Civil War Battles
It has been said there were approximately 8,000 Civil War Battles of varying size and importance during the American Civil War. Here are a few of the most well known and largest Civil War Battles. ( Civil War Battles coming soon: Battle of Franklin, Battle of Brandy Station, Battle of Appomattox Court House).
April 12,1861 Battle of Fort Sumter
Defense: Historic beginning of the Civil War as Fort Sumter, a Union fort in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina is shelled at 04:30 April 12,1861 after receiving its last offer of surrender from the Confederates just 2 hours before.
Union Commander: Major Robert Anderson was in fact a former slave owner from Kentucky. He stayed with the Union as war was imminent and had been commanding his small detachment of just 2 companies of 127 men at Fort Moultrie on shore, but decided to move his force to Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor on December 26, 1860. Fort Sumter was in fact under construction. This decision he made without permission or fanfare realizing that he needed a more defensable position.
The Union supply ship “Star of the West” was than fired upon by CSA batteries on January 9,1861 trying to reach Ft. Sumter.
Attack : Union Major Anderson has held out for months without a direct order from Washington to evacuate. He refuses the last requests to evacuate from the CSA and offers his own conditions for his surrender to CSA envoy Colonel James Chesnut, Jr. who returns to nearby Fort Fisher. Colonel Chesnut will than open up with his batteries on Fort Sumter to fire the opening salvos of the Civil War !
Confederate Commander: General P.G.T. Beauregard was in fact a former student of artillery at West Point under the Union commander he now faced..Major Robert Anderson who commented that he knew Beauregard and that this fine officer would execute his duties to South Carolina “with skill and sound judgement”.
The bombardment will last 34 hours when Anderson has no choice but to surrender Fort Sumter to the Confederates.
Battle Outcome: Confederate Victory
Soldiers: Union-127 / CSA-500 (approx.)
Casualties: Union – O / CSA – 2 (Accidents)
Civil War Battles
July 21,1861 First Battle of Bull Run
Defense: Known as the First Battle of Bull Run or First Manassas fought in Manassas, Virginia. The Northern public has been pressing for a Union attack on Richmond, Virginia since the fall of Fort Sumter. Unseasoned troops of both the Union and the CSA will now engage in the “first major land battle of the Civil War”. The events that follow will change the public’s mind as to how long and bloody this Civil War war will be. First
Confederate Commander: General P.G.T. Beauregard, the hero of the Fort Sumter victory has his troops massed in an area by the Bull Run River just northeast of Manassas, Virginia and just miles from Washington D.C. itself. His army is in a strong position should the Federals commence an advance toward the Confederate States capital at Richmond.
Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston will arrive by railroad from the Shenandoah just as the Union has the advantage and change the outcome of the battle. The railroad will show itself to be critical in the future for delivering men and supplies. Johnston will be one of the foremost Confederate commanders of the war, and the last to surrender 4 years later.
Attack: The pressure on President Lincoln from the North to attack the Confederates has become too great, as well as the 90 day Union enlistees are about to be released. Union commander General Irvin McDowell is ordered to march. Many feel the war will last only a month and this battle could end the war promptly with a Union victory. The Union army advances across Bull Run and attacks the CSA army at Manassas, Virginia on July 21,1861. Few could have guessed the outcome.
Union Commander: Brig. General Irvin McDowell upon reaching Bull Run has a plan for a surprise attack that will roll up the CSA left flank. The Confederate Army initially retreats even with the poorly executed attack from the inexperienced Union officers. But Confederate reinforcements under General Joseph E. Johnston arrive just in time by train for a counterattack with will drive the Union Army from the field in complete panic. Later dubbed by the newspapers as “The Great Skedaddle” the Union soldiers pour back into Washington D.C. in chaos which lasts in the city for 2 days until Union officers are able to restore order.
A relatively unknown Confederate Colonel from VMI Thomas J. Jackson and his men will stand their ground this day so well that other CSA officers nickname him Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. It is argued that it was due to his failure to advance rather than his defensive posture. However, his daring tactics and fighting skills will be even more evident and costly to the Federals in the future.
Battle Outcome: Dramatic Confederate Victory
Soldiers: Union-32,000 / CSA-34,000 ( approx.)
Casualties: Union-2,896 (460 killed) / CSA-1,982 (387 killed)
April 6-7,1862 Battle of Shiloh
Defense: The Battle of Shiloh also known as the Battle of Pittsburg Landing in Tennessee was a major battle fought in the Western Theater of the Civil War. The Union Army under Grant have defeated Fort Donelson and Fort Henry and Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston has fallen back to Corinth,Mississippi to regroup and form his attack on the Federals.
Union Commander: Major General U.S. Grant has finally given President Lincoln the victories he requires to keep Northern war moral, and now moves deeper into Tennessee toward Pittsburg Landing. His orders are to wait for reinforcements from Major General Don Carlos Buell and his Army of the Ohio. He will be surprise attacked on the morning of April 6 before they arrive and be pushed back almost 2 miles to the Tennessee River. A sunken road becomes a kill zone later dubbed the “hornet’s nest” that is fought over all day at terrible loss and finally captured by the rebels.
Union Major General Don Carlos Buell and his Army of the Tennessee will arrive that evening while the Confederates have decided to retire. A Union attack the next morning of April 7 with now combined Union forces will push the Rebels back after several Confederate counter attacks fail.
Attack: Recent Union victories have forced the Confederates to fall back from most of Tennessee to Corinth,Mississippi to dig in and resupply for an attack. The CSA army must attempt to destroy the Union army or push them back out of Tennessee.
Confederate Commander: General Albert Sidney Johnston has decided to attack and defeat Grant’s army “in detail” before they are reinforced by the Union forces under General Buell. His attack on the morning of April 6 scatters the Union forces but was not as successful as planned as Confederate battle lines become confused.
This native of Kentucky, son of a Doctor from Connecticut will be wounded and bleed to death on the battlefield before he receives aid.
The noted Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard will now take command and fall back for the first night. The next day he will be attacked and pushed back, deciding to leave the field and fall back to Corinth, Mississippi. The Confederates won the first day but lose the second day and retire, losing the Battle of Shiloh.
Battle Outcome: Union Victory
Soldiers: Union – 66,812 / CSA – 44,699
Casualties: Union-13,047 (1,754 killed)/CSA-10,699(1,728 killed)
Civil War Battles
September 17, 1862 Battle of Antietam
Defense: General George McClellen must defend Washington as CSA General Robert E. Lee has invaded the border state of Maryland to “bring the war north“. The Confederates are savoring their victories in Virginia during the “Seven Days Battles” in June and the “Second Battle of Bull Run” in late August 1862.
