This yearlong exhibition of Gilder Lehrman Collection documents chronicles the most destructive year of the Civil War. In early 1864, Union strategy changed from the pursuit of specific targets to total warfare and the complete destruction of the Confederate army, economy, and morale. In March 1864, Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant was appointed commander of all Union armies and came east to personally lead the Union forces in Virginia. His objective was to crush Robert E. Lee’s army, and between May 5 and June 24, Union and Confederate troops clashed almost daily in relentless, brutal fighting. Farther south, in Georgia, Union General William Tecumseh Sherman sought to destroy supplies and civilian morale. While Grant and Sherman were pressing on the Confederates, Abraham Lincoln was reelected president in November in the first wartime election in US history—sending a clear signal that the Union would fight to the end.
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