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Civil War Battles summary: The Civil War consisted of nearly 10,500 battles, engagements, and other military actions including nearly 50 major battles and about 100 others that had major significance. The remainder were skirmishes, reconnaissances, naval engagements, sieges, bombardments, etc. The engagements were fought in 23 different states and resulted in a total of over 650,000 casualties.
The battles are divided amongst designated theaters including the Eastern Theater, Western Theater, Trans-Mississippi Theater, Gulf Coast and Sioux (Dakota) Uprising.
Below is a chronological list of the more famous and important Civil War battles.
Civil War Battles: 1861
Battle of Fort Sumter
Charleston Harbor, South Carolina.
The bombardment/siege and ultimate surrender of Fort Sumter by Brig. General P.G.T. Beauregard was the official start of the Civil War. Learn more about the Battle Of Fort Sumter
Battle of Philippi
A skirmish involving over 3,000 soldiers, Philippi was the first battle of the American Civil War. Learn more about the Battle Of Philippi
The skirmish of Big Bethel was the first land battle of the civil war and was a portent of the carnage that was to come. Learn more about Big Bethel
Rich Mountain (West) Virginia
First Battle of Bull Run
Also known as First Manassas, the first major engagement of the American Civil War was a shocking rout of Union soldiers by confederates at Manassas Junction, VA. Learn more about the Battle Of Bull Run
Hatteras Inlet North Carolina
Carnifax Ferry, (West) Virginia
Cheat Mountain, (West) Virginia
Greenbrier River (West) Virginia
Battle of Santa Rosa Island
Santa Rosa Island (Florida)
The Battle of Santa Rosa Island was a failed attempt by Confederate forces to take the Union-held Fort Pickens Learn more about the Battle of Santa Rosa Island
Battle of Port Royal Sound
Port Royal Sound, South Carolina
The battle of Port Royal was one of the earliest amphibious operations of the American Civil War. Learn more about the Battle Of Port Royal
Camp Alleghany, (West) Virginia
Wildcat Mountain (Wildcat Camp), Kentucky
Rowlett’s Station, Kentucky
Battle of Wilson’s Creek
Wilson’s Creek/Oak Hills, Missouri
The Battle of Wilson’s Creek, aka Battle of Oak Hills, was the first major battle of the Western Theater and is often called the "Bull Run of the West." Learn more about the Battle of Wilson’s Creek
Siege of Lexington, Missouri
Battle of Belmont
General Ulysses S. Grant took command and began his Civil War career. Learn more about the Battle of Belmont
Round Mountain, Indian Territory
Chusto–Talasah, Indian Territory
Chustenahlah, Indian Territory
Mount Zion Church, Missouri
Civil War Battles: 1862
Roanoke Island, North Carolina
Battle Of Hampton Roads
Hampton Roads, Virginia
First battle between the ironclad warships; often called the battle between the Monitor
& the Merrimack
, the Merrimack
had already been renamed Virginia
when it was converted to an ironclad by the Confederacy. Learn more about the Battle Of Hampton Roads
New Berne, North Carolina
March 23–April 26
Siege of Fort Macon, North Carolina
April 5–May 4
Siege of Yorktown, Virginia
Eltham’s Landing, Virginia
Battle Of Winchester
The town of Winchester, Virginia’s strategic location makes it the site of numerous Civil War engagements Learn more about the Battle of Winchester
Hanover Courthouse, Virginia
Tranter’s Creek, North Carolina
Secessionville, South Carolina
Simmon’s Bluff, South Carolina
Beaver Dam Creek, Virginia*
Garnett’s Farm and Golding’s Farm, Virginia*
Savage Station and Allen’s Farm, Virginia*
White Oak Swamp, Virginia*
June 25-July 1
*The Seven Days Battle
(Collectively known as) Henrico County, Virginia
The Seven Days Battle was a series of battles in the Peninsula Campaign consisting of a Confederate counter-offensive which drove the Union Army away from the Confederate capitol of Richmond down the Virginia Peninsula. The list of individual battles appears above, beginning with Beaver Dam Creek and ending with Malvern Hill. Learn more about the Seven Days Battle
Rappahannock Station, Virginia
Manassas, Virginia (Prelude to Second Bull Run/Manassas)
Thoroughfare Gap, Virginia
Second Battle of Bull Run
The Second Battle of Bull Run, also called Second Manassas, resulted in a second defeat for Union troops in the area of First Bull Run (First Manassas), though it was not a complete rout like the first battle was. The Confederate victory set the stage for Robert E. Lee’s first invasion of the North, which would result in the Battle of Antietam. Learn more about the Second Battle of Bull Run
Battle of Ox Hill
The Battle of Ox Hill, aka Battle of Chantilly, was the final battle of the Northern Virginia Campaign Learn more about the Battle of Ox Hill
Harpers Ferry, (West) Virginia
Battle of South Mountain
Frederick County and Washington County, Maryland
The Battle of South Mountain, aka the Battle of Boonsborough Gap, was part of the Maryland Campaign and found Robert E. Lee delaying George Mcclellan’s army of Northern Virginia through three mountain passes. Learn more about the Battle of South Mountain
Battle of Antietam
The bloodiest single day in American history, the Battle of Antietam turned back Robert E. Lee’s first Northern invasion. Though tactically a draw, it was enough of a win to permit President Abraham Lincoln to announce his Emancipation Proclamation in its wake. When Lee’s adversary, Major General George B. McClellan failed to pursue following the battle, Lincoln removed him from command. Learn more about the Battle of Antietam
Battle of Shepherdstown
Shepherdstown, (West) Virginia
The Battle of Shepherdstown, aka Battle of Boteler’s Ford, was the final battle of the Maryland Campaign. Learn more about the Battle of Shepherdstown
Battle of Fredericksburg
More troops were present at the Battle of Fredericksburg than at any other battle of the American Civil War, including Gettysburg. Poor coordination of attacks by Union commanders, combined with strong Confederate defensive positions, resulted in a lopsided slaughter of Federal troops. Learn more about the Battle of Fredericksburg
White Hall, North Carolina
Goldsborough Bridge, North Carolina
Battle of Fort Henry
Fort Henry, Tennessee
The Battle of Fort Henry was the first major victory for the Union in the Western Theater, led by Brig. General Ulysess S. Grant Learn more about the Battle of Fort Henry
February 11–16, Siege of
Battle of Fort Donelson
Fort Donelson, Tennessee
The Battle of Fort Donelson saw Union General Ulysses S. Grant capture the fort, gaining him recognition as well as the nickname "Undonditional Surrender." Learn more about the Battle of Fort Donelson
March 3–April 8
Siege of New Madrid and Island No. 10, Missouri (Mississippi River)
Battle of Shiloh
The casualty totals of the Battle of Shiloh shocked Americans both North and South, with the two-day total exceeding that of all previous American wars combined. The battle turned back a Confederate attempt to re-capture Middle Tennessee and contributed to Union Major General Ulysses S. Grant’s reputation as a leader who would keep fighting even in adverse circumstances. Learn more about the Battle of Shiloh
Siege of Corinth
Henry Halleck took Corinth after a month-long siege. Learn more about the Siege of Corinth
Battle of Vicksburg
"The Confederate Gibraltar," Vicksburg, Mississippi, had to be captured before Union ships could safely traverse the entire length of the Mississippi. The Vicksburg Campaign lasted many months, leading to the Battle of Vicksburg in May 1863. After Federal assaults repulsed on May 19 and 22, the Union commander, Ulysses S. Grant, settled into siege warfare. Learn more about the Battle of Vicksburg
Battle of Richmond
The Battle of Richmond was the first major battle of the Kentucky Campaign and a stunning victory for Confederate forces. Learn more about the Battle of Richmond
Siege of Munfordville, Kentucky
Battle of Corinth
Two months after the Siege of Corinth, Maj. General William S. Rosecrans defeated the Confederate Army. Learn more about the Battle of Corinth
Hatchie’s Bridge, Tennessee
Battle of Perryville
Account of the 21st Wisconsin Infantry Regiment’s harrowing fight. Learn more about the Battle of Perryville
Chickasaw Bayou, Mississippi
Parker’s Crossroads, Tennessee
December 31–January 2
Battle of Stones River
The culmination of the Stones River Campaign, the battle of Stones River resulted in a 29% casualty rate, the same percentage as Chickamauga and behind only Gettysburg’s 31%. Learn more about the Battle of Stones River
Battle of Pea Ridge
Pea Ridge, Arkansas
The Battle of Pea Ridge, also called the Battle of Elkhorn Tavern, in Arkansas, marked a failed attempt by Confederate major general Earl Van Dorn to destroy the Union Army of the Southwest under Brigadier General Samuel Curtis. The victory solidified Union control over the state of Missouri for the next two years. Learn more about the Battle of Pea Ridge
Glorietta Pass, New Mexico
Hill’s Plantation, Arkansas
Old Fort Wayne, Indian Territory
Forts Jackson and Saint Phillip, Louisiana
Georgia Landing, Louisiana
Kock’s Plantation, Louisiana
Civil War Battles: 1863
Fort Anderson, North Carolina
Siege of Washington, North Carolina
Charleston Harbor, South Carolina
April 30–May 6
Battle of Chancellorsville
