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 …
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.
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.
Black Hawk WarOutnumbered and harried through trackless swamps, Black Hawk's starving band of Sauk Indians made a desperate stand along the Mississippi.
Battle of Harpers FerryHarpers Ferry was the scene of an important 1862 battle in Lee's Maryland campaign and a prelude to 'Bloody Antietam.'
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.
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.'
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 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.
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.'
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.
Battle of Wilson’s CreekThe Battle of Wilson's Creek helped to keep a critical border state out of the Confederacy.
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.
Battle at Sand Creek: The Military Perspective (Book Review)Reviewed by Alexander CookBy Gregory F. MichnoUpton and Sons, El Segundo, Calif., 2004 If you want to read another retelling of the Sand Creek tale (traditionally referred to as a “massacre”) in which the blood-thirsty Coloradoans led by Colonel John Chivington did the peaceful Cheyennes in Black Kettle’s village an immoral wrong, then this is …
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.
Military Technology: The Confederate Floating Battery Revival During the American Civil WarPopular during the Crimean War, the floating battery was revived by hard-pressed Confederates.
America’s Civil War: Fort Wagner and the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer InfantryThe doomed assault on Fort Wagner won the 54th Massachusetts a place in history, but did not win the battle for the North. No regiment could have carried the fort that day.
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 …
Memoirs of Thaddeus S.C. Lowe, Chief of the Aeronautic Corps of the Army of the United States During the Civil War: My Balloons in Peace and War (Book Review)Reviewed by Keith MillerBy Thaddeus S.C. Lowe, edited by Michael Jaeger and Carol LauritzenEdwin Mellen Press, 238 pages Thaddeus Lowe, a pioneer in wartime aviation, wrote his memoirs in 1911, but a serious accident cut short his efforts to publish his account of his contribution to the Union war effort. By bringing My Balloons in …
‘The Birth of a Nation': When Hollywood Glorified the KKKNinety years after its first screening and 100 years after the publication of the novel that inspired it, D.W. Griffith's motion picture continues to be lauded for its cinematographic excellence and vilified for its racist content. The film came from Griffith's personal vision, and as such it reflected the strengths and weaknesses of the man himself.
Battle of ShepherdstownThe savage little Battle of Shepherdstown made for a bloody coda to the 1862 Maryland campaign.
America’s Civil War: Guerrilla Leader William Clarke Quantrill’s Last Raid in KentuckyWhen Confederate fortunes plummeted in Missouri, fearsome guerrilla leader William Clarke Quantrill and his band of hardened killers headed east to terrorize Union soldiers and civilians in Kentucky. It would be Quantrill's last hurrah.
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.
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.
The 7th U.S. Cavalry Regiment Fought in the Battle of the Little BighornAmong the troopers advancing with Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer on the Little Bighorn in June 1876 were 1st Lt. Charles DeRudio and Privates John Martin and Augustus De Voto.
Frederick W. BenteenBenteen, though he displayed daring and audacity during his military career, would probably not be remembered today if not for his supporting role at the Little Bighorn more than 125 years ago.
Battle of Little Bighorn CoverupConcerned that the Indians in the village would escape, George Armstrong Custer ordered his force forward to the attack. Did Reno and Benteen try to hide the true nature of the attack?
Battle of Little Bighorn: Were the Weapons the Deciding FactorGeorge A. Custer's 7th Cavalry had Springfield carbines and Colt .45 revolvers; the Lakota and Cheyenne Indians had a variety of long arms, including repeaters. But were the weapons used on June 25, 1876, the deciding factor in the famous battle?
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.
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 …
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: Four Years With General LeeReviewed by Peter S. Carmichael By Walter Herron Taylor Of all Robert E. Lee’s subordinates, few were better qualified to write a history of the Army of Northern Virginia than Walter Herron Taylor. Taylor’s Four Years With General Lee, published in 1877, stands as one of the standard works on the Army of Northern Virginia. …
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 …
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 …
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.
An Eyewitness Account of the Evacuation of Richmond During the American Civil WarConfederate express agent James P. Hawkins got caught up in the evacuation of Richmond.
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.
Immortal 600: Prisoners Under Fire at Charleston Harbor During the American Civil WarKnowingly exposing helpless prisoners to artillery fire seems unconscionable. War, however, has a way of fostering inhumane behavior.
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.
Battle of Resaca: Botched Union AttackWilliam Tecumseh Sherman waited expectantly to hear that his accomplished young protégé, James B. McPherson, had successfully gotten astride the railroad at Resaca and cut off the Confederate line of retreat. Hours went by with no word from McPherson. What was 'Mac' doing in Snake Creek Gap?
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.
