April 6, 1865: Battle of Sailor’s Creek

Appomattox_Campaign_Overview

One last battle between the old adversaries the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia.  While moving towards the Appomattox River to cross it on his march to the west, Lee was intercepted by a large Union force under Sheridan.  Ewell’s corps, the rearguard of the army, was surrounded and after hard fighting surrendered.  Lee lost one quarter of his army.  Union casualties were slightly in excess of 1,000 while Confederate casualties were 7,700, mostly prisoners.

 

 

Major General William Mahone relates this poignant moment with General Lee: Continue reading

CS Lewis on Easter

 

Now, as a literary historian, I am perfectly convinced that whatever else the Gospels are they are not legends. I have read a great deal of legend and I am quite clear that they are not the same sort of thing. They are not artistic enough to be legends. From an imaginative point of view they are clumsy, they don’t work up to things properly. Most of the life of Jesus is totally unknown to us, as is the life of anyone else who lived at that time, and no people building up a legend would allow that to be so. Apart from bits of the Platonic dialogues, there are no conversations that I know of in ancient literature like the Fourth Gospel. There is nothing, even in modern literature, until about a hundred years ago when the realistic novel came into existence. In the story of the woman taken in adultery we are told Christ bent down and scribbled in the dust with His finger. Nothing comes of this. No one has ever based any doctrine on it. And the art of inventing little irrelevant details to make an imaginary scene more convincing is a purely modern art. Surely the only explanation of this passage is that the thing really happened? The author put it in simply because he had seen it.

Then we come to the strangest story of all, the story of the Resurrection. It is very necessary to get the story clear. I heard a man say, “The importance of the Resurrection is that it gives evidence of survival, evidence that the human personality survives death.” On that view what happened to Christ would be what had always happened to all men, the difference being that in Christ’s case we were privileged to see it happening. This is certainly not what the earliest Christian writers thought. Something perfectly new in the history of the Universe had happened. Christ had defeated death. The door which had always been locked had for the very first time been forced open. This is something quite distinct from mere ghost-survival. I don’t mean that they disbelieved in ghost- survival. On the contrary, they believed in it so firmly that, on more than one occasion, Christ had had to assure them that He was not a ghost. The point is that while believing in survival they yet regarded the Resurrection as something totally different and new. The Resurrection narratives are not a picture of survival after death; they record how a totally new mode of being has arisen in the universe. Something new had appeared in the universe: as new as the first coming of organic life. This Man, after death, does not get divided into “ghost” and “corpse”. A new mode of being has arisen. That is the story. What are we going to make of it?

CS Lewis

POW Servant of God Easter Sermon

On Easter Sunday 1942 Father Emil Kapaun, the POW Servant of God  I have written about here, here , here and  here delivered an Easter Sermon.  Go here to read it.

Nine years later, shortly before his death in a Chinese prisoner of war camp, he preached another Easter sermon.  Before a crude wooden cross  he gave an unforgettable sermon on the Passion of Our Lord and led the rosary using a barbed wire rosary he had made from the wire that ringed the camp.  Suffering from dysentery, pneumonia and an infection in one of his legs and in his eyes and so weak he could barely stand, he somehow found  the strength to help his men,  in the midst of their misery, to recognize the boundless joy of Easter.  In many ways the entire life of Father Kapaun was a joyful sermon on Easter.

April 5, 1865: Endgame

 

 

Appomattox_Campaign_Overview

With the fall of Richmond the Civil War was drawing rapidly to a close.  However, Lee still led the remnants of his army and he had a plan:  march to the west and break contact with the Army of the Potomac and head south to join up with Johnston in North Carolina.  It was unlikely that he could accomplish this, but Lee felt duty bound to try.  His main initial problem was to feed his army.  To accomplish this he had the army concentrate at Amelia Court House where he expected to find supplies.  To his astonishment he found plenty of ammunition but no food.  To feed his army he had to draw upon the civilian population:

 

Amelia C. H., April 4, 1865.

To the Citizens of Amelia County, Va.

