Summary List of Famous Civil War Generals & Commanders during the American Civil War
There were hundreds of generals commissioned in the American Civil War on both the Union and Confederate armies. Some, like Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Ulysess S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman are household names. They, along with many generals and commanders, both major and minor, were the commanders that led the troops and helped decide the outcome of most civil war battles. Here is a list of important civil war generals and commanders, along with links to more information and articles about each one.
List of important Confederate (or Southern) Civil War Generals
Robert E. Lee
General Robert E. Lee was the commander of the Army of Northern Virginia and is considered the most successful confederate general. Learn more about Robert E. Lee
General Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson fought brilliantly from First Bull Run to his death at the battle of Chancellorsville from friendly fire. Learn more about Stonewall Jackson
General J.E.B. Stuart was a famous cavalry commander known for his reconnaissance. Read more about Jeb Stuart
Nathan Bedford Forrest
Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest was an innovative cavalry commander, and was the only General on either side who began as a private. Read more about Nathan Bedford Forrest
General James Longstreet led the First Corps of the Army Of Northern Virginia is considered one of the most capable generals on either side. Read more about James Longstreet
General Braxton Bragg led the Army Of Mississippi and Tennessee from Shiloh to Chattanooga. Read more about Braxton Bragg
General George Pickett is best remembered for his futile and bloody assault on Cemetery Ridge On Day 3 of the Battle of Gettysburg. Read more about George Pickett
Bloody Bill Anderson
William T. "Bloody Bill" Anderson started life as a brutal killer, leading pro-confederate units on attacks against Union forces. Read more about Bloody Bill Anderson
John S. Mosby was a Confederate Cavalry Commander known for his speed and elusiveness. Read more about John Mosby
Pierre Gustave Toutant (PGT) Beauregard was a Confederate General best known for starting the civil war with his attack on Fort Sumter. Read more about P.G.T. Beauregard
A.P. Hill was a confederate General best known for commanding the "Light Division," and fighting ably with his commander Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. Read more about A.P. Hill
Edmund Kirby Smith commanded armies in Tennessee and the Trans-Mississippi Theaters. Read more about Kirby Smith
John Bell Hood
John Bell Hood (1831-1879) was reputed for his aggressive and bold commands, a reputation which continued in battles despite his physical disabilities. Read more about John Bell Hood
Albert Sidney Johnston
Albert Sidney Johnston fought and battled in five wars. He was mortally wounded at age 59 during the civil war at the Battle of Shiloh. Read more about Albert Sidney Johnston
Barnard Elliot Bee Jr. died at age 37 in action at First Bull Run and is known for giving the nickname "Stonewall" to Brigadier general Thomas J. Jackson. Read more about Barnard Bee
General Joseph Johnston was the highest ranking officer to leave the U.S. army to join the Confederacy. He fought in many of the Civil War’s major battles and died of pheumonia. Read more about Joseph Johnston
Jubal Anderson Early was known for his aggressive and sometimes reckless style. Read more about Jubal Early
Lewis Addison was a successful Confederate General who fought and died during Pickett’s Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg. Read more about Lewis Armistead
Edward Porter Alexander was a Brigadier General known for being the first man to use signal flags to send messages using signal flags. Read more about Porter Alexander
Richard Stoddert Ewell led numerous battles during the Civil War, but his failure to capture Cemetery Hill on day one at Gettysburg led to his men and himself to be captured and imprisoned at Richmond. Read more about Richard Ewell
List of important Union (or Northern) Civil War Generals
Ulysses S. Grant
General Ulysses S. Grant led the Union Army during the later years of the civil war, and with his victory at Appomattox Courthouse, effectively ended the civil war. Learn more about Ulysses S. Grant
General George Mcclellan led the Army Of the Potomac during the early years of the civil war. Learn more about George Mcclellan
Starting as a Major and ending as a Brigadier General, Robert Anderson is best known for surrendering Fort Sumter. Learn more about Robert Anderson
General Nathaniel Banks was a hapless leader of the Union Army, suffering one defeat after another. Learn more about Nathaniel Banks
General William Tecumseh Sherman
General William Tecumseh Sherman fought in many battles and his best known for taking Atlanta followed by his brutal by effective "march to the sea." Learn more about William Tecumseh Sherman
General George Armstrong Custer was a United States Army officer who served in the civil war and Indian wars, meeting his end at the Battle of Little Bighorn. Read more about George Custer
