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tv   The Civil War  CSPAN  October 1, 2016 6:00pm-7:16pm EDT

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at 8:30, a briefing for the audience. at 9:00, live coverage of the debate. watch live on announcer: next, historians talking about going to tax of the civil war -- great attacks of the civil war. the discussion was part of the symposium hosted by the emerging civil war blog. >> i am pleased to introduce some of my colleagues.
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we have had a couple of great talks already. allould not fit the mm in. we have some of the best and brightest joining us tonight. .ames ogden [indiscernible] sitting next to him is christopher kolakowski.
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chris is the director of the macarthur memorial. if you have a chance to visit norfolk, it is a first-class on the scale of a presidential library. [indiscernible] to his left is the editor of the
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emerging civil war blog. [indiscernible] dan also has a huge man crush -- [indiscernible] next to dan, stuart henderson. he is now one of the leading experts on united states --
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he had the opportunity to march in president obama's inauguration parade. the and gentlemen, stuart henderson -- ladies and gentlemen, stuart anderson -- ladies and gentlemen, stuart henderson. last but not least -- he has spoken in excess of 250 roundtables. ladies and gentlemen, chris mackowski.
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i am going to start with mr. white. i will ask our panelists to upak and then open things for the audience to ask questions. what is the greatest attack? [laughter] >> sunday -- first, fredericksburg has a great story. crossingber 11 river in late afternoon. some microphone problems.
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that is one of the greatest -- you have engineers trying to build bridges. you have confederates they are trying to hold back the unit invaders coming across the river. unionen, under fire, the infantrymen have to rewrite how they are going to fight the american civil war. they will have to battle their their way -- paddle across and fight street by street. [indiscernible] >> [inaudible] unfortunately, all great attacks do not end in victory. the attack i want to talk about is the battle of the crater, in
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petersburg. command ofr the someone in fredericksburg very well. he was commanding the union corps.ore -- 9th were a lot of minors in the regimen, and they wanted to build a mine under the earth. -- however, burnside doesn't get his original plan of attack. corps is made up of [indiscernible]
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they are planning to leave the attack and according to some of the officers and general burnside himself, they will go ahead and succeed in this attack in the battle of petersburg will be over. another general had different plans. attackuld change that of -- the plan of attack. that would become a loss for the union army. dayswas one of the saddest in the army. [indiscernible] >> april 2, 1865, the james wilson assault on selma,
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alabama. part ofpent the early the war as an engineer. cuts his teeth in the wilderness. does not perform very well, but he is eventually transferred to the west to take command of sherman's calvary. in the tennessee campaign, he spent the winter of 1865 between waterloo and alabama on the alabama river. his plans for the spring -- the weather starts to turn. it is interesting to look back on the planning for what becomes
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wilson's raid. leads his calvary into alabama to disrupt the remaining industrial centers of the town. what stands out is the union calvary divisions dismounted against a fortified city. you do not see that very often, dismounted calvary attacking fortified positions. but the assault is successful. >> [indiscernible] >> 152 years ago today, in the , augustte, mobile bay 5, 1864.
