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The Battle of Gettysburg Ends: July 3, 1863

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Fold3 Image - Map of the battlefield of Gettysburg. [July 1st, 2nd, and 3rd 1863]
On July 3, 1863, the three-day Battle of Gettysburg came to a close, leaving behind an estimated 51,000 total casualties—the highest number of any battle in the Civil War

Following a series of military successes in Virginia, Confederate general Robert E. Lee took his troops north in June 1863 into south-central Pennsylvania. Lee was unaware until late June that the Union’s Army of the Potomac, under General George G. Meade, had followed his army north, as Lee’s cavalry, under JEB Stuart, was separated from the main body of the army and was thus unable to provide intel on the enemy’s movements.

On July 1, elements of Lee’s army came up against Union cavalry by chance outside the town of Gettysburg and fighting broke out. Both sides received reinforcements, and the Confederates were eventually able to push back the Federals to south of Gettysburg. During the evening and the following morning, both sides gathered the rest of their armies, for a total of 83,000 Union troops and 75,000 Confederate.

At the commencement of fighting the following afternoon, July 2, the Union army was arranged like a fishhook, with the Confederates surrounding them to the north and west in roughly the same shape. The 2nd saw bloody fighting on the Union left and center, but despite high casualties, the Union was generally able to repulse the Confederates. Fighting also occurred on the Union right later that evening and continued on after dark in a rare night battle.

On the 3rd, the Confederates once again launched an attack on the Union right, which was ultimately unsuccessful. Then, following a massive artillery bombardment, Lee attacked the Union center in what is commonly known as Pickett’s Charge. During this attack, approximately 12,000 Confederate troops crossed nearly a mile of open ground to attack Union positions but were decimated by Union fire. The Confederates who made it to the enemy lines managed to briefly break through, but they were eventually repulsed. Also on this day, the Confederate cavalry—which had arrived on the afternoon of the 2nd—was put into action off the Union right flank, but with little result.

On the 4th, Lee waited for Meade’s counterattack on his position, but it never came, so Lee’s army withdrew back over the Potomac. Gettysburg was the bloodiest battle of the war, with 23,000 Union casualties and 28,000 Confederate. It is often considered the turning point in the war and commonly referred to as the “high tide” of the Confederacy.

Do you have ancestors who fought at Gettysburg? Tell us about them! Or learn more about the battle on Fold3.

339 Comments

  1. There is a lot of hatred being expressed on this blog. Obviously, the battles of the Civil War did not resolve the issues that divided the Union. Individuals like Eric T seem to hate everything about the U.S.A. I hope that is not the case. Perhaps, right from the start flying the Confederate flag and erecting statues to Confederate leaders should have been banned as traitorous. Then 150 or so years later Eric T. might have been a happy, proud American with no tradition of the CSA to rally around. If we get rid of these hateful, divisive symbols now hopefully America will be a better place in another 100 years. A place where we can debate America’s past without encouraging hatred of one group or the other.

    • To Larry R: Symbols of the Confederacy are only hateful and divisive to people who don’t really know their history. Do you know that Yankee veterans (GAR) and Rebel vets (UCV) sometimes had joint reunions, shared war stories, respected one another and the Yanks and the Rebs actually shook hands (I’ve seen photos of this act of camaraderie). Those fellows who actually fought one another in that terrible War actually respected one another much more than their descendants are! They knew firsthand that there was valor and bravery on both sides, and those on the losing side were fighting not so some guys could keep their slaves but to defend their families and homes from an invading horde. Back to the symbols: they are dear to those of us who have Confederate ancestors — I have four direct ancestors who fought for the Confederacy (as well as several collateral ancestors), and one who fought as a Yankee. When I see a statue of a Rebel soldier in a courthouse square it reminds me of the valor of my ancestors (none of whom owned a slave), and of the terrible War in which either side was fighting for things they believed in. In the midst of the horror there were stirring examples of bravery, skill at combat and even incidents of the two sides taking a lull in the fighting to converse and exchange items across those lines. We need to keep the monuments and symbols of both sides, so that when our children and grandkids ask about them we can tell them the story of the most crucial event in the history of this country.

    • And furthermore, Larry R., concerning “traitorous”: none of the Confederate leaders were ever tried for treason, let alone convicted. General Lee, General Forrest and others actually in their farewells to their soldiers urged them to accept the South’s loss and become again good citizens of the USA. And Lee went on to be called to become the chief leader of a struggling college in Virginia; which institution was so grateful for his saving them that they added his name to the school’s name, becoming Washington and Lee University. You know those folks who fought one another got along much better in peacetime that followed. They accepted that a terrible War had been fought, that they were reunited as one country — and went on with their lives, which included having veteran reunions, and reminiscing about that past event at times. Would that their descendants could get along these generations later even half as well!

    • Spoken like a true Conquerer.

      You forget that these symbols, while not necessarily accepting of slavery today, were heroic to us. These were great men, heroic men who fought with every ounces courage they had. I remember as a young boy having to look at monuments in my home town of Federal leaders and units, erected in our “back yard”. Do you think those were heroic to us or the symbols of the Victor? The latter si the correct answer.

      Your forget Shelby Foote’s reminder that the Southerner’s question was “Whatch you doing down here?” What were you doing down here? The North just could not accept the idea that someone might not want to live under there dominance. Did becoming a US state include some promise on the penalty of death, that they would never, never, leave that larger body? I don’t think so. Why did secession require blood, and soo much of it? Was it not the Yankee north who less than 100 years earier do EXACTLY the same thing with England. Memories are short.

      The North still has much of that attitude even today, shown in the way they require all power to live and grow from Washington DC. Much of the world resents it too. Still.

  2. I have a great great grandfather and his 3 brothers all who fought for the Confederacy. 2 died and one wounded in 1963 at the Battle of Shiloh. They all enlisted into the 35th Infantry Regiment at McMinville Tennessee. The tradgeties that these men and their families went through is something I could never have imagined. I only discovered the 4 stories in a more complete fashion recently, but it explains why I have always loved the south. The north should have left them alone. The war would not have been
    commenced had there not been such a huge economic benefit for the north. Northern aggression was presented with the facade of equality. The south was about to gain a dominance of prosperity. However the northern ports did plenty of business with all the ships in the north that needed replenishing after crossing the northern seas, never refusing any slave ships.

    • I agree with your views. I too, had 5 brothers fight for South Carolina in various companies/regiments. One brother was wounded at Seven Pines and was killed at Point Lookout, Tennessee in 1863. Another brother died after being wounded twice. Three brothers survived.

      The amount of young and old men who died during the Civil War was approx. 620,000. This was absolutely devastating to our country and so very many families. The heinous conditions, as well as the subhuman treatment of the POWs within the prison camps on both sides, was responsible for a large percentage of deaths. It is still hard for me to believe that human beings behaved so deplorably.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Then you believe in Slavery and Blacks would be kept in this condition today. How small minded are you?

    • You have more useful info than the British had colonies prIeIW-W.

  3. The civil war is part of American history whether you agree with it or not, period. To remove all symbols of it like it didn’t happen is ridiculous. All those that died, north and south, were Americans.

    • I am from the north and could not agree with you more.

    • Frank Baburek …. I agree ……and today there is still a carry over of division between south and north whether it be countrywide or county wide. In my own historic county in VA I witness this all the time. I have ancestors, we all have ancestors who were involved in the Civil War in some way. Everyone who lived in the US during that time was effected whether directly or indirectly. Its history, its a done deal, it can’t be changed or erased by removing symbols. We need reminders of the past so we don’t make the same mistakes in the present and future.

