Abraham Lincoln: Letters to His Generals, 1861-1865

By Brett F. Woods | Go to book overview

STRATEGIC PERSPECTIVES: THE WAR OF 1864–1865

From Bull Run to Chattanooga, the Union armies had fought their battles without benefit of either a grand strategy or a supreme field commander. During the final year of the war the people of the North grew restless, and as the election of 1864 approached, many of them advocated a policy of making peace with the Confederacy. President Lincoln never wavered. Committed to the policy of destroying the armed power of the Confederacy, he sought a general who could pull all the threads of an emerging strategy together, and then concentrate the Union armies and their supporting naval power against the secessionists. After Vicksburg in July 1863, Lincoln leaned more and more toward Grant as the man whose strategic thinking and resolution would lead the Union armies to final victory.

Strategy of Annihilation and Unity of Command: Acting largely as his own General in Chief after McClellan’s removal in early 1862, Mr. Lincoln had watched the Confederates fight from one ephemeral victory to another inside their cockpit of northern Virginia. In the western theater, Union armies, often operating independently of one another, had scored great victories at key terrain points. But their hold on the communications base at Nashville was always in jeopardy as long as the elusive armies of the Confederacy could escape to fight another day at another key point. The twin, uncoordinated victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, 900 airline miles apart, only pointed up the North’s need for an over-all strategic plan and a general who could carry it out.

Having cleared the Mississippi River, Grant wrote to Halleck and the President about the opportunities now open to his army. Grant first called for the consolidation of the autonomous western departments and the coordination of

seemed receptive to the idea of qualified black suffrage and, in this note, Lincoln quietly offered Banks his encouragement. Banks may in fact have considered permitting a few people of color to participate in the February 1864 election for governor and other state officials, though in the end thought better of it. (Hahn 205, 104)

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Abraham Lincoln: Letters to His Generals, 1861-1865
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Table of Contents xi
  • Editor’s Note 1
  • Civil War Chronology1 3
  • Prologue- Abraham Lincoln’s War 9
  • Strategic Perspectives- The War of 1861 13
  • Correspondence- 1861 29
  • Strategic Perspectives- The War of 1862 39
  • Correspondence- 1862 57
  • Strategic Perspectives- The War of 1863 127
  • Correspondence- 18631 145
  • Strategic Perspectives- The War of 1864–1865 215
  • Correspondence- 1864–1865 227
  • Epilogue 275
  • Works Cited 279
  • Index 289
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