A Biography of America
The Civil War
As the Civil War rages, all eyes turn to Vicksburg, where limited war becomes total war. Professor Miller looks at the ferocity of the fighting, at Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, and at the bitter legacy of the battle -- and the war.
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Program 11: The Civil War/Vicksburg
Donald L. Miller with Douglas Brinkley and Louis P. Masur
Narrator: War. The American Revolution. The Civil War. World War I. World War II. The Korean War. Vietnam. Can war trigger social change?
Miller: Happening to have my own predilection that every battle counts towards social policy.
Brinkley: One thing that’s clear after studying all these wars: you’ve got to have a kind of unity of spirit and effort. You’re always going to have dissent.
Miller: In countries at war, all the stresses and strains will come out, you know, and you only see the national character. Can it hold together?
Masur: It’s absolutely indistinguishable with the Civil War. You start with this limited war, and by the end it becomes total war. The first large-scale modern war in American history. More casualties, more deaths in the Civil War than all others combined.
Narrator: Today, on A Biography of America, “The Civil War”.
Miller: When William Tecumseh Sherman heard that South Carolina had seceded, he knew it meant war. At the time, he was retired from the army and was running a military academy in Louisiana. Sherman was a native of Ohio but he loved the south and had no quarrel with slavery, believing, in his words, that the black man should “be subject to the white man.”
But secession was another matter. He considered South Carolina’s break with the union an act of treason and reckless insanity. As he told an instructor at the academy, “You Southerners underestimate the people of the North. You are rushing into war with one of the most powerful, ingeniously mechanical and determined people on earth–right at your doors. You are bound to fail.”
But because of the intensity of secessionist sentiment, Sherman knew this would be a long, brutal war. Sherman left Louisiana before the attack on Fort Sumter. He returned two years later with Ulysses Grant to crush secession. And, because the war had changed by then, slavery itself.
In l861, most Northerners believed, as Sherman did, that this must be a war to restore the union, not to end slavery. But unlike Sherman, they anticipated a quick Union victory with little bloodshed. No one could have imagined how horrible this war would be. By the time it was over, three million men had fought and there were one million casualties; one million men killed, wounded, or missing in action.
620,000 men died. Think of it. 680,000 have died in all the other American wars combined. In a single, one-day battle at Antietam Creek, Maryland, 23,000 men fell. That’s nearly four times the number of American causalities on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.
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The Nature of the War
One reason the war was so bloody is because men on both sides were fighting for a cause they believed into the root of their being. Another has to do with the nature of war. Once begun, war acquires a momentum of its own. Soldiers, generals, and presidents start doing what it takes to win.
War starts to control them. War brutalizes everyone involved in it because to win you have to kill and kill and kill. And when you kill that much, you start to get used to it. You get hardened.
Changing military technology made this war especially brutal. The most lethal weapon in the War was the rifled musket. It was responsible for up to 90% of combat casualties.
In the American Revolution, soldiers fought with smooth-barreled muskets that fired iron balls. But the barrel of the Civil War musket was “rifled.” It had spiral grooves cut into it. And the projectile wasn’t an iron ball. It was a mini-ball, which is really not a ball, but a cone-shaped bullet. When fired, it expanded in the barrel and the rifling gave it a spin, which made it travel further and more accurately.
In combat, this rifle had an effective range of about 400 yards, over four times that of a Revolutionary War musket. The rifle was doubly deadly because of the failure of military tactics to keep up with military technology. Civil War soldiers fought in Napoleonic style, in the open, standing up, moving forward in long lines, the men marching shoulder to shoulder. The purpose here was to fire in unison, creating the effect of a gigantic shotgun.
And this could be intimidating, but with a rifled musket these marching columns took a lot more hits, and more accurate hits, than attacking soldiers had in the American Revolution. This threw the advantage to the defense, fighting in trenches or behind fortifications. Even though the defense won 9 of 10 Civil War engagements, generals still charged heavily defended positions, recklessly stubborn.
Military technology was also ahead of medical science. And that increased the butcher’s bill even more. Civil War bullets had low muzzle velocity. They rarely cut through the body like a modern steel-jacket bullet. Instead, they tumbled around inside the body cavity, causing tremendous damage. A soldier shot in the head or trunk was simply left to die.