    • Holy Crap! I am honored enough to visit the Battlefield and lay flowers on my GG Uncle’s gravestone. He was in NY’s 104th Rgmt. He died fighting for his side of the war. Am glad to be a descendant of his older Brother, Henry Guy Woodruff, my GG Grandfather. Wm Woodruff was only 19. I spent 26 yrs in today’s Army, etc., and wasn’t fighting for what he died for! Somalia! Come on!!

    • NOT Treason is what we call people who try to over throw the USA.

    • I agree, Frank Baburek.
      The Union not only came and destroyed our Southern land but, their soldiers robbed and raped many of the Southern women.
      Yes, the Civil War was fought to set the slaves free. Do most of the African Americans today know that their Ancestors did not want to leave the families who owned them. They knew when they left they were going to mostly starve, have nowhere to sleep, have no money.
      Yes, I am from Georgia and my Ancestors owned slaves….the cook named “Big Frances” taught my mother to cook. I have a picture of her….she loved my mother.
      Her picture is in my family album. They all were not beaten.
      The Civil War IS part of our History and we can’t get rid of it. We shouldn’t get rid of it…..

    • I’m glad Cindy said “they weren’t ALL beaten” which means she acknowledges that many enslaved human beings, if not most, were beaten. Violence was the primary means of controlling millions of human beings as chattel, selling off their children, etc. How disingenuous.

      How does Cindy know that the enslaved did not want to leave their white masters? If that’s true who were the “contraband” that came out in tens of thousands to greet and connect with the Union armies? Who were the thousands who ran away before Emancipation? How egregiously stupid and insensitive and uninformed. How insulting.

      Please stop writing anything about my forebears. Here’s a true history lesson on them as confirmed by the Federal censuses and GA state tax books: My once enslaved ancestors worked hard when freedom came. In the 1870 census they had little or nothing as sharecroppers and laborers. But by 1880 they had accumulated small amounts of personal property and tools but no land. By 1890, nearly all were landowning farmers — land they bought with hard earned cash. One was an elected coroner (twice). And Unlike many of their former owners, my ancestors did not get free land grants or win land lotteries for stolen Native American property. The laws and cards were stacked against them, but they ran their own farms, donated land for schools for their children, built churches and other institutions. Those that could, registered to vote, some became politicians under most difficult conditions of violent white opposition.

      Surely some of the freedmen and woman died of starvation and lack. But many prospered even as the klan and other white supremacist groups led by defeated confeds (like Nathan Forest) attacked, lynched and sought to destroy the few little things the freedmen and their children managed to build.

      The argument or excuse many of you descendants have made for your slave owning and supporting-to-death confed fighting ancestors that the times they lived in didn’t allow these grown men to know that slavery was wrong is weak as water and insult to their supposed intelligence. The whole nation was in an uproar about the immorality of slavery. Church denominations split. Certain newspapers and speakers were banned from the South. Laws were passed to specifically regulate slavery. Congress was in constant uproar over slavery. Your ancestors had to mighty obtuse if not dumb to have missed all this.

      What’s clear to me is that many of you are not convinced even today that slavery or racism is wrong. You don’t give Nat Turner and Denmark Vesey et al a pass to fight for their freedom and human rights since their revolts led to the death of a few slave owning whites. You don’t extol John Brown and his band. You hold their feet to the fire that murder is wrong and you live by “slaves obey your masters” rather than Open up your Bibles wide and read the entire New Testament. You reject the enslaveds’ right to fight for their human rights and freedom but extol your confed ancestors as mythic defenders of “states’ rights” even if that quest leads to destruction of the nation and continuance of the impoverishment of and denial of human rights, freedom and citizen of four million.

      Cindy, let your spirit grow up so you can stop writing dumb stuff about the once enslaved. You don’t have a clue as to the intense pain, loss and the struggle, the losses and small victories my ancestors had. Just stop. On behalf of my many many ancestors who suffered their entire lifetimes under that raw system, I say thank you for stop writing stupid stuff about their lives.

    • Ione, I never meant to insult you or anyone else.
      I am have read a lot about the Civil War and about Slavery.
      My only question is why do you have to insult me just because you don’t agree with me. I see it one way and you see it another way. Through reading and studying I have seen that ALL slaves WERE NOT treated badly.
      If you can’t speak nicely please refrain from commenting back to me!

    • Cindy, you deeply insulted my ancestors hence, my response will always be intense. Have you ever read any “slave narratives” like the autobiography of Frederick Douglass or Incidences in the Life of a Slave Girl, or those recorded by the WPA in the 1930’s? The fact that the woman “Francis” enslaved by your ancestors had human compassion and showed her humanity by loving your mother DESPITE not because of the inhumane and ungodly condition she was held in does not absolve slavery or the slave owners. it shows the depth of spirit of Francis.

      That’s the point I’m trying to shock you into. The enslaved shared their humanity with their oppressors not because they were enthralled by white people but because of the depth of their humanity. They chose to love and not hate in the midst of oppression. Kind of like the three Hebrew boys choosing to go into a furnace to preserve their devotion to God rather than bow down to Baal (hatred) and go free.

      That’s what I meant by let your spirit grow up — look and reflect more deeply on the situation Francis(and all enslaved persons) was in – her children, her husband (if she had any) could be sold away from her at anytime if your great grandparents so chose. There would be nothing Francis could say or do. She nor her children could be educated. Is that acceptable to you or is that not barbaric?

      Finally, let me share what I recently learned about my great great grandmother, Minerva. I knew she was forced to bear 4 children for her slave owner. Neither she nor those children ever had to work in the fields, and certainly were not beaten, But what I didn’t know until recently was the utter barbarism Grandma Minerva suffered as a child. I learned this from reading an 1850 GA State Supreme Court case as two slave owners battled for ownership of her and “her increase.”

      Grandma Minerva was born on a plantation in VA in 1811. When her owner, Thomas Cleaton, died in 1818, she was given to his daughter who lived in GA. At age 7, Minerva was stripped from her parents, her siblings and sent hundreds of miles away with strangers to be a little nurse maid to this white woman. No, the Rainey’s didn’t beat her but did they have to? She was already in shell shock, suffering from PTSD by being separated from her mother and there were no adult black women on the Rainey farm.

      Perhaps, maybe Francis loved your mother; she certainly treated her well, and no one ever thought about stripping your mama from her mother as a child. But who loved my little great great grandmother? Who held this little 7-year old as she cried each night for her mama? Certainly not the white woman who stole her from her mother!!!

      This is why I said STOP insulting the once enslaved. These are the stories I heard from my grandparents, not the Walt Disney “Song of the South” myths and lies about kindly ole lazy slaves who just adored their massas.

      I rise up as a guardian of my the integrity of my ancestors because They (and we their descendants) have gone through enough violence, racial put downs and lies, and losses for one millennium. You don’t need to perpetuate anymore of those lies. That doesn’t serve you well. Since Francis is important to you, try to think about how she must have felt deep down inside knowing that on any day for any reason one of her family members could be sold off.

