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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
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.
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.
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.
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.
USS Constitution: The Legendary SurvivorOften venturing into harm's way, the USS Constitution -- America's most famous sailing ship -- twice came close to oblivion -- once at the hands of a British squadron, and once at the hands of her own navy.
Battle of Sailor’s CreekThe April 6, 1865 Battle of Sailor's Creek constituted one of the darkest days in the Army of Northern Virginia's history.
America’s Civil War: Horses and Field ArtilleryWorking side by side with soldiers, horses labored to pull artillery pieces into battle. Without them, field artillery could not have been used to such deadly effect.
Battle of Antietam: Controversial Crossing on Burnside’s BridgeShould General Ambrose Burnside have ordered his men to wade Antietam Creek? Author Marvel undertook a personal odyssey to find out.
44th Georgia Regiment Volunteers in the American Civil WarThe hard-fighting 44th Georgia suffered some of the heaviest losses of any regiment in the Civil War.
Battle of Antietam: Taking Rohrbach Bridge at Antietam CreekWhile Union commander George McClellan fumed and the Battle of Antietam hung in the balance, a handful of Rebels held off Federal troops at 'Burnside Bridge.'
Battle of Champion’s HillWith Ulysses S. Grant's army steadily menacing Vicksburg, Confederate General John Pemberton left the town's comforting defenses to seek out the enemy army. Too late, he found it, at Champion's Hill.
Frederick Stowe: In the Shadow of Uncle Tom’s CabinThe fame of novelist Harriet Beecher Stowe followed her son throughout the Civil War.
America’s Civil War: Union Soldiers Hanged in North CarolinaEight months after Major General George E. Pickett led his famous charge, he hanged Union prisoners in North Carolina.
Battle of Shiloh: The Devil’s Own DayAt a small Methodist meeting house in southwestern Tennessee, Union and Confederate armies met for a 'must-win' battle in the spring of 1862. No one, however, expected the bloodbath that ensued. It was, said General William Sherman, 'the Devil's own day.'
Brigadier General Silas Casey at the Battle of Seven PinesBrigadier General Silas Casey's rookie division bore the brunt of furious Rebel assaults at the Battle of Seven Pines.
Weaponry: The Rifle-Musket and the Minié BallThe Civil War's deadliest weapons were not rapid-fire guns or giant cannon, but the simple rifle-musket and the humble minié ball.
J.E.B. Stuart’s RevengeA stolen hat and wounded pride spurred Southern cavalryman J.E.B. Stuart into action. His vengeance would be swift, daring, and--unexpectedly--funny.
Union General Judson KilpatrickUnion General Judson Kilpatrick was flamboyant, reckless, tempestuous, and even licentious. In some respects he made other beaux sabreurs like fellow-cavalrymen George Custer and J. E. B. Stuart seem dull.
Father John B. Tabb: Aboard Confederate Blockade RunnersFather John B. Tabb, an unreconstructed Rebel to the end, had served the Confederacy aboard blockade runners.
Confederate General Samuel GarlandWhen Samuel Garland fell at South Mountain, the Confederacy lost a promising general and a proven leader.
Battle of Ball’s BluffConfederate soldiers drove inexperienced Union troops acting on faulty intelligence into the Potomac River like lemmings.
Brigadier General John Gibbon’s Brief Breach During the Battle of FredericksburgAlthough overshadowed by the doomed Federal attack on the Confederate center, General John Gibbon's 2nd Division managed -- however briefly -- to make a breakthrough on the Union left.
Brigadier General Thomas F. MeagherBrigadier General Thomas F. Meagher, the colorful leader of the Irish Brigade, fought many battles--not all of them with the enemy.
Gas Balloons: View From Above the Civil War BattlefieldLed by pioneering balloonist Thaddeus Lowe, daredevil aeronauts on both sides of the war took to the skies in flimsy balloons to eyeball their opponents' every move. Soldiers on the ground often did not take kindly to the unwanted attention.
