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by John G. Nicolay

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John G. Nicolay
Digital Scanning Inc. (October 1, 2001)
244 pages
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This history of the outbreak of the Civil War is unique in presenting it from the perspective of Lincoln's personal secretary. Shortly before his assassination, Lincoln appointed Nicolay to a diplomatic post in France

This history of the outbreak of the Civil War is unique in presenting it from the perspective of Lincoln's personal secretary. The man was a participant, and on the legal aspects gives some very clear headed arguments. Shortly before his assassination, Lincoln appointed Nicolay to a diplomatic post in France. After the death of the President, Nicolay became United States Consul at Paris, France (1865–69). He was Marshal of the United States Supreme Court (1872–1887). In 1881, Nicolay wrote The Outbreak of the Rebellion.

The American Civil War (also known by other names) was a civil war in the United States from 1861 to 1865, fought between the northern United States (loyal to the Union) and the southern United States (that had seceded from the Union and formed the . .

The American Civil War (also known by other names) was a civil war in the United States from 1861 to 1865, fought between the northern United States (loyal to the Union) and the southern United States (that had seceded from the Union and formed the Confederacy). The civil war began primarily as a result of the long-standing controversy over the enslavement of black people.

John G. Nicolay (1832–1901) . Nicolay (1832–1901) was an undeniably apt and brilliant choice to inaugurate the landmark Campaigns of the Civil War series. Private secretary to President Lincoln and coauthor (with John Hay) of the monumental, ten-volume Lincoln biography, Nicolay experienced the Civil War from a unique vantage point: living in the White House, witnessing the many momentous events and minor wranglings, sharing the nation's trauma with Lincoln, and winning his open confidence.

About the Book Books about the American Civil War, discuss the secession of the Confederate States from the Union in 1861, and the subsequent devastating war, that resulted in the deaths of 620,000 Americans by 1865.

Read various fiction books with us in our e-reader. Uniform with The navy in the civil war, Subscription e. 3 v. (numbered 14-16) v. 1. Nicolay, . The outbreak of rebellion. From Fort Henry to Corinth. McClellan's campaign of 1862. The Antietam and Fredericksburg.

Outbreak of the Civil War (1861)

Outbreak of the Civil War (1861). The Civil War in Virginia (1862). After the Emancipation Proclamation (1863-4). Toward a Union Victory (1864-65). The Civil War in the United States began in 1861, after decades of simmering tensions between northern and southern states over slavery, states’ rights and westward expansion. In the spring of 1862, McClellan finally led his Army of the Potomac up the peninsula between the York and James Rivers, capturing Yorktown on May 4. The combined forces of Robert E. Lee and Jackson successfully drove back McClellan’s army in the Seven Days’ Battles (June 25-July 1), and a cautious McClellan called for yet more reinforcements in.

Participants in the Civil War. The Civil War was fought by civilians hastily recruited in large numbers and commanded by officers who had been trained in both the regular army and the state militia. Many of the high-ranking commanders on both sides were graduates of the United States Military Academy at West Point and as young men had served in the Mexican War. The number of men that who served in the Federal armies was reported by the Commissioner of Pensions in 1903 as 2,213,363.

The outbreak of rebellion. Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. The Army of the Cumberland. The march to the se. Franklin and Nashville. The Shenandoah valley in 1864.

The American Civil War erupted between the slave states of the south and the states . The war was fought on two battlefronts.

The American Civil War erupted between the slave states of the south and the states of the Union. About 2 million men fought for the Union while the Confederate Army had about 800,000 soldiers. When Abraham Lincoln freed slaves in 1863 they were allowed to fight side by side with white soldiers. In the South, however, slaves were not allowed in the army. One was in the eastern states, mostly Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania while the other front was along the Mississippi River in the west. At the beginning of the Civil War the Union won some battles in the west and captured New Orleans.

American Civil War, four-year war (1861–65) fought between the United States and 11 Southern states . Curiously, this first encounter of what would be the bloodiest war in the history of the United States claimed no victims.

