The Civil War This Week: Aug 25-31, 1864

August 25, 2014 Leave a comment

Thursday, August 25

The Second Battle of Ream’s Station occurred outside Petersburg, as Confederates launched a surprise attack on Federals destroying the rails. The Federals quickly broke in confusion and panic, and the famed Second Corps was permanently shattered. Federals suffered 3,492 casualties (some 2,000 of which were captured). Confederates captured thousands of prisoners and nine artillery pieces. However, this Confederate victory did little to stop the overall gradual westward extension of the Federal siege lines around Petersburg.

In the Shenandoah Valley, General Jubal Early’s Confederate Army of the Valley threatened to launch another invasion of Maryland and Pennsylvania since Major General Philip H. Sheridan’s Federal Army of the Shenandoah was in an impregnable position at Harpers Ferry. Fighting erupted at various points, but the Potomac River fords were heavily guarded by Federals, preventing Early from crossing.

In Georgia, Major General William T. Sherman’s Federal Army of the West began its major move to cut off Atlanta completely. Federals marched toward the city’s south side toward Jonesboro.

C.S.S. Tallahassee ran the Federal blockade at Wilmington after a three-week cruise in which she captured 31 Federal ships. Skirmishing occurred in Louisiana and Missouri.

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Friday, August 26

In the Shenandoah, Jubal Early’s Confederates withdrew toward Bunker Hill and Stephenson’s Depot after finding no way to either attack Philip Sheridan’s Federals or cross the Potomac. Fighting erupted at various points.

In Georgia, William Sherman’s Federals threatened the last supply lines in and out of Atlanta still controlled by General John Bell Hood’s Confederate Army of Tennessee. Fighting erupted at various points.

Skirmishing occurred in Louisiana.

Saturday, August 27

In the Shenandoah, Jubal Early’s Confederates withdrew to Bunker Hill and Stephenson’s Depot, with fighting erupting at various points.

In Georgia, William Sherman’s Federals established positions southwest of Atlanta as they prepared to continue south before swinging east toward Jonesboro to cut John Bell Hood’s last railroads in and out of the city. Fighting erupted at various points.

A Federal expedition against Native Americans began from Fort Boise in the Idaho Territory, with several skirmishes from today through the fall. A Federal expedition began from Little Rock and Devall’s Bluff, Arkansas. Skirmishing occurred in Kentucky and the Indian Territory.

Sunday, August 28

In the Shenandoah, Philip Sheridan’s Federals advanced to Charles Town, West Virginia with no opposition after Jubal Early’s withdrawal.

In Georgia, William Sherman’s three Federal armies closed in on the Montgomery & Atlanta (or West Point) Railroad. Fighting erupted at various points.

Federal plans to destroy Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor by exploding a raft filled with explosives failed when the blast caused little or no damage to the fort. Skirmishing occurred in Mississippi, Missouri, and Arkansas.

Monday, August 29

Major General Sterling “Pap” Price, commander of the Confederate District of Arkansas, was assigned to command an expedition intended to reclaim Missouri for the Confederacy.

In the Shenandoah, Philip Sheridan’s Federals continued advancing after winning a fight on the Opequon River. In Georgia, William Sherman’s Federals continued probing operations, with fighting erupting at various points.

The Democratic National Convention assembled in Chicago to nominate a presidential candidate that would challenge President Lincoln in the upcoming election. The party was divided between War Democrats who supported continuing the war to restore the Union and “Copperheads,” or Peace Democrats, who wanted peace at any price, even if it meant southern independence.

Democratic National Committee chairman Augustus Belmont declared, “Four years of misrule by a sectional, fanatical and corrupt party, have brought our country to the verge of ruin.” Committees formed, and former Federal General-in-Chief George B. McClellan was considered the frontrunner for the presidential nomination.

Federals suffered five killed and nine wounded when a torpedo exploded at Mobile Bay during Federal operations to remove obstructions. A Federal expedition began from Helena, Arkansas. Skirmishing occurred in Florida, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

Tuesday, August 30

In the Shenandoah, Philip Sheridan’s Federals moved to threaten Winchester once more. Major General George Crook replaced the ineffective Major General David Hunter in command of the Federal Department of West Virginia under Sheridan.

In Georgia, William Sherman’s Federals severed one of the last two railroads in and out of Atlanta and marched rapidly toward the Macon line. John Bell Hood countered by attacking the Federal flank at Jonesboro. Fighting erupted at various points, but Sherman’s three armies were too overwhelming for the Confederates.