1st Louisiana Special Battalion at the First Battle of ManassasRecruited from New Orleans' teeming waterfront by soldier of fortune Roberdeau Wheat, the 1st Louisiana Special Battalion more than lived up to its pugnacious nickname--Wheat's Tigers--at the First Battle of Manassas.
THE CLASSICS: The Iron Brigade (Book Review)Reviewed by Peter S. CarmichaelBy Alan T. Nolan Alan T. Nolan pioneered the modern regimental history with The Iron Brigade. The voices of the "Black Hat Boys," who comprised one of the fiercest combat units in the Army of the Potomac, still resound in The Iron Brigade, by Alan T. Nolan. George Pickett, although not …
Vicksburg: The Campaign That Opened the Mississippi (Book Review)Reviewed by Mike Oppenheim By Michael B. BallardUniversity of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 2004 Popular writers tell us the Confederacy successfully fought off the Union until July 1863. Then came Vicksburg and Gettysburg, after which defeat became inevitable. Meant to satisfy both sides, this traditional view pays too much attention to the stalemate in the …
Vicksburg: The Campaign That Opened the Mississippi (Book Review)Reviewed by Brian J. MurphyBy Michael B. BallardUniversity of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 490 pages Michael B. Ballard’s new book on the Vicksburg campaign offers a refreshing experience. The research is exhaustive, and the writing is lively. It may not be surprising that a Mississippi historian would put a slightly Southern slant on the …
Battle of ShepherdstownThe savage little Battle of Shepherdstown made for a bloody coda to the 1862 Maryland campaign.
Ambrose Bierce’s Civil War: One Man’s Morbid VisionFor Ambrose Bierce, the enemy was not really the gray-clad host at the other end of the field, but death, and the terror of death and wounds.
USS Monitor: The Crew Took Great Pride in Serving on the Famous ShipThe crew of Swedish Inventor John Ericsson's Monitor took great pride in serving on the renowned 'cheese box on a raft.'
John Cabell Early Remembers GettysburgMajor General Jubal Early's nephew recalled the famous meeting on July 1 between his uncle and General Robert E. Lee during the 1863 invasion of Pennsylvania.
America’s Civil War Comes to West PointThough the Corps of Cadets was forced apart by political differences in 1860-61, and passions grew intense, there were more tears than hurrahs among the Northerners when their Southern friends resigned. The last institution to divide, the Academy was one of the first to reunite.
America’s Civil War: Front Royal Was the Key to the Shenandoah ValleyThe pretty little town of Front Royal, in the Shenandoah Valley, had a strategic value that belied its size. As Stonewall Jackson knew, it was the key to the valley, the state of Virginia and the war itself.
Eyewitness Account: A Tar Heel at GettysburgAfter capture, Lawrence D. Davis had to undergo being reviewed by 'big & fat' Ben Butler.
Donnybrook: The Battle of Bull Run, 1861 (Book Review)Reviewed by Dan Monroe By David Detzer Harcourt In Donnybrook: The Battle of Bull Run, 1861, retired history professor David Detzer returns to the battle that made plain the bloody intensity that was to characterize the Civil War in the Eastern theater. Caught up in a surging tide of Northern public opinion favoring aggressive action, …
THE CLASSICS: The Passing of Armies : An Account Of The Final Campaign Of The Army Of The Potomac (Book Review)Reviewed by Peter S. Carmichael By Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain Fame for his actions at Little Round Top has overshadowed the rest of Joshua Chamberlain’s historical résumé. Admirers and critics alike tend to reduce his wartime contributions to a single but decisive moment on July 2, 1863. The Bowdoin College professor is partially to blame for …
High-Water Mark: The 1862 Maryland Campaign in Strategic Perspective (Book Review)Reviewed Ted AlexanderBy Timothy J. Reese Baltimore, Butternut and Blue Press, 2004 By Mark Dunkelman By fall 1862, Confederate morale was the highest it had been since the start of the war and Confederate armies were on the move on a front more than 1,000 miles wide. In the Western theater, Confederate incursions into Kentucky …
Donnybrook: The Battle of Bull Run, 1861 (Book Review)Reviewed by John HennessyBy David Detzer New York: Harcourt, Inc., 2004 Whether you refer to it as Manassas or Bull Run, you’ll want this book on the war’s first major battle. The First Battle of Bull Run, or Manassas, holds an odd place in the nation’s historical mind. It grabs our attention because it was …
America’s Civil War: Pre-dawn Assault on Fort StedmanLed by select groups of sharpshooters, the weary, muddy troops of the Army of Northern Virginia made one last desperate push to break out of Petersburg.
