Bullets, Ballots, and Rhetoric: Confederate Policy for the United States Presidential Contest of 1864

By Larry E. Nelson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
Public Concern and Government Policies:

"I do not entertain your apprehension . . ."

Discussion of public affairs was common among Confederates, but the general interest in Northern politics added a new dimension to public discussion in 1864. Southerners watched military and diplomatic developments during June and July and debated the probable impact on Northern politics. Of particular interest were the raid led by Jubal Early, activity of the Confederate agents operating from Canada, a visit by two unofficial peace commissioners from the North, and the status of military affairs in Georgia. As public and private criticism mounted, President Davis responded with an unsystematic defense of some of his policies. Even though the basis for much of the criticism was public interest in the consequences of government policies on Northern politics, the president offered no general statement of his views on the election or of his position on the appropriate Confederate response. The events of early summer also produced a fundamental disparity between Davis's approach to Northern peace sentiment and that of his agents in Canada.

The decision to send Jubal Early raiding into the North was made for purely military reasons. While Grant maintained pressure of overwhelming numbers on Lee's front, Federal troops had invaded the Shenandoah Valley, and a force under General David Hunter threatened Lynchburg. To counter this menace and to throw Grant off balance, Lee decided to send Early with part of the Second Corps, which Stonewall Jackson had commanded, down the Valley. The instructions to Early were

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