The Army of Northern Virginia arrived here today, expecting to find plenty of provisions, which had been ordered to be placed here by the railroad several days since, but to my surprise and regret I find not a pound of subsistence for man or horse. I must therefore appeal to your generosity and charity to supply as far as each one is able the wants of the brave soldiers who have battled for your liberty for four years. We require meat, beef, cattle, sheep, hogs, flour, meal, corn, and provender in any quantity that can be spared. The quartermaster of the army will visit you and make arrangements to pay for what he receives or give the proper vouchers or certificates. I feel assured that all will give to the extent of their means.

R. E. Lee, General

The next day Lee found his path south blocked as the Army of the Potomac occupied Jetersville.  General Longstreet in his memoirs gives us the details:

 

Continue reading

More Mush From the Wimps

no wimps

 

R.R. Reno at First Things reminds us that under the current pontificate Catholics who stand up for the traditional teachings of the Church are strictly on their own:

 

 

 

As I expected, the leaders of the Catholic Church have done everything they can to avoid saying anything in response to the furor over the Indiana RFRA. Their counsel is “dialogue,” an unfortunate weasel word long used by administrators who don’t want to take a stand.

On its face, the wording of this bland statement suggests the bishops believe the Indiana law could permit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. (They’re calling for “dialogue” to make sure that doesn’t happen.) But this is an over-reading of the statement. It’s really just a political evasion of responsibility searching for words.

Some months ago, I predicted that Catholicism in America would basically accommodate itself to whatever sexual regime dominates our society. The accommodation won’t be explicit. The Church won’t endorse homosexuality or gay marriage. Instead, the bishops will step aside, avoid controversy, and just stop talking about things that carry a high price for dissent. This duck-and-cover non-statement fits perfectly into this trajectory.

My first impulse is to laugh. The statement tries to signal support for religious freedom, but qualifies. “The rights of a person should never be used inappropriately in order to deny the rights of another.” And so maybe Tim Cook is right to denounce the Indiana law. Time for dialogue. Oh, “justice and mercy” too. But wait, religious liberty is important. Except when it’s not. But sometimes it really is . . .

But I can’t laugh, because the tragedy is too poignant. Doubtless there are faithful Catholics in Indiana who think marriage is only possible between a man and a woman. Doubtless they resist the pro-gay propaganda their children are subjected to by the media and often in school. Doubtless they try to support the Church’s teaching on sex, family, and marriage. In the midst of a propaganda blitz denouncing all dissent from the coming regime of gay rights, this anodyne non-statement says to them, “You’re on your own.”

 

Go here to read the rest.  Here is the statement of those fearless Hoosier Shepherds with my comments:

April 1, 2015

The date is appropriate.

The recent passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana appears to have divided the people of our state like few other issues in recent memory.

They supported the bill.

We urge all people of good will to show mutual respect for one another so that the necessary dialogue and discernment can take place to ensure that no one in Indiana will face discrimination whether it is for their sexual orientation or for living their religious beliefs.

Translation:  We are in favor of both sheep and wolves so don’t protest us.

The Catholic Church is convinced that every human being is created in the image of God.

Well, duh!

As such, each and every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.

We are also in favor of mom, apple pie and baseball!

This includes the right to the basic necessities for living a good life, including adequate healthcare, housing, education, and work.

Hey, can’t we change the subject to the full throated endorsement by Pope Francis of endless giveaways by Caesar? Continue reading

O Sacred Head

Something for the weekend.  O Sacred Head Now Wounded.  The lyrics of this hymn derive from the latin poem Salve Mundi Salutare.  The authorship is open to doubt although I agree with those who attribute at least part of the poem to Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, based upon stylistic similarities with portions of his other writings.    The sanctity and eloquence of Saint Bernard alloyed with the musical genius of Johann Sebastian Bach makes a potent combination indeed.

On a personal note this hymn has always moved me as no other does.  I had it played at my son’s funeral and when I depart this Vale of Tears I have requested that it be played at mine.  It reminds me that God died for me, something I find absolutely stunning.  Love and sacrifice begin and end with God, who regards each man as if there were no other.

