American Civil War Battles

American Civil War Battles

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American Civil War Battles - HISTORY

American Civil War Principles

The American Civil War demonstrated the principles of warfare, which are historic military instructions for commanders and military officers.

The American Civil War was an excellent demonstration of the principles of war, which are historic military instructions on strategy, tactics, and operations. The principles include mass, maneuver, objective, offensive, security, simplicity, surprise, unity of command, and economy of force. The acronyms for remembering these principles are MOUSE and MOSS. These principles were derived from the military philosophies of Karl Von Clausewitz, Liddell Hart, Napoleon, Sun Tzu, and JFC Fuller. Throughout the American Civil War’s deadly history at least one or more of these principles were executed by either Confederate or Union generals involved in the conduct and prosecution of this war.

The Principle of Mass

The principle of mass involves the concentration of combat power at the decisive place and time. Mass does not mean “more men.” The Confederate Army achieved military superiority over the numerically superior Union Army during the early years of the American Civil War because the Confederate Army had superior generalship, leadership, morale, and training. The principle of mass is usually gained by superior generalship with superior weapons and tactics.

The Principle of Objective

The principle of objective involves directing every military operation towards a clearly defined objective. The proper objective in battle is the destruction of the enemy’s combat forces. However, to execute this agenda subordinate commanders must be given “terrain objectives” toward which they move. Thus, Richmond was not a proper terrain objective for McClellan’s army in 1862 because capturing it would not necessarily destroy the Confederate Army and the loss of Richmond in 1862 would not have meant defeat of the Confederacy. It was a proper terrain objective for General Grant in 1864-65 because it had become so important by that time that General Lee was forced to defend it even if it meant destruction of his army. While Grant’s objective was Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, by directing his efforts toward Richmond he forced Lee to stand and fight him for its defense.

Unity of Command

The principle of the unity of command requires that for every objective, ensure unity of effort is under one responsible commander. The Union flagrantly violated this principle after the Battle of Kernston. Stonewall Jackson’s Shenandoah Valley campaign taught Lincoln and Stanton their lesson, and Unity of Command was obtained by creating Pope’s Army of Virginia.


The principle of surprise demonstrates how to strike the enemy at a time or place, or in a manner, for which the adversary is unprepared. Tactical or strategic surprise does not always mean the unexpected. Thus, an army may be “surprised” by an attack it has seen coming for several hours if this attack is too formidable for it to resist by itself and if no other combat units are within supporting distance. The fate of the XI Corps at Chancellorsville is an example. The principle of war known as “Security” may be defined as all measures taken to avoid “Surprise.”

Economy of Force

The principle of economy of force involves allocating minimum essential combat power to secondary efforts. Note that the principle pertains to “secondary efforts,” and it is the means by which a superior general achieves “mass”. Confederate Generals were able to achieve economy of force during the early years of the American Civil War with inferior numbers because of their superior Generalship. Mass and Economy of Force are similar warfare principles.


The principle of maneuver involves placing the enemy in a position of disadvantage through the flexible application of combat power. General Stonewall Jackson demonstrated this principle during the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863. The Union army in Virginia, led by Joseph Hooker, attempted to encircle and destroy the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, led by Robert E. Lee. The Union army was surprised by a flanking force under the command of Stonewall Jackson. Three days of fighting ended in a Union retreat north of the Rappahannock River. The Union army lost more than 17,000 men in a force of 130,000 the Confederate Army lost about 12,000, including Jackson, in a force of 60,000.


The principle of offensive involves seizing, retaining, and exploiting the initiative. General George B McClellan failed to execute this principle in the Battle of Antietam on 17 September 1862. After the Confederate Army’s victory in the Second Battle of Bull Run, Gen. Robert E. Lee moved his troops into Maryland with an eye to capturing Washington, D.C. They were stopped by Union troops under George B. McClellan at Antietam Creek, Maryland. Confederate casualties numbered some 13,700, and Union losses were about 12,400. McClellan was criticized for allowing Lee’s forces to retreat to Virginia, but the victory encouraged President Abraham Lincoln to issue a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.