    • I would hope we can tone this down. Ione’s summary of the facts of slavery are indisputable – the historical record is clear that most Americans of the time, even many slave owners, knew and acknowledged that slavery was immoral, and it is clear that the vast majority of the 4 million Southern slaves lived in a state of abject misery and fear and seized on the first chance to run. The historical record is also clear that Northerners’ hands were anything but clean when it came to slavery, something Lincoln explicitly acknowledged in his Second Inaugural Address. Those are not a “views,” but some of the other things that have been said here (on both sides) are views. For instance, I tend to agree with the view that the vast majority of those who fought for the Confederacy did so in the belief they were fighting to protect their homes and their families, with not a thought given to slavery or “states’ rights,” and that as is so often the case throughout history those poor brave men were betrayed by a small wealthy elite who sought war to further their own financial interests, but that is very much a view and not based on extensive research. Nothing wrong with expressing views as far as it goes. The thing is, it would be nice if we can express our views in a civil fashion, and if one’s grasp of the historical record is in someone else’s opinion (with evidence to provide) incorrect, it is possible to offer that correction without impugning that person’s character or motivations. “History” is a slippery subject because we will never fully grasp either all the facts of the matter at the time nor, when we’re going back far enough, the way people understood those facts, but at least we can work with the facts that we have without cherry-picking, in a never-ending effort to learn the lessons of the past.

    • Thank you, Frank!

    • Frank, you state the truth plain and simple. Thank you!

  4. General Robert E. Lee was one of the greatest generals in American history. However, the Battle of Gettysburg was not one of his finest moments. His troops initially forced his hand when they blindly stumbled into the vanguard of the Union army. I have a collateral ancestor (Thomas Blansett) who was in a Union cavalry unit that bore the brunt of the initial Confederate charges. He was killed and his name, along with several others, are on an obelisk on a hill just outside of Gettysburg. General Lee, after two days of battle, had been fought to a standstill. There was little, if any, chance of a victory on the third day. General Longstreet, Lee’s trust aide, urged Lee to retreat to fight another day, but Lee rejected Longstreet’s advice and Lee sent 10,000 troops to certain death. It was the beginning of the end for the South. All that being said, the Civil War or the War Between The States should never have happened. It was a war that was completely avoidable and it is the greatest example in our history of allowing extremists to take over the reins of government and determine policy. Legally, four states should have been allowed to withdraw from the Union because they were part of the original compact. These states were Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. The rest of the Southern States were created from land ceded to the United States, with the exception of Texas, who joined the Union voluntarily. The states created from federal lands had no legal right to secede. The Union was wrong for invading Virginia. However, General Beauregard should never have given the Union an excuse for the invasion by firing on Fort Sumter. Southern arrogance gave Lincoln a perfect excuse for escalating the war and the South did not have the men or the resources to win the war. However, do not ever say that the South fought the war to preserve slavery. The average Southern soldier had no interest in the issue. They fought with courage and fortitude over the issue of state’s rights and the protection of family and property. Several books have been written to document this fact. I have done my own research because my direct ancestors were Southerners. In every county where my family lived, they owned no slaves and neither did 93% of their neighbors. This is probably the same story for most Southerners outside of the piedmont areas. A large minority of Southerners voted to remain in the Union. However, when push came to shove, they fought bravely against the Union invader. After the repressive Reconstruction era was over, it was fitting and proper for communities to erect statutes to those soldiers who risked their lives for their states and for their families. It is irresponsible to ever attempt to erase any part of our history. It is all a part of who we are. We need to learn from the past and do everything we can not to repeat the worst parts of it. However, acting like ISIS in an attempt to eradicate the sacrifices of the past is reprehensible, at best. The county in Alabama where my people were in 1861 voted to stay in the Union because of the number of veterans of military service and their families who lived there. However, when I visited the same county and talked to distant cousins, it was as if the entire county were adamantly pro-Southern in their sympathies. We need to learn from the past and not create any more circumstances where extremists drag us into another conflict that can be easily avoided by backing off issues that cause animosity and that means both sides. Robert E. Lee was a soldier, but he was a man of peace. He wanted desperately to avoided a clash that would harm his beloved Virginia. But, he was forced to make choices beyond his control. Let us honor his commitment to peace and not make the same mistakes that forced him to become a man of war.

    • Eual D. Blansett, Jr.: We should consider your potent point… “allowing extremists to take over the reins of government and determine policy.” Bravo. You bring to mind words in Washington’s Farewell Address (in part), viz:: “However combinations or associations may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which lifted them to unjust dominion.” Thank you for this observation.

    • Well said n written. Your insight is very true. They were all Americans and trying to save their heritage and way of life. No one now has the right to try to tear down History or remove it! We learn by the errors of others. To destroy only means they have not learned and are to blind to listen.

    • Amen don’t try to divide us even more by destroying history. We were defeated. Carpetbaggers destroyed what was left. Let our soldiers and brace men Rest In Peace.

    • Thank you for explaining this accurately. Many of my ancestors were born and raised in Winston County Alabama. Others came from other counties of North Alabama and fought and died for the cause. They were not fighting FOR slavery as most were very poor farmers with large families trying to survive. They did not own slaves.
      I am not as knowledgeable as you but I love all the statues and monuments in memory of Conferderates who fought and died. They represent our history. They represent my history. If these monuments are removed or destroyed, then what monuments are next? What other controversial history will be erased? If Confederate monuments can be removed, then any and all others are at risk. History is just that and should always be remembered, because the old saying of “if you don’t remember history, you are bound to repeat it” is so true! I have visited Gettysburg and was in tears at the sadness and enormity of loss of life on both sides. I would never ask that Union monuments be removed or that the history of the battles that the Union lost be changed, or that the horrible conditions of prisons on both sides be erased. We need to remember that horror in order to be more human and humane in the future.
      Most people don’t seem to have an interest in learning ALL the details of history that led to succession and eventual War Between the States. It is easier to just lay the blame on slavery.

    • Linnith Arnold: Were your ancestors part of the 15th or 47th Alabama? Those Alabama men put up a heck of a fight trying to take Little Roundtop from Joshua Chamberlain, as did the 4th and 15th Texas Regiments. I’m no expert, but I gather the Alabamans took the brunt of the action. They were most likely exhausted, hungry and thirsty, but try they did.Colonel Chamberlain(later given a brevet promotion to General ) hung tight, however, with the 20th Maine. Some say he received too much credit for the defense, but that’s another story. Had the Confederates taken Little Roundtop, the outcome of the battle may have been different.

  5. Can you say whooey? Really Anne? The North should’ve left the South alone ?
    Maybe the South should’ve done away with slavery. I’m tired of hearing revisionist history. The war was fought over slavery. Pure and simple. Basing it on the economics of slavery is just being obtuse.
    Go away.

    • Hey Bill, you know NOTHING about the Civil War except what you have read & studied, just as WE do!! Dont make yourself Stupid…the war was about MANY things. Slavery was only a big part of it. The war was about different peoples opinion on a large number of issues. Slavery was just the most common issue that everyone understood. Maybe you are making a little much out of nothing!! And, I will bet that you are NOT a Southerner!!!

    • You have read the wrong history books. I beleave that with your attitude, if
      you were in charge you would have the reminents of DACHAU destroyed

    • Bill,

      You are not tired of revisionist history, you have swallowed it all and with relish. Without thinking with depth you think you have grasped the ‘true’ history, pure and simple.

      By the way, it is NEVER pure and simple.

  6. A. F. Young, 2nd Lt. Company G, 14th South Carolina Infantry commanded by A. P. Hill.

    • Aha — yet ANOTHER named Terrorist who fought with the insurgency to overthrow our Country.

      God was on the side of right-thinking Unionists who fought to preserve the Constitution.

      God bless the USA

    • Ralph, the military leader that you call a ‘Terrorist” was NOT trying to overthrow a country. Nor were Gen. Lee, Gen. “Stonewall” Jackson or others. As Pres. Jeff Davis said, “All we want is to be left alone” to follow our own understanding of the documents the Founders wrote. It’s actually incorrect to label the conflict of 1861-65 the “Civil War” because such a war is defined as two opposing forces fighting to get control of the same government — as in the English Civil War of the 1600s — while the Confederacy had no plans to overthrow Lincoln’s government in DC or to annex any of the Yankee states.

