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The major battle and events of the Civil war - History

The major battle and events of the Civil war - History


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The following events represent the major events and battles of the Civil War. From Ft Sumter to the Lincoln Assassination all the major battles are covered

1861

Ft Sumter

The Civil War was a long time in coming but it started when the first shots were fired at Sumter

1861

After Sumter

Sumter was the flashpoint and once it had fallen the North began to mobilize

1861

West Virginia

In one of the first campaigns of the war the Union secured the strategic West Virginia for the Union

1861

Bull Run

The Unions hope for a quick victory ended with their defeat at this battle

1861

Missouri

The battles of Bloody Kansas were finally resolved when the Union defeated the Confderates in Missouri

1862

Pea Ridge

The Union victory at Pea Ridge secured Missouri for the Union

1862

Ft Henry and Donelson

The Union continued its victories in the West with the capture of Ft Henry and Donelson

1862

Roanoke Island

Union Naval Superiority made capturing Roanoke Island possible

1862

Shiloh

The Union won a major battle in the West at Shiloh, it was a bloody day but Union was victorious

1862

Penninsular Campaign

The Union hoped to land South of Richmond and move North. Mclellan however was not decisive in moving the army

1862

New Orleans

The South lost their outlet to the sea when the Union captured New Orleans

1862

Seven Days

Mclellans Advance on Richmond was thwarted by the superior generalship of Lee

1862

Second Bull Run

Fought in the same area as the first Battle of Bull Run the Confederates won the battle but were unable to exploit their victory

1862

Antietam

In bloodiest one day battle in US history the Union defeated the Confederates

1862

Fredericksburg

The battle of Fredericksburg was another failed atttempt by the Union to advance

1863

Stone's River

Also none as the Battle of Mufreesboro Union defeated Confederate forces that attacked

1863

Chancellorsville

In a replay of the Battle of Fredericksburg the Union once again failed to advance

1863

Vicksburg

The Confederate town on the Misssissippi fell to the Union

1863

Gettysburg

The most important and deadliest battlel of the war. Once the Confederates lost the war was effectively over

1863

Draft Riots

Large scale riots broke in New York against the draft

1863

Chickamauga

The Confederates temporarily blocked the advance the Unions in the West at this battle

1863

Chattanooga

The Union broke through Confederate lines at this battle and road to Atlanta was open

1864

Wilderness- 40 days

It was a series of battles in which the Union seemed to lose each battle but kept advancing

1864

Mobile Bay

The last Gulf Coast enclave fell to the Union

1864

Atlanta

With the fall of Atlanta the heart of the South fell

1864

Petersburg

The Union used to superior logistic to break the city

1864

Battle of Nashville

The last of the Western battles it ended the western campaign with the inevitable Union victory

1865

Surrender

After the fall of Richmond Lee had no choice but to surrender.

1865

Lincoln's Assassination

The final sad chapter of the Civil War took place when President Lincoln was assassinated


5 Pivotal Battles that Changed the Course of the Civil War

The American Civil War may be one of the most crucial periods in American History. No matter what type of history you&rsquore interested in, the Civil War probably has everything you&rsquore looking for. One of the most probing and controversial discussions (at least between historians) is, what battles had the largest affect on the Civil War&rsquos ultimate outcome? There is no one true answer, as wars aren&rsquot fought linearly, but there were battles that, in hindsight, were very important to the ultimate surrender of the South.


Significance of the Battle of Gettysburg

The Battle of Gettysburg, fought during the first three days of July 1863, proved to be the turning point of the Civil War. Robert E. Lee led an invasion of Pennsylvania which could have had disastrous consequences for the Union.

Neither army planned to fight at the small crossroads town of Gettysburg, in southern Pennsylvania farm country. But once the armies happened to meet, a gigantic clash seemed inevitable.

The defeat of Lee and his retreat into Virginia set the stage for the final bloody two years, and eventual outcome, of the war.


The major battle and events of the Civil war - History

Pre-Civil War Timeline

Nov 6. Abraham Lincoln, a veteran of the Illinois militia, is elected as the sixteenth president of the United States.

Dec 20. Because Abraham Lincoln is elected president, South Carolina convenes for a special convention and votes to secede from the Union.

