The Civil War (1990) s01e06 Episode Script

Valley of the Shadow of Death (1864)

"i have just this moment heard from the front.
"there is nothing yet of a movement, "but each side is continually on the alert, "expecting something to happen.
"to think we are to have here soon "what i've seen so many times-- "the awful loads and trains and boatloads "of bloody and pale, and wounded young men again.
"for that is what we certainly will have.
i see all the signs here.
" walt whitman.
men's beliefs had a startling simplicity to them.
for example, a soldier in line at gettysburg was told, "you will advance a mile across that open valley and take that hill.
" i, for one, would say, "general, i don't think we should do this.
i don't believe we can get there.
" but they took it in a matter of course.
you must remember they fought for four years, which is a long time.
this simplicity was severely tested, but they never lost it.
duty, bravery under adversity-- very simple virtues, and they had them.
in 1864, a rebellion in china that cost 20 million lives finally came to an end.
in 1864, the czar's armies conquered turkistan and tolstoy finished war and peace.
in 1864, louis pasteur pasteurized wine, the geneva convention established the neutrality of battlefield hospitals, and karl marx founded the international workingmen's association in london and new york.
nevada became a state, and for the first time, the words "in god we trust" appeared on a u.
in 1864, the civil war was in its fourth year.
union ships controlled the mississippi.
the union blockade was tightening.
lee had been beaten at gettysburg.
vicksburg and chattanooga had fallen.
as confederate hopes began to dim, union objectives became clear-- attack the heart of the confederacy at atlanta and destroy lee's army of northern virginia.
but there was still no real end in sight.
as robert e.
lee and ulysses s.
grant prepared to confront each other for the first time, neither knew what awaited their armies along a 100-mile crescent east of richmond.
to win, one would have to outthink as well as outfight the other.
a nation would try to hold an election in the midst of civil war.
after 3 1/2 years of war, abraham lincoln's prospects for re-election did not seem bright.
for elisha hunt rhodes, stuck in the union trenches outside petersburg, the war stretched on interminably.
to confederate sam watkins at franklin, tennessee, it seemed "the death angel was there to gather its last harvest.
" that same year, william tecumseh sherman, now in command of the union's western armies, would set out through the mountains of georgia for atlanta.
lieutenant washington roebling, who thought he'd seen the worst at gettysburg, came close to losing his faith in the union cause.
in washington, a sometime poet, walt whitman, worked as a nurse in the crowded union hospitals until they overwhelmed him.
in 1864, the pictures that would come back from the war would be too horrible to look at for years to come.
"it is enough to make the whole world start "at the awful amount of death and destruction "that now stalks abroad.
"i begin to regard the death and mangling "of a couple thousand men as a small affair, "a kind of morning dash, "and it may be well that we become hardened.
the worst of the war is not yet begun.
" william tecumseh sherman.
in early 1864, spotswood rice, a slave on a tobacco plantation, escaped and made his way to glasgow, missouri, where he enlisted in the union army.
"benton barracks hospital, st.
louis, missouri.
"my children, "a few lines to let you know that i have not forgot you "and that i want to see you as bad as ever.
"i feel confident that i will get you.
"your miss kitty said that i tried to steal you, "to steal his own flesh and blood.
"i once thought i had some respect for them, "but my respect is worn-out, and i have no sympathy for slave holders.
" spotswood rice.
"the willard hotel may be much more justly called "the center of washington and the union "than either the capitol, the white house, "or the state department.
everybody may be seen there.
" nathaniel hawthorne.
on the afternoon of march 8, 1864, a stubby, rumpled man made his way across the crowded lobby of willard's hotel.
a 14-year-old boy carrying a satchel followed in his wake.
he didn't have his three stars on yet because he wasn't getting his commission until the next day.
he went to the desk and asked for a room.
there had been many generals in and out of willard's.
the desk clerk said, "i've got something on the top floor.
" grant said, "that will do fine" and signed the register.
when the clerk looked down and saw "u.
grant and son," his eyes bugged out.
word spread that the man lincoln had recently placed at the head of the union armies was in the hotel.
when he and his son entered the crowded dining room, everyone stood and cheered.
afterwards, he strolled two blocks up pennsylvania avenue to the white house, where president and mrs.
lincoln were giving a reception.
"i wish to express my entire satisfaction "with what you have done up to this time, "so far as i can understand it.
"the particulars of your plans i neither know nor seek to know.
" abraham lincoln.
three years earlier, grant had been notable only for his failures.
now he was the conqueror of donelson, vicksburg, and chattanooga come to washington to receive the rank of lieutenant general, last held by george washington.
he had command now of 533,000 men, the largest army in the world.
