Prior to 1864, both Union and Confederate commanders had waged a rather limited war, with the armies usually fighting only each other, without inflicting damages on innocent civilians or private property. Lincoln, Grant, and Sherman realized, however, that they would have to use a new strategy to end the war, because it was the support of these very same civilians that was keeping the war going in the South. Only when Southern civilians demanded an end to the war would the Confederacy lose its will to fight. As a result, Lincoln, Grant, and Sherman decided to open up a total war in which no one was innocent and private property was fair game.

President Abraham Lincoln and General Ulysses S. Grant chose to step up the war in 1864 after realizing that limited campaigns against Confederate forces were having little effect. Both knew that the war had to end quickly if the Union were to be restored. Grant therefore ordered his close friend and fellow general William Tecumseh Sherman to take a small force through the heart of the Deep South. That summer, Sherman embarked on his now-famous March to the Sea, defeated Confederate troops protecting Atlanta, Georgia, and then besieged the city. When the citizens of Atlanta failed to surrender, Sherman burned the city and then marched on to Savannah. Along the way, he destroyed railroads, burned homes, razed crops, and generally looted and pillaged the entire countryside—one witness said a tornado could not have done more damage. Sherman arrived in Savannah that December and accepted the city’s surrender, then marched northward to South Carolina.

Pressure on Lincoln

As the fighting dragged on into late 1864, more and more pressure fell on Lincoln to end the war. He came under fire from a growing number of Peace Democrats who wanted to strike a deal with the South. Commonly referred to as “Copperheads,” after the poisonous snake, these Peace Democrats were particularly numerous in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, where there were many Confederate sympathizers. They believed that Lincoln and his generals had shown that they were incapable of restoring the Union, and many were also angry that Lincoln had made the war about slavery and emancipation. From the other side, Radical Republicans also attacked Lincoln, claiming that he was not harsh enough on the South.

The Election of 1864

Bitterness and uncertainty clouded the election of 1864 . Despite opposition from the radicals, the Republican Party lukewarmly nominated Lincoln for a second term. In a surprise move, Lincoln chose as his running mate Democrat Andrew Johnson from the reconquered state of Tennessee, hoping that Johnson would win him votes from prowar Democrats in the North. Together they campaigned on a platform for the South’s unconditional surrender. Peace Democrats nominated Lincoln’s old foe General George McClellan, who wanted peace negotiations and settlement. In the end, Lincoln managed to win 55 percent of the popular vote.

Importance of the Election

The election of 1864 was crucial because its outcome would determine the entire direction of the war: if Lincoln won, the war would be fought until the South had surrendered unconditionally, but if McClellan won, there would almost surely be a settlement. The election, therefore, was also the Confederacy’s last hope for survival. Although Lincoln believed he would lose—even though the Union was finally winning, he thought that most Northerners were against continuation of the war—his reelection ultimately provided a clear mandate to demand unconditional surrender.

The South’s Collapse

The South, meanwhile, was spiraling into turmoil. The Union naval blockade, Sherman’s campaign in Georgia, lack of assistance from Britain, worsening class conflicts, and the collapse of the Southern economy were taking their toll. Thousands were deserting the army, thousands more were going hungry at home, and some slaves were fleeing to Union lines. President Jefferson Davis tried desperately to hold the Confederate government together, but none of the states would cooperate.

The Hampton Roads Conference

Realizing the end was near, Davis requested peace negotiations in a final attempt to save the South. Lincoln agreed, and delegations from both sides met at the Hampton Roads Conference in February 1865. No peace agreement was reached, however, because Lincoln was insistent on the South’s unconditional surrender, while Davis demanded full independence.

www.sparknotes.com/history/american/civilwar/section8.rhtml

January 1864

WEEK S  M Tu  W Th  F  S
                    1  2
145  3  4  5  6  7  8  9
146 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
147 17 18 19 20 21 22 23
148 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
149 31

These events are all detailed in All The Battles of the Civil War.
Week 144
Week 145
Week 146
Week 147
Week 148
Week 149

February 1864

WEEK S  M Tu  W Th  F  S
        1  2  3  4  5  6
150  7  8  9 10 11 12 13
151 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
152 21 22 23 24 25 26 27
153 28 29  
These events are all detailed in All The Battles of the Civil War.
Week 150
Week 151
Week 152
Week 153

March 1864

   
WEEK S  M Tu  W Th  F  S
           1  2  3  4  5
154  6  7  8  9 10 11 12
155 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
156 20 21 22 23 24 25 26
157 27 28 29 30 31
These events are all detailed in All The Battles of the Civil War.
Week 154
Week 155
Week 156
Week 157

April 1864

WEEK S  M Tu  W Th  F  S
                    1  2
158  3  4  5  6  7  8  9
159 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
160 17 18 19 20 21 22 23
161 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

These events are all detailed in All The Battles of the Civil War.
Week 158
Week 159
Week 160
Week 161

May 1864

WEEK S  M Tu  W Th  F  S
162  1  2  3  4  5  6  7
163  8  9 10 11 12 13 14
164 15 16 17 18 19 20 21
165 22 23 24 25 26 27 28
166 29 30 31

These events are all detailed in All The Battles of the Civil War.
Week 162
Week 163
Week 164
Week 165
Week 166

June 1864

WEEK S  M Tu  W Th  F  S
              1  2  3  4
167  5  6  7  8  9 10 11
168 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
169 19 20 21 22 23 24 25
170 26 27 28 29 30

These events are all detailed in All The Battles of the Civil War.
Week 167
Week 168
Week 169
Week 170

July 1864

WEEK S  M Tu  W Th  F  S
                    1  2
171  3  4  5  6  7  8  9
172 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
173 17 18 19 20 21 22 23
174 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
175 31

These events are all detailed in All The Battles of the Civil War.
Week 171
Week 172
Week 173
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Week 175

August 1864

WEEK S  M Tu  W Th  F  S
        1  2  3  4  5  6
176  7  8  9 10 11 12 13
177 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
178 21 22 23 24 25 26 27
179 28 29 30 31 
These events are all detailed in All The Battles of the Civil War.
Week 176
Week 177
Week 178
Week 179

September 1864

WEEK S  M Tu  W Th  F  S
                 1  2  3
180  4  5  6  7  8  9 10
181 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
182 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
183 25 26 27 28 29 30 

These events are all detailed in All The Battles of the Civil War.
Week 180
Week 181
Week 182
Week 183

October 1864

WEEK S  M Tu  W Th  F  S
                       1
184  2  3  4  5  6  7  8
185  9 10 11 12 13 14 15
186 16 17 18 19 20 21 22
187 23 24 25 26 27 28 29
188 30 31 

These events are all detailed in All The Battles of the Civil War.
Week 184
Week 185
Week 186
Week 187
Week 188

November 1864

   
WEEK S  M Tu  W Th  F  S
           1  2  3  4  5
189  6  7  8  9 10 11 12
190 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
191 20 21 22 23 24 25 26
192 27 28 29 30 
These events are all detailed in All The Battles of the Civil War.
Week 189
Week 190
Week 191
Week 192

December 1864

WEEK S  M Tu  W Th  F  S
                 1  2  3
193  4  5  6  7  8  9 10
194 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
195 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
196 25 26 27 28 29 30 31

These events are all detailed in All The Battles of the Civil War.
Week 193
Week 194
Week 195
Week 196
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