At the Democratic National Convention, a platform was adopted that was mostly written by the Peace Democrats. It declared that President Lincoln had violated individual rights and the Republicans had illegally assumed “war power higher than the Constitution” and as such, “justice, humanity, liberty (for) the public welfare demand that immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities with a view to an ultimate convention of the States…”

Democrats also George McClellan and former Connecticut Governor Thomas H. Seymour as candidates for the presidential nomination. Senator L.W. Powell and former President Franklin Pierce withdrew their names from consideration. McClellan was the frontrunner, even though he was a War Democrat who opposed much of the Democrats’ “peace” platform.

A Federal expedition operated to Natchez Bayou, Louisiana. Skirmishing occurred in Arkansas.

Wednesday, August 31

At the Democratic National Convention, George McClellan was nominated for president by easily defeating Thomas Seymour. George H. Pendleton of Ohio was nominated for vice president. Rumors circulated that McClellan would repudiate the party’s “peace” platform because he favored continuing the war to restore the Union.

In Georgia, Confederates launched a frantic attack on the Federal flank near Jonesboro, but they were severely repulsed. Federals suffered 170 casualties, and Confederates lost 1,725. This Federal victory enabled them to cut the Macon & Western Railroad between Jonesboro and Atlanta. William Sherman’s big push to break John Bell Hood’s grip on the railroads worked, as Sherman seemed more interested in capturing Atlanta than in destroying Hood’s army.

Skirmishing occurred in West Virginia, Tennessee, and Missouri.

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Primary Source: Long, E.B. and Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 560-564

 

The Civil War This Week: Aug 18-24, 1864

August 18, 2014 Leave a comment

Thursday, August 18

The Battle of the Weldon Railroad occurred outside Petersburg, as Federals moved west against the Confederate right and seized part of the vital railroad line. However, when the Federals moved toward Petersburg, they were repulsed by General A.P. Hill’s Confederates. Federals suffered 836 casualties.

In Georgia, General Judson Kilpatrick’s Federal cavalry began raiding Lovejoy’s Station; efforts to destroy the Macon & Western Railroad were largely unsuccessful. Meanwhile, General John Schofield’s Federal Army of the Ohio pushed forward along Utoy Creek. This was an effort to provide a pivot that Major General William T. Sherman could use to swing his Federal armies east and cut supply lines south of Atlanta.

Federal General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant refused for the second time to exchange Confederate prisoners of war, arguing that doing so would give the Confederacy more manpower to continue the war. Confederate officials had requested resuming prisoner exchange not only to secure more manpower, but also because they lacked the resources to feed, clothe, and shelter the Federal prisoners in southern camps.

Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee and Arkansas.

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Friday, August 19

The Battle of Weldon Railroad continued outside Petersburg, as Confederates attacked the Federals in dense woods and forced them to withdraw to Globe Tavern after suffering some 2,900 casualties, most of whom were captured. However, Federals maintained control of the railroad, and Confederates continued attempts to dislodge them.

In Georgia, William Sherman’s Federal reconnoitered around Atlanta, with fighting erupting at various points.

Federal President Abraham Lincoln told an interviewer, “I cannot but feel that the weal or woe of this great nation will be decided in the approaching canvas.”

A Federal expedition began on the Republican River in Kansas. Skirmishing occurred in Mississippi.

Saturday, August 20

Outside Petersburg, Confederates suspended major efforts to recapture the Weldon Railroad. Confederate President Jefferson Davis expressed distress over the Federal capture of the rail line.

Federals probing Confederate defenses north of the James River returned to Petersburg, having failed to create a diversion near Richmond. In Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, Major General Philip Sheridan’s Federal Army of the Shenandoah continued sparring with General Jubal Early’s Confederate Army of the Valley, with fighting erupting at various points.

In Georgia, fighting erupted at Lovejoy’s Station outside Atlanta. Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee and Missouri.

Sunday, August 21

General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s 2,000-man Confederate cavalry force occupied Memphis after a daring raid in which they nearly captured two Federal major generals. The Confederates ultimately pulled back with minimal losses. The Memphis raid frustrated and demoralized the Federals, as Forrest continued raiding William Sherman’s Federal supply lines virtually uncontested, and Federal efforts to stop him were largely unsuccessful.

Confederates launched a final attack on Federals holding the Weldon Railroad outside Petersburg, but it failed to dislodge them. The Confederates returned to their original siege lines, acknowledging the loss of the Weldon Railroad as a supply line for Richmond and Petersburg. Federals suffered a total of 4,455 casualties from 18-21 August, and Confederates lost some 1,600.

