CIVIL WAR: Building an Army from Scratch and Losing a Lynchpin Soldier

By Steele, Dennis | Army, June 2011 | Go to article overview

CIVIL WAR: Building an Army from Scratch and Losing a Lynchpin Soldier


Steele, Dennis, Army


Wten the flag of the Confederate States of America was hauled above Fort Sumter, S.C., the federal army numbered a few more than 14,000 Regular Army soldiers present for duty. More than three-quarters of its combat units were serving on the frontier to protect continued American westward settlement along a line from Kansas to the Rio j Grande in Texas, with a handful of soldiers garrisoned in the gold -boom state of California and the new territories of the Southwest.

When Fort Sumter fell, federal combat power in the East (mostly coastal artillery garrisons) that could have been quickly hurled at the secessionists is estimated to have been less than the troop equivalent of one infantry battalion today.

The United States Army in 1861 was small, and promotions were stagnant. The uniformed chain of command was petrified at its upper levels. LTG Winfield Scott, a veteran of the War of 1812, had served as the general in chief for four decades, and the heads of all but one of the War Department's various second-tier divisions were 1812 veterans as well. In May 1861, however, the U.S. Army's promotion picture was about to open up.

Middle officer grades generally were occupied by men who received their commissions as lieutenants in the Mexican War. Robert E. Lee was one of them. Lee was considered among the best - if not the best - in the Army officer corps, but it had taken 17 years for him to go from captain to lieutenant colonel, and he had to switch branches to achieve that rank. Lee had been brevetted to colonel and served as the Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy in that capacity, but he sought to escape the especially slow promotions in his branch (Engineer). In 1855, he gained a Cavalry lieutenant colonel's commission and second-in-command slot in the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, which was stationed in Texas and fighting Comanches.

Lee served four years in Texas before the Civil War, in the 2nd Cavalry and, later, as head of the Department of Texas, with his tours broken up by an extended leave of absence (about two years) to handle family matters at his Arlington, Va., home. While on leave, he led the Marine Corps detachment that subdued and arrested John Brown at Harpers Ferry, W. Va., with ILT J.E.B. (Jeb) Stuart at his side.

In February 1861, when Texas seceded, Scott recalled Lee to Washington and gave him a colonel's commission in anticipation of the portending conflict following Abraham Lincoln's election. Arriving at his family mansion, Arlington House, inherited by his wife, Anna Custis Lee, and overlooking the White House and Capitol, COL Lee landed in the eye of the storm - personally and in the larger strategic sense of the situation at hand.

Washington, D.C, was already becoming a military city. In a succession of call-ups, a total of 24 companies of volunteers from the District of Columbia were raised to secure the city for Lincoln's inauguration and meet continuing threats amid the escalating situation at Fort Sumter and other southern federal facilities under siege.

In the aftermath of South Carolina's secession - quickly followed by the secession of six other states of the Deep South - an immediate political concern of the newly inaugurated Lincoln was keeping other slaveholding states from joining the flight. The President had to try to isolate the knot of states that formed the nascent Confederate States of America and keep it as far as possible from the doorstep of his capital.

Virginia, Lee's native state, where his roots ran deep, was vastly important. It was a big and powerful state, and other states were watching its accelerating pace to join the Confederacy. It was separated from Washington only by the Potomac River, and potential gun positions commanded the capital from Arlington Heights. If Maryland, a slaveholding state encompassing the capital from the north, also joined the Confederacy, the city would be surrounded.

As the Lincoln administration watched what Maryland and, especially, Virginia would do, Lee was watching, too. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

CIVIL WAR: Building an Army from Scratch and Losing a Lynchpin Soldier
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.