tv The Civil War The Civil War and Western Theater Tactics CSPAN July 5, 2019 12:20pm-12:56pm EDT
history programs that air every weekend on american history tv like lectures in history, american artifacts, real america, oral histories, the presidency and special event coverage about our nation's history. enjoy american history tv. now and every weekend on c-span3. next, christopher nil lphil talks about how it influenced theaters of the war. >> okay. our final speaker of the day is dr. christopher phillips who is the john and dorothy professor of american history and the
university distinguished professor in the arts, humanities and social sciences at the university of cincinnati. he's the author of seven books on the civil war era. this sbook won the tom watson brown prize. we are delighted to welcome today professor phillips. [ applause ] >> good afternoon. thank you for inviting me to speak. i've long wondered why another
ohio-illinoisan that i've been summoned east to the mother state. after hearing gary's opening talk, i know now. it's to give the naughty talk. after asking kerry about topics to which she replied whatever you wanted to talk about, that sounded a little to me like asking me how long the condemned want the hanging rope to be. i have 30 minutes and the hanging won't take too long but true to naughty form, i'll start with a vignette to introduce the western lay of war. an idea that gary's union war actually inspired. there, gary, tis the benefit of batting last. i've got a lot of ground to cover because the west is a rather large theater and i have the map to prove it. on october 15th, 1874, as fall
first hard frost entered a balmy indian summer carpeting spri springfield, illinois, the civil war returned to town. not that it ever been far from anyone's mind. only blocks away a news state capital building was under construction. the wartime president had is since offered townspeople a painful reminder of the sacrifice the war exacted from their community and the nation. only the night before of public dedication of a new burial tomb marked the not so permanent resting place of lincoln and his sons. this evening the newest reminder of the bloody struggle was a
reunion. many of the officers of the society of the army of tennessee. the most decorated of union armies. to commemorate his military victory. the coincidence demanded ta distingui -- that distinguished illinoisans be among the speaker. there was the state governor and former governor add well as other noted illinois war generals. at the head table sat other western generals. the society's current president and command in general of the army william sherman and george
armstrong custard. he complicates everything. he was still alive. that's not come kplat plicatcom. neither of their battlefield points need introduction. one time illinoisan, long time aot commander. national war hero and current u.s. president. nearly a decade after the war's end the nation's eyes no longer saw this president exclusively through the lens of war victory. politics hung heavy over this meeting besieging grant's post-war leadership. ra rampant white violence was sweeping away republican governments. a recent liberal insurgency with its epicenter in states erupted over radical led constitutional amendments given citizenship rights to former slaves, including the right to vote. all now threaten grant's legacy
and with it lincoln's. only this week in the wake of a catastrophic midterm election scandal written republicans whose bloody shirt had van wished democrats for a decade were trounsed nationwide losing 96 congressional seats and costing republicans their 16 house majority. it's still the national party's worst ever defeat. more even than the scandals and the national depression, voters were responded to reconstruction which one indiana newspaper man characterized as quote wriems and blunders of the administration. this ed tor -- unsurprisingly
these veteran officers made few claims to national reconciliation on this night. in jeopardy was the victory narrative it. one that among its eastern claimants trumpeted emancipation. carrying chips on their shoulder boards, they drew down on not one but two targets. these had been placed neshl lyi by the progress of campaigns and waited at the two day grand review of the armies that paraded down pennsylvania avenue in may, 1865. the celebrated 90,000 man of the army had marched on may 23rd while sherman 60,000 slouch hats, the army of the west. 178 regiment strong.
it would sound loudest this night reminding westerners, many of them former and current democrats, including even grant and conservatives in the a audience a victory narrative. one that celebrated contributions of the western armies. special attention was reserved for the march. they now affirmed had won the war. mentioned only obliquely during the evening was the freeing of slaves. much less its importance to victory. following grant's expectedly brief national toast, our country and all of it, poetry toast and speeches celebrated
the invincible western armies that in their words had never been defeated. then john polk stepped to the podium. a department commander in st. louis, he was known for his bombast. called polk's bull that had alienated eastern troops in virginia in 1862. he said i have come to you from the west where we have always seen the backs of our enemies. he was also known for the defeat by lee shortly thereafter. now his fellow westerners and virginians knew him as a hard liner.