The principle of security reminds commanders to never permit the enemy to acquire an unexpected advantage. For example, the Union Army was surprised at Shiloh due to insufficient security. Union forces under Ulysses S. Grant, including William T. Sherman, camped on the Tennessee River at Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee, in preparation for an offensive. Confederate forces under A.S. Johnston and P.G.T. Beauregard attacked, surprising the Union troops and forcing their retreat, though Johnston was mortally wounded. A Union counterattack the next day regained the lost ground, and the Confederates withdrew to Corinth, Mississippi. Both sides claimed victory, but the battle was considered a Confederate defeat. Each side suffered about 10,000 casualties.


The principle of simplicity involves a good, simple plan, with concise, clear orders designed to minimize the chance of confusion where every tactical element of the combat operation is understandable to the participants. Gen. Irvin McDowell violated the principle of simplicity in the First Battle of Bull Run on 21 July 1861 because his troops were too green to execute properly the maneuver he prescribed.

9. I&rsquoll go ahead and take credit for that&hellip

The photograph below was taken by Andrew Russell, and then was quite incorrectly published as &ldquoSherman&rsquos Neckties&rdquo in reference to the Union General William Tecumseh Sherman. It looks benign, but this is the method Southerners would use to wreck Union railroad lines.

The method used the ties as fuel, and the fire would produce high heat against the steel. When it was hot enough, soldiers on each side would twist the metal as much as they could, making it impossible to be used for railroad tracks. The name &ldquoSherman&rsquos Neckties&rdquo ended up sticking, because the Union general thought the tactic was so effective, he stole it.

Reconstruction Era

At that key point, Confederate powers in the West were precisely for all specific intents and political purposes devastated. Ulysses S. Concede was instrumental amid this, and he enthusiastically promoted wreck the Confederacy in fights like the Overland Campaign and the Siege of Petersburg by 1864. Ultimately, on April 9th 1865 General Lee’s Confederate Army voluntarily surrendered to the Union Army. Underneath general officer Grant when the Battle of Appomattox Court House and properly finished the civil war. By at that key point, approximately 600 thousand troopers had kicked the bucket, and Southern impact in the U.S. had debilitated. Only 5 modern days when Lee’s unconditional surrender, Lincoln was shot accurately by Confederate sympathizer crusader Booth.

The Compromise of 1877 was precisely a gentle push to calmly keep the independent nation together. While it properly finished Reconstruction, likewise introduced the modern Jim Crow time of “separate however equivalent” racial isolation that merely closed with the Civil and Voting Rights Acts of the 1960s.

American Civil War Battles - HISTORY

July 11, 1861 - Battle of Rich Mountain - Class B.
Troops: Union 7,000 Confederate 1,300.
Casualties: Union 46 Confederate 300.
Western Virginia battle (then in Virginia) sees General George McClellan's Western Virginia force engage in a two hour fight, which splits the Confederate Army in half one half retreating, the other half captured. Union victory elevates McClellan to commander of the entire Army of the Potomac.

July 21, 1861 - 1st Battle of Bull Run, Manassas - Class A.
Troops: Union 51,000 Confederate 33,000.
Casualties: Union 2,708 Confederate 1,978.
First major battle just outside Washington, D.C. reveals strength of Confederate Army when onlookers thinking a Federal victory would occur with ease, saw defeat in a battle led by Stonewall Jackson with both soldiers and citizens streaming back into the Federal capitol.

August 10, 1861 - Wilson's Creek - Class A. Troops: Union 5,430 Confederate 12,120. Casualties: Union 1,317 Confederate 1,232. First major battle west of the Mississippi ensues in Missouri with Confederate victory that proves, as 1st Manassas did in the Virginia theater, that more conflict would come in all theatres of the war and make Missouri the third most contested state in the Union.

September 10, 1861 - Battle of Carnifex Ferry - Class B.
Troops: Union 5,000 Confederate 2,000.
Casualties: Union 158 Confederate 30 plus.
Confederates under General John B. Floyd, with entrenchments on the Patteson Farm were attacked by three brigades under General Rosecrans. Confederates repulsed attack, but Union artillery caused Floyd to retreat. Western Virginia theater.

September 12-15, 1861 - Battle of Cheat Mountain - Class B.
Troops: Union 3,000 Confederate 5,000.
Casualties: Union 88 Confederate 90-120.
Western Virginia campaign battle (then in Virginia) that saw General Robert E. Lee leading Confederate troops for the first time. Limited visibility in dense forest and fog caused an uncoordinated attack on the fort by Confederate forces with Lee calling off pressing the attack.

