Skip to main content

tv   Lectures in History 1864 Civil War Overland Campaign  CSPAN  June 23, 2018 12:00pm-1:07pm EDT

12:00 pm
1864 a raid south of petersburg in which the fifth got drunk on applejack. and it was widespread. of course what happened to many of these men -- they left. they were going off and going for applejack and there are caught by federal guerrillas. some people were shot execution style. they unleashed incredible and a justified in that was great against women. there is the adaptability in
12:01 pm
that circumstance, with the , theretion convicted were officers that he said he protected women who were, in his mind, women. i have a student right over we have been working on it this summer. they changed codes of conduct to fit the circumstances. >> you talk about taking the dark turn. are you going forward trying to look at the study of the civil war. >> i think he widely dealt with some of that. i think those camps do a great disservice internal to the field as well as externally.
12:02 pm
i think what we have done has become more aware of the diverse experience. how did historical actors occupy the same historical space and write about that in very different ways? here, we reads the words of william waggoner and talk about isaac avery, the officer who was mortally wounded on the field and he scribbled his last work -- his last words. students, why does that story rise to the top, and why does william waggoner, who is a north carolinian, who wrote about the battle as a tragedy is not a -- not heard.
12:03 pm
then you get students to see that history is not about one great truth, it is not one great narrative, it is many narratives. >> i am a high school scholarship recipient. how do you think we can change the narrative in schools? particularly in schools. >> it's an interesting question and we need to find how they mixed together. we have become so cynical even that we have a tendency to see that civil war soldiers are reduced to economic creatures. there are examples.
12:04 pm
it prevents at west virginia university, who is finishing a book on the soldier economy of the north, there are some horrible outrageous soldiers committed and were committed against them. brian was very smart in showing how that is an economic transaction, how they are connected to hire ideas such as free labor ideology and the war. my answer to you is to show how economics and ideology intersect. he is the champion, he is the poster boy for free labor ideology. it held out the promise that any man come a white man could rise up the social ladder. what did abraham lincoln see you go a good and moral and virtuous
12:05 pm
society. the volunteers change over time. they are going to take shots at this book because let's say your sample wasn't broad enough. what i intended to do here is reconstruct that world and recognize the world is not singular. its dependent on place, on time, on personality.
12:06 pm
thank you so much, you all have a wonderful lunch.
12:07 pm
we are in pennsylvania for the annual civil war conference held by gettysburg college. it will continue at 1:45 eastern after this current lunch break. more civil war history from our series. teaching a class on the overland campaign. the campaign took place in virginia and pitted union forces under ulysses s grant against the confederate army of northern virginia under robert e. lee. you are watching american history tv on c-span3. prof. jordan: we're going to pick it up today where we left off on tuesday.
12:08 pm
and consider the civil war and its eastern campaigns. in 1864. i want to do that today by peering through eyes of this guy. john west haley. john west haley was an unlikely warrior. were most of the more than 2 million men who shouldered muskets and donned union blue between 1861 in 1865. by his own candid admission, and shrinking -- his words -- racked by a thousand fears and misgivings.
12:09 pm
john west haley sat out the for 16 months of the civil war. , ahis hometown of biddeford humming mill town perched on the half river, about a score a mile south of portland, maine. "i had no inclination," he reflected years later, "of the business of war." but then again, he could have never anticipated the halting progress of the federal war effort in those first 16 months. haley and so many patriotic and loyal northerners just like him had passed those months wringing their hands and rationalizing defeat. as you know, there were glimmers of hope in the western theater.
12:10 pm
twoses s grant achieved stunning victories by capturing fort henry and donaldson in february of 1862. i know grant had one bank that come from behind victory on the 1862, the same month his fleet sailed past four checks and and sync to philip and capture the crescent city of new orleans. there was a lot looking up in the western theater. the population centers, the political capitals, it was fixated, it was focused on that eastern theater. and then as we tracked over the , you know theks story.
12:11 pm
it was a stalemate for the federal forces. forming up, heading out, falling back, digging in. movements and motions, none of which seem to add up anything larger. none of which seem to exert any influence on the project of arms. and the harrowing losses, the staggering casualties they inflicted, it's sapped morale in the northern homefront. as we discussed over the course , about thester meaning and the purpose of this war. teaming withers descriptions of conflict.