Second Battle of Bull Run: Destruction of the 5th New York ZouavesThe Texas Brigade tide bore down on the isolated 5th New York Zouaves at Second Bull Run. A fine regiment was about to be destroyed.
Battle of Gettysburg: Union Cavalry AttacksAfter the conclusion of Pickett's Charge, ill-advised Union cavalry attacks killed dozens of Federal horsemen and a promising brigadier general.
Major General George Stoneman Led the Last American Civil War Cavalry RaidEven as General Robert E. Lee was surrendering at Appomattox, a vengeful Union cavalry horde led by Maj. Gen. George Stoneman made Southern civilians pay dearly for the war. It was a last brutal lesson in the concept of total warfare.
Battle of Antietam: Carnage in a CornfieldMr. Miller's humble cornfield near Antietam Creek became the unlikely setting for perhaps the worst fighting of the entire Civil War.
Lieutenant Colonel Horace C. Porter: Eyewitness to the Surrender at AppomattoxLieutenant Colonel Horace C. Porter provides a firsthand account of Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House in April 1865.
America’s Civil War: Assault at PetersburgSixth Corps Yankees stumbled out of their earthworks and toward the muddy pits of the Army of Northern Virginia. It was the beginning of the end at Petersburg.
37th North Carolina Infantry Regiment in the American Civil WarThe service of the 37th North Carolina epitomized the grit and determination of Tar Heel fighters.
Battle of Gettysburg: Fighting at Little Round TopThe Battle of Gettysburg, and perhaps the fate of the Union, was decided in one hour of desperate fighting on the rocky ledges of Little Round Top.
African American Troops of Company K, 9th Cavalry Fought in the Battle of Fort LancasterCaptain William Frohock, Lieutenant Frederick Smith and the black troopers of Company K, 9th Cavalry, received an after-Christmas surprise from Kickapoo raiders in 1867.
Truth Behind U.S. Grant’s Yazoo River BenderMurky facts and contradictions confuse the story of a purported 1863 drinking spree by the general.
First Battle of Bull Run: The U.S MarinesWith hordes of eager Confederates gathering at Manassas, panicky Union commanders massed whatever forces they could in the nation's capital. Among those answering the call were the U.S. Marines. Manassas, however, would not be one of their shining moments.
America’s Civil War: George Custer and Stephen RamseurGeorge Custer and Dodson Ramseur had a friendship that survived the Civil War -- until the Battle of Cedar Creek.
Sullivan Ballou: The Macabre Fate of a American Civil War MajorMajor Sullivan Ballou gained fame for the poignant letter he wrote to his wife before the First Battle of Bull Run. Not so well known is that after he was mortally wounded in that fight, Confederates dug up, decapitated and burned his body.
America’s Civil War: John Mosby and George Custer Clash in the Shenandoah ValleyWhen Civil War's John Singleton Mosby's Partisan Rangers clashed with George A. Custer's Union Cavalry, the niceties of war were the first casualty. Reprisal and counter reprisal became the order of the day.
Battle of Chickamauga: Union Regulars Desperate StandCivil War Brigadier General John King's disciplined brigade of Union Regulars found itself tested as never before at Chickamauga. For two bloody days, the Regulars dashed from one endangered spot to another, seeking to save their army from annihilation.
Battle of Stones River: Union General Rosecrans Versus Confederate General BraggAmerican Civil War Union General William Rosecrans bided his time, waiting to attack Confederate General Braxton Bragg's Rebel army at Murfreesboro, 30 miles south of Nashville.
John Hill Hewitt: Dixie’s Original One-Man BandJohn Hill Hewitt did it all. He played three instruments. He penned poems and essays, and staged theater productions. And he churned out one hit tune after another.
