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Spring 1865

Spring 1865: The Closing Campaigns of the Civil War

Perry D. Jamieson
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 296
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    Spring 1865
    Book Description:

    When Gen. Robert E. Lee fled from Petersburg and Richmond, Virginia, in April 1865, many observers did not realize that the Civil War had reached its nadir. A large number of Confederates, from Jefferson Davis down to the rank-and-file, were determined to continue fighting. Though Union successes had nearly extinguished the Confederacy's hope for an outright victory, the South still believed it could force the Union to grant a negotiated peace that would salvage some of its war aims. As evidence of the Confederacy's determination, two major Union campaigns, along with a number of smaller engagements, were required to quell the continued organized Confederate military resistance.

    InSpring 1865Perry D. Jamieson juxtaposes for the first time the major campaign against Lee that ended at Appomattox and Gen. William T. Sherman's march north through the Carolinas, which culminated in Gen. Joseph E. Johnston's surrender at Bennett Place. Jamieson also addresses the efforts required to put down armed resistance in the Deep South and the Trans-Mississippi. As both sides fought for political goals following Lee's surrender, these campaigns had significant consequences for the political-military context that shaped the end of the war as well as Reconstruction.

    eISBN: 978-0-8032-7472-3
    Subjects: History
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations (pp. ix-ix)
  4. List of Maps (pp. x-x)
  5. PREFACE (pp. xi-xii)
  6. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS (pp. xiii-xvi)

    Americans remain fascinated by the Civil War. Movies, television, and video—even computer software—have augmented the ever-expanding list of books on the war. Although it stands to reason that a large portion of recent work concentrates on military aspects of the conflict, historians have expanded our scope of inquiry to include civilians, especially women; the destruction of slavery and the evolving understanding of what freedom meant to millions of former slaves; and an even greater emphasis on the experiences of the common soldier on both sides. Other studies have demonstrated the interrelationships of war, politics, and policy and how...

  8. CHAPTER ONE Terrible Times of Shipwreck (pp. 1-16)

    Col. Joseph Frederick Waring, the commander of Mississippi’s Jefferson Davis Legion, was a well-read and observant Confederate cavalry officer. He concluded one Saturday in the dead of the winter of 1864–65 that the season of the year affected the morale of Southern civilians. “The people give way every winter to despondency,” Colonel Waring wrote in his diary on January 14, 1865. “I have seen it now for four winters.” It was an observation that rang truer than ever during the gloomy weeks of late 1864 and early 1865.¹

    Less than four years earlier, the Confederacy had gone to war...

  9. CHAPTER TWO Fort Fisher and Wilmington (pp. 17-35)

    Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s grand strategy for 1865 called for Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman to sweep north through the Carolinas toward Petersburg, Virginia, where Gen. Robert E. Lee stood pinned in his trenches. Wilmington, North Carolina, loomed large in General Sherman’s operations. The city was vital to the Confederates as their only remaining open port, and its location—roughly halfway between Savannah, Georgia, and Richmond, Virginia—also made it potentially valuable to the Union. Federal occupation of Wilmington would ease Sherman’s supply arrangements and speed his advance toward Virginia. He could draw men and provisions from the Cape...

  10. CHAPTER THREE In the Carolinas (pp. 36-60)

    With Wilmington secured, Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield, the commander of the Department of North Carolina, turned his attention about ninety-five miles northeast to New Bern, a city that had been in Federal hands since 1862. The Union’s logistical arrangements already were strong, and General Schofield saw that this port could improve them further. He had no rolling stock and few wagons at Wilmington; New Bern could supply them. This city on the Neuse River also might become a valuable railhead once work crews put in shape the Atlantic and North Carolina Railroad line, which ran west from the port...

  11. CHAPTER FOUR Bentonville (pp. 61-78)

    While Lt. Gen. William J. Hardee’s soldiers fought at Averasboro, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston gathered the rest of his units around Smithfield. General Johnston finally achieved the concentration of forces that the Confederates had so long needed in the western theater. Once at Smithfield, Johnston formally combined his commands into the Army of the South: the remnants of the Army of Tennessee, now led by Lt. Gen. Alexander P. Stewart, who was nicknamed “Old Straight” by his men; the Department of North Carolina troops commanded by Gen. Braxton Bragg; the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida soldiers in a...