April 4, 1865: Lincoln Visits Richmond

Linoln in Richmond

 

When studying the past one of the primary rules is to remember how different one time is from another.  This rule comes jarringly to mind when we recall Lincoln’s visit to Richmond the day after it fell.  Lincoln was at City Point on the James River, so he was quite close to Richmond.  Lincoln was curious to see the city that had eluded Union armies for such a long time.  Since he wanted to see it, he did, almost with no security.  I cannot possibly imagine any chief of state today taking an informal tour of an enemy capital the day after it fell!  Any chief of security would have a stroke at the time.  John Hay, one of Lincoln’s secretaries, did note after the trip, that anyone who wanted to take a shot at Lincoln in Richmond could have.  Yes, the past is a different country!

 

Admiral David Dixon Porter who accompanied Lincoln in his journey into Richmond later wrote about it in his memoirs: Continue reading

Report to the Emperor-First Draft

Ecce Homo 2

 

(I post this each year on Good Friday at The American Catholic.  Have a blessed Good Friday and Easter.)

I thank you Marcus for taking on the onerous task of acting as my secretary, in addition to your regular duties as my aide, in regard to this portion of the report.  The Greek, Aristides, is competent, and like most Greek secretaries his Latin is quite graceful, but also like most Greek secretaries he does not know when to keep his mouth shut.  I want him kept away from this work, and I want you to observe the strictest security.  Caiaphas was playing a nefarious game, and I do not think we are out of the woods yet.  I do not want his spies finding out what I am telling the Imperator and Caiaphas altering the tales his agents are now, no doubt, spreading in Rome.  Let us take the Jew by surprise for once!

 

Your first effort on this matter is rather good, but I think we can improve upon it.  Incidentally, tell the Greek in his portion of the report to work in a subtle reference to one of Tiberius’ victories with the legions.  Tiberius claims to despise flattery.  The old fraud, he loves flattery if it isn’t obvious, and I want him in a good mood when he is reading this report, probably the most important report of my career. Continue reading

April 3, 1865: Fall of Richmond

Fall of Richmond

 

After all the blood shed to take Richmond, its fall was anti-climactic.  Grant was moving his army in pursuit of Lee, and entry of Union troops was unopposed, the Confederate military and the civilian government having evacuated the city on the evening of April 2.  The mention of the fall of Richmond receives scant attention from Grant in his memoirs:

Soon after I left President Lincoln I received a dispatch from General Weitzel which notified me that he had taken possession of Richmond at about 8.15 o’clock in the morning of that day, the 3d, and that he had found the city on fire in two places. The city was in the most utter confusion. The authorities had taken the precaution to empty all the liquor into the gutter, and to throw out the provisions which the Confederate government had left, for the people to gather up. The city had been deserted by the authorities, civil and military, without any notice whatever that they were about to leave. In fact, up to the very hour of the evacuation the people had been led to believe that Lee had gained an important victory somewhere around Petersburg. 
Weitzel’s command found evidence of great demoralization in Lee’s army, there being still a great many men and even officers in the town. The city was on fire. Our troops were directed to extinguish the flames, which they finally succeeded in doing. The fire had been started by some one connected with the retreating army. All authorities deny that it was authorized, and I presume it was the work of excited men who were leaving what they regarded as their capital and may have felt that it was better to destroy it than have it fall into the hands of their enemy. Be that as it may, the National troops found the city in flames, and used every effort to extinguish them. Continue reading

Holy Thursday Massacre

 

God help them:

 

A security operation is over and 147 people have been killed in an attack Thursday by Al Qaeda-linked terror group Al-Shabaab on a Kenyan college, officials said. 

The officials said four attackers were killed during the operation. 

The siege on Garissa University also left dozens more injured and hundreds of students unaccounted for. 

Hours after the assault began, Kenyan security forces cornered the gunmen in a dormitory at the school, and President Uhuru Kenyatta said in a speech to the nation that the attackers were holding hostages.

