The Battle at Gettysburg is considered a turning point in the Civil War because the Confederacy was basically bankrupt of supplies and had to go to the North in search of supplies. General Robert E. Lee led his army to the North and the Confederacy desperately needed the victory because of their lack of supplies. The map below shows the battle campaigns of the Confederacy and the Union. Although the Confederacy had many of their battle campaigns in the South, General E. Lee led the army to the North; the Confederate campaign is shown in the North. The Battle at Gettysburg was considered a turning point in the Civil War because the Confederacy lost a lot of people and the Union won. The Gettysburg Address gave the war a new, emotional meaning because soldiers were no longer just fighting for the sake of winning, but were fighting for the freedom of slaves. Lincoln wrote that, “It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom…” (The Gettysburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln, November 19, 1863). Lincoln spoke about setting goals and the new, emotional purpose that the war now held.
Source: Map created from various sources
It was acceptable for Grant, Sheridan, and Sherman to conduct a total war campaign in the Confederacy because it ultimately kept the war going and had an intentional purpose. It was justified for the tactic of a siege to be used on the Shenandoah Valley because it kept the war progressing, shut out all the supplies emerging from that territory, and surrounded the Confederacy in the anaconda plan. Grant “told General Phil Sheridan, “Do all the damage to railroads and crops you can…. If the war is to last another year, we want the Shenandoah Valley to remain a barren waste.” Sheridan carried out these orders to the letter. In the fall of 1864 he wrote Grant: “The people here are getting sick of the war.” Grant answered: “Keep on, and your good work will cause the fall of Richmond.” (America: Pathways to the Present. Chapter 11, Sections 3 and 4. PearsonSuccessNet.com. (Accessed April 28th, 2014). Although Sheridan’s actions were cruel, it caused the people of the South to tire of the war. Since people were deprived of their usual necessities, they could not feel a desire to continue the war and fight because they were in need of food, water, and shelter. The siege ultimately helped the Union, I think it as justified because the total war depleted the Confederate army of the necessities it needed to continue.
The nation reacted to the end of the Civil War in many different ways. The citizens of Washington D.C were overjoyed and ecstatic whereas Lincoln was completely exhausted yet relieved. The Confederate soldiers were disappointed, but still tried to honor Lee. Although the Confederate soldiers were disappointed in their loss, they were also relieved because an end to their suffering had finally come. Union soldiers were overjoyed at their victory, but remained respectful towards the Confederate soldiers. To the nation’s despair, Lincoln was assassinated on April 14th, 1865. Below is an announcement declaring a reward for the murderer. This document shows how the nation reacted very angrily towards the murderer because of the love they had for President Lincoln.
Abraham Lincoln Papers. Library of Congress Manuscript Division and Lincoln Studies Center,
Knox College http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/alhtml/malhome.html (accessed March 10, 2011)