This Month in Civil War History: December 2015

By Jeff Lauck ’18

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Illustration by Thomas Nast, from Harper’s Weekly, January 1863.

Click the play button below in order to listen to “This Month in Civil War History” for December 2015. You can also scroll down to read through the transcript if you would prefer to read it. This report is also airing on WZBT 91.1 FM throughout this month. Thanks to WZBT for their help in producing this piece.


Welcome to the Civil War Institute’s “This Month in Civil War History” for December.

In December of 1860 delegates met in Columbus, South Carolina and voted in favor of seceding from the Union. In their justification for leaving the Union, the delegates emphasized their fear that the newly elected President Abraham Lincoln would outlaw slavery.

Two years later, from December 11th to 15th, 1862, General Ambrose Burnside’s Union Army of the Potomac clashed with General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the Battle of Fredericksburg.

With nearly 200,000 soldiers deployed, Fredericksburg was the largest single battle of the American Civil War. The result was a very lopsided Confederate victory.

Two years later, Union General William Tecumseh Sherman completed his March to the Sea with the capture of Savannah, Georgia on December 20, 1864. General Sherman sent a telegraph to President Lincoln which read, “I beg to present you as a Christmas gift the City of Savannah.”

Finally, on December 6th 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified. The Thirteenth Amendment, the first of the three Reconstruction Amendments, formally abolished slavery in the United States. The Amendment did nothing, however, to protect or expand upon the rights of freedmen.

I’m Jeff Lauck and this has been “This Month in Civil War History,” a coproduction of WZBT and the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College.

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