed wonder. Were these tattered gringoes the men who had vanquished the splendid hosts of Santa Anna?

Martial music suddenly blared from a street entering the plaza. Jaunty dragoons with drawn sabers cantered into the square escorting a magnificent bay charger ridden by a tall general resplendent in full-dress uniform with gold epaulets and white-plumed chapeau. The Mexicans broke into involuntary applause. If they must endure the humiliation of conquest, they preferred their conquerors to look the part. As the band played Yankee Doodle and Hail to the Chief\ General Winfield Scott dismounted and accepted formal surrender of the city. Cross-belted U.S. marines soon patrolled the Halls of Montezuma while at nearby Guadalupe Hidalgo the American envoy Nicholas Trist negotiated a treaty that enlarged the territory of the United States by nearly one-quarter and reduced that of Mexico by half. During the sixteen previous months, American forces under Generals Scott and Zachary Taylor had won ten major battles, most of them against larger Mexican armies defending fortified positions. The Duke of Wellington had pronounced Scott's campaign against Mexico City the most brilliant in modern warfare.

But ironies and squabbles marred the triumphs. The war had been started by a Democratic president in the interest of territorial expansion and opposed by Whigs whose antiwar position helped them wrest control of the House in the congressional elections of 1846. Yet the two commanding generals in this victorious war were Whigs. Democratic President James K. Polk relieved Whig General Scott of command after Scott had ordered the court-martial of two Democratic generals who had inspired newspaper articles claiming credit for American victories. The president recalled his own envoy for appearing to be too soft toward the Mexicans; Trist ignored the recall and negotiated a treaty which obtained all of Mexico that Polk had hoped for originally but less than he now wanted. Polk nevertheless sent the treaty to the Senate, where a combination of Whigs who wanted no Mexican territory and Democrats who wanted more came within four votes of defeating it. The antiwar party nominated war hero Zachary Taylor for president in 1848 and won; the same party nominated war hero Winfield Scott for president four years later and lost. Congressmen from northern states tried to enact a proviso banning slavery from the territories acquired by a war in which two-thirds of the volunteer soldiers had come from slave states. General Taylor was a slaveholder but opposed the expansion of slavery when he became president. The discord generated by the Mexican War erupted fifteen years later in a far larger conflict whose foremost hero was elected president two decades after he, as Lieutenant Sam Grant, had helped win the decisive battle of Chapultepec in a war that he considered "one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation."1

The bickering Americans won the Mexican War because their adversaries were even more riven by faction. They won also because of the marksmanship and élan of their mixed divisions of regulars and volunteers and above all because of the professionalism and courage of their junior officers. Yet the competence of these men foreshadowed the ultimate irony of the Mexican War, for many of the best of them would fight against each other in the next war. Serving together on Scott's staff were two bright lieutenants, Pierre G. T. Beauregard and George B. McClellan. Captain Robert E. Lee's daring reconnaissances behind Mexican lines prepared the way for two crucial American victories. In

1. Personal Memoirs ofV. S. Grant, 2 vols. (New York, 1885), I, 53.

one of his reports Captain Lee commended Lieutenant Grant. The latter received official thanks for his role in the attack on Mexico City; these thanks were conveyed to him by Lieutenant John Pemberton, who sixteen years later would surrender to Grant at Vicksburg. Lieutenants James Longstreet and Winfield Scott Hancock fought side by side in the battle of Churubusco; sixteen years later Longstreet commanded the attack against Hancock's corps at Cemetery Ridge, an attack led by George Pickett, who doubtless recalled the day that he picked up the colors of the 8th Infantry in its assault on Chapultepec when Lieutenant Longstreet fell wounded while carrying these colors. Albert Sidney Johnston and Joseph Hooker fought together at Monterrey; Colonel Jefferson Davis's Mississippi volunteers broke a Mexican charge at Buena Vista while artillery officers George H. Thomas and Braxton Bragg fought alongside each other in this battle with the same spirit they would fight against each other as army commanders at a ridge a thousand miles away in Tennessee. Lee, Joseph E. Johnston, and George Gordon Meade served as Scott's engineer officers at the siege of Vera Cruz, while offshore in the American fleet Lieutenant Raphael Semmes shared a cabin with Lieutenant John Winslow, whose U.S.S. Kearsarge would sink Sem-mes's C.S.S. Alabama seventeen years later and five thousand miles away.

The Mexican War fulfilled for the United States its self-proclaimed manifest destiny to bestride the continent from sea to shining sea. But by midcentury the growing pains of this adolescent republic threatened to tear the country apart before it reached maturity.

