The Civil War

Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park


Welcome back everyone. In case you didn't know, my name is Chris Young, and I'm one of the park rangers here at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. I'm also the park's education coordinator, and this is our second installment in this three-part series about the American Civil War. Last time we left off at the secession of South Carolina. We discussed the coming of the Civil War, the causes that led to the Civil War starting in 1850, leading all the way up to the election of President Abraham Lincoln, in November of 1860, and today, we're going to start off by talking about secession and South Carolina being that first state that leaves the United States in December of 1860. So, what is secession? Secession is when a state, or an entity, breaks away from another. So, the United States, when it formed, after the American Revolution and came together, created a pact by accepting and by ratifying the United States Constitution, the laws of the land. By doing that, they become a Union, a United States, not one individual state, not individual colonies, not beholden to the crown, or the king, anymore and so now they are a united people, a United States, and now, in 1860, South Carolina is going to rock that boat and question the solidity of the Union, of this marriage of states, and they're going to say we have the right to secede, to leave, and they will do that on December the 20th of 1860, and that crisis is going to to be started at that point, that's going to lead us to civil war, and immediately after the beginning of the year, additional states are going to begin seceding, mainly from the Deep South those states, like Georgia and Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and so those states will begin leaving immediately after the beginning of the year, in 1861. So, what I want us to do is take a look at this political cartoon that ran in the newspapers in 1861, and it's talking about secession. Now, I want us to take a look at this and kind of flesh it out for just a second. So, we have South Carolina, that first state that has seceded, who is personified in this individual on the left side of the image, and he is sitting on the back of an enslaved person. So, that person is on all fours, and he is seated on top of him armed. He has weapons, and that really kind of tells us the mentality of South Carolina at that point. As this individual is sitting on top of an enslaved person, "King Cotton," this huge institution, this multi-million dollar institution, where four million people are enslaved, and here you are riding on the back of an enslaved person, and there are additional states sitting on barrels. Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and they're all discussing secession and what that means, and so this really gives us an idea of, and a feeling of, what was going on. What was this Confederacy? What were these states truly willing to go to war and fight, and possibly die, over? And that was this institution of slavery. We always talk about states rights too. What is a state's right, and at that moment, on the coming of the Civil War, states believed that it was their right, it was their state right, to be able to not follow certain federal laws, or federal acts, that are being imposed upon them or regulations and that the state could regulate without federal oversight, without the United States government having oversight or telling them what to do, to regulate those institutions within its borders that includes the institution of slavery. So, the state of Georgia might say the federal government needs to keep its hands out of how we conduct our business when it comes to property rights, which are protected by the way by the Constitution of the United States. It protects property. What is property? Enslaved people. So, the federal government cannot impose its will, cannot impose the idea of emancipation, or impose the idea of abolition, without changing the Constitution itself, and so, that is a right, a fundamental right, that's exclusive to the states. That is states rights. And so, these states, believing that those rights have been infringed upon, or will be infringed upon because of Lincoln's election and what the Republican Party is standing for, they begin to secede from the United States. I've also provided a map. So, if you, if you go back to the main page here, you're going to see some documents that you can download. There is a downloadable map that is blank. What I want you to do is, I want you to take some time, download that map, pull it up, and I want you to label it. If you, if you download that, I want you to label it on a sheet of paper, or you can print the map out if you have access to a printer, and you can physically label on the map. So, you can either make a list or you can label on the map by looking at that downloadable map, and I want you to to label those states that seceded from the Union in 1861. So, I'm going to give you some time to do that. Take a look at those states. There are eventually going to be 11 states that secede from the United States, and I want you to go ahead and label all 11 states, and also label those border states. There are going to be four border states that we're going to label on the map, and I'll go ahead and tell you those four border states that we're looking for: that would be Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland and Delaware. So, I want you to label those on the map and then I want you to label those 11 states that secede from the Union. I'll give you a few minutes to do that.

