The Tide Turns

During the first half of 1863, doubts about the Federal army's ability to defeat the Confederate forces mounted across the North. And when Confederate general Robert E. Lee (1807-1870) led his troops to a spectacular victory at Chancellorsville, Virginia, the North grew increasingly anxious. In July, antiwar feelings combined with anger over many of the wartime actions of President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) led to a deadly riot in New York that took the lives of more than one hundred people.

But July 1863 also marked a significant turning point in the Civil War. During the first days of that month, the Union forces won two major battles. In the West, the North's successful siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi, enabled it to establish control over the entire length of the Mississippi River. In the East, the Union victory at the famous Battle of Gettysburg forced Lee to abandon his efforts to bring the war onto Northern soil. These victories encouraged Union troops across the country. They also increased public support for the Lincoln administration in the North, although opposition to the president's policies remained strong among many Northerners. A few months later, the South rebounded from these defeats

Blockade the act of surrounding a harbor with ships in order to prevent other vessels from entering or exiting the harbor; the word blockade is also sometimes used when ships or other military forces surround and isolate a city, region, or country

Civil War conflict that took place from 1861 to 1865 between the Northern states (Union) and the Southern seceded states (Confederacy); also known in the South as the War between the States and in the North as the War of the Rebellion

Confederacy eleven Southern states that seceded from the United States in 1860 and 1861

Conscription forced enrollment of able-bodied men into a nation's armed forces; also known as a draft

Draft see Conscription

Emancipation the act of freeing people from slavery or oppression

Federal national or central government; also refers to the North or Union as opposed to the South or Confederacy

Rebel Confederate; often used as a name for a Confederate soldier

Regiment a military unit of organized troops; regiments usually consisted of one thousand men and were divided into ten companies of one hundred men each

Siege surrounding and blockading of a city, town, or fortress by an army attempting to capture it

Union Northern states that remained loyal to the United States during the Civil War with a dramatic triumph at the Battle of Chickamauga in Georgia. As the year drew to a close, however, a decisive Union victory at Chattanooga, Tennessee, provided further evidence that the war might finally be turning in the North's favor.

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