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Though the South had voted as a unit for Buchanan in 1856 and her leaders had long acted in concert on important matters, the election of Lincoln by a "solid" North was regarded by most owners of slaves as a revolutionary act; and the Southern reply to the challenge was secession. The idea of secession was familiar in 1860. In 1794 New England leaders in Congress had discussed such a remedy when it seemed certain that the Southerners would gain permanent control of the national machinery, and Westerners contemplated the same remedy for ills they could not otherwise cure during the period of 1793 to 1801.

Rather than submit to the burdensome embargo and the more burdensome second war with England, most New England men of property seem to have preferred the dissolution of a union which was formed for commercial purposes; and we have seen how Webster urged resistance to the national tariff in 1820 even to the point of advising secession. The rightful means of local self-defense was a break-up of the confederacy, until in 1830 Jackson, speaking for the West, and Webster, speaking for the rising industrial group of the Northeast, announced that the Union was indissoluble and that an attempt to sever it would be accounted treason. A sense of nationality had come into existence, and a permanent, "sacred" union of all the States was the corollary of that belief.

Still, when the South, with its resolute program of expansion and the vigorous national control which characterized the Democratic Administrations from Polk to Buchanan, made slavery a cardinal tenet of its faith, legislatures and courts of the East refused to regard either the Constitution or the federal law as paramount and abiding. Secession was a common word among the constituents of New England Senators after 1840, and even Northwestern States threatened disruption of the Union as late as 1859 if the national policy should continue to run counter to their interests. There was, however, a strong undercurrent of devotion to the idea of nationality in both North and South[12] in 1860, and when South Carolina proceeded with her long-contemplated scheme of secession early in November of that year, Jefferson Davis, who had formerly talked freely of that "last remedy" of minority interests, advised against the movement; and everywhere North and South men of great wealth, as well as the poorer people, who must always bear the heaviest burdens of war, deprecated and warned against the application of a remedy which all sections had at one time or another declared right and lawful. As men came nearer to the application of their "rightful" remedy, the older and cooler heads urged the leaders of South Carolina not to withdraw from the national confederation. Republicans like Seward and Weed and Lincoln exerted themselves to the utmost to dissuade the Southern radicals; all the influence of the Bell and Everett party was cast into the same side of the scales; and Congress, when it assembled in December, 1860, was pressed from every possible angle to arrange some compromise which would satisfy the angry element in the lower South. Even Republicans of the more radical type offered to do anything, except assent to the further expansion of slavery in the Territories, in order to prevent the formation of a Southern Confederacy and the expected paralysis of business.

[Footnote 12: Perhaps we may use these terms now to describe the two great sections of the country as the Civil War approached.]

Nothing availed. South Carolina, under the leadership of Robert Barnwell Rhett, called a state convention which met in Columbia, but adjourned to Charleston, and on December 20 severed all connection with the National Government and recalled her Representatives in Congress. President Buchanan did not favor secession, and he hoped that some way might be found to settle the difficulties which underlay the crisis. In his message to Congress he declared that there was no right of secession, but that there was also no authority anywhere to prevent secession. This was at the time the view of most others in the North, perhaps in the South, for Southerners spoke frequently of the "revolution" they were precipitating. When the demand of South Carolina for the surrender of Fort Sumter was presented to the President, he decided to delay action until his successor was inaugurated. This was not irregular nor unusual, but gave the people of the South time to decide what they would do; and before February 1, 1861, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana withdrew from the Union, though not without strenuous resistance by large parties in all these communities, save Florida. Early in February delegates from these States gathered in Montgomery, Alabama, and organized a Southern Confederacy on the model of the older Union, and made Jefferson Davis President. Alexander Stephens, who had done more than any other Southerner to delay and defeat secession, was elected Vice-President. The new constitution was conservative if not reactionary in character. Slavery was definitely and specifically made a corner-stone of the new government. The foreign slave trade was, in deference to border state opinion, forbidden; but free trade, which had so long been a bone of contention between the planters of the South and the manufacturers of the East, was left to the wisdom of ordinary legislation. In fact many of the ablest Southern leaders foresaw the establishment of a protective system in the South. In the same spirit of statesmanlike compromise, President Davis was careful to fill the Cabinet and other important posts with men who represented all phases of opinion, with former rivals and even decided opponents of the cause he represented. So cautious and considered was this program of the new administration that ardent secessionists declared before the fall of Fort Sumter that a reunion with the older Federal Government was the object. And the mild and conciliatory attitude of William H. Seward, who was considered as a sort of acting president during the winter of 1860-61, strengthened this feeling in the South. The Southern commissioners whom Davis sent to Washington to negotiate with the Federal Government on the subjects of boundaries between the two countries, the division of the public debt, and the surrender of forts within Confederate territory were great favorites in the old national capital. A friendly attitude toward the new South still further found expression in the New York _Tribune_, supposed to speak for Republicans in general, in the Albany _Journal_, Thurlow Weed's paper, and even in the New York _Times_, Seward's organ.

