The first real battle took place July 21, , on the hills around Bull Run creek outside Manassas, Virginia, a railroad junction some 30 miles south of the Northern capital at Washington City Washington, D. During the war, the North named battles for the nearest body of water, and the South used the name of the nearest town. The Union army made progress early in the battle, but Confederate reinforcements arrived late in the day from the Shenandoah Valley and routed the Federals. The unfortunate Union commander, Irvin McDowell, was made the scapegoat and was replaced with an officer who had some victories to his credit: McClellan.
On September 10 a Union victory at Carnifax Ferry in the Big Kanawha Valley of West Virginia virtually ended Confederate control in most of the western counties, although there would be raids and guerrilla warfare there. A successful naval invasion of North Carolina took place in August. The Western Theater saw only minor skirmishing. Kentucky was attempting to remain neutral and had vowed to take sides against whichever side first moved troops into it.
That was the Confederacy, which felt compelled to establish Mississippi River forts and establish camps within the state to repel any attempted Union move south.
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The Union commander, Nathaniel Lyon, was killed, the first Federal general to die in action during the war. Bee at First Manassas. The year saw the first clash between ironclad warships, in the Battle of Hampton Roads. Lincoln announced his Emancipation Proclamation. Lee, who took command of the main Confederate army. Lincoln would be hard-pressed to find a commander Lee could not out-general.
Farther south along the Atlantic Coast, Federals captured territory in North and South Carolina and Georgia, but lost a chance to shorten the war when they were turned back at the Battle of Secessionville, South Carolina. In the Western Theater, Union forces made deep penetrations into Dixie, beginning the year along the Ohio River and finishing it in control of Middle and West Tennessee, with outposts in Mississippi.
Even New Orleans was under the Stars and Stripes again. Beyond the Mississippi, initial Confederate successes in New Mexico territory were nullified by a defeat at Glorietta Pass. Texans lynched 50 Unionists in what became known as the Great Hanging at Gainesville and attacked German immigrants trying to leave the state, executing nine of the wounded after the Battle of the Nueces.
Three hundred Sioux were sentenced to hang, but Lincoln cut that number to 38—still the largest mass execution in U. September saw simultaneous Confederate invasions into Maryland and Kentucky in September. Neither, however, was long lived. The year ended—and the new year would begin—with another bloodbath, on the banks of Stones River outside Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Overall, the scales were still nearly balanced between the two sides in their struggle to restore the Union or to establish a Southern Confederacy.
The tide of war shifted noticeably in favor of the Union in , despite a brilliant victory by Robert E.
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Lee then suffered a major defeat at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in early July. The two antagonists met again in November in a confused, inconclusive affair known as the Mine Run Campaign. On April 17, the Army of the Potomac, under yet another commander, Maj. In response, Lee divided his force, leaving part of it to guard the river at Fredericksburg. On April 30, Hooker and Lee collided near a mansion called Chancellorsville in a densely thicketed area of woods known as The Wilderness. He died May Lee, learning the Federals had captured Fredericksburg, divided his force again and defeated them at Salem Church.
Hooker gave up the campaign and withdrew on the night of May 5—6. Read more about the Battle of Chancellorsville. Grant on July 4 after a day siege. Grant was placed in command of all Western armies, a prelude to an even greater promotion that would come the following spring. Two massacres marked Patrick E. Connor attacked the camp of Chief Bear Hunter on January Quantrill sacked and burned Lawrence, Kansas, a center for pro-Union, anti-slavery Jayhawkers and Redlegs, killing — men and boys. His men encountered the Army of the Potomac, now under George Gordon Meade, at a crossroads town in southeastern Pennsylvania on July 1.
Capturing the town but failing to take the high ground around it, Lee assailed the Union flanks the next day. On July 3, Lee made perhaps his greatest mistake of the war, ordering a frontal attack across open ground against the Union center on Cemetery Ridge. Read more about the Battle Of Gettysburg.
The year also saw an event unique in American history. Counties of western Virginia had refused to leave the Union when the state seceded in At the end of , both sides still had significant forces, and the Confederates enjoyed good defensive terrain in Virginia and North Georgia. If they could inflict enough losses on their Northern opponents, they might win at the ballot box what they could not on the field of battle: Lincoln was vulnerable and in the elections might be replaced by a Democrat who would make peace with the Confederacy.
Grant, who was put in charge of all Union armies in March Three days later, it collided with Robert E.
