tv 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaigns CSPAN May 28, 2017 12:25pm-1:11pm EDT
or 30 that are here to tell. >> next, the 1864 shenandoah valley campaign during the civil war. he talks about the strategic importance of the valley to both the union and the confederacy. he discusses the battles and rates it took place in the valley during that year. he also describes the interactions of the valley between union troops, confederate women, and freed slaves. civil warwas part of history. emeritus of the university of richmond and i
feel i should add was chaired department of history at uva. he began life as a specialist in the american south. he gravitated toward the civil war. he is now the historian of both the american south and the civil war. published very widely. it was a major re-examine of the post-civil war south. it was the first since the landmark book from the early 1950's.
he is just finished the sequel to that but it i am not going to read the title because it is an out yet. the third is what caused the civil war, reflections on the south. dayas the last slot of the when we've been here for a long time. he is going to explore how the war in the valley allows us to engage with some of the larger themes of the war. [applause] >> thanks to all of you. i hope you partook of the coffee in the back. i was at uva for 27 years. the work i am talking to you about again before this building began. the library was here.
to uvaalways be grateful for allowing that to be created in for sustaining it all the years i've been gone. if you don't believe anything i'm saying today, you can see the primary sources for yourself. not right now. when we are done. [laughter] i'm not really adding much to it. show muchto try and of what we think of as being important, you can see it in the valley. during national drama from beginning to win. tens of thousands of soldiers served. s burned. town people risk their lives to africanlavery, even as
american troops rose to defend the united states. there were defiant speeches and jubilant rallies. all of these things happened not far from here in the valley. were profound changes profoundly unlikely. deep into the war, many americans on both sides did not foresee the surrender of the confederacy. a wealthy territory fully mobilized for war. the destruction of the largest and most powerful system of slavery in the modern world and accompanied by the connell is asian of free people had seemed impossible a few years before it came to pass. the valley embodied these changes. the valley actually helped these changes take place. were thingsite happened, that moved american history. virginia had been centrally important from the very first titles of the war.
they rebuff the largest army ever with the valley playing a major role. in 1863 at the federal army of a great invasion of pennsylvania by lee and the battle of gettysburg that halted that progress still did not destroy we's army. -- lee's army. they watch them warily throughout the winter of 1860 32 --o and 64, and they believe 1864, and they believe that would lead to the culmination of the war. the people of the united states had reason to be hopeful, because it seemed that so much of the confederacy had been overrun that the rubble nation would be unable to sustain their
armies much longer. they controlled the rivers, ports, coasts, and the western part of the confederacy had been cut off from the eastern, the upper from the lower, black people now labored for the benefit of the union and the elves, from the vast mississippi river valley to the west low lands of south carolina, to the rich farmland of each -- east tennessee. but the white people in the confederacy had their own reasons to believe that 1864 would bring the wars and, but with a different outcome. they had only to hold off the united states army long enough for the north to lose heart, to admit the south could not be conquered, and renounce lincoln .nd the presidential election if they can hold on through the spring and summer, northern voters, judging that they had sacrificed enough of their sons, brothers, and fathers, would negotiate peace.
as a result, the state of slavery might still be determined in 1864. laboredn people still in slavery beyond the reach of the united states army in 1864. slavery had unraveled everywhere in the south, the institution remained intact and helped feed the confederate army and civilian population. lincoln hadlicy of made slavery a central purpose of the war, only war, war itself would determine how and when the nation's long history of slavery might end. in 1864, friedman -- freedom for might yet bens compromised, sloot, or even halted. even though people are to imagine gettysburg is the turning point of the war, that is not the case. more men died after gettysburg and before, as much remained at stake as war.
this is not a decline in the story. everyone awaited the culminating battle between grant ansley. victories inentous 1962 and that 1862 and 1863, and arrived to take over all the command of the united dates forces and travel with the army of the potomac. he would try to do what no union general had done for three years, destroy the army of virginia. lee welcomed the chance to confront grant in a coal battle while the confederate army was still strong. to fightrmies needed as soon as possible that spring. lee and his staff had struggled throughout the winter to feed and arm their soldiers, and had watched demoralization erodes the ranks. but by spring, most men who had left the ranks to visit home had
returned, and lee was commanding over 6500 men -- 65,000 men. many had persuaded themselves even the defeat at gettysburg had been a temporary setback. the command structure of the confederate army was stable, experienced, and ready. but the army of the united states had an even larger army thinly is, -- then lee with 120,000 soldiers. everyone from abraham lincoln to the -- had confidence that grant, given his record, would be able to defeat lee and the rebellion in the u.s.. everybody knew in this titanic struggle, the dali -- valley of virginia would play a critical role. it has so far as battlefield,
supply pace, -- base, root of invasion. the army who control the valley would control much of virginia and the state of the nation. the shenandoah valley was both in the center of some of the fighting, like the times of stonewall jackson, and sometimes on its western border. they had fought in the valley one battle after another, but it had also need various forms of guerrilla, partisan, and a regular conflict. the valley, more than anywhere else, had all the different kinds of warfare that we see in the civil war. stanton felt the suffering of the first battles of the campaign with terrible immediacy. you remember that the map that we had on the screen? rail frommiles by richmond to stanton, the longest railroad tunnel in the world at the time.
