Sherman's Efforts to Spare Georgia

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#1
I want to hear from Sherman experts on the general's last-ditch effort to broker a separate peace for Georgia. Do you believe it was sincere? Does it say anything about Sherman's understanding (or lack thereof) of the Confederate political leadership? Here are the first two paragraphs of my article in the Fall, 2010 issue of The Georgia Historical Quarterly. The entire article can be downloaded free at:
http://www.davidtdixon.com/free-articles/

AUGUSTUS R. WRIGHT AND THE LOYALTY OF THE HEART

A telegram from General William T. Sherman arrived at the White House on October 24, 1864. With most of Atlanta’s commercial buildings in ashes, General Sherman stood poised to sweep, virtually unmolested, across the state and to deal a deadly blow to the fading hopes of the Confederacy. Before moving directly toward Savannah, however, Sherman hesitated. He had concocted a scheme that would remove Georgia from the Confederacy, spare the state further ruin, and lead to a reconstruction of the Union. His earlier efforts having failed, Sherman’s final attempt at brokering a separate peace for Georgia was left in the hands of “a man of high character and of true faith in the future.” That man was Augustus R. Wright.

Wright arrived in Washington City in early November. He met with Lincoln and Secretary Seward regularly for several days. Lincoln assured Wright that if the rebellious states renounced the Confederacy, the President would promise universal amnesty and restoration of their rights in the Union. The President also suggested that Wright might become military governor of Georgia when peace was restored. Lincoln insisted that he convey this message to Jefferson Davis, despite recent failed efforts of Wright and others to interest Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown in the proposal. Davis did not trust anyone involved in either plan. Lincoln’s peace proposal was never considered. Wright left Washington on November 14. Two days later, Sherman began his march to the sea.
 

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Carronade

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#2
I imagine Sherman was sincere, and as you note, Lincoln was willing to welcome the seceded states back if they gave up secession, although there was still that nagging question of slavery/emancipation........ However I would also say it shows a questionable understanding of the Confederates if he expected Governor Brown to accept it, let alone President Davis to allow one state to make its own settlement with the Union.
 
#3
I imagine Sherman was sincere, and as you note, Lincoln was willing to welcome the seceded states back if they gave up secession, although there was still that nagging question of slavery/emancipation........ However I would also say it shows a questionable understanding of the Confederates if he expected Governor Brown to accept it, let alone President Davis to allow one state to make its own settlement with the Union.
Are you saying that the Davis administration would not recognize a right of unilateral secession? :D
 

Carronade

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#5
Are you saying that the Davis administration would not recognize a right of unilateral secession? :D
Intriguing question. Philosophically of course a state should be as free to secede from the Confederacy as the Union, indeed freer, since they explicitly formed the Confederacy acting in their capacity as states. In a practical sense, it could be the beginning of the end, so I imagine Davis would dream up some rationale to preclude it.
 
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#6
I want to hear from Sherman experts on the general's last-ditch effort to broker a separate peace for Georgia. Do you believe it was sincere? Does it say anything about Sherman's understanding (or lack thereof) of the Confederate political leadership? Here are the first two paragraphs of my article in the Fall, 2010 issue of The Georgia Historical Quarterly. The entire article can be downloaded free at:
http://www.davidtdixon.com/free-articles/

AUGUSTUS R. WRIGHT AND THE LOYALTY OF THE HEART

A telegram from General William T. Sherman arrived at the White House on October 24, 1864. With most of Atlanta’s commercial buildings in ashes, General Sherman stood poised to sweep, virtually unmolested, across the state and to deal a deadly blow to the fading hopes of the Confederacy. Before moving directly toward Savannah, however, Sherman hesitated. He had concocted a scheme that would remove Georgia from the Confederacy, spare the state further ruin, and lead to a reconstruction of the Union. His earlier efforts having failed, Sherman’s final attempt at brokering a separate peace for Georgia was left in the hands of “a man of high character and of true faith in the future.” That man was Augustus R. Wright.

Wright arrived in Washington City in early November. He met with Lincoln and Secretary Seward regularly for several days. Lincoln assured Wright that if the rebellious states renounced the Confederacy, the President would promise universal amnesty and restoration of their rights in the Union. The President also suggested that Wright might become military governor of Georgia when peace was restored. Lincoln insisted that he convey this message to Jefferson Davis, despite recent failed efforts of Wright and others to interest Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown in the proposal. Davis did not trust anyone involved in either plan. Lincoln’s peace proposal was never considered. Wright left Washington on November 14. Two days later, Sherman began his march to the sea.
Holy moley, did not know this! What an interesting account. Thanks for sharing it here. (Gonna have to get around to finishing Sherman's Civil War one of these days....)

And congratulations on being published in the Georgia Historical Quarterly!
 
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#7
Oh my goodness, David Dixon, how have I missed you before? I love your whole "B-List history" approach! I am looking forward to exploring your website further -- and I just went to Amazon and downloaded your book on Charles Anderson for my Kindle. I've bookmarked your website and your blog, am now following you on Facebook, and cannot wait to read more! And again, thanks for generously linking the Georgia Historical Quarterly article.
 
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#8
Oh my goodness, David Dixon, how have I missed you before? I love your whole "B-List history" approach! I am looking forward to exploring your website further -- and I just went to Amazon and downloaded your book on Charles Anderson for my Kindle. I've bookmarked your website and your blog, am now following you on Facebook, and cannot wait to read more! And again, thanks for generously linking the Georgia Historical Quarterly article.
Thanks KF: Just did my interview with Gerry Prokopowicz (try saying that name three times fast) last night on Civil War Talk Radio. We had a discussion on my book, but also on the B-List History concept and on the perils of self-publishing in the crowded filed of Civil War studies.
Gerry has a good program and gets many interesting guests on his shows, which have been running for 12 years.
 
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#10
I think he was sincere. Now if he had the authority to do so, would be another question. He seemed to be pretty straight-forward. Surrender and he will offer you the absolute best terms and treat you as well as possible. Don't and you will wish you had. Then the next person gets the same offer.
 

WJC

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#11
I think he was sincere. Now if he had the authority to do so, would be another question.
From the brief information in the original post, it appears Sherman was indeed sincere. He alerted Washington and subsequently, a meeting took place. In the end, it came to nought, but not through any fault of Sherman.
 



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