tv The Civil War CSPAN May 14, 2016 6:00pm-6:41pm EDT
talks about the generals who engaged in 1864 shenandoah valley campaign. he looks at how ulysses s. grant and robert e. lee the addition and donna -- shenandoah valley from a strategic standpoint. he also delves into the personalities of the generals and how this impacted the campaign. the shenandoah valley battlefield foundation hosted this talk. i should think kevin but i always seem to get the i assure you we will be going to lunch on time. i am not very bright but i am but enough to know that, so don't worry about that. 23 1864, president
.incoln held a cabinet meeting for the previous weeks, he had been getting telegrams from republican politician say it, you cannot be real elected. the people have had it with your administration. in you have to address certain things. .his meeting, he did he asked every member to sign a letter which lincoln had written . in that letter, he and his cabinet pledged their support to the next administration, who lincoln thought would not be him. touched upon it, but if you go back a little bit, think of this. if you look at the overland to put it in perspective, the army of the
defendedthat army that little round top disappeared in may and june 1864. they suffered more casualties than antietam, chancellorsville, and gettysburg combined. i saw a newspaper from new york. in those days, when you publish pages.ng, it was for it was published that summer in a small new york county. it listed the casualties. that is all the paper was about. hurt thatagine that is going on within northern communities. if the civil war was a bad dream, the summer of 1864 was a nightmare.
and certainly so for the families there who saw this. what else do we know? chambersburg was in ashes. you have sherman somewhere outside of atlanta get people did not know that maybe in 10 days from august 23, that atlanta would fall but he was bogged down in georgia and there is no resolution to this. petersburg but that seemed to be endless, too. more casualties mounted up. though, in june, before grant would cross the river, robert e. lee made a decision. this is the man who in 1862 took command of the army of northern
virginia. he had already formulated a strategic decision. he realized that the confederacy cannot sit there and wait because ultimately, lincoln probably find somebody who will unsheathe that sort of northern power and he is going to crash the confederacy so you have to take chances. what happened in the spring of 1864 -- and lee also understood -- you can read his writing -- he knew what was at stake. what was at stake was a presidential reelection in the north. folks cannotelf win do a military victory in the civil war. the only way the south could achieve independence was to bring the northern administration to the negotiating table. they had to reach a political settlement. the north had to crush the south.
and for the next grabbed therant army by the throat and started to apply pressure. he choked the army of northern virginia to death, right? that is what he did. lee had been-- them into taking the terms of war in the east. he is the one that held strategic initiative. you know as well as i do, the trains of campaigns, that was lee framing those. when grant to the army across the rapid and river, grant
season strategic initiative and grant would dictate away this what was going to be found. so lee was facing in in mid-june. west, you can argue that wasn't difficult -- but anyhow, they did with him -- but more importantly, another union army of david hunter was threatening a railroad center in lynchburg, virginia. lee had to address that. he ordered early west to address hunter. west.would speed hunter would disappear into the mountains -- literally, really.
he did disappear into the appellations. told earlyso lee that if you have the opportunity, turn north. why? retake lee was trying to the strategic initiative from grant. this is the truly last great gamble of robert e. lee. bud mentioned this movie about fort stedman. that was a tactical gamble, right? early goes to the oscars of washington dc and then -- early goes to the outskirts of washington dc and retreats. the new york times editorializes the back door of the
shenandoah valley had been left open to the confederates. sherman the east where -- richard would know better banished reporters from the army. it was the east where the news is being made and here is the shenandoah valley once again. it is that great valley of virginia and you can argue, i don't know, in a sense, that the spirit of stonewall jackson still haunts there. have they been defeated? no, they haven't. once again, the confederacy using that valley as strategical entry. grant was very slow in reacting to what. he puts ron siegel in charge. and then david hunter.
