History of the Civil War Readers Guide – Portraits

 Portraits in Watercolor, by Kevin Peddicord

(Starting at upper left, counter clockwise)

  1. Abraham Lincoln, 16th U.S. President – On Nov. 6, 1860, he became the first Republican candidate elected president of the United States. Born and raised in Kentucky, on the edge of the frontier, his family later settled in Illinois. After one term in Congress, Lincoln practiced law until spurred back into politics by the growing national debate over the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Lincoln emerged as one of the nation’s leading voices against the expansion of slavery. In 1858, he engaged with Stephen Douglas in a series of debates which ended with Douglas elected senator and Lincoln as a contender for the presidency in 1860. After becoming president, Lincoln successfully led the Union in the Civil War, which ended in the spring of 1865. Lincoln won re-election in 1864, but served only one month of his second term after being shot and killed by John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865.
  2. Edwin M. Stanton, Union Secretary of War – Lincoln’s closest advisor during the Civil War, Stanton was given control of the War Department nine months into the conflict. He successfully mobilized the economic and industrial might of the North into a powerful military machine, remaining in office for three years after Lincoln’s assassination. President Andrew Johnson, who differed with Stanton over reconstruction policy, tried to remove him from office, but was prevented by Congress, leading to Johnson’s impeachment.
  3. Gen. William T. Sherman – Sherman began the war as a relatively unknown colonel, but ended it as the Union’s second most important and successful general. He formed a close friendship with Ulysses S. Grant after Sherman’s valor at Shiloh, and the two worked closely thereafter. Grant made Sherman overall commander of the Union’s Western army and in 1864 Sherman captured Atlanta and then marched his army to the Atlantic port city of Savannah, Ga. Sherman’s March, as it became known, was a crucial element in the North’s victory.
  4. Gen. Philip H.  Sheridan – The North had many advantages in the Civil War, but it couldn’t match the South’s cavalry and cavalry officers. The exception was Sheridan, who was the North’s most decorated cavalry officer. At Perryville, Stones River, Chickamauga and Chattanooga, Sheridan distinguished himself. But it was his Shenandoah Valley Campaign in the winter of ’64-65 that made him legendary.
  5. Gen. George H. Thomas – Thomas was born into a Virginian slave-holding family, but he remained loyal to the Union after his state seceded. He became one of Union’s most important leaders, serving nearly the whole of the war in the Western Theater. His role in the battles Mill Springs, Shiloh, Corinth, Perryville, Chickamauga, Stones River, Chattanooga, Franklin and Nashville was crucuial. He came to be known as the Rock of Chickamauga after his desperate holding action allowed the rest of Gen. William Rosecrans Army of the Cumberland to safely retreat.
  6. Gen. George B. McClellan – McClellan could have been the great hero of the Civil War, but his caution in the face of uncertainty and lack of confidence in his own army led him to hesitate in battle. In November of 1861, he was given overall command of the Union Army. His success in training and readying his army gave him a force that should have been able to roll over Lee’s Confederates, but instead, letting Lee dictate the action, he was always on the defensive, until finally Lincoln lost patience with him and relieved him of command. He began the war nicknamed “Little Napoleon”, but ended it as “The Virginia Creeper.” Two years after he was replaced he accepted the Democratic nomination to oppose Lincoln in the 1864 presidential election, but he did no better against Lincoln than he had done against Lee.
  7. Adm. David Farragut – Union naval superiority was critical to the outcome of the war and Farragut was the North’s most important admiral. He was 60 years old when sent with a fleet to take the city of New Orleans. His success there was spectacular, but it was his daring capture of Mobile Bay in 1864 that cemented his reputation. He was high in the rigging of his flagship when one of his 17 vessels hit a moored torpedo and sank. More torpedoes were spotted and another commander might have hesitated. But Farragut famously shouted “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead.”
  8. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant – When the war began Grant was an unimposing, not-very-good 38-year old shop clerk with a spotty record and few prospects for improvement. In little more than four years he was one of the most famous, powerful and successful men on earth. Grant was first given a minor command, Colonel of a regiment of Illinois volunteers, but successive victories in the west, during a time when the Union’s Eastern armies were struggling, brought him to the attention of Lincoln. Aware of what Grant’s critics said (that Grant was a drinker and was accepting of heavy casualties), Lincoln came to admire Grant over all other Union generals. “I can’t spare this man – he fights,” said Lincoln. Grant became general-in-chief of all Union armies in March of 1864, and effectively ended the war after forcing Lee’s surrender in April of 1865. After the war Grant became the 18th president, serving two terms.