western armies had won the war by their hard style fighting and approach dwoadopted it all in a theaters. naturally their officers assume the mantle of leadership in national government in the wake of union victory. as pope reminded them tonight, when the war was over we found that the president of the united states was a western man. the vice president, a western man. the speaker of the house a western man. secretary of the treasury a western man. secretary of war a western man. you're getting the idea, right? the secretary of the interior a western man. the postmaster general a western man. the general of the army a western man. the lieutenant general a western man. the admiral of the navy a western man. then he goes onto finish, the
whole pow r er of the governmen had passed into the hands of men of the west. he wasn't just talk about the post war and with rousing cheers, surprisingly, the officers soon adjourned. the venue for this celebration might have been fitting but the ti timing, words and tone offered profound irony. western veteran officers saw their contributions to the civil war victory as seminal and overlooked. in their minds they hadn't just won the war, they transformed it. expanding its scope and trajectory to a transgressive warfare that could and did achieve victory. their collective voice welled up in an unflinching awareness. many of the commanders were from the western border region but
polk told them all that. this region provided the political foundation and violent dress rehearsal for the war itself in the conflict known as bleedsing kansas. once the war began several of these western states served as a proving ground for what much of the conflict would become. mainly one that saw debilitating warfare that plagued much of the states. both leverage and targeted civilians by slavery plolitics. lastly, one that saw the earliest and fullest incorporation of wartime emancipation of slaves into its scope. a reality that the supreme field meeting had so consciously avoided. these commanders including those in the room that night had transferred their western kind
of war eastward. shaping union war strategy and carrying victory. that's what they believed. let's take on these various pieces. first as dan southerland told us guerilla warfare erupts where it began, if not at once. independent irregular ban, roamed many localities in the war's first month. night riders stole horses, saboteurs destroyed symbols of authority including railroads, tres si and bridges. enough for one editor to claim
its degrading to think white men would do this. this uprising was more than a spontaneous response to the sudden presence of federal troops. the long conflict over slavery in the west immediately transformed it into what i call a hard line war. in what soldiers and officers in both armies and regular fighters quickly used support for our opposition to slavery as measures of civilians loyalties. shaping military action and civilian response. not surprisingly the kansas-missouri border witnessed among the earliest and most blatant violations of civilians rights whether successionist, unionist or abolitionists. they entered missouri within weeks of mustering from kansas to exact justice for decades of
what they considered pro-slavery sins. a unionist in jackson county complained the men had horses and assaulted women, robbed families and even the local post office and committed more extreme acts of terror including burning homes and quote putting ropes around innocent men's necks threatening the hang them. uni y they were quote turning quite citizens into desperate gueri l guerillas. exploding to reveal the link between slavery and warfare. in response, in part of what
historian has termed lincoln strong army strategy, the president gave a long leash to union commanders. in the war's first year, he often appointed politicians to rank and promoted them regardless of political affiliation or those who assume those postures. all stationed initially in missouri were the earliest beneficiaries of lincoln's latitude allowing his soldiers on the ground to engage in often shocking treatment of civilian population.
quickly adopted a dialect opposition. this is sherman. when one war nation is at war w another, all the people of the one or enemies of the other. this is what he wrote to the secretary of the treasury. he went onto finish, most unfortunately the war in which we are engaged has been complicated with the belief that one hand all of the other are not enemies. namely putting entire towns in touch. this is sherman's quote. this is an expense not chargeable to us. those that made the war and generally war is nothing else.
