The Civil War
Rego, Govoni, Hegarty, Jones, and Mahoney-Pacheco
The Civil War that started in 1861 and ended in 1865 was a long and brutal war that many lives were lost to. The war was between the north (Union) and the south (Confederacy). The Union was composed of 23 states with a population of about 22 million. The Confederacy was composed of 11 states with a population of about 9 million and 3.5 million were slaves. The Union's advantages were that they had many more miles of railroad tracks, they had many more factories, and their larger population meant that they had more men to fight. The Confederacy's advantages were that they were fighting on familiar land, many southerners were skilled in hunting that could carry over to war, and the south had many more army schools. The Union's key disadvantage was that they were fighting in unfamiliar land. The Confederacy's key disadvantage was that one-third of their population was slaves, this meant that there soldier count was much lower then the Union's. In April of 1861, the Confederate's open fired at Fort Sumpter. This was the official start of the Civil War. Men were being drafted to become soldiers, and they were told that they would only have to fight for 90 days and the war would be over. This proves to be wrong and the war lasted 4 years. Over those 4 years about 620,000 soldiers died fighting for there respective sides.
Civil War Background
The new born country in North America has had blood shed on its land multiple times by several other countries, but a new war was abrupt. This war would put brother against brother in a battle for belief and traditions, the Union North versus the Confederate South. The election of 1860 was a major mark in this event. The outcome of the 1860 election triggered a grave crisis........South Carolina's legislature unanimously called a special convention that met in Charleston. On December 20, 1860, the convention unanimously chose to secede from the Union, and six additional Deep South states had followed by early February 1861(Heidler). Several major states disbanded from the union to become free states. These states saw the idea of slavery as a way of life and used it as an excuse for free labor. This controversial topic was one of the reasons the war was fought.
April 12, 1861, the first shots of the war were fired onto Fort Sumter by confederate forces. The Confederate States started a war that was unwinable when being compared to the northern states. The north had more men, supplies, more industries as well as ports and roads. Lincoln was able to summon patriots to protect the flag. On April 15, he called on the states for 75,000 men to suppress the rebellion. For the next four years, the country would test the limits of its endurance and the durability of its central ideas.(Heidler) The States began a war that would shape the new country for the rest of time.
The Gettysburg Address
Months after the Battle of Gettysburg on November 19, 1863, a ceremony was held to honor the fallen soldiers in the 3 days of brutal combat ("Gettysburg Address" 1). President Abraham Lincoln’s 3 minute Gettysburg Address followed scholar Edward Everett’s two hour long speech (4). Though Lincoln’s speech was only a small fraction of the length of the preceding speech, the impact left was much greater and confronted the nation with the challenge of equality (6).
After Everett’s lengthy speech, the impact of Lincoln’s words were not felt immediately after. Lincoln had a high, tenor voice which was mostly unheard by the audience. Not until newspapers began printing his speech did the nation feel the impact of his moving address (Barney, Brett, and Lisa Paddock, eds.). The Springfield Republican, a newspaper at the time, referred to the speech as “an absolute gem” due to full meaning woven and compressed into such a short, but profound speech, and the Macmillan Magazine gave plenty of high regards as well ("Gettysburg Address" 7).
Within the speech, Lincoln addressed the war as a test as whether or not the country could withstand their ("Gettysburg Address" 5) “proposition that all men are created equal” (“Abraham Lincoln: Gettysburg Address (1863)”). He also explained that the only way for the fallen soldiers of Gettysburg to not die in vain is for the country to continue the march towards the goal they died for: equality. This challenge commemorated the fallen. This challenge is the Gettysburg Address.
Walt Whitman's "Beat! Beat! Drums!" was written after the Battle of Bull Run and was first published in Harper's Weekly and The New York Leader. He wrote the poem to represent the beat of the drums and the marching of the soldiers as they went into battle (Oliver 1). The poem has different meanings in the lyrics like in the the first couple of lines when it talks about, "drums and bugles burst through the windows and doors like a ruthless force." This phrase represents the call to arms that all men received during the Civil War to fight for what they believed in. Whitman describes the call to arms as ringing through cities and towns and in every corner of the country (Oliver 1). Walt finishes by focussing on the bloody truth of war and how it causes so much pain and suffering for the soldiers and their families.
Another poem by Walt Whitman is "A Sight in Camp in the Daybreak Gray and Dim". It is about the horrors of war and how it effects so many people's lives, from soldiers to their families and friends. The overall message of the poem that Walt is trying to convey is that we are all brothers who are dying for what we believe in which makes them Jesus like because they are dying so others can live (Oliver 1). Whitman also uses imagery by saying that many of the things he observed were gray and dull to show how war make people sad and can make everything seem dull and gray. The tone of his poem is very serious and sad because of the fact that America was at war with itself and Walt being right there with the soldiers was experiencing that first hand.
A Confederate's View of the Civil War
In the Civil War Trust they talk briefly about Mary Chestnut’s life. Mary was born on
March 31, 1823 in Stateburg, South Carolina. Her father was in the army and US government until South Carolina secede from the Union. She went to Madame Talvade’s French School for Young Ladies. She married James Chestnut in April 1840 (1). “James Chestnut, Jr was born near Camden, South Carolina, January 18, 1815” (MacLean 1). They had no children and were travelers until James was a messenger in the Civil War under the Confederate's (MacLean 2,3,5). Mary died after her husband on November 22, 1886 of a heart attack at the age of 63.
Maggie MacLean in her blog writes all on the Women of the Civil War and about Mary’s diary she kept during her life. “She began her diary in February 1861 because she believed it showed what was altering the course of history” (5). Mary accompanied her husband everywhere he went and would write down all that she saw the good and the bad. In this time she wrote an autobiographical centering on her experiences in Mississippi, named Two Years of My Life and a war novel named The Captain and the Colonel (8). “She wrote about her opposition to slavery and a women’s place in a male dominated society” (9). Mary left her diary with her friend Isabella D. Martin who would give it to a New York Journalist twenty years later (11). “Finally in 1905 her diary she wrote about the Civil War was published by Myrta Lockett Avary and named A Diary from Dixie" (12).