“There are many dead bodies of Christians inside the building,” Al-Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab told Sky News. “We are also holding many Christians alive. Fighting still goes on inside the college.”

Collins Wetangula, the vice chairman of the student union, said when the gunmen arrived at his dormitory he could hear them opening doors and asking if the people who had hidden inside whether they were Muslims or Christians.

“If you were a Christian you were shot on the spot,” he said. “With each blast of the gun I thought I was going to die.”

A spokesman for the terror group told the BBC that it attacked the school because “it’s on Muslim land colonized by non-Muslims.” The spokesman also said the gunmen had separated non-Muslims from Muslims and had freed 15 of the latter group. Continue reading

Corporate Hypocrisy

Tim Cook and Saudi Friends

 

 

Dale Price at Dyspeptic Mutterings takes a jaundiced eye to the pious declamations of corporate leaders against the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act:

 

Indiana: The Worst Place Ever?

It is if you listen to Apple CEO and billionaire, Tim Cook (scroll down).

Enacting a state-law religious freedom restoration act makes it a veritable hotbed of discrimination and such. According to him of the ironclad principles.

However, if you have an ounce of intellectual integrity, you’d ignore Tim Cook, given that he just opened the world’s largest Apple store in the United Arab Emirates last month.

That would be the same United Arab Emirates where you can be put on trial for “gay handshakes” and other through-the-looking-glass views of human rights.

So, think of that when pondering Cook’s admonition that “opposing discrimination takes courage.” When dollars are on the line, his courage is placed into some kind of medically-induced coma. Well, OK, to be fair–Apple also expanded into Saudi Arabia this year, too, so…

Oh, and speaking of corporate posturing–Angie’s List, too, is just so concerned about Indiana these days, alleging that it has to pass on the expansion of its headquarters in Hate Central. 

Because Integrity.

Or is there just the outside chance it’s trying to posture for good publicity in the wake of major credibility problems posed by a lawsuit filed three weeks ago in Pennsylvania and the likelihood that public funding would not be approved? You decide!

 Filed March 11 in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, the lawsuit alleges that Angie’s, an online consumer review service, manipulates company ratings that are sold to its subscribers as impartial user reviews. It does so, the lawsuit claims, by giving paid advertisers preferential treatment, such as boosting their visibility on the site and suppressing negative reviews. Continue reading

Judas and Us

 

How many Christians have wished that they could have been present with Christ while He was here on Earth!  To walk with Him, to listen to His parables, to see Him perform miracles and perhaps to ask Him questions.  Greatest of all privileges:  to be present at the Last Supper, the first Mass.  Imagine being present when He turned bread into His flesh and wine into His blood.  A true foretaste of Heaven!  What Christian worthy of that name would not trade everything he owns to experience that!  The mind then reels when we consider Judas.

He walked with Christ, and talked with Christ.  He saw the miracles. He participated at the first Mass.  Then he went out and betrayed Christ.  What motivated Judas to do this, and what caused him to bitterly regret his betrayal and then hang himself?  We can only guess.  He was a thief and stole from the common purse that he was in charge of.  He condemned the “waste” of oil for the feet of Christ, claiming it could have been used for the poor.  Did he betray Christ merely because of his lust for money?  I do not think so.  In his remorse over his betrayal of Jesus he threw back at the feet of the priests the blood money he had been paid.  If not money, then why?

Perhaps simple doubt.  We are certain that we would not be afflicted by such doubt if we had seen Christ.  Really?  We know that the movement he created now claims the allegiance of two billion people on the planet, and we can see how the Truth He preached has endured for twenty centuries.  Yet, how many of us turn away from Christ?   How many of us have cherished sins that we are unable to give up?  How many of us live our lives as if Christ never came to us?