  9. Gen. George Meade – Two days before the momentous Battle of Gettysburg, Lincoln appointed a new general to lead the Army of the Potomac: George Meade. Succeeding Joseph Hooker, who succeeded Ambrose Burnside, who succeeded George McClellan who succeeded Irvin McDowell, Meade would come to be judged by a bar that was set very low. Victory at Gettysburg quickly elevated Meade in the eyes of the nation, but thereafter success was limited and finally Grant came from the West to push Meade into a subordinate role.
  10.  Gen. Henry Halleck – Halleck played a major role in the administration of the war, but he was ill-suited to generalship. Early in the conflict he attained command of the Western Armies after John Fremont was sacked, largely due to authorship of several military texts. Then the success of his subordinates (Halleck took undeserved credit for Grant’s, Adm. Andrew Foote’s and Gen. John Pope’s Mississippi campaigns) elevated him to the top of Lincoln’s military chain of command. In July 1862, Lincoln summoned Halleck to Washington and installed him as general-in-chief. Eventually Lincoln came to regret the appointment and Grant replaced him in 1864, leaving Halleck in the reduced role of chief of staff.
  11. Adm. David D. Porter – Porter was Adm. David G. Farragut’s brother, the latter having been adopted at the age of seven in 1808 by the Porter family. When Porter was born in 1813, the 12-year-old Farragut was already a naval veteran serving under the boys’ father. By the time he was 13, the younger Porter was also serving in the Navy, remaining at sea for most of next 36 years. Porter acted in support of Farragut during the attack on New Orleans, and other operations. Given his own command, he was instrumental in Grant’s success at Vicksburg. Porter helped save retreating Union forces after the failed Red River expedition and later engineered the captures of Fort Fisher and Wilmington, N. C.
  12. Frederick Douglass – Douglass was born into slavery in (what is guessed to be) 1808. Self-educated and self-emancipated, Douglass became the nation’s leading African-American voice of abolition. He came to be trusted by Lincoln for his wisdom and political savvy, and consequently during the war, became the first Black man to counsel and advise a president in the White House. He pushed Lincoln toward emancipation, to open the military to Black soldiers and argued for their equal treatment. He helped recruit soldiers to the union, including two of his sons. More than any man in the 19th century, it was Douglass, through his abilities and intellect, who furthered the idea of the equality of the races in the United States.
  13. Mathew Brady – Today when we think about the Civil War, the images that appear in our minds are largely those produced by Brady. When the war began, Brady was authorized by Lincoln and the military to accompany troops into battle, inventing photo-journalism. Brady assembled a team of photographers – numbering 20 or more – who took studio equipment into the field and produced more than 10,000 glass negatives of (mostly Union) war scenes and individual portraits. Though some of the images have been lost, many thousands are collected and available at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., including xxx reproduced on the History of the Civil War wall chart.
  14. Clara Barton – Most remembered as the founder and first president of the American Red Cross, Barton had a pioneering career as a woman in the American workplace and as a battlefield nurse. She was the first woman to hold a substantial clerkship in the federal government, working in the patent office. When the war began, though not trained as a nurse, she became the Union’s most important organizer and caregiver for wounded soldiers. She earned official appointments, including “lady in charge,” at military hospitals and at the battle front. After the war, her lectures and writings gave her a wide audience, which she used to publicize and standardize a modern approach to the care of war wounded and civilian victims.
  15. John Brown – Civil war may have been inevitable, but John Brown’s attempt to incite a mass slave rebellion at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, pushed the two sides of the slavery question to new extremes. Brown had spent most of his adult life devoted to abolition, but after his experience in Kansas (where he had gone to battle pro-slavery forces and ended up committing murder in retaliation for murder), he came to believe only violence could end slavery. After the catastrophic failure of his raid in October of 1859, and his subsequent hanging, he became a near-martyr to abolitionists, and the prime example to Southerners of why secession seemed necessary.
  16. Mary Chesnut – During the Civil War, as the lesser-known half of a prominent South Carolina couple, Mary was married to James Chesnut, U.S. senator, Confederate delegate and general of the army. She accompanied Chesnut to the Confederate capital of Richmond, and other significant sites during the war, where she came in contact with many of the South’s most important leaders. It was many years later, through her journal detailing their varied personalities and the daily life of the Confederacy at war, that Chesnut’s fame eclipsed her husband’s. Nearly 20 years after her death, her work was first published under the title, “A Diary from Dixie.” Today her writings are considered by scholars to be the most important by a confederate author.