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one of the largest fleets assembled at the time goes forward against the squadron headed by one of the most powerful confederate ironclads committed by the one officer to command multiple federal ironclads in battle, franklin buchanan. morgan,erneath for .oses in ironclad due to a mine it is five minutes from destruction. bishops get thrown into confusion finding out where the mines are. command, the immortal damn the torpedoes. >> [indiscernible] it is one of the all-time great lines and american military history. you do not have to know anything about the civil war to know the
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term, damn the torpedoes. people do not realize what it means. the attack was on the moment of failure. man who could turn it around and he gets into the andand defeats the squadron one was at the time the unique -- a joint army navy takes the fort with the next two weeks, sealing off the last confederate port east of the mississippi. , you will see this quote, talks about it being one of the greatest achievements in the history of the navy which, when you think about it, that
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includes john paul jones, lake erie, tokyo bay, that is a large statement. i have not just saying that to be the token navy guy but it is with a great attacks of the civil war. just a dramatic story. >> [indiscernible] guy, we a gettysburg often get the question of, how do i get to the field? it is a great attack that has been studied and re-examined. perhaps one of the most popular places to study. ist i often tell visitors one of the forgotten flanks of gettysburg. not all of the attacks have to succeed, one of the greatest is the federal assault on july 3,
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1863 when we talk about the confederate assault on july 3, most folks say, i know pickett's charge. that was not the original intention. asle -- as lee wrote, the name confederate assault, i diversionary assault on the union army right flank. evening into the early morning hours, this effort to renew this planet is going to be put into play. when that attack goes into effect on the morning hours of july 3, able be the longest sustained fighting at gettysburg. confederate units and union 46.5 hours.ight
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there will be more soldiers 6.5 ed -- will fight for hours. there will be more casualties because of the fighting during those hours then they will be as a result of pickett's charge. a great attack, an attack that did not succeed, unfortunately, for lee, but a great moment in civil war history. i will use the army of the cumberland assault on november ,5, 1863 at missionary ridge ordered by ulysses s. grant as a demonstration. but, the men in cumberland had told thatilly been
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had previously been told to hold themselves in readiness. the signal for the advance was the sounding of guns in rapid succession. limited intention movement was filtered down the chain of command, the regimental brigade, and division commanders heard the guns sound in rapid succession in the believed that the attack that they had been told to hold themselves in readiness for was going forward. >> circling back to something stewart said, not all great attacks have to be successful. how do you define what a great attack is? i would define a great attack
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as an attack that involves a lot these are large military or political moments. in the case of the battle of the crater, you have both. anddo have a large attack even though it is unsuccessful, you have so many soldiers involved and you have the united involved,ored troops they were inexperienced at the time. only two had fought in smaller skirmishes. 23rd and the 30th. the majority of them were inexperienced. their more hours boosted by their officers stating that they
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were being trained so that they could end the war. at the very last minute, the 30,ck takes place on july goes toe general burnside and tells him that you can't use your color troops. it was basically a political reason for doing that. lincoln was never short of being elected president. if they used the color troops and if they failed and they got slaughtered, that would look very bad on the administration. grant and hees to is going to make that point and grant is going to accept it. however, what would have happened if they succeeded because they had been trained to
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our the explosion of the crater and some of the soldiers were going to go to the right and you're going to take care of the confederate interference on that side while the others are going to take cemetery hill which would lead directly into petersburg. could have been over. they would have had the white troops to back them up. but that is not going to take place because they do not want .o have soldiers slaughtered in the end, they get slaughtered anyway because the attack is going to take too long and the first division is going to be under the worst general there. he is a drunk and he is incompetent. during the attack, he is spending his time getting drunk. how else would you define a great attack? >> i do not think
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has anything to do with size or scale. even have 55,000 confederate soldiers. throughout the day, there is a great defense with sean porter, that fantastic point where john hooddwards -- john bell coming up in finding a spot on the better field. , the firstreak that tier comes back upward. then, you have the quick attack. troopers making a new formation to pierce through the confederacy. two breakthrough like a bazooka.
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have george gordon means in fredericksburg. 8000 using soldiers attacking prospect hill. they found a weak point. a 600 yard cap in the line. because they are too lazy to fill that gap. then there is the big swamp there. let's go through the swamp, you know? that opens up an opportunity lost to the union forces under franklin and burnside on that end of the field. we do not remember fredericksburg for that. it could be the great attack -- but they all tried to achieve that same thing, that victory, that how you achieve that victory. oftent him greatly good shows grant the way we can creep
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through. which we will talk about tomorrow. might bring you on the precipice of victory in a might bring you victory but it comes at a high cost. would agree in regards to the fact that one of the greatest attacks does not equal scale or size of the assault. tomorrow, we are going to hear about the july 2 salt of the .nion army -- july 2 assault one of the greatest attacks in gettysburg is by two brigades that are going to be attacking this unimaginable piece of terrain, cemetery hill. there are over 60 pieces of federal artillery. it is defended by the remnants
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reinforced as each passing moment is going by. ,hese programs are being told you are going to be supported. we are going to support you in this assault. one of the hallmarks of this one makes aoment, great attack during the american odds war is that long story and the human factor of war. for the north carolinians and louisiana's, the georgians will not come forward -- it was a useless sacrifice of life to send the georgians to the support of the carolinians.