American Civil War, four-year war (1861–65) fought between the United States and 11 Southern states that seceded to form the Confederate States of America. It arose out of disputes over slavery and states’ rights. When antislavery candidate Abraham Lincoln was elected president (1860), the Southern states seceded. After a 34-hour bombardment, Maj. Robert Anderson surrendered his command of about 85 soldiers to some 5,500 besieging Confederate troops under .

Written by a private secretary to President Abraham Lincoln, this volume contains an account of the outbreak of the American Civil War from that viewpoint.
  • Garr
This history of the outbreak of the Civil War is unique in presenting it from the perspective of Lincoln's personal secretary. The man was a participant, and on the legal aspects gives some very clear headed arguments. Much of the precedent goes back to the aftermath of the American Revolution. There were two steps to creating the federal government of the United States. First, each colony had to declare independence from England (which they did together in one document). The individual colonies could now agree to enter into a larger confederation of colonies. It was not at all clear that this would happen, as many had different interests. For that reason the constitution does not outlaw slavery, and fails to address whether member of the union can later secede. These and other touchy issuies might have been deal breakers.

The Southern Secession required a similar process, which raised some paradoxes. Nicolay argues that, constitutional ambiguity aside, none had the authority to issue articles of secession. Simply put, it is not among the defined powers of the governors or legislatures. Their oath of office requires them to support and defend the constitution of the United States. But secede they did, after which -- as independent states -- they were free to enter into a new confederacy. Here is where Nicolay finds contradiction in their arguments. They seceeded over the issue of states' rights. But having done so, promptly surrendered them to a new confederacy. Nicolay says, probably due need for immediate action, the confederate constitution was largely taken from the original. Among key changes, the statement that all men are created equal was striken. But there was also no provision allowing a state to secede from the new union. Essentially, Nicolay argues the states' rights issues was merely a pretext.

He points to a single man as setting events in motion -- Governor Cist of South Carolina. He wrote a letter to other governors asking, if South Carolina should secede, would the others follow? The answers were ambiguous, but things were set in motion.

Nicolay argues that the slavery issue was only vital to a very few states, and even there only to influentual land owners of the deep south. For the ordinary person there was little or nothing to be gained:

"Drills, parades, meetings, bonfires, secession harangues, secession cockades, palmetto flags, purchase of fire-arms and powder, singing of the Marseillaise -- there is not room to enumerate the follies to which the general populace, especially of Charleston, devoted their days and nights. There was universal satisfaction: to the conspirators, because their schemes were progressing; to the rabble, because it had a continuous holiday."

Of all the states, only Texas submitted the articles of succesion to the people for a vote. Texas was a special case because it had only been in the Union about twenty years. Sam Houston was disappointed because he expected the Federal army to help police the Mexican border, but they did not. Houston's scheme was to secede but not join the Confederacy. He believed Texas could conquer northern Mexico, gain access to the Pacific, and be positioned to suceed as an independent nation. The legislature threw him out and went with the Confederacy.

The battle of Bull Run is especially well covered, and turns out quite unlike the simplified accounts. A good survey of the struggles in the border states is also given.

* * *

This book is part of a series of 12 short volumes on the land war published in 1882-3. It took congress twenty years to finally allocate funds to all the documents and communications sorted through. Americans could at last have an inside look at who actually said or did what, and when.

While that massive project was still underway, the publisher of this series persuaded highly qualified people - most of them participants -- to produce a quick readable history in light of the new information.

M.F. Force ("From Fort Henry to Corinth"), says, "The main source of information is the official reports of battles and operations. These reports, both National and Confederate, will appear in the series of volumes Military Reports now in preparation [by] the War Records office in the War Department."

Alexander Webb ("The Peninsula") adds "To be of any practical use, all history, and particularly military history, must be gradually sifted and reduced to small compass."