  12. CHAPTER FIVE Late Winter at Petersburg (pp. 79-103)

    As 1864 drew to an end, Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia held its extensive trenches around Richmond and Petersburg with a threadbare force of about 66,500 effectives. The Confederates had stretched their lines to cover their capital and the crucial railroad center south of it. The winter weather, supply shortages, and depressing letters from home reduced the spirits of the defenders. On the day after Christmas, General Lee sent Secretary of War James A. Seddon a somber message, warning that the front along his army’s far left flank “had to be in a measure abandoned and the...

  13. CHAPTER SIX The Fall of Petersburg (pp. 104-127)

    On March 28, 1865, three days after the attack on Fort Stedman, President Abraham Lincoln, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman, and Rear Adm. David Dixon Porter met on theRiver Queenat a wharf in City Point, Virginia. General Grant described the strategy he would implement that spring. He intended to continue moving west until he cut off Gen. Robert E. Lee’s right flank and ended any chance that his opponent could link with Gen. Joseph E. Johnston. Severing the last rail and road lines into Petersburg from the west, Grant would leave General Lee...

  14. ILLUSTRATIONS (pp. None)
  15. CHAPTER SEVEN To Sailor’s Creek (pp. 128-149)

    For years Union strategy in the eastern theater of the Civil War had aimed at capturing Richmond, but the fall of the Confederate capital proved an anticlimax. The Army of the Potomac did not enter the prized city but instead pursued the Army of Northern Virginia.¹ The troops of the Army of the James who did go into the capital went there because it stood directly in their path.

    On Monday, April 3, 1865, Maj. Gen. Edward O. C. Ord happened to be at Petersburg. Maj. Gen. Godfrey Weitzel, who was less well known than many other Union generals who...

  16. CHAPTER EIGHT Spring Morning (pp. 150-174)

    Every day and night during the march from Petersburg, the Confederates became more famished and exhausted. Ordnance Sgt. James W. Albright, one of Lt. Gen. Richard H. Anderson’s survivors of Sailor’s Creek, characterized the artillerymen around him on April 6 as “poor, hungry tired men.” A member of Company F of the Twenty-fourth Virginia Cavalry reported on April 5: “We fed our horses this morning[,] the first time since we left Richmond but get nothing for ourselves.” The seemingly endless marching wore down the army’s animals as well as its soldiers. Raleigh W. Downman of the Fourth Virginia Cavalry wrote...

  17. CHAPTER NINE A Scrap of Paper (pp. 175-203)

    At Goldsboro, North Carolina, on March 23, 1865, two days after the Battle of Bentonville, Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman finished combining his force with Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield’s two corps. General Sherman then had eighty-one thousand effectives, giving him an overwhelming numerical advantage over his opponent, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston. Furthermore the strategic situation decisively favored the Federals. “They may unite Johnston & [Gen. Robert E.] Lee,” Sherman explained to his wife, Ellen, on March 26, “when[,] if they make the further mistake of holding on to Richmond, I can easily take Raleigh and the Roanoke, when Richmond will...

  18. CHAPTER TEN Scattered Embers (pp. 204-216)

    With the surrender of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, Federal forces extinguished the once-raging bonfire of Confederate military resistance. But some embers remained scattered across the South, and they continued to glow. Each was small but had to be stamped out against the possibility, however slight, that the fire would rekindle.

    In March 1865 Selma, Alabama, remained a valuable city to the Southern war effort. It stood more than forty miles west of the former Confederate capital at Montgomery and represented the last significant logistical center in the Deep South.¹ A fiftyacre complex included a city arsenal, iron works, powder mill...

  19. NOTES (pp. 217-264)
  20. BIBLIOGRAPHIC ESSAY (pp. 265-276)
  21. INDEX (pp. 277-286)
  22. Back Matter (pp. 287-287)