Feb 4. The Confederacy is formally formed.

Mar 4. Abraham Lincoln is inaugurated as the new president of the Union.

Civil War Timeline

Apr 19. In response to the capture of Fort Sumter, President Lincoln order the blockade of Confederate ports. General Winfield Scott called this the Anaconda Plan.

May 21. The Confederacy names Richmond, Virginia as their Capital.

Jul 21. First Battle of Bull Run (aka First Battle of Manassas by the Confederates) it was the first land battle of major proportions in the Civil War. The battle took place near the city of Manassas in Prince William County, Virginia. There were more than 2800 casualties at this battle.

Mar-Jul. Peninsular Campaign: the Unions first large scale offensive in the Eastern theater commanded by George B. McClellan. The operation involved 121,500 men, 15,000 horses, 1,150 wagons, 44 artillery batteries and tons of supplies and equipment.

Apr 6. Confederate and Union soldiers engage in a fiercely fought battle in Tennessee. Known as the Battle of Shiloh, it resulted as a victory for the Union.

May 8. A campaign through the Shenandoah Valley led by confederate Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson known as the Battle of McDowell resulted in a victory for the confederate side.

Jun 25. Although outnumbered, the confederate win the Seven Days Battles in Richmond, Virginia. 92,000 strong under Robert E Lee of the Northern Virginia army best the Union who had 104,100 soldiers. The confederate sustained more casualties than the Union.

Aug 17. Bands of Sioux engage the US troops concurrent with the Civil War. Because of violations by the US on treaties with the indians leading to hardships, the Dakota War of 1862 take place.

Aug 28. Second Battle of Bull Run. There were 62,000 Union soldiers when the battle started, 10,000 were killed and wounded. The Confederate had 50,000 out of whom 1,300 were killed and 7,000 wounded.

Sep 17. Battle of Antietam. This battle was fought near Sharpsburg, Maryland and the Antietam Creek. It is considered the bloodiest one day battle of the Civil War there were 23,000 casualties from both sides.

Dec 11-15. Battle of Fredericksburg. Fought in Fredericksburg, Virginia between the forces of General Robert E. Lee’s North Virginia Confederate Army and Major General Ambrose E. Burnside’s Union Army of the Potomac. There were 12,653 casualties with 1,284 killed on the Union side the Confederate army suffered 5,377 casualties (608 killed).

Mar 3. There were difficulties in recruiting which led to President Lincoln passing the Enrollment Act requiring men between 20 to 45 years of age to be drafted. One could avoid service by finding a replacement or paying a fee.

Apr-May. Battle of Chancellorsville. A major battle in the Civil War that took place in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. Despite a Confederate victory, it was dampened by the loss of Lt. General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, General Lee’s right hand man.

May-Jul. Siege of Vicksburg. Army of the Tennessee led by Ulysses S. Grant drives Lt. General John Pemberton and his confederate forces back to their defensive lines in Vicksburg, Virginia.

. Fought in and around the town of Gettysburg, Virginia, this battle had claimed the most number of casualties during the Civil War. An approximate total of 165,620 Americans fought at this battle over a three day period. There were a total of 7,863 killed.

Sep 19. The last of the Confederates win was the Battle of Chickamauga, fought in Georgia. General Braxton Bragg led the confederates while the Union was under the command of General William Rosecrans.

May 5. Battle of the Wilderness. The battle pitted Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee. This was literally a battle of wits, one general trying to outsmart the other. Casualty estimates reach 30,000 from both sides.

May 10. Battle of Spotsylvania. Part of the Overland Campaign, the battle represented another example of the fierceness of the Civil War. Total casualties numbered at 32,000. Again, General Lee had the upper-hand during the skirmishes.

Jun 20. Under Ulysses S Grant, Union forces engaged in a nine month trench warfare known as the Siege of Petersburg. This took place in Petersburg, Virginia. General Robert E Lee eventually yielded when supplies for his troops were cut by the Union using a thirty mile stretch of trenches. The siege ended in April 1965.

Nov 8. Abraham Lincoln is re-elected.

Feb 6. General Robert E Lee is named as General-in-chief of the Confederate army.

