The fall and winter of 186364

The perspective of years seems to suggest that Gettysburg turned the war onto a new axis, especially when taken with Federal conquest of the Mississippi river through the fall of Vicksburg on 4 July. History is, of course, lived forward but written backward. Americans struggling to further their opposite causes in 1863 saw little of what is now said to have been obvious. Confederates who fought at Gettysburg, and their families writing from home, rued the reverse they had suffered, but almost...

The Campaigns in the Virginia Theater 186365

How Draw Civil War Weapons

C Kernstown Fisher's Hill ' Strasburg Alexandria ' ) Warrenton Manassas, . Brandy Station Rappahannock , . * Station Wilderness r u . Frede ricksbure S rieamont Ch> i, ibff ine - Fr2der'tkst,ur8 , - S * - fS PortR l Hanover Hanover Ju0 n ' V Court House The Confederates counterattack at Brandy Station. (Painting by Don Troiani, www.historicalartprints.com) to lift the heel of war from Virginia, not only for humanitarian reasons, but also to allow that home country to recover from hostile...

McHenry Howards war

Battle Bristoe Station

In September 1814, Francis Scott Key of Maryland wrote a poem as he watched British ships bombard Fort McHenry in the harbor of Baltimore. When an actor sang Key's 'The Star-Spangled Banner' to the tune of an old drinking song, it at once became a popular patriotic air, and many years later the official national anthem of the United States. Francis Scott Key's grandson, McHenry Howard, did not hesitate about going to war against the Star-Spangled Banner when Northern troops invaded his hometown...

The Battle of Gettysburg

Battels Gettysburg Remanings

'Jeb' Stuart's Southern cavalry again occupied center stage as the armies sidled northward and crossed the Potomac - or, more accurately, Stuart's cavalry exited stage right and became conspicuous by their absence. While Lee pushed north, into and through the Shenandoah valley, Stuart embraced the chance to ride a raid entirely around the Union army. He had done just that twice before, in June and October 1862. This time the dashing maneuver backfired in deadly fashion. The cavalry detachment...

Ella Washington and the Federal Army

Descendants George Washington

George Armstrong Custer became forever famous when he led more than 250 cavalrymen to annihilation on the Little Big Horn river in 1876. A dozen years earlier he had been infamous among Virginians for destruction of civilian property and executing prisoners. Before either of those notable episodes of Custer's life and death, he had been the gallant savior of a hard-beset Virginian woman who lived near Richmond. Ella Bassett grew up on her father's sizable plantation 'Clover Lea,' a dozen miles...

From Richmond and Petersburg to Appomattox

Hatcher Run

Winter weather and its effect on a bad road system stymied Grant's steady probing westward toward the railroads through the war's last winter. The only major operation through that period unfolded on 5-7 February 1865 in the Battle of Hatcher's Run. Once again the Federals hoped to seize and hold the Boydton Plank Road and once again they coveted the invaluable South Side Railroad, which ran just beyond the road. A strong Federal force moved into the area. It included II Corps, now under...

The Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864

Jubal Early 1864 Shenandoah Campaign

In the spring of 1862, General Thomas J. 'Stonewall' Jackson catapulted to lasting fame by waging a campaign in Virginia's fertile and lovely Shenandoah valley that captured the imagination of the South and transformed the nature of the war. By turns careful and then dazzling in his maneuvers, Jackson utilized the valley's features to his own advantage. The two forks of the Shenandoah river served as moats, being crossed at only three places in 100 miles 160km by bridges. The Massanutten...

The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House 821 May 1864

Battle Spotsylvania Courthouse Map

2, 12 hay Hancock's attack f 3- 18 May Grant's attack. 11 5. Doles Salient, fi 2, 12 hay Hancock's attack f 3- 18 May Grant's attack. 11 5. Doles Salient, fi to press southward again, keeping the pressure on Lee. Early on 7 May, Grant issued orders to leave the Wilderness and head southeast toward Spotsylvania Court House, where the regional road net afforded a chance to slip between Lee and Richmond. When Grant turned south, despite having suffered as grievous losses as had prompted other...

The Battle of the Wilderness 56 May 1864

Battles 1864 Between Grant And Lee

The first clash between the war's two most famous leaders, Robert E. Lee and U. S. Grant, unfolded in the dense thickets of 'the Wilderness' on 5-6 May 1864. Grant's plan to slip across Lee's front and get between him and the Confederate capital at Richmond crumbled when the Confederates came in from the west and struck him a violent blow. For two days the fighting raged in woods and the few clearings, notably Saunders Field and the Widow Tapp Farm, and along the corridors of the Orange...