Winfield Scott Hancock
General Winfield Scott Hancock was a US Army officer for his entire career and eventually a nominee for the office of President of the US in 1880. He served in the army for a total of four decades and is considered a war hero for his Gettysburg service. His nickname is “Hancock the Superb.” He died at Governor’s Island in 1886 because of complications from diabetes and an infected carbuncle. He was buried at the Montgomery Cemetery in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Read more about Winfield Scott Hancock
Though there is a myth saying that Abner Doubleday was the inventor of baseball, he never said that he did. Doubleday was a big supporter of Abraham Lincoln. He died of a heart condition and was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. Read more about Abner Doubleday
General Ambrose Burnside Ambrose, besides being a soldier, was an industrialist, railroad executive and an inventor, eventually becoming the governor of Rhode Island as well as US Senator. In 1881, Burnside died of a heart attack and was buried at Swan Point Cemetery in Providence, Rhode Island.. Read more about Ambrose Burnside
General Arthur Macarthur was one of five men to ever be promoted to a five star rank of the general army. Eventually, MacArthur became the governor general for the military for the Philippines in 1900. He died of a heart attack at the age of 67 and though he was originally laid to rest in Milwaukee, his remains were moved to the Arlington National Cemetery. Read more about Arthur Macarthur
General Benjamin Butler was not only a soldier but also a lawyer and eventually a politician for the state of Massachusetts. He still ranks as one of the, if not the, most controversial political generals during the Civil War. Butler died in court at the capital, Washington DC. He is buried at his in-laws’ cemetery in Lowell, Massachusetts. Read more about Benjamin Butler
General Daniel Sickles was a Union general during the Civil War as well as a controversial politician. Sickles was injured during battle and his leg was amputated. Even then he did all he could to boost the morale of his soldiers. After the war, he served as a Minister to Spain and as the New York State Board of Civil Service Commissioners’ President until 1889. He was sheriff of New York and eventually a representative for Congress. He died in New York City and was buried at the Arlington National Cemetery. Read more about Daniel Sickles
General George Gordon Meade was a civil engineer and an army officer before serving as a Union general during the Civil War. He was successful in defeating General Lee but was criticized for not pursuing the Confederate Army when in his grasp. He became a commissioner of Fairmont Park in Philadelphia until his death. He died from a combination of pneumonia and old wounds and now rests at the Laurel Hill Cemetery. Read more about George Meade
General George Thomas served as an army officer throughout his career and a Union general at the time of the American Civil War. His career was an overall success even if he did not get the fame that other contemporaries did. Thomas died of a stroke while he was writing an answer to a critique of his military career. He was laid to rest at Oakwood Cemetery in upstate New York. Read more about George Thomas
General Irvin Mcdowell was an army officer who is better known for the defeat at First Battle of Bull Run. McDowell had at his disposal the army of Northeastern Virginia which unfortunately was inexperienced and not ready. He launched his attack due to pressure from Washington and though the strategy was imaginative, his troops were not ready to carry it out. McDowell died in 1885 and was buried at the San Francisco National Cemetery. Read more about Irvin Mcdowell
General John Buford was an officer of the Union Cavalry during the Civil War and one of his most important roles took place at Gettysburg. Buford is known for selecting the right field of battle during Gettysburg. He died at the age of 37 due to contracting typhoid. Even in his death bed he was thinking of military strategy as his last words were “Put guards on all the roads and don’t let the men run to rear.” Read more about John Buford
General John Pope was a general for the Union during the Civil War and a career army officer. He is mostly known for the defeat at Second Battle of Bull Run in the east, after which he was sent to Minnesota. John Pope eventually became major general in the regular army and would die at the Ohio Soldiers’ Home in Sandusky, Ohio. He was then buried at the Belle Fontaine Cemetery in St. Louis. Read more about John Pope
General John Reynolds was an army officer and a general during the Civil War. He was a very respected senior commander and is known for committing the Army of the Potomac to Gettysburg. Reynolds was killed early in that same battle. He was buried in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1863. Read more about John Reynolds
