While the Democratic platform followed the Peace wing of the party and called the war a "failure," their candidate, General George B. McClellan, supported the war and repudiated the platform.
Lincoln provided Grant with new replacements and mobilized his party to support Grant and win local support for the war effort. Sherman's capture of Atlanta in September ended defeatist jitters; the Democratic Party was deeply split, with some leaders and most soldiers openly for Lincoln; the Union party was united and energized, and Lincoln was easily reelected in a landslide. He won all but two states, capturing 212 of 233 electoral votes.
On March 4, 1865, Lincoln delivered his second inaugural address, his favorite of all his speeches. At this time, a victory over the rebels was at hand, slavery was dead, and Lincoln was looking to the future.
" Fondly do we hope - fervently do we pray - that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether." With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan - to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations
Conducting the war effort
"Running the 'Machine'"
An 1864 cartoon featuring Lincoln, William Fessenden, Edwin Stanton, William Seward and Gideon Welles takes a swing at the Lincoln administration
The war was a source of constant frustration for the president, and occupied nearly all of his time. He had a contentious relationship with General McClellan, who became general-in-chief of all the Union armies in the wake of the embarrassing Union defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run and after the retirement of Winfield Scott in late 1861. Despite his inexperience in military affairs, Lincoln wanted to take an active part in determining war strategy. His priorities were twofold: to ensure that Washington, D.C., was well defended; and to conduct an aggressive war effort in the hope of ending the war quickly and appeasing the Northern public and press. McClellan, a youthful West Point graduate and railroad executive called back to active military service, took a more cautious approach. He took several months to plan and execute his Peninsula Campaign, with the objective of capturing Richmond by moving the Army of the Potomac by boat to the peninsula between the James and York Rivers. McClellan's delay irritated Lincoln, as did his insistence that no troops were needed to defend Washington, D.C. Lincoln insisted on holding some of McClellan's troops to defend the capital, a decision McClellan blamed for the ultimate failure of the Peninsula Campaign.
McClellan, a lifelong Democrat who was temperamentally conservative, was relieved as general-in-chief after releasing his Harrison's Landing Letter, where he offered unsolicited political advice to Lincoln urging caution in the war effort. McClellan's letter incensed Radical Republicans, who successfully pressured Lincoln to appoint John Pope, a Republican, as head of the new Army of Virginia. Pope complied with Lincoln's strategic desire to move toward Richmond from the north, thus protecting the capital from attack. But Pope was soundly defeated at the Second Battle of Bull Run in the summer of 1862, forcing the Army of the Potomac to defend Washington for a second time. In response to his failure, Pope was sent to Minnesota to fight the Sioux.
An 1864 Mathew Brady photo depicts President Lincoln reading a book with his youngest son, Tad
Panicked by Lee's invasion of Maryland, Lincoln restored McClellan to command of all forces around Washington in time for the Battle of Antietam (September 1862). The ensuing Union victory enabled Lincoln to release his Emancipation Proclamation, but he relieved McClellan of his command shortly after the 1862 midterm elections and appointed Republican Ambrose Burnside to head the Army of the Potomac. Burnside had promised to follow through on Lincoln's strategic vision for a strong offensive against Lee and Richmond. After Burnside was stunningly defeated at Fredericksburg, Joseph Hooker was given the command, despite his idle talk about becoming a military strong man. Hooker was routed by Lee at the Battle of Chancellorsville (May 1863), and relieved of command early in the subsequent Gettysburg Campaign replaced by George G. Meade.
After the Union victory at Gettysburg, Meade's failure to pursue Lee and months of inactivity for the Army of the Potomac persuaded Lincoln to bring in a western general, Ulysses S. Grant. Grant already had a solid string of victories in the Western Theater, including the battles of Vicksburg and Chattanooga. Responding to criticism of Grant, Lincoln was quoted as saying, "I cannot spare this man. He fights." Grant waged his bloody Overland Campaign in 1864 with a strategy of a war of attrition, characterized by high Union losses at battles such as the Wilderness and Cold Harbor, but by proportionately higher Confederate losses. His invasion campaign eventually bottled Lee up in the Siege of Petersburg, so that Grant could take Richmond, and bring the war to a close in the spring of 1865.
Lincoln authorized Grant to target civilians andinfrastructure, hoping to destroy the South's morale and weaken its economic ability to continue fighting. This allowed Generals Sherman and Sheridan to destroy farms and towns in the Shenandoah Valley, Georgia, and South Carolina. The damage caused by Sherman's March to the Sea through Georgia totaled in excess of $100 million by Sheridan's own estimate.
Lincoln had a star-crossed record as a military leader, possessing a keen understanding of strategic points (such as the Mississippi River and the fortress city of Vicksburg) and the importance of defeating the enemy's army, rather than simply capturing cities. He had, however, limited success in motivating his commanders to adopt his strategies until late 1863, when he found a man who shared his vision of the war in Ulysses S. Grant. Only then could he insist on using African American troops and relentlessly pursue a series of coordinated offensives in multiple theaters.
Throughout the war, Lincoln showed a keen curiosity with the military campaigns. He spent hours at the War Department telegraph office, reading dispatches from his generals. He visited battle sites frequently, and seemed fascinated by watching scenes of war. During Jubal A. Early's raid on Washington, D.C. in 1864, Lincoln had to be told to duck to avoid being shot while observing the battle.
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