In fact the people of the North preferred a permanent disruption of the Union to a great war, the inevitable alternative. Nationalist sentiment was strong in the North, but not strong enough to make men positive and decided in their actions. President-elect Lincoln expressed this state of the public mind in his inaugural, when he said that he would faithfully execute the laws unless the people, his rightful masters, should refuse their support, and he showed it still more clearly when he adopted the policy of delay in determining the status of Fort Sumter which his predecessor had so long followed. The Cabinet of Buchanan had been undecided, that of Lincoln was for a whole month equally undecided. Men hoped to avoid what all feared, civil war; and it is to the credit of both sections and both cabinets that they hesitated to commit the overt act which was to set free the "dogs of war"; and while public opinion was thus halted at the parting of the ways, Virginia, still thought of as the great old commonwealth and mother of statesmen, called a peace congress of North and South. Delegates from twenty-one States conferred together in Washington for six weeks, seeking a way out of the difficult and perilous situation. Conservative members of Congress, John J. Crittenden, Stephen A. Douglas, William H. Seward, and others, labored in the same cause. It is acknowledged by all that a popular referendum would have brought an overwhelming mandate to let the "departing sisters go in peace," or to accept the former Southern demand of a division of the western territory from Kansas to the Pacific along the line of 36° 30'.

But stiff-backed Republicans like Senator Chandler, of Michigan, Charles Sumner, and Secretary Chase were unwilling to throw away the results of a victory constitutionally won, even to avoid a long and bloody war. And these men brought all the influence they could command to bear upon the President and his Cabinet during the early days of April. They contended that every moment of delay increased the likelihood of Southern success, and they urged that the young Republican party, which was perhaps as dear to them as the country itself, was losing ground. At last President Lincoln yielded, and a relief expedition was ordered to Fort Sumter on April 6, where Major Robert Anderson and his garrison had bravely and cautiously maintained their difficult situation in the face of an angry Southern sentiment for nearly four months. This was recognized as a warlike move; and Secretary Seward was so much opposed to it and, the Southerners contended, so sacredly bound not to allow its departure, that he interfered with the expedition, by sending orders, signed by himself for the President, intended to thwart the move.

Under circumstances so peculiar and delicate it was of the utmost importance that the Confederate President keep his head. The responsibility for regaining control of Fort Sumter passed from South Carolina to the Confederate Government during the early days of February. Major Anderson, who held the fort with a small Federal garrison, was a friend of Jefferson Davis, and was keenly alive to the seriousness of his situation, and while his superiors were in doubt, he maintained the status of things as they were when the negotiations began. But the authorities of South Carolina forbade the sending of fresh supplies of provisions to his men after April 6, and, as there was but a limited amount on hand, it was only a matter of weeks before he must evacuate, if neither the North nor the South decided what should be done. April 15 was the day which he set for giving up his post for the lack of sustenance. If he moved away peacefully, there would be no war, and such was the hope of Seward and the moderates of the North, who thought that a friendly reconstruction would be the result of continued delay.

Jefferson Davis, who was informed daily of every move that was made in Washington, determined to let Anderson quietly evacuate Fort Sumter, having assurances from Seward that no supplies would be sent. In this he was supported by the unanimous opinion of his Cabinet until on April 9, when General P. G. T. Beauregard, who commanded the troops gathering at Charleston, telegraphed that the Federal Government had given formal notice that assistance would be sent to the starving garrison. Davis still delayed, giving conditional orders to Beauregard; and Beauregard acted in the same spirit when he sent Roger A. Pryor and three other aides to the fort to get definite assurance on the point of Federal surrender. But when Anderson, on the night of April 12, gave assurance that on April 15 he would give up his post if he should not receive contrary orders from Washington prior to that time, the four aides of General Beauregard who had been sent to the fort gave notice to the Confederate artillery commander, without consulting superior authority, that the answer was not satisfactory, and the fatal shelling began. On the next day Anderson and his men, finding the walls of the fort falling about them, surrendered. The war had begun.