General Joseph Hooker was a major general for the Union during the Civil War and a career army officer. Hooker was known for his audacious battle strategies, one of which took place against Robert E. Lee. However, he lost that Battle at Chancellorsville. Hooker led the procession for the funeral of President Lincoln. He died while visiting Garden City in Long Island, New York and was laid to rest at the Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati. Read more about Joseph Hooker
General Joshua Chamberlain was a college professor and eventually a brigadier general and brevet major general for the Union army during the Civil War. He is known for having been given the command of Union troops for the surrender ceremony with Robert E. Lee. He served as the governor of his state of Maine. He died in 1914 in Portland, Maine and was buried at Pine Grove Cemetery in Brunswick. Read more about Joshua Chamberlain
General Philip Sheridan was a Union general and an army officer throughout his career. He is known for his association with Ulysses S. Grant and for his fast assent to major general. He was also very instrumental to the development of Yellowstone National Park. He died of heart failure in Dartmouth, Massachusetts in 1888 and he was buried near Arlington House in the Arlington National Cemetery. Read more about Philip Sheridan
General Oliver Howard was a Union general in the Civil War and a career army officer. He suffered defeats at Gettysburg and Chancellorsville but at Western Theater his reputation went back up. Howard would base a lot of his policy decisions on his religion and that is why he was nicknamed “The Christian General.” Howard died in Vermont and is buried at the Lake View Cemetery in Burlington. Read more about Oliver Howard
William Starke Rosecrans
General William Starke Rosecrans was not only a general for the Union during the Civil War, but also a coal and oil company executive, an inventor, a politician and a diplomat. His early military career was full of success, however, later suffered humiliating defeats. He was considered a possibility for a Vice Presidential run with Abraham Lincoln. He served as a congressman from California and eventually died in Redondo Beach, California. Read more about William Starke Rosecrans
Civil War Generals Articles From History Net Magazines
How in the world did they shoot Stonewall Jackson?It’s one of the best-known stories of the Civil War: Confederate General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson is accidentally shot by his own men during the Battle of Chancellorsville and then dies a few days later. His death, perhaps, alters the course of the war itself.
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
MHQ Reviews: Cain at GettysburgHistorynet Image MHQ Home Page Cain at Gettysburg By Ralph Peters. 432 pp. Forge, 2012. $25.99. Reviewed by Noah Andre Trudeau I confess to being a fan of Civil War fiction involving real battles. Over the years I’ve come to recognize three types. One alters some aspect of the engagement that changes the outcome, then …
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.
Tennessee town memorializes Nathan B. Forrest’s horseIn the annals of American history, no war has produced as many famous horses as the Civil War: Traveller, Little Sorrel and Rienzi are among the best known, but there are others. Confederate Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, for example, rode several great mounts, including his loyal horse Roderick. At the March 1863 Battle of …
Interview with Author-Playwright Louis KraftAuthor/Playwright Louis Kraft turns his attention to Indian agent Ned Wynkoop, portraying him onstage.
The Cowboy Brigade’s Roosevelt Inaugural InvasionIn March 1905, Seth Bullock, onetime Deadwood sheriff, brought rough-and-ready Westerners to Washington, D.C., to ride in Teddy Roosevelt's inaugural parade.
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.
Fighting Words: Inspiration From AnnihilationThe Civil War was one of the deadliest conflicts in history. Some 620,000 troops died, an estimated two-thirds from disease rather than combat. This number represented about 2 percent of the American population, and far more than the casualties of any previous conflict of the United States. It is not surprising, therefore, that several of the terms born during that conflict incorporate the word “dead.”
Ever Heard a Real Rebel Yell?: August/September 2009Many Union soldiers wrote about the soul-chilling yells of attacking Confederates. Thanks to the Museum of the Confederacy, you can hear the real thing on a CD featuring the authentic yell as performed by two elderly Confederate veterans. The two voices have also been multiplied and blended to simulate the terrifying sound of a regiment …
Abraham Lincoln Museums – An OverviewFour museums dedicated to presenting the life of Abraham Lincoln, each one different in character, are examined in detail, with photos.
Medicine Bill Comstock – Saga of the Leatherstocking ScoutMedicine Bill Comstock, descendant of James Fenimore Cooper, brought his uncle's mythical Natty Bumppo to life on the Great Plains as a hunter, trapper and cultural go-between.
Interview with George Custer Expert James DonovanJames Donovan, author and George Custer expert, covers new ground in the story of the 1876 Battle of the Little Bighorn in his new book A Terrible Glory.