anyone who was not an unconditional unionist was disloyal. john edwards, the lieutenant corneko colonel said loyal men have the same thinks and cause in contrast with the neutrals and a great many terror stricken successionists. this quickly led to suppressive measures. mcclellan had lived in cincinnati for a decade prior to the war and he was eager for more prominent eastern command. lincoln was prompted to bring him eastward as the new general of the army, head of the national army.
conversely with the notable exception of those who prematurely pursued slave administration earned the president's respect and thus protection. western commanders who urge caution or conciliation to allow time for slave states to reconsider succession and re-enter the union. they were replaced. among them winfield scott, robert anderson, don carlos buell and of course mcclellan himself. all of them pro-slavery democrats. westerners would make good on such in their own region. in july 1861, stephen hurl laid what they had initiated a few months earlier in the western part of the state.
he was arrested and required to dig trenches in the hot sun all day. a unionisted and he went on the say he told me he sat him at it. still it was admitted it was very doubtful any charge could be maintained against him. such outrageous will make more enemies than thousands of men can quell. within two months of his release, he joined the legislature and previsided over its succession. a u.s. congressman whose home was burned in september of 1861, would lead the u.s. house to the con f
confedaracy. the commander, lieutenant colonel broke no criticism. perhaps i am responsible. if so, i have nothing to take back. our business down there was to put down the rebel colors and we commenced as soon as we saw where the work commenced. his flag came down and so did he. in august 1863, in response to mass murder of nearly 200 civilians in lawrence, kansas, collective retaliation would find its force. only those judged loyal could return. in part, this destructive warfare occurred because many union officers and soldiers used slave holding as an special measure of disloyalty.
they saw it as proof of loyalty. they did not divest themselves the from years of struggle. they saw need to conciliate pro-slavery residents, especially slave owners. there can be no such thing as a moderate slave holder. moderation and slavery cannot co-exist. any man who would hold a slave with very few exceptions is neither a christian, a patriot or a loyal citizen. or as another put it, the
americans who are slave holders are the enemies of the government. prejudice among many derived from absolutist views of the inferior culture of slave holding communities. federal from the west labeled them residents worse. in many places they were pukes. slaifr slavery is a litmus of loyalty in part because both were occurring at once nearly from the beginning of the war. before congress began wrang l g i -- wrangling over authorities. one that historians regard as having commenced the march away from slavery, not an interference in lower politics. in the west so too federal troops, state malitia and troops
on the ground commenced. within days of firing on fort sumpter, they were in contact with prominent northern abolitionists proclaiming their intention to liberate slaves in granted army commissions. by time they got them, they and other kansas jay hawkers were confiscating slaves from their missouri slave holders, liberating them or enlisting them as soldiers. they became known widely as negro thieves because of how they confiscated slaves from missouri citizens. he boasted be kansas brigade would be joined by slaves. commander of the army of
missouri referred to lain's raids as great jay hawking expeditio expeditions. in the west, the progress of emancipation followed the army's movement south ward even before the predecessor, the republican party's first presidential candidate in 1856 issued a controversial and short lived emancipation proclamation in august 1861. one that lincoln quickly rescin rescinrescin rescinded. the military freely used slaves who offered mfinformation about guerillas. freemon would not allow contraband slaves to be returned to the masters who claimed them.
this was also going on in northern missouri and eastern or southern missouri when illinois and indiana troops entered as well. as the western armies push south into the mississippi valley, the buckle of the nation's plantation belt slaves fled their owners to union camps in western tennessee, eastern arkansas and mississippi. pressured military policy. union officers required to return the slaves often refused to comply encouraging congress to begin debate over new policies about confiscations and contrabands of commanders like grant. in the summer of 1862, congress enbasiced the second conification act allowing the military to free, employ and enlist slaves from the c
confederaco confedera confederacy. black troops from the western border states were already in military service in the west. kans as early as november 1861, charles reportedly an entire company of liberate westerners under the command of a black officer on a raid. the president employs persons of african desent for the repression of this rebellion.
