What is the Abraham Lincoln Civil War

Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War - The Right Man in the Right Place

February 8, 2009 is a sunny day in Annapolis, the small town east of Washington. A good 200 people crowd into the conference room in a hotel in the city. They want to hear and relive what happened here during the American Civil War. Back then, on February 2, 1865, it was wet, cold and uncomfortable when Abraham Lincoln had to walk through the city because the single-track railway could not be cleared in time. President Lincoln had only decided that morning to attend a peace conference at Fort Monroe, Virginia, explains military historian Prof. Craig Symonds. Because Southern President Jefferson Davis's envoys were instructed to insist on independence and make no concessions on the slave issue, Lincoln knew his mission would be in vain. “He didn't really want to see them. On the other hand, he knew that he could not stand in front of the public and say: I refused to negotiate to end the war, even though your children are dying. "

The right man at the right time

When Lincoln was elected president in 1860, there was no telling that war would dominate his presidency. However, Lincoln would have had no way to prevent it, says Craig Symonds. “I believe the slavery issue in America was such an inseparable Gordian knot that sooner or later only a crisis could untie it. I believe this war was necessary. "

Historians agree that Abraham Lincoln was the right man in the right place at the right time. Symonds believes that none of the presidents before or after Lincoln would have handled the situation better. Lincoln had already taught himself to read and write, was admitted to the bar, elected a politician to Congress and eventually became president. Now he went to the Library of Congress and studied books on warfare. Because at first he could not rely on his generals. Both Winfield Scott and George McClellan did not achieve the desired results. The president had to intervene in the warfare far more than he had thought. It wasn't until Lincoln finally put General Ulysses S. Grant in command that the tide turned.

The unity of the nation is preserved

So without Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War would certainly have been different. After all, the South initially not only had the better generals but also the advantage of fighting on its own territory, says historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, who has studied Lincoln and his politics. “It was important that he realized right from the start that he had to plan the timing of his various measures precisely if he wanted to maintain the morale of the war in the north.

In the first battle of Bull Run, which the South won, Lincoln sent his troops too quickly, and he realized that. So he delayed the next battle so that he had enough time to train his troops. ”The Declaration of Emancipation, according to Kearns Goodwin, was published by Lincoln later, when many opponents of slavery would like it. But he did not want to risk losing the states that were on the north side, but even allowed slavery.

Lincoln's plan worked: the South could not hold out the civil war in the long term. On April 9, 1865, General Robert E Lee, Commander in Chief of the Southern Forces, surrendered in Appomattox. The war was over, even if the last troops did not surrender until several weeks later. The first modern mass war cost 620,000 lives. But Abraham Lincoln had managed to preserve the unity of the nation.

According to Doris Kearns Goodwin, if the US had actually split at that time and the South and North had each founded their own state, “then this mighty structure of the United States would never have come about, in the North, South, West and East are united. Then maybe we would have four or five states in North America and the US could never have become the world power that it eventually became. "

The people who walk in his footsteps through Annapolis on this sunny Sunday, 200 years after Abraham Lincoln's birthday, also agree. The President is timeless, summarizes one of the visitors. He was way ahead of his own time and everyone benefits from it today.