Key Third Winchester Site Saved: April/May 2009Third Winchester, the bloodiest battle to take place in the Shenandoah Valley, will likely draw more visitors than ever now that a larger portion of the battlefield is being preserved
Grant and Lee: MIA in New York: April/May 2009Visitors to the New-York Historical Society’s ongoing exhibit on Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee will likely be intrigued by the first artifacts they see: artwork created by the legendary commanders themselves long before they were famous.
Let the Chips Fall Where They Will: April/May 2009Historians interested in the Confederacy navigate in perilous interpretive waters.
Daily Quiz for March 16, 2009This Tammany Hall politician went through several scandals during his career including escorting a known prostitute, Fanny White, into the chambers of the New York state Assembly and taking her with h
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.
Daily Quiz for October 25, 2008As commander of the Army of the West during the Mexican War, he captured Santa Fe in August 1846 without a shot being fired.
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.'
Victorio’s WarFor Apache chief Victorio, the decision to make war on the United States was a matter of rights and spirituality. Known as the "greatest Indian general" ever, he terrorized settlers and the army, surpassing Geronimo's feats and ferocity.
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.
Daily Quiz for June 12, 2008This general commanded the Army of the Potomac in its disastrous assault on Lee`s positions at Fredericksburg, December 13, 1862.
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.
Field Guide Vicksburg: Gibraltar of the ConfederacyTake a photographic tour of the National Military Park at Vicksburg, Mississippi, with this collection of photos of monuments and terrain at the "Confederate Gibraltar."
John Burns of GettysburgBret Harte's poem, John Burns of Gettysburg, celebrates an elderly civilian who took up arms in defense of his home.
Belva Lockwood: ‘I cannot vote, but can be voted for’Belva Lockwood was the first woman to become a candidate for the American presidency. Her 1884 campaign stimulated media attention and social controversy.
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.
Table of Contents – March 2008 – America’s Civil WarSubscribe toAmerica’s Civil Warmagazine today! FEATURES My 15 Minutes Out of the AtticBy Robert Lee Hodge From the cover of Confederates in the Attic to a “Primetime Live” television feature, a reenactor discovered the fleeting nature of fame. The Magic of New Old PhotographsClaude Levet takes reenactors back 145 years by using wet-plate collodion photography, …
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.
The Angola Train WreckNearly 50 people died and many more injured in the 1867 train wreck known as the Angola Horror. John D. Rockefeller narrowly missed being one of them.
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.
Daily Quiz for November 4, 2007He said "I am not a Virginian, but an American."
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 Day of Doom: The Battle of Gravelotte/Saint-PrivatOn a single day of the Franco-Prussian War, the armies of Helmuth von Moltke and François Achille Bazaine nearly annihilated each other in an epic slaughter at Gravelotte/Saint-Privat that would not be matched until World War I.
Singer’s Secret Service Corps: Causing Chaos During the Civil WarEdgar C. Singer and his Secret Service Corps pioneered underwater mine and submarine research for the Confederacy from tiny La Vaca, Texas.
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.
Daily Quiz for August 15, 2007This general commanded the Army of the Potomac during the Battle of Chancellorsville:
Wild West: Rescue of the Mountain Meadows OrphansIn the fall of 1857, a party of emigrants from Arkansas camped in southern Utah Territory at Mountain Meadows, a lush alpine oasis on the Spanish Trail where wagon trains rested before crossing the Mojave Desert. The party was made up of about a dozen large, prosperous families and their hiredhands, driving about 18 wagons …
Table of Contents – September 2007 – Civil War TimesSubscribe toCivil War Timesmagazine today! FEATURES The Fierce Pride of the Texas Brigade By Susannah U. Bruce Duty, honor and a fervent desire to preserve the storied reputation of the Lone Star State are what drove Robert E. Lee’s favorite shock troops. The Birth of Photojournalism By Kevin Morrow How pioneering Civil War cameramen such …
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?"
Table of Contents – September 2007 – America’s Civil WarSubscribe toAmerica’s Civil Warmagazine today! FEATURES America’s Bloodiest DayGeorge McClellan’s lucky find of Robert E. Lee’s Special Orders No. 191 led to a fight near Antietam Creek on what became the bloodiest day in American history—September 17, 1862. Battle of Antietam: Union Surgeons and Civilian Volunteers Help the WoundedBy John H. NelsonThousands of men were …
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?
