House Divided: Collapse of the Confederacy 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: As the terrible, cold, wet winter of 1865 slowly blended into spring, the dreams of Southern independence flickered and then died. What began with such great hopes just four years before, sustained by enormous white sacrifice, enduring in the face of almost irresistible opposition and odds, teetered on the precipice of historical reality. The South had sought to arrest or at least block the revolutionary changes, in population, industrialization, urban life and in shifting attitudes toward a more powerful Federal engagement in the lives of citizens that, in Southerners’ views, had infected other regions. The southland’s preference for aristocratic social structure, family, religion, rural life and, most of all, the institution of slavery, were under assault. To save its society and particularly its peculiar tradition of human bondage, the South would break the sacred bonds of Union and strike out on its own.

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Massachusetts Colored Regiment II

Lead: The opportunity for blacks to serve in the Federal armed forces during the Civil War was a novel idea and was resisted by skeptical and prejudiced whites. Many minds were changed on the deadly slopes of Battery Wagner.

Intro. : A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: Getting official permission for blacks to fight for the Union was one thing, making it happen was much harder. Massachusetts formed the 54th Colored Regiment in early 1863, but the Commonwealth did not have enough resident African-Americans to fill it. The Governor, a committed abolitionist, issued a national call for volunteers and, led by activist Frederick Douglass, who contributed time and energy as well as two sons to the regiment, the ranks of the 54th gradually filled. They were led by a white man, Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, who turned down the Governor’s offer at first but later accepted and was glad he did.

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Massachusetts Colored Regiment I

Lead: During the Civil War, the South was not the only region of warring America where blacks faced a struggle to overcome racism. One way they fought for their place as citizens was to fight.

Intro. : A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In the early days of the Civil War African Americans in the north and in areas liberated by Union armies were not allowed to fight for the Federal cause. When a group of blacks tried to form a local militia in Cincinnati they were told, “we want you damned niggers to keep out of this, this is a white man’s war.” The vast majority of Northerners were just as bigoted, just as prejudiced as Southerners. Yet, slowly this began to change. Abraham Lincoln grew in his understanding of the nature of conflict in which the nation was locked. White abolitionists worked tirelessly for full citizenship participation for Africans. In addition, many blacks were willing to sacrifice their lives on the battlefield. As a result, stereotypes were destroyed, prejudice was challenged, and free blacks and freedmen contributed much to the defeat of the Confederacy and the end to slavery.

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A House Divided: Overland Campaign 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: Spotsylvania is remembered as some of the most intense, bloody fighting of the American Civil War. It gained that reputation because neither of the armies would turn aside or give in. The fighting was up-close, personal, hand-to-hand, nigh onto atavistic, territorial, frenzied, and cruel.

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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.

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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.

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A House Divided: The Fall of Atlanta 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 Confederate armies under Joseph Johnston back from the suburbs of Chattanooga to within 20 miles of his goal, the vital railroad and manufacturing hub of Atlanta, William Sherman was briefly stymied in late June at Kennesaw Mountain with heavy losses. Summer rains had turned the Georgia clay to muck in June, but by early July these roads had begun to dry. Sherman’s maneuver machine was back in business. He crossed the Chattahoochee River on July 9th and was at Peachtree Creek, four miles from the City, the next day. Panic struck the civilian population as Sherman’s relentless campaign seemed on the verge of success.

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A House Divided: The Fall of Atlanta 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: In Summer 1864 a sense of malaise and depression gripped the North as the fortunes of Federal armies seemed to flag. Not since the heady days of Confederate triumph in the winter and spring of 1862 and 1863 did the cause of the Union seem so hopeless. In many ways this was a product of war weariness after three years of almost constant conflict and a sense that the Union war strategy had bogged down in Georgia and Virginia, but also it grew from the effusion of blood that attended Yankee forces at seemingly every turn. The horrific slaughter at Cold Harbor had led to stalemate in front of Petersburg, and though Phillip Sheridan eventually rolled up Jubal Early in the Shenandoah Valley, that would not come until deep into the Fall.

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