feels the overland campaign as train loads oh wounded men poured into these talents -- towns on small virginia railroads. the hospitals and hotels had slowly emptied of wounded soldiers from gettysburg, and valley used the turnpike, as you saw the previous presentation, planted them at the beginning to be brought back into virginia. buried, sometimes not all along the road, but stanton was the place where they would be gathered to richmond. these buildings filled again leading and dying -- leading -- men.ing and dying soon, the valley would be swept up in a more direct way, feeling
the grab emotional -- gravitational pull of the overland campaign. i do not know how the cursor disappears when it goes down there. if i just click on it -- that is not do it. perhaps you can help me. he is actually wrapped in my conversation. we'll figure out how this -- how to do this. here's the thing. iswe imagine that the valley not a series of battles like pearls on a string, which is so often the way we think of these battles, isolated from one another and there is the cursor. if it turns out it is not the -- thisnt to start with
is the first overview of what the situation is. the dark gray area is where the overland campaign is being waged. it is around fredericksburg. you can see the confederacy is up there, gray, and you will see that grant, as one of the free strategies-- three valley --n in the working on to take virginia, he takes the valley. after that, we says i guess we are done with that, come back to .e that is why that pattern shows what it does. they are leaving. but that is not the end of the story. siegel is removed and hurt
our is put into place, his charges to take the rest of the valley. he takes over, and his goal is to take stanton, which is central to everything that they are trying to do because you can see the central railroad, but it is also because the mountains are filled both with human soldiers, but also all kinds of irregulars who are constantly threatening the guerrillas. he was really worried about being threatened. there are also grilli -- guerrillas all throughout the valley. he comes and fights the largest battle in the shenandoah valley. a larger valley then even one stonewall jackson was involved in. one afternoon, i told my long-suffering wife let's go see that, i am writing about it, but smaller thanr this lecture, and there is not even a place to allow the road.
i crushed anyink majoralks, but this is a battle, and i am showing you because this is my whole approach to all of this. unless we understand all the things that are going on at the same time in the valley, you cannot understand what is going on in the valley. it is all tied into the gravitational pull from this. you are seeing how central the railroads are. there is not a railroad that valley, butdown the they are cutting in from the east and west. so they are making their way up, trying to friend that defend stanton. they do it at piedmont, one of there,acters down grumble jones, as he is gets tonately known, lee maybe one hour before he is killed. takes them down to southwest ear i-81. n
but the valley as a whole different situation. what you see in all of this is that the civil war, if we imagine it not as yuri disconnected battles but if we all the camera back and look at the web of connections, it is all about connection and a vast expanse. it is about railroads, logistics, and the personalities of siegel being a failure and hunter being a great .isk, not a failure yet but it is also about luck and vision and longing for vengeance . to understand the civil war, you have to have all of these things happening all the time. you cannot hold something constant what we do with this part of it, we have to see it where it is. after hunter marches into stanton and they say finally, the stronghold of the valley has fallen, the place that has been a city dell for the confederacy now in union hands, they walk in
happy.t but here is the way a stanton woman, a confederate, describe what it was like with union soldiers arriving. they dismounted and rushed in. have you got any whiskey? flour, bacon? the soldiers pushed into the house. come on boys, says one. they will find it all. they spread themselves all over to a fine moving barrel of flour, filling sacks and pillowcases, scattering a large percent on the floor until it is nearly exhausted. as much their fooded to see taken, she saved her fury for a different kind of searching. for were searching
everything, even my nice bonnets, pretending to be looking for arms. -- women did not say anything to provoke them, but they did not disguise the old. they would peeping under the beds, looking for rebels. a 12-year-old girl spoke up and said we are all rebels. a yankee soldier looked at her and said that's right. the confrontations and stanton showed that soldiers on both sides allowed women and girls to a things they would never allow -- or boys toy say. women frequently took advantage of that to lend their your he and express their contempt for the men going through their bonnets. soldiers and officers proclaimed themselves amused by these exchanges, patronizing females on their opinions as a matter of