      As for “Terrorist”? How on Earth could that be? The Confederates who invaded Pennsylvania leading up to their defeat at Gettysburg were strictly ordered by Gen. Lee not to raid farms, to pay the owners for items they might take and to not molest Yankee civilians. By contrast, firebug Sherman (as well as Sheridan and Grant) practiced “total warfare”, where there was no difference in cruel treatment of combatants and cruel treatment of civilians including women (who were raped), the elderly (whose homes went up in flames) and children (who were left helpless orphans). After torching Atlanta Sherman commanded a scorched earth policy in Georgia and then the Carolinas. Sheridan did the same in the Shenandoah, and Grant to a lesser degree in northern and northeastern parts of Virginia.

      To my knowledge (and I did intensive research during the sesquicentennial of the War) no Yankee was left homeless with all his possessions burned to ashes, but Sherman, Sheridan and Grant’s minions left thousands of Southerners destitute and homeless, often in the face of oncoming winter.

      So then, WHO were the REAL Terrorists? If we’re talking about removing statues and names from schools, streets or counties, let us begin with the three Terrorists I’ve named from Yankee leadership! But the better road to the future will be to recognize that neither side was all good or all bad but a mixture, and that leaders on both sides can for various reasons be considered heroes. Let the monuments and statues stand and the place names remain, so our grandchildren will ask about them, learn of the most important event in our nation’s history, and not repeat the same mistakes!

    • Again, let’s tone it down. Talk of “terrorists” is way out of line, in either direction. As Sherman said and as US military leaders have practiced ever since, “war is hell.” We dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, rightly or wrongly, with the intention of saving lives that would have been lost in a protracted and pointless extension of the Pacific war – exactly the same calculation Sherman and Grant made. Lee may well have given very genteel instructions to his troops, but then he was trying to convince Northerners to abandon their campaign to preserve the Union. Jeff Davis may well have said “We want to be left alone,” but unilateral secession was not a right states had under the Constitution, Lincoln was bound by his oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, and he was deeply devoted to the United States as a nation ready to take its place among the great nations of the world. Let’s drop the over-heated rhetoric and accept the fact that this was war, and it was fought in the midst of a most complex political and moral environment that we will probably never completely understand. Nobody was a terrorist, and nobody had clean hands.

  7. I should admit that I have no horse in this race. I have two great grandfathers and one great great grandfather who fought for the Confederacy and one great grandfather who fought for the Union. I can’t convince myself that there was a winner. My Union soldier great grandfather lost one of his brothers. One of my wife’s ancestor families lost all the male members except for one son who was in the army at only 16 when the war ended. They fought for both sides, they died on both sides, I can’t see that there was a winner. Regardless of why the war was fought, the only good that came of it was the end of slavery.

    • You are right aboutt he end of slavery.Also we should not over look the facts about the ancestors of those slaves having the privliage of getting a Harvard education..I dont know about the number of slaves that returned to Africa?/

  8. Yes I have 5 Hubbard relations that were there and with Lee when he surrendered.Fikes relatives that never returned and gggg grand father Rufus l. Lucas captured at battle of wilderness and sent to Elmira prison in ny. My great uncle wrote the book the 44th Alabama infantry.charles Boyd.

  9. I also had family on both sides during the Civil War. My 3 x Great Grandfather, Charles Gray, served in the 78th NY Volunteers under Brig. Gen. George S. Greene and survived. I also had ancestors who were slave owners and others who were Quakers who helped on the Underground Railroad to freedom for those escaping slavery. Perhaps I am endowed with an overactive imagination or a heightened sense of empathy, but I can immerse myself in the history to a point where I can understand and put myself in the shoes of both sides. With life as it was THEN, the thought, belief systems and understandings of that era, decisions were made that we would not make today, with the hindsight of what we NOW believe and understand. The same can be said throughout history…but this is OUR history…an American story of pain and division and hardship and intolerance that tore us apart. The best thing we can do at this point is to attempt to understand the past, take lessons from it, and leave animosity behind us in the dust and in the graves…where it belongs.

  10. So very disappointed in most all of you on this blog! It was set up so we could honor those of our ancestors who fought and died in a savage and cruel war. It was not supposed to be a place to highlight the ignorance and incivility of many of you! What my mother taught me when I was a child has served me well in life, and it would do some of you well to learn – “If you haven’t anything nice to say, keep quiet and think.”

  11. Hello
    I am English, I hope who ever reads this is not offended by an Englishman’s comments. I have spent many months over the years working in Colorado, I love the country there. However during a tour in the east my greatest memory is visiting Gettysburg. We spent a day there and I will always remember the tours we took. It is the memorials to the regiments on both sides that left an everlasting memory. We also visited Richmond and was impressed by all the statues there.
    In London there are many statues to people for all sorts of reasons. They all have contributed to history, some dying for their beliefs they held at the time. Some people do not like a statue to a person whose beliefs do no coincide with modern thinking and would have them removed. Just like both sides of your civil war people with ‘modern thinking’ want to remove certain statues and memorials. I say ‘no’, they are part of history and should remain.
    Please forgive an outsider’s comments.

    • Thank you, Ron, for your observations from an impartial “outsider”. You English have a much calmer, more even temper perhaps, than do some of us on this side of the “Big Pond”. I hope that some of those who have posted emotional and one-sided views here will read and take to heart what you wrote. Thanks again!

    • Thank you, Ron, for your comment. Glen Alan Graham took the words out of my mouth –I couldn’t have said it better.

    • No Ron, I thank you for them.

  12. My dad, who was a combat Marine Corps veteran wounded at Guadalcanal researched our family ancestry and was humbled by finding out that his great grandfather paid a substitute a $ 300 enlistment fee (apparently legal in the north) in 1863 to take his place when he was drafted in Chicago. Dad never lived that one down……….

    • Kevin, where did you find that information about paying a substitute? I have been told that my great-great grandfather did the same in northwestern Missouri. But I don’t know where to look for proof. I would think there would be records, but haven’t found any yet.

    • Great point Kevin. A little known fact, but as true as true can be. Southern “gentry” often pd their fee in gold or silver and this led to a major indiscretion in the southern society’s representation in the Confederate Army. Vast majority of Confederate soldiers did not own slaves, they were fighting for States Rights, better known in those days as Southern Pride!!

    • Maybe that’s why it was called “A rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight”. I think it was Shelby Foote who recounted the story of the southern prisoner being interrogated by his Union captors. Supposedly the prisoner was asked why he fought for the Confederacy and his response was “Because your’e here.”

  13. So many of us grew up with history books written by the “winner” of the fracas, call it what you want, back in the early 1860’s.

    Reading then contemporary records of both the Union and Confederate leadership place a little different twist on the occurrences.

    Personally, I read original papers from the the time preceding the American Revolution supporting the assertion that we are The United “States” of America, not some monolithic Power exerting its will on its subjects. And, that the fracas was the result of economic and political usurpation of power by the Union.

    John L.

