This chapter covers the deadliest challenge to community and identity— a civil war. Both sides began the war underestimating its seriousness, scope, and duration. Northern generals such as Grant and Sherman recognized the arrival of a more modern style of warfare and fought accordingly. The entire American community went to war, except ironically the southern planter elite who had the largest stake in the outcome. As American men and women served in the military, helped out in many community support organizations, or fled to the Union lines, their lives changed dramatically. The North’s advantage in population and industry finally proved too much for the South to withstand, although victory hung in the balance until nearly the very end of the conflict. Lincoln prepared a generous reconstruction plan that he hoped would rebuild a sense of unity and loyalty. Lee’s surrender in April of 1865 was marred by the assassination of Lincoln later that same month.
After reading this chapter you should be able to:
Describe how each community, North and South, connected to its soldiers at war, including a comparison of the two communities.
Outline the immediate outbreak of the war from Fort Sumter to Bull Run, including initial strategies and the relative strengths of both sides.
Summarize the actions of Lincoln and the Republicans in conducting and financing the war.
Summarize the actions of Jefferson Davis and various Confederate leaders in conducting the war, including the problems associated with southern nationalism and state’s rights.
Discuss the major strategies, battles, and outcomes from 1862 to 1865.
Explain what the war and various Union legislative acts and reconstruction plans meant to African Americans, particularly slaves and former slaves.
Describe the difficulties the South had combining the “states’ rights” doctrine, the Southern social structure, and antagonism toward the North into a coherent and workable southern nationalism. (Review chapters 11 and 15.)