AMERICAN CIVIL WAR

Robert E. LeeWelcome to our new American Civil War homepage. The American Civil War was the biggest war of the second half of the nineteenth century, and the first major industrial war. In some ways it resembles more modern wars - armies are moved U. S. Grantthousands of miles by railroad while the electric telegraph sometimes allowed commanders in the field to stay in touch with close touch with Washington or Richmond, but the moment the army leave the railroad the campaigns begin to resemble Napoleonic warfare, fought with muskets and cannon, with messages sent by dispatch rider, or even canoe!

We launched our coverage of the Civil War with a themed month. Having started with an eleven part, 32,000 word article on the war itself, we finished the month with 17 articles containing 60,800 words.

We still have plenty of articles to add, so expect to see more coverage of the American Civil War over the next few months. We now have 181 articles containing 195,300 words

Visit our American Civil War subject page to see a complete index of all relevent articles or look at our timeline pages for 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864 and 1865.

3 September

Grierson's Raid, 17 April- 2 May 1863, was probably the most effective cavalry raid of the entire American Civil War.

The Red River Campaign was a minor Union campaign in Louisiana early in 1864 that ended in near-total failure

The Battle of Milliken’s Bend, 7 June 1863, was a failed Confederate attempt to relieve the siege of Vicksburg

The Battle of Fort Wagner, 11 and 18 July 1863, was a failed Union attack on the defences of Charleston, famous for being the first serious action of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment

The Fort Pillow Massacre, 12 April 1864, was a Confederate victory tainted by a massacre of black prisoners after the battle.

Biography of Nathaniel Banks, 1816-1894, one of the more succesful political generals of the civil war

Biography of Andrew H. Foote, 1806-1863, Union naval commander, famous for his achievements at Fort Henry and Fort Donelson early in the Civil War.

The C.S.S. Sumter was a short lived Confederate commerce raider

The U.S.S. Carondolet was one of the most famous Union ironclad riverboats during the American Civil War

The U.S.S. Galena was one of three ironclad warships built for the Union after news of the Confederacy's progress on the C.S.S. Virginia reached Washington.

14 August

Today we catch up on a backlog of American Civil War battles:

The Union capture of Ship Island, 17 September 1861, gave the US Navy a useful base on the Gulf Coast

The Battle of Port Royal, 7 November 1861, was a major Union victory early in the American Civil War that demonstrated how difficult it would be for the Confederacy to defend its coastline

The Battle of Pea Ridge, or Elkhorn Tavern, 7-8 March 1862, was the biggest battle fought west of the Mississippi during the American Civil War.

The Battle of Island No. 10, 7 April 1862, was a Union victory that further reduced Confederate control of the Mississippi river

The Battle of South Mountain, 14 September 1862, was a delaying action that helped Robert E. Lee unite his army to fight at Antietam

The Battle of Old Fort Wayne, 22 October 1862, saw the defeat of a pro-Confederate Native American army.

The Siege of Lexington, 18-20 September 1862, was the high point of Confederate success in Missouri.

The Battle of Prairie Grove, 7 December 1862, was a minor Federal victory in north western Arkansas that effectively ended a period of campaigning in that part of the state

The Battle of Helena, Arkansas, 4 July 1863, was an unsuccessful Confederate counterattack aimed at relieving the pressure on Vicksburg

The Battle of Pine Bluff, 25 October 1863, was a minor cavalry battle in the aftermath of the Federal capture of Little Rock, Arkansas

The Action of the Rappahannock Redoubts, 7 November 1863, was a minor battle in the aftermath of Gettysburg

The Battle of Sabine Crossroads, 8 April 1864, was the first of two battles that ended any chance of Union success in the Red River campaign

The Battle of Pleasant Hill, 9 April 1864 was the second of two battles in two days that ended any chance of success for the Red River campaign

The Second Battle of Kernstown, 23 July 1864, was a minor Confederate victory in the Shenandoah Valley

20 June

Four American Civil War army lists and one navy list today - Williamsburg, 5 May 1862 , First battle of Kernstown, 23 March 1862 , Shiloh, 6-7 April 1862 , Perryville, 8 October 1862 and Navies at the battle of Memphis, 6 June 1862

15 June

The Battle of Newtonia, 30 September 1862, was a minor battle in southern Missouri during the American Civil War

The Capture of New Orleans, 18-29 April 1862, saw a Union fleet capture the largest city in the Confederacy

The Battle of New Madrid, 13 March 1862, was part of the Union advance down the Mississippi that slowly split the Confederacy in half

31 May

Two American Civil War battles today - the Battle of Wilson’s Creek - an early Union defeat in Missouri that saw the death of Nathaniel Lyon, the Union commander in the state and the Second battle of Winchester, an early battle in the Gettysburg campaign.