  14. My husband, Albert H. Pettigrew sr was a descendant of
    General James Johnson Pettigrew. The military runs in the make-up of this family. His two sons and a daughter were in the Military. I am proud of them all. I was in the Air Force when we married. My Father, two brothers and a sister were also military. It has been a good life.
    Stella

  15. In the 1850s would there have been many who would have believed that in the following decade Americans would slaughter other Americans in the 100s of thousands? I had at least one great, great grandfather who was slain in the Civil War fighting for Iowa in the Vicksburg campaign. I would gladly forgo all statues and other memorials in exchange for civility between Americans today. Then my ancestor’s death would not have been in vain. Unfortunately, today the hatred is seemingly worse than it has ever been.
    I bet there are many Americans like me who fear that another bloodbath is imminent – I say within 5 years. Unlike in the 1850s, I think that people today see the inevitability of another bloody civil war between red and blue communities. The hatred, disrespect, and contempt are just incredible as is the lethality of modern weapons. This time millions could die. I look forward to seeing the lovely statues that will be erected! [If you can’t tell, that is what is known as sarcasm.]
    The other side (regardless of which side you are on) are a bunch of rabid dogs foaming at the mouth! Don’t you think that the Confederate flag has prolonged and exacerbated the hatred for far too long?
    However, I am convinced that more talk is pointless. We just don’t listen to each other. The other side makes points that to me are irrelevant and I am sure that the other side feels the same way about me. Trump’s Russian comrades are in the Kremlin laughing their heads off at us ALL.

    • Oh! I meant to add: How many guns do each of us own? And who do we expect to shoot with those guns? Other Americans, right!

  16. Thanks to all of those who have shared personal histories and have expanded our understanding of this long-ago time. The old adage that if we do not understand history we are condemned to repeat it, rings true to me and I appreciate those who are trying to enhance understanding. I think it was one of our founding fathers that said no question was so dangerous that it could not be discussed – amen. I too had ancestors on both sides of the civil war, and, in fact, I had ancestors on both sides of the revolutionary war. Hopefully I am learning from each of their stories.

  17. Hello everyone, it is that interfering Englishman again. I wrote a comment regarding statues and memorials a day or so ago. I have been reading older comments and ranting concerning the Civil War. I am amazed at the deep feelings that still exist. It is true that the victors of any conflict get to write (in some cases rewrite history) or slant history in their favour. Is it the same in the USA as in UK that history is not taught in schools. I find in the UK that most people under 30 have no idea of history and that is in a country where ever you walk you trip over history!
    I have never fully understood what actually happened to start the American Civil War. It wasn’t slavery, although that was an issue in forming new states. What was the reason that the Union used to start a conflict when States wanted to leave the Union? Did they not have the right to leave?
    Back to the memorials and statues, I have read previous comments liking some statues being like Hitler, come on???
    In London there is a statue outside the Houses of Parliament to Oliver Cromwell who closed down Parliament for five years and reigned as Lord Protector (Dictator). When the Royalist returned they dug him up and beheaded his corpse!
    Nearby is a statue of Richard I, as king he spent no more than 6 months in England, a statue???? In Trafalgar Square is a statue of Charles I, executed for treason. What I am trying to say is that these people are all part of history and one time or another they were very much out of favour. Maybe in time your defeated Confederate memorials will be looked upon in a different light.
    Please excuse a foreigner making a comment.

    • Your outlook is great…and something I think we need to hear and listen to. Thank you.

    • Ron Trodd: I believe you are referring to the Missouri Compromise, an effort by Congress to avoid conflict by Missouri’s application to join the Union. The short version is that Congress authorized Missouri to enter the Union as a slave state, while admitting Maine (once part of Massachusetts) as a non-slave state. The compromise outraged the southern states, who felt that Congress had no authority to control slavery. Fuel was added to the fire when the compromise was declared unconstitutional be the Supreme Court. During that same period South Carolina was attempting to “nullify” tariffs imposed by Congress. After a stern show of force by President Jackson, South Carolina backed down and in turn Congress lowered the tariffs. All these machinations only postponed the brewing conflict. There were many social forces in play, but it is hard to argue that slavery was not a driving force leading to the War.

    • Ron Trodd: Just a note to answer your second question about the right of secession. I’m no historian and readily confess that my speculation is subject to correction, but I have often wondered why the Southern States did not resort to judicial determination of their right to withdraw from the Union. The Chief Justice in that time frame was Justice Taney. He had made a rather oddball comment at one time that the south indeed did not have a right to secede, but the Government did NOT have the right to stop them. Apparently these were his private views that did not really make sense. There were Virginians on the Court at that time, if memory serves. Assuming the southern states lost such a case, it could then have decided to act militarily. There is certainly precedent for government ignoring the Supreme Court, as shown by the tragic “Trail of Tears”. Jackson stripped Indians of their property and moved them west, even though the Supreme Court said it was unconstitutional. Supposedly Pres. Jackson remarked “John Marshall said it, let him enforce it”, or words to that effect. Note, however, that in 1868 the Supreme Court definitively ruled that States could not withdraw from the Union in a Texas case. Thank you for commenting on this blog.

    • Hi Ron, you’re a brave man to so innocently ask the question about causes. As some have thoughtfully said here (as compared to some who commented less than thoughtfully), there were a number of major and minor precursors to the conflict, very few of which on their own would have been likely to lead to an actual shooting war, but you did mistake one aspect in your question. The Union did not “start” the conflict, if by “start” you mean commencing military action. Lincoln was quite explicitly prepared to allow the existing slave states to keep their slaves as long as they remained in the Union. Keeping their slaves apparently was not enough, and many at the time took the view that they had a right to dissolve their union with the rest of the United States. Lincoln took the view, as did many, that they had given up that right when they willingly signed the Constitution that (leaning on the Articles of Confederation it replaced, which was actually a much weaker document) established a “perpetual” Union and included no explicit right of secession. The Supreme Court decided one case later on the question and ruled that the Constitution does not, in fact, grant states a right to unilaterally secede, though it allowed that there may be a process by which a state could gain the consent of the other states to do so, and it also allowed that, as stated in the Declaration of Independence, any state has a natural right of rebellion. In that light, one could say that South Carolina, faced with the continued presence of Federal troops at a Federal military installation at Fort Sumter, decided to exercise its natural right of rebellion and commenced the military action – an attack on a supply ship attempting to re-provision Fort Sumter and subsequent bombardment of the fort itself – that started the war. In the end, slavery may not have been “the” cause of the war, and the Union did not enter into the conflict with the intention of “freeing slaves” (though the Federal government’s blocking of slavery in the new territories was taken by the slave states as a provocation), but as I’ve commented elsewhere, the question of slavery had been an open wound in the Republic right from the outset, the Founders knew it would need to be resolved sooner or later, and the Civil War resolved it. Say what you will about the role slavery played specifically in sparking the initial conflict, but read Lincoln’s First Inaugural and then read his Second Inaugural to get a fairly good sense of how the role of slavery evolved through the course of the War. It was, in the end, about slavery first and foremost, though certainly one cannot disagree with those thoughtful commentators that there were many other grievances, real and imagined, that had piled up over the years leading up to 1861 that only added fuel to the fire.

    • Michael,

      Appreciated your comment. Your statement:

      “Lincoln was quite explicitly prepared to allow the existing slave states to keep their slaves as long as they remained in the Union”

      interested me. Where did you find information indicating that? I would appreciate any backup you can provide.

      Best,

    • Simpson, thanks for the question. It’s perhaps a better question to ask what proof anyone would offer that Lincoln ever proposed prior to the War that slavery be abolished in the Slave states (he did not), but for positive evidence I would point to his First Inaugural Address. There, on the question of the rights of the Slave states to maintain the institution of slavery he said the following:

      “Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern States that by the accession of a Republican Administration their property and their peace and personal security are to be endangered. There has never been any reasonable cause for such apprehension. Indeed, the most ample evidence to the contrary has all the while existed and been open to their inspection. It is found in nearly all the published speeches of him who now addresses you. I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that—

      ‘I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.’

