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Setting the Table for the Civil War
Transcript of Setting the Table for the Civil War
George B. McClellan
Robert E. Lee
By: Elizabeth March
Topics For Discussion:
- War Strategy
Setting the Table for the Civil War
"The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Stike him as hard as you can, and keep moving on."
-Ulysses S. Grant
"The true course in conducting military operations, is to make no movement until the preparations are complete."
-George B. McClellan
Much like Ulysses S. Grant. George B. McClellan had been an experienced soldier and even commander in previous wars and battles. He became a prominent war figure after the defeat at Bull Run in which Lincoln turned to McClellan and appointed commander of the military. McClellan continued throughout the war in a very cautious manner which led to many mistakes. McClellan was soon appointed General-in-Chief of the Union and led the Union on many campaigns with some success. However, McClellan's caution led to his downfall and demotion in rank when he failed to pursue Robert E. Lee at Antietam, allowing for Grant to be promoted. McClellan felt underrated and disgraced by Northern leaders and had little more impact on the rest of the war. McClellan is significant for his early role in the Civil War and his high rank along with his campaigns that whether successful or failed they led to a Union victory.
Ulysses Grant had been an experienced soldier leading up to the Civil War. Grant started as an appointed, commander of some volunteer troops in Illinois. Grant made efforts to become more than just a recruit commander but was originally denied, even by George B. McClellan. However, Grant continued to led more and more troops into battles and campaigns such as in Shiloh and Vicksburg with mostly great success. After the battle at Chattanooga President Lincoln promoted Grant to lieutenant general after George B. McClellan was demoted for his poor strategies at the Battle of Antietam. The war continued to rage on and Grant continued to lead victories for the North as he fought for peace in the United States. Grant is significant because of his leadership and strategies on the battlefield for the Union and his decisively victorious campaigns that helped toward a Union victory.
" If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that." -Abe Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States of America and the President at the time of the Civil War. He was against the use of slaves and the secession of the Confederate States. With these points of view he fought to restore the United States and to eventually abolish slavery. Lincoln's quote above shows that he would do anything he could to keep the Union united. Lincoln was not liked by some, for obvious reasons, in the South and so they fought him and his ideas. Lincoln later uses the Emancipation Proclamation to convey his ideas of how he intends to control the future of the United States in a fair and just way. Lincoln had tried his best to keep the Union together and ultimately had to result to war to accomplish this task. Lincoln is clearly important due to his leadership in the Union, Emancipation Proclamation and efforts to reunite the torn country.
" I have only a short time to live , only one death to die, and I will die fighting for this cause. There will be no peace in this land until slavery is done for." -John Brown
John Brown crusaded against slavery throughout the 1850's and strongly believed that slavery needed to be abolished immediately. He moved to Kansas with his family so it would not become a slave state, if he could stop it. John Brown lead two big attacks; the Bleeding Kansas Crisis and Harper's Ferry Raid. During the Raid, however, he was captured.
"Duty is the sublimest word in the English language. You should do your duty in all things. You can never do more, you should never wish to do less." -Robert E. Lee
Robert E. Lee was destined for a successful military life in the Union. He taught many who would later come to fight for him or against him. Lee was first offered the top position for the Union army due to his military expertise, but he refused because he could not turn against his home state of Virginia. He then became a general for the Confederate army. Lee led his army to some of the greatest successes in the Civil War with few mistakes or losses. However, one of those mistakes led to the defeat on Northern soil at Antietam. Lee still continued to lead a victorious army after the defeat, but after back to back defeats to the Union general Ulysses S. Grant, Lee was forced to surrender at Appomattox Court House essentially extinguishing any chance of Confederate victory. Lee is a very significant general for the Confederates for his military expertise and successive attempts for victory that were only barely cut short by Grant.
"All we ask is to be let alone" -Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Davis was the elected President of the Confederate States. He has background as a plantation owner and soldier along with positions in the U.S. cabinet. He was originally well received as he had a strong passion for the Confederate movement. However, his likeness diminished as the war continued with many defeats and losses. Davis was also short with his people and awarded positions in his government to underwhelming officials. He still continued to support the cause of a secession from the Union so that the South may have rights and peace without Northern influence. As the Union troops marched on to Richmond Davis was forced to flee along with his other officials. He was later captured and imprisoned for two years. Davis is significant for his role as the Confederates President and his actions as their president to further the progress of the war.
Source: Letter from Ulysses S. Grant to Stephen A. Hurlbut, May 31,1863
Grant: McClellan, I believe that you wouldn't have been demoted if you weren't so cautious with war strategy and you used more resources and deployed more soldiers.
McClellan: That is where you are wrong, you need to reserve your resources so that they last longer; also there is nothing wrong with being cautious and sticking to the plan because it prevents heavy losses.
Grant: Isn't one of the main reasons you got demoted because you suffered such great losses at the Battle of Antietam. Also sometimes straying from the set plan and accepting that there will be heavy losses in battle is the only way to win. A total war strategy is the best strategy because by using all of your available resources, whether it is agricultural or political it give you an upper hand.
McClellan: If you cannot see why being reckless when planning war strategy then so be it. I'm not in charge of all the Union forces anymore so why does it matter what I think.
Source: Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Horace Greeley, Aug. 22,1862
Brown: Excuse me President Lincoln, I was wondering why you were not so adamant on abolishing slavery. I believe that slavery needed to be abolished much sooner.
Lincoln: Although I do not support slavery; I felt that the correct approach to slavery was to do what was best to keep the nation united. Whether slavery needed to be abolished, kept as legal, or allow slavery where it was already present and ban it from the rest of the nation.
Brown: Lincoln you approach obviously failed our nation because we still went to war greatly weakening our appearance to other countries. What is done is done at least slavery is abolished now.
Source: Letter from Robert E. Lee to his Sister, April 20,1861
Lincoln: Lee, how could you betray your country that you have and oath of loyalty to and have fought for. You now had fought against your former peers and to kill them.
Lee: I'm sorry President Lincoln, it was a very hard choice but it was my decision and I thought that it was more important to stay loyal to my family and home state.
Davis: Lincoln, you must accept Lee's choice and in my opinion he made the correct decision and it was what was best for him, Lee didn't want to be separated from his family.
Lincoln: Yes I must accept his decision but Davis you only think that Lee made the correct choice because he fought for you.
Source: "A House Divided" Speech by Abraham Lincoln, Springfield, Illinois on June 17, 1858
Lincoln: Davis can we please talk about why we could not have stayed as one united nation.
Davis: The South just had different political and economic needs than the North, and it is best that we secede.
Lincoln: You are wrong this nation is stronger when united as one nation. I would always have tried to keep the union together whether it meant abolishing slavery or keeping it.
Setting of Dinner
I chose to have the dinner at the site of the Battle of Bull Run. I chose the dinner to be at this site because it was the first battle and it was the first time both the North and South realized that this war was going to be a lot more violent and longer than expected to be.
The seating arrangement I have chosen for the guests is very meticulously planed. I have placed Lincoln and Davis in the center on opposite sides of the table because they are both the presidents for each side. Putting Lee to the right of Davis was decided because he chose to fight for the Confederacy. Also he could also make eye contact with Lincoln and be able to have a conversation with him easily. McClellan was seated to the left of Davis because I did not want him seated to near Lincoln because an issue could come up about Lincoln demoting him; as well as across to Grant to be able to talk to him. Grant was seated across from McClellan to be able to have a conversation with him; and next to Lincoln because Lincoln promoted him to the top general of the Union armies. Brown has been seated on the other side of Lincoln because he could then have a good conversation about abolishing slavery and if that was best for the nation.