Northern war sentiment is low and CSA General Lee is confident. Union General McClellen is pressed to stop the Confederate invasion with his Army of the Potomac and destroy the CSA Army of Northern Virginia. The armies will clash in Sharpsburg, Maryland..by Antietam Creek in the bloodiest day of the war..the Battle of Antietam.
Union Commander: General George B. McClellan has in fact organized and trained an Army that President Lincoln wishes to have confidence in. McClellen, although a great organizer has not been taking the field willingly. So much so that Lincoln once remarked “if you are not using the army, I would like to borrow it for awhile”. “Little Mac” has been taking a beating down on the Virginia Peninsula during the “Seven Day’s Battles” and Lee now brings his invading army north to show the northerners “what war looks like” and destroy northern war support as well as finish off the Union Army of the Potomac.
Union attacks under Union Major General Joseph Hooker on the left flank ( cornfield and Dunker church) in the morning , and General Ambrose Burnside attempting to “take” the now famous Burnside Bridge on the confederate right flank in the afternoon were costly and generally successful. but lacked “follow up” that would have resulted in a clearer Union victory.
Attack: CSA Commander General Robert E. Lee gets the fight he wanted on Northern soil at Sharpsburg, Maryland. He will commit all his forces while “Little Mac” will hold one quarter of his Union troops in reserve, balancing the battle equation back to Lee. And Lee will see the opportunities. As well as inflicting heavy casualties on the Union at the cornfield, the Sunken Road, and Burnsides Bridge, CSA General A.P. Hill will run his men in from Harpers Ferry to reinforce Lee at a critical time in the battle.
The Confederate losses are greater when averaged however, and in fact Lee is stopped by the Union Army, and now draws his battered CSA Army back across the Potomac.
Battle outcome: A Union victory as Lee withdraws, but a tactical draw.
Soldiers: Union-75,000 / CSA-40,000 approx.
Casualties: Union-12,400(2,100 killed) / CSA-10,300 approx.(1,500 killed approx.)
Dec. 11-15,1862 Battle of Fredericksburg
Defense: CSA Commanding General Robert E. Lee seizes the initiative when the Union Army marches to cross the Rappahannock River near Fredericksburg, Virginia and stalls for 2 weeks waiting for pontoon bridges. The Union Army has given up the advantage. Lee sets up strong defenses by the river, on the hills, the town which resulted in urban fighting, and especially at the top of a hill leading up to “Marye’s Heights”.
CSA Lieut. General James Longstreet‘s position at the top of Marye’s heights will prove to be effective and costly to the Federals. Line after line of Federals marched up the heights to be cut to pieces. Many wounded will lie out on the frozen ground that cold night as the Confederates continued their fire. The “kill zone” created by Lee and Longstreet forcing the Federals up the hill into their guns was so effective, many Confederates called it murder. Lee himself would comment “it is good that war is so terrible..or we should grow too fond of it”.
The “Angel of Marye’s Heights” who came out to give the wounded and dying Federals a sip of water and blankets as they lay wounded on the frozen ground was in fact a Confederate from South Carolina Sergeant Richard Rowland Kirkland. Recognized as a humanitarian by both sides, Kirkland strapped himself with numerous canteens and went out originally under fire. As both sides realized his intent, they held their fire and watched as this kind and sympathetic American went out on the battlefield for almost 2 hours giving comfort to his wounded enemies. Kirkland, promoted to Lieutenant was killed at the Battle of Chickamauga on September 20,1863.
Attack: The plan to attack and secure the Confederate capital at Richmond,Virginia had been a plan of the Federal command for months. President Lincoln himself felt the capital should not be the objective. He opted that the CSA Army of Northern Virginia itself under General Lee was the key and should be destroyed. Frustrated by Federal failures the President knew from his studies of logistics and strategy that speed and timing would be he key to a victory over Lee. He wanted the Federal Army to move as fast as the CSA could to acquire a defensive position as had been shown by Jackson’s “foot cavalry” in the past.
Union Commander General Ambrose Burnside will find numerous delays in supplies and the arrival of pontoon bridges to cross the Federal Army over the Rappahannock River at Fredericksburg, resulting in Lincolns’ greatest fear. The Confederates will now have time to race their armies to Fredericksburg, making the building of the Union bridge while under fire costly. As well, the CSA army will secure the town resulting in urban warfare, and secure Maryes’ Heights resulting in the decimation of the attacking Federals as they later march up the heights into the well entrenched Confederate line of defense.
Important Note: Burnside himself had stated he did not want command of the whole Federal Army of the Potomac. That he considered himself a better corp commander at best, and was a good friend of recently removed McClellen. Humiliated by this defeat he had offered to resign after the battle, but is refused by President Lincoln. He was transferred to command the Dept. of the Ohio in the west.
Battle outcome: Confederate victory. (costly Federal loss)
Soldiers: Union -114,000 / CSA -74,000
Casualties: Union-12,653(1,284 killed) / CSA-5,377(608 killed)
Civil War Battles
May 1-4, 1863 Battle of Chancellorsville
Defense: CSA Commanding General Robert E.Lee accomplishes one of his greatest victories of the war by dividing his armies in the face of vastly superior numbers. Learning that the Federal Army has crossed the Rappahannock and Rapidan Rivers near Fredericksburg, and are concentrating near Chancellorsville in Spotsylvania County, Lee divides his army. Bottling up Federal forces near Fredericksburg with 1/4 of his army, Lee takes the initiative and attacks the main advancing Federal army with the balance of his army, confusing their command and forcing them back into a defensive posture near Chancellorsville.
CSA Lt. General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson will finish the fighting of May 2nd with a surprise attack after marching his “foot cavalry” 12 miles around the exposed Federal right flank swiftly and attacking just before sunset. The march was generally undetected, and the surprise attack was complete when the Confederates hit the Federals as they cooked dinner after stacking arms.
Important Note: Lt. General “Stonewall” Jackson will later that same night be hit with friendly fire as he rides with his staff checking the lines. Jackson’s left arm is amputated, and General Lee losing such a valuable commander will state “General Jackson has lost his left arm, but I my right”.
CSA Lt. General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson will die 8 days later on May 10 from complications of pneumonia.
Attack: The initial strategy for defeating Lee seems successful on paper. Federal cavalry under Major General George Stoneman will ford the rivers quickly and attack the CSA rear, destroying supply lines and forcing Lee to move from Falmouth and Fredericksburg to defend Richmond and subsequent supply lines. Lee than could be defeated while in motion and in the open by the greater Federal numbers.