The Battle of Chancellorsville is widely regarded as General Robert E. Lee’s greatest victory. It turned back the Union Army of the Potomac under Joseph "Fighting Joe" Hooker, but it was a costly victory. Lee’s brilliant and aggressive corps commander Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson was mortally wounded by his own men, who mistook him and his staff for Union cavalry. Learn more about the Battle of Chancellorsville
Second Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia
Second Battle Of Winchester
Battle of Hanover
The Battle of Hanover was part of Robert E. Lee’s Gettysburg Campaign. Learn more about the Battle of Hanover
Battle of Gettysburg
The largest battle ever fought on the North American continent, Gettysburg marked the end of Robert E. Lee’s second invasion of the North and was a turning point in the Civil War. Learn more about the Battle of Gettysburg
Fort Wagner, South Carolina
Grimball’s Landing, South Carolina
July 18–Sept 7
Siege of Fort Wagner, South Carolina
Buffington Island, Ohio River (Ohio and West Virginia)
Bristoe Station, Virginia
Droop Mountain, West Virginia
Thompson’s Station, Tennessee
April 29–May 1
Snyder’s Bluff, Mississippi
Battle Of Raymond
The Battle Of Raymond was a key victory for Grant as part of his Vicksburg Campaign. Learn more about the… Battle Of Raymond
Champion’s Hill, Mississippi
Big Black River Bridge, Mississippi
May 18–July 4
Siege of Vicksburg
The Siege of Vicksburg represented the last phase of the Vicksburg Campaign where General Grant surrounded the city of Vicksburg, which finally surrendered on July 4. Learn more about the Siege of Vicksburg
Bombardment of Fort Sumter, South Carolina
Charleston Harbor, South Carolina
Davis Crossroads, Georgia
Battle Of Chickamauga
The largest battle fought in the Western Theater of the Civil War, Chickamauga was one of the few Confederate victories in that theater. Braxton Bragg’s Confederate Army of Tennessee, reinforced by a corps from the Army of Northern Virginia, routed the forces of Major General William S. Rosecrans. Bragg’s failure to follow up aggressively reduced an overwhelming Confederate victory to merely a tactical one. Learn more about the Battle Of Chickamauga
Sept 23–Oct 30
Siege of Chattanooga, Tennessee
Campbell’s Station, Tennessee
Battle Of Chattanooga
The Union victory at Chattanooga in November 1863 opened the road to Atlanta for Federal armies. Following the Battle of Chickamauga in September, Confederate troops besieged those of the Union in Chattanooga. After Ulysses S. Grant took command, the siege was broken, and the thinly stretched Confederates were driven from the ridges above the town by an impromptu charge by the Army of the Cumberland. Learn more about the Battle Of Chattanooga
Lookout Mountain (Chattanooga), Tennessee
Missionary Ridge (Chattanooga), Tennessee
Cabin Creek, Indian Territory
Honey Springs, Indian Territory
Vermillion Bayou Louisiana
May 21–July 9
Siege of Port Hudson, Louisiana
La Fourche Crossing, Louisiana
Goodrich Landing, Louisiana
Sterling’s Plantation, Louisiana
Civil War Battles: 1864
Albemarle Sound, North Carolina
Battle Of The Wilderness
Spotsylvania County, Virginia
The Battle of the Wilderness was the first clash between Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant. Three days of close-quarters fighting in woods and tangled underbrush resulted in nearly 20,000 total casualties. Although the Confederates could claim a tactical victory, the battle showed that the North’s largest army would no longer retreat after a reverse, and Lee’s army was slowly pushed back to trenches around Richmond and Petersburg. Learn more about the Battle Of The Wilderness
Port Walthall Junction, Virginia
Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse
Spotsylvania County, Virginia
Part of Ulysses S. Grant’s Overland Campaign in Virginia in the summer of 1864, the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse was a costly tactical victory for Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, which could not hope to win a war of attrition. Learn more about the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse
Cloyd’s Mountain, Virginia
Chester Station, Virginia
Battle of Yellow Tavern
Henrico County, Virginia
The Battle of Yellow Tavern was a cavalry battle which was part of the Overland Campaign which saw J.E.B. Stuart mortally wounded. Learn more about the Battle of Yellow Tavern
Proctor’s Creek, Virginia
Battle of New Market
Shenandoah County, Virginia
The Confederates, along with cadets from VMI, drove Union General Franz Sigel out of the Shenandoah Valley. Learn more about the Battle of New Market
Ware Bottom Church, Virginia
May 31-June 12
Battle of Cold Harbor
Cold Harbor, Virginia
The Battle of Cold Harbor marked the end of Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant’s Overland Campaign known for the 7,000 Union Casualties suffered in under an hour in a frontal assault on Confederate lines. Learn more about the Battle of Cold Harbor
Battle of Petersburg
The Battle of Petersburg, Virginia (siege of Petersburg), June 9, 1864, to March 25, 1865, marked a change in tactics in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War. Instead of the campaigns of maneuver that had characterized the war up to that point, Union and Confederate armies fought a series of trench-warfare battles more like those of World War I than of the Civil War. Learn more about the Battle of Petersburg
Jerusalem Plank Road, Virginia
Saint Mary’s Church, Virginia
Stanton River Bridge, Virginia
Fort Stevens, Washington, DC
Rutherford Farm, Virginia
Battle of the Crater, Siege of Petersburg, Virginia
Moorefield, West Virginia
Smithfield Crossing, Virginia
Battle of Fisher’s Hill
Fisher’s Hill, Virginia
Union Major General Philip H. Sheridan attacked the seemingly impregnable heights of Fisher’s Hill, grandly known as the ‘Gibraltar of the Shenandoah Valley.’ Learn more about the Battle of Fisher’s Hill
Darbytown & New Market roads, Virginia
Boydton Plank Road, Virginia
Fair Oaks & Darbytown Road
Battle of Fort Pillow
Fort Pillow, Tennessee
Nathan Bedford Forrest’s command captures a Mississippi River fort in Tennessee, leading to a massacre of many of the United States Colored Troops defending the fort. Learn more about the Battle of Fort Pillow
Battle of Resaca
Major General William T. Sherman took on Joseph E. Johnston during the Atlanta campaign. Learn more about the Battle of Resaca
Battle Of Peachtree Creek
Peach Tree Creek, Georgia
The Battle of Peachtree Creek was part of the Atlanta Campaign and was the first major attack by Lt. General John G. Hood. Learn more about the Battle Of Peachtree Creek
Battle of Atlanta
Union victory in the Battle of Atlanta, July 22, 1864, is often credited as the turning point that allowed Abraham Lincoln to be re-elected president instead of his opponent, George B. McClellan, who would have sought peace terms with the Confederacy. After the battle, Confederate troops set fire to the city before evacuating, to deny its resources to William T. Sherman’s Federal troops. Learn more about the Battle of Atlanta
Lovejoy’s Station, Georgia
Battle of Franklin
Account of the bloody confederate slaughter in Franklin, Tennessee. Learn more about the Battle of Franklin
Honey Hill, South Carolina
Battle of Waynesborough
The Battle of Waynesborough was one of the later battles of Sherman’s March to the Sea and opened the route to Savannah. Learn more about the Battle of Waynesborough
Battle of Nashville
The battle of Nashville was the last major battle in the Western Theater and a major victory for the Union. Learn more about the Battle of Nashville
Fort Fisher, North Carolina
Middle Boggy Depot, Indian Territory
Blairs Landing, Louisiana
Little Blue River, Missouri
Battle of Mobile Bay
Mobile Bay, Alabama
In the Battle of Mobile Bay, Alabama, August 5, 1864, a Union fleet under Rear Admiral David G. Farragut, attacked and defeated a smaller, less well-equipped Confederate naval force. The battle is most often remembered for a line Farragut may or may not have actually spoken: Warned there were torpedoes (mines) floating in the harbor, he reportedly said, "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!" Learn more about the Battle of Mobile Bay
Off Cherbourg, France
June 25, USS Kearsarge fights CSS Alabama
Civil War Battles: 1865
Dinwiddie Courthouse, Virginia
Sutherland’s Station, Virginia
Namozine Church, Virginia
Amelia Springs, Virginia*
Rice’s Station, Virginia*
Battle of Sailor’s Creek
Amelia County, Virginia
The Battle of Sailor’s Creek was part of the Appomattox Campaign during the final days of the civil war and was Robert E. Lee’s last battle before surrendering at Appomattox Court House Learn more about the Battle of Sailor’s Creek
Cumberland Church, Virginia*
Battle of Appomattox Courthouse*
Appomattox Station, Virginia*
The Battle of Appomattox Courthouse was the last battle fought by Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. After his attempt to break out of a closing trap failed, Lee met with Ulysses S. Grant to surrender his army. Although the Civil War did not end with the surrender at Appomattox, the loss of the South’s largest army was the death knell of the Confederacy. Learn more about the Battle of Appomattox Courthouse
(*Collectively known as the Appomattox Campaign.)