The act of South Carolina on December 20 led immediately to the formation of the confederacy of the lower Southern States. The firing on Fort Sumter was followed in a few days by the secession of Virginia, Tennessee, and Arkansas, Texas having already joined the "revolution"; Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri were prevented from joining the new confederacy only by the prompt and extra-legal interference of President Lincoln. The second tier of Southern States thus joined the first, and a confederacy of some ten million people demanded the independence which all agreed had not been forbidden in the Constitution of 1787, and began at once the raising of armies to make good that demand. The boundaries of the new republic were extended to the Potomac; commissioners were sent to the European powers to sue for recognition, and hundreds of the best officers in the United States Army resigned to seek commands under the new flag.

The popular excitement and enthusiasm which followed these events in the South equaled that which marked the early stages of the French Revolution. Party lines and class distinctions disappeared. Two hundred thousand volunteers offered their services to Jefferson Davis; confederate and state bonds to meet the expense of the war were taken at par wherever there was surplus money; men met at their courthouses to drill without the call of their officers; and women, even more enthusiastic than the men, urged their "guardians and protectors" to the front to meet and vanquish a foe who threatened to invade the Southern soil. Armories were quickly constructed in a country which knew little of the mechanic arts; guns and ammunition were ordered from Europe and from Northern manufacturers as fast as trusty agents could make arrangements; shipbuilding was resorted to on the banks of the sluggish rivers; and machinists and sailors were imported from the North and from England to guide the amateurish hands of the South. Before midsummer four hundred thousand Southerners were in arms or waiting to receive them. Colonel Robert E. Lee, accounted the first soldier of the country, was made a general in the new army. Joseph E. Johnston, Albert Sidney Johnston, Pierre G. T. Beauregard, and others accepted with confidence the commissions of the South, and set hundreds of younger men, trained at West Point or at the Virginia Military Institute, to drilling and organizing the armies rapidly gathering at strategic points along the frontier, which extended from Norfolk, Virginia, to the eastern border of Kansas.

The planters had at last made good their threat, and the aristocratic society of the South was welded together more firmly than it had ever been before. Their leaders frankly stated to the world that their four billions of negro property was of more importance to them than any federal union which threatened the value of that property by narrowing the limits of its usefulness. The negroes knew a great war was beginning and that they were the objects of contention; but long discipline and a curious pride in the prowess of their masters kept them at their lowly but important tasks. They boasted that their masters could "whip the world in arms." Of insurrections and the massacre of the whites, which at one time had been a nightmare to the ruling classes of the South, there was no rumor. And throughout the four years of war the slaves remained faithful and produced by their steady, if slow, toil the food supplies both for the people at home and for the armies at the front.

The small slaveholder was the most enthusiastic and resolute secessionist and supporter of the Confederacy. He was just rising in the world, and anything which barred the upward way was denounced as degrading and insulting. A larger class of Southerners who joined with measured alacrity the armies of defense were the small farmers of the hills and poorer eastern counties; but the "sand-hillers" and "crackers," the illiterate and neglected by-products of the planter counties, were not minded to volunteer, though under pressure they became good soldiers because they dreaded the prospect of hordes of free negroes in the South more than they did the guns of the North. Small farmers and landless whites all felt the necessity of holding the slaves in bondage, and thus a society of sharp class distinctions, openly acknowledged by all, was moulded into a solid phalanx by the proposed invasion of the South and the almost certain liberation of the slaves. Moreover, the churches of the South, including the Catholics in New Orleans, Charleston, and elsewhere, were now at the height of their power. Planters, farmers, and the so-called "poor whites" acknowledged the importance of religious faith and discipline; and the leaders of the churches, from the bishops of the Episcopalians to the humble pastors of negro congregations, freely gave their blessings to slavery and urged their membership to heroic sacrifice for the common cause. Sermons like that of Dr. Palmer, of New Orleans, in November, 1860, were preached all over the South, and they were as effective in stirring the warlike impulses of the people as the fiery addresses of the most enthusiastic statesmen.