27 May

Four American Civil War battles today: The naval battle of Memphis, 6 June 1862 A Union fleet defeats the Confederate defenders of the city on the Mississippi and seizes control of Memphis; Mill Springs or Logan Cross Roads, 19 January 1862, Union victory in eastern Tennessee that had little long term impact; Battle of Milliken’s Bend, 7 June 1863, a failed Confederate attempt to relieve the siege of Vicksburg and the Battle of Mobile Bay, 5 August 1864, Union victory that closed the port of Mobile to Confederate blockade runners

16 May

Three American Civil War battles to start today: The Battle of Drewry’s Bluff, 15 May 1862, was a succesful Confederate defence of Richmond against an attack by the Union fleet on the James River. The Battle of Groveton, 28 August 1862, was a preliminary battle in the campaign of Second Bull Run. Finally, the Siege of Harper’s Ferry, 13-15 September 1862 fatally distracted Robert E. Lee's first invasion of the North

11 May

A biography of Earl van Dorn today. Van Dorn commanded for the Confederacy at two battles, both of which he lost. He was an able cavalry commander but his career was cut short by his murder in 1863

1 May

We return to the American Civil War with the Battle of Hampton Roads. This was the first battle between ironclad warships, making it one of the most significant battles in naval history. The battle itself was tactically a draw - neither of the two ironclads involved could sink the other - and a strategic victory for the Union, who retained command of the James River.

26 February

Four more biographies today: Edward Moody McCook, one of many members of his family to fight in the Civil War, and a good leader of Union cavalry; Irvin McDowell, the defeated Union commander at First Bull Run, and unfortunate scapegoat after Second Bull Run; Ambrose Powell Hill, one of Lee's lieutenants in Virginia, who died on the last day of the siege of Petersburg and Stirling Price, one of many conditional Unionists who ended up fighting for the Confederacy.

23 February

Into the 'Fs' today, with three Civil War battles that involved forts. The siege of Fort Pulaski, 10-11 April 1862, saw Union forces seize the key fort defending the approaches to the port of Savannah, denying it to Confederate blockade runners. The Battle of Fort Pillow, 10 May 1862, was a minor Confederate victory on the Mississippi, won by their fleet. Finally, the siege of Fort Fisher, 13-15 January 1865 saw the Union block Wilmington, the last port providing supplies to General Lee's armies around Richmond.

13 February

A return to our alphabetic updates today with the battles of Cedar Mountain, Chantilly and Crampton's Gap, all battles of the late summer and early autumn of 1862.

10 February

For our last update of the week we add four American Civil War biographies. For the Confederacy we add Richard H. Anderson, a general who was present at just about every major battle in Virginia, Nathan George Evans, a general whose early achievements results in promotion beyond his abilities, and Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, one of the victors of First Bull Run. For the Union we add Joseph Hooker, one of the more controversial general of the war. Despite a very high profile failure at Chancellorsville, and a resignation only days before Gettysburg, Hooker's career continued until he resigned for a second time, just outside Atlanta.

30 January

George Meade was the victor of Gettysburg, a career soldier who never commanded a unit smaller than a brigade! His performance at Gettysburg, in a defensive battle, was masterly, but his offensive skills were not so impressive. The same might be said of James Longstreet, one of Robert E. Lee's most important lieutenants. In his case it was the speed of his attacks that had come in for some criticism, although in most cases, such as at Chickamauga, when they went in those attacks were effective.