12:12 pm
they were deeply disquieted. by the summer of 1862 there is the summer -- there's the question of emancipation. thee was no consensus in north about the necessity, military, political, moral, or otherwise of emancipation. john west haley, he believed slavery was a cancer. he believed slavery and democracy were ultimately compatible. those beliefs, as you know, those beliefs were red get up early -- where regrettably inconsistent. tentatively be both anti-slavery and against racial equality.
12:13 pm
john haley, at least on the outset of this war, that probably fit the bill for him pretty well. that fall of 1862, an index of mounting northern contempt for the civil war. lost more than 25 feet. republicans clung to control in both houses and republicans. in new jersey and new york to northern populist states, they have ceded democratic governors who are against the war, who is against the emancipation. in new jersey that will be jewell parker, in new york it is horatio seymour. if there is a place worse than
12:14 pm
hell, abraham lincoln declared as he sized up the worst political wreckage in the summer of 1862, if there is a place worse than hell, i am in it. not a few union soldiers shivering in their winter pants north of the rappahannock river, damned the disloyalty of men back at home. even more objectionable where the confederates who were firing bullets at them. at least the rebels, they argued , at least the rebels had the courage to stand up and fight. so by the late summer of 1862, .his guy is looking on the progress of the civil war actively tearing apart this country. he decided and swallowed hard.
12:15 pm
to go off on the list, to volunteer and fight. another plea for volunteers. lad, a-year-old clean-shaven face and prominent nose. a rather stark choice. a show of white liver. he mustered a company i -- pocketed a handsome bounty along the way. not unlike a lot of northern in the late summer,
12:16 pm
early fall of 1862, the 17th maine was rather quickly rushed to the front. the transition from citizen to soldier was breathless. at the front, john haley would rather suddenly faced tedious drills and seemingly interminable picket duties. that fall of 1862, as you know, the army of the potomac had a new commander. the memorably-whiskered ambrose burnside. he wasted little time drawing up plans for a campaign on the rappahannock river. and almost predictably, as if to mock the federal war effort, burnside's plans came to grief it at december of 1862 in a costly battle at fredericksburg. for john west haley, fredericksburg was a true
12:17 pm
baptism by fire. 13,000 union soldiers. blue coated division after blue coated division after blue coated division. advancing across the wide-open plains that extended. planted artillery batteries. today's most exciting and eventful one. a mere taste of what's to come.
12:18 pm
robert e. lee inches -- and stonewall jackson were quite literally outflanked. the horrors of gettysburg. a fence called roses woods. southern fringe. they held a thin line at a horrific human cost. course are subject this morning. that grisly drive that led from spots and was the spots in pennsylvania to economy creek. i think it's safe to say that a battle tested battle hardened
12:19 pm
veteran like john west haley, who had seen chancellorsville, who had seen gettysburg was completely unprepared for what awaited between the rep. dent: and james rivers that summer of 1864. the remarkable candor and sardonic wit of his voluminous diary permits us as historians lb it in a limited way -- some of the portland campaign. fiery not only makes clear the superhuman physical and emotional endurance this campaign demanded us as soldiers. eloquentlystifies some of those lesser appreciated realities of the war's final year. too often faced by the numbing judgment of hindsight.
12:20 pm
too often, and this goes back to the very first essay we read together, worrying about the civil war. often we treat that final year as it is just falling action. the jamesly cross river, only to capture atlanta and to stock up the valley and .eelect abraham lincoln and lee and grant shake hands and it's all over. but history as you know, history does not announce to us it's turning points. you know of my allergy to turning points. instead, the deep contingencies of the war -- to use ed harris's term -- the deep contingencies of the war, i think animated 1864 in a way that renewed and certainties and fears for people
12:21 pm
on the ground. in a way that issued urgent reminders of all that was at stake in the war and so much was on the line in 1864. absolutely everything that had been fought for, lost and suffered. that was on the line, as the war yields to relentlessness in 1864, after 30 wearying months on the field, soldiers had everything to lose. and i think you will be able to detect that. when we talk about the character and the tempo of the battles. literally, that sense that everything can be lost. tactical articulation on these battlefields. the war in 1864 of course is to be choreographed by this guy, ulysses s grant.