[cannon fire] "i want to push on as rapidly as possible "to save hard fighting.
"these terrible battles are very good things to read about "for persons who lose no friends.
"i am in favor of having as little of it as possible.
the way to avoid it is to push forward.
" ulysses s.
hiram ulysses grant was born at point pleasant, ohio, on april 27, 1822.
his father jesse ran a tannery, and its stench was one of his first memories.
he was sensitive and withdrawn with people, but wonderful with horses.
his father thought him hopelessly impractical and got him an appointment to west point.
a clerk mistakenly registered the boy as ulysses s.
rather than complain, he lived with it.
his friends called him sam.
he was graduated in the middle of his class.
the next year he was engaged to julia dent, the daughter of a missouri slave owner.
he adored her, and she bore him four children.
grant thought the mexican war wicked but went anyway.
"i considered my supreme duty was to my flag," he wrote, and served bravely in battle, riding alone through a hail of enemy fire to bring ammunition to his men.
after the war, the army sent him to a remote california outpost, where, lonely and miserable without his family, he began to drink.
"dear julia, i sometimes get so anxious to see you "and our children that i am almost tempted to resign "and trust to providence "and my own exertions for a living.
"whenever i get to thinking up the subject, however, poverty, poverty begins to stare me in the face.
" in 1854, he left the army and returned east to rejoin julia and work some land his father-in-law gave him.
he called it "hardscrabble farm" and couldn't make a go of it.
he tried bill collecting, real estate, raising potatoes, even peddling firewood in the street.
nothing worked.
one year, in st.
louis, he pawned his watch to buy christmas presents for his family.
he had been reduced to working as a clerk in his father's harness shop in galena, illinois, when the war began.
as a west point graduate, grant was a scarce commodity.
he re-entered the army and never looked back.
"in this season, i saw energies in grant.
"he dropped a stooped-shouldered way of walking "and set his hat forward on his head in a careless fashion.
" john a.
he was promoted to brigadier general, won a small battle at belmont, missouri, then a big one at fort donelson at a time when other northern generals were going down to defeat.
"his soldiers do not salute him.
"they only watch him "with a certain sort of familiar reverence.
"they observe him coming and, rising to their feet, "gather on each side of the way to see him pass.
"no napoleonic displays, no ostentation, no speech, no superfluous flummery.
" he was distinctly unglamorous and had only one personal attendant, a runaway missouri slave named bill.
he didn't like marching bands and could recognize only two tunes.
"one wasyankee doodle," he said, "and the other wasn't.
" he insisted that his meat be cooked dry because even a suggestion of blood on his plate sickened him.
once, on the eve of a battle in which thousands of men would die, he had a teamster tied to a tree for six hours for mistreating a horse.
he was methodical, dogged, and uncommonly clear-headed under fire.
grant the general has many qualities, but he had a thing that's very necessary for a great general.
he had what they call 4:00-in-the-morning courage.
you could wake him up at 4:00 in the morning and tell him they just turned his right flank, and he would be as cool as a cucumber.
he had an ability to concentrate.
he would be writing at his desk and need something across the room.
he would get up, never get out of that crouched position, get it, and sit down without ever having straightened up.
it's an example of how he could concentrate.
he drank bourbon, and he got drunk easily.
a galena neighbor, john rawlins, was made his chief of staff and took it upon himself to keep grant sober.
grant never got drunk when his wife was around.
there was only two conditions grant would drink under.
one was his wife wasn't there, the other was there wasn't anything going on.
he went on a true bender during the vicksburg campaign, but it was when nothing was happening.
whether it was anything sexual about his wife being out of touch, i'm not sure about.
i do know that boredom would make him drink.
now he traveled south to meade's headquarters at brandy station, near culpeper, virginia, the largest union encampment of the war.
"april 19.
yesterday the 6th corps was reviewed "by lieutenant general u.
"he is a short, thickset man "and rode his horse like a bag of meal.
"i was a little disappointed in the appearance, but i liked the look of his eye.
" elisha hunt rhodes.
"we all felt at last that the boss had arrived.
" while grant conferred with meade, members of his staff described grant's triumphs in the west.
veterans of the army of the potomac were not impressed.
"that may be," one said, "but grant never met bobby lee.
" [cannon fire] "can anybody say they know the general? "i doubt it.
he looks so cold, quiet, and grand.
" "i think that lee should have been hanged.
"it was all the worse that he was a good man "and a fine character and acted conscientiously.
"it's always the good men who do the most harm in the world.