      Those who nominated and elected me did so with full knowledge that I had made this and many similar declarations and had never recanted them; and more than this, they placed in the platform for my acceptance, and as a law to themselves and to me, the clear and emphatic resolution which I now read:

      Resolved, That the maintenance inviolate of the rights of the States, and especially the right of each State to order and control its own domestic institutions according to its own judgment exclusively, is essential to that balance of power on which the perfection and endurance of our political fabric depend; and we denounce the lawless invasion by armed force of the soil of any State or Territory, no matter what pretext, as among the gravest of crimes.”

      Note in particular the last bit, where I’d emphasize the use of the phrase “lawless invasion” – relevant to the next excerpt, which deals with the question of Lincoln’s resolve to preserve the Union:

      “A disruption of the Federal Union, heretofore only menaced, is now formidably attempted.

      I hold that in contemplation of universal law and of the Constitution the Union of these States is perpetual. Perpetuity is implied, if not expressed, in the fundamental law of all national governments. It is safe to assert that no government proper ever had a provision in its organic law for its own termination. Continue to execute all the express provisions of our National Constitution, and the Union will endure forever, it being impossible to destroy it except by some action not provided for in the instrument itself.

      Again: If the United States be not a government proper, but an association of States in the nature of contract merely, can it, as a contract, be peaceably unmade by less than all the parties who made it? One party to a contract may violate it—break it, so to speak—but does it not require all to lawfully rescind it?

      Descending from these general principles, we find the proposition that in legal contemplation the Union is perpetual confirmed by the history of the Union itself. The Union is much older than the Constitution. It was formed, in fact, by the Articles of Association in 1774. It was matured and continued by the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It was further matured, and the faith of all the then thirteen States expressly plighted and engaged that it should be perpetual, by the Articles of Confederation in 1778. And finally, in 1787, one of the declared objects for ordaining and establishing the Constitution was “to form a more perfect Union.”

      But if destruction of the Union by one or by a part only of the States be lawfully possible, the Union is less perfect than before the Constitution, having lost the vital element of perpetuity.

      It follows from these views that no State upon its own mere motion can lawfully get out of the Union; that resolves and ordinances to that effect are legally void, and that acts of violence within any State or States against the authority of the United States are insurrectionary or revolutionary, according to circumstances.

      I therefore consider that in view of the Constitution and the laws the Union is unbroken, and to the extent of my ability, I shall take care, as the Constitution itself expressly enjoins upon me, that the laws of the Union be faithfully executed in all the States. Doing this I deem to be only a simple duty on my part, and I shall perform it so far as practicable unless my rightful masters, the American people, shall withhold the requisite means or in some authoritative manner direct the contrary. I trust this will not be regarded as a menace, but only as the declared purpose of the Union that it will constitutionally defend and maintain itself.

      In doing this there needs to be no bloodshed or violence, and there shall be none unless it be forced upon the national authority. The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the Government and to collect the duties and imposts; but beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion, no using of force against or among the people anywhere.”

      Lincoln’s interpretation of the Constitution and his duties thereunder were later largely confirmed by the Supreme Court and have never seriously been challenged by Constitutional scholars.

      So he never had any intention of forcing abolition on the Slave states, but neither did he have any intention of tolerating armed rebellion, and his oath of office compelled him to respond as he did. He was willing to tolerate much, even slavery (on which his personal views did indeed evolve and shift over time, but which by 1861 he had certainly come to view as immoral), in order to preserve the Union, and he was willing to mobilize the might of the United States if necessary in order to defend it.

    • Wow……

      Thanks very much Michael.

      I have always felt States Rights played a larger role in the rebellion than I had been taught in school and have further wondered why serious historians (Doris Kearns Goodwin, for example) have so emphatically denied or downplayed that fact.

      Best.

    • Michael Hogan: Your two posts brought on by Ron Trodd’s questions were excellent. Thank you. I realize we have digressed from the Battle of Gettysburg, but the discussion on the dynamic that lead to that significant event have been well worth the discussion. As a footnote, speaking of President Lincoln and what may fairly be referred to as his political machinations, I will add his reference to slavery (in part) in a letter penned to Horace Greely in August, 1862. Therein the President stated “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it and if I could save it by freeing all of the slaves I would do it.” The curious part of this letter was its timing. The President had already prepared a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation and shared it with Cabinet members who were not in favor of it. He sat on the proclamation hoping for a significant field victory ( the North was not doing so well at this point in time). After that bloody day at Antietam, even though Gen’l McClelland withdrew from the field, it allowed Gen’l Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia to escape back into Virginia. At that point, I suppose, President Lincoln figured that was the best he was going to get for a victory and made public the Proclamation public (considering it only freed slaves in states over which the Union had no control, perhaps it is further evidence of political machination on his part). What is interesting is that he already had a draft of the Proclamation prepared, while he is writing his letter to Greely! Certainly, the Emancipation Proclamation shifted the tone of the whole War, causing it to gain a level of “morality” it lacked previously. Ron Trodd may be able to help with what may be my failing memory, but it seems I recall that the Emancipation Proclamation itself… after heated discussion about slavery in general and the textile industry in particular among the British… dissuaded England from any notion it may have had about recognition of the Confederacy or armed intervention. Once again, thanks to you both.

    • I don’t know if “machinations” is an entirely fair way to describe Lincoln’s navigation of the political obstacles to his principle objective of defending and preserving the Union, but he was certainly navigating in a super-charged and extremely dangerous political environment where views about slavery and race would seem to have been far more complex than they are today. To expand on Walton Barnes’ story about Lincoln sitting an early draft of the proclamation, it is arguable that the seeds of the proclamation were planted even earlier, barely a month after the war started in May 1861, far from the White House at Ft. Monroe, Virginia. Three Virginia slaves escaped from the work gang they’d been pressed into building emplacements for the Confederate forces surrounding the fort and presented themselves to the Union garrison seeking safe passage to freedom. The Confederate officers facing the fort presented themselves under a white flag and “requested” the return of their property. The garrison commander, Benjamin Butler, was a lawyer from Massachusetts who, while being an abolitionist himself was also savvy enough to know that he needed to tread very carefully given the official policy governing Union forces at that time, as well as the political calculations behind them. He informed the Confederate officers that the three slaves were the property of enemy forces being used to wage war on the Union garrison and would therefore not be returned, making them what soon came to be referred to as “war contraband.” The military usefulness of this very limited tactic was too compelling for Lincoln and his cabinet to ignore, so they chose not to move against it, and the stage was now set for what led to the Emancipation Proclamation, which as Walton Barnes correctly noted even in 1863 only emancipated those slaves who came under the control of Union forces. As hundreds and then thousands of slaves seized the opportunity to present themselves to Union forces as war contraband, the problem soon arose as to what to do with all of this seized “property” – return them, sell them, free them, which of these? In retrospect the answer seems so clear, but Lincoln was mainly concerned with securing the Union while holding together his political support in the North, which (surprising to many today) was not at all united, at least early in the war, behind the idea that the Federal Government should be waging war to free slaves. So yes, as this pressure unleashed by Benjamin Butler grew and grew, Lincoln dithered and deliberated and calculated until he felt the political time was right to address it without undermining his ability actually make it stick. The path to full abolition of slavery was a complicated one, but we got there, and the United States survived as a nation in the process.

    • Well done, Mr. Hogan. Thank you for the additional detail. This has really (for the most part) been a stimulating discussion. I have learned from it. Thank you.

    • Ron, I don’t consider you an “interfering Englishman”. I value the input of a disinterested “outsider”, especially an Englishman who had no horses in this race. And again, I truly do hope that folks who have posted emotionally here and especially those who want to obliterate monuments and all memory of the War will read your observations and take them to heart.

