Not Just a Team of Rivals
Victory lesson for Obama.


Mackubin Thomas Owens

As necessary as it may have been strategically, the human cost of the Virginia Campaign of May-June 1864 was staggering. Meade suffered 55,000 casualties in addition to the loss of thousands of veteran troops whose three-year enlistments came to an end. The casualty lists that affected every town and city in the North created widespread disaffection with the war, which substantially increased the influence of the Copperheads on the Democratic party. Democratic newspapers cited the failure of Union arms in Virginia and Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman’s lack of success in Georgia as a reason for ending the war as soon as possible. “If nothing else would impress upon the people the absolute necessity of stopping this war, its utter failure to accomplish any results would be sufficient.”

Buoyed by disaffection with the war, the Copperheads wrote the platform of the Democratic Party platform of 1864, and one of their own, Rep. George H. Pendleton of Ohio, was the party’s candidate for vice president. Although McClellan was not himself a Copperhead, he reportedly said, “If I am elected, I will recommend an immediate armistice and a call for a convention of all the states and insist upon exhausting all and every means to secure peace without further bloodshed.”


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