Fort Fisher, North Carolina
Rivers Bridge, South Carolina
Wilmington, North Carolina
Wyse Fork, North Carolina
Monroe’s Crossroads, North Carolina
Averasborough, North Carolina
Bentonville, North Carolina
Battle of Palmetto Ranch
Palmetto Ranch, Texas
Mar 27–April 8
Siege of Spanish Fort, Alabama
Siege of Fort Blakely, Alabama
Banner image Battle of Corinth, Miss. Oct. 4th 1862, Currier & Ives, Library of Congress
Articles Featuring Civil War Battles From History Net Magazines
Book Review: The Monitor Chronicles (edited by William Marvel): CWTThe Monitor Chronicles, edited by William Marvel, Simon and Schuster, New York, 212-698-7541, 267 pages, $35.00. No engagement of the Civil War had greater implications for naval warfare than the March 1862 clash between the U.S.S. Monitor and the C.S.S. Virginia (the former U.S.S. Merrimack, by which name she is still best known. Yet comparatively …
September – October 1862General Lee heads north, producing a bloodbath in Maryland. And Abraham Lincoln presses emancipation September 2 – In the aftermath of the Union’s second loss at Bull Run, George McClellan is restored to full command of the Army of the Potomac, incorporating Maj. Gen. John Pope’s Army of Virginia. Pope will be sent west to …
Julian Scott Civil War PainterCurator Michael McAfee talks about artist Julian Scott and 51st New York Infantry at Antietam.
Battlefields&Beyond: New York CityHarold Holzer's Top 13 Civil War Sites in NYC.
Ambrose Bierce and America’s First Great War StoriesAuthor and Civil War veteran Ambrose Bierce wrote of an ugly war, not the romanticized version found in most writings by his fellow veterans. His war was waged deep within the conscience of the individual solider and was often cloaked in supernaturalism.
Major General Adelbert Ames: Forgotten Man of the 20th MaineJune Issue Extra: Adelbert Ames preceded Joshua Chamberlain as colonel of the 20th Maine
1862: May and JuneLincoln urges farmers to go west, McClellan stalls and a new Rebel commander takes over May 3 – Confederate General Joseph Johnston orders troops to evacuate Norfolk, Va. Evacuation is completed May 10, and on May 11, the crew of the CSS Virginia burn the ship because it is too heavy to flee up the …
Field Notes – Civil War news and historyThe J.E.B. Stuart statue in Richmond, Va.New messages for old statues? It wasn’t quite art, but it wasn’t quite vandalism either. So Richmond, Va., police and park employees were a bit stumped at how to handle ink-on-canvas plaques that were mysteriously bolted to the city’s iconic monuments of its Confederate war heroes last December. The …
Emory Upton and the Shaping of the U.S. ArmyHow one soldier’s combat experiences and study of the world's great military powers led to a tactical revolution
‘John Brown’s Body’ – Stephen Vincent Benet and Civil War Memory'John Brown's Body' by Stephen Vincent Benet, published in 1928, remains a vibrant tapestry of America's diversity and its unity, its 15,000 lines re-imagining the Civil War as Lincoln understood it.
Sherman’s Folly at ShilohBefore one of the Civil War’s most brutal battles, one of its finest generals ignored signs of danger—and paid a steep price
Union at ShilohA letter from Pvt. William Christie, 1st Minnesota Battery, to his father. Christie’s battery lost three men killed and six men wounded. I supposed you have heard of the great battle on the 6th and 7th of this month. You will be proud to know that we were in the front of the battle, and …
Confederates at ShilohOn April 6, 1862, following the first day of fighting, General Ulysses Grant ordered Union gunboats on the Tennessee River to fire broadsides all through the night, in an effort to unnerve the enemy. John S. Cockerill of the 70th Ohio, Buckland’s Brigade, recalled of that long, rainy night: “Wandering along the beach among the …
March and April, 1862Stunning events on land and sea: Naval warfare is reinvented and a placid church gets a bloodbath March March 3 – President Lincoln appoints Andrew Johnson, the only Southern U.S. senator to remain loyal after his state seceded, military governor of Tennessee March 4 – Henry Halleck orders Ulysses S. Grant to turn his forces …
Ron Maxwell Interview – ‘Gods and Generals’ Extended Director’s CutA HistoryNet exclusive interview with director Ron Maxwell about the extended director's cut of his film Gods and Generals, now available on DVD and Blu-Ray.
George Crook at the Battle of KernstownDid the Union general’s refusal to listen cost him the Second Battle of Kernstown?
Civil War Book ReviewsFrom Battlefields Rising: How the Civil War Transformed American Literature, by Randall Fuller (Oxford University Press, 2010) Mightier Than the Sword: Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the Battle for America, by Davis S. Reynolds (Norton, 2010) REVIEWED BY NAN SIEGEL “The real war will never get into the books,” claimed Walt Whitman. Yet Whitman’s work is …
Longstreet – Scapegoat or CulpritDid Lee order Longstreet to attack at dawn on July 2 at Gettysburg? Did Longstreet drag his feet because he disapproved?
In Time of War – 150 years agoJanuary 1 – The Lincoln administration releases Confederate emissaries James Mason and John Slidell from Fort Warren in Boston Harbor, ending the Trent Affair. The diplomats continued their voyage to Europe, on an unsuccessful mission to win support for the Confederacy from Britain and France. – Stonewall Jackson begins the Romney Campaign near Winchester, Va. …
Wounds from the Washita: The Major Elliott AffairThe death of popular 7th U.S. Cavalry officer Major Joel Elliott at the 1868 Battle of the Washita—and Lt. Col. George Custer's response to it—spawned disunity within the ill-starred unit
Antietam Battlefield’s Miller farmhouse gets a faceliftHalfway through a five-year renovation of the historic Miller farmhouse at Antietam National Battlefield, the Park Service preservation teams have been offering a handful of sneak previews of their handiwork. David Miller’s cornfield became an icon of the battlefield, after 10,000 men fell in four hours of fighting that saw the farmland change hands eight …
Who owns Gettysburg?Preservationists, residents, entrepreneurs and Civil War enthusiasts all want a stake in its legacy At times it seems as if there isn’t enough Gettysburg to go around, and almost 150 years after the nation-changing battle, the site remains a hotly contested territory. Local souvenir hawkers vie with Civil War zealots. Developers skirmish with preservationists. Longtime …
Tracing the ties that bindWe know what the famous guys were up to, but what were our own relatives doing during the war? Most of New Orleans thought Ben Butler was bad news, according to Dr. Charles Bias, who was teaching the Civil War history course I was taking in graduate school. My pal Kelly, sitting next to me, …
‘I Am Well and Hearty’ – Walt Whitman’s Brother in the Civil WarWalt Whitman has the reputation as a Civil War writer, but it was his younger brother, George Washington Whitman, who saw the war up close and personal as a member of Company K, 51st New York Volunteer Infantry.
Churchill Imagines How the South Won the Civil WarIn Winston Churchill’s fanciful alternative history, Robert E. Lee wins at Gettysburg, and Jeb Stuart prevents World War I
The War List: Overrated Civil War OfficersHistorian Gary W. Gallagher picks Union and Confederate officers whose hype doesn't match reality.
Photo Essay: 150th Anniversary of First Manassas-Bull RunNearly 9,000 Civil War reenactors staged battle re-creations as part of the activities commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Manassas/Battle of Bull Run.