So, hopefully, you've finished labeling your map. Let's go over those states to make sure that we got those correct. So, let's start out west. We have Texas, we have Louisiana, we have Arkansas, we have Mississippi, we have Tennessee, we have Alabama, we have Florida, we have Georgia, we have South Carolina, we have North Carolina, and then, finally, we have Virginia. So, if you got those 11 states good job. Let's whittle it down a little bit more. You may be following us from Georgia and Tennessee. Those are the two states that we primarily have students that visit the park from, and in those states, there is a lot of division. There's geographic division within those states and differences within those states. Georgia, we're coming to you from Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, at Chickamauga Battlefield, and there's division within northwest Georgia. It's a heavily mountainous region, and so, there aren't large plantations here. There are slaveholders here, but you don't see large plantations, and so, a lot of Northwest Georgians tend to side with a more Union sympathy, or sentiment, and that means that where, maybe some other parts of the state, in the southern half of the state, where you do have plantation agriculture, that it is leaning more wholeheartedly towards secession, Northwest Georgia, not so much because of the terrain and the geography. Let's go across the border north into Tennessee. Middle Tennessee, West Tennessee - more plantation agriculture. If you're from Tennessee, you know that around Nashville, around Columbia, around Franklin, Memphis out west, that there's a lot of flat ground, very conducive and supportive to agriculture of cotton, and so, there are large plantations with many enslaved people there. East Tennessee where we are, where Chattanooga is, where Knoxville is, very mountainous terrain, lots of mountains, part of the Smoky Mountains, Lookout Mountain, Signal Mountain, so not very conducive to large plantations. So, Tennessee is going to be very divided, it's going to be very divisive in the state legislature when they begin talking about secession. Should the state leave? Should the state not leave the United States, and it all comes down to geography. It all comes down to those differences, primarily upon farming, based upon the geography of the land. So, it's not always as cut and dry and easy as we think. There are a lot of divisions within states. There's a lot of of discussion, heated discussion at times, of whether states should secede or not based upon the geography of that particular state. So that has a lot to play in secession as well. By April of 1861, the Deep South states have seceded, and Abraham Lincoln tries to relieve a federal installation in Charleston harbor, in South Carolina, called Fort Sumter, and Confederates will fire upon Fort Sumter. Now, there aren't going to be mass casualties at Fort Sumter. No one's going to be killed as a direct result of the Confederate bombardment. There is going to be death at Fort Sumter, but by no reason of Confederate shelling, but that shelling does lead us really now to civil war, and it's going to push some of the Southern states that have teetered on whether we should secede or not kind of over the edge, especially Tennessee. Like we talked about, Tennessee didn't really, 100 percent, come down on secession. There was a lot of division, there was a lot of back and forth in the state legislature, and within the countryside even, if whether Tennessee should secede or not, but after Fort Sumter that pushes Tennessee towards secession, and they will secede in June of 1861. Fort Sumter's fired on in April. So, from April to June, that shows you even how divisive it was, after the firing on Fort Sumter, whether Tennessee should secede or not. So, let's keep that in the back of our minds. Not everyone in the South is wholeheartedly supporting leaving the United States and siding with the Confederacy. Lincoln calls for volunteers as a result of the firing on Fort Sumter. He calls for 75,000 volunteers, and in retaliation, the South is going to call for volunteers to create armies. These are going to be massive armies, armies on a scale that we have never seen here in North America, especially here in the United States. So, there's going to be thousands upon thousands, hundreds of thousands of soldiers, that will be called to arms in 1861. Winfield Scott, the general-in-chief of the United States Army at this time. He's got a really good reputation. He has fought in the War of 1812. He's fought in the Mexican-American War in the 1840s, and now, he is over all the Union forces in the United States. He comes up with this plan, called the Anaconda Plan, and if you don't know what an anaconda is it's a constricting snake, and so how it works, is that anaconda, that snake, wraps itself around its victims and then it squeezes and suffocates them. So, it squeezes all of the air out so they can't breathe. So, I want us to take a look at this cartoon. This is a cartoon that was drawn in 1861, and it personifies, it shows us, what the idea was behind Winfield Scott's plan. Again, you can download this. If you go back to the previous page, you'll find the downloadable cartoon. You'll also find a Cartoon Analysis Sheet from the National Archives and Records Administration. I want you to download that sheet. You can print it off. You can download it, and write the the questions down, and then come back to this image. I want us to take a few minutes, look at this image, and let's answer those questions on that Cartoon Analysis Sheet.

Welcome back everyone. How did that go? Winfield Scott's Anaconda Plan, we see here in this cartoon, we see the states, and we see representations of what the person who drew, or sketched, the cartoon thought were the important pieces of those states and what they really leaned upon. Like, Georgia has this this crumbling infrastructure, this empire, where it has industry that's crumbling within the state. So, Georgia was known as the "Empire State" because of the industry and the production for the Confederacy. So, as this snake that you'll see going around the coast, so we're going to blockade the coast with the Union Navy, with the US Navy, and then we're going to have the US Army come in on the land side and choke the Confederacy out. That industry in Georgia is going to crumble. So, that's why we see that there.

The Anaconda Plan begins to take shape by 1862 and especially into 1863. In 1862, though, I want us to pause here for a moment and talk about how the country comes to a realization that this is going to be a drawn-out war. The year before, in 1861, there were soldiers that met on the battlefield of Manassas on the banks of Bull Run Creek, just outside of Washington, DC, in Virginia. They thought it was going to be easy. Both sides believed that this was going to be a quick war. There was even a picnic people came from Washington, DC, they brought picnic baskets to watch this war. It's going to be very quick. We know that that's not the case. Bull Run doesn't go off the way that it's supposed to. Confederates win the Battle of Bull Run, but 1862 is really what shows us as a country that this is going to be a bloody and deadly conflict. First and foremost, the Battle of Shiloh, in Tennessee, in April of 1862, on the 6th and 7th, masses over 23,000 casualties. It's the deadliest battle up to that point that American soldiers have been in.