12:22 pm
the newly minted general and chief of all of the union armies. grant, of course, with a stellar resume, the humor of henry and donaldson and shiloh, the victor at vicksburg, fresh off the victory we talked about on tuesday at chattanooga. he is summoned by abraham lincoln from the west to the east, to come out and essentially win the war. earlier that spring, congress conferred upon him the rank of lieutenant general. it was a big deal because it had only been held once before in american military history by george washington. i am sure that winfield scott
12:23 pm
held it during the mexican wars as an honorific title. but only george washington before ulysses s. grant held that rank of lieutenant general and that was a signal of what you do people in the north and what the republican congress thought about this guy. his arrival in the eastern theater presaged a new tempo for the war. because grant, better than any other union commander understood that to win the war, you need armies. they had to abandon this seemingly-obsessive quest for a single grant victory. what we have been searching for in this class since first bull run. grant understood that to win the war, the union army had to physically, psychologically and emotionally grind down the enemy. they had to maintain constant pressure and they could not permit the rebels to take advantage of their principal strategic advantage, which was of course, the interior lines. to concentrate forces the way that they had done at chickamauga in september of
12:24 pm
1863. no, no longer could this be a war of these battles. if three years of combat had revealed anything, to ulysses s. grant, it was this, that a battle in the civil war was not decisive. and so, he would aim for a war of exhaustion. a grinding, constant, continuous campaign of trenches and spades, of fighting, and sniping every single day. he called for five synchronized strikes into the confederate interior. two of these in the western theater, and three in the eastern theater. in the west, his square jaw subordinate from ohio, william tecumseh sherman, would ride at the head of a hundred thousand union soldiers and three separate union armies.
12:25 pm
john scofield's army of the ohio. george thomas's army of the cumberland, and mcpherson's army of the tennessee. these three armies altogether under sherman's command, 100,000 union men, would drive out of chattanooga and aim towards the crucial rail hub of atlanta, and seek to wear down eggleston johnson's confederate army of tennessee. also in the west, nathaniel prentice banks, grant hoped, would march east out of his headquarters in portland toward mobile, alabama and capture mobile. then, ideally linkup somewhere in the hinterlands of georgia with william tecumseh sherman. in the east, ulysses s. grant
12:26 pm
called upon the services of the burly general benjamin franklin butler. the architect of the contraband of war policy. who would lead the army up the james which included the union armies only all-black division, about 40,000 men, the army that james would crawl up its namesake river in southeastern virginia two a place south of richmond. franz sigel would lead an army up the shenandoah valley, the bread basket of the confederacy. and then, with george croke, twist the railroads and the supply and communication lines of southwestern virginia. finally, and of course this is the most important piece, george gordon meade, still very much at the head of the army of the
12:27 pm
potomac, the victor of gettysburg, he would chase after robert e. lee and the army of northern virginia. again, between the rapadan and the james. grant's grand strategy, which of course sounded nothing like the one in 1861, 18 62 or 1863, it might have is hired an initial burst of confidence. but again, in a key demonstration of 1864's volatilities, three of these five operations almost immediately met with disaster. instead of marching east, nathaniel banks, the former
12:28 pm
speaker of the house of representatives from massachusetts who owed his shoulder straps to political patronage, he decided to get himself invested in an ill-fated campaign up the red river in louisiana which climaxed with a colossal federal defeat in a place called mansfield. or sabine's crossroads on april 8,1864. on may 15, siegel met a confederate force under the command of a former united states vice president, john breckenridge who had served under james buchanan. siegel met up with breckenridge in the shenandoah valley at a place called new market. breckenridge's army included more than 250 cadets from the virginia military institute where thomas jonathan, stonewall jackson had been on the faculty. there, those men participated in a round defeat of siegel's troops. the very next day, may 16, benjamin butler's luckless
12:29 pm
campaign south of richmond stalled at a place called jewelry's bluff at the hands of beauregard. so much it seemed rather early on in 1864 rather soon after grant's arrival in the east, so much it seemed, for the puffed up promises of a new grant strategy. now, to be sure, the two most important pieces of his strategy remained very much on the table. those would of course be meade's pursuit of lee in georgia. but the early parts of those campaigns were anything but reassuring. for one, robert e lee would force george gordon meade and ulysses s grant to drop tail and fight exactly where they did not want to fight.