27 January

Today we add the Battle of Fair Oaks or Seven Pines (31 May-1 June). This was the first major Confederate attempt to push McClellan's Union army away from Richmond. The Confederate commander, Joseph Johnston, hoped to take advantage of a split in the Union army, but the attack was badly handled. The most significant result of the battle was that Johnston was seriously wounded, allowing Robert E. Lee to take command of the Confederate armies around Richmond. We also add the army lists for the battle of Fair Oaks. These lists, complete with the commanding officers of each unit (where known), were originally published in the Battles and Leaders of the Civil War volumes, and were based on the official records. The original format is not very easy to use, so we hope our clearer versions will be of use.

25 January

We start today with the Second Battle of Bull Run or Manassas, one of the most important Confederate victories of the war, and one that made it clear that Union efforts to win the war in 1862 had failed. We also begin a new series of army lists with the armies at Second Bull Run.

Continuing with an alphabetic theme, we also add the battle of Baton Rouge (5 August 1862), a failed Confederate counterattack on the Mississippi (with army list), the battle of Bayou Forche (10 September 1863), a Union victory during the invasion of Arkansas, the battle of Brandy Station (9 June 1863), the largest cavalry battle of the civil war and the battle of Bristoe Station (14 October 1863), an incident in the indecisive fighting that followed the Gettysburg campaign.

17 January

As the rest of Virginia moved to leave the Union at the start of the American Civil War, West Virginia moved to leave Virginia. Today we add articles on six of the battles that followed in 1861, as the south attempted to force West Virginia into secession - Philippi (3 June), Rich Mountain (12 July), Corrick's Ford (13 July), Gauley Bridge (3 September), Cheat Mountain (10-15 September) and Carnifex Ferry (10 September). The Confederacy lost all six battles, and with them West Virginia. The fighting in West Virginia saw George McClellan win prominence after commanding at Rich Mountain, and saw Robert E. Lee's first battlefield command, at Cheat Mountain. We also include a timeline of events in West Virginia.

12 January

Edward S. Bragg is an example of a civilian who made a successful transition to military service during the American Civil War. A pre-war lawyer, Bragg started the war as a captain. During a military career that included Second Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Grant's Overland campaign against Richmond and the battle of Petersburg he was repeated promoted, reached the rank of Brigadier General in June 1864. His final command was the "Iron Brigade", the unit that suffered the highest proportion of casualties in the Union army. Bragg was not a political general. He had no pre-war contacts to ease his rise, instead earned each promotion by merit.

19 December

We finish the year with a bumper update. The Overland Campaign against Richmond was U.S. Grant's first attempt to defeat Robert E. Lee. His attempts to outflank Lee's armies all failed, while a second campaign under General Butler was defeated at the battle of Drewry’s Bluff (16 May 1864). Grant was not discouraged, and instead switched his attention to Petersburg (Petersburg Campaign, 1864-5). A chance to capture the city easily was missed (Battle of Petersburg, 15-18 June 1864), and Grant settled into a regular siege. An attempt to break the deadlock by exploding a massive mine under the Confederate lines failed (battle of the Crater, 30 June-3 April 1864). The end came after Robert E. Lee launched his final attack of the war, at Fort Steadman (25 March 1865). Instead of forcing Grant to shorten his lines, allowing Lee to escape south, the battle weakened the Confederate line to the point where Grant's next attack, (Battle of Five Forks, 1 April 1865) broke the southern end of the Confederate line. The next day, Grant was finally able to break through the Confederate lines outside Richmond and Petersburg. Lee was forced to abandon the Confederate capital. His attempt to escape south ended in the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse.

16 December

Today we add the last two battles of Grant's overland campaign against Richmond. The Battle of North Anna River was the smallest scale battle of the campaign. Once again Grant failed to get past Lee's left flank. Cold Harbor saw the final failure of Grant's first plan for 1864. The Union army had been drained by the intense fighting of the previous three battles and was unable to break through Lee's lines. After Cold Harbor, Grant turned south to Petersburg.

15 December

From the Wilderness, Grant attempted to outflank Lee by reaching a crossroads at Spotsylvania. Lee rushed troops to the danger point in time to stop Grant's move. The resulting battle saw Grant launch repeated attacks against the entrenched Confederate line. The 'Bloody Angle' saw some of the most vicious sustained close quarter combat of the entire war, but failed to produce a breakthrough.