" henry adams.
lee is one of the most difficult people to talk about because he's been immortalized, or as they call him now, "the marble man.
" he's been dehumanized by the glory and the worship.
he was a warm, outgoing man, always had time for any private soldier's complaint.
once a northern soldier being marched to the rear as a prisoner complained to lee in person that someone had taken his hat.
he said, "that man got it.
" lee made the man return it.
the man grant faced across the rapidan river in virginia came from a family as celebrated as grant's was obscure.
robert e.
lee was born in 1807 at stratford in westmoreland county, virginia, a neighbor remembered, a neighbor remembered,er.
she taught him to revere general washington, "to practice self-denial and self-control" in all things.
his father, "light horse harry" lee, had been a friend and favorite lieutenant of george washington, but light horse harry also squandered two wives' fortunes before deserting his family for the west indies.
at west point, robert e.
lee did not earn a single demerit.
classmates called him "the marble model," but liked him in spite of his perfection.
he was graduated second in his class in 1829.
in 1831, he married martha washington's granddaughter, mary custis.
she bore him seven children and endured his long absences as best she could.
the mansion at arlington with its 250 slaves was her home before it was his.
appointed to the prestigious corps of engineers, he was three times promoted for bravery during the mexican war, where he once met a young ulysses s.
superintendent of west point, captor of john brown, he was at the start of the war the nation's most promising soldier.
in 1861, lee refused command of the union army and followed his state out of the union, not because he approved of slavery or secession, but because he believed his first duty was to virginia.
"i did only what my duty demanded.
"i could have taken no other course without dishonor.
" "the man who stood before us was the realized king arthur.
"the soul that looked out of his eyes "was as honest and fearless "as when it first looked out on life.
"one saw the character as clear as crystal, "without complication, and the heart as tender as that of ideal womanhood.
" a union girl watching lee ride past her pennsylvania home said, "i wish he were ours.
" early in the war he was ridiculed as "the king of spades" because of his fondness for entrenching and "granny lee" because of his gray hair and strict ways, but after he drove mcclellan off the peninsula, stopped pope at second manassas, demolished burnside at fredericksburg, and destroyed hooker at chancellorsville-- all despite overwhelming odds-- he won the unshakable confidence of jefferson davis and the unqualified love of his officers and men.
he is a very great general, and he's superb on both the offensive and the defensive.
he took long chances because he had to.
if grant had not had superior numbers, he might have taken chances as long as lee took.
the only way to win was with long chances, and it made him brilliant.
no one ever called him bobby lee to his face.
his men called him "marse robert" or "uncle robert.
" he had a terrible temper, which he worked all his life to control.
when angered, his icy stare was unforgettable.
there was a young man brought before him for some infraction of the rules.
can you imagine being brought before general lee? the young man was trembling.
lee said, "you need not be afraid.
you'll get justice.
" the young man said, "i know it, general.
that's what i'm scared of.
" he referred to the union army as "those people" rather than as "the enemy.
" now "those people" had a new commander whom lee had not tested.
when grant began his spring campaign of '64, he took what they called "the heavies," the heavy artillerymen, out of the forts in washington and put them in the field.
many had been in the army two or three years and never had heard a shot fired in anger.
as these units marched into camp, they were so much larger than combat regiments that soldiers alongside the road used to say, "what division is that?" they had some fierce things.
the first time they'd go into combat, they'd have a mangled corpse, an artillery casualty, with a blanket over him.
as the new green regiments came abreast of them, they'd whisk the blanket off and say, "this is what's waiting for you.
" not a very pleasant story.
"to get possession of lee's army was the first object.
"with the capture of his army, "richmond would necessarily follow.
"it was better to fight him outside his stronghold than in it.
" ulysses s.
[shouting] "this advance by general grant "inaugurated the seventh act in the "on to richmond" drama played by the armies of the union.
" general john b.
"that man grant will fight us every day and every hour till the end of the war.
" general james longstreet.
grant's plan called for four simultaneous blows.
william tecumseh sherman had orders to strike out from chattanooga for atlanta.
franz sigel would advance up the shenandoah valley.
benjamin butler was to lead an army up from the james river, and george gordon meade was to lead the army of the potomac, 110,000 strong, south against lee.
"wherever lee goes, you will go also," grant told meade.
and grant would come along, too.
lee's strategy was unchanged-- destroy the union resolve to wage war.
he would refuse to fight grant in the open, force him to attack fortified confederate positions, and thereby offset grant's superior numbers.
the bloody cost of trying to force the south back into the union at gunpoint would bolster antiwar sentiment in the north.