Federal Commander: Major General Joseph “Fightin’ Joe” Hooker now has command of the Army of the Potomac since January. He is in fact an aggressive commander and has made considerable positive changes, developing a better cavalry system that is more easily commanded and also doing away with the Grand Corps system developed by Burnside which proved to be too “unwieldly” as each corps was too large to command effectively. His aggressive strategy and new army designs are approved by Lincoln who has great hopes for a much needed Union victory.
“Fightin’ Joe” will later remark that the problem of his attack was when he stops his advance to fall back to Chancellorsville into a defensive position. He states in an honest way that “For the first time I just loss faith in Hooker”.
He will wait for reinforcements while CSA General Jackson hits his exposed flank the evening of May 2 in a successful lightning’ surprise attack. Chancellorsville will later be called “Lee’s perfect battle”!
Battle outcome: Confederate victory. (Costly Federal loss)
Soldiers: Union-133,868 / CSA-60,892
Casualties: Union-17,197(1,606 killed) / CSA-13,303(1,665 killed)
Civil War Battles
July 1-3, 1863 Battle of Gettysburg
The Battle of Gettysburg is held by most to be the most important battle as well as the critical Union victory of the American Civil War. It is the “turning point” of the war for the North, and the Confederate “High Tide” being the “northernmost” large scale battle of the war.
The Confederate Army has brought the war to northern soil with the Battle of Antietam in September 1862, as well as several key CSA victories farther south such as Fredericksburg in December 1862 and Chancellorsville in May 1863.
Northern war sentiment is low and political support for President Lincoln is weakening as the Liberals and Democrats extol the defeats of the Union Army placing the blame of the war and its terrible losses squarely on Lincoln’s shoulders.
Liberal Northern newspapers and their editors such as Horace Greeley and the New York Tribune have a strong impact on their readers and can change public opinion of the war or opinion of President Lincoln himself overnight.
This in fact was Lee’s strategy to not only destroy the Union Army of the Potomac on northern soil, but also to demoralize the North before the Presidential election. The possibility of Union capitulation and Confederate victory would rest on Lincoln’s removal and the recognition of the Confederacy by powerful European nations, especially England who has been considering recognition of the Confederate States of America.
Had the CSA received that recognition after a victory at Gettysburg followed by Euro military support, the outcome of the Civil War and our young nations post Civil War history..as a union..might have been quite different !
Defense: The Army of the Potomac is in fact south of Lee and his newly reorganized Army of Northern Virginia as it heads north through Maryland into Pennsylvania. The basic strategy of the Union army keeping itself positioned between Lee and Washington DC. has given Lee time to move all 3 of his battle hardened corps into position, choosing the best land for the battle that will give him the final victory required to win the war for the South.
Union Commander: Major General George Gordon Meade has been given command of the Army of the Potomac just June 28th. With a direct order from Lincoln to accept that command, he is trying to catch up so to speak and find “Bobby” Lee as he knows he has been moving north with all 3 corps of the Army of Northern Virginia since early June. Lee’s moves are no secret as they are even published in newspapers, and every Union officer understands that this battle will be the tipping point in this war to ” retain a union, and set men free“.
The key as in most military actions will be who gets the most men to the field first, seize the initiative taking the high ground, force the enemy to the offensive, defeat arriving enemy units in “in detail” as they are forced to attack entrenched lines.
General Meade will have the 1st advantage in that Lee will not bring all his forces to bear at the same time as he had planned, due to their premature engagement with Union cavalry on July 1st morning. His plan detailed with General Longstreet to take the defensive once all CSA corps are in place will not take shape, due to the excellent soldiers of the Union cavalry around Gettysburg, Pa. that discover the “whole damn Rebel Army coming this way.”
Major General John Buford was in fact the commander of the Union cavalry that makes initial contact with CSA General Pettigrew’s brigade under General Heth, as it goes a few extra miles down Cashtown Pike to find the “shoe factory” in Gettysburg. Buford can see the grayclad Confederate army a mile away as it comes toward Gettysburg, stops and than strangely “recoils” back up the Cashtown Road.
Outnumbered 5 to one as Buford has 2,400 troopers ( mounted infantry with every 3 men on the firing line as the 4th holds 4 horses) against a whole Confederate corp of 12,000 men, Buford knows he can stand and fight..but can he hold them long enough to keep the high ground until reinforced ?
Buford knew 2 things at that time. 1) That the Rebels did not have cavalry out in front which was odd for an army that size 2) that the Confederates had received orders not to engage and so had fallen back. But they would attack soon. What did Bobby Lee have in mind and where was he. Buford will send scouts up all the roads as vedettes. He will be alerted early the next morning July 1, 1863 as he hears his vedettes being driven in, firing their 1-2 shots before fleeing the advancing columns of Confederates.
Buford will perform his “stop gap” measure and hold the high ground and the Confederates long enough to be reinforced.
Major General John F. Reynolds and his Union I Corp did in fact message to Buford that he would get to Gettysburg as quickly as possible in the morning to reinforce. John Buford will dig his boys in and wait patiently for the attack at dawn they were sure to receive.
It will be a long morning and hours of uncertainty for Buford as he hears the carbine fire from his 2 brigades lessening. The defensive firing lines of his cavalrymen are being attacked and reduced. Watching from the cupola of the Seminary for any sign of reinforcements, he finally sees General John Reynolds riding in with his aide under the fluttering guidon of I Corp just in time.
Major General John F. Reynolds will be killed this same morning by a Confederate sniper. He is the first general to die at the Battle of Gettysburg. A tremendous loss to the Union, it was quoted by the fine Civil War author Shelby Foote that Reynolds was considered by many to be “the best general in the Union army”.
Attack: CSA Commander Robert E. Lee had a plan that if fulfilled would in fact had great chances of defeating the Union army. But circumstances will change the events of the next 24 hours that will force Lee to amend his strategy and tactics and not for the better.
Convinced that the Army of Northern Virginia could lick the Union as before, his communications to his commanders has become vague and without specifics. This lack of exact orders from Lee will in fact lose the battle for the south.
CSA General James Longstreet, Lee’s “Old Warhorse” is against attacking and Lee has generally agreed they will join the corps up together to take the defensive. This changes as the Union takes the defensive and forces the arriving CSA corps to attack as they arrive.
Longtreet would argue after the war that he was generally against Lee’s plan to fight a battle north, far from the CSA base of operations, especially attacking the enemy on their own ground.
After 2 days of generally failed CSA attacks on the Union left and right flank by the combined CSA corps under Longstreet, Hill and Ewell, Longstreet will not agree with Lee when he orders a full frontal attack on the Union center on July 3rd.