In the Shenandoah, Jubal Early planned to attack while Philip Sheridan’s Federals pulled back to Harpers Ferry in a nearly impregnable position. The Valley was once more largely free of Federals. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri.

Monday, August 22

In the Shenandoah, Jubal Early’s Confederates demonstrated against Philip Sheridan’s Federals at Harpers Ferry.

President Lincoln told the 169th Ohio, “The nation is worth fighting for, to secure such an inestimable jewel” as opportunity under a free government. A Federal expedition began from Helena, Arkansas. Skirmishing occurred in Maryland, Georgia, Kentucky, and Arkansas.

Tuesday, August 23

Confederate defenders at Fort Morgan surrendered to Federals; this was the last major Confederate battery at the entrance to Mobile Bay. Confederate retained control of Mobile, but the bay was now closed to Confederate shipping. Only Wilmington, North Carolina remained as a major Confederate seaport to receive vital supplies from blockade-runners.

Federals destroyed track on the Weldon Railroad outside Petersburg, and President Davis expressed apprehension over loss of the railroad and other supply lines. In the Shenandoah, Jubal Early’s Confederates continued demonstrating against the Federals in the northern end of the Shenandoah.

President Lincoln asked his cabinet members to endorse a memo without reading it. The memo stated that his reelection was unlikely, and as such “it will be my duty to so co-operate with the President elect, as to save the Union between the election and the inauguration; as he will have secured his election on such ground that he can not possibly save it afterwards.”

Lincoln expressed disappointment that he could be defeated by a Democrat who would cancel many of his war policies. The new president could also seek a compromise with the South, which potentially included granting southern independence or repudiating the Emancipation Proclamation.

Federal expeditions began from Ozark, Missouri; Clinton, Louisiana; and Cassville, Missouri. Skirmishing occurred in West Virginia, Mississippi, and Missouri.

Wednesday, August 24

Confederate forces were building up outside Petersburg to attack the Federals destroying the Weldon Railroad, and fighting erupted at various points.

President Lincoln responded to a request from Henry J. Raymond, Republican Party chairman and New York Times editor, to negotiate peace with President Davis. Lincoln authorized Raymond to proceed with the understanding that the war could not end without “restoration of the Union and the national authority.”

Skirmishing occurred in Georgia, Arkansas, and the Indian Territory.

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Primary Source: Long, E.B. and Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 556-560

The Civil War This Week: Aug 11-17, 1864

August 11, 2014 Leave a comment

Thursday, August 11

In Virginia, General Jubal Early’s Confederate Army of the Valley withdrew south up the Shenandoah toward Cedar Creek. This was in response to Major General Philip H. Sheridan’s new 37,000-man Federal Army of the Shenandoah advancing on Winchester.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis told General Robert E. Lee, commanding the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia under siege at Petersburg, “It is thought idle to attack your entrenchments but feasible to starve you out.”

Federal expeditions began from Rome, Georgia; Johnson County, Missouri; and Kent’s Landing, Arkansas. Skirmishing occurred in Missouri and Arkansas. Federals operated against Native Americans in the Nebraska Territory and skirmished with Natives in the Colorado Territory.

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Friday, August 12

C.S.S. Tallahassee captured six more ships off New York, and panic spread along the Mid-Atlantic and New England coasts.

In Washington, various politicians (including Republican boss Thurlow Weed) warned President Abraham Lincoln he would be defeated in the upcoming election.

Skirmishing occurred in Alabama, Missouri, and Arkansas. Federals operated against Natives in the New Mexico and Colorado territories.

Saturday, August 13

Federals demonstrated north of the James River and east of Richmond. The goal was to divert attention from Petersburg and to probe or take Confederate defenses.

In the Shenandoah Valley, Federals encountered resistance near Cedar Creek.

Pro-Confederates operated in the Shawneetown area on the Ohio River in Illinois. Skirmishing occurred in Florida, Mississippi, and Missouri.

Sunday, August 14

Skirmishing occurred in the Shenandoah Valley, outside Atlanta, and in Mississippi.

Monday, August 15

In the Shenandoah Valley, Philip Sheridan began withdrawing his Federals from Cedar Creek to Winchester out of concern he could not hold his line or properly supply his army. Confederate defenders repulsed Federal probes north of the James River near Richmond.

