The Civil War: The Second Year, 1862 (2012)

September 18

Overview:  Lincoln, Davis, Their Politicians, and Their Generals

This session will provide a short review of 1861, and an overview of 1862-1865 to put this year’s material in context.  We will examine the two Presidents-turned-dictators, key members of their Cabinets, and select generals and admirals, particularly the few really good ones.  Suggested reading:  Battle Cry (ch. 11), Ordeal (ch. 16), Civil War (chs. 11-13)

September 25

Technology, Enterprise, and War

Most officers of the new railroads were army engineers first.  Railroads and river steamboats were the logistics lifelines of military movement.  The telegraph knitted Lincoln and his commanders together in “real time.”  Businesses produced armored vests, armor-clad vessels, better mule-drawn ambulances, and canned food.  The war saw the first steps toward modern medical science. 

October 2

The War in the Eastern Theater (Peninsular Campaign to Fredericksburg)

Little Mac lacked will and inflated intelligence but he planned a good strategic war and built a superb Army of the Potomac.  Once Lee took the field, he outclassed McClellan and Mr. Lincoln sought new generals.  Often viewed as the war, the conflict in the east became a holding action.

October 9

The War in the Western Theater (Forts Henry and Donelson to Stones’ River)

Vast unpopulated forests with no strategic points, the joint (Army and Navy) western war moved by water and rail, seeking out and attacking the enemy’s forces, resources and public will to fight.  It is here, starting in 1862, that the war was won and lost, and the campaigns and battles of 1862 were lost opportunities to shorten the war.

October 16

The Guerrilla Wars

The Confederates in Eastern Tennessee and the Unionists in Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee and Virginia fought guerrillas in the “no-man’s lands” between the lines.  Ostensibly fighting for their cause, most quickly became sociopathic rapists, thieves, and murderers.  It became a war of spies, conciliation, and retributive burning.

October 23

Minnesota’s War with the Dakota

After losing land, drought, oppression and harassment, frustration boiled over on the Lower Sioux reservation on August 19, 1862, and Mdewakanton Dakota warriors  began massacring white settlers of Minnesota.  Fearing depopulation of the state, Governor Alexander Ramsey mobilized the resistance that led to crushing the Indians and the removal of almost all the Dakota from Minnesota for decades.