13 December

The Battle of the Wilderness was the first battle during U.S. Grant's overland campaign against Richmond. It was also the first clash between Grant and Robert E. Lee. Tactically, the battle was a Confederate victory, but unlike earlier Union commanders in Virginia, Grant did not allow one defeat to distract him from his plans. The Wilderness was followed by the first of many Union attempts to slip past Lee's right wing. From now on, Lee would be under constant pressure until the end of the war.

11 December 2006

The C.S.S. Alabama was the most successful Confederate commerce raider of the American Civil War. In a career that lasted for nearly two years, she sank or captured 66 Union ships, including the warship Hatteras.

4 December 2006

Ambrose Burnside was one of the series of generals who had command of the Army of the Potomac during the American Civil War, and possibly one of the least suited to hold that place. When commanding smaller scale operations, he proved himself to be one of the more able Union commanders of the civil war. His first major successes came on the coast of North Carolina. After an earlier expedition captured Hatteras, Burnside saw how vulnerable the Confederate coast was. In the spring of 1862 he led an expedition that won a series of battles at Roanoke Island, Elizabeth City, South Mills, New Berne and Fort Macon, closing most of the North Carolina coast to Confederate shipping.

23 November 2006

The Battle of Belmont was U.S. Grant's first experience of battlefield command. As a battle it had little significance, but it has interest as a stepping stone in the career of the Union's most successful general.

21 November 2006

William J. Hardee was a senior Confederate general and military theorist, who appeared in just about every theatre of war apart from Virginia, starting the war west of the Mississippi, and ending it in North Carolina. His career rather neatly sums up the Confederate experience outside Virginia, and includes the battle of Shiloh, the siege of Chattanooga, and the Confederate attempts to stop W. T. Sherman's march to the sea.

We also add our first map collection page, linking twelve maps related to the battle of Shiloh.

18 November 2006

The Siege of Vicksburg was one of the most significant events of the American Civil War. The fall of Vicksburg removed the last significant Confederate presence on the Mississippi River, making it only a matter of time before the river was open to traffic from the north.

3 November 2006

We turn to the very start of the war today, with an article on the Siege of Fort Sumter, the battle that turned a crisis into a war.

31 October 2006

One of the biggest problems faced by the North during the civil war was the threat to their supply lines posed by bands of Confederate cavalry. Nathan Bedford Forrest was one of the most able cavalry commanders of the war. In 1864 he posed a serious threat to Sherman's supply lines as he approached Atlanta. Brice's Crossroad (10 June 1864) saw Forrest win one of his most inpressive victories, defeating a much larger Federal force. Just over a month later he suffered one of only two defeats in his military career at Tupelo (14-15 July 1864), although even this did not stop him - in August he launched a raid that reached the Federal headquarters in Memphis!

27 October 2006

Big Bethal and Ball's Bluff were two early Union defeats in Virginia. Big Bethal was the first test for General John Magruder, who was later to cause the Union many problems during the Peninsula campaign. Ball's Bluff was an insignificant affair, but it caused a massive political scandal in Washington because of the death of Colonel Edward D. Baker, a former Congressman, Republican Senator and friend of President Lincoln.

19 October 2006

The Seven Days's Battles of 1862 saw Robert E. Lee's first victory during the American Civil War. George B. McClellan with his huge Federal army had advanced to within a few miles of Richmond, and on 25 June 1862 began the Seven Days's with his only attack, at Oak Grove. The next day Lee launched his own attack, at Mechanicsville. This first attack failed, but McClellan turned it into a victory by deciding to retreat south to the James River. Over the next five days, Lee launched attacks at Gaines’s Mill, Savage’s Station, Glendale and Malvern Hill. Only Gaines's Mill was a Confederate battlefield victory, but Lee had pushed McClellan away from Richmond, saving the Confederate capitol, and restoring his own reputation after defeats in West Virginia and on the Atlantic coast.

14 October 2006

William Tecumseh Sherman was one of the North's most important commanders during the civil war. He first came to prominence as a trusted lieutenant to U.S. Grant, before succeeding him in command in the west after Grant was promoted to Washington. In that role Sherman led the armies that penetrated the heart of the Confederacy, seizing Atlanta before marching through Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. By the time the war ended, Sherman's armies were beginning to threaten Robert E. Lee's armies in Virginia from the rear.