Edwin Booth Saved Robert Todd Lincoln’s LifeA Lincoln family incident during the Civil War became a remarkable snippet of assassination lore.
Elizabeth Van Lew’s American Civil War ActivitiesEccentric enough to hide in plain sight within the Confederate capital, Elizabeth Van Lew was Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's eyes and ears in Richmond.
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.
The Last Stand of Crazy HorseAfter helping his people win the Battle of the Little Bighorn, the daring Oglala leader fought thesoldiers again at Slim Buttes in September 1876 and the Wolf Mountains in January 1877 before finally surrendering at Camp Robinson that May.
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.
Life at West Point of Future Professional American Civil War OfficersWhether they spent their energy studying or sneaking off to Benny Havens's tavern, the future professional officers of the Civil War left West Point with enough stories for a lifetime -- and an enduring common bond.
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.
Lakotas: Feared Fighters of the PlainsThe Teton Sioux, or Lakotas, battled other tribes to become the dominant force on the Northern Plains and then took on the U.S. Army in an effort to maintain their way of life.
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.
Eyewitness to America’s Civil War: William W. PattesonTeenager William W. Patteson fled his Virginia farm and fought at the Battle of Cedar Mountain.
America’s Civil War: Union General Phil Sheridan’s ScoutsCivil War Union General Phil Sheridan put together a group of daring scouts who wore Rebel uniforms and captured Confederate irregulars, dispatches and generals.
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.
America’s Civil War: Union’s Mission to Relieve Fort SumterFor three long months, Civil War Major Robert Anderson and his besieged troops waited for reinforcements at Fort Sumter. Back in Washington, Union naval officer Gustavus Fox raced against time to organize just such a mission.
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.
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.
America’s Civil War: Digging to Victory at VicksburgTo the armies at Vicksburg, picks, shovels and manual labor proved as valuable as bullets and bombshells.
Sultana: A Tragic Postscript to the Civil WarIn a tragic postscript to the Civil War, as many as 1,700 Union soldiers, recently released from Confederate prisons, may have died while en route home aboard the steamer Sultana.
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.
Cheyenne Chief Tall BullTall Bull led the Dog Soldiers in battle, but his death at Summit Springs ended Southern Cheyenne power.
The Dodge City WarWhen saloon owner Luke Short was told to get out of Dodge in 1883, he went. But he soon came back, and he was joined by the likes of Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson and Doc Holliday.
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: 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: 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: 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.
Battle of Chancellorsville: Day OneNew Union commander 'Fighting Joe' Hooker planned to encircle Robert E. Lee at the Virginia crossroads hamlet of Chancellorsville. The plan seemed to be working perfectly, until....
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.
Battle of CorinthThe strategic railroad town of Corinth was a key target for Confederate armies hoping to march north in support of General Braxton Bragg's invasion of Kentucky.
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.
Abraham Lincoln: Deciding the Fate of 300 Indians Convicted of War Crimes in Minnesota’s Great Sioux UprisingEven as the Civil War intensified, President Abraham Lincoln faced the aftereffects of a bloody Indian war in Minnesota. More than 300 men faced execution, but the death sentences required the president's approval.
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.
Wild Bill HickokIn the wild west, few men could match colorful Wild Bill, whose exploits as a well-dressed but deadly frontiersman, peace officer and gambler have made him an enduring legend.
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.
Tecumseh, Red Cloud and Sitting Bull: Three Great Indian LeadersDiplomacy, courage and charisma were among the attributes of this trio of great Indian leaders.
Battle of Waynesboro: Jubal Early and Phil Sheridan Meet For the Last TimeWith his once-formidable army reduced to a mere shadow of its former self, Confederate General Jubal Early pulled up at Waynesboro to face his old nemesis, Phil Sheridan, for the last time.
The Dahlgren Papers RevisitedThe mystery surrounding documents detailing a Union plan to murder Jefferson Davis is put to rest by historian Stephen W. Sears.
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.
George Crook: Indian FighterAgainst the Apaches in Arizona Territory and the Sioux and Cheyenne in the northern Plains, Crook did his job more effectively than most Army leaders on the Plains.
Nez Perce WarWhen a white settler killed a Nez Perce warrior in 1876, the incident set off a chain of events that led to war.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
American History: 1864 Attack on New YorkManhattan proved an irresistible target for Confederate saboteurs who wanted to set the city ablaze and settle some scores with the Union.
Abraham Lincoln: Commander in ChiefAlthough he lacked the military experience, President Abraham Lincoln took on active direction of the Union war effort, influencing and managing events and generals in every field of operations.
Philip Wells: Wounded at Wounded KneeThe son of a white father and a half-blood mother, Wells nearly lost his nose in the tragic 1890 affair but still managed to be merciful.