"if we can break up the enemy's arrangements early "and throw him back, "he will not be able to recover his position or morale "until the presidential election is over.
then we shall have a new president to treat with.
" general james longstreet.
"april 1, 1864.
"the president came down to culpeper to review the army.
"the president was mounted on a fractious horse.
"soon after the march began, his tall hat fell off.
"his pantaloons slipped up to the knees, "showing his white homemade drawers, "which presently slipped up also, "revealing a long, hairy leg.
"while we were inclined to smile, "we were very much chagrined to see our poor president compelled to endure such torture.
" washington roebling.
"on the morning of may 4, 1864, "we, with the entire grand army of the potomac, "were in motion toward the rapidan.
"the dawn was clear, warm, and beautiful.
"as the almost countless encampments were broken up, "with bands in all directions playing lively airs, "banners waving, "regiments, brigades, and divisions falling into line, "the scene, even to eyes long familiar "with military displays, was one of unusual grandeur.
" chaplain a.
lee's 60,000 men were waiting for grant in the tangled thicket known as the wilderness, in which they had trapped the same army under joseph hooker only a year before.
"covered by a dense forest "almost impenetrable by troops in line of battle, "the undergrowth was so heavy "that it was scarcely possible to see more than 100 yards "in any direction.
"the enemy's movements could not be observed until the lines were almost in collision.
" advance units of the union army camped for the night on the old chancellorsville battlefield, where winter rains had washed open the shallow graves.
"in glades they meet skull after skull "where pine cones lay-- "the rusted gun, green shoes full of bones, "the mouldering coat and cuddled-up skeleton.
"and scores of such.
"some start as in dreams, "and comrades lost bemoan.
"by the edge of these wilds stonewall had charged-- but the year and the man were gone.
" "it grew dark, and we built a fire.
"the dead were all around us.
"their eyeless skulls seemed to stare steadily at us.
the trees swayed and sighed gently in the soft wind.
" private frank wilkeson.
[cannon fire] [bugle tooting] but on the second day, [shouting] the battle of the wilderness began in chaos.
units got lost, fired on their own comrades.
officers tried to navigate by compass.
union forces drove through the confederate center.
as a worried lee watched, general john gregg's texans hurried to plug up the hole.
"scarce had we moved a step "when general lee, in front of the whole command, "raised himself in his stirrups, uncovered his gray hairs, "and with an earnest voice exclaimed, texans always move them.
" "never before in my lifetime did i ever see such a scene "as was enacted when lee pronounced these words.
"a yell rent the air "that must have been heard for miles around.
"a courier riding by my side, "with tears coursing down his cheeks, exclaimed, i would charge hell itself for that old man.
" the texans held the position until reinforcements came.
by the end of the day, the confederates had smashed grant's right, seized 2 generals and 600 prisoners, and come close to cutting the union supply line.
grant received these reports without comment.
right in the middle of the battle of the wilderness, all staff men who had been fighting in the east-- and he had just come from the west-- kept talking about bobby lee.
grant said, "i'm tired of hearing about bobby lee.
"quit thinking about what he'll do to you "and think about what you'll do to him.
bring some guns up here.
" grant, he's wonderful.
the wilderness is probably not the bloodiest battle in the war, but the most terrible battle in the war in many ways.
grant in two days loses more men than hooker did at chancellorsville.
but in the wilderness, the leaves from the previous year cover the ground, and using the type of weapon they used in the civil war, you have lots of lint and linen smoldering, falling into the leaves, and it will set these leaves afire.
and men who've been shot badly through the bowels, with broken legs, will not be able to move as the fire starts burning toward them.
and large numbers of wounded men will perish in the flames.
grant's first move had been a disaster.
the wilderness had cost 17,000 men.
that night brush fires raged through the woods.
200 wounded federal soldiers burned alive while the entrenched armies listened to their screams.
"i am holding my breath in awe at the vastness of the shadow "that floats like a pall over our heads.
"it is come that man has no longer an individual existence, but is counted in thousands and measured in miles.
" clara barton.
in the wilderness, surgeons amputated limbs without letup for more than 100 hours and sent back behind the lines 2,000 wounded men each day.
"as a wounded man was lifted on the table, "often shrieking with pain as the attendants handled him, "the surgeon quickly examined the wound "and resolved upon cutting off the wounded limb.
"some ether was administered.
"the surgeon snatched his knife from between his teeth, "wiped it rapidly once or twice "across his bloodstained apron, "and the cutting began.
"the operation accomplished, "the surgeon would look around with a deep sigh "and then next.
" carl schurz.
