tv The Civil War CSPAN August 22, 2014 4:32am-5:19am EDT
jonesboro. you look on the map, you'll see jonesboro at the very bottom. and the two core sent down there are given the orders to push the army of the tennessee away from the railroad, protect that vital supply line. and on the first day of the battle of jonesboro, the last battle of the campaign, these two core confederate core attacks that are repulsed. in the meantime, hood finds out that the rail lines north of jonesboro have been broken. can you see that on the map with thomas and schofield, and he abandons the city. hood on the night of september 1st, marching the troops in the city south, to rejoin those who had been at jonesboro. during the evacuation of the city, the confederates discover
they've left a large train of munitions in the eastern central portion of atlanta that obviously can't get out. and so they set it on fire. this is 18 boxcars full of explosives. and you can imagine the sound that was heard 15, 20 miles away. this is the scene incidentally that's depicted in gone with the wind when red is in the wagon trying to get scarlet and the baby out, and there's all the sets burning in the background. i told my kids some of those sets were from the wizard of oz, which was true. they don't care anything about gone with the wind, but they were upset that the sets from the wizard of oz burned in this movie. it's worth pointing out here that the destruction of atlanta cannot be attributed solely to uncle billy sherman, that hood's
army in fact began the process with the evacuation and the destruction of the firing of this train. and sherman took it a good bit further just before the march to the sea. on september second, the mayor of atlanta surrendered the city. sherman announced to abraham lincoln, atlanta is ours, and fairly won. sherman also told hallic, i shall not push much further on this raid. it's an interesting word to characterize the campaign. the constant battles since the first week of may exhausted the army and needed rest. atlanta turned into a garrison city. news of the fall of the city, of course, caused great celebration in the north, it gave a desperately needed boost to the fortunes of the republican party.
and here is where we get to the significance of the atlanta campaign, what makes it so important. along with the fall of atlanta. along with the victories won by phil sheridan in the shenandoah valley later in september, helped to boost the confidence of northern voters that the lincoln administration was going to win an ultimate victory, and that the president needed a second term in office. so the fall of atlanta helped to reassure the re-election of lincoln and also offer public affirmation of his war policies, that lincoln gets a popular mandate, as you all know, to continue a war that would end on the basis of both reunion and emancipation, something that wouldn't have been the case if the democrats have won. at the same time, the fall of atlanta helped ensure that u.s.
grant would remain as general in chief. and that these two men would be the architects of ultimate union victory in the civil war. thank you. do we have time for a few questions? you want to come up to the mike s. >> was there any thought to the confederate armies? >> yes, in fact that ultimately did happen, but it was after the atlanta campaign. and davis did reply. so the question was, if you didn't hear it, was there any thought of putting lee in charge of any confederate armies, that did happen, although it was some months after the atlanta campaign, but davis relied very
heavily on lee's advice, not only on matters pertaining to the eastern theater, but also on command members in the west, when davis was considering removing joe johnson from command, he asked lee, who do you think would be a good replacement? lee said that hood was a bold fighter on the battlefield, but this is paraphrasing, i should know this verbatim, hood said something -- hood is a bold fighter, bold on the battlefield but careless off the battlefield, and i think what he was saying there was that when it comes to administrative responsibility responsibilities that hood had some weaknesses. >> two questions. >> let's do one, so other folks have a chance. >> how did sherman come up with
the idea for the -- sherman's knots? >> the question is, how did sherman -- come up with the idea for sherman's knots or sherman's bow ties is what they're sometimes called. what he's asking about are the twisted rails when the union troops would wreck rail lines, the confederates too for this matter, the confederates employed this prior to the atlanta campaign. you get thousands of infantry men to stand next to a rail line, and all at once they would rip up the crossties, separate with hammers the iron rail from the wooden crossties, pile up the wooden crossties in huge heaps and create bonfires, lay the arm rails on the end of the
bonfires. when the center of the iron rails turns red-hot, the union soldiers would grab it, i was rereading this the other evening, i wonder if they used gloves? they must have been pretty hot. they take the red-hot rails and twist them around trees, which would make it extraordinarily difficult for the confederates to straighten out and reuse. there's some good photographs taken of this process downtown. your question is one i really can't answer. my gut feeling is that it wasn't sherman that devised this, but it was something that engineers and soldiers came up with, and it had been employed prior to this time. sherman had wrecked railroads in eastern mississippi in the meridian expedition, but that's a great question. i don't know where it
originated. i don't know if we actually know. it became a pretty common procedure. >> i want to get back to. >> the campaigns in '64. the war twists -- capturing territories in capital cities, to capturing manufacturing and supply centers. sherman was marching toward atlanta. marching toward texas to capture their defaults. could you tell us a little bit how important the war effort and the confederate war effort were these depots and supply centers? >> atlanta was absolutely vital. georgia had some of the largest manufacturing centers in the
confederacy, not just atlanta but augusta, in the eastern part of the state, had the largest powder mill in the world. there were quarter master depots that produced enormous numbers of un fors for the army. there were foundries that produced cannon. if you look at the rail network of the deep south, it's evident immediately how important atlanta is for being at the juncture of many railroads. could go on and on about the contractors that were producing pistols and rifle muskets and akutry meants. they were vital. the confederates realized that. by the time the siege takes place in atlanta. the city's value as a center of industry has really declined dramatically, the confederates
had evacuated so much of the machinery, and so many of the workers and sent them south to columbus and macon. there's only about 3,000 civilians left in atlanta when sherman seizes the city. and when he takes the city, he orders the expulsion of all those civilians, which is a fascinating story too. yes, sir? >> you mentions at the beginning of your talk, sherman's mastery of logistics during the campaign. how much of that did he directly oversea, and how much of it was delegated to someone else and who for that matter was it delegated to? >> that's a great question. sherman had pretty capable s subordinates that would look after logistical concerns.