boasting quote if we are jay hawkers we are jay hawking for the government. in october 1862, detachments of the brigades saw action. repulsing repeated attacks by white missouri horse men at island mound. like montgomery, james montgomery and others when grant and sherman was promoted to command of virginia and georgia after nearly unairing success in their previous western theater, they transferred their western style of the war making. both put it to deadly use. grant's campaign, sherman's the march and fellow iowan burning of the shendoah valley. that night sherman was not there. he was out west but they fetted
him nonetheless. it broke the confederates capacity and people's will to resist. in the fall of 1874, veterans of these western theaters gathered to northern their slain commander in chief and believed that from the war's outbreak they and their soldiers exerted a pivotal influence on the war. they understood that many, if not most, of the war's pivotal measures commenced in the west. also grant chermsherman but by r commanders. these westerners integration of collective hard line and hard war policies as responses to conventional and irregular warfare that ingulfed much of the west and employment of
emancipation as a weapon put civilians in the cross hair of military policy became the elements that confederacy down. african american soldiers, the veteran officers who gathered in illinois's capital believed they cause to celebrate their contributions. and certainly they did. their western way of war had become the nation's. thanks so much. >> i'm happy to take questions. i ran a little over. i'm sorry. i know i'm between you and the panel, so anything you don't think of now, i'll be there.
>> do you have a sense if hard war policies, how effective they were and if they created new opposition? >> you're asking me how successful were hard war policys? >> did they make new guerillas or have a marked success in civil government? >> i think the answer is both. i think on the one hand a hard policy, as they're known clearly brought more guerillas in the bush than perhaps previously had been. not certainly exactly how many never would have come out but for them. jessie and frank james decided to go into the brush specifically because local unionist militia decided to get information hanging their stepfather, or should i say hang him without killing him. that certainly drove them out. in other cases, some of those hard war policies clearly, for example, order number 11 pretty much ended all guerilla activity
in those four counties by depopulating them. that's like the claim of vietnam of weeding a garden with a bulldozer. more and more commanders turned to those sorts of policies and practices as the war went on. and not surprisingly guerilla warfare continued to proliferate until the election of 1864 was over. and then it seems to have died. >> do you consider the lincoln administration as turning a blind eye to the type of social situation that was taking place in kentucky and missouri as the war continued? the blood bath that was taking place there between the citizens? >> that's a really, really good question. it's a hard one to answer.
i don't believe he took a blind eye. i believe he knew what was going on, and as the war went on he began to send hard liners into, quote, unquote, back water assignments, but not simply to get them out of the front lines. but rather, to send them there such as rose krants and e leisure e. lee and waged for six weeks during the summer of 1864 when he called what was it? a war of liberation. but a different kind. it was geagainst gorillas. lincoln appointed pain to that post specifically because he knew the hard liner would take hard line measures. i think rosekran was sent there not simply to get him out of trouble but rather to accomplish something in a place that was
known for unconventional and irregular warfare and chaos, and rosekran got all he bargained for there, and in some sense, that helped to tarnish his reputation as well. his inability to quell the violence in missouri despite price is right. thank you. i appreciate it. >> if you like american history tv, keep up with us during the week on facebook, twitter, and youtube. learn about what happened this day in mystery and see preview clips of upcoming programs. follow us at c-span history. american history tv products are available at the c-span online store. go to c-span store.org to see
what's new for american history tv and check out all of the c-span products. >> next on the civil war, a panel of historians compares the different geographic theaters of war, exploring topics such as tactics, leaders and soldier motivation. this discussion was part of a day-long conference hosted by the university of virginia center for civil war history. >> all right. we're ready to start our final panel of the day, and this is a new thing we're trying. if you've been here in the past, you know we haven't done this before, but we thought it would be fun with our panelists to get everyone together and have a conversation before we get started, i want to introduce my colleague at the other end of the table, professor elizabeth varn. also an integral part of this center. thank you, liz,