Follow that, in 1862, by the Battle of Antietam, in September, the bloodiest single day of the American Civil War, with over 23,000 casualties, in one day. Shiloh's over two days. On September 17, 1862, the Battle of Antietam, or the Battle of Sharpsburg, becomes the deadliest single day in American history. The Battle of Fredericksburg, December 13, 1862 where Union soldiers attack entrenched Confederates along a stone wall in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and then the Battle of Stone's River, which takes place December 31, 1862, and January 2, 1863, rounds out the year of bloody contests in this first full year of fighting. 1863 is going to be kind of our high mark year as far as the deadliness and destruction of the American Civil War. The first major engagement that is going to be both a victory and a defeat for the Confederacy is at Chancellorsville, May 1-3, 1863. The Confederates win a striking victory against the US Army at Chancellorsville, Virginia, but Robert E Lee, the Confederate army commander there, is going to lose what he says is his right arm. Stonewall Jackson is going to be killed. A few months later, in July of 1863, Lee's army is going to be engaged in the deadliest conflict of the American Civil War, over 53,000 soldiers killed, wounded, and missing on July 1, 2, and 3, at a place called Gettysburg, in Pennsylvania. Confederates are going to be defeated there. That's also going to be the case at a place called Vicksburg, in Mississippi. Vicksburg, as Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, called it, was "the nail head that held the two halves of the Confederacy together." It was the nail, and when Ulysses S. Grant accepts the surrender of the Confederates at Vicksburg, Mississippi, that nail is ripped out, and now, the Confederacy is split in two. The Mississippi River, for all intents and purposes, is now in Union control. The anaconda is squeezing.

In Middle Tennessee, the Tullahoma Campaign is ending as well. That is, the Union Army that takes Middle Tennessee away from the Confederacy with less than 1,000 soldiers killed, wounded, and missing, taking Middle Tennessee away from the Confederacy. Three major defeats in the summer of 1863, has the Confederacy reeling in retreat with the Union army on its heels, and then, by late summer and early fall, Chattanooga is on the chopping block. Now, why is Chattanooga so important? What is the importance of the city? There are a lot of physical barriers that are going to funnel transportation through Chattanooga. It's a transportation hub. Believe it or not, we don't only have the Tennessee River that flows through Chattanooga, making that connection all the way to New Orleans, Louisiana. If you really wanted to, you could take a trip on a boat from Chattanooga, Tennessee, to New Orleans. It's going to take a while, but you could do it.

We also have four major railroads that intersect in the city of Chattanooga, Tennessee, by the time of the Civil War - four railroads! So, think about Chattanooga as a heart that's pumping supplies, men, materiel into the Confederacy from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Railroads, river.... Why do they converge in a little 2,500 person city of Chattanooga, Tennessee? Because of the mountains, because of Lookout Mountain, because of Walden's Ridge, Signal Mountain, Raccoon Mountain, Sand Mountain. The Tennessee River has cut its way over millions of years down into the valleys, and so, because of those physical barriers, because that river has has cut its way down and led its way to allowing foot traffic, allowing roads to be built on the banks of the river, allowing people to make their way through those barriers, and then eventually leading to the rail lines being constructed along those low lands as well, that the river had cut through those physical barriers, those geographic barriers and it led to Chattanooga, Tennessee. That is the importance of Chattanooga.

To take the city there's a major battle though. The second deadliest conflict of the American Civil War occurs right here, at the Battle of Chickamauga. Over three days in September, from the 18 - 20, over 120,000 soldiers are going to be engaged in a fight, like the mannequin behind me that's dressed as a Confederate soldier, Union soldier is on the opposite side of these log barricades, or breast works. The battle's going to last for three days. 34, 000 soldiers will wind up being killed, wounded, and missing. The Union Army is defeated here, it's routed from the battlefield, but the Confederates, even though they call this a victory, it's not really,

because the main objective was Chattanooga, and the United States Army retreats back into the city of Chattanooga, Tennessee, fortifies itself, strengthens, the fortifications in Chattanooga, and the Confederates will encircle the city and lay siege to it and try to starve out the Union Army. By November 1863, the US Army is ready to break out of Chattanooga. General Grant has arrived in Chattanooga now. Union armies have come from Virginia and Mississippi to help bolster the numbers of soldiers in Chattanooga, and by November 23, the Union Army attacks at Orchard Knob. Orchard Knob leads on the 24th of November, to "The Battle Above the Clouds," the famous Battle of Lookout Mountain, and then the final day, on November 25, 1863, the Battle of Missionary Ridge occurs right outside the city, and the Confederates are pushed off of the ridge, never to be able to retake Chattanooga, Tennessee, again. In the midst of all of this, all of this war, all of these battles, what's at stake?