A man hit in an arm or leg had his wounded limb amputated. And it was the surgeon who sawed it off who was often the patient’s worst enemy. Doctors then knew nothing about bacteria. A surgeon would move from patient to patient, without washing his hands or instruments, carrying infection with him, killing the men he was trying to save.
But it was actually disease that was the greatest Civil War killer. Twice as many soldiers died of disease as were killed in battle. Living on isolated farms, many men hadn’t been exposed to common childhood diseases like measles and mumps. When they came into contact with infected soldiers in big, unsanitary army camps, they died in horrifying numbers.
This is how soldiers died, in camp and in the field, in the very start of the war. But over time, the nature of the war changed. And it changed in ways that soldiers couldn’t have foreseen. And this increased the intensity of the fighting and the bloodshed.
The Geography of the War
What began as a limited war, a war of soldiers against soldiers, and a war to restore national unity, became, by l863, a total war, a war against civilians as well as soldiers. And more than that: a social revolution, a violent upheaval that destroyed a slave-holding civilization that had lasted for two and a half centuries.
To understand this war, you have to start with geography. The Civil War was fought in two main theaters: the East, where most of the fighting occurred in Virginia; and the West, where most of the fighting took place in the area between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River.
In the East, the North’s main objective was the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia, which was defended by Robert E. Lee, commander of the Army of Northern Virginia. Out West, the North’s objective was to reopen the Confederate-controlled Mississippi River, and to use the river as an invasion highway into the South.
The North also employed its navy to blockade southern ports, hoping to cut off rebel trade with Europe, and England particularly. The blockade became increasingly effective as the war proceeded, but the Union Army’s Richmond campaign was frustrated by the military genius of Lee and his chief lieutenant, “Stonewall” Jackson, and by the extreme, and almost inexplicable, caution of General George McClellan, commander of the Army of the Potomac.
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McClellan, Lee & Grant
McClellan’s strategy of conciliation was the Union war policy in the first years of the conflict. He wanted to fight Southerners while protecting their property, including their slaves. McClellan felt that most Southerners were secretly loyal to the Union, and that the war had been brought on by a small clique of rabid secessionists.
If the South suffered one or two tactical defeats, with little damage to civilian property, it might be persuaded to rejoin the union. The problem was McClellan was never able to win those victories. In the summer of l862, he bungled a massive campaign to capture Richmond. After this, Lee, his blood up, invaded Maryland, hoping to win a big victory on Union soil that would end the war.
McClellan stalked Lee and brought him to conflict at Antietam Creek. The battle ended in a draw, but McClellan allowed Lee’s cornered and badly damaged army to escape to Virginia. Then, when he failed to go after Lee, Lincoln, infuriated, removed him from command.
But the war didn’t go any better for the North. That December, the Army of the Potomac again marched toward Richmond, but Lee cut it to pieces at Fredericksburg, Virginia. “If there is a place worse place than Hell, I am in it,” Lincoln said at the time.
While the war continued to go badly for the Union in the east, out west it won a succession of victories behind Ulysses Grant, the North’s first war hero. Grant was a master of river warfare. He worked in tandem with the navy’s powerful iron clad gunboats to push deep into Southern territory, all the way to a place called Shiloh, in south-central Tennessee. There in the spring of l862, he won a terrible two-day slaughter. More men fell at Shiloh, 20,000, than in all other American wars combined up to that time.
That same month, the Union navy captured New Orleans, the South’s major port, and pushed up river to Vicksburg, Mississippi. But Vicksburg was too tough to take. It sat on commanding bluffs above the river and was heavily fortified. Even so, by the end of l862, the Union had retaken the Mississippi from the mouth of the Ohio, south to Vicksburg, and from New Orleans, north to just below Vicksburg.
This made Vicksburg the most important strategic point in the Confederacy, the “Gibraltar of the South.” It was the last obstacle to Union efforts to regain control of the Mississippi and cut the Confederacy in two by isolating Rebel territory west of the river, Texas, Arkansas and parts of Louisiana. Lincoln summed it up: “Vicksburg is the key. The war can never be brought to an end until the key is in our pocket.” This would be Grant’s job.
Grant is an amazing story. Just two years before this, he was a broken man struggling to support his family as a clerk in his father’s harness shop in Galena, Illinois. One year after taking Vicksburg, he was put in command of all Union forces in the war. The next year, he’d accept Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. Three years later, he’d enter the White House. No American has ever risen so fast.