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despite that, as darkness is setting, one of the rear evening willks, north carolinians break the union line on cemetery hill and they will be within 40 yards of the baltimore pike, a road into the rear of the union , the road for communications, supply, evacuation. it was against the odds that initially that attack succeeded them without reinforcement, they were forced to get that back ground. i want to agree with stewart in his earlier answers. impact.c thing is
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it doesn't necessarily have to be successful but has to have politically,e morally. i think we can come up with a bunch of attacks that meet those criteria but they have to have some impact on the subsequent events, militarily, politically, economically, socially. jim stole most of what i was going to say. i was thinking of some comparison pieces -- comparison cases. if you look at normandy, for , it meets the criteria
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because it was an important turning point. the stakes of the normandy invasion or huge. -- were huge. and you talk about great attacks , is not a compelling story. it is an interesting story. it comes back to the scope and impact. that is an important distinction. that is a different distinction then impact. [indiscernible] let's open things up.
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[indiscernible] that? thoughts about your i willmp in correct myself. so, from a donaldson perspective, i agree with you. it changed the entire strategic complexity of the confederate strategy. it kicks up in the western door and they are forced to abandon most of kentucky as well as tennessee and it gives the s the cumberland river and they are now able to
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down the river through tennessee into mississippi. they are also allowed to run the boats into alabama, strike infrastructure, railroads. it has an incredible strategic impact. >> [indiscernible] another question? >> [inaudible] >> for those of you who are not
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, january 2015 -- i looked at the question of who wins? i look at the tactical , operational in terms of what happens to the overall operation. for example, the maryland campaign, south mountain is an operational union victory. it does not end the campaign. the strategic fruits of the campaign are not met. the strategic victory -- the objective of the campaign. they win the campaign strategically because what is the objective of the campaign? chattanooga. there are times where you have battles that in isolation, one
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side that is a whole other presentation. what you are getting on is correct. how do you define great attacks? is it something that is great tactically? like some of the things dan was talking about. is it something that has an operational impact were strategic impact? that is what jim and stuart and myself were advocating. to make a truly great attack you have to have that significance and the impact. it has to be in some way impactful far beyond the battlefield. from a political standpoint, as a strategic standpoint, or the attorney point -- or a turning point. when you talk about great attacks, it can be sized it is ultimately the strategic level. is it something that has an impact on the course of the war?
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i'm assuming that's what you are getting at. that is the argument the three of us are making. make surereminder, you're speaking directly into the mic. next question. >> can you identify a game changing attack that did not happen? >> meade has 30,000 union soldiers. could it made a great attack across open field. they could turn the tide of the war one way of the other. warren, when it comes down to h-hour does not pull the
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trigger. sedgwickhich -- john was ready to go forward. more and is not -- warren is not going forward. the third commander said where is your napoleon guns now? are going toade discuss what was going on. the fortifications robert e. lee put up. it had a huge impact on meade. thatll look at warren night because he does not attack in grant is doing so well at chattanooga. he will say you have ruined me, thinking he will lose the command of the army of the potomac. and a very well could've ruined him. and starting to show something that will happen with war and down the road that is a different story about not following orders. this attack does not go forward.
