The Furnace of Civil War
I. Bull Run Ends the “Ninety-Day War”
When President Abraham Lincoln called for 75,000 militiamen onApril 15, 1861, he and
just about everyone else in the North expected aswift war lasting about 90 days, with a
quick suppression of the Southto prove the North’s superiority and end this foolishness.
On July 21, 1861, ill-trained Yankee recruits swaggered out towardBull Run to engage a
smaller Confederate unit. They expected one bigbattle and a quick victory for the war.
The atmosphere was like that of a sporting event, as spectators gathered in
picnics to watch.
However, after initial success by the Union, Confederatereinforcements
arrived and, coupled with Stonewall Jackson’s lineholding, sent the Union soldiers into
The Battle of Bull Run showed the North that this would not be ashort, easy war and
swelled the South’s already too-large ego.
II. “Tardy George” McClellan and the Peninsula Campaign
Later in 1861, command of the Army of the Potomac (name of theUnion army) was given
to 34 year old General George B. McClellan, anexcellent drillmaster and organizer of
troops, but also a perfectionistwho constantly believed that he was outnumbered, never
took risks, andheld the army without moving for months before finally ordered byLincoln
At Lincoln’s urging, he finally decided upon a water-borneapproach to Richmond (the
South’s capital), called the PeninsulaCampaign, taking about a month to capture
Yorktown before coming toRichmond.
At this moment, President Lincoln took McClellan’s expectedreinforcements
and sent them chasing Stonewall Jackson, and after“Jeb” Stuart’s Confederate cavalry
rode completelyaround McClellan’s army, Southern General Robert E. Lee launcheda
devastating counterattack—the Seven Days’Battles—on June 26 to July 2 of 1862.
The victory at Bull Run ensured that the South, if it lost, wouldlose slavery as
well, and it was after this battle that Lincoln beganto draft an emancipation proclamation.
With the quick-strike plan a failure, the Union strategy now turnedto total war. Summed
up, the plan was to blockade, divide, and conquer.The plan included…
Suffocate the South through an oceanic blockade.
Free the slaves to undermine the South’s very economic foundations.
Cut the Confederacy in half by seizing control of the Mississippi River.