The art of warThe 150th anniversary of our greatest conflict implores us to take another look Back in February, the London-based Art Newspaper, the most important journal in the museum world, published a front-page article bemoaning the shocking absence of American art exhibitions commemorating the Civil War sesquicentennial. The authors even quoted me speculating that perhaps we remain …
What a difference a day makesConfederate soldiers under the command of Gen. Robert E. Lee camp on the outskirts of Hagerstown, Maryland, in September of 1862. Image courtesy of World History Group archive. War seemed far away to the editors of a Maryland weekly newspaper–until the Battle of Antietam rocked their world On September 17, 1862, a new edition of …
Gaming board says no to Gettysburg casinoNo gambling for historic Civil War town Preservationists claimed victory in Gettysburg this spring when for the second time in five years, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board rejected plans for a casino on the fringes of Gettysburg National Military Park. The issue had turned into an at-times testy debate over jobs versus heritage, with opponents …
A National Park Service Living-History Volunteer’s StoryA volunteer at the Manassas National Battlefield Park talks about portraying history while wearing 45 pounds of clothing and accoutrements in summer heat, the questions visitors ask, and why he does it.
Who Was George G. Meade?Who Was George G. Meade? with Dr. Allen Guelzo, Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era at Gettysburg College and Author George Gordon Meade won fame as the victor of the Battle of Gettysburg, but not lasting fame. Unlike the commanders of other great battles (Wellington at Waterloo, Eisenhower at D-Day), Meade has …
Irreconcilable DifferencesWinston Groom, author of Vicksburg 1863, explores the reasons the North and South found themselves at war.
Who Was the Youngest Civil War GeneralTrivia buffs beware: Galusha Pennypacker’s claim to being the Civil War’s youngest general doesn’t hold up
World War Two in GettysburgScrap drives, war rallies and German POWs took over America’s preeminent battlefield
Jim Gavin: The General Who Jumped FirstThis leader never asked his men to do something he wouldn't—and didn't—do himself.
Irvin McDowell’s Best Laid PlansThe orderly advance of Union troops at the start of the battle would become a distant memory in the hellish retreat that followed the fighting. Picture credit: Frank Leslie'sThe ‘unexpected’ Rebels he met at Bull Run weren’t unexpected at all In the early summer of 1861, few people North or South believed the Confederate David …
McClellan’s War-Winning StrategyThe "young Napoleon" had a viable plan to beat the Confederacy. What went wrong?
Union Cavalry Escapes from Besieged Harpers FerryIn September 1862 some 1,600 Union cavalrymen seemingly trapped at Harpers Ferry carried out one of the Civil War's most successful missions of stealth and deception.
Gettysburg’s Best and Worst MonumentsWhat are Gettysburg's best and worst monuments?
Where is General George MeadeHow Union General George G. Meade became the Rodney Dangerfield of the Civil War
Secession – Revisionism or RealitySecession fever revisited We can take an honest look at history, or just revise it to make it more palatable Try this version of history: 150 years ago this spring, North Carolina and Tennessee became the final two Southern states to secede illegally from the sacred American Union in order to keep 4 million blacks …
Walmart Withdraws from Wilderness BattlefieldPreservationists win Wilderness battle Rather than face what would likely have been an image-bruising court fight, Walmart has abandoned plans to build a retail supercenter on the doorstep of the Wilderness battlefield in central Virginia. “This project has been controversial, and consequently it’s been the subject of a lot of internal discussion and debate,” Walmart …
The First Battle Of The Civil War – Philippi **Note on Philippi, the Civil War’s First Battle Inland: Many people ask, "What was the first battle of the Civil War?" The answers that are often given are ‘The Battle Of First Bull Run’ or ‘Fort Sumter.’ Chronologically, Fort Sumpter was the first battle, but it consisted of only a bombardment. And though the battle …
Building the Army of the PotomacStephen Sears writes of how the Army of the Potomac's politically appointed generals and short-term volunteer troops nearly unhinged Lincoln’s plans in 1861 to win the Civil War.
Robert E. Lee Takes ChargeGeneral George McClellan thought he was timid. Newspapers called him ‘Granny Lee.’ But once in command, the General Robert E. Lee attacked quickly and boldly.
Ask MHQ—North or South: Whose Was the Army of the Rebellion?Nowadays "Army of the Rebellion" is most commonly used to refer to the Confederates, but during the American Civil War the term was often applied to the Union forces as well.
Last Chance for Peace: Fort Sumter at 150For months the Confederates trained dozens of guns on Fort Sumter. But no one seemed eager for war.
Ten Civil War ClassicsThe country’s bloodiest war has been captured in novels, memoirs, and battle narratives. Here are 10 classics
Black Jack John Logan Goes to WarUnlike most politicians, John Logan played a pivotal role on the battlefield.
James Lighthizer, Civil War Trust PresidentEducation, Preservation, Dedication Civil War Trust President James Lighthizer has made saving endangered battlefields his life’s passion Jim Lighthizer. Photo by Kevin Johnson. What is the biggest threat to Civil War battlefield preservation right now? No question about it, development—the real estate land development. That’s what we face. If we didn’t have that, we wouldn’t …
Gideon Welles Blockades Charleston HarborThe one-way voyage of the Stone Fleet: An aging armada sets course to become an obstacle There may not have been a less impressive fleet in the entire history of the American Navy. The ships were old, long past their glory days, stripped of almost everything valuable and useful, permeated with the blood, oil and …
Union Spy in Confederate TerritoryUnion agent Pryce Lewis had his share of close calls
Lee to the RearA Texas private’s long-forgotten account of Robert E. Lee’s brush with death at the Battle of the Wilderness.
Battle Of Franklin: Civil War Sites – Carnton, Carter House, Lotz HouseThe Carter House, Lotz House and Carnton Plantation still stand as witnesses to the five bloody hours of fighting in the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee, November 30, 1864.
Survivors Remember Shiloh7 Lives Altered by Shiloh: Two Fateful Days Can Make Reputations, Shatter Families, and Shape Destinies
Pre Civil War Peace ConferenceAs secession fever spreads through the South, political patriarchs try to avert war—-but at what price?
10 Battles That Shaped AmericaAmerica was born of war, and the following 10 battles helped forge the nation and forever change world history.
S. Waite Rawls, Museum of the ConfederacyWaite Rawls Revels in His Role as the Keeper of the Confederacy’s Complex Legacy S. Waite Rawls has a name and heritage befitting a Confederate general. A Virginia Military Institute graduate, he’s got so many Rebel ancestors that he has a hard time remembering them all. For three decades he left the South behind, working …
Gen. George McClellan at Second ManassasGeneral Disobedience: ‘Little Mac’ let John Pope twist in the wind;
With response from Prof. Ethan S. Rafuse
Confederate AlamoRemembering the Confederates’ last stand at Petersburg: The Confederate Alamo: Bloodbath at Petersburg’s Fort Gregg on April 2, 1865 by John J. Fox III Angle Valley Press, 2010, $34.95 Although it typically doesn’t attract the attention it merits, April 2, 1865, was one of the most important days of the Civil War. That day, Federal …
Segways appear at Fredericksburg NMPSegways slipping silently across the battlefield might resemble the charge of the very, very light brigade, but the two-wheel, stand-up scooters could be an ideal way for tourists to inspect hallowed Civil War sites. Beginning in June, the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park offered Segway tours of the Spotsylvania Court House Battlefield, where a …
Was Secession LegalSoutherners insisted they could legally bolt from the Union. Northerners swore they could not. War would settle the matter for good. Over the centuries, various excuses have been employed for starting wars. Wars have been fought over land or honor. Wars have been fought over soccer (in the case of the conflict between Honduras and …
Antietam RememberedA veteran of Antietam spent his life collecting accounts of the war’s most horrific fighting
The Last Waltz: Prelude to the Siege of VicksburgIn August 1863 astonished Vicksburg revelers watch a convoy of Federal gunboats successfully pass the town's batteries, thanks to the keen observations and ingenuity of Union admiral David Porter.