he had authority over the railroads, this had been a controversial matter in the months leading up to the campaign. he had banned all civilian traffic on the main railroads leading south out of nashville. he had planned for the confederates to try to break the railroad railroads by stockpiling rails and ties at various locations. he had crews as civilians, african-americans who were employed as civilian laborers, engineering that could very quickly rebuild railroads, particularly bridges. as the confederates retreated. they retreated across several rivers. they would always burn these bridges, and it was truly remarkable how quickly sherman's engineers and laborers could rebuild these huge wooden spans.
so that's where the real mastery logistics comes into play. one more question over here. general hood has been undergoing a bit of a re-evaluation recently. it seemed to me that his plans. once he took over as commander of the army of tennessee were fairly good plans on paper, it's just that his army couldn't execute them for one reason or another. could you comment briefly on hood's generalship as the commander of the army of tennessee? >> sure. hood is -- doesn't -- certainly doesn't have the mastery of logistics that sherman does. that becomes painfully evident during the tennessee campaign in 1864. but hood's operating under some pretty severe handicaps. not only his own physical
handicaps, he also has the command structure with a lot of generals who are woefully inexperienced at their division and core level of command. they just -- they don't execute hood's orders, and don't carry out his plans the way he had envisioned them. i think the other important factor is that hood's plans are just unrealistic given the time constraints that he's working under and the physical conditions of his men. and the hardy's flank march is a prime example of that. hood was asking too much of men that were totally exhausted. that's kind of a short answer, but the renaissance you're talking about -- that's not the right word to use. the re-evaluation of hood's generalship is one that is take ing place -- thank you.
>> friday night, american history tv, slavery and the cinema, a look at the depiction of slavery and films since the 1930s. and then the movie lincoln and it's passage of the 13th amendment. and a discussion of gone with the wind and it's depiction of southern society. all friday night beginning at 8:00 eastern here on c-span 3. >> this weekend on american history tv. we take a look back 200 years ago this week. when british military force s st the capitol on fire. we'll hear how george coburn used washington's waterways to invade and burn the city. >> coburn's idea is to make use of several different waterways in an attack on washington. if the british forces simply
sailed up the potomac, everybody would know that washington was the ultimate party. coburn recommends that the force be split up, one squadron sail up the potomac river and threaten the capitol and the city of alexandria, the main force is going to go up the pawtuxet river into southern maryland. the advantage was that it would shield the ultimate british intention it might mean an attack on washington, it could also mean the british were simply chasing after commodore joshua barney who was the american commander of the chess peak flotilla, who had a
flotilla of barges and the rivers flowing into it. he had been trapped in the pawtuxet river, he was further up river than the british, and the british could use barney's presence. >> it's what the british commanders, general ross and admiral alexander dock run agree to do. >> this weekend a panel of historians as they discuss the bu burning of washington.