In Georgia, Major General William T. Sherman’s Federal Army of the West continued advancing along Utoy Creek outside Atlanta, fighting along the way. Confederate cavalry raided the Nashville & Northwestern Railroad.

Lieutenant General Richard Taylor, son of former President Zachary Taylor, was assigned to command the Confederate Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana.

Federals captured the British-built Confederate cruiser Georgia off Lisbon, Portugal. Georgia had been sold to a British ship owner and had been disarmed. A Federal expedition began from Triana, Alabama. Skirmishing occurred in Missouri and Arkansas.

Tuesday, August 16

In the Shenandoah Valley, Philip Sheridan’s Federals withdrew toward Winchester without Jubal Early’s knowledge. Federal attacks north of the James River near Richmond were repulsed. In Georgia, General Judson Kilpatrick’s Federal cavalry raided around Atlanta.

C.S.S. Tallahassee captured four schooners and a bark off New England. Federals moved into Kentucky from Indiana to conduct operations. Skirmishing occurred in Missouri and Kansas.

Wednesday, August 17

In the Shenandoah, Jubal Early learned that Philip Sheridan’s Federals had withdrawn and advanced north to pursue them. However, Federal cavalry protected the main army at Winchester.

President Lincoln told General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant, commanding the Army of the Potomac besieging Petersburg, “… Hold on with a bull-dog gripe (sic), and chew & choke, as much as possible.”

Confederates captured the Federal steamer Miller on the Arkansas River near Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Skirmishing occurred in Georgia and Mississippi.

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Primary Source: Long, E.B. and Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 554-556

The Civil War This Week: Aug 4-10, 1864

August 4, 2014 1 comment

Thursday, August 4

Federal General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant left headquarters at City Point, Virginia for Washington to discuss how to deal with General Jubal Early’s Confederate Army of the Valley operating in the Shenandoah, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

In Georgia, Major General John Schofield’s Federal Army of the Ohio (part of General William T. Sherman’s Army of the West) crossed Utoy Creek in Sherman’s effort to extend his lines around Atlanta and cut the Macon & Western Railroad line.

Federals resumed bombarding Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. The shelling lasted until 23 August but with lower intensity than prior bombardments. Federal expeditions began from Natchez, Mississippi and Brazos Santiago, Texas. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, West Virginia, and Tennessee.

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Friday, August 5

The Battle of Mobile Bay occurred in Alabama, as Federal Rear Admiral David G. Farragut’s naval fleet invaded the bay. The Federal ships were immediately fired upon from Forts Gaines and Morgan, and the ironclad Tecumseh was sunk by a floating mine (i.e, torpedo). When this slowed Federal momentum, Farragut angrily shouted, “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” The remaining ships passed the forts with minimal damage and captured the vital Confederate port.

Federals suffered 319 casualties and Confederates lost 302. Northern morale, which had been at its lowest point of the war, was greatly boosted by this sensational Federal victory.

In Georgia, General William Hardee’s Confederate corps established strong defensive positions on a ridge near Utoy Creek outside Atlanta. Meanwhile, John Schofield regrouped his Federals and prepared to attack.

The Wade-Davis Manifesto was published in the New York Tribune; this was in response to President Abraham Lincoln’s veto of the controversial Wade-Davis Reconstruction Bill last month. The manifesto accused Lincoln of attempting to make, not execute, laws and declared that “the authority of Congress is paramount and must be respected.” Lincoln’s veto was bitterly denounced as a “stupid outrage” that was done for political, not practical reasons. This was one of the most vitriolic denunciations of a sitting president by members of Congress in American history. It threatened to split the Republican Party before the upcoming elections between the Radicals supporting the manifesto and the conservatives supporting Lincoln.

Jubal Early’s Confederates entered Maryland once more and fought several minor engagements. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, West Virginia, Louisiana, and Arkansas.

Saturday, August 6

The Battle of Utoy Creek occurred in Georgia as John Schofield’s Federals attacked Confederate defenses on a ridge near the creek. The Confederates, led by the famous Orphan Brigade, repulsed the attacks, and the Federals withdrew after suffering heavy losses. The Federals soon resumed their flanking efforts instead of direct attacks.

Confederates evacuated Fort Powell, which guarded a secondary entry to Mobile Bay, after heavy Federal bombardment.

Jubal Early’s Confederates eluded Federal pursuers once more and crossed the Potomac River back into Virginia after raiding Hancock, Maryland. Federal expeditions began from Saline County, Missouri and Little Rock, Arkansas. Skirmishing occurred in Louisiana.