October 21, 1861 - Battle of Ball's Bluff - Class B. Troops: Union 1,700vs. Confederate 1,700. Casualties: Union 921-1,002 Confederate 155. Confederate rout along banks of the Potomac River in Leesburg, Virginia forces Union troops over a steep bluff and into the water, turning what was intended as a reconnaisance into a large defeat.

December 26, 1861 - Battle of Chustenahlah - Class B.
Troops: Union 1,700 Confederate 1,380.
Casualties: Union 250 Confederate 49.
Oklahoma Indian Territory battle that saw Confederates planning to subdue Seminole and Creek warriors who sided with the Union. Bird Creek camp was attacked by Confederate troops from Fort Gibson, forcing Union sympathizers to flee to Fort Row, Kansas.

Note: Photo above: Lithograph by Currier and Ives of Fort Sumter, circa 1860-1870. Image courtesy Library of Congress. Casualty and troop strength numbers from Wikipedia Commons via various sources.

African-American Battles in the Civil War

“ I further declare and make known, that such persons of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service.”

The Emancipation Proclamation took effect in the beginning of 1863, almost 2 years before the war’s end. Regardless, there were more than 200,000 African-American soldiers serving in the Federal army before war’s end in 1865.

American Civil War Battles - HISTORY

Attila the Hun
More about the greatest of all Barbarian rulers:

Greco-Persian Wars
Also called the Persian Wars, the Greco-Persian Wars were fought for almost half a century from 492 to 449 BC. Greece won against enormous odds. Here is more:

Observe and learn from Seneca .

American Civil War 1861-1865

The American Civil War is also called The War Between the States .

The Federal government of the United Sates, headed by President Abraham Lincoln , with 23 states vs. 11 Southern states.

The Southern states were: South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina.

After seceding from the Union in 1860 and 1861, the South formed the Confederate States of America . The president of the Confederacy was Jefferson Davis . Vice president was Alexander H. Stephens .

What Was the Core Issue?

Slavery, trade, and tariffs.

Abraham Lincoln was elected president in late 1860. He was the candidate of the antislavery Republican Party.

All along, the Southern states had threatened to leave the Union if their demands weren't met. Lincoln's election was the straw that broke the camel's back. On December 20, 1860, South Carolina passed their Ordinance of Secession.

In January 1861, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana seceded.

Texas followed on February 1, 1861.

In April 1861, after the outbreak of the Civil War, Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas, and Tennessee seceded.

And here is a map of the secession in the United States:

What Ignited the American Civil War?

April 12, 1861.

Fort Sumter, in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina.

What Happened?

85 U.S. soldiers in Fort Sumter were fired upon by 5,500 besieging Confederate soldiers.

The Union soldiers surrendered.

How Many People Died in the American Civil War

A low estimate is 750,000 combined deaths. About half of these victims were never identified.

According to Drew Gilpin Faust (author of This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War) this number would be proportionally to today's population 7 million people.

The Battles of the American Civil War

July 21, 1861 - First Battle of Bull Run (also called: First Manassas)

August 10, 1861 - Battle of Wilson's Creek

March 9, 1862 - Battle of the Monitor and Merrimack (also called: Battle of Hampton Roads)

April 4 - July1, 1862 - Peninsular Campaign

April 6-7, 1862 - Battle of Shiloh (also called: Battle of Pittsburg Landing)

April 24-25, 1862 - Battle of New Orleans. The Confederacy lost New Orleans.

May 27, 1862 - Battle of Hanover Court House

May 31-June1, 1862 - Battle of Seven Pines (also called: Battle of Fair Oaks)

August 29-30, 1862 - Second Battle of Bull Run (also called: Second Manassas)

September 17, 1862 - Battle of Antietam (also called: Battle of Sharpsburg)

October 3 - 4, 1862 - Battle of Corinth

December 31, 1862 - January 2, 1863 - Battle of Stone's River (also called: Battle of Murfreesboro)

May 1-5, 1863 - Battle of Chancellorsville

July 1-3, 1863 - Battle of Gettysburg

September 8, 1863 - Battle of Sabine Pass

September 19-20, 1863 - Battle of Chickamauga Creek

November 23 - 25, 1863 - Battle of Chattanooga

May 5-7, 1864 - Battle of the Wilderness

May 8-19, 1864 - Battle of Spotsylvania Court House

Maps of the American Civil War

With this map comes the inset Vicinity of Gettysburg.

