The second year of the Civil War started quietly, as the North concentrated on training and organizing its inexperienced troops and the South elected to conserve its strength for the coming spring. Once the winter of 1861-62 was over, though, the divided nation erupted in violence from Virginia to the banks of the Mississippi River.
At first, it appeared that the war was turning the Union's way. Northern troops tallied a number of significant victories in the western states during the spring of 1862, including the captures of Nashville and New Orleans. But within a few months, the war's momentum changed dramatically. In fact, Confederate general Robert E. Lee (1807-1870) brought the rebels to the brink of total victory. Only a desperate Union stand at Antietam in Maryland saved the North from losing all hope of regaining the secessionist states.
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