course. but on the other hand, they found in these words a reassuring just occasion for looting and destruction. they would have looted in any case, but the soldiers who were met with such contempt could think of themselves as attacking rubble household rather than defenseless civilian women. later in this same conversation, he says listen, you do not want to be saying things to me, don't let me kill your brother. she said i do not have a brother, but if i did i would want him to be shooting you. this is all part of the same war in the valley. at the same time the streets are coming in, the presence of union and confederate armies was testing the relationship between enslaved people and white people , as previous events had. slavery in the valley had been disrupted and undermined for three years now. yet, without an occupying united states force, use late people -- enslaved people could not claim
any local allies. there was nowhere to go. there is a big mountain between you and richmond, so it is not clear what you are supposed to do if you are held in slavery. the farms and towns were slave people had been laboring were worn down, but whitelaw had not turned into black again. what64, that gave at might lay ahead, but the comfortable union presence left african-american and white residents alike who might next control their town. if you are a slave for some, do you show your hand? and might be confederate coming back into town a few days later. when do you let it be known what you want to do? one union soldier noted what he considered self delusions of the slaveholders of the valley. "the satisfaction of these people in regard to their negroes is surprising. they seem to believe firmly that their negroes are so much attached to them, they will not leave them on any terms.
-- the soldier had seen terms." " inhe soldiers had seen this way, our supply cattle has been kept up." --roes were running to us of with information of all kinds, and they were the only ones whose truth we could rely on. to that is another thing about the military history of the valley. you have to remedy active role of enslaved people. white southerners did not focus on this as much. they dwelt on stories of loyalty on the part of the slave people, and they believed that any fleeing of enslaved people was the result of betrayal by federal soldiers. one woman wrote about a black off, so he had
been nursed "by his mistress as tenderly as if he had been a brother, and she was always kind to him. ." many white slave ownerships are sending off their servants in one direction, some were overtaken and captured, others escaped. what with these words mean if you were in slavery? who was captured? ?ho was overtaken it was not clear what that would have meant. white southerners studied the northern men who suddenly appeared in their midst to see what they really thought about what people, looking for fanaticism or hypocrisy or conventional racism, and they found whatever they were looking for. -- soldier disgusted the discussed the debacle of west virginia reported this scene.
but let's look at this, which shall refer to that to give you a sense of the scale. this is the battle, that is the , and ithunter's retreat was just brutal. cures the railroad, -- here is the railroad, and by the time they talk about this as being sometimes dragged through the mud, that is how worn out the rails are, but still a lot faster than marching. they are able to, through all of this kind of, past together, and they have to march because the tracks have been torn up between charles the -- charleston and richmond to make it to lynchburg, and they make as much noise as they can in lynchburg, marching around create the illusion to hunter that there are more confederates than there are. they said you know, there seemed to be a lot of confederates. that's an idea. let's go through west virginia.
why? save the army. we cannot let this army be destroyed. look how far we are from our supply line. only one wagon train made it to lynchburg in the valley. that is how much the guerrilla presence was. he was not wrong. they literally ran out of ammunition. they're waiting, taking their time, burning down large part of lexington, poking along so their supply trains can keep up with them. we think about the union army being all-powerful and equipped, but by this time they are the ones in enemy territory. hunter says i will take the army to fight another day rather than being captured by an army who is much larger than ours. you can see that overland campaign, and we took position of sending early out of the overland campaign casinos how
important the valley is. you see lynchburg is even more important, because lynchburg has both a canal and a railroad, and europe river from the earlier map that railroads run all the way down into tennessee. that is a major supply line for lee. grant says if we can get for one day, that is all i need you to do. if we can break it for that long. thatnion general said would not happen. they will not allow us to take lynchburg. lynchburg and stanton are central to all of this. the valley campaign is not just running up and down route 11 or i-81, but it is a very distended road. soldiers are coming in in the mountains of west virginia. the valley is also east and west. you have to see this convergence of all of the people. as they are marching through the
mountains of west virginia -- and it is a brutal, horrifying march. no food, places have been burned. he talks about one image. for the past four or five days, i have seen an old negro had, about 75 years of age, strutting along on foot with wonderful endurance and feel. she is walking for a dirt -- m, i suppose. this is someone walking, keeping .ace with the army for freedom it is one person at a time, taking a risk, associating themselves with an ally or getting a piece of information here or there. --is not enormously immerse and norma's numbers leaving at one time -- large numbers leaving at one time. the cycle of violence in the