The doomed charge of 12,000 Confederates across the mile wide expanse into the Union guns goes down in history as one of the most glorious, brave and deadly charges of the American Civil War that came to be known as “Pickett’s Charge”.
General George Edward Pickett, Division Commander under Longstreet has arived with his division the evening of July 2nd. Lee’s plan to attack the Union center on July 3rd is given to Longstreet who appoints Pickett to command the attack and lead with his “fresh” troops from Virginia. Pickett himself will command from the rear and watch as his Virginians are decimated by Federal cannon ball followed by cannon cannister, and finally by massed Union musket fire.
Only CSA General Lew Armistead , a good friend of Union General Winfield Hancock will actually make it through the Federal lines with a few of his brave Virginians. But they are not enough and will not be reinforced.
General Armistead himself will fall near the Union guns from mortal wounds near the area later known as “The Angle” and the “High Water Mark of the Confederacy”.
Battle outcome: Decisive Union victory.
Soldiers: Union-93,921 / CSA-71,699
Casualties: Union-23,055 (3,155 killed)/ CSA-23,231(4,708 killed)
July 4, 1863… Siege of Vicksburg ends with the surrender of Vicksburg into Union hands after 8 weeks of siege.
Civil War Battles
Sept. 18-20, 1863 Battle of Chickamauga
The Battle of Chickamauga was the largest battle fought in the Western Theater of the Civil War, and the second deadliest being second only to the Battle of Gettysburg. The most important Union loss in the Western Theater.
The battle marked the end to the Union’s “Chickamauga Campaign” and was a technical victory for the Confederacy as the Union Army was discouraged from entering Georgia further. But the Union did achieve their objective of capturing Chattanooga which was an important railway supply hub for the Confederacy. The Union cavalry had a marked advantage at this time with their new repeating “Spencer Rifles”.
Attack: Union commanders are reorganizing their widespread corps from Tennessee and Georgia to continue their campaign to drive the Confederates from Chattanooga. Confederate commanders will abandon Chattanooga with plans to reoccupy once they take the offensive and defeat the scattered Union corps.
Union Commander: Major General William Rosecrans and his Army of the Cumberland has had a successful summer and “Tullahoma Campaign” including his victory at the second Battle of Murfreesboro in January. He moves his army south toward Georgia in June. The Federal Army is closing the gap to Atlanta. His greatest concern has been his supply line as he crosses the Tennessee River which he does in areas the Confederates do not expect the crossings to be.
His mounted infantry is now equipped with the “Spencer Repeating” lever action rifle offering a tremendous tactical advantage. The plans from President Lincoln and Commander in Chief General Halleck to push the rebels from Chattanooga is a success until the rebels turn and plan to attack the isolated Union XXI Corp. Union cavalry and mounted infantry will make contact with rebel elements forming and probing north attempting to crush the Union units before they are fully organized.
Elements of the the Union Army have been under attack since September 10th as they have divided into three columns heading into Georgia. Rosecrans knows his armies are scattered and the full force of the Confederate Army is organizing on September 18th, the eve of the battle by Chickamauga Creek. The Confederate attacks the next 2 days on the Union lines will leave the Federals weakened with heavy losses for both sides,but the Confederates are being resupplied faster in their own country. The battle on September 19th is repeated attacks from the Confederates. They actually punch through the Union line”in column” at 11:00AM on September 20th when Rosecrans mistakenly moves some brigades, making a hole in the Union line. The temporary route even forces Rosecrans and staff to fall back.
* Union General George Henry Thomas would earn his eternal nickname “The Rock of Chickamauga” as his units would stand and fight the Rebel divisions as they poured through the gap on the afternoon of the 20th. He had extended his flanks farther than the Confederates had expected and had built defenses that would prove costly to the Rebels.
A Virginian who had chose to fight for the Union, he took advantage of his position and the steep woods around him. The delayed attacks from the Confederates gave Thomas time to reposition and build breastworks that the Confederates would throw themselves against all afternoon without success.
The fact is Rosecrans left the field not knowing that Thomas still held the field. Many felt had he known the Union still controlled the western flank, he might have rode to Thomas and pulled victory from defeat.
Defense: CSA Commanding General Braxton Bragg and his Army of Tennessee have observed the Federal Armies after recently being pushed out of Chattanooga, as well as a recent battle with Federal cavalry at “Davis’s Crossoads”. He is however determined to move back north and re-occupy the city. He plans to attack the Federals starting with the isolated Union XXI corp.
The CSA Army moving north on September 18 engages Union mounted infantry armed with “Spencer” repeating rifles. The next day the 19th, the fighting begins on a grand scale as the CSA brigades throw themselves against the Union defenses and are repulsed.
By the 20th, battle lines are shifting constantly and CSA General James Longstreet has 8 brigades moving to attack a gap in the Federal line mistakenly created by Rosecrans. The Union flanks are rolled up and thousands of Union troops are driven from the field in defeat. Brigades under Union General George Thomas hold and are reinforced on “Horseshoe Ridge”. They are able to hold till nightfall than retire back to Chattanooga with the rest of the Federal Army.
A Confederate victory and a shot in the arm for Southern moral pushing the Union Army back to Chattanooga. What the Confederacy sorely needed after their recent major defeats at Gettysburg and Vicksburg.
Battle Outcome: Dramatic Confederate Victory.
Soldiers: Union-60,000 / CSA-65,000
Casualties: Union-16,170(1,674 killed) / CSA-18,454(2,312 killed)
Nov. 23-25, 1863 Battle of Chattanooga
Attack : Often referred to as the Third Battle of Chattanooga after the first 2 “shellings” . The Union Army has been in Chattanooga since their retreat from The Battle of Chickamauga in September. They have been dug in and on the defense for weeks. The Confederates have held the high ground around the city. Major General Ulysses S. Grant has command now of the Union Army in the West. The Union is happy to hold this vital rail hub, but a supply line to the Federals must be opened.
Confederate General Braxton Bragg knows Grant will have to fight his way out with the reinforcements he must be receiving son. Orchard Knob, Missionary Ridge to the east, and Lookout Mountain to the south are those high points and approaches that the Confederates have occupied and will now be pushed off.
Union Major General Ulysses S. Grant had been ordered to Chattanooga. As commander, he relieves Rosecrans, replacing him with Union General George Thomas (“Rock of Chickamauga”) . Over 35,000 Union troops are en route to reinforce and help lift the siege that has choked off the Union Army supply lines.
Men are on sparse rations and mules and horses are starving. Grant will follow a suggested plan by Brig. Gen. William F. “Baldy” Smith and finally establish a new supply line dubbed “the cracker line”, which resupplies the besieged Union forces just in time. Smith deserves much credit that was often overlooked.
Major General William Tecumseh Sherman is arriving with 4 divisions and soon the Union Army has enough strength to go on the offensive. On November 23rd, the Union attack begins and yields success when the Confederates are pushed from Orchard Knob by Union divisions under Union General George Thomas.
William T. Sherman will take on the Rebel Army at the well defended Missionary Ridge yielding another victory for the Federals and the defeat of the CSA Army at the Battle of Lookout Mountain by Union forces under Major General Joseph Hooker. The Confederate Army in Tennessee is essentially eliminated. Chattanooga will now become the base of operations for the Union Army now planning the push for the “Atlanta Campaign”.
Defense: Confederate General Braxton Bragg has been on the attack since the CSA victory at Battle of Chickamauga, holding the high ground around Chattanooga in hopes of retaking the city if reinforced by some miracle which will not come. He is given credit for his ability and tenacity.
Chattanooga was the “Gateway to the South” with its extensive railroad hubs providing transportation and supplies to the CSA Army until its loss. Now the Union Army holds the city but is choked off by the encircling CSA Army, which on the offensive since September will now be under attack from the Union Army now being reinforced. The CSA corps commanders are Lt. General James Longstreet, Lt. General William J. Hardee and Major General John C. Breckenridge who later will be accused of drunkenness during the engagement.
Battle outcome: Strategic Union victory.
Soldiers: Union-56,000 / CSA – 44,000
Casualties: Union-5,824(753 killed)/ CSA-6,667(361 killed)
Civil War Battles
May 5-6, 1864 Battle of the Wilderness.
Attack: General U. S. Grant and 120,000 Unions soldiers will undertake the campaign of attrition against Lee that would be the beginning of the end for the CSA . Lee has just 65,000 soldiers approx. and the losses will be heavy for both sides, especially the Union. Grant will keep hitting Lee’s “left flank” and will never again lose contact with Lee and the Confederate Army. He states to Lincoln “there is no turning back”. Grant orders Meade to follow Lee, “where Lee goes..you go”.
The first battle of his “Overland Campaign” devised by Grant and President Lincoln to assault the Confederates at several points and to keep working them down while advancing into Virginia toward Richmond. Battle rages starting the morning of May 5 especially along the Orange Turnpike and later the Plank Road as Union Generals Hancock and Meade engage CSA Generals R. Ewell and A.P. Hills corps. As the battle rages back and forth and darkness falls, individual fighting in the darkness illuminated by fires started in the underbrush turns hellish as wounded are burned to death in the dense woods as units fall back.
Fighting will start early at 4:45am on May 6 as Hancock attacks again to finish off Hills decimated corps, but will slam into fresh reinforcements of CSA General James Longstreet’s corp on the right flank. Longstreet himself will be wounded himself that afternoon by friendly fire and replaced, but not before he devised a flanking attack that rolled up the Union flank “like a wet blanket”. Union attacks under Generals Burnside and Warren continued and little advantage was made at great loss, especially when the Union line was again driven back in areas manned by an inexperienced N.Y. division.
A march on the night of May 7 and the Union Army is moving but not north to safety, but south to re-engage the CSA Army. Grant is maneuvering away from Lee’s breastworks and toward Richmond. Although suffering from terrible losses with bitter memories, the Union soldiers are thrilled to be marching away from the Virginia battlefield with confidence.They are feeling for the first time that they can believe in their attack, and in their commander U.S. Grant who turns the Union Army southeast, toward Spotsylvania Courthouse.
Defense: CSA General Robert E. Lee has been observing the much larger Union Army and has concluded he must engage their advancing forces in “The Wilderness” area. Deep dense woods and tangled underbrush will even his odds a bit as the Union advances will be broken up and have limited use of artillery in the forest areas. The battles for the turnpike areas under Ewell and Hill are furious as they engage during the first 24 hours. Plans of attack from Gordon and Longstreet turn the CSA tide on May 6 as they attack from a sunken railroad bed and roll up the Union flank.
The battle is tactically a draw after so much bloodshed and Lee has built breastworks that the Union will now throw themselves against. But Lee watches as Grant starts to withdraw during the night of May 7, marching southeast instead of withdrawing to the safety of Washington,D.C.. He knows well by now he has a formidable opponent in Grant who is positioning his Army of the Potomac for renewed battle with Lee’s reduced Army of Northern Virginia.
Grant will continue to attack Lee knowing he can destroy the CSA Army by attrition, as Lee must engage the Army of the Potomac as it draws ever closer to the Confederate capital at Richmond, Virginia. Lincolns’ original plan to first disable the CSA Army and to see Richmond fall as a result is in full motion.
Battle Outcome: Tactical draw ( Tactical CSA victory / Strategic Union victory)
Soldiers: Union-101,895 / CSA – 61,025
Casualties: Union-17,666(2,246 killed) / CSA – 11,125(1,495 killed)
May 8-21, 1864 Battle of Spotsylvania
Attack: Grant has disengaged from Lee during the night and pushed his army toward the crossroads at Spotsylvania Courthouse southeast of “The Wilderness”. Lee has elements of the CSA army that has reached Spotsylvania before the Union Army and he orders his Confederates to dig in for the coming assaults.
On May 8, units of Union Generals Warren and Sedgwick attack across a 4 mile front in areas known as the Laurel Hill and “The Mule Shoe” that later became known as the “Bloody Angle”. Hand to hand fighting that lasted for over 24 hours became one of the terrible memories of that terrible “salient”. Rainy weather added to the delays in attacks and movements that were often confused and costly.
Grant will have several more attacks that will fail under Union Generals Burnside and Hancock. He will see his best strategy is with his last attack on May 18 under Hancock which fails again. Grant sees his best opportunity is to disengage and maneuver to a new battlefield, southeast ..toward North Anna.
May 9, 1864…Union Major General John Sedgwick will be shot through the head and killed by a Confederate sharpshooter at 9:00 am while inspecting his troops. Sedgwick is the Highest Ranking Union Officer killed during the Civil War.
Over 1,000 yards from the Confederate snipers, Sedgwick had just stated that “they couldn’t hit an elephant” at this distance. Seconds later he falls with a bullet below his left eye after chastising officers for seeking cover.
Much loved by his men who called him “Uncle John”, Grant was so stunned by the news of his sudden death that he asked repeatedly..”Is he really dead”!