John Howard, Superintendent, Antietam National BattlefieldSuperintendent John Howard plans to retire at year’s end after 16 years at the helm of Antietam National Battlefield. Here he shares a few parting thought. What accomplishment stands out most in your time at Antietam?John Howard. Photo by Tamela Baker. The thing I’m the proudest of is the fact that during that period of …
Gettysburg is an Endangered BattlefieldA proposed casino near the site of Pickett’s Charge has landed the Gettysburg National Military Park on the Civil War Preservation Trust’s list of the 10 most endangered battlefields in 2010. In its annual report History Under Siege, CWPT identified threats to the nation’s Civil War battlefields that range from wind turbines to a proposed …
True Causes of the Civil WarIrreconcilable Differences Simmering animosities between North and South signaled an American apocalypse Any man who takes it upon himself to explain the causes of the Civil War deserves whatever grief comes his way, regardless of his good intentions. Having acknowledged that, let me also say I have long believed there is no more concise or …
Murder in the Civil WarGetting away with murder The battlefield claimed many a brave officer, but there were a few others who met not-quite-so-honorable ends The death toll among general officers during the Civil War was staggering. Because military necessity often placed a general officer at the head of the army, generals were killed leading hopeless charges (Lewis A. …
Richard Ewell at GettysburgSecond-Guessing Dick Ewell: Why didn’t the Confederate general take Cemetery Hill on July 1, 1863?
Lee’s Unwritten MemoirWhy didn’t Robert E. Lee write his memoirs?
Is General Stanley A. McChrystal more like General John Pope or George McClellan?MSNBC's Keith Olbermann compares President Obama's predicament with General McChrystal to Lincoln's decision about General John Pope.
At Gettysburg with the Lousiana TigersThe Louisiana Tigers in the Gettysburg Campaign, June-July, 1863 By Scott L. Mingus Sr., Louisiana State University Press, 2009 The legendary Louisiana Tigers, one of the more feared units in the Army of Northern Virginia, get a welcome and comprehensive look in Scott Mingus’ new book. While the focus of the book is the critical …
Bruce Bustard, Curator, National ArchivesWhat makes this exhibit so different? For one, it’s not organized chronologically. Many of the exhibits we looked at start with Fort Sumter, then go to Manassas, then Shiloh, all the way along. But we’ve organized ours around certain theme areas: “Raising Armies,” “Breaking Apart” (which deals with both secession and slavery), “Prisoners and Casualties” …
The War Over Plunder: Who Owns Art Stolen in War?Over the past two decades, globalization, changing attitudes, and clearer international laws have emboldened aggrieved nations to demand the return of cultural property seized by enemy forces in the past, but laws alone can’t guarantee their success.
‘The Roar and Rattle': McClellan’s Missed Opportunities at AntietamThe Battle of Antietam resulted in more pivotal changes, across a broader spectrum of events—military, political, diplomatic, societal—than any other battle of the war. Yet if evaluated in purely military terms, it was not decisive at all.
Explosion at the Allegheny Arsenal‘Noble Union Girls’: The thousands of Northern women who worked in Federal arsenals risked their lives for the cause.
Israel Richardson at AntietamA Rising Star Struck Down in His Prime Until Antietam: The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army, by Jack C. Mason, Southern Illinois University Press Up to the moment he was mortally wounded along Antietam’s Sunken Road on September 17, 1862, Israel Richardson had been a rare bright spot in …
Emmitsburg Road Preservation CampaignCivil War Preservation Trust announces latest campaign Fundraising has begun for the preservation of a crucial two-acre parcel on the Gettysburg battlefield. The property, originally part of the historic Philip Snyder farm, lies along the Emmitsburg Road and is entirely surrounded by Gettysburg National Military Park. It has been a top land acquisition priority for …
Battlefield Preservation Effort – 7200 Acres at PetersburgU.S. Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) introduced the “Petersburg National Boundary Modification Act,” to protect 7,200 additional acres of historic battlefields around Petersburg, which would create the largest military park in the United States.
Irvin McDowell: The Most Unpopular Man in AmericaTwo words came to define McDowell’s military prowess for the general’s most critical
superiors: ‘Bull’ and ‘Run’
The Other Battle of Calcasieu PassDefenseless Yankees were no match for a girl named Babette.
Gettysburg maps sesquicentennial strategyCivil War battle strategy can be tricky enough itself to convey, but that wasn’t what was giving German journalist Hermann Schmid problems in Gettysburg last fall.
Lincoln’s Political GeneralsLincoln’s Political Generals, by David Work University of Illinois Press, 2009 Abraham Lincoln made his share of mistakes as commander in chief during the Civil War, but did his politically motivated appointments of nonmilitary men as Union generals help or hinder the war effort? The battlefield failures of the likes of Nathaniel Banks, Benjamin Butler …
Staying the Course at GettysburgLincoln's remarks gratified the war's proponents and silenced his critics
‘A White Man’s War’William T. Sherman’s adamant refusal to field African-American troops amounted to outright insubordination
Who kept U.S. Grant sober?John Rawlins used his brains and blue language to keep his boss in check.
Gettysburg Grows by 45 Acres: December/January 2010Gettysburg residents Wayne and Susan Hill recently donated 45 acres to the Gettysburg Foundation. Located near the eastern base of Big Round Top at the southern end of the battlefield, the acreage encompasses an area where Union skirmishers maneuvered on July 2, 1863, and Federal cavalry units participated in some of the final engagements of …
Why Doesn’t Grant Get the Love?: December 2009/January 2010Ulysses S. Grant has occupied dramatically different positions in the American pantheon. His imposing stature between the end of the Civil War and the early years of the 20th century cannot be disputed.
Murder and Mayhem Ride the Rails – Union Soldiers Rampage in VirginiaSmoke and fire filled the skies south of Petersburg in December 1864 as the Army of the Potomac’s V Corps targeted the Weldon Railroad. During a raid along this vital supply line linking southeastern Virginia with North Carolina, liquor-fueled Federals went on a rampage in a corner of the Old Dominion that thus far had …
A Promise FulfilledThe Emancipation Proclamation all but guaranteed the death of slavery, but exactly what that document did–and did not–do remains the subject of heated debate
Digging deeply into the earthworks at PetersburgIn the Trenches at Petersburg: Field Fortifications & Confederate Defeat by Earl J. Hess University of North Carolina Press, 2009 New biographies that focus on Civil War–era figures inevitably face the dilemma of how to interpret race, politics and equality in light of our own changing attitudes. No Civil War figure can possibly live up …
The Rise and Fall of CSS Virginia – GalleryDid a radical new Confederate gunship foil McClellan’s plan to end the Civil War in 1862? Photographs of the CSS Virginia and USS Monitor.
Edwin Forbes Gettysburg Paintings – GalleryScenes from the Battle of Gettysburg painted by the reporter and artist Edwin Forbes.
Six Weeks in the Saddle with Brig. Gen. John BufordUnion Brigadier General John Buford's troopers kept their carbines warm harassing Robert E. Lee's army during the 1863 Gettysburg campaign.
Capital Defense – Washington, D.C., in the Civil WarWhen the first inklings emerged early in 1861 that a fighting war pitting North versus South would soon break out, the residents of Washington, D.C.—at least those whose sympathies were with the Union—began to feel more than a little threatened. Though it was a haven for freed blacks, the District of Columbia also was the …
John Coski, Museum of the ConfederacyJohn Coski is the historian and library director at the Museum of the Confederacy. He is the author of The Confederate Battle Flag: America’s Most Embattled Emblem — Interview by Tamela Baker Describe the museum’s expansion to Appomattox, Fredericksburg and Fort Monroe. We are preparing to expand into a museum “system,” which is sort of …
Robert K. Krick, Chronicler of Robert E. Lee’s Army Robert Krick worked for 31 years as the chief historian at Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park and is a renowned expert on the Army of Northern Virginia Interview by Kim A. O’Connell How did a California kid get so interested in the Army of Northern Virginia? I have no Confederate propinquity of any …
The South’s Last Great VictoryAn alliance of the Confederacy’s eastern and western armies earned a bloody triumph at the September 1863 Battle of Chickamauga
9th Massachusetts BatteryHistorynet Image This monument marks the 9th Massachusetts Battery’s initial position along the Wheatfield Road at Gettysburg. The artillerymen conducted a fighting retreat with their 12-pounder Napoleons to the Trostle Farm in the background. For more information visit: http://home.comcast.net/~9thmassbattery/
Hanging Captain GordonNathaniel Gordon was the only American sent to the gallows for slave traiding.
Lincoln or BustAbraham Lincoln posed for several famous photographs at Alexander Gardner’s Washington, D.C., gallery on November 8, 1863: one with his private secretaries John Nicolay and John Hay, and another full-face close-up that showed the steely-eyed president staring directly into the camera. The pictures were taken just 11 days before Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address, adding …
Here’s evidence that Abraham Lincoln was as good as his wordsKaplan has done a service to Lincoln scholars and general readers alike by reconstructing Lincoln's self-education, and showing how the books he read and reread may have shaped his mind.