"the wilderness was a useless battle fought with great loss and no result.
" washington roebling.
grant, after that first night in the wilderness, went to his tent and cried very hard.
some staff members said they'd never seen a man so unstrung.
he didn't cry until the battle was over, and he wasn't crying when it began again next day.
what was different about grant became clear the next morning when he gave the order to march.
for the first time after a defeat, the army of the potomac was moving forward.
"may 7.
"if we were under any other general except grant, "i should expect a retreat, but grant is not that kind of soldier.
" elisha hunt rhodes.
[shouting] "our spirits rose," one union man remembered.
"we marched free.
the men began to sing.
" "ulysses," another soldier said, "don't scare worth a damn.
" "general grant is not going to retreat.
"he will move his army to spotsylvania.
"i'm so sure of his next move that i have already made arrangements.
" he knew what grant was going to do.
he could make himself grant to figure out what grant would do in a situation.
when they fired five or six generals before they got to grant, and by the time they let mcclellan go, lee said, "i'm afraid they'll keep making these changes until they get someone i don't understand.
" they never got anyone he didn't understand, but they finally got grant, who knew how to whip him and did.
in the first years of the war, battle was bloody but sporadic.
from now on, it would be waged without a break.
from the wilderness to cold harbor, it would not stop for 30 days.
it was, one soldier wrote, "living night and day within the valley of the shadow of death.
" "may 8.
"the dreadful work is beginning again.
"john l.
miller, my cousin, "killed at the head of his regiment.
"the blows now fall so fast on our heads it is bewildering.
" mary chesnut.
[cannon fire] at spotsylvania, the two armies mauled each other for days without gaining ground.
it was the most relentless exchange of fire in the history of warfare up to that time.
some men were hit by so many bullets that their bodies fell apart.
a union veteran remembered it simply as "the most terrible day i have ever lived.
" "the enemy's dead were piled upon each other "in front of the captured breastworks, "in some places four layers deep.
"below the mass of fast-decaying corpses, "the convulsive twitching of limbs showed "that there were wounded men still alive.
the place was well named thebloody angle.
" the 2 armies lost another 20,000 men.
"may 12th, yellow tavern, virginia.
general jeb stuart killed.
" when lee got the news, he said, "i can scarcely think of him without weeping.
" fire! [hoofbeats] again and again, lee anticipated grant.
again and again, the union commander skirted south and east in a semicircle, the two armies locked in a brutal, clumsy stranglehold as the battle lines lurched toward richmond.
"we must destroy this army of grant's "before he gets to the james.
"if he gets there, it will become a siege.
then it will be a mere question of time.
" "may 11th.
"we have now ended the sixth day of very heavy fighting, "and the result up to this time is much in our favor.
"i propose to fight it out on this line, if it takes all summer.
" grant continued his stubborn flanking maneuvers in an attempt to get around lee's right and move on richmond.
he did it with superior numbers and doggedness, kept going, move by the left flank.
lee's backing up the whole time, losing men that he couldn't replace.
"may 15, 1864.
"dear emily, the papers must have told you "that we have been fighting a little.
"our corps has only 12,000 left out of 27,000.
"uncle robert e.
lee isn't licked yet by a long shot, "and if we are not mighty careful, he'll beat us.
"i think we have done very well to avoid that fate so far.
"tomorrow we have another battle.
i don't think it will amount to much.
" washington roebling.
grant and lee now raced for a crossroads called cold harbor near the chickahominy river.
lee got there first and ordered his men to dig in and prepare for the all-out assault he knew would follow.
as they settled down for the night on june 2nd, veterans on the union side sensed what was coming.
"the men were calmly writing their names and home addresses "on slips of paper "and pinning them to the backs of their coats "so that their bodies might be recognized and their fate made known to their families at home.
" general horace porter.
[bugle tooting] when the bugles blew for the attack at 4:30 a.
, 60,000 union men started toward the unseen enemy.
the battle of cold harbor had begun.
[cannon fire] "i had seen the dreadful carnage in front of marye's hill "at fredericksburg, "but i had seen nothing to exceed this.
it was not war.
it was murder.
" [shelby foote] those were men who knew how to take a position where you could do the most killing from.
that whole army was lined up, praying something would come at them.
grant threw three corps at them.
in approximately 7 minutes, they shot about 7,000 men down.
it was a bloody mess.
it's the only thing grant ever admitted that he'd done wrong.
"i've always regretted "that the last assault at cold harbor was ever made.
"no advantage whatever was gained to compensate for the heavy loss we sustained.
" when another assault was suggested, union officers rejected the idea outright.
