CHAPTER XXIX. THE CIVIL WAR, 1863-1865

THE GETTYSBURG CAMPAIGN, 1863. - After the defeat at Fredericksburg, Burnside was removed, and General Hooker put in command of the Army of the Potomac. "Fighting Joe," as Hooker was called, led his army of 130,000 men against Lee and Jackson, and after a stubborn fight at Chancellorsville (May 1-4, 1863) was beaten and fell back. [1] In June Lee once more took the offensive, rushed down the Shenandoah valley to the Potomac River, crossed Maryland, and entered Pennsylvania with the Army of the Potomac in hot pursuit. On reaching Maryland General Hooker was removed and General Meade put in command.

On the hills at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the two armies met, and there (July 1-3) Lee attacked Meade. The struggle was desperate. About one fourth of the men engaged were killed or wounded. But the splendid valor of the Union army prevailed, and Lee was beaten and forced to return to Virginia, where he remained unmolested till the spring of 1864. [2] The battle of Gettysburg ended Lee's plan for carrying the war into the North, and from the losses on that field his army never fully recovered. [3]

VICKSBURG, 1863. - In January, 1863, the Confederates held the Mississippi River only from Vicksburg to Port Hudson. The capture of these two towns would complete the opening of the river. Grant, therefore, determined to capture Vicksburg. The town stands on the top of a bluff which rises straight and steep from the river, and had been so strongly fortified on the land side that to take it seemed impossible. Grant, having failed in a direct advance through Mississippi, cut a canal across a bend in the river, on the west bank, hoping to divert the waters and get a passage by the town. This, too, failed; and he then decided to cross below Vicksburg and attack by land. To aid him, Admiral Porter ran his gunboats past the town on a night in April and carried the army across the river. Landing on the east bank, Grant won a victory at Port Gibson, and hearing that J. E. Johnston was coming to help Pemberton, pushed in between them, beat Johnston, and turning against Pemberton drove him into Vicksburg. After a siege of seven weeks, in which Vicksburg suffered severely from bombardment and famine, Pemberton surrendered the town and army July 4, 1863.

In less than a week (July 9) Port Hudson surrendered, the Mississippi was opened from source to mouth, and the Confederacy was cut in two.

CHICKAMAUGA, 1863. - While Grant was besieging Vicksburg, Rosecrans forced a Confederate army under Bragg to quit its position south of Murfreesboro, and then to leave Chattanooga and retire into northern Georgia. There Bragg was reënforced, and he then attacked Rosecrans in the Chickamauga valley (September 19 and 20, 1863), where was fought one of the most desperate battles of the war. The Union right wing was driven from the field, but the left wing under General Thomas held the enemy in check and saved the army from rout. By his firmness Thomas won the name of "the Rock of Chickamauga."

CHATTANOOGA. - Rosecrans now went back to Chattanooga. Bragg followed, and, taking position on the hills and mountains which surround the town on the east and south, shut in the Union army and besieged it. Hooker was sent from Virginia with more troops, Sherman [4] brought an army from Vicksburg, Rosecrans was replaced by Thomas, and Grant was put in command of all. Then matters changed. The troops under Thomas (November 23) seized some low hills at the foot of Missionary Ridge, east of Chattanooga. Hooker (November 24) carried the Confederate works on Lookout Mountain, southwest of the town, in a fight often called "the Battle above the Clouds." Sherman (November 24 and 25) attacked the northern end of Missionary Ridge. Thomas (November 25) thereupon carried the heights of Missionary Ridge, and drove off the enemy. Bragg retreated to Dalton in northwestern Georgia, where the command of his army was given to General J. E. Johnston.

THE PLAN OF CAMPAIGN, 1864. - The Confederates had now but two great armies left. One under Lee was lying quietly behind the Rappahannock and Rapidan rivers, protecting Richmond; the other under J. E. Johnston [5] was at Dalton, Georgia. The two generals chosen to lead the Union armies against these forces were Grant and Sherman. Grant (now lieutenant general arid in command of all the armies) with the Army of the Potomac was to drive Lee back and take Richmond. Sherman with the forces under Thomas, McPherson, and Schofield was to attack Johnston and enter Georgia. The Union soldiers outnumbered the Confederates.

MARCHING THROUGH GEORGIA. - On May 4, 1864, accordingly, Sherman moved forward against Johnston, flanked him out of Dalton, and drove him, step by step, through the mountains to Atlanta. Johnston's retreat forced Sherman to weaken his army by leaving guards in the rear to protect the railroads on which he depended for supplies; Johnston intended to attack when he could fight on equal terms. But his retreat displeased Davis, and at Atlanta he was replaced by General Hood, who was expected to fight at once.

In July Hood made three furious attacks, was repulsed, and in September left Atlanta and started northward. His purpose was to draw Sherman out of Georgia, but Sherman sent Thomas with part of the army into Tennessee, and after following Hood for a while, [6] turned back to Atlanta.

After partly burning the town, Sherman started for the seacoast in November, tearing up the railroads, burning bridges, and living on the country as he went. [7] In December Fort McAllister was taken and Savannah occupied.