1864: The Coming Year

Situation at Beginning of 1864

Not much of note was going on during the Civil War 156 years ago.  The War had entered a quiet stage, as if both Union and Confederacy, exhausted by the extreme exertions of the prior year, were gathering strength for the decisive year that lay ahead.

The political calendar for the Union ensured that it would be decisive.  The Republicans had lost 20 seats in the 1862 elections, primarily due to the War, and Confederates could hope that Lincoln, as all Presidents subsequent to Jackson, would be a one term President and he and his party would be repudiated at the polls, bringing an end to the War and independence for the Confederacy.  Unionists realized that unless Lincoln won reelection, the War was likely lost, as a Peace Democrat would be unlikely to continue the War.  More than in any election in American history, the Union elections of 1864 hinged upon the perceived success or failure of the Union war effort.

The third anniversary of the beginning of the War would come in April, and the Union could take solace in the fact that progress was being made.  The Union controlled the Mississippi and the largest Confederate city, New Orleans, was firmly in the Union grasp.  The Union blockade was beginning to bite, with the Union controlling ports and enclaves the length of the Confederate coast line.  Tennessee was completely subdued with the Union holding large portions of Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.  However, the cost had been frightful and at the rate of the last three years, it might well take at least another three years to see the War end in Union victory.  No doubt even ardent Union supporters wondered if Union morale could endure the costly and bloody conflict for much longer.  1864 would have to see a speed up in the process of the Union winning the War, or eventual victory would never come.

As for the Confederacy, pride could be taken that it had maintained such an unequal contest for three years and remained unconquered.  However, its economy was in shambles, large portions of it were controlled by the enemy, the blockade was tightening every day, and manpower reserves were running out, the Confederacy filling the ranks of its armies now by robbing both the cradle and the grave.  Courage to fight however remained the one item not in short supply in the Confederacy.  Come what may the Confederates could rely upon the fact that Union forces would receive bloody resistance in their efforts to conquer the remainder of the Confederacy.  Whether that was enough, the coming year would determine.

Published in: on January 1, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on 1864: The Coming Year  
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