grant was more focused on the army of northern virginia and not necessarily the shenandoah valley. and then we come july 30. remember what happened that day -- the crater, the news of that importantly, more the confederate cavalry rode into chambersburg, pennsylvania and destroyed over 400 residences and businesses by flame. this is what lincoln is faced with. meets grantoes and because we have to do something about the shenandoah valley. ead certainly would be willing to be a commander of this new army if it is formed. --nt sort of mention that no, no, no -- can't do that. they has been helping me since
gettysburg. i am not going to get rid of him know, george, you mead is a good soldier per can you imagine how difficult it would be to have the boss sitting over your shoulder? once a campaign started, neither staff could stand each other. you know. the difference of course was that grant had to exercise the ghost of the 12th. he. would do that, eventually. nevertheless, a good soldier. basically reduced into a glorified chief of staff to grant, right? then for reasons that are hard to understand, grant proposed william b .lin. he had been enamored with franklin since their west point
is because franklin graduated first in his class and sam grant thought he was simply brilliant. well, to lincoln, eastbound of mcclelland and anybody smelling of mcclelland would not be commander of the army, so they left it at that. grant said, i'm appointing a 33-year-old irishman and i don't know whether it was age or the fact that he was irish but believe hehard to was going to be phil sheridan, but it was phil sheridan because grant wanted somebody finally to take over the army in the valley and do something about it. phil sheridan will, north through washington and when he does, as far as we know, we are not certain -- said to him, you cannot afford to lose a battle in the valley. the president's political campaign cannot stand another battlefield defeat in the shenandoah valley, so you will
act with caution. and so sheridan will -- what about -- i will tell you, i really don't like bill sheridan. it doesn't matter. heill tell you that because takes credit for everything afterwards and he deservedly doesn't deserve to do that. his good friend george crook had but ideas about the battles when you read sheridan's reports, it was the brilliance --sheridan -- he's not very i've always -- if you think of three ragged stool and in oak tree stump, that was sheridan. the joke was that it was this attle bit little man on such big course and also the joke was to get on that horse you have to shimmy up a sword.
command., he takes is a mountain. the bedrock is the six core. and what you speak -- folks i will tell you -- the correct term at this time -- he used to be the eighth core but now it is the army of west virginia under george crook. they are going to bring infantry and a calvary division. at the end of august because him oneally doesn't need a peninsula, he sends to cavalry divisions to sheridan's army. in turn, you have girl -- do bother a -- he was a logical choice to head the second core, the second call was probably the logical choice to go into the valley in 1864.
he would not send the first score. he is recovering from his wilderness wins. then what is interesting -- and ins, you must understand -- mid-august, robert e. lee decides to up the ante in the valley. andommits joseph kershaw the calvary division to the valley. so he is sending them there to reinforce early and at the same time, expecting something. just got to tell you something. i guess he was short -- even shorter. the best description of a short man i had ever read in the civil war. this officer wrote that he could of soup off of
generally's head when he was standing down and he was standing up, so evidently he was a short man -- but we don't picture these men that sure, right? but he was about 5'4" -- anyhow. early acts aggressively. weeks of august, august 7, an officer called it mimic war. sheridan advances south, a here comes fitfully, sheridan retreats back to harpers ferry but eventually he will move down. don't worry about where you are fighting the battle. then things change and the changes here in atlanta. , with sherman's capture , in grant had become
frustrated with the situation in the valley, he decides something is now going to be done and i am going to unleash sheridan and he will go there. not going to address the burning that i to address something prior to wait. -- to it. ericsson talked about the burning this afternoon. you have to understand this in another sense. you can go to berryville, go used, one of you probably knows the route number, you turn right and go down the road and you will come to a farm and there is says,le monument that mosey's rangers attacked the barn burners and took no prisoners. he captured 30 men.
the ditch is still there. they lined them up and shot every one of them. penny calledne away because he is lying in the bushes with a head wound and he sees some rangers coming back and they go systematically by every one of them took on their throat and put another bold in their head -- this is 1864. 1861.s not the days of this is the reality of 1864. when grant said to clean it out, he meant clean it out. they got permission -- in fact, grant -- you can go to you can go to the house -- it is it is a bed-and-breakfast -- probably in the front lawn there -- if you want to go to the casino, it is right across the road. got is where sheridan
permission from grant to advance against early's army at winchester. grant issued the shortest order in military history after he heard everything sheridan was saying, .rant simply said go in on september 19, he attacked. this, i may not like sheridan as a man, as a tactician, he was lucky in the valley. he could make mistakes. he probably outnumbered early 3. to or they not make any tactical mistakes. but early made a critical mistake. this cautiousness by sheridan which early could not quite understand -- here is this man within this weapon and he is not using it and he thought his opponent was timid.