Mar-Apr. Appomattox Campaign. Described as an array of battles in Virginia that were fought between the end of March 1865 and early April 1865. It is seen as the campaign that led to the eventual surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia and thus leading to the end of the civil war.

Apr 9. General Lee of the Confederates surrender to General Grant of the Union at the Appomattox Court House in Virginia, thus ending the Civil War.

Apr 15. Andrew Johnson is inaugurated as President.

Apr 26. John Wilkes Booth is found and gunned down in a tobacco barn.

May 9. President Johnson officially ended the American Civil War.

May 10. The Union capture Confederate president Jefferson Davis in Irwinsville, Georgia and is taken prisoner.

May 26. General Edmund Kirby Smith, commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department, is given the the terms of surrender by the Confederation. He accepts the terms on June 2 which officially ends Confederate resistance.


10 Most Significant Battles of the Civil War

Located in Charleston, South Carolina, the Battle of Fort Sumter captured the first disputes between the Union and the Confederates. South Carolina’s militia surrounded Fort Sumter, hoping to strengthen their batteries or units of weaponry. This placed President Abraham Lincoln in a very crucial dilemma, for if he abandoned the fort, he would be further chastised by Southern and already seceded states and be symbolized as weak and fragile President. However, if he fires at South Carolina’s forces, he would inevitably be declaring and instigating the war, making Virginia more in favor to secede, which is a valuable industrial, manufacturing Southern state. As a solution, Lincoln sends unarmed supply ships to the fort, angering the Confederates. They fire at Lincoln’s supply ship and take Fort Sumter by force, making war officially be declared by the Confederates against the Union.

The Battle of Bull Run/The Battle of First Manassas

The Battle of Bull Run took place in Fairfax County and Prince William County, Virginia. This battle contributed a victory for the Confederate Army. This shocked numerous Northern states, for they did not fully comprehend the Confederacy’s determination to resist Northern ideology. This was the first and last battle which was spectated by the Confederate populous, for they were unaware-until witnessing the graphic outcome of war-of the horrors imposed by the war. The Union gathered near Washington D.C. in hopes of claiming Manassas, Virginia, consisting of vital railroads. The Union’s leader, General Irvin McDowell planned to flank the Confederates, for he was ambitious to surprise them. However, the plan was poorly executed, allowing Confederate Brigadier General Joseph E. Johnston arrive with reinforcements by railroad. The Union was left disorganized by the Confederacy’s surprising counter-attack, forcing the North to panic and frantically run back into route.

The Battle of Shiloh/The Battle of Pittsburg Landing

April 6, 1862 - April 7, 1862

The Battle of Shiloh/Battle of Pittsburg Landing was located in Hardin County, Tennessee. This war occurred after the Union spread their troops throughout the East and West, consisting of six divisions throughout Ohio and Tennessee. 40,000 Confederate Soldiers under General Albert Sidney Johnston struck the Union near Pittsburg Landing on the Tennessee River, approaching them from wooded area. Ulysses S. Grant’s entire command was overpowered, driving them to a sunken road, known as the “Hornet’s Nest”. The Union soldiers were captured, killed, and wounded by Confederate soldiers. However, the next day Grant’s army outnumbered P.G.T. Beauregard’s, who replaced General Johnston after being mortally injured, army by 10,000 (30,000 to 40,000). The Union’s counteroffensive attacks easily took control of the Confederate forces, allowing the Union to claim its victory, even though they had more casualties than the Confederates. This two day battle was the bloodiest battle in American history at its time, producing more than 23,000 casualties.

The Peninsular Campaign/The Seven Days’ Battles

June 25, 1862 - July 1, 1862

The Peninsular Campaign/Seven Days’ Battles was located in the Virginia Peninsula, between the York and James Rivers and Richmond, Virginia through Hanover County and Henrico County, Virginia. General McClellan was in command of Union Army. He decided to approach Richmond from the Atlantic coast. McClellan landed troops in Yorktown, Virginia, which is a peninsula between the York and James River, east of Richmond. McClellan was eager to seize control of the Confederacy’s capital, for it was the seat of the Confederacy’s political power, munitions, armament, weapons, supplies, and manpower. