A Graceful Exit

In one momentous decision, Robert E. Lee spared the United States years of divisive violence

As April 1865 neared, an exhausted Abraham Lincoln met with his two top generals, Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman, to discuss the end of the Civil War, which finally seemed to be within reach. Nevertheless, the president—“having seen enough of the horrors of war”—remained deeply conflicted. To be sure, the endless sound of muddy boots tramping across City Point, Virginia, and the heavy ruts left by cannon wheels marked Grant’s preparations for a final all-out push to ensnare the Army of Northern Virginia. Yet Lincoln could not shake off his deep-seated fears that Robert E.Read more »

The Imperial Congress

An impetuous and sometimes corrupt Congress has often hamstrung the efforts of the president since the earliest days of the Republic

On a little-remarked, steamy day in late June 1973, a revolution took place in Washington, D.C., one that would transfer far more power and wealth than did the revolt against King George III in 1776. On the 29th, a sweaty, angry majority of the House of Representatives and the Senate defied the president of the United States and voted to end armed American involvement in Vietnam. Read more »

A Rude Reception

A tall stranger, told to keep out of the general’s tent, turns out to be Lincoln

Gen. Grant having decided to transfer his army to the James River, preparations began at once. . . . On Tuesday morning, June 14th, Warren crossed [the Chickahominy] at Long Bridge, with Hancock following him. Burnside and Wright crossed at Jones’ Bridge four miles below Long Bridge. The advance of the army reached the James before night, and commenced laying pontons immediately. The crossing was effected near Charles City Court House on the north side, and Fort Powhattan on the south side of the James. Read more »

Three Years With Grant

as recalled by War Correspondent SYLVANUS CADWALLADER

During the forepart of 1862 I was city editor of the Milwaukee Daily News, badly broken down in health, and seeking some less exhausting occupation. The following Special Order from Gen. Grant commanding the Department of the Tennessee, to Gen. Sherman, commanding the District of Memphis, afforded me the first opportunity for doing so:

 
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The Civil War 1861 To 1865

No one has ever come up with a satisfactory count of the books dealing with the Civil War. Estimates range from 50,000 to more than 70,000, with new titles added every day. All that can be said for certain is that the Civil War is easily the most written-about era of the nation’s history. Consequently, to describe this 10-best list as subjective is to stretch that word almost out of shape. Indeed my association with 2 of the 10 may be regarded as suspect. My reply is that this association made me only more aware of the merits of these titles. Read more »

The San Patricios

Most of them were American soldiers who fought with skill, discipline, and high courage against a U.S. Army that numbered Ulysses Grant in its ranks. The year was 1847.

The court-martial of Capt. John O’Reilly was one of twenty-nine convened by the United States Army at the San Angel prison camp in Mexico on August 28, 1847: thirty-six other men of O’Reilly’s San Patricio Battalion faced courts-martial on that same day at nearby Tacubaya. Read more »

The Big Parade

Once the South was beaten, Eastern and Western
troops of the Union army resented each other so violently that some feared for the survival of the
victorious government. Then the tension
disappeared in one happy stroke that gave the
United States its grandest pageant—and General
Sherman the proudest moment of his life.

When the Civil War sputtered out early in May 1865, there were two huge Union armies within a few days’ march of Washington, D.C. One was the Army of the Potomac, winner of the war in the East, commanded by Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade. The other was the Army of the Tennessee, or the Western Army, the men who had marched through Georgia to the sea, commanded by Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman. What to do with these two very different bodies of men was a problem that vexed politicians in Washington. Read more »

The Rock Of Chickamauga

Lee. Grant. Jackson. Sherman. Thomas. Yes, George Henry Thomas belongs in that company. The trouble is that he and Grant never really got along.

Of all the great commanders in the Civil War, the most consistently underrated and overlooked is Gen. George H. Thomas, the big Virginia cavalryman who fought for the Union. From January 1862 at Mill Springs, where he won the first major Federal victory of the war, through December 1864 at Nashville, where he destroyed the Army of Tennessee, Thomas never lost a battle when he was in command. Read more »

God’s Chosen Instrument

In the Republic’s direst hour, he took command. In the black days after Bull Run, he won West Virginia for the Union. He raised a magnificent army and led it forth to meet his “cautious & weak” opponent, Robert E. Lee. Why hasn’t history been kinder to George B. McClellan?

Gen. George B. McClellan possessed a particular talent for dramatic gesture, and on the afternoon of September 14, 1862, at South Mountain in western Maryland, he surpassed himself. Before him on the smoke-wreathed mountaintop, his army was locked in combat with the Confederate enemy. Nearby artillery batteries added their thunder to the roar of musketry, and columns of reinforcements in Federal blue could be seen winding their way up the mountainside.Read more »