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Report of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, 37th Congress, 3rd Session, Senate Report no. 108, volumes 2-4, 1863

The seven-member Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War held more than 270 meetings during its four years of inquiry. Its thousands of pages of transcripts and reports—covering military leaders and campaigns, war-related contracts, treatment of Union prisoners, the role of African American soldiers, and other issues—constitute an unparalleled primary-source history of the Civil War.

U.S. Senate Library

Report of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, 37th Congress, 3rd Session, Senate Report no. 108, volumes 2-4, 1863

The Civil War

After Confederate victories early in the Civil War, some members of Congress wanted greater involvement in military policy and strategy. In December 1861 Senator Zachariah Chandler of Michigan introduced a resolution to investigate two particular Union defeats. Congress passed an amended resolution creating a Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War with a broader mission. The committee, chaired by Senator Benjamin Wade of Ohio, extensively investigated many aspects of the Union effort. The committee’s published reports of its fact-finding were its greatest achievement.

We are not here a moment too soon. . . . If Wade & I fail in our mission the end is at hand

Senator Zachariah Chandler of Michigan, Letter to Letitia Grace Douglass Chandler, October 27, 1861