Jacob D. Cox ("The March to the Sea - Franklin & Nashville") sums up purpose and limitations: "The class of readers which has been most in mind [includes] includes the surviving officers and men who served in the war. [My] aim has been to supplement their personal knowledge by the facts ... of recent research. To give unity and symmetry to the ... campaigns here told, by examining each in the light of the plans and purposes of the leaders on both sides. The limits assigned... made it necessary to choose between the narration of incidents which would enliven the story, and that fullness to strictly military detail which seemed necessary to make the several campaigns clearly intelligible, and to enable the reader to judge, with some degree of satisfaction, the character of the operations. ...the effort to do so will give to each a broader understanding of what the great game of war really is."

This is what these short works accomplish in spades. With good maps at hand, the text is easily followed, often with amazement at the sorts of things that can and do routinely occur on campaign and in battle. We see armies so pestered by the random and unforeseen that one wonders how anything is accomplished.

But the above assumes good maps - and here the books fall short.

Cox: "The maps ... are reduced copies of the official surveys made by the engineers of the army. ... In reducing them it has not been possible to preserve all the details of the original... The reader is presumed to make reference to an ordinary hand-atlas... To have illustrated the text by larger and more elaborate maps would have thwarted the purpose of the publishers to put the series within the reach of all."

You do need more detailed maps that supplied in most popular military atlases. There are several solutions. If the maps in a particular volume are printed clearly, they can be enlarged on a Xerox machine. Alternately, simply google under Images for, say, "Wilderness, 1864" and you'll likely find an amazing variety of choices to print out.

Back in the 1880s, the full sized official government maps were available in a large folder. These were photo reduced to a still legible size, and presented in color, in an 1891 oversized book titled "The Official Military Atlas of the Civil War."

B&N reprinted this book in 2004, photo-reduced 10% (to 13 ½ x 16 ½"). You can get a used copy on Amazon for $20.00. The only odd thing is that all maps are placed completely randomly, apparently whatever will fit where. You have to consult the appropriate index, which will list all plates (facing pages) containing a relevant map.

* * *

To give a sense of the value of these books, (1) I've posted some of my personal maps from these books. When a caption isn't attributed, it's mine, warts and all.

(2) You find remarkable eyewitness observations such as this in Palfrey's "The Antietem and Fredericksburg." The Union having been defeated at 2nd Manassas must move to block Lee's attempt to cross into Maryland or Pennsylvania. The fastest way for these haggard troops to do so is to march back through Washington and then west.

"Washington and its environs presented singular sights in the early days of September, 1862. The luxury and refinements of peace contrasted sharply with the privations and squalor of war. There are few prettier suburban drives than those in the neighborhood of Washington, and no weather is more delightful than that of late evning there, when a cooler air comes with shortening days. As the shadows lengthened in the golden afternoon, well-appointed carriages rolled along those charming drives, and by their side the ragged, dusty, sunburnt regiments from Pennsylvania trudged along. Rest, cleanliness, ice, food, drink, every indulgence of civilized life were within reach, but our hands could not be stretched to grasp them. ... The carriages returned to their stables, the fair ladies returned to the enjoyment of every pleasure that Washington could confer, but the Army of the Potomac moved steadily northward to bivouac under the stars or the clouds, and to march again in its tatters through the dust and the sunshine, through the rain and the mud."

(3) The actual communications among commanders is fascinating.

(4) Basically working through these books with maps is a quick read, but also has the fascination of working through a book of logic problems. The essential information available to commanders is in your hands also. What to do is not always clear, but I came to admire the ability of most generals to "let a situation develop," then "read" it, and take actions.