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it has a huge impact. it will be one of those impacts that brings grant into the east because george gordon need was nothing at a get it done. grant has proven in front of everybody he can win and he doesn't time and again that he does it time and again. 1862, theh of may, last defense on the james seven miles below the capital of richmond, the union flotilla attacks and they tried to do with it done at port royal and what farragut had done in new orleans, which we will talk about tomorrow. they tried to do would have been done at fort colossae and take the city by the fleet from the river. they fail. they fail because of a change in the river, a whole bunch of hard-bitten virginia gunners that is just one of the css virginia and the gun crews
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joined the emplacement and they wanted revenge. the federal guns could never elevate far enough to the bar the confederate fort. the flag officer writes the george mcclellan and request an infantry brigade to march on the east side of the james river and take the bluff. they can cut the chain, they can get up the richmond. one infantry brigade. mcclellan this not send it. those obstructions remain unbroken until 1865. what is this matter? richmond could easily have fallen by mid-may, 1862. the other thing is look at the impact that has on the james river. mcclellan had been trying to decide whether to base his advance of the james river or
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the york river. he chooses the york, which puts his real line behind -- it's a whole presentation for all other time. it is the decision of the seven days. it ultimately gives lee is ultimate -- is opening to dislodge. attacks thatt would have had a tremendous impact from a strategic and political standpoint. and thatjuries bluff he doesn't even have to take a the city. you throw a few cells of the virginia capitol building, think of the impact that has in the spring of 1862. to me that is one of the great attacks that is not undertaken in the war. >> here in the back? >> [indiscernible]
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>> could you repeat? >> [indiscernible] what was it like for the common soldiers? >> i will start that off. i referenced at a tactical level the louisianans and north carolinians. on the order came down, and adjutant in a louisiana unit wrote in his diary, "when i received the orders i felt it was my doom." despite that feeling and sentiment, he would help lead them forward. i think in that regard when we go back to talking about the long odds in the human factor of war, i think the men in the race
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realized at various levels the importance of the orders they were receiving and what lay ahead for them. one of theattle members of the 23rd could have been executed except for his ex master was there. he is given back to his ex master and set of being killed. the ex-master will again make him a slave. this man says he was upset of being a slave but glad to be alive. you will be sent to north carolina where he escapes again to the union line in wilmington. this man will live a long life, but if his master was not there, he could've been killed at the battle. >> in north carolina in march
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1865, johnson attacks a wing of tecumseh sherman's army moving to the state. below the confederate launching that of the very young man was a north carolina junior reserve that was thrown into the old army of tennessee to make an assault on a union division. the army of tennessee had been decimated the previous winter in their namesake state at franklin and nashville. he makes the comment about how close the flags are amongst the various units were divisions once were. there are now brigades. where there are brigades, they're not regiments, regiments are now companies. it really hits home the decimation of the war.
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>> i wonder what your thoughts the attack on the ironclads [indiscernible] like't remember but i feel given that only two people survived, everybody else give their lives in the ram was taken out of the picture, it seems like ahead of the strategic impact. for one guy to do that [indiscernible] >> i would look to -- like to point out they gave me the microphone to address this. [laughter] if it had not been august 5, tonight, i probably would've nominated cushing and the sinking of the albemarle.
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28ch is the night of october, 1864. just go read battles and leaders of the civil war volume four. read his account. it is coolness under fire, personal courage personified. --albermarlerow was a threat to the sounds. if it had been open it would've been a first-class haven for runners for the confederacy. it had a huge impact. i absolutely agree with what you say. it was bravery, coolness under fire. one of the great attacks. [indiscernible] [laughter] defensive,e or not
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there are people behind the barriers [indiscernible] this is a lesson that -- tactics evolved. defense attacked is involved -- tactics you old. -- defensive tactics evolved. topic is great defenses of the civil war. [laughter] get your tickets early. will beote speaker talking about the defense of south mountain. chris will be giving our tour of the may 18 battlefield at the courthouse. get that out of the way. i think defenses are a sexy topic of the civil war.
