The Emergence of Total War

The Emergence of Total War

The Emergence of Total War

The Emergence of Total War

Synopsis

Summer 1862. The Confederacy has suffered several important defeats in the Western Theater and faces a serious threat to Richmond in the East. Federal politicians and citizenry, perplexed that fighting has continued into a second year, want an end to the war. Abraham Lincoln asks his battlefield commanders to develop a winning strategy in the East, a strategy that will not spare resources, terrain, nor the well being of private citizens-a strategy that would come to be known as "total war."

The plan, implemented in 1862, proves a failure, mostly because of the man charged with carrying it out: Gen. John Pope. Pope's defeat is the story of the Second Manassas campaign. While Pope's demise gives new life to the Confederacy and emboldens Robert E. Lee to invade Maryland, Lincoln remains convinced that a strategy of total war represents the North's best chance for victory. In 1864-1865, Generals Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman will prove him right. A vivid account of how Civil War campaigns foreshadowed total war.

Excerpt

The summer of 1862 shines as one of the bright moments in the history of the Confederacy. The Rebels had taken a pounding in the West that spring. Bloody Shiloh, the capture of New Orleans, the loss of Memphis, and the hasty evacuation of northern Mississippi had shocked soldiers and civilians from one end of the Confederacy to the other. With General George B. McClellan moving up the Peninsula toward Richmond, Abraham Lincoln hoped to deliver a knockout punch by ordering General John Pope to invade central Virginia. Together, Lincoln and Pope would implement a primitive version of what would later be called "total war." The phrase has come to mean many things, especially in light of the trench warfare of World War I and the unrestricted war waged against Germany and Japan in the 1940s. Still, Lincoln's plan not only to whip the Confederate army but to exhaust Rebel resources and destroy civilian morale grasped the essential elements of the . . .

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