1863: A Poor Summer for the Rebels (National Park Service, 1954)
For Jefferson Davis and his confederates, the double disasters of Gettysburg and Vicksburg that came with the summer of 1863 spelled doom for the Rebel cause.
Writing in his diary during those canicular days was Confederate General Josiah Gorgas (1818 – 1883) who succinctly summarized the meaning of these two major defeats:
"Events have succeeded one another with disastrous rapidity. One brief month ago we were apparently at the point of success. Lee was in Pennsylvania, threatening Harrisburg, and even Philadelphia. Vicksburg seemed to laugh all Grant's efforts to scorn... All looked bright. Now the picture is just as somber as it was bright then. Lee failed at Gettysburg .... Vicksburg and Port Hudson capitulated, surrendering thirty-five thousand arms. It seems incredible that human power could effect such a change in so brief a space. Yesterday we rode on the pinnacle of success; today absolute ruin seems to be our portion. The Confederacy totters to its destruction."
When Grant Met Lincoln for the First Time (National Park Service, 1956)
A short paragraph from General Grant's memoir recalling the "the first private interview with President Lincoln, on the occasion in the early spring of 1864 when he was given command of all the Federal armies:
"In my first interview with Mr. Lincoln alone he stated to me that he had never professed to be a military man or to know how campaigns should be conducted, and never wanted to interfere in them..."
Click here to read about General Grant's Chief of Staff, General John Rawlins.
The Depression and Humor of President Lincoln (National Park Service, 1956)
This 1956 article addressed the issue of Lincoln's depression:
"Lincoln's story telling proclivities were well known in his own time. On the old eighth circuit in Illinois his humor and fund of anecdotes were proverbial. What was not so well known was that the tall, homely man needed a blanket of humor to suppress the fires of depression, gloom, and sense of tragedy that almost consumed him".
Click here to read about Lincoln, the joke teller.
Traveling to the Lincoln - Douglas Debate (National Park Service, 1956)
Stephen Douglas (1813 – 1861), Lincoln's Democratic rival in the contest for the U.S. Senate seat from Illinois, was a popular figure with a great deal of political capitol who enjoyed wide spread fame throughout much of the fruited plain; this all contributed to a robust ego which would not suffer anything less than traveling to the debates in a grand style. By contrast, "Honest Abe" traveled in economy class, packed among the masses (although as a railroad lawyer, he certainly could have afforded better).
This short paragraph (accompanied by a photograph of both men) was written by a friend of Lincoln who recalled his train ride with the (losing) candidate as he made his way to Ottawa, Illinois, the site of the first debate.
The Battle of Gettysburg: Day Two (National Park Service, 1954)
As a result of of the heavy fighting at Little Round Top, Devil's Den, Culp's Hill and the Peach Orchard - July 2nd clocked-in as the bloodiest day during the whole of the battle, with over 15,000 killed or wounded. The attached article serves nicely as a concise summation of the second day of battle:
"By the afternoon of July 2, the powerful forces of Meade and Lee were at hand, and battle on a tremendous scale was imminent. That part of the Union line extending diagonally across the valley between Seminary and Cemetery Ridges held. Late in the forenoon, General Dan Sickles, commanding the Third Corps which lay north of Little Round Top, sent Berdan's sharpshooters and some of the men of the 3rd Maine Regiment forward from Emmitsburg Road to Pitzer's Woods... as they reached the woods, a strong Confederate force fired upon them..."
*Bayonet Charge on Little Round Top*
Abraham Lincoln: The Boy (National Park Service, 1956)
Following the death of his mother, Nancy Hanks, the future president was but six years old. Lincoln's father, Thomas Lincoln, then married Sarah Bush and the family moved to Indiana. The Lincoln family was poor and suffered hardships living in the Indiana wilderness but a bond was created between stepmother Sarah and the boy Abraham that was never broken. From the age of nine and throughout the rest of his life Lincoln would call her, "Mother".
These are the tender memories of his boyhood that she called to mind just five months after the assassination.
Weapons and Tactics at Gettysburg (National Park Service, 1954)
The weapons and tactics used at the Battle of Gettysburg were in no way different from those brought into use during other parts in the war. Just as war has always been practiced, weapons influence tactics and this article lists a variety of Civil War rifles and artillery pieces that were put to use during that three day battle. The author also goes to some length describing the manner in which Civil War regiments and brigades marched into battle and the deployment of their supporting artillery batteries.