As a boy, growing up in southern Ohio, Grant didn’t want to be a soldier and the sight of blood always made him physically sick. He went to West Point to get a free education, but he got used to army life and became a hero in the Mexican War. Then, while stationed in California, far away from his family, he started drinking, drinking hard, and was pressured to resign from the army. After this, he failed at one job after another, and was nearly destitute when the war rescued him, bringing out capacities even he didn’t know he possessed.
Grant had done well up to Vicksburg, but Vicksburg would be his supreme test and the turning point of his life. The Vicksburg campaign brought the Union army, for the first time, into the heart of cotton culture. And it began, and this is important, at the time Lincoln signed his Emancipation Proclamation on January l, l863. These factors of geography and timing would make it the most important military campaign of the war.
The Emancipation Proclamation
With the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln turned a limited war for reunion into a total war against slavery. The Proclamation also opened the way for black participation in the fighting. By the end of the war, l80,000 African-Americans had served in the Union Army. Lincoln hated slavery, always had. But he hadn’t moved against it earlier in the war because he feared that if he did, the border states of Kentucky, Maryland and Missouri, where pro-slavery feeling was very strong, would join the Confederacy.
It was black slaves themselves who forced his hand by running away in tremendous numbers to invading Union armies. At first, Lincoln ordered his generals to return the fugitive slaves to their owners. But some generals saw the value of using black labor, and began keeping runaway slaves as so-called contraband of war.
When Congress sanctioned this new policy, it cleared the way for Lincoln to do what he’d wanted to do all along: declare slaves in rebellious states to be, as he put it, “forever free.” Lincoln didn’t believe, by the way, that he had the constitutional authority to free slaves in states that remained in the union.
The Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves only in the unconquered portions of the Confederacy. This made it look like an extremely ineffective document. But there was dynamite in it. It turned the Union Army into an army of liberation. From now on, wherever it went slavery was dead.
After Lincoln issued the Proclamation, Grant called in his officers and informed them that the war had changed. Now, he told them, the objective is the complete destruction and subjugation of the South. The army is to confiscate or destroy Southern crops and livestock, and take the enemy’s slaves and make soldiers out of the men.
Even racist generals like Sherman liked the new policy — not because it helped the slaves but because it hurt the Rebels. It hurt them especially at Vicksburg, and ironically, because Vicksburg was so tough to take. It took Grant 6 months to capture the place. And in trying to capture it his huge, marauding army roamed over the countryside, confiscating and burning plantations and freeing slaves, and causing general wreck and ruin.
For the South it was a cruel irony. In holding on to Vicksburg, Rebel soldiers were losing, losing their farms, losing their slaves, and having their wives and children turned into terror-stricken refugees by Yankee raiders. But maybe the worst indignity, the worst insult of all, was seeing their former slaves in Yankee blue, carrying muskets.
In one of the battles of the Vicksburg campaign, Texans went up against newly-formed black units of the Union army. The fighting was unbelievably brutal, hand-to-hand, and the dead were found wrapped around each other’s bodies. It had become a racial war.
News of the approach of Grant’s soldiers sent Southerners scurrying with their slaves to Texas and South Carolina. It also produced racial panic. Listen to a plantation overseer writing to his absentee master. “All is anarchy and confusion here, everything going to destruction, and the Negroes on the plantation insubordinate; my life has several times been in danger.”
These same tough union policies also encouraged thrilling acts of black liberation. I found a diary in an archive in which a Southern woman describes an old black man breaking in on a white religious service, knowing that Union troops would be there to protect him. When the old man burst through the door and started down the aisle, the enraged minister demanded to know what he was doing. The slave looked him in the eye and said, “I’ve come here to worship as a free man.” Then he took a seat in the front pew.
With the Union army as their shield and sword, slaves themselves helped bring down slavery in this part of the South two years before the war ended. This is one of the most important, and overlooked, outcomes of the Vicksburg campaign.
But just as the North began fighting with the gloves off, its fortunes plummeted and it nearly lost the war. The problem was Vicksburg.
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The Battle of Vicksburg
Vicksburg was a natural citadel surrounded by a terrain of incredible difficulty: on the one side, steep, heavily eroded hills; and on the other side, an almost impenetrable swamp, the Yazoo Delta. Adding to Grant’s problems, there were torrential winter rains.
