John Marszalek, professor emeritus at Mississippi State University, said that William Tecumseh Sherman, despite his modern-day reputation, was the South’s “best friend” because he advocated a “hard war” and a “soft peace.”
Note: The annual anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg is this weekend. To commemorate that, we are posting, with permission, excerpts from Battlelines: Gettysburg that describe aspects of the battle. Battlelines: Gettysburg contains the battlefield drawings of Alfred Waud and Edwin Forbes, the only two artists who witnessed the battle.
Lee kept his army at Gettysburg because he believed he could win. The first day of the battle had been a good one for the Confederates, and Lee’s experience had been that given the right amount of pressure at the right time, Union forces would collapse. He believed that a second day of battle with the Confederates hitting hard at the Union lines could make that happen again.
Lee had developed a special relationship with his battlefield commanders, people like James Longstreet, Richard Ewell and A.P. Hill. His orders to them were often general and sometimes vague – deliberately so, because he want to give them room to make their own decisions and because he believed they could understand his purposes.
The fierce fighting around Devil’s Den, depicted by Alfred Waud.
But this method of command put enormous pressure on these generals to understand Lee and carry out his vague plans. It also assumed that when the actions of these general had to be coordinated, they would work together in a mutually cooperative way.
With the approach of the anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3), KCWRT.org will be providing some information about the battle during the next couple of weeks.
A great place to start is the video introduction to the battle produce by the Civil War Trust, which you can see below.
Historian Garry Adelman gives a quick run-through of the battle with lots of animation and supplementary footage.
Gettysburg is so iconic — particularly because of the Gettysburg Address that Abraham Lincoln delivered four months after the battle — that we tend to lose sight of what it meant to the people who lived during the war.
In the video below, George Rable, University of Alabama history professor, discusses the sources of information that newspaper editors during the Civil War used for their reports about battles and the war in general.
One important source was letters from soldiers — a form of what we could call today crowdsourcing. This means using the accounts of participants at an event to construct an account of that event.