Although there was a unity and a coöperation among all classes of people from Washington City to southwestern Texas, there were certain areas in which volunteers, even during the early days of excitement, were not readily forthcoming. In the pine woods of the Carolinas and the Gulf States, where nine tenths of the soil was still covered by primeval forests, and among the high mountains of Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee, many people resisted the authority of the Confederacy passively or actively from the beginning. From the southern Appalachian region the Union armies drew at least 200,000 recruits, and in certain counties of western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee more soldiers per thousand of the population volunteered for the Federal service than could be found in the most enthusiastic communities of the North. Western Virginia revolted in 1861, and in 1863 she was received into the Union as a loyal State, in spite of the absence of all constitutional authority or precedent. Eastern Tennessee might have pursued the same course if it had been possible for President Lincoln to lend military assistance at the proper moment. Except in the valley and southwestern counties of Virginia, most of the grain and cattle-producing area of the South was indifferent to the cause of the Confederacy. This was a serious handicap, for troops must be stationed in many localities to maintain order, and the resistance to the foraging agents of the Southern armies frequently became serious. From the summer of 1863 to the end of the struggle the home guards of the various disaffected districts required many men who might otherwise have been with Lee or Joseph E. Johnston.

But the better parts of the South, the tobacco and cotton belts, with their annual output of three hundred millions' worth of exportable commodities, their high-strung, well-bred gentry accustomed to outdoor life and horseback riding and devoted to the idea of local autonomy in government, were behind the Confederate movement. The people had been better trained in their local militia than their Northern brethren, their greatest families had long been accustomed to send cadets to West Point, and in several States there were excellent military schools where the best of training was given to young men who looked forward with a vague expectation to careers in the army. If we add to these considerations the fact that the rural aristocracy, whether secessionist or unionist in politics in 1860, regarded the movements of the North in the spring of 1861 as ruthless attacks upon their ideals and their homes, we shall understand how the Confederates were able to organize a powerful and efficient army so early in the struggle.

The Confederate seat of Government was removed in May, 1861, from Montgomery to Richmond. The old Virginia capital, always the center of strong unionist feelings, became the scene of cabinet meetings, of sessions of Congress, and military conferences. The easy-going tobacco gentry who had grown up with the little city on the James welcomed the invasion of generals, politicians, and army contractors, and saw with pleasure the population swell from some twenty-five thousand to a hundred thousand souls. The "White House" became the center of a society which, as Mrs. Pryor and others insisted, was really aristocratic. The first families of Virginia became hosts to the statesmen who had gathered there from all the Southern States; there were "heroes from the wars" to grace the salons of Mrs. Stannard, Mr. William H. McFarland, banker to the new government, and others who, but for the disastrous turn of the conflict, would have become well-known figures in history. The social life which was adorned by the presence of Mrs. Jefferson Davis, Mrs. James Chesnut, and Mrs. Joseph E. Johnston was, however, after one short winter of pleasure and buoyant expectation, overcast with sorrow and even scattered abroad by the close approach of the armies of the North, the hated Yankees who had not been expected to fight.

The serious and all-absorbing business of the South was therefore to repel invasion. Armies ranging from 5000 to 15,000 troops were stationed at Norfolk, Williamsburg, Fredericksburg, northern Virginia, Harper's Ferry, Cumberland Gap, Bowling Green and Columbus, Kentucky, and even in Missouri. General A. S. Cooper, of New Jersey, became adjutant-general and the senior officer in the Confederate Army; Robert E. Lee organized and drilled the Virginia forces; Joseph E. Johnston, his rival in the old United States Army, commanded at Harper's Ferry; and Beauregard, the hero of Fort Sumter, was at the head of the army which was expected to resist and defeat the first invasion from Washington. Behind these various gatherings of soldiers were hundreds of thousands of others, waiting to be supplied with arms and ready to learn the ways of war. Editors, preachers, and orators heralded with unanimous voice the new nation, and predicted speedy recognition by the powers of Europe and a permanent peace with their long-time rivals. Three months, six months, or a year were the various estimates of the duration of the war for independence. Some planters followed the counsel of President Davis and planted corn and wheat instead of the accustomed cotton and tobacco, in order to be able to feed their armies and "their people," but others were so certain that another autumn would reopen the channels of commerce to all that they continued their large acreage in their favorite staples. It was not to be a long struggle like that which Washington had led. The conditions were different. Both England and France would intervene when the cotton famine began to press. Even so sober a man as General Lee expected success and thought of his rôle as like that of Washington, who was now the Southern model and ideal. Davis's friends also spoke and wrote of him as the "second Washington."