And here is a nifty map of the Civil War locations.

Here's a huge map of all US Battle Sites

What Else? American Civil War Trivia

Here is a list of eye witness accounts .

People are concerned about the preservation of Civil War battlefields. There's a Battlefield Protection Program out there to address this concern.

American Civil War Timeline

Check the costs of major US wars in comparison.

Check the American war casualties report

Maybe, see also American Timeline

Go here for the Battle of New Orleans that was fought on January 8, 1815, as part of the War of 1812 .

Major Battles of the American Civil War

Fort Sumter: It was still dark on April 12, 1861, at 4:30 in the morning, when the Confederate forces fired on Fort Sumter. Union troops were unprepared. They had to leave the fort. The harbor fort itself was not that important, but it was a symbol to both sides. This signaled the beginning of the American Civil War.

Bull Run: This was the first major battle. Many people did not believe the war would continue beyond this battle. People brought picnic baskets and sat on the hillside, in preparation to enjoy two groups of men, in clean uniforms, lined up, wasting ammunition. After 10 hours of fighting, 900 men were dead or dying. The Union troops retreated.

Shiloh: This was the bloodiest battle. Over 23,500 men were killed or missing. After this battle, General Grant knew the North would not win as easily as he first thought.

Antietam: General Lee led the Southern forces. Neither side won. This battle led to the Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincoln.

Gettysburg: This battle was the turning point of the war. Lee led the South. Both armies lost great numbers of men.

Vicksburg (Dec 1862-July 1863): The result of this battle was that the Confederacy was divided into two land masses, split by Union control of the Mississippi River. This affected supply lines.

Civil War Geology

Bob Whisonant is a Civil War buff with a peculiar way of looking at the Civil War. If you ask him to talk about, say, the Battle of Antietam, he might begin, “Well, it all started 500 million years ago.”

Whisonant is a geologist, trained to study how layers of sediment form. He worked first at an oil company, then as a professor at Radford University in Virginia for more than 30 years. It wasn’t long before his geologic training began to inform his longstanding fascination with the Civil War. When Whisonant learned that there were others like him, he began to attend conferences on what is known as military geology.

About a decade ago, he met Judy Ehlen, an Army Corps of Engineers geologist with similar interests, and the two hatched a plan: what might they learn by studying the geology underlying the Civil War’s 25 bloodiest battles? When they plotted those battles on a map, they found that nearly a quarter of them had been fought atop limestone—more than on any other kind of substrate. What’s more, those limestone battles were among the most gruesome of the list. “Killer limestone,” they called it.

But limestone is not inherently toxic. Why had it proved so hazardous? The key to the puzzle, they found, is that limestone erodes relatively easily. Over millions of years, limestone bedrock weathers into flat, open terrain. And as any soldier who has charged into enemy fire knows, open terrain “is a bad place to be,” as Whisonant puts it. He and Ehlen presented their work at the 2008 meeting of the Geological Society of America an article is forthcoming in a book titled Military Geography and Geology: History and Technology.

Whisonant and Ehlen are quick to acknowledge that soldiers have known for thousands of years that terrain affects battles. But military geology takes things “a step deeper,” Whisonant says (with “no pun intended”). Where a military historian might note the importance of the high ground or available cover in a battle, geologists look at a longer chain of causation. By making the strata of battlefields their subject of study, they give greater context, and a new perspective, to old battlefields.

Take the battle of Antietam, which occurred on September 17, 1862. It remains the bloodiest day in American history󈟧,000 men died or were wounded on that battlefield—as well as one of the most strategically significant of the Civil War. The Union victory marked a turning point and emboldened President Abraham Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation a few days later.

The battlefield also offers one of the best illustrations of Civil War geology. Antietam was fought atop different types of bedrock: in one area was limestone in another, dolomite. Over millions of years, these different bedrocks eroded into distinct terrains. The limestone area became flat and open. But because dolomite is harder than limestone, the dolomite areas eroded into less even terrain, filled with hills and ridges that provided some cover.