Defense: Lee has beat Grant southeast to Spotsylvania Courthouse crossroads. He is able to set up fast defenses that will be strengthened over the next days as Grant attacks across his extended front. The attacks against his men on Laurel Hill on May 8 are pushed back as well as several attacks over the next days against several points on his 4 mile defensive line.
The western end of the “Mule Shoe” later known as the Bloody Angle is a heavy focus of defensive combat for the CSA for over 3 days as Grant attempts a grand assault against the whole Confederate line. Hancocks’ division at one point was so compressed that they turned into no more than a mob.
Lee was able to inspire his officers long enough to rally his officers at points when the Union had punched through, especially at the “Bloody Angle”. Riding too close to the front with the 800 man “Texan Brigade”that stemmed a Union attack, Lee was leading the Texans himself when they stopped and Gordon insisted that Lee move to safety. The Texans stopped and chanted “Lee to the rear” until he and Traveller did retire to the rear of the CSA to safety.
May 19 will bring Lee to his last defense of this battle when he intercepts Union elements at an area known as the Harris Farm. Grant is maneuvering between Fredericksburg and Richmond. Lee will engage again at North Anna and Cold Harbor as the Union Army moves like a great serpent toward Petersburg.
Battle outcome: Undecisive ( Strategic Union victory as they move south)
Soldiers: Union -100,000 / CSA – 52,000
Casualties: Union-18,399(2,725 killed) / CSA-13,421(1,467)
May 31-June 12,1864 Battle of Cold Harbor
Attack: Union General Grant is continuing his “Overland Campaign” and attacking Lee as he moves south on his left flank. The recent engagements at “The Wilderness” and “Spotsylvania” have cost both sides excessive losses. Lee cannot resupply as quickly as Grant and it is matter of attrition and time.
His cavalry arrives at Cold Harbor first..they are only 10 miles from Richmond.
Union General Philip Sheridan and his cavalry have reached a critical crossroads at Cold Harbor,Va. on May 31. They are fortunate to have new “Spencer” repeating carbines. This is the push for Richmond and Petersburg.
They will hold back Confederate attacks until June 1st when they are both reinforced. Now the carnage begins as Union divisions crash into well defended Confederates with some early success. Later on June 3rd, Union assaults were unsuccessful with tremendous casualties for the Federal attackers.
Years later when Samuel Clemens ( Mark Twain ) was editing Grant’s memoirs when Grant had throat cancer and was in “the Adirondacks” recuperating but dying, Grant commented to Clemens that the only attack he regretted, was the secondary assaults at Cold Harbor, Va. . Over 7,000 Union casualties in less than an hour at one point. “I have always regretted that the last assaults at Cold Harbor were ever made. … No advantage whatever was gained to compensate for the heavy loss we sustained.”
U.S. Grant will finally disengage on June 12 advancing along his left flank to the James River. The Union Army will be across the James by June 15.
Defense: General Lee will contact Sheridan’s cavalry on May 31st and attack so as to buy time while reinforcements are brought up. He will dig in and let the Union Army batter itself against his defenses starting on June 1 . The Unions attacks on June 3rd are half of the Union casualties for the whole 12 day battle.
The Union attacks cease but Lee will live under “Coehorn Mortar” fire while a trench warfare continues for eight days with thousands of Union wounded and dead lying between the lines for days while the armies negotiate a truce, not agreed upon until June 7 when a 2 hour truce is gained to assist the Union wounded.
The trench warfare continues as snipers and hand to hand combat become common. Grant will continue his night withdrawals with another on June 12 evening as Lee watches as he marches around his right flank and heads to the James River.
Battle outcome: Last Confederate Victory in the Eastern Theater.
Soldiers: Union-108,000 / CSA:-59,000
Casualties: Union: 12,737(1,844 killed) / CSA: 4,595( 83 killed)
Civil War Battles
June 9, 1864-March 25, 1865 Siege of Petersburg
Attack: Union General Ulysses Simpson Grant will conduct a series of attacks from the eastern side of Richmond down to the southeastern side of Petersburg. This will be the continuing of a vicious and miserable “trench warfare”, that Grant can conduct easily while being supplied by the Union navy and captured railroads, continuing to wear down Lee.
The “Richmond-Petersburg Campaign” is less a siege as the Union forces are not enclosing the city, but constantly attacking the CSA in attempts to cut the railroad lines that supply General Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia. Lee knows if his railroad supply lines are cut, his was will soon be over.
Grant will take advantage of victories and dig in, extending his lines until after 9 months of continued attacks and Union artillery bombardment, his lines are more than 30 miles long. Lee and his courageous CSA army are wearing thin.
Many initial assaults by Union Generals Meade and Butler have limited success resulting in gaining ground, than digging in for the duration.
“The Crater“ Union attack of July 30 goes down in history as later quoted by Grant..” the saddest affair I have witnessed in the war.”
A plan had been devised to blow up the Confederate defenses at one particular point in the line. Over 8,000 pounds of gunpowder were packed into a tunnel dug under the CSA lines by the Union miners. Sounds good, until when they blew it up at 04:30 hours on the morning of July 30,1864..the Union attacked by swarming into the crater left by the explosion. The Union soldiers got stuck in the huge hole left by the explosion 170 ft. long by 80 ft. wide by 30 ft. deep.
The Confederates were quick to seize the opportunity and ringed the crater with men and artillery, beginning a slaughter that most would never forget. But it will be a short lived victory for the CSA. Grant is winning by degrees.
President Lincoln is offering full support to Grant stating “I have seen your despatch expressing your unwillingness to break your hold where you are. Neither am I willing. Hold on with a bulldog grip, and chew and choke as much as possible”
The Union campaign will continue for 8 more months until the failed CSA counter attack on Union held Fort Stedman on March 25,1865.
Petersburg and Richmond will be abandoned and surrendered by April 3,1865 leading to the last days of Lee’s Army. Bobby Lee and his small army will be pursued until he is surrounded at Appomattox.
Defense: The Army of Northern Virginia is pushed south defending both Richmond and Petersburg. Lee has been attacked and is offering attacks in both counter attack and diversionary tactics trying to upset Grants schedule of warfare. Lee is trying to buy time. His finest Generals Longstreet, Ewell, Beauregard, A.P. Hill are fighting all along the corridor between Richmond and Petersburg with limited victories.
Continued Union attacks on strategic crossroads and the railroads, Lee’s lifeblood of Confederate supply are breaking the morale of the CSA as well as limiting necessary supplies to Lee’s exhausted and battle weary troops. His choices will diminish after his victory at “The Crater” and Union cavalry and reinforced infantry will batter the CSA at New Market, Fairoaks, Deep Bottom as well as making a new push against Richmond.
