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Events That Lead to the End of the Civil War

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The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the events surrounding

the end of the American Civil War. This war was a war of epic

proportion. Never before and not since have so many Americans died in

battle. The American Civil War was truly tragic in terms of human

life. In this document, I will speak mainly around those involved on

the battlefield in the closing days of the conflict. Also, reference

will be made to the leading men behind the Union and Confederate


The war was beginning to end by January of 1865. By then,

Federal (Federal was another name given to the Union Army) armies were

spread throughout the Confederacy and the Confederate Army had shrunk

extremely in size. In the year before, the North had lost an enormous

amount of lives, but had more than enough to lose in comparison to the

South. General Grant became known as the "Butcher" (Grant, Ulysses

S., Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant, New York: Charles L. Webster &

Co.,1894) and many wanted to see him removed. But Lincoln stood firm

with his General, and the war continued. This paper will follow the

happenings and events between the winter of 1864-65 and the surrender

of The Confederate States of America. All of this will most certainly

illustrate that April 9, 1865 was indeed the end of a tragedy.


In September of 1864, General William T. Sherman and his army

cleared the city of Atlanta of its civilian population then rested

ever so briefly. It was from there that General Sherman and his army

began its famous "march to the sea". The march covered a distance of

400 miles and was 60 miles wide on the way. For 32 days no news of

him reached the North. He had cut himself off from his base of

supplies, and his men lived on what ever they could get from the

country through which they passed. On their route, the army destroyed

anything and everything that they could not use but was presumed

usable to the enemy. In view of this destruction, it is

understandable that Sherman quoted "war is hell" (Sherman, William T.,

Memoirs of General William T. Sherman. Westport, Conn.:Greenwood

Press, 1972). Finally, on December 20, Sherman's men reached the city

of Savannah and from there Sherman telegraphed to President Lincoln:

"I beg to present you as a Christmas gift the city of Savannah, with

150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about 25,000 bales

of cotton" (Sherman, William T., Memoirs of General William T.

Sherman. Westport, Conn.:Greenwood Press, 1972).

Grant had decided that the only way to win and finish the war

would be to crunch with numbers. He knew that the Federal forces held

more than a modest advantage in terms of men and supplies. This in

mind, Grant directed Sherman to turn around now and start heading back

toward Virginia. He immediately started making preparations to

provide assistance to Sherman on the journey. General John M.

Schofield and his men were to detach from the Army of the Cumberland,

which had just embarrassingly defeated the Confederates at Nashville,

and proceed toward North Carolina. His final destination was to be

Goldsboro, which was roughly half the distance between Savannah and

Richmond. This is where he and his 20,000 troops would meet Sherman

and his 50,000 troops.

Sherman began the move north in mid-January of 1865. The only

hope of Confederate resistance would be supplied by General P.G.T.

Beauregard. He was scraping together an army with every resource he

could lay his hands on, but at best would only be able to muster about

30,000 men. This by obvious mathematics would be no challenge to the

combined forces of Schofield and Sherman, let alone Sherman. Sherman's

plan was to march through South Carolina all the while confusing the

enemy. His men would march in two ranks: One would travel northwest

to give the impression of a press against Augusta and the other would

march northeast toward Charleston. However the one true objective

would be Columbia.

Sherman's force arrived in Columbia on February 16. The city was

burned to the ground and great controversy was to arise. The

Confederates claimed that Sherman's men set the fires "deliberately,

systematically, and atrociously". However, Sherman claimed that the

fires were burning when they arrived. The fires had been set to




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