Considering that, let us place ourselves in the shoes of Judas.  We know he was weak or he would not have been a thief.  By the time of the Last Supper he may have been filled with fear that Christ was heading towards disaster, His movement doomed to be crushed by either the Temple priests or the Romans.  The way in which the Disciples ran away, the denials of Peter, demonstrate that Judas would not have been alone in such fears.  Yes, it is quite likely that Judas betrayed Christ out of fear and doubt.  If Christ was headed towards destruction anyway, it only made common sense to get on the right side of the powers that be.  Looking at the contemporary world, how many of us make such a Judas bargain day by day, as we slowly betray Christ with our sins, our doubts and our desire to curry favor with the dominant powers that be of the World? Continue reading

April 2, 1865: Third Battle of Petersburg

1280px-Petersburg_Apr2

 

 

 

With Union victory at Five Forks, General Lee desperately shifted troops to the west to protect the Southside Railroad.  Grant, realizing that Lee was thinning his lines around Petersburg and Richmond to protect the railroad, ordered a general assault against the Confederate fortifications.

The VI Corps achieved  a major breakthrough up the Boydton Plank Road.  Lee telegraphed Secretary of War Breckenridge:

I see no prospect of doing more than holding our position here until night. I am not certain I can do that. If I can I shall withdraw to-night north of the Appomattox, and, if possible, it will be better to withdraw the whole line to-night from James River. I advise that all preparations be made for leaving Richmond tonight. I will advise you later according to circumstances.

The II Corps to the left of the VI Corps and the XXIV Corps to the right of the VI Corps also achieved breakthroughs.  Union casualties were about 4,000 compared to 5000 Confederate, most of whom were taken prisoner.  The siege of Petersburg and Richmond was at an end as Lee moved his army out of his lines and began the march to the west that would end at Appomattox Court House.

 

 

Here is General Longstreet’s account of the Third Battle of Petersburg in his memoirs: Continue reading

Christianophobia

Truth

 

 

Bigots are feeling their oats this Holy Week.  I am of course referring to the anti-Christian bigots of the Left who have managed the astonishing feat of claiming with a straight face that religious freedom is bigotry.  George Yancey at Christianity Today gives a name to the irrational hatred and fear of Christianity that is so pervasive on the Left in this country:  Christianophobia.

 

When Atlanta fire chief Kelvin Cochran was fired earlier this year over a self-published book that briefly critiqued homosexuality, conservative Christians saw the incident as further evidence that they are losing their religious freedom.

Are these Christians worrying for no good reason?

Well, anti-Christian hostility is certainly real, captured by the American National Election Studies, which include questions about animosity toward various social groups. About one third of respondents rated conservative Christians significantly lower (by at least one standard deviation) than other religious and racial groups.

The only group to fare worse was atheists, who received low rankings from nearly half the respondents. But while atheists drew more global hostility than any other group, the negative rankings for conservative Christians came from a disproportionate number of white, highly educated, politically progressive, and wealthy respondents.

As this survey illustrates, animosity toward Christians involves racial, educational, and economic factors; the people most likely to hold negative views of conservative Christians also belong to demographic groups with high levels of social power. Rich, white, educated Americans are major influencers in media, academia, business, and government, and these are the people most likely to have a distaste for conservative Christians.

As a sociologist whose research focuses on race and religion, I was curious to know more about cultural progressive activists, individuals who oppose the political agenda of conservative Christians, and their views on the Christian Right. In 2009, I conducted an online survey of nearly 4,000 people who tended to fall into this politically progressive, highly educated, white and wealthy demographic.

Their attitudes reflected the negativity toward Christians found in earlier research, with some particularly extreme and troubling remarks. Responding to open-ended questions, they said:

“Churches and houses of religion should be designated as nuclear test zones.”

“Kill them all, let their god sort them out.”

“The only good Christian is a dead Christian.”

I cannot determine by my data the percentage of Americans with such a level of vitriol, but judging by the comments, it’s not a trivial amount.

In the United States, hateful bigotry is directed not only toward groups such as racial and sexual minorities, but also toward conservative Christians. The survey comments evidence that some of the anti-Christian animosity veers into unreasonable hatred and fear. It’s Christianophobia.