Sunday, August 7

Confederates agreed to surrender Fort Gaines in Mobile Bay after the Federal capture of the port on 5 August.

In Georgia, John Schofield’s Federals began moving around the Confederate flank at Utoy Creek. Schofield pushed his Federals forward along the creek to provide a pivot that William Sherman could use to swing east and cut the supply lines south of Atlanta. As Confederates were compelled to withdraw to stronger positions, pressure on the city increased.

Major General Philip H. Sheridan was assigned to command the new Federal Middle Military Division. The Division included all four military departments around Washington, West Virginia, and the Shenandoah. In Washington, Ulysses S. Grant, Chief of Staff Henry W. Halleck, and Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton conferred with President Lincoln.

A Federal expedition began from Independence, Missouri. Confederates raided Union City, Tennessee. Skirmishing occurred in West Virginia, Florida, Mississippi, and the Colorado Territory.

Monday, August 8

Confederates surrendered Fort Gaines on Dauphin Island in Mobile Bay.

Federal expeditions began from Salina, Kansas; on the Little Missouri in the Dakota Territory; and Camp Anderson, California. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

Tuesday, August 9

A massive explosion occurred at the Federal supply depot near Ulysses S. Grant’s headquarters at City Point, Virginia. Grant’s orderly and 57 others were killed, 126 were wounded, and heavy property damage was incurred. It was later learned that the explosion was caused by a Confederate spy. Grant wired Washington that casualties were inflicted and that “damage at the wharf must be considerable.”

In Georgia, Major General William T. Sherman informed Washington that he was “too impatient for a siege” of Atlanta and began shelling the city with over 5,000 artillery rounds. Several civilians, including women and children, were killed in the bombardment.

President Lincoln wrote to General Nathaniel Banks, commanding the Federal Department of the Gulf, that he was anxious for Louisiana voters to approve the new state constitution. Lincoln also wrote New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley allowing him to publish correspondence between the Lincoln administration and Confederate envoys regarding peace negotiations, except for some excerpts that Lincoln thought too sensitive to reveal.

Federals began building up siege lines around Fort Morgan in Mobile Bay. A Federal expedition began from La Grange, Tennessee. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Tennessee, and Arkansas.

Wednesday, August 10

General Joseph Wheeler’s Confederate cavalry began raiding Federal railroad, communications, and other supply lines in northern Georgia and eastern Tennessee.

C.S.S. Tallahassee captured seven prizes off Sandy Hook, New Jersey. Three small Federal vessels suffered severe damage during a two-day duel with Confederate artillery at Gaines’ Landing, Arkansas on the Mississippi.

A Federal expedition began from Morganza, Louisiana. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Florida, and Mississippi.

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Primary Source: Long, E.B. and Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971) p. 551-554

Grover Cleveland and Individual Liberty

August 2, 2014 Leave a comment

Many of Grover Cleveland’s accomplishments as U.S. president advanced the cause of limited government and personal freedom. He was one of the last presidents to favor constitutional principles over political expediency, but he split the Democratic Party in the process.

22nd and 24th U.S. President Grover Cleveland | Image Credit: Bing Public Domain

22nd and 24th U.S. President Grover Cleveland | Image Credit: Bing Public Domain

Grover Cleveland is the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms (1885-89 and 1893-97), and the first president to win the popular vote in three straight elections (though he lost the electoral vote in 1888). Robert W. Cherny summarized President Cleveland’s view of government in American Politics in the Gilded Age:

Cleveland took a highly restricted view of the role of the federal government. Cleveland believed that government should stay out of the people’s lives as much as possible. He defined the proper role of the president as to restrain Congress from granting privileges to some at the expense of others. He sought to restrain the growth of federal authority and restore a better balance between federal and state power.

As president, Cleveland believed that reducing taxes would reduce government’s ability to waste the people’s money through excessive spending. He stated:

When more of the people’s substance is exacted through the form of taxation than is necessary to meet the just obligations of the Government and the expense of its economical administration, such exaction becomes ruthless extortion and a violation of the fundamental principles of a free government.

