The new tactics of "hard war" evolved slowly, as restraint toward southern civilians and property eventually gave way to a concerted effort to demoralize southern civilians and destroy the southern economy.
Lincoln promoted Grant to general-in-chief of the Union army in early 1864 after Grant's successes at Vicksburg and Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Some of the bloodiest battles of the Eastern Theater were caused by the change in command.
Grant's willingness to attack the Army of Northern Virginia was demonstrated by the Battle of the Wilderness, the Battle of Cold Harbor, and the siege of Petersburg.
Grant's army surrounded the Confederate city of Petersburg in June of 1864.
Supplies from the capital of the Confederacy were cut off.
The vital rail hub of Atlanta was captured by the Union armies under the command of William Tecumseh Sherman.
The disease was furthered by the action in both theaters during 1864.
Both armies were haunted by disease.
Half of the men in a company could be sick.
Civil War soldiers came from rural areas, where they were less exposed to diseases.
Soldiers from urban environments were less likely to die from diseases than their rural counterparts.
Civil War medicine focused on curing the patient.
Many soldiers tried to cure themselves with their own concoctions.
The ineffective home remedies were often made from plants.
Soldiers ate food that was not properly cooked and handled, and practiced poor personal hygiene because there was no understanding of germ theory.
They didn't take the right steps to make sure the water was free frombacteria.
It was common to have diarrhea and dysentery.
Civil War soldiers did not understand the value of replacing fluids when they were lost.
As a result, men affected by these conditions would weaken and become unable to fight or march, and as they became dehydrated their immune system became less effective, inviting other infections to attack the body.
Soldiers began to protect themselves from some of the more preventable sources of infections through trial and error.
Both armies began to dig latrines in the late 19th century.
The war cut down on exposure to diseases by burying human and animal waste.
The surgery was brutal.
There was little surgeons could do if a soldier was wounded in the torso, throat, or head.
Invasive procedures to repair damaged organs resulted in death.
One in six combat wounds were to one of those parts.
It was possible to amputate the remaining limbs.
If the limb was removed in forty-eight hours, soldiers had the best chance of survival.
A skilled surgeon could amputate a limb in a few minutes.
The lack of germ theory caused several unsafe practices, such as using the same tools on multiple patients, wiping hands on filthy gowns, or placing hands in communal buckets of water, and there is evidence that amputation offered the best chance of survival.
During the warmputations were a common form of treatment.
It was painful and resulted in death in many cases.
The first community of war veterans without limbs in American history was produced by it.
A common misconception is that amputation was done against a patient's wishes.
Americans have understood the benefits of nitrous oxide and ether since the 1830s.
Chloroform and opium were used to make patients unconscious or dull pain during the procedure.
Surgeons wouldn't amputate without the patient's consent.
opium and lion opium pills were administered in the Union army.
The United States had a Surgeon General in the 19th century.
He wanted to regulate the amount of medicine and make sure there was enough for the next engagement.
His guidelines only applied to the regular federal army.
The Union soldiers were organized at the state level.
Their surgeons often used their own concoctions from local flora, ignoring posted limits on medicines.
The hospitals in the North had better conditions.
This was partly due to the organizational skills of women like Dorothea Dix, who was the Union's Superintendent for Army Nurses.
Many women were members of the United States sanitary commission and helped to staff and supply hospitals in the North.
Key roles were taken on by women in both hospitals.
Death came in many forms; disease, prisons, bullets, even lightning and bee sting took men slowly or suddenly.
Their deaths affected more than their units.
Before the war, a wife was expected to sit at her husband's bed, hold his hand and preach to him after a long, fulfilling life.
The Civil War changed this type of death as men died far from home among strangers, so a woman was often at the mercy of the 395 men who fought alongside her husband.
I'm a widow now.
The loss of financial, physical, and emotional support can shatter lives.
It had the power to free women from bad marriages and open doors to financial and psychological independence.
The role of widows in the conflict was important.
The ideal widow wore black, mourned for a minimum of two and a half years, resigned herself to God's will, devoted herself to her husband's memory, and brought his body home for burial.
Not all widows were able to live up to the ideal.
Many couldn't purchase proper mourning garb.
Black silk dresses, heavy veils, and other antebellum mourning features were expensive and in short supply.
The war created an unprecedented number of widows who were pregnant or still nursing infants because most of these women were in their childbearing years.
In a time when the average woman gave birth to eight to ten children in her lifetime, the Civil War created many widows who were also young mothers with little time for formal mourning.