Blog Posts

Failure of U.S. Government and Northern Support for the Army

In their recent book The Presidents Club:  Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity, Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy wrote that “Throughout its history, the club has never had more than six” living United States Presidents. During President Abraham Lincoln’s first term as the 16th President (1861 – 1864), the Presidents Club consisted of six members, including President Lincoln and five former Presidents: Martin Van Buren (8th, 1833 – 1837), John Tyler (10th, 1841 – 1845), Millard Fillmore (13th, 1850 –1853), Franklin Pierce (14th, 1853 – 1857), and James Buchanan (15th,1857 – 1861). Their terms spanned 30 years of economic turmoil, territorial expansion, turbulent politics, and factious Supreme Court decisions. What were the positions of the members of the Presidents Club during their terms of office on the pressing issues of slavery and states’ rights leading up to the Civil War and the presidency of Abraham Lincoln?

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Following the Battle of Fredericksburg, Orrin L. Gatchell, a private in the 72nd New York Volunteer Infantry of the Excelsior Brigade, in the Union Army during the Civil War, wrote to his brother-in-law in Anson, Maine about the devastating effects of the loss at Fredericksburg on the morale of the Union soldiers and his own loss of confidence in the military leadership as well as the administration in Washington, DC that was appointing the succession of Union generals.  

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