Civil War & Reconstruction Civil War Third Federal (Union) Occupation and Reconstruction Retribution


Beginning in the summer of 1864, a series of events took place which pointed to a concerted effort by the Confederacy to end the war by convincing the Northern population that it was unwinnable — thus achieving victory or a negotiated peace. A combination of “Black Flag” actions and fortuitous, related activities (mostly political) combined to give the Confederacy one last desperate chance at independence. This hypothesis — there is no single document which captures such a grand strategic campaign or plan — was put forth in 1988 by a team of researchers (William A. Tidwell, James O. Hall, and David W. Gaddy) in their work, Come Retribution: The Confederate Secret Service and the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln. That study, supplemented by Tidwell’s 1995 update, April ’65: Confederate Covert Action in the American Civil War, convincingly advanced the theory that the Confederate government combined increased espionage with a plot to kidnap or kill President Lincoln and his cabinet; raids to release Rebel prisoners-of-war; inciting insurrections in the northwest; bombing and fire attacks on cities, ships and government leadership; chemical and biological warfare; deployment of new weapons (predominantly mines and naval weapons); consolidating dispersed Confederate field forces; creating black Confederate units; and deploying the government from Richmond to more defensible places and linking the two primary Confederate armies in North Carolina or southern Virginia, while extending peace feelers and initiatives. The Peace Democrats (Copperheads), presumably coincidentally, complemented these efforts by undermining Federal war efforts.