that's sunday at 6:00 and 10:00 p.m. eastern, all right here on c-span 3. >> next, joseph e. johnston, his command of the army in tennessee and spring and summer of 1864. at the civil war center at kennesaw state university in georgia. this is about 45 minutes. >> thank you. it's always good to get down here -- my mother was born in a house that's about three or four mile miles. i've been coming up here all my
life. this is the 150th anniversary of the sesquicentennial of the year 1864. crucial year in the civil war, and we're in the process of commemorating what in the 1860s was probably the most crucial military campaign of the civil war. and it is to coin a phrase all together fitting and proper we should do this. it is especially fitting and proper that those others who are georgians would do this either by birth or by option. i want to give a little background of why it's so important and then get around to offering ideas of the campaign when you think about what happened during the american civil war you've got to remember
during the civil war there were three great areas where military operations took place. way over here. the appalachian mountains, and the area right in the middle. during the course of the civil war from 1861 to 1864 this area in virginia had turned into a bloody stalemate. neither side could win the war, neither side could lose the war in virginia. the army's fought and they essentially remain where they had been. the federal army was too strong to lose. but the federal generals were not smart enough to win. the federal army was not strong enough to win. the war in virginia went into the circular stalemate, i tell my friends from the north, if the war had been limited to
virginia it would still be going on. they would be ready to fight the 87th battle of manassas. in the 64th battle of winchester. and the people from north of the mason dixon line would be saying, golly, i hope we can meet lee this summer that old man has been beating up on us for 152 years. i don't know how he got out of that one. but the war was not limited to virginia more important parts of the war took place in the central railroad area, from the mississippi river to the appalachian mountains. in that area, the first three
areas of the war -- they regained control of the mississippi river from the source to the mouth, thus splitting the confederacy in half. if you take confederate definition of what constituted the confederacy, which included missouri, oklahoma, and parts of mexico and arizona. almost in half. they also cut the confederates east of the mississippi off from any serious quantities of food and supplies from west of the mississippi risker. the second great strategic objective they achieved was to move the northern frontier of the confederacy from up in kentucky somewhere essentially the ohio river which cuts off most of tennessee from the rest of the confederacy. while the war in virginia was a stalemate, the union armies were moving from victory to victory
to success. the area that was known in the jargon of the day. by 1864, the union armies appeared ready to take the next several steps to snuffing out the life of the confederacy and to ensure this happened, president lincoln had taken ulysses s. grant, the man who had opened the mississippi river, who had gained control or secured control of most of tennessee and moved him to command all union armies. grant planned in 1864 five great military operations to wipe out what was left of the confederacy. one of these would be along the gulf coast, from new orleans moving east against mobile. which was the last significant confederate port on the gulf of
mexico. absolutely crucial more for the railroads that ran north through mobile and connected the great bread basket of the confederacy which was not the shenandoah valley, it was the tom big by river valley. no less a person than jefferson davis said so. he will be our main source for supplies this year. but mobile, the railroads through mobile with a connection between the confederacy in georgia and the carolinas in virginia and the tom bigby valley. one of these campaigns grant planted in mobile. a second would take place.
they went up the shenandoah v valley. a third campaign would take place in southeastern virginia, benjamin, the favorite union general would come up there and command a union army moving up the peninsula against the confederate capitol in richmond. those three campaigns were really sort of satellite or auxiliary campaigns, that would support the main efforts. grant himself, lee and the other campaign would march from chattanooga under william t. sherman, every atlanta citizen's favorite union general.
grant's plans came early in the spring and summer of 1864. that is why the campaign is so important. the effort against mobile had to be abandoned, very early because confederates won victories on the red river in louisiana. threatened to attack new orleans. maybe even regain possession or regain control of the mississippi river. union troops that were scheduled to go against mobile, had to be held to protect the federal holdings in louisiana. that was abandoned, the campaign up the shenandoah valley, ran into the union market. they were defeated by the core of cadets from the virginia military institute. with a little help from some
confederate army units that happened to be in the area. the third campaign under benning lynn butler came to grief, because as he started up confederate reinforcements rushed up and that left only the two big campaigns grants himself as i said, led the main union army in virginia, against robert e. lee, and they fought a titanic series of battles against virginia. grant constantly living around the circumference of a circle. you can't get to richmond because lee's army was there
between his army and richmond grant's army suffered enormous casualties. the exact number is somewhat in dispute. reasonable estimates put the minimum of 65,000 men. some other estimates, but the number of grant's casualties is as high as 75 or 80,000 no large american army has ever been beaten up like grant's army was beaten up in 1864. grant replaced the bodies with new draftees. but the grand old army of the potomac that fought at malvern hill, antietam was gone. shallow graves in virginia in washington, annapolis, that army was gone.
and grant was bogged down in a stalemate at richmond and petersburg. there are historians who maintain that the federal government falsified reports of grant's casualties because they were so horrific. lee was so secure, that he sent off about 25 or 30% of his army to the shenandoah valley to march north they crossed the potomac. they were in the suburbs of washington, d.c., they burned chambers berg, pennsylvania. this does not sound like a union military success, and it was not. it was so depressing, that everybody was anticipating that lincoln would lose the election of 1864. lincoln himself predicted as late as august that he was going to be defeated in the election that year. if he had lost.