"i will not take my regiment in another such charge," said a new hampshire captain, "if jesus christ himself should order it.
" after the battle, the diary of a young massachusetts volunteer was found spattered with blood.
its last entry read, "june 3, 1864, cold harbor, virginia.
i was killed.
" "our matters here are at a deadlock.
"unless the rebs commit some great error, "they will hold us in check until kingdom come.
"we are thoroughly tired and disgusted.
"these two armies remind me of two schoolboys "trying to stare each other out of countenance.
"everyone knows if lee were to come out of his trenchments, "we could whip him, but bob lee is a little too smart for us.
" washington roebling.
from the wilderness to cold harbor, in a single month, the army of the potomac had lost 50,000 men, half as many as in three years of struggle.
"june 5, 1864.
"our people lost very severely yesterday.
"in every calculation that we make, "we make ourselves out to be 20,000 men stronger, "yet in every fight, they show as many men as we have, "and they always show as long a line as we do "no matter how long we make ours.
"june 7, 1864.
"another one of my best army friends has been killed.
one goes after the other with perfect regularity.
" "grant doesn't care a snap if men fall like the leaves fall.
"he fights to win, that chap does.
"he has the disagreeable habit of not retreating before irresistible veterans.
" mary chesnut.
"he keeps his own counsel, padlocks his mouth, "while his countenance indicates nothing-- "that is, gives no expression of his feelings "and no evidence of his intentions.
"he smokes almost constantly "and has a habit of whittling with a small knife, "cutting a small stick into small chips, making nothing.
" "grant is a butcher "and not fit to be at the head of an army.
"he loses two men to the enemy's one.
"he has no management, no regard for life.
i could fight an army as well myself.
" mary lincoln.
when several of lee's officers denounced grant as a butcher, lee quieted them.
"grant has managed his affairs remarkably well up to the present time," he said.
grant kept moving.
he slipped his army out of his trenches, crossed the chickahominy, feinted toward richmond, then shifted left again to the james river.
his target now was petersburg, where he hoped to cut off lee's supplies and destroy the army of northern virginia.
for the first time, lee misjudged grant's intentions, rushing much of his army to the outskirts of richmond to meet an attack grant did not plan to make.
instead, union engineers laid a pontoon bridge all the way across the james in just eight hours.
on june 12th, the massive army of the potomac began to cross.
it took four days.
"general grant, i begin to see it.
"you will succeed.
"god bless you.
" 16,000 union troops under general william smith were the first to reach petersburg.
the city was defended by fewer than 3,000 confederates under general beauregard.
[cannon fire] smith moved slowly to the attack.
reinforcements intended to aid him got lost on the way.
still, his late-afternoon assault made progress.
when night fell, petersburg seemed within the union's grasp.
general winfield scott hancock urged a moonlight assault, but smith begged off, remembering cold harbor.
during the night, confederate reinforcements were brought up.
the opportunity was gone.
"the rage of the enlisted men was devilish.
"the most bloodcurdling blasphemy i ever listened to i heard that night.
" in six weeks, grant and lee had all but crippled each other, and now both armies dug in for a siege.
the burrowing would go on for 10 months.
the men lived in a 20-mile labyrinth of trenches, plagued by flies, open to rain and the fierce virginia sun, and exposed to shell and mortar fire.
"nothing for excitement "except that a few were picked off by sharpshooters.
"a feeling prevails that sooner or later this experience will befall us all.
" private john w.
[gunfire] colonel joshua lawrence chamberlain, one of the heroes of gettysburg, led his regiment in an assault on petersburg.
as he turned to rally his men, a bullet smashed through his pelvis, severed arteries, nicked his bladder.
he leaned on his sword with one hand and waved his men on with the other until they had all passed him by.
then he sank to the ground.
doctors did not expect him to live.
grant promoted him on the field to brigadier general.
chamberlain's obituary appeared in the newspapers the next day.
petersburg is a magnificent salute to the durability of men on both sides.
it was just a rehearsal for world war i trench warfare, and they stood up very well to it, but the soldiers always did in that war.
it's, to us, an almost incredible bravery, considering the casualties.
"june 23, 1864.
"the demand down here for killing purposes "is far ahead of the supply.
"thank god for the consolation "that when the last man is killed, the war will be over.
"this war differs from all previous wars "in having no object to fight for.
"it can't be finished "until all the men on one side are killed.
"both sides are trying to do that as fast as they can "because it would be a pity to spin this affair out for two or three years longer.
" washington roebling.
"dear henry, "i feel more lonely and sad than i have been in some time.