12:30 pm
in that forbidding second growth forest called the wilderness, where last week, they fought the battle of chancellorsville. were last week he found -- fought the battle of chancellorsville. wenzhou scott hancock's second haley and men of the 17th main sliced across the on may 4, 1864 plunged into the scrub of the wilderness. still littered with the bleaching bones of the chancellorsville dead. there are some grisly accounts of soldiers entering these woods tripping over rick gauges and the men hadkulls.
12:31 pm
marked the first anniversary of the battle of chancellorsville. they marked the first iniversary of the day before the eerie coincidence of time and place really inspired great apprehension for the spring campaign. we think that grants arrival in victory and presages these men are greatly apprehensive going into this campaign. john west haley spent the evening before the overland campaign began annexed by the sole hair curling memories wondering if grant would reenact jokers. reinsured. robert e. lee possessed only a third of federal army strength. haley in indeed proved prescient.
12:32 pm
in.desperate struggles developed on may the 15th 1864, what we call the battle of the wilderness. though the union armies did outnumber lee to the lee had about 66,000 men at this point. although the federals outnumber lee basically two to one imparted superiority nothing in the wilderness. the intensity of the fire was so great as to literally ignite the scrub and the underbrush insuring that many of the wind
12:33 pm
soldiers would perish in the moans of thosehe dying soldiers hunted all who haleythem. john understood the challenges of fighting in the wilderness. the thickly wooded country limited visibility and give the rebels and unlimited opportunity to harass. when we reach the junction of the roads, we saw the most awful confusion reigning. the roads were narrow and the woods and underbrush very dense, it was a mixed up maelstrom, several of haley's close friends became one was shotlties. in the lower abdomen while a confederate slug smashed into
12:34 pm
the hip of another. haley lugged both men through the woods to a makeshift field hospital where they later died from their injuries. the events of the last three days he wrote that night have so unstrung my nervous system that a blow from a twig would prove fatal. intentionally or not, he missed the predawn push that his division made down on may 6,he next day. by the time he caught up to the division the battle had turned dramatically against the union troops who had enjoyed initial success on the second day of fighting in the wilderness. the
12:35 pm
turning of the tide of everything to the arrival of including theth men of the texas parade. his troops yelling like devils they pitched into the fight, insured the battle of the wilderness that would be nothing more than a grisly stalemate. we know we what is more,d. he had absolutely no confidence the grant could with robert e. lee. the new lieutenant general strategy justd of hammer until the end -- enemy is flattened. lost the same
12:36 pm
percentage of men. 17%. in retrospect, with hindsight, we can report that the battle of the wilderness, the first five in the overland campaign ultimately put the army of the potomac on to victory road. from john west haley's perspective on the ground and from the perspective of many other unions is, in real-time, the sheer brute force of grants way of war appeared aimless. ill considered. unenlightened. destined only to spell marvelous. blow with his one
12:37 pm
immensely superior numbers to clear the road to richmond perhaps disillusioned by the experience of the past few days, he will now be willing to essay a new route and to attempt a strategic operation. exactlytiment was not uncommon. a lot of union soldiers would was racking upt all of the victories in the west but he had not come east to base robert e. lee and the minute he got east it would be a different story. anyone of the previous mightders in the east have done exactly what john haley was suggesting.
12:38 pm
assay a new route, fallback, retreat. after this horrific experience in the wilderness, it takes no conceive ofto someone turning back. with their tails between their trainsollowing the wagon of wounded back to fredericksburg now a maze of field hospitals. not urbangrant was mcdowell or john pope urges poker or george mcclellan. grant would keep moving on. john haley did not see the wisdom of that move.
