William T. Sherman was preparing a Federal invasion of the Carolinas as the Confederates tried organizing some type of defense. John Bell Hood’s Confederate Army of Tennessee was no longer able to stop Sherman’s advance. The northern economy was gaining strength, while the South was in shambles. Southern dissension was increasing, and the once unthinkable prospect of defeat was growing increasingly inevitable.
Besides the fall of Fort Fisher, the fighting fronts had been relatively quiet this year. The Federals were building up for more offensives, and the Confederacy had continued shrinking. The Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery had passed Congress and was forwarded to state legislatures for approval. Thus, the issue of abolition had shifted from the military to the home front.
The Confederacy was on the brink of collapse. Robert E. Lee was still holding firm around Petersburg and Richmond, but nothing could stop William T. Sherman’s Federal advance through the Carolinas. Northerners began looking toward other issues such as westward expansion, immigration, and business. Northern politicians were increasing their focus on reconstruction.
There were about one million Federal troops in the field opposing no more than 100,000 Confederate effectives. Most of the economically important regions and cities of the South were now under Federal occupation. Southern economic and industrial resources were virtually annihilated.
The war was virtually over. The South was in ruins, and northern victory celebrations were tempered by the death of Abraham Lincoln. Southerners sought to restore some order to a way of life that had been destroyed, and northern politicians were turning full attention to reconstructing the Union.
Last Updated: 3/19/2020