he was just waiting to be released. army ind strung out his day before -- for example, as richard mentioned about the early had disdain for the calvary. many of them were armed with muskets. they were called dog soldiers. they said you can see calvary men with the hooves of their dead horse strung over their shoulder because they had to cut oves to keep the horse shoes. he hears news that the federals are going to reoccupy martinsburg -- now, what would you do? know, he sends two infantry divisions. early goes along.
and he goes into the telegraph reads in martinsburg and that grant had visited the army. very quickly realized that if grant is here, something is afoot so he ordered the recall .f his best divisions would sayderate later, we were like a string of beads with a not in between -- with a knot in between -- they were all strung out. the one thing early needed was time. he tried to move his entire army out of shenandoah. it was a battle standoff, probably in this time, one of those battles where one of them says it was a very standup fight
. symbolically,nce certainly for the valley and the war, it came about 4:00 that afternoon. if you were in george patton's brigade defending the north and looking north, you would have heard the sound first. there was the sounds of thousands of horses coming at carryingmen that were sabres, revolvers, well-fed it was the military might of the north. those factories that produced that allowed these men to be here and so well-equipped and early simply could not handle lineand they crashed that north of winchester and sent the
rebels through winchester. the decisive tactical element in the valley was sheridan's calvary. again, it would fall three days later with fishersville. early should have thought there before winchester. by this time, he had suffered morale. his lines were too thin. the week as part of fishers hill, go to the east and -- really a series of ridges but down in the back road is where he puts his calvary. those guys who would rather run than fight in the air going to be outflanked thanks to george -- george crook. anyhow, in the aftermath of fishers hill, one of the fighters said, early is played
out and early was about played out here and right before that, had ordered kershaw. after fisher's hill, he is going to send kershaw that. by the way, also understand a little bit of that, in the , sammyt of fisher's hill who had just gotten married -- his wife as a child -- there he is rallying troops and sammy pendleton would be mortally wounded. this campaign not only wrecked the calvary of jackson, it is killing its soul gradually and pendleton it to myself. , early retreats up
the valley. then, very interesting -- this is the clear difference ,etween sheridan and grant immediately grant saw the opportunity. he saw it. all you need to do is cross the mountain and come in the back door to richmond and we can end this war a lot sooner in infill sheridan started to send him reasons why he cannot do it. unlike anyeridan general, sheridan says, you can take my army. early, you dol not need me. you can have the calvary back. we will occupy the valley know, grant was absolutely right. but sheridan did not see that. early would have put up a fight in the blue ridge mountains, but his morale is that that and so
forth, so sheridan starts to retreat back in marches south down the valley and outset middletown along cedar creek. in the meantime, robert e. lee early as saying, look, you have to do something. i think you are fighting your army piecemeal. we need a victory, in other words what lee is saying. saying, writing back damn yankees in this valley. lee did not think it was possible. heating thing with the army opposing him at petersburg that they had so many yankees soldiers in the valley. oh, there is a lot of them. so early decides, he follows
them up fisher's help. -- fisher's hill. and by the way, gordon and early did not get along. threat togordon as a the second corps. campsked down upon those -- just-- by the way want to tell you something -- you are afflicted with tangents -- you go off on pages that are inexplicable but i want to tell you this. ,hen we were doing this study we go into the belly of one of those government buildings in washington for lack of a better rd.d we run into a geek or ne rd is mapping or ne
the valley with something called gps. but he was using jedediah hodgkins' map. geek wasnerd or dumbfounded that somebody could have such an accurate map. he imposed his own it and he was dumbfounded. i just want to tell you that. but anyhow -- so they are up there looking -- shank -- by the way, sheridan had left because he figured the campaign is over and he was heading to washington to end it. early really takes a gamble.
