War of the Rebellion: Serial 126 Page 0495 UNION AUTHORITIES.

Search Civil War Official Records

the whole territory of the United States. All the armies heretofore arrayed against the National Government have laid down their arms and surrendered as prisoners of war. Every hostile banner has been hauled down; the so-called Confederate Government is overthrown; its President is a prisoner in close custody, awaiting trial; while its Vice-President and three of its chief executive officers have been recently enlarged from prison by your elemency. All the ordinances, laws, and organizations created or existing under or by virtue of the so-called Confederate Government have been swept away, and by your sanction the people of the insurgent States have organized, or are busily engaged in organizing, State governments in subordination to the Federal authority. In harmony with this new condition of affairs the military force of the Federal Government has been reduced, large armies disbanded, and nearly a million of brave men, lately soldiers in arms, paid and honorably mustered out of service, have gone from camps, garrisons, and posts to their homes, and most of them are engaged already in the peaceful pursuits of civil life.

Among the causes which under Divine Providence have brought about these wonderful results, successful military operations stand first in order. A clear comprehension of these operations requires a brief glance at the military position just before the spring campaigns of 1864.

Notwithstanding the successful campaigns on the Mississippi in 1863, by the reduction of Vicksburg and Port Hudson, severed in twain the rebel territory and restored to us the navigation and commerce of the Mississippi, while the victory at Gettysburg drove back the rebel invaders from the Northern States, yet the military strength of the rebels continued formidable. The Army of Virginia, under General Lee recovered from its disaster at Gettysburg, occupied its former lines in Virginia, protecting the rebel capital, and holding inactive and in check the Army of the Potomac. Another large army, under General Bragg, re-enforced by Longstreet's corps, threatened the reconquest of Tennessee. After the disastrous battle of Chickamauga our Army of the Cumberland, shut up and surrounded at Chattanooga, unable to move by reason of the inclemency of the weather and impassable roads, was in extreme jeopardy.

At this discouraging juncture a change of military organization was made. The Department of the Ohio, the Tennessee, and the Cumberland were united in one military division, called the Division of the Mississippi, under Major-General Grant. Command of the Army of the Cumberland was given to Major General George H. Thomas, relieving General Rosecrans. A winter campaign was immediately directed against Bragg's army. The battles of Wauhatchie, Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge, and Chattanooga opened our communications and routed Bragg's army with heavy loss. The movement of Longstreet's corps against Knoxville to recover East Tennessee also proved a disastrous failure to the rebels, who were driven off and forced back to the mountains.

In the month of February, 1864, General Sherman's movement with a large force from Vicksburg into the interior of the State of Alabama [Mississippi] as far as Meridian, inflicted heavy loss upon the enemy by the destruction of railroads and supplies, the capture of prisoners, and the escape of negroes and refugees. This operation demonstrated the capacity of an invading army to penetrate the rebel States and support itself on the country, and was the forerunner of the great movements in Georgia.