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let's look at second manassas. we have how many paintings of the rock curlers. thomas reed ruth cobb sitting down in the sunken road and losing his life defending fredericksburg. that's a very sexy topic. chanting "fredericksburg, fredericksburg." it is so good we are doing a symposium after it. >> [indiscernible] >> well, he is the senior union officer left in the battlefield will get credit for that stand. [laughter] campaign iattanooga will nominate another great defense. he was benefited by william tecumseh sherman willingly marching into it, but william joseph party and patrick labor's
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disposition of troops on the north and the missionary ridge. of thelustrates a lot developing defensive capabilities of the war to that point. about big piggyback marie's heights, in general robert e. lee knew he did not the piggyback about the battle of marie's heights. generally -- general lee knew he did not have any capability. he wanted to drop the union army in and use a defensive position. he does it very well. when you talk about great defenses, breeze heights is one. i always talk about before fredericksburg a lot of the soldiers of both the north and south thought they should stand face-to-face and fight each
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other man-to-man. when they saw that using that wall was very advantageous to them, they started using entrenchments after that. >> to bring it back to the topic at hand of the symposium and tie defense is question, the superior form of warfare. it requires less energy, it is simpler, and it requires less of everything that an attack does. batonly having studied and counterattack plans, they'll have enough supplies or gasoline or energy to go on the defensive, it's better to stay on the defense. then you have the technological advantages the defense has in the civil war, particularly by earthworks, rifle, must get, canon -- musket, cannon and things of that nature. that's what makes these attacks of compelling.
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you look at the stuff we talked about tonight, the stuff we are going to talk about tomorrow and you look at all these supposed advantages to the defender but the attacks get pushed through to success. why? what is the difference? it requires more energy, more firepower, more coordination, more of everything than the defense. why do they win even with the cards being in the defense? even with the defense being the superior form of warfare? when you think about what we are talking about tomorrow i would put that in the next -- mix. there is some truly great stances in the civil war. i'm looking forward to hearing about it and talking about it. with a recognition of the great issue you brought up, the glory -- great questions about power of defense, that makes these great attacks we are talking
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about tomorrow, i think that make it more compelling an even greater stories in many respects. i commend that thought. i commend that cause they thought to you has we look at what we are going to be talking about tomorrow. >> [indiscernible] >> most of us have probably been to a civil war battlefield and notice how geography to dates -- dictates the attacks. [indiscernible]
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why did these men follow orders when they look at the terrain and didn't want to do that? what are your thoughts on the answers to that question? >> why follow orders? thing, and wee have a lot of letters and diaries from the men that fought in the four battles around here, they will fight for each other because a lot of those men in those regiments were raised in the same towns and counties so they knew each other. cowardice was not really well thought of background. if you became a coward you could never go home again. plus you had to think about those men. if you don't do your job, maybe
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your brother, maybe your best friend gets killed. when you think about that, these men will do their duty. studied various aspects of american military history from 1775 to the present. i will take a broader take on this. discipline,ly to partly to unit cohesion, partly to believe in your leaders, pro rata fighting for each other. i think that is a very big part as stewart must adequately points out. many times -- he brought up missionary ridge, a great example of one of those moments where they get to the bottom of the ridge. i gave a talk on normandy a couple of weeks ago, and it seems to be a moment in certain american battles were american soldiers either can't go back, can't stay where they are, so the only option is to go forward.
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that is what got the 29th in the first division's off on the hot beach on june 6, 1944. the same spirit that gets those men up missionary ridge. it is the same spirit you can ofd that it gets the men bunker hill, san juan hill. there is something -- i'm not even sure i could find the proper words to describe it, but there is something in the spirit of what motivates americans to fight that shows up in moments like that. it is probably a combination of what stewart talked about, but there is something even more, something that is a deeper reservoir that is tapped into from time to time that repels these people forward when the chips are down. >> particularly for the civil war i will add they knew they were fighting for something special and unique.
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the only representative of the government on the face of the earth at that time with the united states. the united states survived or did not survive, one nation or two, what form of republic. there were a lot of people in the world watching. there was a full other international aspect to our civil war. people wanting to see the outcome of it. bether or not we really can -- govern ourselves. government of the people, by the people, for the people. they knew there were huge stakes. you might say i'm an american exceptionalism and out of touch with the times and the like, but in the mid-19th century this was ultimately -- they knew what the stakes were.
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[indiscernible] >> long street at second manassas. it probably would've needed to be a relatively small army and 1862 in vicksburg.