12:39 pm
others among his comrades did. cheers went up in the ranks as troops realized that they were pressing south they were not turning back area that at last they finally had a , amander who would fight commander who might ensure that all of his comrades in childhood friends they had last for dead in previous battlefields lest they had a commander who ensure they had done died in vain. refusing to turn back, grants us to get tos an attempt the next vital crossroads south of the wilderness, to swing his force around robert e lee's right flank. punch at a place called spotsylvania courthouse eight miles south of the wilderness.
12:40 pm
out, robert e lee would win that foot race. in preparation for what haley called more carnage, soldiers from both armies heaped mounds of earth and to elaborate the trenches the choked the county seat. federals made some preliminary and ultimately unsuccessful attempts at the confederate works on may 9 and may 10 1864. 10thttempt on may the involving a tightly packed formation of 12 regiments led by a 24-year-old colonel named emory upton, became rather close to success. and nearly punched through this
12:41 pm
confederate works. grant.spired ulysses s. will try a day today, will try a court tomorrow. as a wire went off to henry halleck back in washington, which read this: i propose to fight it out on this line. grant said. as ites all summer. momentout, the climactic at spotsylvania courthouse came but rather onay may 12 when the second core of
12:42 pm
which john haley was a part received orders to assault the mule shoe salient. a salient is a point on a military line that bulges out into no man's land that points in a v formation, vulnerable to a flanking fire. this salient was hailed by the troops of every allegheny even beforevision. this assault, john haley was alive with anticipation. everyone knew this was going to be a massive attack. hour after withpast. about 4 a.m.
12:43 pm
formed a line but no flow was truthe. the cold clammy dawned on us that we were not far from the enemy. we would soon lessen the distance. there was something terribly weird in this massing of troops this time owls asthis reading of dark figures of men moved through the pines. the solving of the wind through the wet the battle about to begin at the mule shoe, what would be called the bloody angle with a .rontal exalt -- assault it would continue for 22 and a half uninterrupted hours. at once, the most surreal and savage combat the civil war next 22er know. for the hours, on average in this tiny little space, on average one man
12:44 pm
fell dead or wounded every four seconds for 22 hoursto convey to you a sense of the intensity of the small arms fire at spotsylvania, the musketry actually chopped down a note that20 inches in diameter. bullet riddled trunk is on display in the civil war exhibit in the national museum of john westistory. haley testified to the peerless ferocity of the spotsylvania engagement in his account. all around that salient was a seething bubbling roar of hell, in that and of murder. baleful glare men did not look like men, for a time every
12:45 pm
soldier was a fiend. unable to capture the site of the battle with linear pros, haley's account was not unlike other particularlyay 12. interested in recording something of the audio elements instead. there was a continual roar like the voice of many ,aters, the crash of artillery the yells and cheers of the combatants. the general confusion of charging and counter charging. wild cheers, savage yells, theyic sheiks -- shrieks. formed a maniacal accompaniment to the booming of the guns as
12:46 pm
they hurled their missiles of death into the ranks. skulls were crushed with clubbed muskets and men were stabbed to death with swords and bayonets. that was the recollection of one therants staff officers. rattle of musketry became so intense that it was like people after pill of thunder, long and continuous. here there is nothing of glamour. but unmitigated slaughter. a vestige of the ordinary pump and circumstances of glorious war. they blurred into seams of bloodshed surpassing all former
12:47 pm
experiences in a desperation was in the struggle there is that sense of everything that was on the line, everything was at stake. the desperation was in the struggle, never before witnessed. repulses of guns raised in the . of with the guns -- but up our flags in shreds. i never expect to be fully believed when i tell a what i saw the horrors of spotsylvania. i should be loath to believe it myself. other short breastworks perpendicular to the mainline to protect them from a flanking fire.
12:48 pm
the rebels were between these traverses and they lay for tiers deep, the lowest tier covered by blood and water. the wounded rising under two or three of the dead. moore was the scene where the blows of blue lay any less cruel. nothing but a lump of meat, countless bullets from both armies had torn them. this had been a most awful day john hale he concluded. if there has been any benefit commensurate with the law of life -- loss of life, i cannot see it. would evaluation of the battle proved the next day when he was sent out on the burial
12:49 pm
detail, assign it disagreeable duty of digging shallow graves. more, he said then i have ever seen. historian martin myers said the futility is not something we are comfortable with as civil war historians. so keen are we to frame firming narratives, to assign significance and impart meaning, to make sense of it all. futility is a word we often only whisper. john haley's account asked us clearly to measure the yawning gap between our tiny postwar narratives and his wrenching ghastly reality. 1854, it was not clear that the suffering he had witnessed would be worth it.