valley demonstrated to americans what they could do to one another, and that is very important. the valley has the episodes of destruction before sherman, and we will see why that is important. not just because i wrote a book about it, but because it is important intrinsically. the large-scale violence of the united states and the confederacy, on and off the battlefield, was fed by the believe the civil war was reaching its culmination. this is not the time to leave any card unplayed. the impending presidential election in the north and the military stalemate in virginia meant that battles had to be one now or never. and these battles of the overland campaign are just remarkably bloody and costly to the north, and very costly to lincoln. we told you about what that is doing in the summer of 19 -- 1864, also undermine lincoln's political power. as soon as hunter retreated to they movedia,
rapidly. for the reasons you heard, which washington and in order to put the political pressure on, and also to try and get grant to send them to washington, which he does. you can see that early expansion into maryland and pennsylvania seems to be not for any political -- military goal, because i do not believe, and i would be curious to hear in the discussion, if they believed they could actually take washington dc. i think he thinks he can shift the focus of attention to the continuing threat that the confederate army still poses after all of the sacrifice the north has made. so early is eager to fulfill phillies plan to use the valley, which is now free of any union
presence at all. early can flood down the valley now, and he has a large force so grant would have to divide his forces and richmond. some of the newspapers in the and grant agitated, admits he does not have many man -- men to send. mcardleid general john one -- two convey straightforward message across the border with the united states. of the defecation committed by major general hunter of the u.s. forces during his recent rate, it is ordered that the citizens of chambersburg paid confederate space a sum of $100,000 in gold or loop thereof, 500,000 in -- $500,000 ins --
federal currency. moneyucceeded in getting from maryland, but nothing was as sweet as making the north pay. tos man was accustomed fighting on his own desperate circumstances time after time to show that resources and firmness necessary for this rate. it turned out to be a bad idea. this man, give you some idea of what his reputation was, and i can tell this story and great detail but here i will only say he failed, and the result was that chambersburg was burned on july 31, the same day as the battle of the crater. this is important to understand as well. these things are happening simultaneously, and it is hard -- humans cannot tell to stories what -- two stories at one time in their heads. these things are related. it shows us and causes in some
ways a crisis of the union command, a crisis in washington. even the democrats are saying you have been telling us for years we have almost won this war, and now they're burning our towns outside of washington? i think it is time for a new administration. this is a crisis. here is a case where you see that military events do not affect political events, but it affects the other way around. political context is helping to shape military events on the battlefield. the accounts of the burning of chambersburg go to those of the occupation of stanton it long weeks before. , of the lotus general unleashed drunken soldiers upon the population, and horrifying account of physical destruction contrast with genuine accounts of sad officers. theyld say and stanton,
knocked the heads off of the rules and it runs through the street, people are scooping alcohol out of the gutters. they did not have a chance for that happen in chambersburg. but the desecration of the two towns have little in contin -- common. stanton served as a key transportation hub and hospital-based. it had been an object of society since the wars beginning. the united states army was careful with stanton, burning strategic targets while protecting homes. soldiers have plenty of time and can terrible attitude, over two days, to search and plunder those homes that demand meals --, homes, demand meals, and have conversation with citizens. in chambersburg, the devastation lasts for one morning in a single strike. did they need to burn the whole town? did they give them one hours, or three hours of claimed -- as claimed?
the soldiers could only carry so much, and through sheer limitations of time and the whole town on fire, it puts a limitation on ransacking. a lot of stories are told about how regretful confederate soldiers were that nobody was ever punished after the fact. here is what the richmond dispatch says. we love to hear those cries of anguish. this howl of desolation and despair from the quarter of which it is heard comes upon our ear like music on the waters. it is sweet beyond all earthly ratification. glad are we that retribution has at last put forth its terrible arm and assumed its most terrible shape. urn there glad to b homes of other americans. so with the presidential election rapidly approaching, the confederates and a clear message at the north.