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>> chris, you want to take up? [laughter] here is the thing about the mississippi river campaign. we never tried anything like it before. in 1862, the that first time we talked about the tactics discussion of headquarters, gives the first time in american history of core headquarters. they are learning on the fly. fair get his commanding the largest fleet ever assembled in the history of united states navy when he goes in portland. i don't give too much of the plot away for tomorrow. he wins the victory and we embark on a river ride campaign that looking back through the prism of the pacific war for your used to fighting point-to-point along the waterway, it makes sense.
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it had never been tried before 1862. it's a long-winded way of saying i don't think they had any idea what the true impact was going to be. ben butler only has about 18,000 guys. he has the garrison the city of almost 10 times that amount the population, 168000 and change. he doesn't have a whole lot despair. george mcclellan, who had been asked to provide troops, cut down the lot because of the peninsula campaign. i think it's a combination of factors, but the big thing to be kept in mind is we look back on the civil war at these armies in the navy's looking back at the perspective of two world wars. there is aget that lot of things they are doing in the civil war for the first time. that largest army in the history of united states before first manassas that an officer has ever commanded is washington at your cap.
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-- yorktown. 17,000 men. that's the size of some of these corps in the civil war. and just like marching out the first manassas, mcdowell has more experience than any of the u.s. officer in the history of united's army, just by marching out and commanding an army that big and moving it and supplying it. i think we need to remember that when we think about these guys. was it a missed opportunity? you bet you. they would be great to have infantry division to go after vicksburg, although at the same time they ran into the same problem at vicksburg that they did outside of richmond. them asame time i give certain pass because i'm not sure they sought coming. -- saw it coming. officerverage civil war is going off in 1861, even west point trained, they are not
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necessarily going to west point all the time. they are becoming officers and engineers. a lot of these guys are designing railroads. they are working on engineering projects. they have not commanded more than 120 men. here comes sherman reading the manual he's driving a new car about how imovie brigade from that line of battle. there is a lot of learning on the fly. i have to give the western armies a lot of credit for their combined operations with an 80 and with the army -- with the navy and the army that worked so many times well together. chris will talk about new orleans tomorrow. that'so second manassas, a fantastic attack that takes place. longstreetstreet -- is credited with being slow, but he delivers a hammer-like low.
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normally people say stonewall jackson was the man to do this, this was the perfect execution of a napoleonic tactic where you are holding one army in place and smashing it. if it wasn't for the tenacious fighting of the pennsylvania preserve -- reserve, second manassas could've been more of a route than it actually was. then you have john pope taking on lee is only been a command for a few months, but he's a veteran commander at this point compared to john pope. >> question over here. >> we have talked about gettysburg and spotsylvania courthouse and some of the great attacks, what about some of the minor events that turned out to be great attacks in the war department. if anybody on the panel wants to speak on that. we had a comment about the attack on the albermarle. on the other end of north carolina in june of 1864 there
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was an extremely blind array, 120 union soldiers came at a greenville, tennessee and attacked a conscript camp full of junior reserves. what the attack does is it opens and shows everybody that western north carolina is seriously exposed. then you have all these families that are getting burned out. it leads to more desertion of north carolina soldiers. things it picture of really is a great attack. are there other instances in the history of the time period where we have these minor events that are really great attacks. >> go forward if you got something. >> a minor event that is a great attack, march 17, 1863. maybe 25-30 minutes of the road. a cavalry division is going to
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return the favor to his old west point friend, lee server -- the prices tickets a few weeks before. he receives permission across the rappahannock and attack lee's confederates. it's a daylong battle on a small scale, larger scale at brandy station in a few months afterwards. the men go toe to toe and hold her own against lee's confederates. this action, although he withdrawals in the field at the end of the day, this action provides a very critical, crucial morale boost for the union calvary. it's not just his men that participate in that fight, who come out of it and a confident manner. that confidence spreads throughout the rest of the union -- serves as a
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vehicle operations in 1863 at the battle of brandy station in june. many of you probably know where i'm going with this. outside of richmond, virginia, seven pines. a disjointed and poorly run attack by joe johnston's army of northern virginia. still creates problems for the .ederals and reinforcements arrive a skirmish with confederates marching down the nine mile road. under the watchful eye of their committee general. a soldier, they think it's a 34th new york, they think they have narrowed it down to being the culprits, shoots joe johnston. the next day gustavo smith takes over. that last for one day, partly because the guy is gestapo smith and not the most competent individual in the world.
