Saturday, April 12, 2014

Documentary Review: Civil War by Ken Burns: Most Hallowed Ground 1864 (7)

In 1864 after General Grant laid siege to Petersburg, and General Sherman advanced towards Atlanta, the Union stalled on all fronts.  This is described as the darkest days for the Union.  To get to Petersburg, Grant had lost 60,000 men and now faced impenetrable trenches and a reinforced position.  Sherman also faced a similar type of reinforced trench work, and General Joe Johnston was abiding his time waiting to be attacked.  On the political from, President Lincoln faced reelection, and it looked like General George McClellan would be the next president.  That would have been an ironic switch.  McClellan was running on a campaign of peace negotiations with the South.  He was the South's best hope. 
The battle at the crater, which had a lot of promise, did not turn out.  The Union mined 200 feet underneath the Confederate defenses, and set of a tremendous amount of TNT, which ripped a gigantic crater into the defenses.  They took an hour to mount an offensive, and when they did they marched into the trenches, with no way out.  The became stuck with no way forward or back and many were killed, the black troops even after they surrendered.
Nathan Bedford Forrest, the cavalry general was making things difficult for Sherman outside ATlanta.  He was attacking the supply, and was able to keep from being caught.  At Camp Pillow, his men slaughtered 400 African American troops, after they had surrendered.  This action, and other similar action lead General Grant to stop the exchange of prisoners. 
The increase in the number of prisoners lead to bulging POW camps.  In the South they could not handle this.  In Georgia, a camp for 10,000, held 33,000 men.  13,000 would die.  Those who survived were not much more than walking corpses.  On man who weighed 160 when captured, sad he was one of the husky ones at 96 pounds when released.
President Davis tired of Johnston's defensive moves, and replaced him with General John Bell Hood.  When General Sherman tried to flank and hit the rail lines, Hood came out of his defensive positions.  They had success for a while, but were eventually driven back, and Hood lost a third of his men.  He fell back into Atlanta.  When Sherman attacked the other flank, Hood was forced to flee Atlanta, and the Union had their victory. 
The election was held.  Lincoln won all but three states.  The American people wanted to see the war through to the end.  So did the military as most reenlisted.
The most hallowed ground is Arlington Cemetery.  Other federal cemeteries were over crowded, and so the estate of Robert E. Lee was chosen for a federal cemetery.  Federal troops were buried outside his door, making it so it could never be used again as a dwelling. 

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