Believe it or not, here’s something new on LeeRobert E. Lee and the Fall of the Confederacy, 1863-1865 by Ethan S. Rafuse Rowman & Littlefield, 2008 Is it really possible there’s anything new to say about Robert E. Lee, who probably has had more written about him than any other Civil War military figure? Ethan Rafuse clearly thinks so, and in Robert E. …
Did Robert E. Lee Doom Himself at Gettysburg?By blindly relying on poor intelligence and saying far too little to his generals, Lee may have sealed the Rebels’ fate.
Two Ways to Approach One War: August/September 2009Two Civil Wars await anyone seeking to understand our transformative national trial.
Vicksburg: From Mint Juleps to Bomb BurstsVicksburg 1863, by Winston Groom, Alfred A. Knopf Winston Groom is a first-rate spinner of yarns, and like the tales of his most famous fictional character, Forrest Gump, his accounts seamlessly transport readers into the story. Vicksburg 1863 is Groom’s second foray into Civil War history, and though he uncovers no new material in chronicling …
Mothers of the Lost CauseAn army of determined Southern women buried the dead but kept
the mythic Confederate legacy of the Lost Cause alive
They’re Called Killing Grounds for a Reason: February/March 2009A 10-year study of the geomorphology of Civil War battlefields reveal connection between geological features and casualties.
Go To Gettysburg!: February/March 2009Noted historian Gary W. Gallagher gives his perspective in the Civil War Times bi-monthly column Blue and Gray.
Fighting Dick and his Fighting MenOn a bleak hillside overlooking the battleground of Sailor’s Creek, General Robert E. Lee watched as hundreds of his men fled through the fields and wooded ravines below. “Men without guns, many without hats,” one witness recalled, “all mingled with teamsters riding their mules with dangling traces.” A relentless barrage of Union attacks on the …
Decision at The Battle of Five Forks – 1865The headstrong Gen. Philip Sheridan (left) had little patience for the careful battle tactics of Gen. Gouverneur Warren (right) and replaced him at Five Forks. But in 1880 Sheridan would be forced to justify his actions before a court of inquiry in New York. Photograph: Library of Congress Did Philip Sheridan forever tarnish a major …
Shiloh’s False HeroIn exchange for waving a white flag, Benjamin Prentiss
was hailed as the savior of the “Hornets’ Nest”
Letters from the Front – Correspondence Spanning Two Centuries of American WarCorrespondence from a two-century span of American wars, from the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror. Several feature audio recordings, including Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., reading the letter he wrote home about his experiences as a POW in World War II.
Ox Hill Battlefield: Honoring Second Bull Run’s Bloody PostscriptThe Battle of Ox Hill or Chantilly, in Virginia, has been commemorated with a new battlefield park along Rt. 608. The Sept. 1, 1862, battle was fought in a rainstorm and resulted in the death of Union generals Philip Kearny and Isaac Stevens.
Nicholas Biddle:The Civil War’s First BloodJust days after Fort Sumter, a pro-Confederate mob in Maryland turned ex-slave Nicholas Biddle into the war's first casualty.
Union General Daniel SicklesOn two separate battlefields, Union General Daniel Sickles carelessly exposed his men -- and the entire army -- to possible defeat. Only the quick actions of other Federal officers managed to compensate for Sickles' errors and keep his mistakes from becoming disasters. It was life as usual for 'Devil Dan.'
Ask MHQ – Did Confederate Generals Consider Attacking Washington?Did Confederate generals ever consider a direct attack on Washington during the Civil War? Noted author Steven A. Sears answers that question for a Military History Quarterly reader.
When Railroad Guns RuledFor 85 years, railroad guns were regarded as the ultimate weapon, large enough to do substantial damage but movable to wherever railroad tracks could go. Unparalleled bunker busters, they also terrorized civilians by firing on cities from afar.
Stumbling in Sherman’s PathStandard histories of Major General William T. Sherman’s celebrated March to the Sea invariably portray the Confederacy’s response as inconsequential. Such broad generalizations may assuage wounded Southern pride, but they also rewrite history.
Recently Discovered Memoir about Gen. T. J. ‘Stonewall’ JacksonAn overlooked manuscript in Special Collections, University of Virginia Library, contains a memoir about Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson by a man who was with him from VMI to Manassas.
O. T. Reilly – Relic Collector and Early Antietam Tour GuideO. T. Reilly was an early relic collector and tour guide living near the Antietam battlefield in Sharpsburg, Maryland. This article includes photos of many of the relics he collected.
Shot by Cupid’s Bow – Fanny and John Brown GordonConfederate General John Brown Gordon and his wife Fanny shared a loyal and passionate marriage for nearly 50 years. She spent much of the Civil War nursing him as he recovered from wounds and illness.
The 9 Lives of General John Brown GordonIndestructible Confederate general John B. Gordon survived multiple wounds and serious illnesses during the Civil War. From First Manassas to Appomattox, he proved nothing could keep a good man down.
Worn Out, Hungry and Broke: Confederate Discontent after GettysburgThe Civil War letters of two North Carolina soldiers reveal discontent in the post-Gettysburg Army of Northern Virginia.
Feeling the Past at GettysburgThe presence of the past can be felt at the Gettysburg battlefield, where so many Civil War soldiers laid down their lives.
John Burns of GettysburgBret Harte's poem, John Burns of Gettysburg, celebrates an elderly civilian who took up arms in defense of his home.
Reimaginining the SouthA Southerner learns the skeleton in her family closet wore a coat of Union blue.
‘A Stupid Old Useless Fool’William Nelson Pendleton was far more effective behind a pulpit than he was as Robert E. Lee's chief of artillery in the Army of Northern Virginia.
Daniel Sickles: An Unlikely Union GeneralThe Civil War salvaged Dan Sickles' career and saved him from financial ruin.
Death and Civil War America: Interview with Drew Gilpin FaustDrew Gilpin Faust discusses her book, "This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War," a thoughtful study of the impact of the war's massive death toll on society and government.
USS Galena: De-evolution of a WarshipThe ironclad USS Galena failed to live up to its "impervious" reputation and ended its career as a wooden-walled warship, but it saved lives at the Battle of Mobile Bay.
Letter From Civil War Times – January 2008What brought about the defeat of the Confederacy? For many years the prevailing theory was fairly simple: The Confederacy lost by a force of arms, beaten down on battlefields such as Shiloh?(see P. 30) by numerically superior Union armies. But historians started to revisit that argument in the 1990s. Some contended that the Confederacy ultimately …
Coming Apart From the Inside: How Internal Strife Brought Down the ConfederacyPoliticians and generals on the Confederate side have long been lionized as noble warriors who heroically fought for an honorable cause that had little chance of succeeding. In reality, the Confederate leadership was rife with infighting.
America’s Civil War Monuments: Hartford’s Stately Bridge Over Troubled WatersGeorge W. Keller's Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch in Hartford was a first-of-a-kind memorial in the United States.
The Union’s Bloody Miscue at Spotsylvania’s MuleshoeUlysses S. Grant's human battering ram assaults failed to break Robert E. Lee's position at the Muleshoe despite twenty hours of fighting at the Bloody Angle.
The Worst Battlefield Blunders: Five Battles That Ended BadlyBattlefield blunders can be as decisive as brilliant tactics. Five of the worst military blunders came at the battles of Gallipoli, Fredericksburg, Dien Bien Phu, Adwa, and Little Bighorn.
Sculpting a Scapegoat: Ambrose Burnside at AntietamA fresh examination of Major General Ambrose Burnside's actions at the Battle of Antietam suggests he was made into a scapegoat for others' failings.
Grenade!: The Little-Known Weapon of the Civil WarGrenades were used in the Civil War from Vicksburg to Petersburg, but they were often as dangerous to their users as to their targets.
America’s Civil War: Arming the South With Guns From the NorthConfederate battlefield victories depended in part on supplies of Northern weapons, particularly early in the war. William J. Hardee and Paul J. Semmes were sent North to procure those guns.
William J. Palmer: Forgotten Union General of America’s Civil WarWilliam J. Palmer raised the Anderson Troop, a mounted contingent of elite scouts, then recruited the 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry before being sent on spying missions that landed him in a Richmond prison.
Unraveling the Myths of Burnside BridgeIt is clear that Union general Ambrose Burnside’s failures at Antietam cannot be written off to ineptness or petty insubordination, but what really did happen at "Burnside's Bridge?"
Letter From America’s Civil War – September 2007September is America’s cruelest month. The three most costly events in human terms suffered by our country occurred in that ninth month of the year. On September 11, 2001, jets fell out of clear blue skies to kill roughly 3,000 people in New York City, Virginia and Pennsylvania. The Gulf of Mexico spread its wrath …
Antietam Eyewitness AccountsEyewitness accounts from soldiers who experienced the carnage of Antietam, America's bloodiest day.