CSA General Jubal Early, a spirited and tenacious leader with a sharp tongue has even staged raids and limited cavalry attacks in Maryland and Pennsylvania as close as the District of Columbia as possible to take pressure off the Confederate Army.
Lee will shift what troops he has to assist Richmond but his lines will continue to be over extended until he must surrender Petersburg and Richmond in April, 1865.
Battle outcome: Union victories overall as Lee is pushed toward Appomattox.
Soldiers: Union-125,000 / CSA – 52,000 typical
Casualties: Union-approx. 48,000 / CSA – approx. 28,000
Civil War Battles
July 22, 1864 Battle of Atlanta
Attack: Union General William Tecumseh Sherman is now commander of the Union Armies in the Western Theater, as Grant has taken full command of the Federal Army and has been battling Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia.
Sherman has engaged CSA General Joseph E. Johnston in continuing his fight in the Atlanta Campaign at places such as Battle of Resaca and the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain. These were flanking maneuvers by Sherman whereas Johnston would withdraw before envelopment. The CSA command feels Johnston is holding back the fight and replaces him with CSA Lt. General John Bell Hood on July 17th, 1864.
Hood will fake a withdrawal and than attack Sherman southeast of the city, as Sherman continues to gain control of the railroad hubs in and near Atlanta in the area of Decatur, Georgia. Union counter attacks generally regain control after several attempts by Hood to break the Union line.
Union Major General James B. McPherson under Sherman has been attacked by Hood’s Confederate Army defending Atlanta. McPherson personally rides out to check his battle lines that Hood has been trying to flank side and rear.
While riding he is jumped by Rebel skirmishers who order him to halt! McPherson seems to be reaching to his hat when he suddenly turns his horse attempting to gallop away. The Rebels open fire and McPherson is mortally wounded.
McPherson will have the distinction of being the only Union Army Commander ( “Army of the Tennessee”) to be killed in the field.
Defense: CSA Lt. General John Bell Hood has been given command of the Confederate forces defending Atlanta replacing Joseph E. Johnston. Hood is known for his tenacity and will design an attack to feign retreat by moving his lines, while sweeping CSA troops under Hardee around the east and rear of the Union flanks.
The bold attack will stall when the flanking CSA units run into Union support units before they anticipated, while the main CSA forces attack the Union front. Confederate forces begin to roll up the Union left flank but are repulsed when Sherman orders 3 batteries ( 20 cannon) massed near his headquarters by “Copen Hill ” to order a concentrated artillery fire on the attacking rebels.
The CSA attack is stalled and Hood is finally pushed back by the Union XV Corp under Union Major General John A. Logan in a desperate counter attack. The Union lines are restored and the Sherman continues his siege of the city.
The Rebels can still hold the city as they have supplies via their last railroad via Macon, Georgia. On August 31,1864 that last supply line is cut when the courage and will of the Rebel cavalry is finally overwhelmed at Jonesborough, Georgia and Hood’s army is forced back to Lovejoy’s Station.
Hood will burn over 80 railroad cars of supplies and ammunition as he abandons Atlanta, Georgia on September 1. The fire and explosions will be remembered as a sad and ghastly end for the Confederacy in Georgia, as they retreat from the firestorm.
Atlanta, Georgia is surrendered on September 2, 1864 to Union forces by the Mayor and the city committee.
Sherman will wire Washington of the hard won Union victory on September 3rd, stating “Atlanta is ours, and fairly won”.
This victory well covered by Union press will have a tremendous morale boost to Northern war sentiment. The war weary north will see Lincoln and his Union Army in a new light, pushing him to a landslide victory in the Presidential re-election over former Union General George McClellen and his “Peace Party”.
Battle outcome: Union victory.
Soldiers: Union-40,500 / CSA – 35,000 approx.
Casualties: Union-3,641 / CSA – 8,499
October 19,1864 Battle of Cedar Creek
Attack: CSA General Jubal Early has been operating against Grant and Philip Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley, and as far north as Chambersburg,Pa.which the rebels put to the torch just months before.
The Valley was the bread basket for the Confederacy and Early and Lee understand its importance. The CSA Army is loosing the fight by degrees and see an opportunity when Union General Sheridan orders the VI Corp to Petersburg,Va., reducing his Union forces to a size worth attacking to defeat and drive from The Valley. Lee and Early seize the opportunity.
Early has engaged Sheridan for 5 days and is hoping on Lee’s recent advice to “endeavor to crush” Sheridan out of The Shenandoah Valley.
Sheridan has recalled the VI Corp after advice, but leaves on October 16th for a conference in Washington with Secretary of War Edwin Stanton.
Early will take the initiative and attack just before dawn on October 19, a successful 3 pronged surprise attack that rolls up the Union flank under General Crook so fast the Union soldiers were half dressed as they ran from their camps.By 10AM Early has pushed the Union army off the battlefield.
The successful CSA attack stalls however when so many of Early’s hungry and exhausted men fall out of ranks to pillage the Union camps for food and supplies.
Early himself seems half-hearted to continue the attack advising CSA Major General John B. Gordon to continue the attack only if seemed to be successful. This order given at approx. 1:00PM has given the Union time to stop their route and reform lines for a counterattack, that the Confederates do not expect.
Gordon will speak of this timely delay after the war. He stated..
“My heart went into my boots. Visions of the fatal halt on the first day at Gettysburg, and of the whole day’s hesitation to permit an assault on Grant’s exposed flank on the 6th of May in The Wilderness rose before me.”
Defense: The epic poem “Sheridan’s Ride” by Thomas Buchanan Read told the dramatic story of the timely ride by Union General Philip Sheridan who was in Winchester on Oct.18 the eve before the battle. Returning from his conference wih Secretary of War Stanton and LIncoln, Sheridan felt that Early was not in a position to attack.
The next morning he is advised by pickets that artillery can be heard, and Sheridan feels it is Union artillery making a display and not a threat. He has breakfast about 6am and is advised the sound of battle southeast of Winchester is increasing.
Union command is under Union Major General Horatio G. Wright in Sheridans absence, who is under full attack as his 7 divisions are being driven from the field in disarray after Early’s dawn attack. The Union will have fast losses including 1,300 taken as prisoners as well as lose 24 artillery pieces to the rebels. Time is short and the Union army has crumbled and is in trouble by just 10am.
Sheridan is riding hard since 9am to the battle on his horse Rienzi with a few staff and is reinforced by approx. 300 cavalry along the way, when they meet the beginning of the Union army in full retreat. Cavalry units are spread out in line to stop the pell mell retreat of the Union army.