During Cleveland’s time, tariffs on imported goods were the primary source of federal revenue. Cleveland pushed for reducing tariffs because 1) high tariffs increased federal revenue, which unscrupulous politicians used to dole out special favors, and 2) they stifled free market competition by making foreign goods unnaturally more expensive than domestic goods. Although Congress did not comply with Cleveland’s request, he continued railing against this “vicious, inequitable, and illogical source of unnecessary taxation.”[1]

Risking his popularity, Cleveland vetoed hundreds of bills granting pensions to Union veterans of the Civil War. Politicians often used these bills for political gain, and Cleveland took a stand against such spending by arguing that it would create an expensive welfare program vulnerable to political influence and corruption.[2]

Cleveland also vetoed a bill that would have granted taxpayer money to Texas farmers suffering from drought, arguing, “I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the General Government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit…”

Cleveland sometimes proved vulnerable to the political expediency and prejudices of the time. He supported the Interstate Commerce Act, which provided for federal regulation of private enterprise. He also endorsed a ruinous law parceling out Native American reservations to “assimilate” the Indians into U.S. culture. And he approved repealing civil rights laws, which better enabled whites to deny blacks their basic rights in southern states.[3]

A severe economic depression began during Cleveland’s second term. Cleveland believed that the main cause was a law passed by the previous administration requiring the federal treasury to buy silver. As a fiscal conservative, Cleveland was committed to equating the value of the U.S. dollar with gold only. And since silver was cheaper than gold, there was a rush to exchange silver for gold, causing a gold shortage. Cleveland persuaded Congress to repeal the silver purchase law, which helped stabilize the economy by replenishing some of the treasury’s gold reserves.[4]

However, ending silver purchasing was a pyrrhic victory for Cleveland because it split his party between fiscal conservatives like himself and those who favored coining more silver. While Cleveland often took politically courageous stands based on constitutional principles, the Democratic Party embraced the Progressive movement in the 1890s and abandoned the Cleveland faction. Grover Cleveland was the last conservative candidate that Democrats ever fielded in a presidential election.[5]

Since Grover Cleveland, presidential candidates have often campaigned not on constitutional principles but on what they will do to benefit certain sectors of their constituencies. In this way, presidential politics has become exactly what Cleveland had opposed, and it stands as no coincidence that the federal government has been massively increasing in size and scope ever since.

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[1] Schweikart, Larry and Allen, Michael, A Patriot’s History of the United States (New York: Penguin Books, 2004), p. 447; Cherny, Robert W., American Politics in the Gilded Age (Wheeling, IL: Harlan Davidson, Inc., 1997), p. 113-14

[2] Cherny, American Politics in the Gilded Age, p. 77-78; Schweikart and Allen, A Patriot’s History of the United States, p. 447-49

[3] Cherny, American Politics in the Gilded Age, p. 78-84

[4] Schweikart and Allen, A Patriot’s History of the United States, p. 454-55; Cherny, American Politics in the Gilded Age, p. 112-13

[5] Cherny, American Politics in the Gilded Age, p. 112-13

The Civil War This Week: Jul 28-Aug 3, 1864

Thursday, July 28

The Battle of Ezra Church occurred outside Atlanta, Georgia. Federal General William T. Sherman dispatched his Army of the Tennessee to Atlanta’s western outskirts to seize the last railroad line between East Point and Atlanta. General John Bell Hood sent Confederates to stop the advance.

Confederates were unable to dislodge the Federals from their strong defensive positions. The Federals suffered 562 casualties while Confederates lost as many as 5,000, making this the most lopsided Federal victory of the war. This was Hood’s third major defeat in 10 days, during which time he lost one-third of his army. Sherman continued his plan of seizing all railroads and starving Atlanta into submission.

In Virginia, a Federal detachment from the Army of the Potomac ended their probe of Confederate defenses north of the James River after encountering fierce resistance. Federal expeditions began from New Berne, North Carolina and Cedar Bluff, Arkansas. Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee, Louisiana, and the Dakota Territory.

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Friday, July 29

General Jubal Early’s Confederate Army of the Valley crossed the Potomac River once more and entered Maryland and Pennsylvania. This was the second Confederate invasion of the North within a month, and local northerners panicked once more.

At Petersburg, a 586-foot tunnel was completed in the eastern sector of the siege lines. The two shafts at the tunnel’s end were each packed with 4,000 pounds of gunpowder with the intent of detonating the powder beneath Confederate defenses. Federals moved into attack positions and awaited detonation scheduled for tomorrow.

In Virginia, Federal forces withdrew from north of the James River to rejoin the Army of the Potomac surrounding Petersburg. A Federal expedition began from Warrensburg, Missouri. Skirmishing occurred in Louisiana.

Saturday, July 30

The Battle of the Crater occurred as the gunpowder beneath Confederate lines at Petersburg was detonated, instantly killing hundreds of Confederates and ripping a crater in the ground about 170 feet long, 70 feet wide, and 30 feet deep.