12:50 pm
sniping and maneuvering. fighting around spotsylvania untilued more than a week the 21st of may. nearly two weeks and the immediate presence of death, hayley reflected, and in that time we had scarcely had our clothes or equipment loosened. our guns out of our hands. remedycism was never a for our caustic manner. option afterger an spotsylvania. gray, spoiling for a fight, anxious to meet the foe, the army is all enthusiasm. these are only gush on the pen of a wretched scribbler he wrote.
12:51 pm
who knows not what kind of jim risch he is dispensing. nights after the mule shoe. i think it would be easy for us to conclude that john west haley had grown disillusioned. if he challenges that interpretation, by describing in detail for us the steps that he took to preserve his physical psychological and emotional health while on campaign. much,ched a little, slept . on another occasion he wrote about his company refusing to turn a spade until they had some sleep. book a historian had explained how civil war soldiers keenly aware of the war
12:52 pm
environments deeply suspicious of the army's medical bureaucracy, developed self-care strategies. ranging from uniform cleanliness .nd bathing john haley not only tended to his physical health between marching and fighting and digging, plundering farms and orchards for fruit -- france fruits and vegetables. his diary stamp with his sardonic wit to work out his frustrations, to clear his mind, to persuade himself despite very serious and lingering reservations about ulysses grant that this war could be one.
12:53 pm
little more than a month about after spotsylvania. first anniversary of breaking camp for the gettysburg campaign. we are far short of our goal he scribbled. coming face-to-face with the material realities of slavery, something that would have been mostly foreign, this might have also raised him up. grant attempted to flank,round lee's right the second core swung their spades and built a of federal fortifications.
12:54 pm
haley's outfit burrowed into the earth very near the abandoned home of a wealthy preacher. soldiers, other union haley entered the house and liberated some of the masters china. there's a keeping with our mission to destroy his kind of theology as quickly as possible. sanctionedthat slavery savors too strongly of satan to be tolerated. christ hasn of jesus nothing in common with the auction block or the lash. haley nor his comrades would occupy those new works. as ulysses s. grant refused to fall into the ingenious trap set for him by robert e. lee.
12:55 pm
instead he looked once more around lee's right flank and a movement that his troops have come to perfect by this point in the campaign. to autonomyey came great. the result was another battle and another stalemate. this particular leg of the campaign demanded what haley called a lively pace. difficult bymore the marshy terrain, the steep banks, streams. becomingwere likewise especially scarce. week, on the evening of may 31, the eve of
12:56 pm
the battle of cold harbor, we have been hard but to keep body and soul together. drizzle, 17theful maine made one of its most ethical marches of the war. there was no halt haley protested. we kept right on until we hold up in cold harbor. the second core file into position at cold harbor and readied for the massive push the grant had designed for june 3, 1864. he was running short on time. the republican national convention which hopefully would go on to renominate abraham lincoln for the presidency was to gavel to order in just four days.