Harry Macarthy: The Bob Hope of the ConfederacyHe could make tired soldiers laugh, and his 'Bonnie Blue Flag' churned southern audiences into a frenzy. That was why Harry Macarthy was loved from one end of the confederacy to the other.
Battle of Chickamauga: 21st Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry and Their Colt’s Revolving Rifles'My God, We Thought You Had a Division Here!' The 21st Ohio Infantry's unique repeating weaponry was its salvation - and nearly its undoing - at Chickamauga.
Madame Loreta Janeta Velazquez: Heroine or HoaxerMadame Loreta Janeta Velazquez wrote a controversial memoir disclosing her activities as a double agent and brave soldier during the Civil War.
Battle of Gettysburg: Confederate General Richard Ewell’s Failure on the HeightsFor the second day in a row, Confederate General Richard Ewell inexplicably failed to take the offensive at Gettysburg. 'The fruits of victory, Robert E. Lee lamented, had not been gathered.
Did Lt. Gen. Richard Ewell Lose the Battle of GettysburgAfter disobeying Robert E. Lee's orders to avoid a general engagement at Gettysburg, Lt. Gen. Richard Ewell received an order to 'press those people.' His failure to do so created a controversy that survives to this day.
Battle of Kernstown: Stonewall Jackson’s Only DefeatA furious Stonewall Jackson watched impotently as his proud Confederates stumbled down the hillside at Kernstown, Va. 'Give them the bayonet,' Jackson implored -- but no one obeyed.
Ulysses S. Grant’s Lifelong Struggle With AlcoholThroughout his legendary military and political career, U.S. Grant battled accusations that he was overly fond of the bottle. Did his alleged excessive drinking make him an alcoholic, or for that matter, did he really drink that much more that the average man of the nineteenth century?
America’s Civil War: Savage Skirmish Near SharpsburgWith Robert E. Lee's wily Confederates waiting somewhere in the vicinity of Antietam Creek, Union General George McClellan ordered I Corps commander Joseph Hooker to advance and turn the Rebel flank. But McClellan, for once, was too quick to move, and Hooker soon found himself in an unexpectedly vicious fight.
America’s Civil War: Stonewall Jackson’s Last DaysDr. Hunter McGuire, Stonewall Jackson's 27-year-old medical director, chronicled the general's last days.
Second Battle of Winchester: Richard Ewell Takes CommandOne month after Stonewall Jackson's death at Chancellorsville, Robert E. Lee turned to Stonewall's trusted lieutenant, Richard Ewell, to cover his invasion of the North. Was 'Old Bald Head' up to the challenge?
America’s Civil War: XI Corps Fight During the Chancellorsville CampaignDisliked and distrusted by their comrades in the Army of the Potomac, the men of the XI Corps would find their reputation further damaged by a twilight encounter with Stonewall Jackson's troops in the dark woods at Chancellorsville.
Joseph Scroggs: Observations From His Diary About the 1864 Petersburg CampaignExcerpts from Joseph Scroggs' diary provide his observations on the service of Negro troops under his command on the Civil War battlefields.
Battle of VicksburgUlysses S. Grant thought his formidable Army of the Tennessee could take Vicksburg from a 'beaten' foe by direct assault. He was wrong, thanks to near-impregnable fortifications, renewed Southern spirit, and surprisingly suspect Northern generalship.
America’s Civil War: Missouri and KansasFor half a decade before the Civil War, residents of the neighboring states of Missouri and Kansas waged their own civil war. It was a conflict whose scars were a long time in healing.
America’s Civil War: Robert E. Lee and James Longstreet at Odds at GettysburgAt Gettysburg, Longstreet told Lee that a direct assault would end in disaster -- but Pickett's Charge went forward anyway.
America’s Civil War: Battle for KentuckyIt had been almost one month since Confederate General Braxton Bragg had pulled off an organizational masterpiece--four weeks since the first troop trains had rumbled into Chattanooga, Tennessee, completing an improbable 800-mile odyssey.