Thus filled with the highest hopes and reminded daily of the heroic traditions of the former revolution, the Southerners began their battles. President Lincoln, loath to admit that war was upon him, called out 75,000 three months' men when the news of Fort Sumter reached him. Congress, too, was called in extra session for July 4 to devise ways and means of compelling the South to return to the fold. These warlike acts, to those who did not understand the long sectional rivalry, were supported by an almost unanimous North. The Northwest, led by Douglas, was prompt to support their first real President and to hasten their quota of volunteers to the front. In the older sections of the East the latent hostility toward the people of the South flamed out as never before, proclaiming a devotion to the Union and to the ideals of the Fathers which had widespread effect. Even in the great cities, where the prevailing sentiment in the preceding winter had been for peace and a permanent disruption of the Union, men rallied to the national standards with unexpected enthusiasm. The Astors, Belmonts, and Drexels raised regiments or offered loans to the Administration. If the South was united and ready to defend their homes, the North seemed equally united upon a program of invasion and subjection. A solid South had begotten a solid North. The shells which burst over Fort Sumter had called the North to arms as effectively as they had banished the hesitation of the Southern border States.

An army of invasion gathered rapidly in Washington, seized Arlington, General Lee's ancient family estate, on the Virginia shore of the Potomac, for a drill ground, took possession of recalcitrant Maryland, and made of all railroads entering the capital the highways and instruments of war. Winfield Scott, the old and vacillating general of the regular army, was quickly set aside, and the able General Irvin McDowell took his place. Thirty thousand troops moved slowly into Virginia under the pressure of public opinion stimulated by newspaper editors, ministers of the Gospel, and stiff-backed Republicans, who, like similar classes in the South, declared that the war was to be over in three months. Other armies collected at Cincinnati under young George B. McClellan, soon to be major-general, at Louisville under Don C. Buell, and at St. Louis under the erratic John C. Frémont. When Congress met, all these movements were quickly ratified, and the two sections of a country of more than thirty million people, all supposed to be devotees of commerce, industry, and agriculture, "worshipers of money," entered with unparalleled eagerness upon a war which was soon to surprise and even appall the world. What industry lost in the North by secession of the South was regained in the manufacture or preparation of military supplies for soldiers who fought the South; and in the Confederacy men who knew little of industry and of seafaring soon established great plants where the munitions of war were readily made, or they turned with a strange facility to improvising gunboats and blockade runners. Within a year or two the people of the North showed the most bitter hatred of the South and everything Southern, and in the South women sold their hair for the common cause, and sent their gold and silver ornaments to the Government to be converted into implements of war. Such results could hardly have been the outcome of a hasty decision on either side. The long-nursed dislike of the people of each section now became a consuming hatred; it was a mighty struggle for the mastery of the Government which had been founded in 1787-89, for the control of the vast territory which composed the heart of North America. One party or the other must be vanquished, one section or the other must become a second Ireland.

On July 20, General McDowell attacked the army under General Beauregard near Centreville, a Virginia village to the northward of a little stream which gave its name to the battle that ensued,--Bull Run. About 35,000 Northerners made up the army of invasion; Beauregard commanded less than 20,000, but Joseph E. Johnston brought his army of 15,000 from the Valley of Virginia in time to decide the fortunes of that hot summer day. After stout fighting on both sides during the earlier part of the onset, these fresh troops of the Valley were seen marching into action. To Union eyes the 15,000 easily appeared to be 30,000. Panic seized men and officers alike, and a stampede for Washington and safer ground followed. Arms, provisions, horses, even, and the carriages of stiff-backed Republican Congressmen, who had left their posts to see the fun, were left upon the field and along the wayside as memorials of the first battle. At the close of the day Jefferson Davis, Beauregard, Johnston, and "Stonewall" Jackson, who won his proud soubriquet on that famous field, held a conference and decided not to follow the Federals to Washington that evening. On the morrow a heavy rain fell and the roads of northern Virginia became impassable for a week. The defeated forces had time to regain their composure while the people of both sections began to see what war meant.