Grant’s soldiers were camped in the mud up to their knees on the Louisiana side of the river and were forced to drink water contaminated by human excrement. It was a formula for disaster and the men started dying by the hundreds from malaria, dysentery, pneumonia and smallpox. The dead were buried without coffins on high earthen levees; and when the river rose, corpses were swept down stream.
That winter, Grant tried several times to take Vicksburg by cutting through the thick delta jungle. He even began building a diversionary canal that would have changed the course of the Mississippi River, moving it away from the city and turning Vicksburg into a landlocked and militarily vulnerable place.
But every attempt failed and desertions increased. Many of the men were unwilling to tolerate such conditions in a war that was now being fought, as one racist soldier complained, in his words, “for the nigger.” Criticism of Grant’s incompetence and rumors that he was drinking filled Northern newspapers; and there were calls for his removal.
Many felt an armistice was inevitable, that the Rebels couldn’t be conquered. Lincoln was also under pressure to open the river to Midwestern farmers so they could send their corn and wheat to market through New Orleans. If the river remained closed for much longer, Lincoln feared that some states in the Midwest would stop supporting the war.
With war morale at an all-time low in the North, Grant appeared to be checkmated. His military career, and with it, the fate of the nation, hung in the balance. Then, in early April, everything changed. The rains stopped and the bottomlands on the Louisiana side of the river began to dry. This allowed Grant to try a daring invasion plan.
It was one of the riskiest moves of the war and even Sherman pleaded with him not to make it. Grant would march his army down the Louisiana side of the river and make a crossing into Mississippi, below Vicksburg, where there was high, dry ground to operate on. But to get his troops across the river he’d need gunboats and troop transports, and they’d have to be sent down river past the guns of Vicksburg. Grant asked for help from the navy, and his friend, Admiral David Dixon Porter, came through for him.
On a cloudless April night, Porter’s gunboats floated downriver toward Vicksburg. Their engines were muffled but they were spotted immediately and there was a spectacular three-hour firefight. The people of Vicksburg watched it from the bluffs. Grant, with his wife and kids, watched it from a boat upriver. Sherman watched it from a canoe, just across from Vicksburg.
Amazingly, all but one of the boats made it through, and on April 30th, Grant’s army crossed the Mississippi, in what was the largest amphibious landing in American history before the Second World War. The men were in high spirits now. As one of them wrote in his diary, “We’ve come to redeem this lovely valley of the Mississippi from the fiends and traitors who are desecrating it.”
That same morning, in Virginia, Robert E. Lee was again preparing to meet the Army of the Potomac, in what would later be known as the Battle of Chancellorsville. That same evening, in Washington, Lincoln waited at the telegraph office for news from both Mississippi and Virginia.
Had the Confederates under General John Pemberton concentrated their forces they might have driven Grant’s invasion army back into the river. But they were there only in token force because Grant had executed a series of brilliant diversionary moves. Grant’s army was now behind Confederate lines, facing an enemy that outnumbered him, with no communications with the outside world and with only a precarious supply line. This would have paralyzed George McClellan, but Grant was focused, determined, set for the kill.
He moved with lightning speed, his army living off the land. In less than three weeks, he marched l80 miles, split two Confederate armies, won five battles, and penned up over 30,000 troops and 3,000 civilians in Vicksburg. It was one of the greatest marches of modern warfare. When he chased the Rebel army back into Vicksburg, Grant ordered two suicidal assaults on the city’s powerful land defenses, but his men were slaughtered in some of the most vicious fighting of the war.
So Grant settled in for a siege. Every night his men dug approach trenches toward the Confederate lines. And every day and night his artillery and the Navy’s mortar boats pounded the city. For 47 days the two armies faced each other at distances, in some places, of less than 25 feet.
The Rebels were cut off from the world by a circle of fire and were soon reduced to a diet of mule meat and pea-bread, and rats, if they could catch them. Grant meant business. This was the first time in the war that civilians were directly fired upon. After the war, a Yankee soldier tried to explain the Union bombardment, “It was cruel and inhumane for our forces to fire on defenseless women and children, but they, like their soldiers, wanted to destroy the Union.”
The relentless bombardment was nerve-shattering. It was psychological warfare, designed to break the spirit of the civilian population. But it only strengthened the resolve of many of the siege victims, especially the women, who hated Yankees intensely.