Well, let's rewind a little bit. We've talked about the fighting, but what about the political ramifications? Why are soldiers on the battlefields now? The war has shifted. Abraham Lincoln, on January 1, 1863, has signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Now, understand that the proclamation does not free anyone that's not in a state that's rebelling against the Union. That means the state of Tennessee, which is now in military control, under military control, that it is exempt from the Emancipation Proclamation. So is Kentucky, so is Maryland, so is Delaware, so is Missouri, so are certain places in Louisiana, because of the military being in possession of those areas - only in states rebelling against the Union. So this is a quick fix. Abraham Lincoln doesn't know if it's 100 percent constitutional. He's executing this executive order by the president. It's not challenged in the Supreme Court at that time, and so, Lincoln pushes forward and signs the Emancipation Proclamation. It's a hope of freedom; it's a promise. Let's watch this quick video about the Emancipation Proclamation to learn a little bit about Lincoln's thought process and what it does.

The Emancipation Proclamation was a brief document, just over three handwritten pages, but it turned the focus of the conflict from a war to preserve the nation, to a war to end slavery, and it altered the ending of a long and often tortured chapter in American history. "Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, in the afternoon, and that morning, he had had a huge public reception, and he had shaken so many hands that morning, that that afternoon when he went to sign the proclamation his own hand was numb and shaking. So, he put the pen down, and he said 'if ever my soul were in an act, it is in this act, but if I sign with a shaking hand posterity will say he hesitated.' So, he put the pen down until he could finally pick it up and sign with a bold and clear hand."

With a few pen strokes, Abraham Lincoln had done what many had long believed was impossible. Still it wasn't a perfect solution. "The Emancipation Proclamation only freed those slaves that were in states in rebellion against the Union. Since Kentucky was not one of those states, and Maryland, and Missouri, and Delaware, enslaved people in those four states were not emancipated by the proclamation." Welcome back everyone. So, we've talked about the military fighting that happens in 1863. We've also talked about the political ramifications of 1863, the political fallout of signing the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. By 1864, the Union Army here in the city of Chattanooga, Tennessee, begins to move. Chattanooga is very important because William Tecumseh Sherman, the commander of all the Union armies here in the area, will begin moving toward Atlanta, Georgia. By the summer of 1864, Atlanta has fallen to the Union Army. General Lee, in Virginia, is stuck in and around Petersburg, Virginia, and there's a huge siege that's occurring there over the fall and winter of 1864. At the same time, in November 1864, Sherman leaves Atlanta, and he's going to march to the sea. Sherman's going to say that he's going to "make Georgia howl." The destruction of Georgia from Atlanta to the sea is going to punch the Confederacy in the gut. The destruction of the food stores, the destruction of the industry, the manufacturing, is really going to hurt the Confederacy.

By 1865, Union and Confederate armies have been engaged in Virginia, in Tennessee, now in North Carolina, and by April 9, 1865, Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confederate Army in Virginia, is going to surrender to General Ulysses S Grant, commanding the Union armies, at a place called Appomattox Court House. It's going to surrender in a house there, not far from the courthouse itself; Wilmer McLean's house, and this is going to be the first in a series of dominoes of surrenders of Confederate armies, the last being in the summer of 1865. A week after Lee surrenders, on April 14, 1865, an elated Lincoln decides at the last minute to go and watch a play at Ford's Theater, not far from the executive mansion, the White House. The play that's being presented is "Our American Cousin," and Lincoln goes there and watches, not knowing that the rebel sympathizer and actor, John Wilkes Booth, is sneaking up behind him is going to assassinate the president. Lincoln will die the next day on April 15, 1865, and Andrew Johnson, his vice president, from Tennessee, is going to be elevated to the presidency.

The next segment in this three-part series is going to follow Andrew Johnson into Reconstruction. As Confederate armies have, surrendered what's the next step? The next step is going to be changing the Constitution of the United States, the Reconstruction Amendments: 13th 14th and 15th Amendments. What do they mean? What rights do they provide? How is the Constitution changed? We'll learn about all of that in our next segment. Hopefully, you've learned a little bit more about the Civil War, especially here in Georgia and Tennessee, that you didn't know before you watched, and we will see you again soon. Take care everyone.


This video supplements Civil War curriculum following the Georgia Performance Standards and the Tennessee State Standards.


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