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there is also the fact he is from the state of new york. that is just not something jeff davis wants to stand, plus smith is continuous. lee takes command. that would be one of the best definitions of a small event that turned into a great failed attack in this case for the confederates, but had a tremendous strategic repercussion for the rest of the war. >> let me jump on what he just said. i will take it back a little further and going to western mountain go to chief where he fails. he has army command for the first time. now he is out trying to fight in these terrible mountains, trying to coordinate with volunteer troops.
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when the richmond papers find out how poorly he had done at their, jefferson davis has to pull him back and spent hit -- send him down to the southeast and eventually brings him back to richmond to figure out what to do with this guy. that is something i just wrote about. >> i will follow-up. campaign and go a little bit before that into october of 1863 in the frisco station campaign. a small attack that has far-reaching implications. members of ap hill's core will attack a retreating union column. as the campaign develops george gordon meade is pulling soldiers back, raising to the defense of centerville. robert e proven the army of northern virginia is not defeated, they are not down and
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for the account following gettysburg. army andstill a viable aggressive army. the attack launched by these north carolinians, although tactically defeated, is going to raise a lot of questions. general meade took command for three days before gettysburg. joseph hooker is in command for most of the campaign. meade is autocratic for the post battle victory. is this guy really capable of defeating lee? izzy able to do it -- is he able to do for the long haul? run,e that with mine these north carolinians defeated them and will have far-reaching applications in the minds of men like lincoln and the northern homefront about this new commander of the army of the potomac that's only been a command for several months. >> [indiscernible]
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final take away thoughts? rate wesley you merritt's charge at the confederate left at third winchester? with that rate is a great assault? -- would that rate as a great assault? guy.u are a cav [laughter] >> as my grandfather used to say, no question. absolutely, yes. it is a fantastic mounted charge at a time when mounted charges, you are starting to see them less and less. they are starting to become a thing of the past. it is great because it represents where the union -- cavalry once was. it is incredible successful.
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by that point in time in 1864, the union cavalry had begun a transition. they were moving away from the traditional roles of scouting, screening, intelligence gathering, reconnaissance and so one. they were moving to more of a mounted strikeforce. horses were a means of transportation and mobility to get met from point a to point b on a battlefield so they could fight. is something totally opposite of that. charge by the union cavalry crashes and smashes into jubal early's left flank. it's one of the deciding point of the battle. me -- yes, it's a great assault but it is what
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cavalry once was and not what it was becoming. >> [indiscernible] can i put you on the spot? i'm anticipating your final question. [laughter] >> i will start with our chief historian. take it away. >> i think it's a fantastic aspect. the defense is interesting, but i think like chris said there is so much to it. it is so complex. there are so many variables. there are officers coming up in the ranks like war and -- warren listening to their teachers at west point sanctity a three to one odd to take a fortification. binder officers saying open field fighting is the way to be because men fight behind
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earthworks in a salon fit for fighting. you are fighting behind earthworks. it's a great transition very period. we're looking to go out, new tactics coming in. dan talks about merritt's attack. the five forks and the men holding the line so that more and -- warren can attack with cavalry but they are dismounted, just like john buford of the first day of gettysburg. i enjoyed reading about those, but there are some very heart-wrenching accounts when you see what comes from those great attacks. these are not just numbers, they are men. to read some of the accounts. mike knows lots about plans for gate -- lance brigade. another almost has a breakdown
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after he watched his men, 910 of them go down including his own brother and it shatters him. they also created one of the greatest friendly fire incidents of the war with stonewall jackson. it will be a heart-wrenching thing. >> [indiscernible] >> yeah, me ironically. first -- first talking about the unsuccessful attack by the usct. general george gordon meade doesn't believe in colored troops, but benjamin button does. just two months after the battle of the crater, you will have the battle of newmarket heights and the united states colored troops fighting their will defeat the texas brigade. when they do that, general benjamin butler will be forever