Battle of Chickamauga: Colonel John T. Wilder and the Lightning BrigadeColonel John T. Wilder's'Lightning Brigade' did all it could to stave off Union disaster at the Battle of Chickamauga.
Death at Summit Springs: Susanna Alderdice and the CheyennesIn May 1869, Tall Bull's Cheyenne Dog Soldiers carried out a series of brutal raids in north-central Kansas, and though the white soldiers later caught up with them, vengeance could not make everything right.
Joseph WheelerFightin' Joe Wheeler lived up to his name in two wars and in two uniforms -- one gray, one blue.
The Irish Brigade Fought in America’s Civil WarTheir casualties were enormous but their courage and capacity for fun were legendary. General Lee, himself, gave highest praise to these Yankees of the Irish Brigade.
America’s Civil War: Rebel’s Stand at Drewry’s BluffWhile Union Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan's Army of the Potomac slowly advanced on Richmond in May 1862, the Union Navy made its own play to seize the Confederate capital.
Battle of Gettysburg and American MythologyMuch of what Americans believe about Gettysburg is myth, but their flawed knowledge of the battle nevertheless serves to sanctify their national memory of the fight.
Grierson’s Raid During the Vicksburg CampaignU.S. Grant, bogged down outside Vicksburg, needed a diversion to ease his way. He got just that from a music teacher turned cavalryman--one who hated horses, at that.
Picture of the Day: November 19Gettysburg Address President Abraham Lincoln was asked to deliver a few ‘appropriate remarks’ to the crowd at the dedication of the Civil War cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on November 19, 1863. Lincoln’s address was almost ignored in the wake of the lengthy oration by main speaker Edwin Everett. In fact, Lincoln’s speech was over before …
General Barlow and General Gordon Meet on Blocher’s KnollOn July 1, 1863, two generals, one badly wounded, allegedly met. The veracity of that encounter, now part of Civil War lore, has long been debated.
Drones in the Great Hive: A Letter from an African-American Civil War SoldierChristian A. Fleetwood -- an African-American Medal of Honor-winner -- writes bitterly of the way the Union army treats its black soldiers.
Billy Yank and Johnny Reb: On the Road to AtlantaBell Irvin Wiley -- the late dean of common-soldier studies -- works his storytelling magic in this 1964 profile of the extraordinary men who grappled for Georgia's key city.
America’s Civil War: Last Ditch Rebel Stand at PetersburgAfter nearly 10 months of trench warfare, Confederate resistance at Petersburg, Va., suddenly collapsed. Desperate to save his army, Robert E. Lee called on his soldiers for one last miracle.
America’s Civil War: The South’s Feuding GeneralsIt sometimes seemed that Southern generals were more interested in fighting each other than in fighting Yankees. Their inability to get along together contributed greatly to the South's demise.
An Englishman’s Journey Through the Confederacy During America’s Civil WarSuave, gentlemanly Lt. Col. Arthur Fremantle of Her Majesty's Coldstream Guards picked an unusual vacation spot: the Civil War-torn United States.
Battle of Boydton Plank Road: Major General Winfield Scott Hancock Strikes the Southside RailroadWith Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia stubbornlyclinging to Petersburg, Ulysses S. Grant decided to cut its vital rail lines. To perform the surgery, he selected one of the North's proven heroes -- Major General Winfield Scott Hancock.
War Watchers at Bull Run During America’s Civil WarA crowd of Washington politicos, socialites, and newsmen came out to watch the war's first real battle, along northern Virginia's Bull Run. For most, the view was as disappointing as the fight's outcome. But a few got to see all the action they could handle, and more.
Battle of Nashville: Enemies Front and RearUnion forces under George H. Thomas destroyed the Confederate Army of Tennessee at Nashville as Thomas endured his own battle of resolve with Ulysses S. Grant.
The Fall of VicksburgOn July 4, 1863, Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton surrendered the Confederate bastion of Vicksburg, Mississippi, to Union forces under Major General Ulysses S. Grant. The surrender brought an end to 47 days of unendurable siege, but it also brought an end to Confederate control of the Mississippi River.
All-Girl Rhea County SpartansBegun as a lark, the all-girl Rhea County Spartans soon attracted the attention of unamused Union officers.
