Tarnished Victory: Finishing Lincoln's War
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A master Civil War historian re-creates the final year of our nation’s greatest crisis.
With Tarnished Victory William Marvel concludes his sweeping four-part series—this final volume beginning with the Virginia and Atlanta campaigns in May 1864 and closing with the final surrender of Confederate forces in June 1865. In the course of that year the war grows ever more deadly, the home front is stripped to fill the armies, and the economy is crippled by debt and inflation, while the stubborn survival of the Confederacy seriously undermines support for Lincoln’s war.
In the end, it seems that Lincoln’s early critics, who played such a pivotal role at the start of the series, are proven correct. Victory did require massive bloodshed and complete conquest of the South. It also required decades of occupation to cement the achievements of 1865, and the failure of Lincoln’s political heirs to carry through with that occupation squandered the most commendable of those achievements, ultimately making it a tarnished victory. Marvel, called the “Civil War’s master historical detective” by Stephen Sears, has unearthed provocative details and rich stories long buried beneath a century of accumulated distortion and misinterpretation to create revisionist history at its best.
Carrington, the commander of the Military District of Indiana, Governor Oliver Morton had crafted a detailed image of the K.G.C. to serve as an effective political tool for smearing any who opposed government policy. Like Sanderson, Carrington had used political connections in the summer of 1861 to secure a direct appointment as colonel in the Regular Army. He compiled an imaginative report on an armed, ninety-two-thousand-man fifth column lurking in Indiana, and Morton prepared that novella for
governor—supposed that the narrowness of Lincoln’s victory in New York reflected the fruit of Democratic “cheating.” Ralph Waldo Emerson’s daughter fumed that even 72 of Concord’s 327 voters disgraced her beloved Massachusetts town by siding with McClellan, but the outcome seemed satisfactory enough for most Union soldiers, and their camps rang with cheers from Tidewater Virginia to the Gulf of Mexico. The McClellan men among them bore their disappointment in silence, or grieved privately for
cupolas of the courthouse and customs house, and jubilant Western soldiers started the town’s bells ringing. The bridges over the Appomattox had been burned, so the only thing to do was ferret out Confederate stragglers and secure the city. Crowds of erstwhile slaves, cheering madly, met columns of the Ninth Corps as they started marching into the city.77 The Sixth Corps came into town from the west, and the rest of the Ninth Corps from the east and south. Once order had been restored, most of
46(3):716–17; Hilon Parker to “Dear Father,” April 9, 1865, CL; Boston Herald, April 12, 1865; Burlingame, Brooks Dispatches, 183–84; CWL, 8:399–405; Beale, Welles Diary, 2:279–81. “Governor” Peirpoint changed the spelling of his name in 1881. 8. CWL, 8:399–401; Beale, Welles Diary, 2:281. Peirpoint’s minority government had been elected from and by residents of western Virginia in 1861, but the Lincoln administration continued to recognize it as the government of the Old Dominion after the
he had led for more than a year. These all lay along the left bank of the Rapidan River, facing well-fortified heights on the right bank occupied by Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. Behind Meade, Ambrose Burnside’s huge Ninth Corps worked its way up the Orange & Alexandria Railroad to cooperate in the latest spring offensive, bringing Union manpower in that sector to twice that of Lee. Five hundred miles to the south and west, William T. Sherman readied a similar host below Chattanooga