and if the civil war had not ended in union victory, the preservation of the union, just think of what a difference that would have made. not just in the united states but how different would the world have been in the 20th century if the united states had not been there in 1917, let alone the 1940s. it would have been quite different. by mid summer of 1864, there was only one hope left for the union government, and that was what went on here in north georgia, on the very ground where this university is located. that's why it's so important that we get an understanding of what happened here in 1864. i'm not going to go into the details of the atlanta campaign, there's a very good book on that
which everybody should buy and re read. truth be told, i don't care if you read it. but i do want to give you the sort of outline of what happened and some ideas of the man who was the most crucial in that campaign. joseph p. johnston was the most important military figure in the history of the southern confederacy, at least as far as the outcome of the war is concerned. to be sure, robert e. lee has a greater role in confederate military history as it has been written. but as it happened, i think joseph p. johnston was the most important of confederate generals.
he won the first major battle of the war in 1861 at a time when robert e. lee was a desk officer in richmond. johnston commanded a confederate army that was active in the field for two and a half weeks after lee surrendered in 1865. johnston commanded confederate armies in virginia, tennessee, mississippi, georgia, south carolina, and north carolina. in addition, confederate forces in florida, alabama and east louisiana were subject to his orders at one time or another. he commanded the confederate army in the two most important military campaigns in the war vehicles burg and atlanta. his quarrel with jefferson davis is a story in and of itself.
i thought this was a war for southern independence, but it's just a quarrel between jeff and j joe. that quarrel runs like an angry scar through the history of the confederacy and is arguably one of the key reasons for a confederate defeat in the war. johnston is crucial to confederate military history. i've been puzzling around trying to understand this man for longer than i want to think about. when you were there, just barely for the centennial of the civil war, and this is the sesquicentennial. and i'm worried now because i see the bicentennial looming out there in the difference. i'll leave that up to brian to worry about. johnston is a man i've been trying to understand, and i want to offer a few thoughts about
his most important military command which was here in georgia. he was appointed to command the confederate army that would defend atlanta in 1863. president davis did not want to appoint him. by that time he and johnston thoroughly loathed each other. johnston convinced himself that davis was trying to destroy his military reputation davis had convinced himself that dajohnst was not competent but he had no choice because there was no one else he could appoint to that post. all the other high ranking generals were either failures or unable to exercise command in the field or in the case of robert e. lee, couldn't be moved
from we was. davis had no choice. much against his wishes, in december 1863. he picked joe johnston from obscuri obscurity. he was command of the bayous of mississippi, he had no choice, johnston was in command. the union army that was opposing johnston was based in chattanooga, and when sherman moved into north georgia in 1864, he confronted johnston in his fortifications. and the campaign began and followed a pattern johnston's idea of a perfect battle was to take up a strong position, fortify it, and sit in it. hoping that sherman would attack
it, in that case, johnston's fortified men would be able to repulse the attack and win the victory sherman however had made up his mind based on earlier experience, that attacks in the civil war were not likely to work, and it was better to do something else. the pattern of the campaign was set, one general didn't want to fight at all, the other general didn't want to fight unless it was perfect conditions, which never exist. so sherman -- johnston would take up his position, fortified it, sherman would march up in front of it, they would skirmish for a few days, she weren would say, this is too strong, his army would march out, usually to the west, around johnston, and come in behind him, south of him, to threaten the railroad because the railroad from atlanta to dalton or to
johnston's army was the lifeline of that army. when johnston discovered this, he would retreat 10 or 15 miles, take up a strong position, fortify it, sit in it and the whole process would repeat itself. dallas, kennesaw mountain to someone in a, to the chattahoochee river. the confederate government was going bonkers with this because the area into which johnston was retreating was the -- by that time, by 1864, the industrial and agricultural heartland of
the confederacy, johnston's retreat exposed all of that area. remember what i said earlier about the tom bigby valley in alabama? jefferson davis was alarmed that sherman would stock his advance at the chattahoochee river, wouldn't try to go beyond but would turn instead and go southwest and then south along the chattahoochee river, down to apalachicola, florida. that would cut every railroad between the tom bigby valley and the confederate army in virginia, and it was a very real possibility. as far as i know sherman never seriously considered it, but the federal government did not know that, and johnston, without telling his government much about what he was doing, had retreated into the heartland of the confederacy, opening up this