We also add four of his battles: the disaster at Chickasaw Bluffs, the controversial victory at Arkansas Post and the only battles of his march through the Carolinas, at Averasborough and Bentonville. We support these articles with three pictures and eleven maps.

5 October 2006

For today we have the Big Black River campaign, U.S. Grant's most impressive campaign of manoeuvre warfare. During the first half of May 1863, Grant won five battles (Port Gibson, Raymond, Jackson, Champion's Hill and Big Black River), defeating forces that if they had combined would have been just as large as his own. We also add a biography of John A. McClernand, a political general who was one of Grant's three corps commanders during the campaign.

27 September 2006

Today we add articles on the capture of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson. These two Confederate forts guarded the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers in northern Tennessee and were an important part of the Confederate defensive line in the west. Their capture by a force commanded by U. S. Grant punctured that line and secured most of northern Tennessee for the Union.

8 September 2006

The most dramatic Union successes of 1864 were won by General Sherman. He began the year with the march on Atlanta, fighting battles at Resaca (13-15 May), New Hope Church (25-27 May) and Keneshaw Mountain (27 June) on the way. At Atlanta he fought off Confederate attacks (Battles of Peachtree Creek, 20 July and Atlanta, 22 July). Once he was at Atlanta, Sherman made two attempts to cut off the city's last rail connections. His first attempt failed (Ezra Church, 28 July), but a second attack with almost his entire army brushed aside a Confederate army rushed south to stop him (Battle of Jonesborough, 31 August). Atlanta was evacuated, and on 2 September Union forces occupied the city. The news of the capture of Atlanta played an important role in ensuring the reelection of President Lincoln, and left the heart of the Confederacy exposed to Union invasion.

6 September 2006

Today we add a biography of General Braxton Bragg, one of the more argumentative Confederate generals of the civil war. We support that with an article on his most important campaign, the Confederate invasion of Kentucky in 1862, and with articles on the Battle of Richmond (30 August 1862), capture of Munfordville (13-17 September 1862) and the Battle of Perryville (8 October 1862), key moments during that campaign.

1 September 2006

The least well known of the three Confederate offensives of 1862 was the attempted invasion of Western Tennessee and Kentucky. After avoiding a trap at the battle of Iuka (19 September 1862), being repulsed after two days of fighting at Corinth (3-4 October 1862) and narrowly avoiding being cut off at Hatchie Bridge (5 October), this attempted invasion ended without even leaving Mississippi.

24 August 2006

The last major Confederate offensive of the war was General John Hood's invasion of Tennessee in late 1864. After failing to trap a Union army at Spring Hill (29 November 1864) , Hood launched a futile attack on the same Union army in a defensive position at Franklin (30 November 1864), before his army was finally crushed at Nashville (15-16 December 1864). The failure of Hood's offensive, at a high cost and with nothing achieved, began to convince many across the south that the Confederacy was doomed.

15 August 2006

Today we add nine battles of 1864-5 related to the Shenandoah Valley theatre of the American Civil War: New Market, 15 May 1864; Piedmont, 5 June 1864; Trevilian Station 11-12 June 1864; Lynchburg, 17-18 June 1864; Monocacy River, 9 July 1864; Winchester, 19 September 1864; Fisher’s Hill, 22 September 1864; Cedar Creek, 19 October 1864 and Waynesborough, 2 March 1865

8 August 2006

Today we add the six battles of Stonewall Jackson's Shenandoah Valley campaign of 1862: Kernstown (23 March 1862), McDowell (8 May 1862), Front Royal (23 May 1862), Winchester (25 May 1862), Cross Keys (8 June 1862) and Port Republic (9 June 1862)

18 July 2006

We continue our series of shorter articles with the battles of Gettysburg, Shiloh/ Pittsburg Landing and Antietam/ Sharpsburg. These are three of the most significant battles of the war, each marking the failure of a Confederate attack.

13 July 2006

After withdrawing from Yorktown, the Confederate armies pulled back towards Richmond. At Williamsburg (5 May 1862) the Confederate rearguard and the Union advance guard clashed in what developed into a bloody battle. The Confederates succeeded in delaying the Union advance for long enough for their supply trains to reach Richmond.

