December 1862–October 1863
On January 1, 1863, Abraham Lincoln issued the final Emancipation Proclamation, which declared that all slaves within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.” Bitterly denounced in the South—and by many in the North—the Proclamation reduced the likelihood that the anti-slavery European powers would recognize the Confederacy as an independent nation and opened the way for large numbers of African Americans to join the U.S. armed forces. At the same time, tensions created by losses on the battlefield and sacrifices on both sides of the home front were reflected in public meetings and demonstrations. Though peace movements were increasing in strength in both the South and North, a majority on both sides remained bitterly determined to pursue the war to victory.
Only two months after the North’s major defeat at Chancellorsville, Virginia, in May 1863, the Union victory at Gettysburg (July 1–3, 1863), dramatically raised Northern morale. The fall of Vicksburg, Mississippi, on July 4 militarily split the Confederacy in two—and set Ulysses S. Grant on the path to becoming the Union’s final and most aggressive general-in-chief. In the Confederate states, food shortages and exorbitant prices caused riots in several cities. Rampant guerrilla warfare in Kansas and Missouri created a war within the war.
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