Sheridan is yelling “Come on back, boys! Give ’em hell, God damn ’em! We’ll make coffee out of Cedar Creek tonight, as the soldiers stop their retreat and start to reform, understanding Sheridan’s words mean a bold counterattack.
It is a fact that the day will be turned against Early’s army due to their pausing their successful advance when Early’s men stop to pillage the Union camps for food and supplies. This buys the Union army the time to stop their retreat, reform and attack Early, pushing him back in a full route when Union cavalry under Custer and Wharton charge past the Confederate flanks in a planned envelopment.
The rebel army has no choice but to fall back in their own retreat that will bring them back to New Market, and the end of their brave defense of “The Valley”.
The Battle of Cedar Creek is a deafening blow to the south regarding control of the Shenandoah and the food supplies it afforded the Confederate army. Lee will never again be able to bring his army north through the valley to attack the north again.
The defense by the Union forces during the initial route was as in most battles held by a few brave few while others just ran. One of the few brave Union officers that day that in fact bought time as well as established a rallying point for the confused Federals was a young Union Captain Henry A. DuPont,just 26 years old as acting chief of Union General Crook’s artillery.
For his actions, DuPont will be one of 12 Union soldiers at The Battle of Cedar Creek to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. He will later enter business and politics, serving in Senate seats for Delaware from 1906-1917. Men liked DuPont saved the battle for the Union.
Battle outcome: Dramatic Union victory.
Soldiers: Union-31,600 approx./ CSA-21,102
Casualties: Union – 5,764 (569 killed) / CSA – 2,910 (320 killed)
Nov. 15,1864 Sherman’s March to the Sea
General William T. Sherman has destroyed Atlanta and is confident he can break his supply lines and march his 60,000+ army east to the sea at Savannah. Sherman will live off the land and “make Georgia howl”, inflicting the demoralization to the state that he knows will break the south. Lincoln’s concern for the possible failure of the plan devised by Grant and Sherman is expressed clearly.
Less of a battle than a movement of an army of soldiers 60 miles wide that will forage and steal with terror and violence encountering resistance in several small battles that did little to stall the main advance that had been split into columns, confusing the Confederate cavalry as to the Federals final destination of Macon, Augusta or Savannah.
Practicing a “scorched earth” policy, Sherman’s “bummers” will burn and kill livestock and stores they cannot carry with them. Infrastructure that could assist the Rebel army such as buildings and bridges are destroyed. Railroads are torn up and tracks twisted into ” Sherman’s bowties”.
He will reach the outskirts of Savannah on December 15, opposing a 10,000 man CSA force and rice fields flooded to slow his advance. He will punch through to reach the U.S Navy under Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren, finally being resupplied after 5 weeks of marching and fighting.
Over 300 miles and one month later he will arrive in Savannah. The basic strategy and tactics of the plan are a success.
December 21,1864.. Sherman wires President Abraham Lincoln “I beg to present you as a Christmas gift the City of Savannah, with one hundred and fifty guns and plenty of ammunition, also about twenty-five thousand bales of cotton.”
Civil War Battles
December 15,1864 Battle of Nashville
The final battle of the Western Theater of the Civil War, CSA Lt. General John Bell Hood will have a final stand with the CSA Army of Tennessee.
A skilled and devoted CSA General ( he lost an arm at Gettysburg) who believed in attacking, he will suffer a beating at Franklin after his assaults, and choose to take up defensive positions outside of Nashville.
Union Major General George Thomas ( the “Rock of Chickamauga”.), will wait for to reinforce his cavalry before his attack on Hood, Knowing he is up against the skilled Confederate cavalry General Nathan Bedford Forrest.
This will take up to 2 weeks, a result delays and a snow storm that makes Lincoln comment “This seems like the McClellan and Rosecrans strategy of do nothing and let the rebels raid the country.”
Note: George Thomas was a Virginian who stayed loyal to the blue..his mother and sister turned his home portraits upside down on the wall after he went with the Union.
Major General George Thomas will untimately take Nashville from actions combined with the Navy, rolling up the Confederate lines and taking large numbers of prisoners. The CSA Army of Tennessee under Hood is reduced, no longer a fighting force.
CSA cavalry General Nathan Bedford Forrest will fight 3 days of rear guard actions covering Hood’s retreat back to Franklin.
The Battle of Nashville will be the last of the great Civil War Battles fought in the Western Theater.
Battle Outcome: Union victory.
Soldiers: Union-55,000 / CSA-30,000
Casualties: Union – 3,061 ( 2,940 approx. KIA or wounded) / CSA – 6,000 (1,500 KIA or wounded)
Feb. 17, 1865 Sherman captures Columbia, S.Carolina
Union General William Tecumseh Sherman has been marching and destroying the Georgia countryside and infrastructure since leaving Atlanta and marching east to the coast. He has captured Savannah, delivered to Lincoln as a Christmas present just days before.
Commander in Chief General U.S.Grant orders Sherman to take his troops aboard steamers and meet in Virginia to assist in confronting Lee.
Sherman has instead a different plan, as he requests to Grant that his men stay on the ground and start marching north though S.Carolina.
Sherman will march his “bummers” destroying the agriculture and infrastructure, finally taking the state capital at Columbia, S.Carolina on Feb. 17, 1865. Most of the inner city is burned, although Sherman will later state he did not order the burning of the city. Some felt the fires were actually started by retreating Confederates burning stores, mostly cotton.
Sherman will continue his march into N.Carolina, although the damage his men did to this “reluctant Confederate State” was minimal. The fall of Fort Fisher and Wilmington,N. Carolina closes the last port for Rebel blockade runners on the Atlantic coast. The Union iron ring is closing.
Sherman, Grant and President Lincoln will meet together for the first time during the war at City Point, N. Carolina.
April 2, 1865 Fall of Petersburg, Virginia
April 2 ,1865…Fall of Petersburg,Virginia as General Grant withstands the last attacks from the Confederates as he is dug in around the city. Counter attacks by Union forces including the Battle of Five Forks will begin to compress Lee’s dwindling forces. Lee’s last attack comes on April 1 and he will continue abandoning his trenches around Petersburg, Virginia.
This concludes a siege that lasted since June 9, 1864 and included dozens of battles and skirmishes along the 30 mile trench line that extended from Petersburg to Richmond.
Lee will abandon the Confederate capital at Richmond, Virginia on April 3, 1865. President Lincoln will travel on April 4th to Richmond, visiting Confederate President Jefferson Davis’ “White House”, actually taking a moment to sit in the former Confederate Presidents’ office chair.
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