      Thanks for providing level-headed contributions to this discussion!

    • Ron, I don’t consider you an “interfering Englishman”. I value the input of a disinterested “outsider”, especially an Englishman who had no horses in this race. And again, I truly do hope that folks who have posted emotionally here and especially those who want to obliterate monuments and all memory of the War will read your observations and take them to heart.

      Thanks for providing level-headed contributions to this discussion!

    • Ron Trodd, I really appreciate your insights and comments about statues in London. As a traveler to London in 1994 and 1997, I was amazed at the number of statues and monuments to British history. But, I knew too little about your history — which is also my own history given my ancestors who came from England in 1629 (or 1632) — to think about whether these were “good guys” or “bad guys”. You have enlightened me. It doesn’t matter whether they were “good” or “bad”; they are part of your history.

      As to the monuments and statues to Confederates which are being removed, perhaps they are being stored somewhere, as someone said on this blog. But it does seem to me that we are guilty of the same destruction of cultural heritage as is ISIS. We condemn ISIS for what they have done. Are we not doing the same thing? Whether some people like it or not — those individuals are part of the cultural heritage of the southern states.

      My 2nd grandfather, Merrick/Americus Graham enlisted in Co E, 115th Illinois Infantry on 10 Feb 1863. He was wounded at the Battle of Chickamauga, Georgia; furloughed home to recover; transferred to Co A, 21st Illinois; and mustered out at San Antonio, Texas on 16 Dec 1865. Merrick’s older brother, Jacob, and father, Harrison, enlisted in Co E, 41st Illinois Infantry on 8 May 1861. Jacob was killed at the Battle of Shiloh; Merrick drowned in the Decatur River in Illinois while in the Union Army two months after his son was killed. The person who suffered most by these deaths was Sarah Graham, widow & mother of the two who died — and mother to the 7 surviving children.

      I am told by my southern (Virginia) cousins from a different line of my family that I am not considered to be a Yankee — apparently I am a westerner and there’s a difference. But my Graham ancestors fought on the Union side — and I have some Harmans & Fullers who fought on the Confederate side. I don’t want to see monuments to either side be torn down.

      Sorry, I got a little carried away there in response to your great post.

    • As there’s been some discussion here of statues of various historical figures in England, I thought it worth noting that the only American President honored with a statue in Parliament Square in Westminster is Abraham Lincoln. I always thought that was the best evidence that our English cousins are good judges of character.

    • Thank you, Michael Hogan, for posting that portion of Lincoln’s first inaugural speech. I had never read that before (perhaps in school 60+ years ago) and your post encouraged me to read the entire speech.

      If everyone read that, I think all questions about “who started the war” would be answered. It does seem to answer the question about “states rights” being the reason the southern states seceded.

      When discussing the Civil War, my son has always contended that the issue was not slavery, but states rights. Today, I suggested he read this speech (6-1/2 printed pages from the Library of Congress); and read several pertinent lines to him over the phone. He was as surprised as I was at what Lincoln said before the beginning of the war.

      Thank you again.

  18. Hello folks
    I would like to thank Michael and Walton for there help in trying to educate a non American. I do study history when I can and I was aware of the Compromise and Fort Sumter, I was unaware of the ‘right to rebellion’, what a strange phrase. I know that Fort Sumter was the actual spark to a shooting war and I always thought the fort was a great provocation. If the actions against the fort was considered under the ‘right to rebellion’, it explains a lot. I always thought that it had been a very hot headed action.
    I believe you are correct about slavery, it had to go at some point. I also understand the views of the rich and influential Southern land owners in wanting to keep their slaves. A lot of their wealth was tied up in property and big chunk of that wealth was the value of the slaves they owned. It was the same in the British Empire, after long arguments about the wealth tied up with slaves, Parliament banned slave trade in 1803. It took Parliamentary reform to get the Act passed (allowing non-conformist to have public office). However Slavery was not banned until 1833, a whole generation later. For sure the conditions the slaves lived in during that period improved, because working them to death was no longer an option as replacement was illegal and therefore difficult.
    The British Empire was very much a trading empire and many forget we did just as much trade outside the Empire as within. One of our trading partners was with the slave states, cotton from these states kept the mills in Lancashire very busy. Although we had abandoned slavery we were quite happy to make money on the backs of slaves in other countries. Money is a big motivator!!!

    • Ron, I so appreciate your reference to Fort Sumter as a “great provocation”. Before I go further, let me confess that Pres. Abraham Lincoln is my third cousin five times removed, and I see him as a great leader in some aspects and not at all great in others.

      One of the not at all great aspects is that after intensive study of the issues leading up to the firing upon the fort I have the firm conclusion that Lincoln was itching to provoke the Confederacy into attacking, and Fort Sumter provided the means for this. Yes, the South actually fired the first shots, but they were clearly provoked into doing so.

      It’s like the start of the war against Mexico. Spain and then Mexico had recognized the Nueces River as the southern boundary of Texas and not the Río Grande further south. So when Pres. Polk deliberately sent US soldiers into the disputed area between the two rivers he was plainly provoking an attack by the Mexicans. Then he could say, incorrectly, that “American blood had been shed on American soil.”

    • Ron, I also appreciate your brief history of the gradual abolition of slavery in the British Empire. I readily admit that slavery was one of the causes of our so-called Civil War, and that its existence in any part of the USA was an intolerable rebuttal to our Declaration’s phrase that “all men are created equal”. And that we should be one of the last nations to abolish the “peculiar institution” is a shame.

      Also, your closing sentence/statement is so true. Money does make “the world go round” unfortunately.

    • Very true about those in the North who didn’t agree with the war being about freeing the slaves! Col. John S. Mosby had a trooper named “Big Yankee” Jim, who deserted the Union army after the Emancipation Proclamation. He said there was no way He was going to fight and die to free slaves. I sure he wasn’t the only one.

  19. War Between the States was not just for slavery, but more so States Rights. President Lincoln, in my opinion the greatest President of this great Republic, went to war to uphold the Constitution, as he was sworn to do. The debate will always be: Should we have let the South have its own government, or force them back into the Union. There will never be a wrong or right answer, except for the educated belief YOU have. Lincoln had to do what he did, or he more than likely would have been the first President impeached, not his 2nd VP, Andrew Johnson. Those brave, brave men who lost their lives, or those who lost part of their soul or body are entitled to our upmost respect for their courage and valliantry, regardless what side of the Mason-Dixon Line they represented. Play it guys, Dixie and Glory, Glory Hallelujah!!

    To the greatest country in the civilized world…Ever. God Bless the USA!!

  20. Patricia Carlson
    It is a shame that some Confederate Statues are being removed. A guess a lot can be put down to ‘Political Correctness’. I do not know the reasons put forward for there removal, at a guess it is the old slavery connection. Today we look back at our ancestors and hold our heads in shame at their actions and beliefs. I believe that we should not judge previous generations with todays morals and beliefs. Just try to image how the generations alive today will be judged in 150 years or more.
    I dare say that your ancestors left England back in the 1690s to worship in their own way.
    Slavery as carried out in the New World did not exist in Europe. Christians justified using black slaves from Africa used the story of Noah (Genesis 9 20-27. Key verse is 24). However as I have said before money is a driving force. When the Europeans arrived in the New World they devastated the indigenous population with Old World infections. Using indentured and criminals Europeans as slave labour, especially in the West Indies, did not survive for very long, However black slaves from Africa were less susceptible to European infections, they lasted approximately 7 times longer than a white man. So black slaves were justified by the above verses in the Bible, but also economically!!!
    There were probably a lot of people in the 16th and 17th century that condemned slavery but they were in the minority and financial reasons would certainly drive the majority.
    Our ‘Political Correctness’ today, some of which is totally crazy, will be frown on in shame by future generations. So don’t judge our ancestors actions and beliefs, try to understand them, it is history and cannot be changed.