From this research, I wrote my latest book, So Many Christians, So Few Lions, the title itself inspired by several respondents who joked about feeding Christians to lions. Continue reading

National Atheist Day 2015

 

 

images0M13UZQ6

 

A happy National Atheist Day to all our atheist readers!  I hope you will have a fun filled day yelling about the Flying Spaghetti Monster in the sky, writing to papers 5000 word letters claiming that Hitler was a believing Christian, trolling Catholic websites to use atheist proof texts that work against Baptists to establish that the Bible is absurd and all the other fun filled activities in which believers in the Great Nothing seem to derive enjoyment from.  Today I would like to direct your attention to a man that deserves honor by all atheists:  Aldous Huxley.

The grandson of “Darwin’s Bulldog”, T. H. Huxley, Huxley deserves to be remembered and not just as the author of the increasingly prophetic Brave New World, but also as being a far seeing and honest atheist.  First as to his honesty.  Huxley in Ends and Means explains why he and so many of his elite contemporaries embraced atheism:

For myself, as, no doubt, for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaningless was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was simultaneously liberation from a certain political and economic system and liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom; we objected to the political and economic system because it was unjust. The supporters of these systems claimed that in some way they embodied the meaning (a Christian meaning, they insisted) of the world. There was one admirably simple method of confuting these people and at the same time justifying ourselves in our political and erotical revolt: we could deny that the world had any meaning whatsoever.”

The interesting thing about Huxley is that while he remained an atheist he became intensely interested in mysticism, along with hallucinogenic drugs, in the latter part of his life.  He even argued 1n 1945 in a best selling book that all religions incorporated what he called the Perennial Philosophy, and that a man could be an adherent of that philosophy while believing in none of the theological aspects of any of the religions.

This was a brilliant attempt to square the circle for atheism.  The great weakness of atheism is that it leads to the conclusion that existence is ultimately meaningless.  Huxley demonstrated how an atheist could derive meaning to the world by stealing borrowing from religions their trappings while ignoring the substance.

CS Lewis, who was a contemporary of Huxley and who died on the same day he did, along with John F. Kennedy, summed up this type of atheism in his The Screwtape Letters:

I wonder you should ask me whether it is essential to keep the patient in ignorance of your own existence. That question, at least for the present phase of the struggle, has been answered for us by the High Command. Our policy, for the moment, is to conceal ourselves. Of course this has not always been so. We are really faced with a cruel dilemma. When the humans disbelieve in our existence we lose all the pleasing results of direct terrorism, and we make no magicians. On the other hand, when they believe in us, we cannot make them materialists and sceptics.
At least, not yet. I have great hopes that we shall learn in due time how to emotionalise and mythologise their science to such an extent that what is, in effect, a belief in us (though not under that name) will creep in while the human mind remains closed to belief in the enemy. The “Life Force,” the wor¬ship of sex, and some aspects of Psychoanalysis may here prove useful. If once we can produce our perfect work—the Materialist Magician, the man, not using, but veritably worshipping, what he vaguely calls “Forces” while denying the existence of “spirits”—then the end of the war will be in sight.

Ah, but this is too philosophical for a day of celebration!  Time for some atheist kid songs! Continue reading

Lincoln and His Second Term

images94KGBQGU

One hundred and fifty years ago Lincoln was at the high point of his Presidency.  The Civil War was coming to a victorious conclusion.  His popularity would zoom to heights not reached by any President since Washington when on April 14, 1865 he foiled the assassination plot of John Wilkes Booth by wrestling him to the floor of the theater box at Ford’s Theater.  (One wonders if Booth would have succeeded if Lincoln had not been standing and stretching, his face to the door of the theater box, when Booth burst through the door.)  Less than four years later, he left Washington, widely reviled North and South.  Although revisionist histories appear occasionally defending Lincoln, the consensus of his contemporaries still stands:  that Lincoln made an adequate wartime President, but an abysmal peacetime President.  I think this verdict is overblown, but one cannot argue that his second term after the War was anything but a disaster.  Let us look at the factors that led to this.

