to THE MAKING OF A NATION -- American history in VOA Special English.
years of a bitter, bloody civil war started to show their effects on both the Confederate
states of the South and the Union states of the North. Both sides began to feel
the pressure of the costly struggle. The South, however, felt the pressure more
severely, because it was weaker in troop strength and industrial strength.
This week in our series, Maurice Joyce and Jack Moyles discuss
the early summer of eighteen sixty-three in the American Civil War.
In eighteen-sixty-three, the Confederate states were
becoming short of supplies. Food and guns were difficult to find to keep the
Confederate armies in the field.
Men were also needed. More and more men. There seemed
to be no end to the demand for men to fill the places left empty by dead and
Many in the South were heavy of heart. And the hope among
them slowly started to sink. The war was tiring. Its suffering was more than
they could bear. And the situation in the West made matters worse.
Union Armies were on the move in the states of
Mississippi and Tennessee. Their successes were becoming a serious threat. They
might soon win control of the whole Mississippi river. This would split the
states of the Confederacy and might end its
Something was needed to raise up the spirits of the South
to break the pressure of Union armies.
General Robert E. Lee believed he had the answer: an
invasion of the north. This, he felt, would throw fear into the people of the
north and weaken the Union war effort.
Lee had organized an army of seventy-five-thousand men
at Fredericksburg, Virginia, halfway between Washington and Richmond.
Lee began moving his men June third. They marched
northwest into the Shenandoah Valley. The valley led north to the Potomac
River. Across the river was the narrow neck of western Maryland, then
Pennsylvania was the target. Its rich farmland produced
plenty of food -- enough to feed Lee's hungry army for the summer.
Standing in the way of Lee's army was a small Union
force at Winchester, in northern Virginia. There were only seven-thousand Union
soldiers. And they had no idea that the Confederate army was nearby.
The Confederates easily defeated them. More than half
of the Union troops were captured. The others fled.
Now there was nothing to stop Lee from marching into
The huge Army of the Potomac was behind him, near
Washington. The Union commander, General Hooker, had to keep his army between
Lee and Washington to prevent the Confederates from seizing the national
Lee's army crossed western Maryland and entered
Pennsylvania. His soldiers found the Pennsylvania countryside very different
from Virginia's. Virginia had been a battleground for two years, and the land
showed it. Many of its farms had been destroyed. Its stores were empty.
Pennsylvania had not been touched by the war. Its big
farms were rich. Its towns and villages were full of food and goods of all
The hungry, poorly-clothed soldiers could not believe
their eyes. This was the land of the enemy, they cried, and they could take
whatever they wished.
But General Lee said "No." He said supplies
could be taken only by Confederate supply officers. And he said they must pay
-- in Confederate money -- for everything they took.
Lee did not want to anger these people in Pennsylvania.
Many of them did not support the Union war effort. Some of the rich
farmers said openly that they did not care who won the war. They said they only
wanted to be left alone.
Lee was sure that many in the north felt the same way.
There had been signs that people were growing tired of the war.
Coal miners in eastern Pennsylvania had shown their
feelings toward the war a few months earlier.
They rose up against a new law drafting men into the
Union army. The miners did not want to fight. They refused to join the army.
They rioted and attacked officials who tried to take them. Soldiers were sent
to the mining areas to put down the riots.
Farmers in nearby Ohio also rebelled against the draft
law. They refused to be drafted. Instead, they took guns and battled soldiers
who came to arrest them.
Feelings against the war were growing stronger, not
only in Pennsylvania and Ohio, but also in several other farm states of the
north. These areas saw a growing support for a peace party -- a political party
opposed to the war.
Leaders of this movement were Democrats called
"Copperheads." They got this name because they wore on their coats a
copper penny with the head of an Indian.
The chief Copperhead was a former Ohio congressman. His
name was Clement Vallandigham.
As a member of Congress, Vallandigham criticized the
war and the Republicans. He told them:
"The war for the Union is, in your hands, a most
bloody and costly failure. War for the Union was abandoned. And war for the
Negro was openly begun with stronger effort than before. With what
success." Vallandigham asked. "Let the dead at Fredericksburg and
Vallandigham said he wanted peace, and he wanted it
immediately. He offered a simple program: stop the fighting. Make a ceasefire.
And let some friendly foreign nation negotiate peace between North and South.
After he lost his seat in Congress, Vallandigham opened
a campaign to become governor of Ohio. He traveled all across the state
speaking out against the war. He said Republicans did not want peace. He said
they wanted to fight until every black man was free.
The Union military commander for Ohio was General
Ambrose Burnside, a former commander of the Army of the Potomac. After losing
the battle of Fredericksburg, Lincoln removed Burnside as army commander and
sent him to Ohio.
Burnside was worried. Too many people in Ohio opposed
the war. He believed that much of what was being said and done in Ohio
was close to the crime of treason.
Burnside announced several new measures to quiet the
opponents of the war.
One of these orders limited the right of citizens to
criticize government military policy. Another declared that statements of
support for the enemy would be punished as treason.
Vallandigham refused to recognize Burnside's right to
give such orders to civilians. On May first, he made a campaign speech to a big
crowd at Mount Vernon, Ohio. He denounced Burnside's orders and spoke of the
President as "King Lincoln."
Vallandigham claimed that Lincoln was using the war to
become a dictator. He said Lincoln did not want peace, that the president had
rejected peace offers from the South. Once again, he said the war was not a
struggle for the Union, but a fight to free the slaves of the south. And he
said men of Ohio who let themselves be drafted into the Union army were no
better than slaves themselves.
Burnside had sent several army officers to listen to
the speech. When they reported what Vallandigham said, Burnside ordered his
arrest. Without question, the man had violated the General's orders.
Late the next night, soldiers went to Vallandigham's
home in Dayton. They knocked on the door and said they had come to arrest him.
Vallandigham called for help and refused to let the
soldiers enter. They broke down the door, seized him and took him to a military
prison in Cincinnati.
A few days later, Vallandigham went on trial before a
military court in Cincinnati. That will be our story in the next program of THE
MAKING OF A NATION.
Our program was
written by Frank Beardsley. The narrators were Maurice Joyce and Jack Moyles. Transcripts,
MP3s and podcasts of our programs are online, along with historical images, at
voaspecialenglish.com. Join us again next week for THE MAKING OF A NATION -- an
American history series in VOA Special English.
is program #107 of THE
MAKING OF A NATION