Gettysburg: High Tide Begins for the North

In the beginning of the Civil War, the Union was simply shocked at the Confederacy and its ability to stay in the war – before it had broken out, most people in the North believed that the rebels would be swiftly shot down in one or possibly two battles. Nobody, however, thought that the South would actually have the upper hand. Under General Robert E. Lee, the Confederacy had won several battles, such as Fredericksburg and Chancelorsville. However, the Union had much more supplies and troops than had the Confederacy, and so when their failed offensive at Gettysburg occured, the loss hit them much harder than their victories hurt the North – they were already running low on supplies in the first place, which is why they made a move on the Union, and so they were seriously injured after this battle. This resulted in a huge loss of morale for the South and a huge gain of morale for the North; Lincoln also used the victory to change the purpose of the war, garnering more support for his newfound cause of freeing the slaves. 

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I don’t think it was acceptable for Grant and other Union Generals, namely Sherman and Sheridan, to resort to a campaign of Total War. They forced countless citizens homeless, reducing them to living in caves and having to eat rats and even domesticated horses and dogs. Sherman burned down cities and slaughtered livestock at a point in the war where the South was unable to fight back against the Union, and made this Total War strategy ultimately unecessary.

After the war ended, there were, as to be expected, varying reactions to the surrender of the South. Some Union soldiers, for example, were reported to have been cheering as Robert E Lee rode away on horseback from the Appomattox Court House, while others simply cried of relief because the war was over. Most southern soldiers were not even mad; they had immense respect for General Lee and honored the man, and many were relieved just as the Union soldiers were for being able to go back home. Lincoln himself was physically and mentally exhausted as a result of this war that had pitted a nation against itself. There were, however, radicals who were, to say the least, unhappy with the outcome. Confederate sympathizers, immediately after the war’s end, came up with a plan to kill major Union government officials in an effort to keep the rebellion alive – leading to John Wilkes Booth’s assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

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