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Early Stages of War
Transcript of Early Stages of War
First half of 16.2
First Battle of Bull Run
By summer 1861, both sides felt pressure to start a fight. Two armies, both of about 30,000, met.
Predictably, this first battle took place in between D.C. and Richmond.
Hundreds of northerners showed up to watch- they thought the battle would be an easy rout.
At first, the Confederate lines wavered and it looked like an easy victory. One confederate general however, Thomas Jackson, refused to retreat and held firm "like a stone wall."
Confederate reinforcements then arrived and caused a yankee retreat. The northern soldiers and picknickers stampeded back to D.C. in fear.
War in the West
Who can remind me- what was the north's primary objective in the west?
To that end, Ulysses S. Grant, a Union General who had been an alcoholic shopkeeper before the war, led a number of campaigns. In February 1862 he took Fort Donelson from the southerners.
Ulysses S. Grant was really the only good general the north had.
At this time, the blockade of the South is in full swing. Many southerners are running out of basic goods like coffee and sugar.
The confederates needed a way to break to blockade but had no navy- they began creating a secret weapon.
They found an abandoned Union warship, the Merrimack, and rebuilt it with steel armor renaming it The Virginia. It would have been invincible.
Virginia vs The Monitor
What the confederates didn't know, however, was that the North had built an ironclad warship of its own- The Monitor.
The Monitor and Virginia met and shot at each other for hours- neither could sink the other. Eventually they broke up.
While indecisive, this was the first ever battle between two metal ships.
Due to their Naval Dominance, the North was able to take New Orleans in April 1862.
This aided in their plan to dominate the Mississippi River. Also, New Orleans was the South's biggest cotton port. Due to the Union Blockade, they had to rely on smugglers to sell and buy goods with Europe.
The only thing remaining in the North's way to controlling the Mississippi was the Confederate fort of Vicksburg.
Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia moved into Western Maryland. All the while, they were being pursued by the Army of the Potomac under George B McClellan.
Secret instructions by Lee were captured by Union scouts- as a result, the Army of the Potomac found Lee and gave him battle.
The resulting battle was Antietam, the bloodiest single day of the war. There were over 22,000 casualties. Most of these were northerners, however ultimately Lee had to retreat.
In 1861-62, the war is not going well for the North- attempts to take Richmond have failed (largely due to George B McClellan's hesitancy) and Lee's army is winning battle after battle.
Worse, there are whispers that the British may join the south to secure their cotton.
As a result, Lincoln has to justify what the war is all about. His original argument was this it was to preserve the Union- however this was getting weaker as many in the North doubted why it needed to be preserved at all.
Many northerners, especially abolitionists like the escaped slaved Frederick Douglass, told Lincoln he should make the cause of the war about slavery. Three advantages:
1. Slavery is wrong (duh)
2. Slavery is the biggest disagreement between North and South
3. Great Britain and France will never help the South if the South is seen as fighting for slavery (they had both banned it).
Lincoln agreed, however he needed a victory on the battlefield- otherwise, he would become so unpopular nothing he said mattered.
After Antietam, announces his "Emancipation Proclamation."
The thing is, Lincoln can't ban slavery. (Why? think back a few lessons) However, the Constitution does give him the power to confiscate the property of military enemies.
So, he proclaims that all slaves living in rebel territory are freed. Does this free anyone?
However, that's not the point. The point is, this makes the cause of the war about slavery as opposed to state's rights. Britain will not join the war.