The Southerners rejoiced and celebrated, even relaxed their preparations, thinking their valor vastly superior to that of their enemies. President Davis was less confident, and pressed upon his Congress the better organization of the armies, whose numbers now mounted to 400,000 men; he sent James M. Mason and John Slidell as commissioners to Europe, and ordered troops under Robert E. Lee to West Virginia to save that recalcitrant region to Virginia and the Confederacy. In the absence of a revenue, and already shut off from the markets of both the North and Europe, the Confederates resorted to loans and the issue of paper money to meet the enormous expenses of war. The Confederate Government borrowed hundreds of millions from the planters, and the States likewise piled up debts in unprecedented fashion in maintenance of the same great cause. Of gold and silver there was little; the banks had long since suspended specie payments, but increased their issues of notes. The cotton crop, then being harvested by the negroes, and the grain and cattle of the hill country were the chief resources. The paper money of the Government was paid to soldiers, farmers, and planters for their services and supplies, and this was given back to the Government in exchange for interest-bearing bonds that were issued. With a European market for the planters' products the system might easily have been successful; but this one essential to victory failed, or waited upon military success.

The first general election came on in the late autumn. Under the stimulus of the victory at Manassas, or Bull Run, Davis and Stephens were elected President and Vice-President without opposition for terms of six years. New Senators and Representatives were chosen, generally from the ranks of conservative politicians, for the sessions of the regular Confederate Congress, which was to supersede the provisional congress and government on Washington's birthday, 1862. The judiciary of the Confederacy was regularly organized except as to the Supreme Court; the adjustments of national and state relations were all rapidly and easily made; while the selection and appointment of high officers in the army and civil administration went steadily on at Richmond, under the relief from military pressure which the success of Beauregard and Johnston in northern Virginia had secured. In the general security some of the ablest officers of the army, especially Joseph E. Johnston, felt free to attack the President in the newspapers because of the failure to give the highest commands according to rank of officers in the former United States Army,--a quarrel which was destined to have a fatal influence in the final overthrow of the new government. There was also an attempt to fix upon Davis the blame for not capturing Washington City the day after the Bull Run _débâcle_. However, these were as yet but ripples of discontent which only proved the general confidence of the people in their final triumph.

Bibliographical Note

F. E. Chadwick's _The Causes of the Civil War_ (1906) and J. K. Hosmer's _The Appeal to Arms_ (1906) are the best brief and recent accounts of the events of 1859 to 1862. But Rhodes, McMaster, and Schouler cover the period to 1876, each after his distinctive method. John C. Ropes's _The Story of the Civil War_ (1894), continued by W. R. Livermore, treats the military history in the most critical and fair-minded way, though Wood and Edmonds's _The Civil War in the United States_ (1905), and G. P. R. Henderson's _Stonewall Jackson and the American Civil War_ (1900), are equally good, if somewhat briefer.

Of original material there is no limit, and the student is compelled to find his way through the uncharted wilderness of evidence in the _Rebellion Records_, already cited, and the thousands of volumes of memoirs and special contemporary narratives of which U. S. Grant's _Personal Memoirs_ (1886), Joseph B. Johnston's _Narrative of Military Operations_ (1874), Nicolay and Hay's _Abraham Lincoln: a History_ (1890), and _Battles and Leaders of the Civil War_ (1887-89), are perhaps the most important. Almost all the officers of both the Union and Confederate armies, with the unique exception of General Lee, left published or unpublished narratives of their rôles in the great struggle which help to clear up most disputed episodes, though they complicate the task of the historian.

The estimates of the numbers of men engaged on both sides by Ropes, Rhodes, and especially T. L. Livermore in his _Numbers and Losses_, are most trustworthy, though this is a subject still hotly controverted in both North and South. Each of the great battles has its historian: H. V. Boynton, _The Battle of Chickamauga_, and Morris Schaff, _The Battle of the Wilderness_, being the best examples.