The United States at Midcentury i

The hallmark of the United States has been growth. Americans have typically defined this process in quantitative terms. Never was that more true than in the first half of the nineteenth century, when an unparalleled rate of growth took place in three dimensions: population, territory, and economy. In 1850, Zachary Taylor—the last president born before the Constitution—could look back on vast changes during his adult life. The population of the United States had doubled and then doubled again. Pushing relentlessly westward and southward, Americans had similarly quadrupled the size of their country by settling, conquering, annexing, or purchasing territory that had been occupied for millennia by Indians and claimed by France, Spain, Britain, and Mexico. During the same half-century the gross national product increased sevenfold. No other nation in that era could match even a single component of this explosive growth. The combination of all three made America the Wunderkind nation of the nineteenth century.

Regarded as "progress" by most Americans, this unrestrained growth had negative as well as positive consequences. For Indians it was a story of contraction rather than expansion, of decline from a vital culture toward dependence and apathy. The one-seventh of the population that was black also bore much of the burden of progress while reaping few of its benefits. Slave-grown crops sustained part of the era's economic growth and much of its territorial expansion. The cascade of cotton from the American South dominated the world market, paced the industrial revolution in England and New England, and fastened the shackles of slavery more securely than ever on Afro-Americans.

Even for white Americans, economic growth did not necessarily mean unalloyed progress. Although per capita income doubled during the halfcentury, not all sectors of society shared equally in this abundance. While both rich and poor enjoyed rising incomes, their inequality of wealth widened significantly. As the population began to move from farm to city, farmers increasingly specialized in the production of crops for the market rather than for home consumption. The manufacture of cloth, clothing, leather goods, tools, and other products shifted from home to shop and from shop to factory. In the process many women experienced a change in roles from producers to consumers with a consequent transition in status. Some craftsmen suffered debasement of their skills as the division of labor and power-driven machinery eroded the traditional handicraft methods of production and transformed them from self-employed artisans to wage laborers. The resulting potential for class conflict threatened the social fabric of this brave new republic.

More dangerous was the specter of ethnic conflict. Except for a sprinkling of German farmers in Pennsylvania and in the valleys of the Appalachian piedmont, the American white population before 1830 was overwhelmingly British and Protestant in heritage. Cheap, abundant land and the need for labor in a growing economy, coupled with the pressure of population against limited resources in northern Europe, impelled first a trickle and then a flood of German and Irish immigrants to the United States in the generation after 1830. Most of these new Americans worshipped in Roman Catholic churches. Their growing presence filled some Protestant Americans with alarm. Numerous nativist organizations sprang up as the first line of resistance in what became a long and painful retreat toward acceptance of cultural pluralism.

The greatest danger to American survival at midcentury, however, was neither class tension nor ethnic division. Rather it was sectional conflict between North and South over the future of slavery. To many Americans, human bondage seemed incompatible with the founding ideals of the republic. If all men were created equal and endowed by the creator with certain inalienable rights including liberty and the pursuit of happiness, what could justify the enslavement of several millions of these men (and women)? The generation that fought the Revolution abolished slavery in states north of the Mason-Dixon line; the new states north of the Ohio River came into the Union without bondage. South of those boundaries, however, slavery became essential to the region's economy and culture.

Meanwhile, a wave of Protestant revivals known as the Second Great Awakening swept the country during the first third of the nineteenth century. In New England, upstate New York, and those portions of the Old Northwest above the 41st parallel populated by the descendants of New England Yankees, this evangelical enthusiasm generated a host of moral and cultural reforms. The most dynamic and divisive of them was abolitionism. Heirs of the Puritan notion of collective accountability that made every man his brother's keeper, these Yankee reformers repudiated Calvinist predestination, preached the availability of redemption to anyone who truly sought it, urged converts to abjure sin, and worked for the elimination of sins from society. The most heinous social sin was slavery. All people were equal in God's sight; the souls of black folks were as valuable as those of whites; for one of God's children to enslave another was a violation of the Higher Law, even if it was sanctioned by the Constitution.

By midcentury this antislavery movement had gone into politics and had begun to polarize the country. Slaveholders did not consider themselves egregious sinners. And they managed to convince most non-slaveholding whites in the South (two-thirds of the white population there) that emancipation would produce economic ruin, social chaos, and racial war. Slavery was not the evil that Yankee fanatics portrayed; it was a positive good, the basis of prosperity, peace, and white supremacy, a necessity to prevent blacks from degenerating into barbarism, crime, and poverty.

The slavery issue would probably have caused an eventual showdown between North and South in any circumstances. But it was the country's sprawling growth that made the issue so explosive. Was the manifest destiny of those two million square miles west of the Mississippi River to be free or slave? Like King Solomon, Congress had tried in 1820 to solve that problem for the Louisiana Purchase by splitting it at the latitude of 36° 30' (with slavery allowed in Missouri as an exception north of that line). But this only postponed the crisis. In 1850 Congress postponed it again with another compromise. By i860 it could no longer be deferred. The country's territorial growth might have created a danger of dismemberment by centrifugal force in any event. But slavery brought this danger to a head at midcentury.

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