Kit Carson’s Rescue RideThe Mexican War was over. The Santa Fe Trail, that 909-mile road of commerce which had become the pathway for military invasion, was once again bustling with trade caravans. The necessity of supplying the new American military outposts in New Mexico added to this traffic. The 1848 discovery of gold in California also led to …
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 …
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.
Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig: World War I’s Worst GeneralVisiting the Somme battlefield in northern France is largely a matter of going from one Commonwealth Graves Commission cemetery to another. The graveyards are everywhere, some of them very small, comprising only a handful of white Portland marble stones, many bearing the inscription, A Soldier of the Great War / Known unto God. One sees …
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.
Survivor Frank Finkel’s Lasting StandMany men claimed to have been survivors of Custer's command at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, but Frank Finkel was the genuine article.
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.
Who Captured Union Colonel Percy WyndhamWho really did capture Percy Wyndham, adventurer, son of an English lord, and a colonel in the 1st New Jersey Cavalry during America's Civil War?
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 …
Letters From Readers — February 2007 Civil War Times MagazineLongstreet vs. JacksonJeffry Wert’s cover story “Lee’s Best Subordinate” in the August 2006 issue is in my opinion wrong. James Longstreet was not Lee’s best general. Longstreet was a failure when given independent command. His conduct at the Battle of Seven Pines, in which he was in charge of 30,000 troops and provided the primary …
Letters from Readers — January 2007 America’s Civil WarFiring the First Shot Regarding the July issue, I especially liked Dana Shoaf’s editorial about the Wisler house and J.D. Petruzzi’s fine article on the first shot at Gettysburg. Like countless others, I’ve risked life and limb to climb the steep little road berm to pay my respects to the 8th Illinois marker. I couldn’t …
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.
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 …
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
Letter from November 2006 America’s Civil War Magazine“Tin can on a shingle,” some Union soldiers would say upon seeing Monitor; “Cheesebox on a raft,” quipped other Yankees. Both are fine descriptions with a homespun American flavor and culinary twist that work well and conjure up an apt image for John Ericsson’s vessel. But boxes and tin cans were far too rustic references …
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 …
American’s Civil War: Collision at Sabine Crossroads During the Red River CampaignConfederate Major General Richard Taylor had only 11,000 troops to oppose Major General Nathaniel P. Banks' 25,000 Federals, but as they closed in on the town of Mansfield, La., he found a place to make a stand.
By Pierre Comtois
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: Colonel Benjamin Grierson’s Cavalry Raid in 1863Colonel Grierson, who led the raid, lacked the flair of Confederate counterparts like J.E.B. Stuart, but his intelligence and creativity made him an excellent leader. After his raid succeeded, illustrators for Northern newspapers like Harper's Weekly gave him a dashing image to match his accomplishments.
By Bruce J. Dinges
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 Santa Rosa IslandWhen Confederate troops set out to retaliate against Union soldiers at Fort Pickens, they began a comedy of errors that was played out in the sand dunes of Santa Rosa Island. The stakes were no laughing matter -- control of the port city of Pensacola.
By Gary R. Rice
Battle of RaymondIn his push toward Vicksburg, Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant purposely tried to shield his inexperienced young subordinate,James B. McPherson, from the enemy. But Confederate Brig. Gen. John Gregg was not so concerned with McPherson's welfare.
By Al W. Goodman, Jr.
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
Battle of Salem Church: Final Federal Assault at ChancellorsvilleWhile a dazed 'Fighting Joe' Hooker reeled from the brilliant Confederate flank attack at Chancellorsville, Union Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick fought his way past Rebel defenders to attack the enemy rear. At Salem Church, he tried to open a second front -- and possibly save the day.
By George Rogan
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
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 Stones RiverWhile an unwary Union artillery captain -- Warren P. Edgarton -- took his horses for water, 4,400 battle-hardened Confederates were massing to unleash a devastating pre-dawn attack.
By Robert C. Cheeks
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 Ox HillWith Union General John Pope reeling in defeat after the Battle of Second Manassas, Stonewall Jackson confidently set out to block Pope's retreat. It would be easy pickings--so Jackson thought.
