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Later stages of the Civil War - the election of 1864 and Sherman's March

Video transcript

all right so we've been talking about the later stages of the Civil War and in the last video we just did a brief overview of the end of 1863 after the north has won the Battle of Gettysburg and Lee has been turned around and sent back down to Richmond where he will be encamped for some time and ulysses s grant not only takes control of the Mississippi River with the victory at Vicksburg he also comes up into Tennessee takes control of the state of Tennessee and in return Lincoln makes him General in chief of the Union armies so now let's move on and talk about 1864 and Sherman's march to the sea and the election of 1864 both would be very important to the United States's victory alright so let's take a look at our map again now as we recall Lee is here in Richmond and Grant who was in Tennessee now coming over to challenge Lee at the siege of Richmond so grant has crossed over from the Western theater of the war where he's been pretty much the entire time into the eastern theater and he's kind of going for the killing blow now and you'll remember that thanks to the Anaconda strategy the Union now has control of the entire area of the south through a blockade on this side control of the Mississippi and now control of Tennessee so there's just this little area that's left so now what happens well one of grant's generals who served under him and this tennessee campaign is now going to turn his attentions to a massive campaign of total war in the south so this is William Tecumseh Sherman and Sherman's idea is that he is going to cut a swath through the south and he is going to try to destroy the South's morale I not only trying to get rid of foodstuffs and interrupt supply lines destroy infrastructure burn houses he's gonna make things so bad on the home front that the Confederate soldiers who are fighting up here with Lee are gonna get upset that their property and their families are not being protected at home so he's trying to win a morale victory by making people in the south really tired of being at war and also by making Lee's soldiers want to desert and come back and defend their home territory so Sherman turns his troops toward Atlanta and in September of 1864 Sherman takes Atlanta now there's a very famous scene of this in Gone with the Wind where you see Scarlett O'Hara looking out over you know the many injured people in the city of Atlanta that's that's Sherman's doing but now let's turn our attention away from the military campaigns for a second and talk about the politics of 1864 now in 1864 it's an election year it's been four years since Lincoln was elected in November of 1860 and so now Lincoln has to stand for re-election and this is a really interesting election for lots of reasons one is that it's the first election during wartime since 1812 so in the election of 1864 soldiers are going to cast their ballots either by getting short leaves to go to the ballot box or by sending in their ballots by mail another thing that's really interesting about this is that Lincoln is not at all sure that he's going to win this election in fact many in his own party the Republican Party feel that he's been considerably too soft on the south that his plans for reunification are not nearly punitive enough there are many who want to replace Lincoln with a more radical candidate in 1864 that does not end up happening but one interesting thing that does end up happening is to try to increase Lincoln's appeal his run meet is Andrew Johnson and Johnson was a slaveholder believe it or not from Tennessee and the idea was that maybe Johnson could pick up some of the Democrats who might necessarily have voted for McClellan and maybe he could pick up some of the border states the same way that we often might choose a vice president today because they come from a crucial swing state well this is going to be important later because after Lincoln is assassinated Andrew Johnson will take over as president and he is quite a different president than Lincoln might have been under the circumstances now on the Democratic side the candidate is George McClellan and you might remember McClellan because he was one of the first commanders of the Union Army and Lincoln sent him down for failing to really go after the enemy strongly in the early stages of the war now the Democratic Party is having some internal struggles at this point there are some who think that the war against the south is very foolish that no one should be fighting in the north to end slavery which Lincoln has clearly made a war goal by this point and so many just wish to have peace with the south on the terms of the south which is as a separate nation with the continuation of slavery and then there are those Democrats who would like to continue the war and the cleland ends up being one of those obviously being a general it would have been pretty difficult for him to say that the war was pointless without having disappointed so many people who had fought for him or with him this election is really crucial because many in the south are hoping that if someone other than Lincoln gets elected if the Democrats are elected that is going to be their last best hope to try to achieve their independence from the Union if Lincoln is replaced by someone who is pro south who is pro-slavery then perhaps they'll just end the war and that will be the end of it so whites in the south are really holding on to the idea that Lincoln will be defeated in 1864 and there are a lot of reasons to think that Lincoln might have been defeated in this Lincoln himself was not very sure that he would win this election remember that there has not been a single American president who has been reelected in more than 30 years the last president to be re-elected was Andrew Jackson in 1832 so re-election is a very unusual thing at this point and McClellan was a very popular general you know he got popular because he was very keen to spare the lives of his soldiers which is quite different than the approach that ulysses s grant will end up taking at the end of the war but there are several things that go in Lincoln's favor one is the capture of Atlanta by Sherman in September and some very good military victories also in this Eastern theater of the war so McClellan who had hoped that the war was going badly didn't have much on his side when it actually came to election day because at that point the war was going pretty well remember that Sherman is here in Atlanta and Sherman is now going to pick up what is known as his march to the sea when he cuts a 60 mile wide swath of destruction through Georgia so things are looking pretty good for the United States at this point and the turning point for Lincoln in this election is really the votes of the soldiers and they have a really strong Pro Lincoln mandate one of Lincoln's campaign slogans is vote as you shot so Lincoln ends up trouncing McClellan in the election of 1864 and he really comes away with a strong mandate to finish the war finish it with an unconditional surrender of the south and the end of slavery and having triumphed in the election of 1864 Lincoln gets even more good news from Georgia which is a telegram from General Sherman from the city of Savannah saying mr. president I wish to offer you the city of Savannah as a Christmas present so in December 25th 1864 Sherman's march to the sea has concluded and from there he's going to start heading north and we'll get to that in the next video