Civilian casualties were surprisingly light. Not because the Union didn’t fire on civilian targets, as some historians argue. But because of the inaccuracy of Civil War artillery and mortar fire and because the people of Vicksburg hid in snake-infested caves they dug with the help of their slaves. Heat, hunger, sickness and exhaustion finally broke the Confederates.
The Aftermath of Vicksburg
On July 4th, l863, Pemberton surrendered the city and his entire army. Vicksburg wouldn’t celebrate the Fourth of July for almost another century. The next day, Sherman went on a march through the center of Mississippi, to the capital at Jackson, destroying everything in his path. This was a rehearsal for his famous march of devastation through Georgia the following year.
On the morning that Vicksburg surrendered, Robert E. Lee was retreating from Pennsylvania after losing the bloodiest battle ever fought on the Western Hemisphere, at a place called Gettysburg. Lee had invaded Pennsylvania after winning a spectacular victory at Chancellorsville. An invasion of the North, he told Jeff Davis, might draw off Yankee troops from Vicksburg. He and Grant had gambled, but there was only one winner.
After the war, a Mississippi soldier summed up the significance of the battle he’d fought in. “Vicksburg was more momentous in its results than the Battle of Gettysburg. It severed the Confederacy in twain, gave the enemy complete control of the Mississippi River, and enabled the foe to establish himself in the very vitals of the South and to gnaw it to death from within.”
Vicksburg was an ominous harbinger for the South. It would be beaten in this war not by a series of climactic battles, like Gettysburg, but by unremitting warfare on soldiers as well as civilians, executed with unblinking efficiency by the heroes of Vicksburg, Grant and Sherman. They were the generals who brought old Dixie down.
With the benefit of hindsight, it’s tempting to see the twin victories of Vicksburg and Gettysburg sealing the fate of the South. But the war would drag on for two more years, and would become even more vicious. The letters of soldiers who surrendered at Vicksburg give part of the reason why. Exhausted, homesick, humiliated by defeat, Confederate Private F. N. Caylor was still determined to fight on. “Don’t get discouraged,” he wrote his brother, “we’ll win our independence. The Lord is on our side.”
After Vicksburg, Lincoln warned the American people against overconfidence.
“Let us not be over-sanguine of a speedy final triumph. Let us diligently apply the means, never doubting that just God, in His good time, will give us the right result.”
This was the same just God Private Caylor was banking on. But with both sides convinced of the morality of their cause, Lincoln was right. There was a lot more fighting ahead.
Image as History: Civil War Photography
Does this photograph depict an actual battlefield scene, or did the photographer contrive it?
- In the narrative that accompanied the photograph, Gardner claimed that “the sharpshooter had evidently been wounded in the head by a fragment of shell which had exploded over him, and had laid down upon his blanket to await death.” Gardner asked viewers to consider what was in the sharpshooter’s mind as he lay mortally wounded: “Was he delirious with agony, or did death come slowly to his relief, while memories of home grew dearer as the field of carnage faded before him?”
- By studying other photographs, scholars have determined that the soldier died elsewhere on the battlefield at Gettysburg and was dragged to this spot forty yards away in Devil’s Den.
Gardner claimed that on revisiting the battlefield on November 19, the day of the consecration of Gettysburg Cemetery, he found “the musket, rusted by many storms, still leaned against the rock, and the skeleton of the soldier still lay undisturbed within the smoldering uniform.”
The rifle propped against the wall was not the type used by sharpshooters. In addition, it would have been impossible that four months after the battle the rifle and skeleton would have remained in the same location.
- The striking rock formation lent compositional power to the photograph and allowed Gardner to use the word “Home” ironically in his title.
Civil War Photography
Photography had existed for only two decades when the Civil War broke out. From the start the public was fascinated by these pictures that seemed, unlike drawings and paintings, to capture reality. When the war began, hundreds of photographers, both at their studios and in the field, stood poised to cover the conflict. They took countless portraits of common soldiers and sold them in a popular card-size format. They traveled to field headquarters and returned with images of the war’s heroes. They even went into the field, bringing with them camera and darkroom for the delicate process of wet-plate photography. They returned with images of war: troops, workers, guns, bridges, buildings, boats, landscapes, and bodies—dead, bloated bodies—but not actual battle because lengthy exposure time (as much as fifteen seconds) would produce only a blur.