despite all of your sacrifice, you are not safe. you are led by an incompetent administration that reputedly chooses incompetent generals. after your untold suffering and sacrifice over three years of war and the brutal conflict and ineffectual campaign of grant in virginia, we can still threaten your capital, crossed your borders, and burn your town -- or at least this one town. republicans have led you into devastation and despair. managed -- and they had managed to plant new doubt in the minds of voters in a critical political season. that was a lot. brand-new he would have to remove the threat to the union, a threat as real as any military challenge grant -- grant new that he would have to
the election coming up and that is to reelect president lincoln. a presidential election has enduring consequences. a week after the burning of chambersburg, he installed philip h. sheridan for shenandoah. a lot of people were dubious about the guy as he was only 33 years old, but karen trusted -- but grant trusted sheridan and gave him a month. sheridan's job was to lay riches and cut through the virginia central railroad as soon as possible. the united states had a critical election and its history only three months away. the textbooks will say, thank goodness they had the victory in atlanta.
they possess the critical rail lines of the confederacy. while the great victory in atlanta abruptly reversed military momentum to the benefit of the republicans, the shenandoah valley -- gorillas still rained through the valley. republicans could not claim to have one for the war as long as lee and early remained in virginia. sheridan's orders from grant needed to go deep into the valley and to do all damage to railroads and crops you can. if the war was to last another year, they want the shenandoah valley to remain a barren waste. sheridan -- culminating in the most on the cost triumph of
winchester. the valley lay open to sheridan. sheridan wasn't interested in the small theater of charred houses and scattered clothing. he was star and a much larger drama, destroying the capacity of a crucial part of the confederacy. but rather than risk his army by leaving the valley and attacking virginia's central railroad, sheridan would destroy the most important cargo carried by the
railroad instead -- food for lee's desperate troops at petersburg. the federal troops moved quickly and efficiently. unlike the burning of houses, a few months earlier, sheridan's cover he set out to destroy as much as they could while he stay on the move. they remain close to the main roads and did not push into the woods where inhabitants were or bushwhackers could be hidden. it was a strange mixture of the archaic -- early had moved back to waynesboro to guard the mouth of the railroad tunnel other virginia central. they could do nothing. they just watched it. a federal soldier wrote -- the very air is impregnated with the smell of burning property and on the planck filled by federal soldier. the victories to the valley provided overwhelming triumph
that people have longed for. the valley, place of disgrace or one union general after another had become the scene of lorries victory. sheridan's victory in the valley provided something else people longed for, the destruction of the bountiful landscape that had sustainably's army for so long -- landscape that had sustained lee's army for so long. the republican papers -- the democrats attacked this. we should not be doing this.
and republican said rebel armies had become blackened armies. the situation is simple -- war is upon us by acts of traitors. i am showing you the area that was burned. either two destroyers of the residence of the calvary, the people suffered but what not star and they would. -- the people suffered, but would not starve. people watched their barns he said ablaze. they turned their hatred on grant and sheridan. not against the confederacy. the burning seemed only to deepen their for the yankees instead of the confederacy. as long as they have the railroads coming to them, they could survive.
by that measure, sheridan had failed. if he had managed to break the virginia central, the work at it ended months earlier. no telling how many lives might have been saved if sheridan broken the railroad rather than burn the valley. in retrospect, knowing how the war turned up, the burning of the valley, like the burning of chambersburg, seemed like mistakes. either accomplished military -- but foster deep and enduring resentment. people in the valley so talk about the burning as the great travesty of the war. in october 1864, none of that was clear, but the people of the north new that sheridan -- they knew that grant found a successive ally. they knew the power of farmers of the rich shenandoah had been
forced to pay the price for their disloyalty and that lee would not have a supply of food within virginia. maybe he would so render -- maybe he would surrender before the winter. that knowledge arrived before the election. i don't want to ruin it for you, so you need to read the book and find out what happened. [laughter] we see that the valley of virginia saw the american civil war and a microcosm.
this mix of military and political history, of theatrical warfare woven into the fabric of political -- went throughout the valley. it helped secure the reelection. the constantly shifting kaleidoscope of morale and ideology turned in the valley. of the calculus of physical destruction went as far as the burning and chambersburg as it anywhere. the people of the united states and the confederacy watched these intertwined dramas of the valley with fear, fascination, and hope. all for good reason. thanks very much. let's have a discussion. [applause] >> interested in american websitetv? visit our c-span.org/hi story.
>> tonight on q&a, -- was had a friend that vaporized and it took three weeks to separate them all. his careernance on and most recent books. and hacking isis. how to destroy -- >> while we were writing hacking isis, we found there for two ands against one in france germany's parliament which were attributed to isis and so while we were setting that, we learn
the methodologies and malware in the place where the servers terminated or certainly not isis. 28. were atp thatthere is the name experts that belong to russian intelligence. the gruma. >> tonight on c-span on q&a. on the phone with us on american history tv is lynn smith was an audiovisual artist at the museum -- ian west branch, iowa.