A Need for Peace
It was early 1865. Fighting between the Union and Confederate armies had been raging for almost four years. Both sides were frustrated, exhausted, and feeling greatly the ravages of war, yet neither side was ready to give in. Though the Civil War (or The War of the Rebellion, as it was known to the Confederates) had left the United States at a low point in many ways, both the Union and the Confederacy were convinced that their respective causes were worth fighting for until the end. The Confederacy, especially, was beginning to feel the effects of the war; this was true in more ways than on the battlefield. It was becoming evident that their deficiency of many resources as compared to the Union was going to become a major factor, as it became increasingly difficult to obtain food, clothing, supplies, and even new soldiers to fill the ranks of the fallen (Jones 168). This was the case particularly after Union General Sherman's March to the Sea of late 1864, in which he and his army went on a rampage to destroy Southern resources in Georgia, one of the last untouched areas of the war and a final supply of much-needed resources for the Confederacy (Tallant 2000).
Amid all the despair and desolation, however, hopes of peace began to emerge. Both sides, obviously, had suffered great losses and would have welcomed an end to the misery. Leaders on either side even talked among themselves, with the men with whom they had once been allies, about the possibility for peace. The hope for peace on the Confederate side increased to perhaps an all-time high when President Abraham Lincoln, realizing the Confederacy’s rapidly depleting strength, threatened to offer Southern land to Europeans. This could have potentially resulted in vast numbers of European settlers “invading” the Southern coasts, an invasion from which the Southerners could not have defended themselves and, as an outcome, would have lost their land and their homes (Jones 168-169). A need and desire for peace may have been present, then, on either side. How far they were willing to go for peace, however, would prove to be a decisive factor.
President Abraham Lincoln*
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