possibility that his retreat would enable sherman to cut off the supplies from the tom bigby valley, enable him to cut off selma, alabama. which they had turned into a great munitions complex. johnston's retreat threatened the loss of all of that. therefore in mid july july 17th, davis is thinking about removing johnston, he's sent him a telegram, i wish to hear from you so specifically as will enable me to anticipate events, what you are planning to do and johnston sent back a response that was so vague, that it was meaningless. the enemy outnumbers me, my flans depend on the actions of the enemy, we're trying to put
atlanta into condition to be held for a few days by the georgia militia, johnston had earlier represented that the confederate government move the prisoners at andersonville, about 120 miles south of atlanta. did that mean that johnston was about to abandon atlanta and retreat back into south georgia? that would be even worse. davis, therefore, on july 17th, sent a telegram removing joe johnston from command of the army. over the next 10 days, hood fought three battles with sherman outside atlanta peach tree creek, atlanta and every one of them the confederates attacked, they did not achieve great victories, but they brought sherman's advance to a halt. in late july and august, hood's
calvary wrecked sherman's calvary in several battles south of atlanta. it appeared as mid-august came that sherman had been bogged down outside atlanta just like grant was bogged down outside richmond and petersburg. if that remained the case without the victory, faced with all the enormous casualties. that grant had interred in virginia, lincoln might well be doomed in the november election. but at the very end of august, sherman took most of his army, and marched out on a wide circle around atlanta, came in 15 or 20 miles south of atlanta. cut the railroad to macon and hood was forced to evacuate atlanta. that was when scarlett and rhett had to get in that wagon and
atlanta was aburning and they had to flee the city. hood had failed, lincoln had the great victory he needed. lincoln's re-election was assured there would be no compromise with slavery, there would be no compromise with is a significance. that was the atlanta campaign. what did it mean? why did it turn out like it did? almost immediately, confederates who had been involved in the atlanta campaign began casting blame on each other. johnston was the first to strike. when he was removed from command, he had gone south to macon, and he was in macon for several months working on his official report of his campaign. which he finished and sent off to richmond, and in that report he set forth and interpretation of his campaign that he had
never waivered from for the rest of his life. he could do only what he did. his strategy had been to fight on the defensive inflict casualties, punish sherman, weaken sherman. and then as sherman's army got near atlanta. that army weakened by these casualties would fall prey to johnston's successful counterattack. johnston believed his strategy had worked. he also believed that jefferson davis had deliberately withheld resources, so that johnston would fail. davis didn't care anything about the confederacy. all he cared about was embarrassing joe johnston. this was johnston's basic approach. it wasn't long after that, early the next year, when hood submitted his report, which was a total reverse of johnston. johnston had not been heavily
outnumbered. he had chosen to retreat, to abandon these strong positions in north georgia. he had lost some 22,000 men. johnston claimed he had lost only about 10,000. johnston's army had been demoralized. johnston had passed up many opportunities to strike at the enemy, and the army was so weakened in numbers and moral that not even hood could win success when he replaced johnston. these two views of the campaign which for simplicity sake will call the johnston interpretation and the hood interpretation echoed from that point down to this. but for most of that time, joseph e. johnston's view of the campaign had prevailed. it became the popularly accepted view of how the campaign in georgia had unfolded that year.
johnston owed this success or his interpretation owed this success to hood was in command. they had not lost atlanta when johnston was in command. kind of hard to disguise that fact. hood was reduced to arguing but i held it longer than johnston would have. you know, this is sort of like but i did not inhale. [ laughter ] >> for another reason, johnston had a great reputation as a soldier when the war began. one he deserved after three decades of distinguished service in the u.s. army. he was experienced. he had been in no less than five branches of the army. the artillery, the engineers,
the infantry, the quartermaster. he was a brave man as his wounds inflicted by mexicans, indians and yankees all showed. hood did not have the experience and reputation and the respect that johnston had at the beginning of the war. hood, as i said, had lost atlanta -- johnston had not suffered a visible battlefield defeat, so you are reduced the argument well he was going to be defeated, if he had remained in command. johnston also prevailed because his critics were in disrepute immediately after the war. jefferson davis was just reviled in the last years of the confederacy. he was the failed leader of the
lost cause. and had the federal authorities not arrested him, put him in a cell at for the monroe and clamped him in irons and made a martyr out of him, he would have been denounced through much of southern history. they turned him into the man who was persecuted for the white south but made him a hero. even so post war confederates did not like to air their dirty linen in pub and most them did not do so. johnston was also praised in the writings of his federal opponents. william t. sherman had good things to say about johnston in his memoirs published in 1875. grant said i worried more when joe johnston was in command in front of my army than when robert e. lee was. i t