Federals attacked by rushing into the crater instead of moving around it, and Confederates quickly regrouped and fired down upon them. Many black troops were killed when Confederates refused their surrender. Surviving Federals withdrew in defeat as Confederates reformed their lines.

The Federals suffered about 3,500 casualties while the Confederates lost roughly 1,500. Federal General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant wrote to Chief of Staff Henry W. Halleck, “It was the saddest affair I have witnessed in the war… Such opportunity for carrying fortifications I have never seen, and do not expect again to have.” Two generals were censured for hiding during the fight, and General Ambrose Burnside, who directed the assault, was relieved of his command.

A portion of Jubal Early’s Confederate Army of the Valley under Brigadier General John McCausland reached Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. McCausland demanded $500,000 in currency or $100,000 in gold as reparations for Federal destruction in the Shenandoah. When residents could not raise the money, Chambersburg’s business district was burned.

Federal President Abraham Lincoln traveled to Fort Monroe, Virginia to confer with General-in-Chief Grant. Lincoln was under increasing criticism from northerners who were horrified by staggering casualties that produced no major victories. Grant was frustrated by Jubal Early’s ability to move freely throughout the Shenandoah Valley and even into the North.

Confederates reoccupied Brownsville, Texas after a fight. Skirmishing occurred in Alabama, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Arkansas.

Sunday, July 31

John McCausland’s Confederates in Pennsylvania and Maryland were being pursued by William Averell’s Federals. Averell attacked McCausland at Hancock, Maryland, and the Confederates withdrew northwest to Cumberland, Maryland.

President Lincoln held a five-hour conference with General-in-Chief Grant. Regarding the Shenandoah, Grant told Lincoln, “All I ask is that one general officer, in whom I and yourself have confidence, should command the whole.” He proposed that Major General Philip H. Sheridan be given command to “follow (Jubal Early) to the death. Wherever the enemy goes let our troops go also.” Lincoln replied, “This, I think, is exactly right.” He returned to Washington following the conference.

Siege lines were being reestablished at Petersburg in the area around the crater. Skirmishing occurred in Louisiana and Arkansas.

Monday, August 1

John McCausland’s Confederates attacked Cumberland, but Federals were closing in on him. Philip Sheridan was appointed commander of the new Army of the Shenandoah. Sheridan’s primary objective was to stop Jubal Early’s Confederates from wreaking havoc in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and the Shenandoah.

In Georgia, William Sherman’s Federal artillery shelled Atlanta. Federal expeditions began from Strawberry Plains and La Grange in Tennessee; Gunter’s Mills, Missouri; and Smoky Hill Fork, Kansas. Skirmishing occurred in Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, and Arkansas.

Tuesday, August 2

John McCausland’s Confederates fought Federals at Hancock, Maryland while trying to recross the Potomac River. The Federal military buildup near Mobile Bay, Alabama continued as Rear Admiral David G. Farragut prepared to lead a land-sea attack on the vital Confederate seaport.

Confederate naval officials gave up trying to launch C.S.S. Rappahannock from Calais, France after the French would only allow a 35-man crew. Federal expeditions began from Berwick, Louisiana and Holden, Missouri.

Wednesday, August 3

Federal land forces reached Dauphin Island and invested Fort Gaines at the entrance to Mobile Bay. This was in preparation to David Farragut’s general attack on the Confederate seaport.

John McCausland’s Confederates crossed the Potomac River and entered West Virginia. In Georgia, William Sherman’s Federals continued extending their lines around Atlanta by crossing Utoy Creek. This compelled John Bell Hood’s outnumbered Confederates to spread themselves dangerously thin.

President Lincoln informed General-in-Chief Grant that his idea of having Philip Sheridan follow Jubal Early “to the death” in the Shenandoah “will neither be done nor attempted unless you watch it every day, and hour, and force it.”

Federal expeditions began from Cumberland Gap, Tennessee; Woodville, Tennessee; and Fort Sumner, New Mexico Territory. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Tennessee, and Missouri.

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Primary Source: Long, E.B. and Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 547-551

The Civil War This Week: Jul 21-27, 1864

Thursday, July 21

In Georgia, Confederate General John Bell Hood, commanding the Confederate Army of Tennessee, directed corps commander William Hardee to conduct a 15-mile night march to attack the flank and rear of General James McPherson’s Federal Army of the Tennessee advancing on Atlanta from the east. Meanwhile, the Confederate defensive line at Peachtree Creek was broken, and after hard fighting, the Federals captured Bald Hill. The Federals now occupied the high ground overlooking Atlanta.