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devoted to the united states colored troops. in fact he will create the butler medal for the soldiers because of their bravery at the battle of newmarket heights. 16 of the u.s. colored troops will be given medals of honor. two of their white officers and 14 black soldiers. butler proves the u.s. colored troops can be very valuable fighters in the civil war. i think one of the things we have touched upon with the questions and discussion is that you need for a successful attack to be executed, you need good leadership. we trace that leadership to men who are extremely confident in themselves. other men look to them to be
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led. that confidence can be mistaken at times for arrogance and other adjectives, but i think the one thing the attacks need or must have is a good leader. if a good leader is going forward and the men see him, they say he is not afraid to go forward. why should i be afraid he go forward? that type of mentality can work wonders on a battlefield. quoted, id already would do it here. i will say this because i agree with dan. he's all some of what i was kind to say is that leadership makes a difference in every single one of these actions. napoleon said it in 1805. the idea that one person can make or break an action. i want to pull the lens back further and simply echo
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something many you have probably heard jim say again and again. it occurred to me as i'm sitting here and listening to us having this great conversation and see all the great people here, many of whom traveled a great distance to be here. if you accept as we do in the emerging civil war that is the defining event in the history of this country, what ultimately turns the outcome of the civil war? what defines the civil war? it is a fine on the battlefield. -- defined on the battlefield. to understand the defining event of american history, one of the essential things you have to understand is the progress of the war on the battlefield. this iswhy stuff like conversation -- conversations like this matter. it helps you better refine and understand who these people were in the 1860's, what they did, and how would they did resonates
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with us to this very minute right now. i will read emphasize what chris touched on a little bit at the end of his wrapup. that is the human cost of these assaults. on the afternoon of july 1, 1863, the 26th north carolina was the largest regiment in the army of northern virginia. in 20 minutes of their assault, 588 it became casualties. each one of them had a family, loved ones, community, a support system. all of these lives extending off from these individual men, in their lives, their communities were forever changed. we cannot dismiss that too lightly. often times we get wrapped up only talk about so-and-so's brigade, or colonel so-and-so's regiment was in the action or
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participated in the assault, or they suffered 53% casualties, or 60% casualties. whatever the number is we forget who the men were that comprised those numbers, comprised those units. i would like to close my wrap up with a quote of the commander of the eighth virginia. it was part of pickett's charge on july 30, 1863. in the postwar years he wrote that it hit -- he had been invited to return to the great battlefield. he would normally turn down those invitations, not wanting to go back to gettysburg. did not want to go back to those fields between cemetery and seminary ridges. as he wrote, he said he would nearly kill me to see her all of my best friends felt. >> soldiers lives, leadership,
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by and large to be successful you need to be active, proactive. militarily is to maintain and exploit the initiative that usually means taking the offensive and very often it means you will have to launch an attack. and hopefully it will be well planned, well coordinated, synchronized, and successful. to gain and maintain initiative has often led to many of these assaults not always successful. >> but given up the panel tonight. [applause] >> you are watching american history tv, 48 hours of
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programming on american history every weekend on c-span 3. forow us on twitter information on our schedule and to keep up with the latest history news. >> tonight on lectures in history, westfield state university criminal justice professor george michael teaches a class on white supremacist groups in the mid to late 20th century. here is a preview. there are some significant trends that will make the issues of segregation and separatism more acute in this century. back in 1967,, president lyndon johnson commission a panel of civic leaders to investigate the underlying causes of racial unrest in america. the commission's findings criticized whiteford moving to the suburbs. they issued the famous
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conclusion, "our nation is moving towards two societies, one black, one white, separate and unequal." since then there have been great gains for african-americans in many areas of american life, including sports, entertainment, business, politics. despite these gains racial segregation has remained largely in place. >> watch the entire lecture tonight at 8:00 p.m. and midnight eastern time here on american history tv. tv, on american history eric burns talks about his book "the golden lad: the haunting story of quentin and theodore roosevelt.." he explores the relationships the roosevelt had with his children and specifically with his youngest son, quentin, it was shot down and killed by enemy german pilots during world war i.


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