A House Divided: First Blood Manassas II

 

Lead:  One hundred and fifty years ago the Republic was facing its greatest crisis. This continuing series examines the American Civil War. It is A House Divided.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In summer 1861, with the cry, ‘On to Richmond,’ shouted from newspapers and legislatures, the Union Army moved to secure Manassas, Virginia, a strategic railroad junction. This was an early step in its aggressive strategy designed to capture the Confederate capital and deal the rebels a death blow. Reluctantly General Irvin McDowell slowly moved his 30,000 green Yankee troops toward Manassas where he confronted 20,000 rebels led by the flamboyant General Pierre G.T. Beauregard, leader of the attack on Ft. Sumter which had precipitated the war. So slowly did McDowell move his troops that at the last minute Beauregard was re-enforced by 11,000 more rebels from the Shenandoah Valley, commanded by Joseph E. Johnson who gave the Union Army in Harper’s Ferry the slip.

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A House Divided: First Blood Manassas I

Lead:  One hundred and fifty years ago the Republic was facing its greatest crisis. This continuing series examines the American Civil War. It is A House Divided.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Both sides thought it was going to be a nice, short, sweet conflict. In the hubris that often grips nations in the early stages of war, both North and South, convinced of the righteousness of their own cause and their own superior martial skills, were convinced that each would make short work of the other. One soldier from Alabama wrote that he could whip 25 Yankees on his own and James Russell Lowell wrote, “I hoped to see things settle ‘fore this fall, The Rebbles licked, Jeff Davis hanged, an’ all.” And then the rivers of blood began to flow.

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A House Divided: Overland Campaign II

Lead: One hundred and fifty years ago the Republic was facing its greatest crisis. This continuing series examines the American Civil War. It is "A House Divided."

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: West of Fredericksburg, Virginia is a dreary stretch of scrub oak and pine known as the Wilderness. There at Chancellorsville, a year before, Robert E. Lee had virtually executed Joseph Hooker’s Army in perhaps Lee’s most spectacular victory of the war, but Ulysses Grant was no Hooker. He crossed the Rapidan with 115,000 men and plunged into the Wilderness fully aware that Lee would try his magic once again. On May 5, 1864 Lee pitched into Grant’s flank, but in savage fighting in the smoke-clouded woods the two armies fought to a standstill.

A House Divided: Overland Campaign I

Lead: One hundred and fifty years ago the Republic was facing its greatest crisis. This continuing series examines the American Civil War. It is "A House Divided."

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: President Lincoln would say it later but he understood a fundamental fact as spring turned to summer 1864. “Upon the progress of our arms, all else chiefly depends.” His re-election, emancipation and the restoration of the Union would not at any point be achieved by negotiation. In his message to Congress outlining discussions with Jefferson Davis that lamentable summer, he wrote that “Davis does not attempt to deceive us. He cannot voluntarily reaccept the Union, we cannot voluntarily yield it. Between him and us the issue is distinct, simple and inflexible. It is an issue which can only be tried by war, and decided by victory.

A House Divided: Confederacy Triumphant II

Lead: One hundred and fifty years ago the Republic was facing its greatest crisis. This continuing series examines the American Civil War. It is "A House Divided."

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: By mid-1862 one of the serious problems facing the successful prosecution of the war in the North was a faction of the Democratic Party known as Copperheads, named first by Ohio Republicans for the venomous snake populating Southern swamplands. The growth of this Peace Democratic bloc reflected the misfortune of Union arms in that year of despair and serious opposition in the southern part of the states of the old Northwest to what many Democrats perceived as Eastern economic imperialism or as one Ohio newspaper railed, “….serfs to the heartless, speculative Yankees, swindled by his tariffs, robbed by his taxes, skinned by his railroad monopolies.”

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A House Divided: Confederacy Triumphant I

Lead: One hundred and fifty years ago the Republic was facing its greatest crisis. This continuing series examines the American Civil War. It is "A House Divided."

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: If there was a time during the American Civil War in which the Confederacy might have laid a claim to triumph, it was the year between Robert E. Lee’s assumption of command of the Army of Northern Virginia in June 1862 and that Army’s destruction on the gentle slopes of Gettysburg the following summer. Except for the slaughter that was Antietam in September, Confederate forces realized one victory after another. This was not primarily due to a lack of determination and bravery on the part of Union troops, who were beginning to get the hang of this bloody war, but to the timidity and/or incompetence of the generals who led them into battle and down to defeat over and over and over again. Lee and his lieutenants out-generaled and out-maneuvered armies that were much larger and better equipped. He took the measure of his opponents and beat them or held them to strategic draws in battle after battle.

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A House Divided: Total War III

Lead: One hundred and fifty years ago the Republic was facing its greatest crisis. This continuing series examines the American Civil War. It is "A House Divided."

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Moving like a plague of locusts, the Union Army of William Tecumseh Sherman chewed its way across Georgia and then South Carolina in an early form of total war. He was determined to smash the Confederacy’s ability to prosecute the rebellion and even more to degrade its will to fight. One soldier wrote, we “destroyed all we could not eat, stole their niggers, burned their cotton and gins, spilled their sorghum, burned and twisted their railroads and raised Hell generally.” Organized into groups of ill-disciplined scroungers known as “bummers,” Yankees ranged over the landscape robbing and pillaging. Primarily intended to feed the Union army, they also tended to take whatever they could lay their hands on. And they were not alone. Georgia had Union sympathizers and many of them pitched in to plunder their rebel neighbors. Freedmen also participated in the destruction as did Confederate deserters and disaffected former rebel soldiers.

A House Divided: Total War II

Lead: One hundred and fifty years ago the Republic was facing its greatest crisis. This continuing series examines the American Civil War. It is "A House Divided."

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Having pushed the Confederates under John Bell Hood down into Alabama in Fall 1864, General Sherman abandoned his pursuit of the rebels and returned to Atlanta. He was weary of rehearsing tactics from the Confederate playbook and proposed a new strategy, one that would ignore Hood and go on the offensive not against standing armies or even organized resistance, but against the heart of the South. He secured permission from Grant and Lincoln for a most remarkable experiment in what would come to be called total war. On November 15th he set fire to all that had military value in the city, turned his back on Atlanta and set out for Savannah, nearly 300 miles to the east on the coast. He wrote, “….if I move through Georgia, smashing things…instead of being on the defensive I would be on the offensive…march(ing) a well-appointed army, right through [Jefferson Davis’s] territory, it is a demonstration to the world, foreign and domestic, that we have a power which Davis cannot resist….I can….march, and make Georgia howl!”