Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Discussion Question (Don’t Worry, It Won’t Be Graded)

Traditional histories of the American Civil War tend to state that the Union success that cemented the re-election of Abraham Lincoln was the capture of Atlanta at the beginning of September, 1864. However, if one is to believe Dr. Gary Gallagher’s thesis that citizens of both the Union and Confederacy always had their eyes glued on what was happening in the eastern theater and gave it more importance than what was happening in the western theater, what impact – if any – would the Union successes gained during the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm (including New Market Heights), fought September 29-30, 1864, have had on Northern morale and the re-election possibilities for the President?


1 comment:

  1. Probably, the Union success at New Market Heights would have had a substantial effect on Northern morale and Lincoln's re-election hopes. Capturing NMH moved Butler and Hancock's armies north of the James River, freeing Butler at last from his "corked bottle" and positioning the Union within striking distance of Richmond. Jeff Davis very likely felt stressed and wanted Lee to push Grant south, away from the capital. Unfortunately, the Union couldn't exploit the gain it made and had to rely on the effects of continued siege warfare until the spring campaigns could start. Over the winter, more of Lee's men deserted, his supplies grew sparse, and Sherman and Sheridan's movements clouded his outlook.