*Watch a Civil War Musket Demonstration*
The Battle of Gettysburg: Day One (National Park Service, 1954)
An account of the inconclusive first day at Gettysburg:
"The two armies converge on Gettysburg - The men of Heth's division, leading the Confederate advance across the mountain, reached Cashtown on June 29. Pettigrew's brigade was sent on to Gettysburg the following day to obtain supplies, but upon reaching the ridge a mile west of the town, they observed a column of Union cavalry approaching..."
Click here to read a Confederate perspective of the first day at Gettysburg.
It was on the first day at Gettysburg that the Confederates made a terrible mistake. Read about it here.
*Watch a Film Clip Pointing Out the Ground Held by the Federal Army on Day One*
End of Invasion: July 4, 1863 (National Park Service, 1954)
In just two paragraphs this author beautifully summed up the immediate aftermath of that remarkable battle:
"Late on the afternoon of July 4, Lee began an orderly retreat. The wagon train of wounded, 17 miles in length, guarded by Imboden's cavalry, started homeward through Greenwood and Greencastle. At night, the able-bodied men marched over the Hagerstown Road by way of Monterey Pass to the Potomac..."
From Amazon: Retreat from Gettysburg: Lee, Logistics, and the Pennsylvania Campaign
Click here to read about the 1913 Gettysburg Reunion.
Lincoln Remembered (National Park Service, 1956)
Shortly after Abraham Lincoln's assassination, William H. Herndon (1816 - 1891), Lincoln's law partner, devoted much of his life to collecting as much original source material on the man as he could possibly find. Indeed, scholars have pointed out that there never would have been an accurate word written about Lincoln if not for the efforts of Herndon. The following description of Lincoln is from a lecture delivered by Herndon in 1865.
The Battle of Gettysburg: Day Three (National Park Service, 1954)
A clearly written piece which sums up the climactic third day of the Gettysburg battle:
"Night brought an end to the bloody combat at East Cemetery Hill, but this was not the time for rest. What would Meade do? Would the Union Army remain in its established position and hold its lines at all costs?"
*Watch a Clip Depicting Picket's Charge*
The Lincoln - Douglas Debates: Defining Slavery (National Park Service, 1956)
"The Republican Party, which developed rapidly as a new political force following the enactment of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill in 1854, gathered its strength chiefly from those who opposed the extension of slavery into the territories. In the Lincoln - Douglas Debates this issue was paramount. Perhaps nowhere can a more concise and explicit statement of the position of the Republican Party on this issue be found than in Mr. Lincoln's opening speech at Quincy [Illinois] in the sixth of the joint debates".
General Grant Recalled Meeting Lincoln (National Park Service, 1956)
A short paragraph from General Grant's memoir recalling the "the first private interview with President Lincoln, on the occasion in the early spring of 1864 when he was given command of all the Federal armies."
"In my first interview with Mr. Lincoln alone he stated to me that he had never professed to be a military man or to know how campaigns should be conducted..."
Click here to read about a dream that President Lincoln had, a dream that anticipated his violent death.
John Hay Recalls Lincoln (National Park Service, 1956)
"John Hay (1838 - 1905), formerly one of Lincoln's private secretaries, wrote out some of his recollections of Lincoln's daily personal and official habits as President.
"He was very abstemious, ate less than anyone I know. Drank nothing but water, not from principle, but because he did not like wine or spirits."
Hay was in Paris serving as Secretary of United States Legation when he wrote the letter, about a year and a half after Lincoln's death".
The conduct of the war contributed mightily to Lincoln's rapidly aging appearance. Look at this photo-essay examining his facial decay year by hear: click here.
Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address (National Park Service, 1956)
Here is the brief text to President Lincoln's very eloquent second inaugural address, that was delivered during the closing weeks of the Civil War.
1863: The Importance of Chattanooga and East Tennessee
(National Park Service, 1956)
Situated where the Tennessee River passes through the Cumberland Mountains, forming gaps, Chattanooga was called the "Key to East Tennessee" and "Gateway to the deep South." The possession of Chattanooga was vital to the Confederacy, and a coveted goal of the Northern armies. Chattanooga's principal importance during the Civil War was it's position as a railroad center.
Click here to print American Civil War chronologies.
Richmond Selected as the Capital of the Confederacy (National Park Service, 1961)
The attached essay explains why the elder statesmen of the Confederacy selected Richmond, Virginia to serve as the seat of their doomed plutocracy. Seeing that the city was a mere 110 miles from Washington, D.C., it seemed like an odd choice, yet
"Second only to New Orleans, Richmond was the largest city in the Confederacy, having a population of about 38,000. It was also the center of iron manufacturing in the South. The Tredegar Iron Works, main source of cannon supply for the Southern armies, influenced the choice of Richmond as the Confederate Capital and demanded defense."
Click here to read about the heavy influence religion had in the Rebel states during the American Civil War.