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There was no such clear-cut outcome this time. Lee anticipated the move, and the two armies tore at each other again for two weeks in May around Spotsylvania Courthouse. The siege of Richmond and Petersburg had begun. Read more about the Battle Of The Wilderness. On July 30, the Union exploded a mine beneath a portion of the Confederate works around Petersburg. A tardy advance by a large number of Union soldiers into the foot-deep crater it created allowed the Southerners time to recover. They poured fired into the densely packed Federals; eventually, the fighting was hand-to-hand.
Angered by the blast and the presence of black troops, the Confederates gave no quarter and the Battle of the Crater resulted in 4, Union casualties for no gain. Read more about the Battle Of Petersburg. After a victory at Lynchburg in June, Jubal A. A desperate delaying action on July 9 at Monocacy, Maryland, by an outnumbered force under Lew Wallace—the future author of Ben Hur—bought the capital time to prepare. Lincoln came out to watch the fighting. When Grant went east his friend and subordinate, William Tecumseh Sherman , took command of the armies of the Tennessee and the Cumberland at Chattanooga.
While Grant bludgeoned and sidestepped his way toward Richmond, Sherman was slugging through the mountains of North Georgia. There, Confederate general Joseph Johnston made superb use of terrain to slow the Federal advance. But gradually, his armies closed in on the rail center of Atlanta. The capture of Atlanta was one of the most crucial events of the war. The Democrats had nominated George B. McClellan, the former commander of the Army of the Potomac, as their candidate. The party made many missteps during the campaign, and for the first time ever, the North allowed soldiers to vote in the field.
Sherman left Atlanta November 15 on his march to the sea.
He reached Savannah by Christmas, leaving a mile wide swath of ashes, wrecked railroads and utter destruction behind him. Sherman detached George Thomas and the Army of the Cumberland to deal with him. At the town of Franklin, Hood ordered frontal assaults that after five hours of intense fighting, left his army in tatters; five generals were dead. After an ice storm melted, Thomas came out of his works and finished the job of shattering the Confederate army. Its remnants withdrew to Tupelo, Mississippi. Stories that his men massacred Union soldiers, particularly members of the United States Colored Troops captured at Fort Pillow , a poorly designed Mississippi River fort north of Memphis, gained instant credence in the North, but two official inquiries were unable to reach a conclusion about what had actually happened.
At New Johnsonville, Tennessee, Forrest gained the distinction of commanding the only cavalry group ever to defeat gunboats, when they sunk or frightened crews into scuttling four ships. Farragut steamed into the Battle of Mobile Bay with 18 ships. Full speed ahead! By the end of , the Confederacy had nothing left but courage and tenacity. The smoke rising above Georgia and the thousands of bodies strung out from Nashville to Atlanta to Petersburg and the gates of Washington said there would be no military victory.
The South would fight on, no matter cost. The noose around the Confederacy was strangling it. The port city of Wilmington followed a month later. When they reached South Carolina, where the rebellion had begun, any bit of restraint they may have shown elsewhere was pitched aside. What remained of the Confederate forces, once more under the command of Joseph Johnston, was far too small to stop the juggernaut.
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Before leaving Richmond, the Confederates set fire to the town. On April 9, at Appomattox Courthouse , after discovering Federals had beaten him to a supply cache, he surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Grant. Sherman extended even more generous terms than Grant had but endured the embarrassment of having to go back to Johnston with harsher conditions. Lincoln died the next morning, the first American president to be assassinated.
Booth was shot weeks later while trying to escape from a barn in Virginia. All those captured who were believed to be his co-conspirators in the plot were hanged, including Mary Surratt, who owned the boarding house where the plotters met. One after another, the remaining Confederate forces surrendered. Only one Confederate was executed, Henry Wirtz, commander of the notorious prison camp at Andersonville. Officially known as Fort Sumter, Andersonville was the largest prison camp in the south and was infamous for its ill treatment of Union prisoners who lacked adequate food and medicine.
Southerners have long protested that the death rate in Northern prison camps was higher than that of Andersonville, and Wirtz should not have been punished for war crimes. Learn more about the Andersonville Prison Camp. There were numerous causes that led to the Civil War, many of which developing around the fact that the North was becoming more industrialized while the South remained largely agrarian.
Some causes of the Civil War include:. There were over fifty major land battles and over ten thousand skirmishes, engagements and other military actions fought during the Civil War. Major Battles include:.
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