HIST 4055 (Final Essay/Question 2)
25 June 2010
Collapse of the Confederacy from 1864-65
The collapse of the Confederacy in 1865 was due to a variety of reasons. These issues by and large involved the military along with a dire political and economic situation. The transfer of General Ulysses S. Grant, from the West, with his “aggressive” new war strategy, in addition to, Union General William T. Sherman’s "March to the Sea," and eventual capture of Atlanta, Georgia in the East, allowed the Northern military to strengthen the grip of their Anaconda Plan. The Confederate Gen. John B. Hood, pursuing his wasteful Tennessee campaign in the West and the eventual surrender of Gen. Robert E. Lee, would mark the end of the Confederate military. The reelection of Abraham Lincoln in 1864 and the prior Emancipation Proclamation further undermined the institution of slavery, while strengthening Northern support of the war. With incredible inflation, and a losing war effort in the South, 1865, would mark the official end to the short life of the Confederacy, and a new reshaping of the Union. (N) Ulysses S. Grant’s success on the Western front had made him somewhat of a “hero" in particular to the Vicksburg campaign. Grant came from humble backgrounds and was unlike the previous five Union Generals before him. His “aggressive” new strategy would be later called, "a war of exhaustion." His plan was to attack the Confederacy on five fronts, with most importantly, the Army of the Potomac relentlessly striking Lee, driving his army southward, towards Richmond. The bloodiest battles of the war pursued in the East beginning with the dreadful Battle of the Wilderness. The Wilderness battle alone would take around “17 percent of each army,” dwindled away at Lee’s irreplaceable men. The continuous onslaught by Grant would quickly diminish Lee’s army down to a shell of its former self. The “Overland campaign,” would continue forward including the battles around Spotsylvania Courthouse, North Anna, Cold Harbor, and ending with the Siege of Petersburg. Grant’s six week campaign would push the Confederate army ever closer to Richmond, and after a final eight month siege at Petersburg, Lee would take flight to the West, leaving Richmond behind. About a month later, Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. (T 264-74) (N)
On the Western front, General Sherman, like Grant, used “flanking” maneuvers that helped to significantly lower causalities. Sherman drove the Confederates ever south, hanging to General Grant’s strategy, not deviating from the idea of “total war.” His campaign that “covered nearly 100 miles,” brought him to Georgia where on September 2, 1864, Atlanta fell into Union hands. The “war weariness” in the North swiftly diminished, when, a simultaneous, corresponding, upswing in the war of both the Eastern and the Western fronts, trampled the Southern militarily. (T 275-80) (N)
The Confederate General, John B. Hood,...