Battles Of The Civil War...

By: Emily O'Brien
and Ashley Tune

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1. Fort Sumter

         On April 12, 1861, General P.G.T. Beauregard, in command of the Confederate forces around Charleston Harbor, opened fire on the Union garrison holding Fort Sumter. At 2:30 pm on April 13 Major Robert Anderson, garrison commander, surrendered the fort and was evacuated the next day.

2. Bull Run

          This was the first major land battle of the armies in Virginia. On July 16, 1861, the untried Union army under Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell marched from Washington against the Confederate army, which was drawn up behind Bull Run beyond Centreville. On the 21st, McDowell crossed at Sudley Ford and attacked the Confederate left flank on Matthews Hill.Fighting raged throughout the day as Confederate forces were driven back to Henry Hill. Late in the afternoon, Confederate reinforcements extended and broke the Union right flank. The Federal retreat rapidly deteriorated into a rout. Thomas J. Jackson earned the nom de guerre “Stonewall.” By July 22, the shattered Union army reached the safety of Washington.

3. Moniter Vs. Merrimack

          On March 8, 1862, from her berth at Norfolk, the Confederate ironclad Virginia steamed into Hampton Roads where she sank Cumberland and ran Congress aground. On March 9, the Union ironclad Monitor having fortuitously arrived to do battle, initiated the first engagement of ironclads in history. The two ships fought each other to a standstill, but Virginia retired.

4. Fort Donelson, Shenandoh

       After capturing Fort Henry on February 6, 1862, Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant advanced cross-country to invest Fort Donelson. On February 16, 1862, after the failure of their all-out attack aimed at breaking through Grant’s investment lines, the fort’s 12,000-man garrison surrendered unconditionally. This was a major victory for Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and a catastrophe for the South. It ensured that Kentucky would stay in the Union and opened up Tennessee for a Northern advance along the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers. Grant received a promotion to major general for his victory and attained stature in the Western Theater, earning the nom de guerre “Unconditional Surrender.”

5. Shiloh, Antietam

        Also known as the Battle of Pittsburgh Landing, the Battle of Shiloh took place from April 6 to April 7, 1862, and was one of the major early engagements of the American Civil War (1861-65). The battle began when the Confederates launched a surprise attack on Union forces under General Ulysses S. Grant (1822-85) in southwestern Tennessee. After initial successes, the Confederates were unable to hold their positions and were forced back,resulting in a Union victory. Both sides suffered heavy losses, with more than 23,000 total casualties, and the level of violence shocked North and South alike.

6. Vicksburg

      In May and June of 1863, Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s armies converged on Vicksburg, investing the city and entrapping a Confederate army under Lt. Gen. John Pemberton. On July 4, Vicksburg surrendered after prolonged siege operations. This was the culmination of one of the most brilliant military campaigns of the war. With the loss of Pemberton’s army and this vital stronghold on the Mississippi, the Confederacy was effectively split in half. Grant's successes in the West boosted his reputation, leading ultimately to his appointment as General-in-Chief of the Union armies.

7. Fort Wagner

     After the July 11 assault on Fort Wagner failed, Gillmore reinforced his beachhead on Morris Island. At dusk July 18, Gillmore launched an attack spearheaded by the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, a black regiment. The unit’s colonel, Robert Gould Shaw, was killed. Members of the brigade scaled the parapet but after brutal hand-to-hand combat were driven out with heavy casualties. The Federals resorted to siege operations to reduce the fort. This was the fourth time in the war that black troops played a crucial combat role, proving to skeptics that they would fight bravely if only given the chance.

8. Gettysburg

       Having concentrated his army around the small town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Gen. Robert E. Lee awaited the approach of Union Gen. George G. Meade’s forces. On July 1, early Union success faltered as Confederates pushed back against the Iron Brigade and exploited a weak Federal line at Barlow’s Knoll. The following day saw Lee strike the Union flanks, leading to heavy battle at Devil's Den, Little Round Top, the Wheatfield, Peach Orchard, Culp’s Hill and East Cemetery Hill. Southerners captured Devil’s Den and the Peach Orchard, but ultimately failed to dislodge the Union defenders. On the final day, July 3rd, fighting raged at Culp’s Hill with the Union regaining its lost ground. After being cut down by a massive artillery bombardment in the afternoon, Lee attacked the Union center on Cemetery Ridge and was repulsed in what is now known as Pickett’s Charge. Lee's second invasion of the North had failed, and had resulted in heavy casualties; an estimated 51,000 soldiers were killed, wounded, captured, or listed as missing after Gettysburg.

9. Sherman's March To The Sea

      From November 15 until December 21, 1864, Union General William T. Sherman led some 60,000 soldiers on a 285-mile march from Atlanta to Savannah, Georgia. The purpose of this “March to the Sea” was to frighten Georgia’s civilian population into abandoning the Confederate cause. Sherman’s soldiers did not destroy any of the towns in their path, but they stole food and livestock and burned the houses and barns of people who tried to fight back. The Yankees were “not only fighting hostile armies, but a hostile people,” Sherman explained; as a result, they needed to “make old and young, rich and poor, feel the hard hand of war.”

10. Appomattox (End Of Civil War)

     Harried mercilessly by Federal troops and continually cut off from turning south, Lee headed west, eventually arriving in Appomattox County on April 8. Heading for the South Side Railroad at Appomattox Station, where food supplies awaited, the Confederates were cut off once again and nearly surrounded by Union troops near the small village of Appomattox Court House. Despite a final desperate attempt to escape, Lee’s army was trapped. General Lee surrendered his remaining troops to General Grant at the McLean House on the afternoon of April 9.

By: Emily O'Brien
and Ashley Tune

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