Major General J.E.B. Stuart: Last Stand of the Last KnightMajor General J.E.B. Stuart posted his horsemen at Yellow Tavern -- between Union attackers and Richmond -- and waited for the collision. It would come with a deadliness he could never have imagined.
Battle of Brawner’s Farm: Black Hat Brigade’s Baptism of FireJohn Gibbon's mostly green Midwestern troops found themselves in quite a scrape as the sun set on August 28, 1862.
Camp William Penn: Training Ground for FreedomUnder the stern but sympathetic gaze of Lt. Col. Louis Wagner, some 11,000 African-American soldiers trained to fight for their freedom at Philadelphia's Camp William Penn. Three Medal of Honor recipients would pass through the camp's gates.
Picture of the Day: September 17On September 17, 1862, a small, stone-arch bridge that spans Antietam Creek outside Sharpsburg, Maryland, became one of the most hotly contested structures in American history. During the Battle of Antietam, an entire Union corps spent most of the bloodiest single day of the Civil War waiting to cross the creek over that bridge, opposed …
General Francis Channing BarlowGeneral Francis Channing Barlow's clean-cut, boyish appearance belied his reputation as one of the Union's hardest-fighting divisional commanders.
America’s Civil War: Philip SheridanAt an obscure railroad station in northern Mississippi, an equally obscure Union cavalry colonel faced a personal and professional moment of truth. His name was Phil Sheridan, and his coolness and dash clearly marked him for bigger things.
William Averell’s Cavalry Raid on the Virginia & Tennessee RailroadDespite many misgivings about the upcoming campaign, Union Brig. Gen. William Averell set out in December 1863 to raid the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad at Salem, Virginia. The frigid conditions would test the mettle of both cavalrymen and horses.
Siege of Petersburg: The City and Citizens Were Impacted from the StartCircled by Confederate trenches, hard pressed by Union forces, the people of Petersburg had nothing left to do but endure -- and pray for a miracle.
Northern Volunteer Nurses of America’s Civil WarA cadre of dedicated Northern women from all walks of life traveled to the charnel houses of the Civil War to care for the sick and wounded.
Winchester, Virginia: A Town Embattled During America’s Civil WarWinchester, Virginia, saw more of the war than any other place North or South.
Old Dominion Brigade in America’s Civil WarThe Virginia regiments originally under the brigade command of William Mahone seemed to save their best for last. After two years of average service, they became Robert E. Lee's go-to troops in the Wilderness and at Petersburg's Crater.
Admiral Porter’s Ironclad Hoax During the American Civil WarAfter a botched Union naval effort on the Mississippi River, Rear Admiral David D. Porter resorted to trickery to prevent one of his captured ironclads from being used by the Confederates.
Eyewitness to American Civil War: Iron Brigade Soldier’s Wartime LettersTimothy Webster survived Fredericksburg and Gettysburg with the Iron Brigade, but not Petersburg.
Battle of Port RoyalAs Union warships steamed past the Confederate defenses near Port Royal, Flag Officer Samuel Du Pont proudly noted that army officers aboard his ship looked on 'with wonder and admiration.' A revolution in naval tactics had begun.
America’s Civil War: Desperate Ironclad Assault at Trent’s ReachWith Confederate forces strangled at Petersburg, the Southern Navy prepared to assault the enemy's supply depot at City Point. But first, Rebel ships had to get past Trent's Reach.
J.E.B. Stuart: Battle of Gettysburg ScapegoatFollowing the Confederate debacle at Gettysburg, many blamed Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart for leaving General Robert E. Lee in the dark. But was Stuart really to blame for the defeat? And if so, was he the only one at fault?
America’s Civil War: Drummer Boy of the RappahannockWas the young lad's 'strange and romantic' tale the story of a colorful hero or a clever fake?
Battle of HanoverSouthern beau sabreur J.E.B. Stuart hardly expected to run head-on into enemy cavalry on his second ride around the Union Army. But a trio of 'boy generals' would soon give the famed Confederate horseman all the action he could handle.