Decorah Public Library will host the third installment of a Civil War 150th Commemoration book discussion series Thursday Sept. 11, at 7 p.m.

This year, Edward Tebbenhoff of the Luther College history department will talk about ideas presented in David Alan Johnson’s “Decided on the Battlefield: Grant, Sherman, Lincoln, and the Election of 1864.”

“I’m going to be beaten … and unless some great change takes place, badly beaten.” In the summer of 1864, Abraham Lincoln made this gloomy prediction about the outcome of the upcoming presidential election.

The American Civil War had dragged on for over three years with no end in sight. Recently, things had not gone well for the Union, and the public blamed the president for the current stalemate against the Confederacy and for the appalling numbers of killed and wounded. 

Without a change in the fortunes of the war, Lincoln was thoroughly convinced he had no chance of being elected for a second term, and that he would be defeated by the former Union general whom he had dismissed—now Democratic candidate George McClellan.

In this vivid, engrossing account of a critical year in American history, historian David Alan Johnson examines the events of 1864, when the course of American history might have taken a radically different direction. It’s no exaggeration to say that if McClellan had won the election, everything would have been different: the Democrats planned to end the war immediately, grant the South its independence and let the Confederacy keep its slaves.

What were the crucial factors that in the end swung public sentiment in favor of Lincoln? 

Discussion facilitator Edward Tebbenhoff received his Ph.D in American history from the University of Minnesota and has taught at Luther College since 1994.   

The program is free and open to the public.

Books may be purchased from a local bookseller; a limited number of copies are also available for check-out at the library. Call 382-3717 for more information.