  17. Gen. Pierre G.T. Beauregard – After his successful management of the attack at Fort Sumpter, Beauregard became the “Hero of  Sumpter.” But thereafter he found himself perpetually second in command. As Joseph Johnston’s number two, Beauregard was credited with the South’s victory at First Bull Run (Manassas). By the next spring he had been reassigned as second-in-command to Albert Sidney Johnston at the battle of Shiloh, taking over after Johnston’s battlefield death. By the end of the war he was back under Joseph Johnston, fighting Sherman in the Carolinas. After the war he ran a railroad, managed the Louisiana lottery and was New Orleans commissioner of public works.
  18. Gen. John Bell Hood – Hood was among the most successful and admired battlefield commanders in the Confederate Army, but he proved disastrously unsuited to strategic command. Hood’s Texas Brigade broke the Union lines in a charge at the Battle of Gaines Mill and, then given command of a division, Hood repeated his success at Second Bull Run (Manassas) and Antietam. He lost use of his right arm at Gettysburg, and two months later lost his right leg at Chickamauga. By the next spring, 1864, he was back as Corps commander in Johnston’s Army of Tennessee. Hood appealed directly to President Davis to have Johnston replaced and in July Hood succeeded Johnston. Full command of the Army, however, brought Hood nothing but defeat. First at Atlanta, and later in the battles of Franklin and Nashville. After the war he fathered 11 children including three sets of twins, before dying with his wife as victims of a yellow fever epidemic in New Orleans.
  19. Gen. Nathan Beford Forrest – Forrest had no military training (he was a planter, slave trader and speculator before the war), but he had a natural gift for battle and became one the South’s most important figures, though after the war, one of its most controversial. He enlisted as a private, but when he raised and equipped a battalion at his own expense he was commissioned Lt. Col. to command it. He operated throughout the Western Theater, most-importantly Fort Donelson, Shiloh, Chickamauga and Nashville, conducting raids and rearguard actions, harassing slow moving infantry units with his mobile and fast-moving cavalry. His role in the Fort Pillow Massacre, though clouded by conflicting accounts, stained his reputation, as did his involvement in Tennessee’s post-war Ku Klux Klan.
  20. Gen. Braxton Bragg – Bragg had one great success, the Battle of Chickamauga, the south’s only major victory in the West. Otherwise, for him the war was a series of disappointments and disputes. He came into the war with a reputation for conflict with superior officers (along with a record of heroism in the Mexican-American War), but he matched that with constant battles with his subordinates during the Civil War. He commanded a corps at Shiloh, led an unsuccessful invasion of Kentucky and retreated disappointedly from Stones River. After the triumph at Chickamauga, his decisive loss at Chattanooga undid all the earlier gains. President Davis then recalled him to Richmond, putting him in an administrative post. Finally, he was returned to the battlefield in 1865 in time to absorb one final loss, to Sherman in North Carolina. It is there that Fort Bragg stands today in his honor.
  21. Gen. Robert E. Lee – At the time of Virginia’s secession, Lee was a 32-year veteran of the United States Army. At age 54, he had served in many capacities, early in his career as an engineer, and later in combat in the Mexican-American and Indian wars. In 1859, Lee commanded the force that fought and captured John Brown at Harpers Ferry. As the Civil War approached Lee first thought he might avoid choosing between his country and his state, but his hope of sitting out the war seemed impracticable. Though offered the command of the Union forces, Lee’s loyalty was to Virginia. After resigning from the Army, Lee took command of the Virginia state forces. A year later he succeeded Joseph Johnston as General of the Army of Northern Virginia. For the next two years Lee out-fought, out-maneuvered, and out-foxed much larger and better-equipped Union forces as they attempted to crush the confederacy and take its capital, Richmond. In the end, Lee couldn’t outlast the Union Army, and finally attrition and the relentless weight of Gen. Grant’s manpower and materiel advantages overwhelmed his Army.
  22. Gen. Joseph E. Johnston – A classmate of Robert E. Lee at the United States Military Academy, Johnston outranked Lee at the time of secession, and became the highest ranking officer to join the Confederacy. As commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, he was victorious in the First Battle of Bull Run, but suffered a severe chest wound May 31, 1862, in the Battle of Seven Pines. This led to Lee taking over Johnston’s command; one he would never relinquish. When recovered, Johnston was assigned command of the Department of the West with authority over most forces in the Western Theater. By that time, however, the war in the West had already turned against the South and Johnston’s principal responsibility was to save Vicksburg, and later Atlanta. He was unable to accomplish either goal, and was recalled by President Davis July 17, 1864. In desperation, on March 6, 1865 Davis reluctantly returned Johnston to command of the forces in North Carolina, but again it was too late and Johnston surrendered to Gen. Sherman less than two months later.