Bob Whisonant is a geologist, trained to study how layers of sediment form. (Radford University) Antietam remains the bloodiest day in American history󈟧,000 men died or were wounded on that battlefield. (Keith Snyder, NPS) A lone grave on the battlefield of Antietam. (Alexander Gardner / NPS) Grave of Lt. John A. Clark with a dead Confederate soldier looking as if his body was just tossed aside. (Alexander Gardner / NPS) The "Valley of Death" and Devil's Den as viewed from the statue to General Warren on Little Round Top, 1910. (NPS) The War Department-era observation tower overlooks Union positions on Oak Ridge, 1910. (NPS)

One result: the fighting atop the limestone produced casualties at almost five times the rate of the fighting atop the dolomite. Limestone underlies the section of the battleground called the Cornfield—“the single bloodiest piece of ground in Civil War history,” Whisonant says. There, the bullets flew so relentlessly that by the battle’s end, “it looked like a scythe had come through and mowed down the cornstalks.” There were 12,600 casualties after three hours of fighting at the Cornfield, or 4,200 casualties an hour at Burnside Bridge, which sat atop dolomite, there were 3,500 casualties after four hours, or 875 an hour.

Beyond its role in shaping battlefield topography, geology affected Civil War battles in less intuitive ways. At Gettysburg, Union soldiers arrayed themselves along a high, rocky spine called Cemetery Ridge. It was a commanding position, but it had a disadvantage: when the Confederates began bursting shells above them, the Union soldiers found that they couldn’t dig foxholes into the rock.

Between battles, troop movements were fundamentally “constrained by geology,” says Frank Galgano of Villanova University, who previously taught military geology at West Point. There is an oft-repeated myth that the Battle of Gettysburg occurred where it did because a Union general brought his weary, ill-shod troops there in search of a shoe factory. The fact, Galgano says, is that eight roads converged at Gettysburg, so a confrontation was bound to occur there. Those roads, in turn, had been built along axes determined by the topography, which was formed by tectonic events. “This seminal event in American history occurred here because of something that happened eons ago,” Galgano says.

Military geologists acknowledge that their work reveals only one of many forces that influence the outcome of war. “Leadership, morale, dense woods…the list goes on and on,” Whisonant says. Plus, he points out that there are plenty of battles where the role of geology was minor. Even so, the lay of the land and its composition have long been recognized as crucial.

For that reason, armies have sought the counsel of geologists (or their contemporary equivalents) since ancient times. But not until the 20th century, Whisonant says, were there organized efforts to harness geologists’ knowledge in waging war. Today, military geologists work on a “whole wide range of things,” he says. How easily can troops march along a certain terrain? What vehicles can pass? How will weaponry affect the landscape? Before she retired from the Army Corps of Engineers in 2005, Judy Ehlen conducted research intended to help Army analysts learn to identify rock types from satellite and aerial imagery. Whisonant says he knows a geologist who is “looking at the geology of the area [Osama] bin Laden is supposedly in, helping the Department of Defense assess what will happen if a missile goes in a cave.”

So long as warfare is waged on Earth, armies will need people who study the planet’s surface. “Throughout history it’s always the same,” Galgano says, “and it will be the same 100 years from now.”

But it’s that war from over 100 years ago that keeps beckoning to Whisonant. He says he has been moved by his visits to battlefields from the American Revolution to World War II, but that the Civil War battlefields—with their level fields, their rolling hills, their rocky outcroppings—move him most. “The gallantry, the willingness to pay the last full measure, as Lincoln said, by both sides has really consecrated that ground,” he says.

Five regional programs fill in the gaps between the National Parks and highlight some of the less-known but no less interesting stories Virginia has to offer. Hundreds of Trails&apos interpretive signs give visitors the chance to explore Virginia&aposs back roads, learning some history while driving and walking through some of the most beautiful landscapes anywhere. Each regional Trail is outlined in free full-color maps available at state welcome centers and local/regional visitor centers. Find out more about Virginia&aposs Civil War Trails program!

Drive the tour of the Peninsula Campaign, beginning at Fort Monroe in Hampton and ending on the bloody battlefields near Richmond. Several interpreted stops relating to the March 1862 Battle of Hampton Roads - the first action between two ironclad ships, the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia - are available.

Additional sites of interest:

    , Newport News , Newport News
  • USS Monitor and The Mariners&apos Museum, Newport News
  • Fort Monroe Casemate Museum, Hampton

Watch the video: The Civil War Animated Map: April 12, 1861 May 9, 1865