"oh, that i knew what the termination of this awful conflict would be.
" "henry, i want to see you, but don't you come.
"join for the war if 'tis 40 years.
"if you get killed, 'tis the most honorable death.
"if you escape, i will rejoice.
i love thee still.
" mollie vanderberg.
"our bleeding, bankrupt, almost dying country "longs for peace, "shudders at the prospect of further wholesale devastation, of new rivers of human blood.
" horace greeley.
"at night, my ward became "like the dim caverns of the catacombs, "where, instead of the dead in their final rest, "there were wasted figures burning with fever "and raving from the agony of splintered bones, "tossing restlessly from side to side "with every ill, it seemed, which human flesh was heir to.
"from the rafters, "the flickering oil lamp swung mournfully, casting a ghastly light.
" private alexander hunter, 17th virginia.
when the war began, there were only a handful of army hospitals in the north.
when it ended, the union was running more than 350, the confederacy, 154.
there were 16 hospitals in washington alone.
when these proved insufficient, men were cared for in the patent office, even in the house and senate chambers.
hospitals were giant warehouses for the dying.
the biggest and best, north or south, was chimborazo at richmond, with 8,000 beds, five soup kitchens, icehouses, dairy cattle, a herd of goats, a bakery that turned out 10,000 loaves of bread a day, and a 400-keg brewery.
[when johnny comes marching homeplaying] "arous'd and angry, "i'd thought to beat the alarum, and urge relentless war.
" "but soon my fingers fail'd me, "my face droop'd and i resign'd myself "to sit by the wounded and soothe them, or silently watch the dead.
" walt whitman.
walt whitman was too old for the ranks, not qualified to be an officer, not enthusiastic about "firing a gun or drawing a sword on another man," but when his younger brother was wounded at antietam, whitman went to the hospital.
he was appalled by what he saw.
he moved to washington to help with the wounded, giving out small gifts, changing dressings, and reciting his poetry.
"the doctors tell me "i supply the patients with a medicine "which all their drugs and bottles and powders "are helpless to yield.
"it has saved more than one life, "so i go around.
some of my boys die.
some get well.
" "no woman under 30 years need apply to serve "in government hospitals.
"all nurses are required to be very plain-looking women.
"their dresses must be brown or black, "with no bows, no curls, no jewelry, and no hoop skirts.
" dorothea dix.
early in the war, dorothea dix volunteered her services to the union.
the 59-year-old crusader for the mentally ill was put in charge of all women nurses employed by the armies.
tireless, and so autocratic one woman called her "dragon dix," she barred any applicant she thought interested in romantic adventure.
even nuns were sometimes turned down.
by the end of the war, though, the only question she asked potential recruits was "when can you start?" under her strict guidance, care for the sick and wounded was vastly improved.
despite the bitter criticism and petty rivalry of male colleagues, she stayed at her post for all four years-- the entire war-- without pay.
"armory square hospital.
"i am learning not to let myself feel "as much as i did at first, yet i never can get used to it.
" harriet foote hawley.
"they would see that the doctor gave them up "and would ask me about it.
"i told them the truth.
"i told one man that.
he asked,how long? "i said, not over 20 minutes.
"he did not show any fear.
they never do.
"he put his hand up "and closed his eyes with his own fingers, "and stretched himself out "and crossed his arms over his breast.
"now, fix me,he said.
"i pinned the toes of his stockings together.
"that was the way we laid corpses out.
"he died in minutes.
"his face looked pleasant, as if he was asleep.
"and many is the time the boys would fix themselves that way before they died.
" "lorenzo strong, company a, 9th united states cavalry.
"shot by a shell last sunday.
"right leg amputated on the field.
"took a turn for the worse.
"i stayed and saw all.
"the doctor comes and gives him a little chloroform.
"one of the nurses constantly fans him, "for it is fearfully hot.
"he asks to be raised up, "and they put him in a half-sitting posture.
"he called for mark repeatedly, "half deliriously, all day.
"life ebbs, runs now with the speed of a millrace.
"his eyes turned back.
"a crowd, including two or three doctors, "several students, and many soldiers, "has silently gathered.
"the struggle goes on and dwindles "a little more and a little more, "and then welcome oblivion, "painlessness, death.
"a pause.
the crowd drops away.
" "june 17, 1864.
"dearest mother, "this place seems to have got the better of me.
i think i shall come home for a short time.
" "i think i understand "the purpose of the south properly.
"the best way to deal with them "is to meet them fairly on any issue.
"we must fight them, cut into them, "not talk to them, and pursue till they cryenough.