12:57 pm
grant was running short on room to maneuver. with his left flank resting on i thinks of the river, he had been inspired by a number momentary breakthrough of the lines. brigade made clever use of a ravine and delivered themselves to confederate works and briefly broke through. grant was inspired by that. his push on june 3 was to end the war. running out of time and room to maneuver, it would fail spectacularly. cover of their entrenchments at cold harbor, soldiers unleashed a fire that shredded brigade after brigade of troops. soldiers andest of
12:58 pm
had the fury of the wilderness musketry with the funders of the gettysburg artillery superadded. it was terrific. losses along the second core were especially devastating. it was that john west haley marveled at his company's comparatively modest casualties. just two men. asunder, henot torn is one of those unfathomable mysteries of war. the grim evidence of failure all around him, it was not war one confederate officer famously wrote, it was murder. grim evidence of failure all
12:59 pm
around, grant suspended his assault on june 3. his bid to end the war. he had lost 7000 men in one attack. minutes as has been reported but rather in a single morning. it wasn't the grant would have continued the work of full slobber -- slaughter haley assured, but that men in the ranks refused to budge anymore. we were tired of charging earthworks. in the coming and all rest assured that the homefront too was experiencing its own case of "cold harbor syndrome." and that was hardly a jolt of confidence for abraham lincoln, who, of course, is standing for
1:00 pm
reelection against the backdrop of this grisly campaign. our bleeding, bankrupt, almost dying country, horace greeley, the editor of "the new york tribune" wrote -- "longs for peace, shudders at the prospect of fresh in scriptures, of -- fresh inscriptions -- , of furthers wholesale devastations, of the new rivers of human blood." so, persuaded was lincoln with editorial pages like that, that he was going to lose his bid for reelection. in late august, he and a data sheet and -- he penned a memorandum where he asked his cabinet members to sign blindly. they were not permitted to read the contents of the memo. this is what that memo said -- "this morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this administration will not be reelected.
1:01 pm
then, it will be my duty to so cooperate with the president-elect, who is likely to be george mcclellan, so as to save the union between the election and inauguration." of necessity, the melancholy work of the war went on. the danger of an enemy sharpshooter, in no way diminished by the termination of a formal battle. at night, a great many pickets went out, haley explained, and the dodging was enough to throw one all out of joint. the enemy seemed to be everywhere and we did not know which way to turn. and for its part, the union army
1:02 pm
began turning still farther south on june the 12th. the second corps tramped over some familiar ground. in our wanderings today, we are crossed the white oak swamp and the railroad, the a latter nearest savage station one, the scene of one of mcclellan's engagements during the great 70 -- seven days fight. retracing the path of the aborted campaign was no way to inspire soldierly confidence. haley seemed almost to relish the opportunity to compare grant with the former cashiered commander. history is repeating itself with a vengeance, he noted. we are following mcclellan's old route with great fidelity. only they were not. grant was looping his men towards -- point and wilcox's landing where the longest
1:03 pm
pontoon bridge in american history would be extended across the james river in the space of just eight hours and once on the south side of the james, blue coated army would make tracks for petersburg. the crucial rail hub just 23 mile south of richmond. on june 14, john west tailey revealed his surprise and eight of few of his words, we had no idea we were so close to the james. and what is even more remarkable, neither did robert e. lee. he suspected that grant was instead readying a move on richmond and indeed he would make a feint on richmond to flummox robert e. lee. the crossing of the james was i think grant's most impressive feat of the war. as he shuttles troops into the ring of trenches encircling petersburg, he resigned himself
1:04 pm
to the sobering reality that his raids had become a siege. john west haley took part in the siege against petersburg. he also prepared for the next 292 days during which he would be packed into the malaria infested trenches. just think of it, one confederate soldier wrote, of life in petersburg. thousands of men cramped into a narrow trench, unable to go out, get up, or sleep for lack of room and apparel. night of alarms, day attacks, thirst, furman, supreme wariness -- vermin, and supreme wariness, disgusting orders everywhere. -- supreme weariness, disgusting
1:05 pm
orders everywhere. hibernation was not the case for john haley, nor for a lot of them, i think. the same endurance that conserved haley that's boston india harbor would now carry him through the ordeal of petersburg. quite two months into the operations around petersburg, haley observed that the fact that i'm now in the enjoyment of life jill is because i have a remarkable tenacity for life. more than that, he concluded, a kind providence has shielded me from shot and shell. petersburg i think required new and not insignificant
1:06 pm
adjustments of its combatants. continuancertually everyday fighting marching entrenching, with your ocalan campaign men now had to adjust to petersburg's long stretches of boredom, quiet, and activity. quietness is making this careless, haley wrote in late august. satnow the works and we there for hours reading and playing cards come anything to kill time. if isn't quiet here, i don't know the meaning of a word. the quiet to be terribly unnerving. inviting the imagination to work overtime, keeping soldiers constantly on edge, wondering when and where the next attack might come. wayfully quiet down this became something of a refrain.

75 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on