Color Confusion on the Battlefield

When the Civil War opened in the spring of 1861, so many men volunteered for military service, the war departments of both armies were soon overwhelmed. They experienced shortages of everything needed for their new troops, from knapsacks to guns to socks. Lifting some of this strain on supply for both armies was the fact that a considerable number of the troops that would make up the early armies were militiamen from the various states. These men were already uniformed and supplied for...

Burnsides bridge

Host Bridge Mobo

Late in the day, McClellan was still sending regiments, battalions, and even whole divisions bit by bit into the Antietam fight. Then the third phase of the battle opened along the Union left flank near the stone bridge. If McClellan was guilty that day of poor coordination and general bad management in this battle, he was not alone. The commander of the Union's 9th Corps was Major General Ambrose Burnside. He was given orders to take his men across the Lower Bridge, otherwise known as the...

July 1 1863

The engagement was sharp and at close range, lasting several hours. The Union cavalrymen were pushed back toward Gettysburg, but Buford's men, who had been fighting mostly on foot, took a stand along McPherson's Ridge. Then, just as General Heth was ready to launch an all-out attack with a pair of Rebel brigades, the Union soldiers reached the scene all at once and drove the Confederates back. The battle ended with the retreat of the Rebels from the field and the capture of the Confederates'...

Along the chickahominy

During those two days, June 26 to 27, the vast majority of McClellan's men had not seen much fighting. McClellan had sent 6,000 of them across the river to support Porter, but the remaining 69,000 Federal forces had remained nearly motionless. In part, it seems, they were nearly frozen with anticipation of what Rebel commander John Magruder would do. A thin line of 27,000 of Magruder's men was the only force standing in McClellan's way of marching into Richmond. Magruder had managed to keep the...

A strategic location

On the evening of May 7, Grant sent his men forward once again, by the left flank to the southeast, this time toward Spot-sylvania Court House. Grant understood that the location was key and that reaching it before Lee would provide him with an advantage, given the lay of the land in the region. Lee also understood the importance of Spotsylvania and sent his cavalry under General Jeb Stuart, and his 1st Corps, commanded by Major General Richard H. Anderson, to move as quickly as possible to...

Burnside in command

Battle Fredericksburg Aurora Borealis

On November 15, Burnside moved his massive army of 110,000 south toward Richmond, Virginia. They headed directly for Fredericksburg, which lies about halfway between Washington, D.C., and Richmond. Burnside hoped to reach the town along the banks of the Rappahannock River before Lee could reach it. He then planned to push farther southward and place his army between the Army of Northern Virginia and Lee's forces. Within two days, Burnside had about one-third of his men at Falmouth, Virginia, on...

Grant to the rescue

Images Rosecrans Army

From distant Washington, D.C., President Lincoln observed Rosecrans's situation with disappointment and disgust. His commander did not seem up to the task of command. Lincoln famously referred to Rosecrans, as noted by historian Tyler Dennett, as confused and stunned like a duck hit on the head. Lincoln ordered a shake-up of commands, uniting the departments of the Ohio, Cumberland, and the Tennessee into the Military Division of the Mississippi. He then relieved Rosecrans and placed Ulysses S....

Chancellorsville

Following the Battle of Fredericksburg, both armies slipped into winter quarters. For the Army of Northern Virginia, the year 1862 had delivered major battlefield victories, including the Seven Days, Second Bull Run, and Fredericksburg. Antietam had ended in defeat, but compared to the year the Federals had in the East including the disaster that was Fredericksburg Lee and his army had reason to hope that their cause might succeed. For the Union men, spirits were extremely low. Then, when a...

Manassas

Manassas Union Historians

For four straight years, the people of the United States fought one another in a brutal war. The Civil War would result in the deaths of about 620,000 men in uniform. More Americans died during this bloody nineteenth-century conflict than in all other American wars combined. They fought on battlefields across the South and on Northern soil in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Kentucky even though that state's government was officially neutral . The war's battles are nearly countless,...

A border state engagement

Ulysses Grant Mexican American War

The Confederates were defeated at Mill Springs, Kentucky, which helped Union forces hold onto eastern Kentucky. Western Kentucky was a different story. The Tennessee and Cumberland rivers flowed through the region and into Ohio. Two Rebel forts, Fort Henry on the Tennessee and Fort Donelson on the Cumberland, blocked Union access up those rivers. General Ulysses S. Grant changed this. Grant, who was under Halleck's command, managed to capture both Fort Henry and Fort Donelson by mid-February....