We also begin a series of shorter articles on the major battles of the war with First Bull Run/ Manassas, Frederickburg and Chancellorsville.

5 July 2006

During the month-long siege of Yorktown, the Union army only launched one assault on the Confederate lines, at Lee's Mill on 16 April 1862. Even this was not intended to break the Confederate lines, but only to test its strength.

29 June 2006

The first fighting on the Peninsula came at Yorktown, where a thin Confederate line managed to halt McClellan's advance for a month, fatally delaying his march on Richmond.

20 June 2006

Our focus now moves onto the Peninsula Campaign, George McClellan's grand plan to outflank the Confederate armies in northern Virginia and capture Richmond before the rebels could react.

10 June 2006

Today we start a new venture for us with our first large primary source. Our first full text source is the Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee, collected and linked by his son, Robert E. Lee Jr. Lee died before he could write his own autobiography, and so this book provides one of the best insights into Lee as a man.

28 May 2006

We finish our themed month with two biographies: First, Thomas 'Stonewall' Jackson, one of the most able generals of the war, and Lee's most important lieutenant, until his death in 1863.

Second, we have Ulysses S. Grant, the Union's most successful general. His ruthless approach to the war was to play a crucial part in finally bringing it to an end.

Finally, we launch our interactive section with three quizzes for you to test your civil war knowledge: Biographies Quiz, States Quiz and Years Quiz.

23 May 2006

We finish our coverage of the fighting around Chattanooga with a look at the Battle of Wauhatchie, 28-29 October 1863, the only Confederate attempt to break General Grant's 'Cracker Line' bringing supplies into the city. We also add an interactive Map of the Chattanooga area.

22 May 2006

The Battle of Missionary Ridge: General Grant drives the Confederate army away from Chattanooga.

18 May 2006

The Battle of Orchard Knob (23 November 1863) saw the first fighting in General Grant's campaign to raise the Siege of Chattanooga.

17 May 2006

The Battle of Chickamauga (19-20 September 1863) was the bloodiest battle of the western theatre, and brought to an end a Union campaign that had pushed the Confederates out of Tennessee and threatened Georgia.

16 May 2006

The Battle of Campbell's Station was a rearguard action that allowed the Union forces under Burnside to withdraw into Knoxville.

15 May 2006

Today we add The Battle of Lookout Mountain, 24 November 1863, part of General Grant's plan for lifting the siege of Chattanooga

13 May 2006

Today we add a biography of Philip Sheridan, a rare example of a man who succeeded as a infantry commander, a cavalry commander and in charge of an entire army.

12 May 2006

The Battle of Bean's Station (14 December 1863) was the last fighting of the Knoxville campaign. It was a minor Confederate victory that ended the Union pursuit of Longstreet's army.

10 May 2006

Today we add our timeline of the Civil War, with one page for each year of the war: 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864 and 1865. Expect more detail to be added to these pages as we increase our coverage.

9 May 2006

After a brief break we resume with a biography of Robert E. Lee, the most iconic Confederate general, who won repeated victories against heavy odds, but was unable to find a winning strategy during his invasions of the north.

6 May 2006

Today we look at the Knoxville campaign and the Battle of Knoxville (29 November 1863). The campaign gained the Union control of East Tennessee, and Confederate defeat in the battle ensured it would be maintained.

4 May 2006

The Chattanooga and Chickamauga campaigns (1863) secured Union control of central and east Tennessee and exposed the heart of the Confederacy to attack in 1864.

3 May 2006

From Stuart we move on to General Custer, another flamboyant cavalry commander whose wartime successes are overshadowed by his later failing.

2 May 2006

James 'JEB' Stuart, one of the most famous cavalry commanders of the war.

1 May 2006

American Civil War: Introduction
American Civil War: The War of Amateurs
American Civil War: The Eastern Front: Washington and Richmond
American Civil War: The Shenandoah Valley
American Civil War: Invading the North
American Civil War: Clearing the Mississippi
American Civil War: Tennessee and Kentucky
American Civil War: Sherman's March through the Confederacy
American Civil War: The Blockade and the War at Sea
American Civil War: The West
American Civil War: Conclusion

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