Class Year


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Blog Post

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Department 1

Civil War Institute


In the minds of most Civil War lovers, the year 1864 marks the noticeable shift from a conciliatory war to a hard war. Most view it through the lens of Ulysses S. Grant’s Overland Campaign, through William Tecumseh Sherman’s March to the Sea, through the successes of the Union Army. After all, the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863 is seen as the ‘high tide of the Confederacy,’ marking the falling action point in the war when total Union victory became inevitable. But in actuality, 1864 was just as—if not more—critical to the outcome of the war than the prior three years. The changing character of the war in that year muddled who was actually succeeding, making clear winners and losers unknown. Additionally, Abraham Lincoln’s reelection hung in the balance; a presidential change-up would alter the nature of war, especially if George B. McClellan were victorious. [excerpt]


This blog post originally appeared in The Gettysburg Compiler and was created by students at Gettysburg College.