War’s Lingering Devastation In the Antietam ValleyWilliam Roulette's farmstead was in the middle of mayhem at the Battle of Antietam. Determined to rebuild, Roulette painstakingly detailed the devastating losses suffered by his famiiy.
Battle of Antietam: Union Surgeons and Civilian Volunteers Help the WoundedUnion surgeons and civilian volunteers struggled to cope with thousands of Antietam wounded with makeshift hospitals in barns and barnyards, houses and churches, haystacks, pastures and flimsy tents around Sharpsburg, Maryland.
William T. Sherman’s First Campaign of DestructionBefore Gen. Willliam T. Sherman made Georgia howl, he burned a path through Mississippi, waging a war of destruction that left Southern civilians just enough for survival but not enough to support Confederate military activity.
At Washington’s Gates: Jubal Early’s Chance to Take the CapitolIn July 1864, Lt. Gen. Jubal Early led a Confederate army to the gates of Washington. What stopped him from capturing the Northern capital and its president, Abraham Lincoln?
Intelligence: The Secret War Within America’s Civil WarSpies, slaves, fake deserters, signal towers, and newspapers were all sources of intelligence Union and Confederate commanders used to peer into the enemy's plans.
Fighting and Dying for the Colors at GettysburgNearly two months after the battle of Gettysburg 24-year-old Isaac Dunsten of the 105th Pennsylvania Infantry lay on officers’ row at Camp Letterman, the large tent hospital established just east of the town. On July 2, 1863, the second day of the battle, a bullet had shattered the lieutenant’s right thigh. A splint was applied …
Vietnam War: Operation Dewey CanyonThe primary purpose of audacious Operation Dewey Canyon was to kill North Vietnamese Army troops and deny them supplies and access to the densely populated areas of the coastal lowlands. Controversy arose when U.S. Marines crossed into Laos.
Load the Hopper and Turn the Crank: Rapid-Fire Guns of the Civil WarRapid-fire weapons like the Gatling gun and the Coffee Mill gun were Civil War novelties, technology that was ahead of its time.
Spent Bullets Tell a Story at Antietam2007-05-14 | Buried beneath a sun-dappled corn field in western Maryland lies detritus from the millions of rounds fired during the battle of Antietam, the single bloodiest day in American history.
American Indian Sharpshooters at the Battle of the CraterLieutenant Freeman S. Bowley was fighting for his life in the man-made hellhole that was the Petersburg Crater when he noticed that the former slaves in his company of the 30th United States Colored Troops were not the only men of color wearing Union blue and dodging Confederate Minié balls on the stifling hot morning …
John Singleton Mosby’s RevengeA ragged line of Union soldiers stood in a field along Goose Creek in Rectortown, Virginia, on November 6, 1864. They jostled, chatted and joked with each other, pleased to be outdoors on a brisk autumn day. As prisoners of war these 27 Yankees had been confined to a brick store building in the village, …
Visiting Stonewall Jackson’s Left Arm at ChancellorsvilleGeneral Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson's amputated arm got its own grave at Ellwood Cemetery in Orange County, Virginia.
Custer’s Last Stand Still Stands UpThe Battle of the Little Bighorn is like a 10,000-piece jigsaw puzzle on the south-central Montana landscape - the stuff of legend and historical gamesmanship.
America’s Civil War: Where Does Private Jemison RestWhere is the final resting place of Confederate Private Edwin F. Jemison, killed at Malvern Hill?
Letter From April 2007 Civil War TimesThe Age of Machines and Steel It will hardly be revelatory to most people reading these pages to point out that the Civil War materialized on the cusp of a technological revolution. What may be surprising to some is the scope of this transformation, and the depth to which it affected everything from battlefield tactics …
Burning High Bridge: The South’s Last HopeIn the final week of the war in Virginia, small villages, crossroads and railroad depots previously untouched by the fighting took on enormous importance as Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant sought to bring General Robert E. Lee to bay and the Confederate chieftain struggled to escape a Federal encirclement. Among the most important of these …
Ulysses S. Grant: The ‘Unconditional Surrender ContinuesFor most general officers, a headline-making victory accompanied by the abject surrender of an entire enemy army, such as Ulysses “Unconditional Surrender” Grant accomplished at Fort Donelson in February 1862, would have been quite enough for one career. But Grant would make the most of two more opportunities for practicing the “art of surrender,” starting …
Battle of Chickamauga and Gordon Granger’s Reserve CorpsMajor General Gordon Granger's Reserve Corps of the Army of the Cumberland faced hard fighting at Chickamauga.
Letter From January 2007 Civil War TimesMore to War Than Fighting When you stop to consider everything that was involved in the day-to-day experience of a commanding general in the Civil War, you begin to wonder how they ever found any time to fight battles. It is natural for us to think of generals mounted atop noble steeds parading along the …
Ulysses S. Grant: The Myth of ‘Unconditional Surrender Begins at Fort DonelsonIn January 1943, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill met in secret near Casablanca, Morocco, for their second wartime summit meeting. At the final press conference on January 24, Roosevelt announced to the world that the Allies would not stop until they had the “unconditional surrender” of Germany, Italy and Japan. It was an impulsive …
Sapper Attack in the A Shau During the Vietnam WarFire Support Base Cunningham dominated the A Shau Valley. The sappers of the North Vietnamese Army's 812th Regiment were ordered to destroy it.
General Bragg’s Impossible Dream: Take KentuckyThe 1862 invasion of Kentucky had great promise, but disappointing results.
By Frank van der Linden
Battle of Cold Harbor: The Folly and HorrorThe blame for a broad command failure that led to 7,000 unnecessary Union casualties in a single hour applies to more than just the commander in chief.
By Robert N. Thompson
USS Monitor: A Cheesebox on a RaftSwedish-born John Ericsson's fight to get the U.S. Navy to accept his "cheesebox-on-a-raft" design for ironclads was almost as tough as the resulting duel between the Monitor and the Virginia (Merrimac).
America’s Civil War: Why the Irish Fought for the UnionThe Irish experience in the Civil War has probably received more attention — and celebration — than that of any other ethnic group. Mention of the Irish commonly conjures up images of the Irish Brigade’s doomed charge at Fredericksburg, of Father William Corby granting absolution before Gettysburg, or possibly the mourning wolfhound at the base …
Letter From October 2006 Civil War TimesThe Drive for War What is it that ultimately causes a person to willfully endure the horrors of combat, and if need be, sacrifice his or her life? Certainly the noble inducements of patriotism, honor, belief in a cause or the defense of one’s home are strong motivations. Then there are factors such as a …
Battle of Gettysburg: General George Sears Greene at Culp’s HillGeneral George Sears Greene led way on Culp's Hill on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg.
America’s Civil War: Defense of Little Round TopUnion Colonel Joshua Chamberlain has long been lauded as the hero of Gettysburg's Little Round Top. But do Chamberlain and the 20th Maine deserve all the credit, or did he have some unheralded help?
America’s Civil War: Little Round Top RegimentsRenowned for their valorous stand at Gettysburg, the Little Round Top Regiments saw many more days of combat, glory and horror before the Civil War ended.
Battle of Gettysburg FinaleGrievously wounded in body and spirit, the Army of Northern Virginia limped painfully away from Gettysburg while Union commander George Gordon Meade followed slowly -- too slowly, thought Abraham Lincoln.
America’s Civil War: The Fall of RichmondWhile Jefferson Davis and his stunned Cabinet crowded onto a refugee-jammed train, thousands of less exalted Richmond residents wandered the fire-reddened streets of the capital.
By Ken Bivin
America’s Civil War: Expedition to Destroy Dismal Swamp CanalEager to improve the regiment's somewhat tarnished reputation, Colonel Rush Hawkins' 9th New York Zouaves set off through North Carolina's Dismal Swamp to attack the canal at South Mills. What followed was not exactly what Hawkins had in mind.
By Joseph F. von Deck
Letter From the September 2006 Civil War Times MagazineThe Underdog Days of Summer America loves an underdog, for obvious reasons. After all, we were an underdog from the second when feet hit the shore at Jamestown. If you were taking bets around the rest of the world on the prospect of America’s survival before, during and after the Revolution, you would have found …
Battle of Antietam: Two Great American Armies Engage in CombatThe opposing armies at Antietam were two very different forces commanded by two very different men.