"war is the remedy our enemies have chosen, and i say let us give them all they want.
" william tecumseh sherman.
on the same day that grant stepped off into the wilderness, sherman's grand army of the west moved south from chattanooga towards atlanta, 100 miles away.
william tecumseh sherman and ulysses s.
grant had survived hard times together.
their friendship had been forged in kentucky when sherman came close to breaking down, persuaded the war would never end.
"grant stood by me when i was crazy.
"i stood by him when he was drunk, and now we stand by each other always.
" sherman was an orphan and had graduated sixth in his class at west point at age 20.
tall, red-haired, intelligent, and irritable, he wore shoes rather than military boots, slept little, talked a lot.
"boiling over with ideas," a friend said.
"he was always too busy to eat much.
"he talked and smoked cigars incessantly, "giving orders, dictating telegrams, bright and chipper.
" he hated politicians, profiteers, sentimentalists.
above all, he hated reporters, whom he considered worse than spies because they printed military secrets just to sell newspapers.
"these dirty newspaper scribblers "have the impudence of satan.
"they come into camp, poke about among the lazy shirks, "pick up camp rumors, and publish them as facts.
"they are a pest, and i treat them as spies, which, in truth, they are.
" he was convinced if he killed them all, there would be news from hell before breakfast.
family and friends called him "cump.
" his men called him "uncle billy.
" he was ruthless in war.
now grant entrusted his friend with the second most important part of his grand strategy-- to seize atlanta and smash the combined confederate armies of tennessee and mississippi under joseph e.
in washington, lincoln's chances for re-election were slim.
"i'm going to be beaten," lincoln wrote that summer, "and unless some great change takes place, badly beaten.
" with grant stalled at petersburg, sherman had to win.
[drums beating] sherman had surveyed parts of georgia as a young lieutenant.
"i knew georgia better than the rebels did," he wrote.
he knew fighting there would be scattered and sporadic, "a big indian war," he called it.
joseph e.
johnston, the confederate commander who now faced sherman, was heartily disliked by president jefferson davis, but he was very nearly worshiped by his men.
"i do not believe there was a soldier in his army "but would gladly have died for him.
"with him, everything was his soldiers.
he would feed his soldiers if the country starved.
" sam watkins.
outgunned, outsupplied, and outnumbered almost 2 to 1, joseph johnston could only hope to slow sherman's advance and perhaps lure him into making the kind of doomed frontal attack that would help swing the election against lincoln.
[train whistle blows] but sherman's advance was a masterpiece of planning.
in a matter of hours, his engineers replaced burned bridges and repaired ripped up rail lines.
when nathan bedford forrest's raiders collapsed a tunnel in sherman's rear, one weary southern private was not impressed.
"sherman," he said, "probably carried a spare tunnel with him.
" [train whistle blows] [cannon fires] slowly, relentlessly, he forced johnston out of dalton [boom] resaca [boom] cassville [boom] allatoona [boom] new hope church.
[boom] a surrendering confederate told his captors, "sherman will never go to hell.
he'll flank the devil and make heaven in spite of the guards.
" "june 14th.
"we killed general polk yesterday and made good progress today.
" william tecumseh sherman.
at kennesaw mountain, north of atlanta, the confederates dug in.
on june 27th, 13,000 union men stormed up the mountain and were hurled back.
the federals "seemed to walk up and take death," a southerner remembered, "as coolly as if they were automatic or wooden men.
" "i've heard men say that if they killed a yankee "during the war, they were unaware of it.
"i'm satisfied that on this memorable day "every man in our regiment killed 20 to 100 each.
all that was necessary was to load and shoot.
" the union lost 3,000 men, the confederates only 750.
"one or two more such assaults," an aide warned sherman, "would use up this army.
" sherman never admitted he had made a mistake at kennesaw mountain, but he never repeated it either.
reluctantly, he returned to his slow flanking maneuvers, forcing johnston back to within sight of atlanta itself, but there, he stalled, just like grant.
for the first time in history,rant.
in 1864, two months of relentless fighting had resulted in identical stalemates.
sherman was stopped north of atlanta.
grant and lee were deadlocked outside petersburg.
without a decisive victory somewhere, abraham lincoln was sure to lose the fall election.
time was running out.
"miss kitty diggs, "i want you to understand that mary is my child, "and she is a god-given right of my own.
"and you may hold on to her as long as you can, "but remember this-- "the longer you keep my child from me, "the longer you will have to burn in hell "and the quicker you'll get there.
"i have no fears about getting mary out of your hands.
"this whole government gives cheer to me, and you cannot help yourself.
" spotswood rice.