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A War To Preserve A Union

1652 words - 7 pages

President Abraham Lincoln, General William T. Sherman and Colonel Trowbridge's differing perspectives of the Civil War created very unique views of the war. President Lincoln saw the war as a painful and necessary burden for him to bear. General Sherman saw the war as a tool to rid the United States of the rebels that were attempting to dissolve the Union. Finally Colonel Trowbridge viewed the war on a much more personal level. He witnessed first hand men fighting the government of their former masters for their freedom. While all three of the men's views differed, all three held a singular belief that the union must be preserved. That need to preserve the union was the justification for the ...view middle of the document...

When the southern states attacked Fort Sumter and seceded from the Union, President Lincoln was left without any other option than war. Lincoln's personal view was that all men should be free. Despite his personal feelings, Lincoln did not think that the emancipation of slaves was worth the Union falling apart. He would have been willing to continue slavery if it meant the end of the war and the preservation of the Union. His Emancipation Proclamation was Lincoln's calculated use of executive powers to further the war effort. The emancipation of slaves was used to undermine the Confederacy economically, militarily. As a pleasant side effect, Lincoln was able to further his personal goal that all men be free. Even as Lincoln was able to free many men via his war efforts he
felt personal responsibility for all lives that were lost during the war.
It is true that Lincoln was willing to do anything and nothing to maintain the union. Lincoln understood that the war would leave a heavy toll on the country. He viewed the war as a heavy burden that was his to bear. Lincoln also realized that the cost of the war was something that he could use to unite the country. During his Gettysburg Address, Lincoln indicated that it was the duty of those still alive, “ to be dedicated here to the unfinished work.” He understood that after the war was over the men who had been enemies on the battlefield would be once again neighbors. This view of using war as a means to an end was very similar to the view that General Sherman possessed.
Similar to Lincoln, Sherman knew the consequence of war. However, unlike Lincoln he did not bear the weight of those wartime decisions. He stated in a letter to the mayor of Atlanta James M. Calhoun that, “[I]had no hand in making this war.” Sherman did not view the war as a direct result of his personal actions; he viewed the war as his responsibility. Sherman was prepared to order all acts that he deemed necessary to win the war. In his correspondence to Calhoun, Sherman expressed that, “war is cruelty, and [that] you cannot refine it.” The Union's plan was to destroy the southerners will to support the southern war effort and therefore undermine the Confederate Armies ability to wage war. This task was assigned to Sherman. General Sherman was willing to wage the necessary warfare to accomplish the Union goal. During Sherman's March to the Sea, one veteran recalled that Sherman's army ravaged the land, “destroying all that they could not eat.”
General Sherman saw the war as a necessary step to achieving, “peace, not only in Atlanta, but in all America.” Sherman believed that the war was needed to secure the peace that he sought. He knew that to ensure peace he must secure the Union. The security of the Union relied on the dissolution of the southern rebellion. He was not a heartless man who sought war for war's sake. He understood like Lincoln that after the war the former enemies would once again be neighbors. Even...

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