Mathew Brady is the name most often associated with photographs of the Civil War. He not only photographed but also employed other photographers and exhibited the works at his galleries in Washington and New York. The first exhibition was of the aftermath of the battle of Antietam, fought in September 1862. A reporter for the New York Times visited the gallery and reported what he saw:
The dead of the battlefield come to us very rarely even in dreams. We see the list in the morning paper at breakfast, but dismiss its recollection with the coffee. But Mr. Brady has done something to bring home to us the terrible reality and earnestness of war. If he has not brought bodies and laid them in our dooryard and along the streets he has done something very like it. . . . These pictures have a terrible distinctiveness. By the aid of a magnifying glass, the very features of the slain may be distinguished. We would scarce choose to be in the gallery when one of the women bending over them should recognize a husband, a son or a brother in the still, lifeless line of bodies that lie ready for the gaping trenches.
After Antietam, Gardner separated from Brady and went into business for himself. He sold folio size (seven by nine inches) prints of his pictures for $1.50 and smaller album cards for 25 cents. Following the war, he would assemble a collection of his photographs, provide written commentary, and produce his Photographic Sketch Book of the Civil War (1866).
Questions to Ponder
The Civil War was a lethal affair. Hundreds of thousands were killed or wounded as they confronted the new technologies of war with older styles of fighting. After the battles, photographers took pictures of the mangled bodies left waiting to be buried.
1. There are many more images from Northern than from Southern photographers. Why might that be and what, if anything, does the difference suggest about the two regions during the Civil War?
2. In his memoirs, U.S. Grant commented that “Wars produce many stories of fiction, some of which are told until they are believed to be true.” How might photographs, most of which were not contrived in the way that Gardner’s Home of a Rebel Sharpshooter was, have shaped the stories told about the war?
Frassanito, William. Gettysburg: A Journey in Time. New York: Scribner, 1975.
Sandweiss, Martha ed. Photography in Nineteenth-Century America. Fort Worth, TX: Amon Carter Museum; New York: H.N. Abrams, 1991.
Trachtenberg, Alan. Reading American photographs: Images as History: Mathew Brady to Walker Evans. New York: Hill and Wang, 1989.
Life During the Civil War
The Valley of the Shadow
An archive profiling a Virginia and a Pennsylvania community during the war years.
William Tecumseh Sherman
Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman
A biography of Sherman with a portrait and related links.
People in THE WEST – William T. Sherman
A Sherman biography focusing on his military exploits in the West. Includes a photo and links.
William Tecumseh Sherman
A brief biography and a portrait of Sherman
Sherman, William Tecumseh – Family Papers
A biography of Sherman with photos and a summary of his papers.
Robert E. Lee
USA: Robert E. Lee
A biography of Lee
R. E. Lee
A brief biography and a portrait of Lee.
Stonewall Jackson Shrine
A tour of the plantation office building where Jackson died. Includes biographical information on Jackson with related links.
Stonewall Jackson Biography
A brief biography of Jackson.
Stonewall Jackson Resources
Provides photographs, documents, and biographical and historical information about Jackson’s life.
General George Brinton McClellan
A biography and a photo of McClellan.
Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant
A biography and a portrait of Grant.
Ulysses S. Grant – Chronology
A Grant chronology with links and images.
Today in History: May 19
A history of Grant and the Battle of Vicksburg with related links. Includes links to a biography, photos, newspaper articles, etc.
Abraham Lincoln’s Letter to James Conkling, 1863
An introduction and the text of Lincoln’s letter to James C. Conkling with the quote “Let us diligently apply the means…”
Lincoln Home NHS Homepage
The Lincoln Home National Historic Site page, with a Lincoln chronology, information about Lincoln and slavery, etc.
The Emancipation Proclamation
The Emancipation Proclamation
The text of The Emancipation Proclamation.
The Emancipation Proclamation
The text of The Emancipation Proclamation.
The Avalon Project : Emancipation Proclamation
The text of The Emancipation Proclamation
Virtual Visit: The Emancipation Proclamation
Information about The Emancipation Proclamation, the original document, the transcript of the text and related links.
Lincoln on Vicksburg
Vicksburg Is the Key
A brief background, and Lincoln’s quote, “Vicksburg is the key…”
Battle of Champion Hill
The story of the Battle of Champion Hill, where Pemberton was defeated, with links, including one to a brief profile of Pemberton.