in thishis is unmatched civil war. no other army marched all night. position and launched an attack. he will not find it anywhere else. away.eep the yankees if you ever go there and study was the one he mistake he made. the key to victory was the valley pipe. he had to get north of the valley pipe. he had to nature the federals could not rally, ok? in thee is halted cemetery. that time, the yankee calvary was in position and you are not going to move those boys. phil sheridan arrived from winchester.
that long ride that was memorialized by upon. he got it together and his officers said we are ready to retreat retail winchester and phil sheridan said, retreat, hell, we are going after them. an odd hit among head.things -- an odd he had a lot of bumps on his head. this is a true story. think it was william mckinley to take off your hat so you can see your head and they will know it is you -- so sheridan took his hat off and phil was back. because, what sheridan had done, starting in winchester, he had
taken these men and made them an army and a 4:00 that a bugle blaring the charge, they rolled over what was left of the army of the valley and got a victory. i will be honest with you, when i first wrote my talk, it was my first book, and i don't talk about books at all, you know, , but i waswrote it young, dumb, and i'm not sure i wanted to overstate things, you know? and i don't think i gave this campaign its significance politically, but as time had
gone by and i looked at this -- and there is no question that all of the land is critical to lincoln's political fortune -- but then you have in this region of the east, this region dominated by confederate arms in of, you have a drumroll , theyy, winchester they finally achieve victory. this sealed the deal for lincoln's administration as far as battlefield victories. now clearly, the end was in sight. at petersburg must have looked at this and said, look, we have to have victory here.
because this presidential election is nearing and we have to somehow, if we can, change our fortunes. because lee fully understood that once lincoln was reelected, it is only a matter of time. he had voiced that earlier. because he knew there would be .o turning back there were a couple of what if questions asked a while back, but i don't answer any what if questions except if someone offers me a drink. [laughter] mr. wert: but anyhow, let's say lincoln, in my view, would have not stopped waging this war. he would have done everything possible to end it. i am not sure of that, i don't know, but i believe that. but anyway, he didn't have to, because thanks to sherman's army in georgia, and the army in the shenandoah valley, lincoln's
reelection was reassured and the quick andattox was greatly. thank you. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] announcer: on "american history tv" on c-span3. >> therefore, this committee has undertaken such an investigation. america," on "reel the 1965 church activities committee looking at the irs, nsa, tonight at 10:00 p.m. eastern. detailing fbi abuses including attempted intimidation of martin luther king jr. king, there is only one thing
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here at the intersection, this is a barricaded entry point where police and sheriff were here, and no one can cross the line. watermanrsection at was a place for individuals to put their tokens and their memories for these tragic victims of the december 2 event. well, as you can see behind me, things that people left behind are obviously teddy bears, pictures, mementos, certain objects of affections for these victims, the atmosphere grew quite large, in fact, all four corners appear to have mourners that were just watching, waiting, praying, kneeling, there were members of the clergy from our community who were waiting on site consolation and counseling services, and so our city was really experiencing a traumatic event, and our community, as a result, has come
together. i have been of the opinion that there needs to be an established memorial. i would like to certainly rename a portion of this street to a memorial highway in honor of the december 2 victims who lost their lives on the day. well, it provides a sense of remembrance. it highlights their lives and what they contributed to our community, and certainly, it always will be a near and provide a for us to place of contemplation and unity, so we are thinking of a serenity garden or a prayer chapel of some sort in and around this area. arc unity is resilient. our community-- is resilient, our community is really moving forward and many residents have come together, perspective of
rebuilding this city, and this is a very important step forward as we unite behind the memorial and look forward to the future. "nnouncer: our "cities tour staff recently traveled to san , california, to learn more about its rich history. learn more about san bernardino and other stops on our tour by going to c-span.org/citiestour. you are watching "american history tv," all we can, every weekend, on c-span3. pledge 72ecretary, we of our delegate votes to you, the next president of the united states. ♪ [applause]
announcer: next on "american history tv," presidential historian richard norton smith talks about measuring presidential failure. he looks at three former presidents often considered failures, james buchanan, ulysses s. grant, and warren harding. the free library of philadelphia hosted this one hour, 15 minute event. >> i am so pleased to introduce tonight partial speaker, distinguished presidential historian, richard norton smith. career, his