A Federal expedition began from Barrancas, Florida. Skirmishing occurred in Louisiana and Missouri.

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Friday, July 22

The Battle of Atlanta occurred as William Hardee’s exhausted Confederates attacked James McPherson’s flank south of the Georgia Railroad between Decatur and Atlanta. Fighting surged back and forth all afternoon, with the Federals holding their position. McPherson was killed while trying to escape from Confederate skirmishers he had inadvertently ridden upon. He was replaced by Major General John A. “Blackjack” Logan, who rallied the Federals in a massive counterattack. A final Confederate charge was repulsed, and John Bell Hood ordered a withdrawal. Federals suffered 3,722 casualties while Confederates lost up to 10,000.

In five days as army commander, Hood had launched two attacks that not only failed to dislodge the Federals from around Atlanta, but cost more lives than former commander Joseph E. Johnston had lost in over two months. Hood blamed Hardee for the defeat, even though Hood was not present during the fighting. The Confederates fell back to defenses around Atlanta, and Federal President Abraham Lincoln offered overall Federal commander William T. Sherman his “profoundest thanks to you and your whole Army for the present campaign so far.”

In Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, General Jubal Early’s Confederate Army of the Valley withdrew to the Strasburg area while Federals gathered at Winchester. The Federal Sixth Corps, detached from the Army of the Potomac to confront Early, returned to Washington.

Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Missouri, and Arkansas.

Saturday, July 23

In the Shenandoah, Jubal Early’s Confederates turned northward to attack Federals under General George Crook at Kernstown, near the site where Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s Confederates had won in 1862. Sharp skirmishing ensued.

In Louisiana, a pro-U.S. convention adopted a State constitution abolishing slavery without compensating former slaveholders. This fulfilled one of the Lincoln administration’s conditions for returning Louisiana to the U.S. Citizens who swore loyalty were allowed to vote on whether to approve the new constitution; the election was scheduled for 5 September.

Skirmishing occurred in Florida, Missouri, and the New Mexico Territory.

Sunday, July 24

The Second Battle of Kernstown occurred in the Shenandoah, as Jubal Early’s Confederates defeated Federals and sent them fleeing in panicked retreat toward Harpers Ferry. The Confederates pursued northward.

Skirmishing occurred in West Virginia, Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee.

Monday, July 25

In the Shenandoah, Jubal Early’s Confederates pursued the Federals in heavy rain to Bunker Hill, north of Winchester, where fighting ensued. The Federals encamped on the Potomac River.

President Lincoln wrote to Abram Wakeman that the upcoming presidential election “will almost certainly be no other than a contest between a Union and Disunion candidate, disunion certainly following the success of the latter.” Skirmishing occurred in Alabama, Louisiana, Missouri, and Arkansas.

Tuesday, July 26

In the Shenandoah, Jubal Early’s Confederates fought retreating Federals at various points as they crossed the Potomac into Maryland.

Major General Dabney H. Maury replaced General Stephen D. Lee as commander of the Confederate Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana. Federal expeditions began from Searcy, Arkansas and from Johnson County, Missouri. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, and Arkansas.

Wednesday, July 27

In Georgia, William Sherman dispatched Federal cavalry to cut the railroads south of Atlanta and harass the Confederate supply and communication lines. Sherman replaced John Logan as Army of the Tennessee commander with Major General Oliver O. Howard. This prompted General Joseph Hooker to resign because he believed he had been passed over. The change also caused resentment among Logan’s supporters.

Jubal Early’s Confederates destroyed railroads and prepared to cross the Potomac once more. General Henry W. Halleck assumed command of the Federal departments around Washington concerned with defending the city.

In Virginia, the Federal Second Corps under General Winfield Scott Hancock and two cavalry divisions under General Philip Sheridan crossed the James River to probe for a possible invasion of Richmond. This was also intended to ease the Confederate hold on Petersburg. Confederate defenders put up fierce resistance.

Federal Rear Admiral David G. Farragut began conducting naval reconnaissances around Mobile Bay, Alabama as he developed a plan to attack the vital Confederate seaport.

Federals continued a heavy bombardment of Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. A Federal expedition began from Norfolk, Virginia. Skirmishing occurred in Georgia, Florida, Missouri, and Arkansas.

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Primary Source: Long, E.B. and Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 543-547

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