Time Line of The Civil War, 1863
A timeline that includes the surrender of Pemberton.
Mississippi Civil War Battle Champion Hill American Civil War
The story of the Battle of Champion Hill, with Civil War links.
Antietam National Battlefield
A web site for the Civil War battlefield site. Includes the history of the Battle of Antietam (or Sharpsburg) and a Virtual Visitors’ Center.
Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park
A brief history of the battle of Fredericksburg, information about the park, and a link to a visitor center, where you can read about Civil War history, tour the battlefields, etc.
Shiloh National Military Park
A brief history of the battle of Shiloh and information about the park.
Vicksburg National Military Park
Provides links to information on the Vicksburg campaign, battles in west-central Mississippi, siege operations, etc…
Information about the park, with photos of the generals, and links to information about the Battle of Chancellorsville, biographies of key participants, related links.
Gettysburg National Military Park
Information about the park with links to the Gettysburg Address, information about the battle, soldiers’ stories, etc.
Unit 1 New World Encounters
American history moves from west to east, beginning with Ice Age migrations, through the corn civilizations of Middle America, to the explorations of Columbus, de Soto, and other Spaniards.
Unit 2 English Settlement
As the American character begins to take shape in the early seventeenth century, English settlements develop in New England and Virginia. Their personalities are dramatically different. Professor Miller explores the origins of values, cultures, and economies that have collided in the North and South throughout the American story.
Unit 3 Growth and Empire
Benjamin Franklin and Franklin's Philadelphia take center stage in this program. As the merchant class grows in the North, the economies of southern colonies are built on the shoulders of the slave trade. Professor Miller brings the American story to 1763 with the Peace of Paris and English dominance in America.
Unit 4 The Coming of Independence
Professor Maier tells the story of how the English-loving colonist transforms into the freedom-loving American rebel. The luminaries of the early days of the Republic -- Washington, Jefferson, Adams -- are featured in this program as they craft the Declaration of -- and wage the War for -- Independence.
Unit 5 A New System of Government
After the War for Independence, the struggle for a new system of government begins. Professor Maier looks at the creation of the Constitution of the United States. The Republic survives a series of threats to its union, and the program ends with the deaths of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson on the Fourth of July, 1826.
Unit 6 Westward Expansion
At the dawn of the 19th century, the size of the United States doubles with the Louisiana Purchase. The Appalachians are no longer the barrier to American migration west; the Mississippi River becomes the country's central artery; and Jefferson's vision of an Empire of Liberty begins to take shape. American historian Stephen Ambrose joins Professors Maier and Miller in examining the consequences of the Louisiana Purchase -- for the North, the South, and the history of the country.
Unit 7 The Rise of Capitalism
Individual enterprise merges with technological innovation to launch the Commercial Revolution -- the seedbed of American industry. The program features the ideas of Adam Smith, the efforts of entrepreneurs in New England and Chicago, the Lowell Mills Experiment, and the engineering feats involved in Chicago's early transformation from marsh to metropolis.
Unit 8 The Reform Impulse
The Industrial Revolution has its dark side, and the tumultuous events of the period touch off intense and often thrilling reform movements. Professor Masur presents the ideas and characters behind the Great Awakening, the abolitionist movement, the women's movement, and a powerful wave of religious fervor.
Unit 9 Slavery
While the North develops an industrial economy and culture, the South develops a slave culture and economy, and the great rift between the regions becomes unbreachable. Professor Masur looks at the human side of the history of the mid-1800s by sketching a portrait of the lives of slave and master.
Unit 10 The Coming of the Civil War
Simmering regional differences ignite an all-out crisis in the 1850s. Professor Martin teams with Professor Miller and historian Stephen Ambrose to chart the succession of incidents, from 'Bloody Kansas' to the shots on Fort Sumter, that inflame the conflict between North and South to the point of civil war.
Unit 11 The Civil War
As the Civil War rages, all eyes turn to Vicksburg, where limited war becomes total war. Professor Miller looks at the ferocity of the fighting, at Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, and at the bitter legacy of the battle -- and the war.
Unit 12 Reconstruction
Professor Miller begins the program by evoking in word and picture the battlefield after the battle of Gettysburg. With the assassination of President Lincoln, one sad chapter of American history comes to a close. In the fatigue and cynicism of the Civil War's aftermath, Reconstructionism becomes a promise unfulfilled.