  23. Gen. Jubal Early – Early’s was an important literary voice in the post-war period, writing effectively in what became known as the Lost Cause Movement of the South’s valor and bravery against impossibly long odds. He served admirably in most major battles in the East, including First Bull Run (Manassas), Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg and Wilderness, but is best known for his summer raid into Maryland in 1864. Aiming to divert Union attention from Lee’s front in Virginia, Early stunned an anxious Washington D.C. by marching his force of 15,000 into central Maryland and within five miles of the White House, before judiciously falling back across the Potomac to keep the diversion alive.
  24. Gen. James Longstreet – Lee called Longstreet his “Old Warhorse,” and for most of the war Longstreet served as Lee’s most reliable corps commander. He played a significant role in the Confederate victories at Second Bull Run, Fredericksburg, the Seven Days Battles and Chickamauga. He was also important at Antietam and Gettysburg, but it was his disagreement with Lee over plans for the latter that clouded his reputation in the South for the next century. After the war, Longstreet became a Republican supporting U.S. Grant for the presidency. And Longstreet wrote a critical appraisal of Lee’s performance at Gettysburg in memoirs published in 1896, which fueled the animus defenders of the Lost Cause held toward him. His second wife, Helen, lived until 1962.
  25. Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson – Jackson earned his iconic nickname at First Bull Run (Manassas) when Brig. Gen. Barnard Elliott Bee, Jr. encouraged his own troops by bringing their attention to , “Jackson standing like a stone wall.” Jackson, and his highly disciplined brigade, excelled there, and later at Chancellorsville, where his brilliant flanking of the Union Army’s right wing saved the day. But it was his daring and innovative Shenandoah Valley Campaign that established him among the pantheon of great American Generals. With an army of some 17,000 men he occupied more than thrice his number in a series of rapid fire attacks over 646 miles in 48 days, winning five significant battles. But Jackson was hit by friendly fire at Chancellorsville, where he lost an arm, and eight days later, after pneumonia set in, his life.
  26. Gen. J.E. B. Stuart – First assigned to the Army of the Shenandoah, Stuart was made commander of Stonewall Jackson’s cavalry. After the First Battle of Bull Run (Manassas), Stuart came under the command of Lee who sent him on the reconnaissance mission during the Peninsula Campaign that made Stuart a hero of Confederate lore. Taking 1,200 riders on June 12, 1862, Stuart’s force swept around the Union Army’s right flank assessing its weaknesses. Continuing into the Union rear, Stuart began taking prisoners, materiel and supplies. Four days later, Stuart reappeared from the other side with 165 captured soldiers, 260 horses and mules, and various other spoils, having accomplished a complete circumnavigation of Gen. McClellan’s Army. From then on, Stuart’s cavalry became Lee’s eyes and ears, scouting and gathering intelligence in nearly every battle fought by Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, until May 12, 1864 when Stuart was killed at the Battle of Yellow Tavern.
  27. Alexander Stephens, Confederate Vice President – In 1861, Stephens was elected vice president of the Confederate States of America, despite having voted against secession as a delegate to Georgia’s convention. Prior to secession, Stephens served eight terms in the U.S. House, often urging compromise while still advocating for Southern Rights. But after accepting the vice presidency, Stephens famously argued that slavery was the “cornerstone” of the Confederacy, which was founded on “the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition.” Through most of the war Stephens was at odds with President Davis, denouncing the president’s policies on conscription, suspension of habeas corpus, impressment, taxation and military strategy. On Feb. 3, 1865, Stephens met with Lincoln in a last attempt to gain Southern independence through negotiation, but he was unsuccessful. On May 11, 1865, he was arrested and imprisoned for five months.
  28. Jefferson Davis, Confederate President – When his state seceded, Davis was a sitting U.S. senator from Mississippi having been elected twice, and having served as Franklin Pierce’s Secretary of War. He argued against secession, recognizing both the likelihood of war and the South’s relative lack of military strength. But when secession came, delegates to the Confederacy’s constitutional convention choose him by acclimation. It was thought that his reputation as an experienced moderate might smooth relations with the North. As a West Point graduate and hero of the Mexican-American War, Davis had hoped to become a Confederate general, but as president he relished his role as commander-in-chief. It wasn’t until January 31, 1865 that Davis relinquished overall command of the Army to Gen. Lee. Davis’ military strategy proofed unwise, but historians also criticize his management of generals, allowing disputes and jealousies to fester, and often making poor leadership choices. After Lee’s surrender Davis hoped to continue the war, but by May 5, he concluded that was not possible. On May 10, he was captured in flight; Davis’ imprisonment lasted two years.

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