    • I think that your analysis is right on. Everyone should recite your final statement. It is the crux of the issue. Kudos to you.

    • Ron Trodd and Patricia Carlson: As I recollect, the whole dispute over war memorials started over a picture of that idiot that shot up the black church. A picture was posted of him with the Confederate battle flag, causing furor over those states who flew that flag either as part of their state flag or in memorial to the Confederacy. the issue of memorials to the Confederacy ballooned after that and all presumed monuments to the Southern cause in public places were roundly condemned. I find it ironic that the idiot was also wearing a Gold’s Gym shirt in that photo. Why not condemn Gold’s Gym? Such memorials themselves to a failed rebellion causes mixed emotions. Personally, I can understand flying the flag over a statehouse may seem “official” endorsement of rebellion. I can even understand that using taxpayer money to maintain the memorials could be frowned upon. I don’t understand the failure to recognize the obvious artistry and skill. I can understand them maintained for historical and artistic purposes for those who may want to enjoy them, or visualizing the events so often studied or read about by casual students of the Civil War, such as myself. I certainly hope they are not destroyed or locked away from public view. We cannot know who we are if we don’t know who we have been; and we cannot know what we will be if we don’t know who we are. For those who disagree, please pardon my post; I will respect your point of view. In the meantime, feel free to ignore it and scroll on down.

  21. Michael Hogan
    Your reference concerning a statue of Lincoln in London. I must point out that there are other American President statues in London. There is George Washington, Franklin D Roosevelt , Ronald Reagan, Dwight Eisenhower and a bust of JFK.

    • I know. I was simply talking about Parliament Square, which (perhaps naively, as an American) I’ve always thought was a particularly important location for the English.

  22. Walton Barnes, Michael Hogan
    Gents I have much enjoyed reading and commenting on this subject and it’s spin offs.
    I do remember the report of the shooting and the Confederate Flag, I didn’t realise the incident had spark such a backlash against the flag and the memorials.
    It will always be a problem when extremist hijack symbols, especially flags. The Nazi Swastika was/is a very old emblem. In England we have the same problem, Most countries recognise our Union Jack, which is made up of three flags, the flags of England, Scotland and Ireland. The English flag of St George is a red cross on a white background. Extreme right wing parties use this flag, so many uninformed people (mostly immigrants) associate the flag with racists.
    Michael
    Yes you are correct Washington is the only US president in Parliament Square, the square is not exclusively for the British. There is Nelson Mandela and Jan Smuts, both South Africans. Jan Smuts was our enemy in the Boar War and tied up a lot of British troops with his raids. You see what I mean about time, memorials and values??? Who in the 1780s would imagine a statue of George Washington in London and who in 1900 could imagine a statue of Jan Smuts in Parliament Square!
    Back to Gettysburg, seems along way back in these discussions. I have never been to a town with so many Statues and Memorials, would it look right/correct to remove all the Confederate ones? They were all Americans that died, they all died for what they believed in and should be remembered for that.

    • Ron, this seems to be a sort of farewell message. Not surprising, because the original post concerning the final day of the Battle of Gettysburg, along with the “rabbit trail” thread of comments about monuments and symbols, have been pretty much exhausted.

      But I cannot let you leave without telling you once again how much I esteem the viewpoints of an “outsider” who has no horse in this race. Here in this posting you end with yet another sage thought: your final sentence says it all, better than I or anybody else probably could. If only folks will read and heed you!

    • True indeed!

  23. The Civil War is part of the history of America. All men go to war because they believe in their cause or their leaders or their brothers. I am glad that the states are united and that the principals set forth by our founders that all men are created equal stands today. Having said that, I don’t believe all confederates were bad. I don’t see anything wrong with statues memorializing great generals. I don’t see why they have to be torn down. They fought for their beliefs as was their right. I don’t think confederate flags should fly over government buildings as we were and are united. Private flying of the flag should be a persons right. This is just one historians opinion. We may not all agree, but attempting to hide or destroy history does not make it less real and does not wipe away the past.

  24. First and foremost, the civil war was NOT fought over the issue of slavery completely, it was fought to bring a nation, one land together to become a nation that like all nations that does not want to be ruled by 2,3, maybe even 4 different entities. The great men that fought in the war were fighting for what they believed was there right to live in peace and to protect their homes and families. Many people have the belief that slaves were mistreated completely which is not true, many, many slaves were treated with dignity and respect and many times as if they were part of the families that had them. So I say, that of the monuments of the South are being removed, why not the Northern monuments also? All the monuments pertaining to the war should either be removed or the ones already gone replaced so as not to say the North was right and the South was wrong for the war. All the men who fought in the war fought for a cause they believed in and that it had brought a nation together that is a nation that is strong and united!! GOD bless AMERICA!!!

  25. We have come a long way in uniting race relations. A perfect example is how well our service men and women get along. I spent 9 years in the U.S. Army and am very proud of my fellow soldiers white and black, etc.
    Lets take a lesson from our brave troops and practice the same understanding at home. Just look at all the wonderful leaders we have in the military. All races blended together in harmony. We should not forget the past inequities on both sides. Many Americans have fought and died for our freedom. We are indeed the Shining Light on the hill of nations.
    Instead of dwelling in the past, lets move forward in unity.
    At the end of the day we are all proud Americans.

  26. There was those who fought for the South, that didn’t even believe in Succession. Robert E. Lee was one of those. He was offered command of all U.S. Forces, but resigned, As a Colonel, when Virginia succeeded from the Union, stating, He could not raise his sword against Virginia. Having joined the Confederate Army, He was made a general, But still wore a colonel’s rank all through the war. And now His statue is under attack! smh

  27. As a child I moved from Long Island, New York to Pineville, Louisiana due to my Dad being in the Air Force. In 1963, at age 7, I didn’t understand why people would pick on me because I was from the north. It just didn’t make sense to me. In my family we had not put down people with southern accents or cared whose side your family fought on in a war that ended so long ago. I also hold no animosity toward the British or the Germans or the Japanese or the Italians or any other group of people who may have fought against relatives of mine in past generations. The people today are not responsible for what was said or done by their ancestors. Whether or not you may be proud of your ancestors does not mean you must perpetuate any past ignorance, prejudices or anger. We are researching the past here and sharing facts for posterity. There is no need for emotion in this forum unless it is the joy of sharing what we have discovered with others who also find genealogy a worthwhile pursuit.

    • I agree with you , I was born in California, raised in Oklahoma. I had relatives on my fathers side that had slaves, He owned a cotton Plantation and has slaves. I look at it like this what my ancestors did I had no control, I have no hate against my people and I have no hate against the south. We both lost family.

    • Well said. Some people just can’t let it go. And some people have other agendas. If you navigate away from the white supremacist trolls (and those who respond to them from the “all whites are guilty” lunatic fringe) and their vile outbursts there are actually a lot of very respectful and thoughtful exchanges here. It’s hard to ignore the trash but it’s worth it. This site should be off limits to that sort of nonsense, I don’t know why Fold3 doesn’t have a moderator.

  28. When I started first grade in 1950, school lunches were only ten cents, so there was no need for a lunchbox, but have been intrigued by the luhxcbones that have came out over the years.

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