Fredericksburg

General McClellan emerged peacock proud from his victory over Lee at Antietam. He had, indeed, taken the field that day and pushed Lee with his back to the Potomac. But he had not followed up his defeat of the major Confederate forces with a second day of fighting. In fact, he did not move his 100,000-man force for weeks following the battle, allowing Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia to escape completely across the river back into Virginia. During those weeks of inactivity, President...

A march around the enemy

On May 1, Lee began to respond to Hooker's movements and was most concerned about the Union divisions at his left. He left General Early to keep watch over Fredericksburg and then marched the remainder of his army quickly to the west to hit Hooker before the Union commander could remove his men from the Wilderness. Lee was wise in choosing the woods for a fight because the thickness of the woods would make the great size of Hooker's force work against him. The Union commander should have known...

Fighting a Black Mans

Early in the war, President Lincoln refused to allow black men to enlist in the military. He was concerned that allowing blacks to fight would hurt relations with slavery supporters in the four border states. However, as the war took its toll and the number of casualties climbed on the Union side, some Union generals began organizing free Northern blacks and fugitive slaves into African-American units. Such black military units were meant at first to provide labor, rather than combat roles....

Stonewall

It was on Henry House Hill that the tide began to turn for the Confederate Army. The man responsible would be Thomas J. Jackson. The Virginia Military Institute professor was considered odd, obsessed with his own health and imagined illnesses, and he drove his men hard throughout the war. He was a Presbyterian with strong beliefs who brought no sense of humor to his command he believed he was fighting God's own holy war against the North. He had not yet become the Confederate Suffering from a...

Nathan Bedford Forrest The last Man

Pittsburg Landing Glowing Wounds

The battle at Shiloh was a massive encounter that resulted in more American casualties in two days than had taken place in all other previous American wars combined. Because of the severity of the conflict, General Grant did not want to send Union forces to follow the retreating Confederates. However, he did send General William Tecumseh Sherman down the road of Rebel retreat toward Corinth to give chase to the Confederate forces. Although that march would accomplish little, it did help create...

Seven Days

Supported by 15,000 horses and mules, 44 artillery batteries, 1,100 wagons, and a vast array of military equipment and hardware. The plan was a brilliant one. Unfortunately, George Mc-Clellan was the one who would carry it out. By late March, McClellan's forces were in place at Fort Monroe to take up the westward march toward Richmond. His advance units reached Yorktown on April 5, the day before General Albert Sidney Johnston began his attack against Grant at Shiloh. McClellan believed he was...

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...

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....