By Ted Alexander
Battle of Antietam: Federal Flank Attack at Dunker ChurchWith Union Major General Joseph Hooker's I Corps lying shattered in the blood-soaked cornfield at Antietam, Brigadier General George Greene's 'Bully Boys' somehow managed to punch a salient in the Confederate line. But would they be able to hold it?
By Robert C. Cheeks
Battle of Peachtree CreekNear the sluggish creek on the outskirts of Atlanta, new Confederate commander John Bell Hood struck the first 'manly blow' for Atlanta,living up to his lifelong reputation as a fighter--but accomplishing little. It would be a bad omen for all Hood's subsequent campaigns.
By Phil Noblitt
Battle of Gettysburg: Fury at Bliss FarmBack and forth, for 24 hours, soldiers at Gettysburg contested possession of a no man's land with an incongruous name--Bliss farm.
By John M. Archer
Battle of Gettysburg — Day TwoIf Robert E. Lee's bold plan of attack had been followed on Day 2 at Gettysburg, there might never have been a third day of fighting. As it was, confusion and personal differences between commanders would severely affect the Confederate assault on Cemetery Ridge.
Battle of Belmont: Ulysses S. Grant Takes CommandWith Union and Confederate troops jockeying for position in neutral Kentucky, an inexperienced brigadier general -- Ulysses S. Gran- - led his equally green Federal troops on a risky foray along the Kentucky-Missouri border.
By Max Epstein
Battle of Cold HarborNot until World War I would so many men die in so little time. Why didn't Northerners hear about Grant's botched battle of Cold Harbor?
By David E. Long
Hoodwinked During America’s Civil War: Confederate Military Deception‘In the conditions of real war, the feeling of uncertainty is magnified, and this makes the opponent much more sensitive to crafty deception — so that even the most threadbare ruse has succeeded time after time.’ — Sir Basil Liddell Hart Desperate times require desperate measures, and in warfare few are more cunning — or …
17th Maine Infantry in the Battle of GettysburgThe 17th Maine helped transform a Gettysburg wheatfield into a legend.
By Jeffry D. Wert
James Longstreet: Robert E. Lee’s Most Valuable SoldierThe words resonate through Confederate history like an unwelcome truth. As General Robert E. Lee made preparations for an assault on the center of the Union line at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863, his senior subordinate, Lieutenant General James Longstreet, voiced objections. At one point in the discussion, Longstreet recounted his experience as a soldier …
Battle of Gettysburg: Who Really Fired the First ShotWhen Lieutenant Marcellus Jones touched off a shot in the early morning of July 1, 1863, at Gettysburg, he could not have realized that his bullet would create a controversy argued over for decades.
Battle of Antietam: 7th Maine’s Senseless Charge On the Piper FarmIt had no effect on the battle — other than adding to the casualty lists — and there was no good reason for ordering it in the first place. But for the whim of a subpar brigade commander, whose sobriety some held in question, it never would have happened. Yet late on the afternoon of …
George Smalley: Reporting from Battle of AntietamNew York Tribune reporter George Smalley scooped the world with his vivid account of the Battle of Antietam.
Account Of The Battle of ShilohIn the aftermath of a staggering Confederate surprise attack, skulking Union fugitives huddled alongside the bluffs overlooking the Tennessee River near Shiloh.
Battle of Shiloh: Shattering MythsEvents that have been distorted or enhanced by veterans and early battlefield administrators have become part of the accepted story of the April 1862 battle -- until now. Case in point: The Sunken Road wasn't.
Robert E. Lee and His Horse TravellerRarely have horse and rider gone so well together as Traveller and Robert E. Lee.
Leonidas Polk: Southern Civil War GeneralUnion artillery brought a deadly end to the career of clergyman-turned-soldier Leonidas Polk.
Robert Charles Tyler: Last American Civil War Confederate General Slain in CombatAgainst impossible odds and following orders issued half a year earlier, Robert Charles Tyler became the last Confederate general slain in Civil War combat.
Battle of Fisher’s HillGeneral George Crook's flank attack at Fisher's Hill swept down on the Rebel left like a force of nature.
Siege Of Corinth By Henry Halleck in 1862For one Union general -- Henry Halleck -- the march into Mississippi continued straight on to Washington.
Ephraim Dodd: An American Civil War Union PrisonerShould a Texas Ranger expect justice or death from his Union captors?
Rufus Pettit: American Civil War Union Prison InspectorUnion prison inspector Rufus Pettit had ways of making people talk--even innocent people.
Hugh Glass: Legendary Trapper in America’s Western FrontierBloody and battered from an encounter with a she-grizzly, old trapper Hugh Glass was eventually left to die by two of his comrades. When he refused to die before exacting revenge, a legend was born.
George Armstrong Custer: Between Myth and RealityReality and myth about George Custer still collide on the battlefields of Virginia and Pennsylvania.
By Jeffry D. Wert
Baltimore & Ohio Railroad: The Union’s Most Important Supply LineThe Baltimore & Ohio Railroad survived numerous hardships of the Civil War in its service to the Union.
USS Indianola: Union Ironclad in the American Civil WarThe powerful Union ironclad Indianola was jinxed from the start--poor design and bad morale made the vessel an accident waiting to happen. Near Vicksburg, she ultimately fulfilled her ill-starred destiny.
Account Of The Battle of the WildernessIn the dark, forbidding woods of Virginia's Wilderness, Generals Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee stumbled blindly toward their first wartime encounter. Neither had a clear idea of his opponent's intentions, but each planned to do what he did best--attack.
Battle of Gaines’ Mill: U.S. Army Regulars to the RescueAs Robert E. Lee hammered Federal forces at Gaines' Mill, Brig. Gen. George Sykes proud division of Regulars held its post of honor on the Union right. The 'Old Army was showing its mettle to the new.
Siege of Port HudsonPort Hudson, like Vicksburg, was a tough nut to crack. But the Union's traditional superiority in firepower, personified by the 1st Indiana Heavy Artillery, quickly went to work on the Rebel bastion.
Account Of The Battle of ChickamaugaOverconfident and overextended, the Union Army of the Cumberland advanced into the deep woods of northwest Georgia. Waiting Confederates did not intend for them to leave. At Chickamauga Creek, the two sides collided.
Union Captain Judson KilpatrickAn unknown farm boy, he attended West Point. Homely, he had an endless string of mistresses. An inept commander, he became a major general. What was Judson Kilpatrick's secret?
The 7th U.S. Infantry Service in the American Civil WarThe 7th U.S. Infantry's most powerful foe was John Barleycorn.
American Civil War: The 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry RegimentThe Twenty-Third Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment included two future presidents and an Army Commander.
Lew Wallace’s American Civil War CareerLong before he published Ben-Hur, Lew Wallace rose from a career as an obscure small-town Indiana lawyer to take a prominent role in the Civil War.
America’s Civil War: Loudoun RangersThe Quaker-dominated Loudoun Rangers openly defied Virginia tradition to serve the Union.
Field Armies and Fortifications in the Civil War: The Eastern Campaigns, 1861-1864 (Book Review)Reviewed by Perry D. Jamieson, Air Force Historical Studies OfficeBy Earl J. HessUniversity of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill and London, 2005 Many books describe Civil War military operations in remarkable detail, but prove disappointing when it comes to the subject of field fortifications. They mention the features on the battlefield, but leave the reader …
Capturing Fort Pulaski During the American Civil WarAs a young U.S. Army lieutenant, Robert E. Lee helped to construct Fort Pulaski. As a Confederate general 30 years later, he confidently assured fort defenders it could not be breached. Union gunners were not so sure.
‘Home, Sweet Home': A Civil War Soldier’s Favorite SongJohn Howard Payne's haunting 'Home, Sweet Home' was the Civil War soldier's favorite song.
America’s Civil War: Major General John Pope’s Narrow Escape at Clark’s MountainWhile Robert E. Lee's entire army massed behind Clark's Mountain to attack the Union Army of Virginia, a daring Yankee spy swam the Rapidan River to warn Maj. Gen. John Pope of the imminent danger. It was, said one military historian, 'the timeliest single product of espionage' in the entire war.
Battle of Chickamauga: Colonel John Wilder’s Lightning Brigade Prevented Total DisasterArmed with their new, lethal seven-shot Spencer rifles, Wilder's Lightning Brigade was all that stood between the Union Army and the looming disaster at Chickamauga Creek.
Second Battle of Manassas: Union Major General John Pope Was No Match for Robert E. LeeBrash, bombastic John Pope tempted fate by returning to the old battleground at Manassas. He thought he had caught Robert E. Lee napping. He was wrong.