Unit 13 America at Its Centennial
As America celebrates its centennial, 5 million people descend on Philadelphia to celebrate America's technological achievements, but some of the early principles of the Republic remain unrealized. Professor Miller and his team of historians examine where America is in 1876 and discuss the question of race.
Unit 14 Industrial Supremacy
Steel and stockyards are featured in this program as the mighty engine of industrialism thunders forward at the end of the nineteenth century. Professor Miller continues the story of the American Industrial Revolution in New York and Chicago, looking at the lives of Andrew Carnegie, Gustavus Swift, and the countless workers in the packinghouse and on the factory floor.
Unit 15 The New City
Professor Miller explores the tension between the messy vitality of cities that grow on their own and those where orderly growth is planned. Chicago -- with Hull House, the World's Columbian Exposition, the new female workforce, the skyscraper, the department store, and unfettered capitalism -- is the place to watch a new world in the making at the turn of the century.
Unit 16 The West
Professor Scharff continues the story of Jefferson's Empire of Liberty. Railroads and ranchers, rabble-rousers and racists populate America's distant frontiers, and Native Americans are displaced from their homelands. Feminists gain a foothold in their fight for the right to vote, while farmers organize and the Populist Party appears on the American political landscape.
Unit 17 Capital and Labor
The making of money pits laborers against the forces of capital as the twentieth century opens. Professor Miller introduces the miner as the quintessential laborer of the period -- working under grinding conditions, organizing into unions, and making a stand against the reigning money man of the day, J. Pierpont Morgan.
Unit 18 TR and Wilson
Professor Brinkley compares the presidencies of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson -- the Warrior and the Minister -- in the first decades of the twentieth century. Professor Miller discusses American socialism, Eugene Debs, international communism, and the roots of the Cold War with Professor Brinkley.
Unit 19 A Vital Progressivism
Professor Martin offers a fresh perspective on Progressivism, arguing that its spirit can be best seen in the daily struggles of ordinary people. In a discussion with Professors Scharff and Miller, the struggles of Native Americans, Asian Americans, and African Americans are placed in the context of the traditional white Progressive movement.
Unit 20 The Twenties
The Roaring Twenties take to the road in Henry Ford's landscape-altering invention -- the Model T. Ford's moving assembly line, the emergence of a consumer culture, and the culmination of forces let loose by these entities in Los Angeles are all explored by Professor Miller.
Unit 21 FDR and the Depression
Professor Brinkley continues his story of twentieth century presidents with a profile of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Brinkley paints a picture of America during the Depression and chronicles some of Roosevelt's programmatic and personal efforts to help the country through its worst economic crisis. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt is at FDR's side and, in many respects, ahead of him as the decade unfolds.
Unit 22 World War II
America is enveloped in total war, from mobilization on the home front to a scorching air war in Europe. Professor Miller's view of World War II is a personal essay on the morality of total war, and its effects on those who fought, died, and survived it, including members of his own family.
Unit 23 The Fifties
World War II is fought to its bitter end in the Pacific and the world lives with the legacy of its final moment: the atomic bomb. Professor Miller continues the story as veterans return from the war and create new lives for themselves in the '50s. The GI Bill, Levittown, civil rights, the Cold War, and rock 'n' roll are discussed.
Unit 24 The Sixties
Professor Scharff weaves the story of the Civil Rights movement with stories of the Vietnam War and Watergate to create a portrait of a decade. Lyndon Johnson emerges as a pivotal character, along with Stokely Carmichael, Fanny Lou Hamer, and other luminaries of the era.
Unit 25 Contemporary History
The entire team of historians joins Professor Miller in examining the last quarter of the twentieth century. A montage of events opens the program and sets the stage for a discussion of the period -- and of the difficulty of examining contemporary history with true historical perspective. Television critic John Leonard offers a footnote about the impact of television on the way we experience recent events.
Unit 26 The Redemptive Imagination
Storytelling is a relentless human urge and its power forges with memory to become the foundation of history. Novelists Charles Johnson (Middle Passage), Arthur Golden (Memoirs of a Geisha), and Esmeralda Santiago (America's Dream) join Professor Miller in discussing the intersection of history and story. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., closes the series with a reflection on the power of the human imagination.