By Robert James
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 Dinwiddie Court HouseUlysses S. Grant sent his trusted cavalry commander Phil Sheridan to flank Robert E. Lee out of Petersburg. The crossroads hamlet of Dinwiddie Court House soon became the focal point for one of the most pivotal cavalry battles of the war.
By Mark J. Crawford
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 …
The Real Men of DeadwoodThe 1870s Western mining town was chock-full of rough-and-tumble characters, many of whom -- like Wild Bill Hickok and Al Swearengen -- reappear in fine fettle on the hit HBO television series Deadwood.
By Mary Franz
Sioux Chief GallSoldiers gave the Hunkpapa leader his nickname because he was a dashing warrior who effectively teamed up with Sitting Bull in the 1870s. But after his surrender in 1881, Gall stood up for cooperation and peace at Standing Rock.
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.
Trail of Black HawkOutnumbered and harried through trackless swamps, Black Hawk's starving band of Sauk and Fox Indians made a desperate stand along the Mississippi.
Ephraim Dodd: An American Civil War Union PrisonerShould a Texas Ranger expect justice or death from his Union captors?
CSS Albemarle: Confederate Ironclad in the American Civil WarAn unstoppable confederate war machine -- Albemarle -- finally meets its match against Union raiders.
Abraham Lincoln Prepares to Fight a Saber DuelOne morning in 1842, Abraham Lincoln stood on a Missouri Island, ready to fight a saber duel. What happened next would determine not only Lincoln's fate, but the future of America.
Kiowa Chief SatantaKiowa chief Satanta was one of the most complicated men ever to rise from the Great Plains--a diplomat and orator of his people who did his share of killing.
The Battle of White Bird Canyon: First Fight of the Nez PerceAfter young warriors killed some settlers in Idaho Territory, General O.O. Howard ordered Captain David Perry at Fort Lapwai to go get them, telling him, 'You must not get whipped.'
Frontiersman Bill GayFrontiersman Bill Gay shot his way to the hangman's noose in Montana.
The Civil War Experience: 1861-1865 (Book Review)Reviewed by Partick AlanBy Jay WertzPresidio Press Civil War enthusiasts are unable to rest until everyone they know stops tolerating their mania and starts sharing it. It is the great crusade that lies at the heart of the hobby, a mission that many a Civil War Times reader has sworn on a well-thumbed copy of …
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.
Battle of New Market Heights: USCT Soldiers Proved Their HeroismOn a gunfire-swept slope near Richmond on September 29, 1864, USCT soldiers stood to the test and proved black men made good professional troops. Fourteen of them received the Medal of Honor for their bravery.
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 Harpers FerryHarpers Ferry was the scene of an important 1862 battle in Lee's Maryland campaign and a prelude to 'Bloody Antietam.'
Black Hawk WarOutnumbered and harried through trackless swamps, Black Hawk's starving band of Sauk Indians made a desperate stand along the Mississippi.
Confederacy’s Canadian Mission: Spies Across the BorderStealing secrets and causing trouble, Rebel spies in Canada waged a risky underground war across the Union's northern frontier.
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.
Battle of Fort PillowAs Nathan Bedford Forrest's tired, angry Confederates moved into place around Fort Pillow, their commander demanded its unconditional surrender. 'Should my demand be refused,' Forrest warned, 'I cannot be responsible for the fate of your command.'
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 New Bern RaidJohn Wood's swashbucklers set out to seize a Union fleet.
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.
American Civil War: The 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry RegimentThe Twenty-Third Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment included two future presidents and an Army Commander.
America’s Civil War: Loudoun RangersThe Quaker-dominated Loudoun Rangers openly defied Virginia tradition to serve the Union.
Brulé Sioux Chief Spotted TailSpotted Tail, chief of the Brulés, fought well, but his diplomatic skills were even better.
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.
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: Images of Peace at AppomattoxEvery picture tells a different story about Lee's surrender.
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.
Abraham Lincoln and Walt Whitman: War’s Kindred SpiritsKindred spirits Abraham Lincoln and Walt Whitman prepared themselves for another bloody year of war as 1863 dawned.
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.
Battle of Stones River: Philip Sheridan’s Rise to Millitary FameWhen Braxton Bragg's Confederates swooped down on the Federals at Stones River, only one division stood between the Rebels and calamitous defeat. Fortunately for the Union, that division was commanded by Phil Sheridan.
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.