How America Fought Its Wars: Military Strategy from the American Revolution to the Civil War

By Victor Brooks; Robert Hohwald | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 34
The Death of Confederate
Independence

The Birth of the Lost Cause

On Monday, November 7th, 1864, the day before the presidential election in the North, the Confederate Congress was welcomed back in session by a message from Jefferson Davis. The Confederate president tried to minimize the catastrophic loss of Atlanta by emphasizing that even the loss of every major city in the republic would leave the Southern people eager to continue their struggle for independence from the rapacious Yankees. "There are no vital points on the preservation which the continued existence of the Confederacy depends. Not the fall of Richmond, nor Wilmington, nor Charleston nor Savannah nor Mobile nor all combined can save the enemy from the constant and exhaustive drain of blood and treasure which must continue until he shall discover that no peace is attainable unless based on the recognition of our indefeasible rights."

Less than five months after Davis wrote those words of perpetual continuation of the struggle, not only would the "hard war" President of the United States be inaugurated for a second term in office, but the Confederacy itself would be reduced to an enclave of territory in southern Virginia and upper North Carolina defended by armies that were losing hundreds of men to desertion every week. This period of time, from the re-election of Lincoln to the surrender at Appomattox, was the death struggle of a Confederacy that had been doomed by a devastating series of defeats between late summer and mid-autumn and was now fighting on with virtually no hope of final victory. A nation reeling from the defeats at Mobile Bay, Atlanta and the Shenandoah Valley, would soon discover even more humiliating setbacks during Sherman's march to the sea, Hood's debaclestrewn invasion of Tennessee and the final collapse of the Richmond defense

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