The complete set:

(1) The Outbreak of Rebellion - John G. Nicolay
(2) From Fort Henry to Corinth - M.F. Force
(3) The Peninsula - Francis Winthrope Palfrey
(4) The Army under Pope - John Goodman Ropes
(5) The Antietam & Fredericksburg
(6) Chancellorsville & Gettysburg - Abner Doubleday
(7) The Army of the Cumberland - Henry M. Cist
(8) The Mississippi - Francis Vinton Greene
(9) Atlanta - Jacob D. Cox
(10) March to the Sea & Franklin/Nashville - Jacob D. Cox
(11) The Shenandoah Valley in 1864 - George E. Pond
(12) Virginia Campaign of '64 & '65 - Andrew A Humphreys
There is also a volume of statistical records (V. 13), and three on the naval war:

The Blockade and the Cruisers - James Russell Soley
The Atlantic Coast - Daniel Ammen
The Gulf and Inland Waters - A.T. Mahan (yes, the Mahan)

I suggest reading the land volumes as follows:

I. The Outbreak of Rebellion.

From here you can follow either East or West Theatre first:

IIA - Eastern Theatre

(3) The Peninsula - after the failure of Bull Run, and attempt is made to capture Richmond by a naval landing.

(4) The Army under Pope; while Union troops are evacuating from the failed peninsula effort, Lee turns on Pope and inflicts another defeat at 2nd Bull Run. Lee then attempts to cross the Potomac and invade the north.

(5) The Antietam & Fredericksburg; McClellen having returned from the peninsula stops Lee's invasion at Antietam but fails to destroy his army. Burnside takes over and pursues Lee to Fredericksburg, where the Union army self-destructs in an assault on its fortified heights.

(6) Chancellorsville & Gettysburg - Hooker replaces Burnside and tries to take the Union army around Fredericksburg, but is bluffed from the dense forests around Chancellorsville. Lee again breaks free and this time invades Pennsylvania but is stopped at Gettysburg.

(11) The Shenandoah Valley in 1864; this valley is a thorn in the Union's flank, and is ultimately razed so Union forces can operate more freely in the east.

(12) Virginia Campaign of '64 & '65; Lincoln is desperate to end the war. Grant promises to do so at a price. It will be bloody, but he wants all losses immediately replaced to his army remains at full strength during the long bloody grind to Richmond.

IIB- Western Theatre

(2) From Fort Henry to Corinth; The Confederacy hoped to fortify the upper Mississippi in Missouri and Kentucky as a jumping off point to invade the north. Grant wrests the initiative, and with the fall of Forts Henry and Donelson. After Grant's decisive victory at Shiloh, the Union never loses the initiative in the west.

(8) The Mississippi; the struggle for Vicksburg, which puts the entire Mississippi in Union hands.

(7) The Army of the Cumberland; the struggle for Chattanooga; Union defeat at Chickamauga, besieged at Chattanooga, final breakout of the siege.

(9) Atlanta; Union drive down the critical rail line through hard country from Chattanooga to Atlanta.

(10) March to the Sea & Franklin/Nashville; after Atlanta, Sherman's famed march to the sea, after which he very nearly links up with Grant driving down on Petersburg.


This series is public domain. Many publishers offer cheap digital scans with illegible maps and text that is difficult to read -- apparently this reviews stepped on one such land mine.

The best editions by far are those from DSI digital scans, with flawless text and clear maps. Most of the have the "Look Inside" feature so you can see for yourself.

For some unfortunate reason, DSI's editions usually don't appear when you search these titles. Try searching a title with DSI after the name, but even that doesn't always work.

The Da Capo edition is also good. It's editions are a little smaller in size but of high quality and with excellent contemporary introductions.

Final comment - I'm no expert or professional Civil War buff, so don't treat anything I've written as such. This is merely a reader who has derived great personal pleasure from this series. I've tried to convey a sense of what was so enjoyable to me.
  • TheFresh
Includes little known facts about the politics behind the battles. Well written, but poorly scanned work. It was excellent, except for the numerous biased adjectives added unnecessarily.
  • I_LOVE_228
This book gives an excellent description of the events and political views that were experienced at the time of the civil war. I highly recommend this as a reference to see the start of the war as sit was experienced at the time.
  • Fearlesssinger
good historical factual story..........I liked it
  • Anaragelv
Found the book very interesting explaining the time in US history. I would recommend this book for all history buffs.