 

1.  Former Confederate States-Lincoln’s theory was that the former Confederates States had never been out of the Union.  So soon as ten percent of the voters based on 1860 totals had taken an oath of allegiance to the Union and organized a state government that abolished slavery, the new state government would be recognized by the federal government and members elected to Congress seated.  This was far too lenient for Radical Republicans who feared that these new state governments would simply be replicas of the state governments that existed in 1860 with a de facto abolition of slavery while de jure blacks would be fifth class citizens.  Their fears were soon realized with new state governments recognized by the Lincoln administration adopting Black Codes, laws that severely restricted the freedom the newly freed slaves.  This remained a bone of contention between Lincoln and the Congress controlled by the Radical Republicans from the beginning until the end of his second term.

2.  Rights of Blacks-That Lincoln was sincerely committed to the civil rights of former slaves cannot be doubted in good faith by anyone.  The ringing words of his 1865 Fourth of July “Life and Liberty” oration before the freedmen of Richmond should eliminate any doubt on that score.  Throughout his second term Lincoln used military force to enforce the rights of blacks that were routinely trampled upon by the new governments in the former Confederate states that he recognized.  He was instrumental in establishing the largely black states of Liberty, Emancipation and Freedom in the West that ensured black representation in Congress and a haven for blacks disenfranchised in the rest of the country.  However, the use of the military was met by a virtual guerilla warfare in the South led by the Ku Klux Klan, often receiving clandestine aid from the governments that Lincoln had helped install.  This was all very confusing for the war weary citizens of the North, and a common complaint of “What did we fight the War for?” became ever more common in the North as Lincoln’s second term went on.

3.  Mary Lincoln- The assassination attempt on Lincoln seemed to unhinge Mrs. Lincoln.  She would often shriek in public to strangers that she knew that they were out to murder her husband.  Lincoln perhaps had no choice in having her committed to an insane asylum, but that decision added to his unpopularity.

4.  Fissions in the Republican Party-With slavery ended, the Republican party fractured between radicals and conservatives, former Whigs and former Democrats, and a myriad of different state factions.  Much of Lincoln’s time was devoted to healing these fractures, with Lincoln often receiving strong criticism from all factions for his troubles as a would be peacemaker.

5.  Seward’s Folly- Throughout the second term Democrats often attacked Lincoln for having run up a huge national debt during the Civil War.  This charge received more ammunition when the US purchased Alaska for 7.2 million dollars, which Democrats painted as money wasted for a worthless icy wasteland.  When it got out that Lincoln was considering attempting to set up  more black states in Alaska, he was subject to laughter and ridicule, often accompanied by a quoted statement from a black that he did not want to go and freeze in Alaska.

6.  Man of the Past-Lincoln often seemed like a figure of the past by the end of his second term.  Secession and slavery, the two issues most associated with Lincoln, quickly became relics of the past to a nation, at least the white part of the nation, eager to turn the page.  Heroes who win often seem outdated as times rapidly change, and that fate befell Lincoln. Continue reading

April 1, 1865: Battle of Five Forks

 FiveForksCWPTMap-1024x748

 On March 31, 1865 General Pickett, commander of the Confederate forces at Five Forks had launched an attack on Sheridan’s troopers driving them south to just north of Dinwiddie Court House.  However, his left flank being threatened by troops of the V Corps arriving to reinforce Sheridan, Pickett retreated to Five Forks.  Sheridan followed the retreating Pickett, and launched an attack on the Confederate breastworks at 1:00 PM on April 1, with two divisions of dismounted Union cavalry, armed with Sharps repeating rifles.  This intense fire pinned down the Confederates while the infantry of the V Corps massed to attack the Confederate left.  At 4:15 the attack went in , overcoming a stubborn Confederate defense.  Sheridan removed General Warren from command of the V Corps on the grounds of being dilatory in arranging the attack of the V Corps, a decision which was ruled unfounded by an Army court of inquiry in 1883.  Confederate casualties were almost 3,000 many of them prisoners, and Union casualties were 830.  The Confederate right had now been turned, and largely obliterated, and the   Southside Railroad lay exposed to the Union.  Richmond and Petersburg could no longer be held.

 

1280px-Petersburg_Mar29-31

Here is Sheridan’s report of the battle: Continue reading

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