Across Five Aprils Chapter 11
In June, there is a letter from John. He writes about the battle at Chickamauga. At Chickamauga, the Union Army of the Cumberland had met Bragg and Longstreet. The outnumbered Union army had been defeated. George Thomas, called "The Rock of Chickamauga," had persisted in holding out with his men until the Confederate general, Bragg, gave up to leave Thomas who returned to Chattanooga free. But Rosecrans, McCook, and Crittenden are all criticized for losing control of their men. After Vicksburg and Gettysburg, the battle at Chickamauga is a setback for the North and hard for people to accept.
John writes a more vivid account of the battle. After the battle, the army nearly starved, and the snipers made it difficult to get any provisions. The soldiers ate all kinds of things to keep themselves alive. Reinforcements came to help them out, but the soldiers from the Army of the Potomac looked down on them. John and his fellow soldiers in the Army of the Cumberland was assigned to the comparatively easier task of attacking the center of the Confederate line which they didn't like, but when the command came for the Cumberland men to take the trenches near Missionary Ridge, they started up the slope of the Ridge until the Confederates gave out. John writes that it was after this that the Confederate line gave out, and despite what the papers say, it is the Army of the Cumberland that did it.
Jethro rewrites John's letter and sends it to Shad and Jenny in Washington. He also shows John's sons how their father and his fellow soldiers climbed the Missionary Ridge to take the center of the Confederate line. In November, the President makes a speech at Gettysburg. People disagree about it. Some admire the President for it while others scorn him, but Jethro loves Mr. Lincoln. He feels angry to hear others criticize him so harshly.
That winter, there is much talk of the end of war, but the South stubbornly holds out which people in the North resent. In December, President Lincoln declares a proclamation of amnesty, promising to pardon any Confederates who will support the Union. Under the proclamation, any Confederate state will be allowed to return to the Union if ten percent of its voters rebuilds a Union government within that state. Both the South and the North criticize this. In the South, Lincoln is criticized for being oppressive, and in the North, many criticize his amnesty as an act of treason, believing that it is necessary to execute all of the rebels.
After that winter comes the forth year of the war. Early in the forth year, General Grant becomes the commander of all armies in the United States. Shad gradually recovers from his wounds in Washington, and he writes to Jethro about seeing the President and General Grant together in the streets of Washington. He writes that the President's face is gaunt like the faces of those soldiers in the war. Grant is not showy or adorned; rather, he is awkward, but he writes that there have been more than enough charming, well-dressed commanders. Although Grant does not look like a military man, Shad writes that he will be the one to restore the Union.
In 1864, people are busy discussing the presidential election. Even within the Republican Party as well as the Democratic Party, there is opposition against Mr. Lincoln. The floor leader of the House of Representatives, Thad Stevens, with his "no mercy to the South" program, is a vehement opponent. The Democratic party has the advantage in that throughout the nation, people want to end the war. Casualties are now counted by the hundred thousands, and people are generally tired of the war. There is another Union defeat at the Battle of the Wilderness where Lee still holds out. Grant meets Lee several times in battle, but he is not any more successful than his predecessors have been. One thing that is different about Grant, however, is that he is very persistent.
Grant succeeds in eluding Lee's men and moving to the town of Petersburg. People are hopeful that with the siege of Petersburg through which runs the railroads that carry the Confederates their provisions, the war will be over, but Grant is not quite successful at seizing the town. Although Lincoln has already been nominated for reelection, many feel that he will not win this time. Ross Milton disagrees, however, saying: "Lincoln will win. When it comes to the final vote, the country will not admit that its sons have died for nothing." Chapter 11, pg. 168
In August of 1864, General McClellan is nominated by the Democratic party for presidency. Shad writes to Jethro that he did not support McClellan at Antietam, but he admires the man for declaring that the North will not accept anything other than the reestablishment of the Union.
Soon, the North receives some good news. In August, a Confederate warship and several forts around Mobile are captured. In September, General Sherman captures the city of Atlanta, Georgia, and there is news of victory from the Shenandoah Valley where a Union general defeats the Confederate General Early. Although weary of war, the North, hopeful for a victory, reelects Lincoln in November. Most of the votes for Lincoln are from soldiers which is comforting to the President. Most of the Northern states also support Mr. Lincoln, but it is disappointing to Jethro that the President's home state and town do not support him.
After the election, the Army of Tennessee is missing. In Tennessee, the Army of the Cumberland is ready to fight, and General Hood's Confederate army and the Union soldiers fight at Franklin where Hood is defeated. In December, there is another clash at Nashville, and John writes to tell the family that Hood's army has been driven out of Tennessee down to Alabama and that General Thomas is the greatest general in the war. He also writes that he had encountered Bill among a crowd of rebel prisoners a few days ago. After telling the captain that it was his brother, John was allowed to talk with Bill. Bill had asked about the family, and John had told him about Tom's death and Eb's desertion as well as Jenny and Shad's marriage. Before parting, Bill had asked John to tell their mother that he had not been at Pittsburg Landing where Tom had died. He had not fired the shot that had killed Tom.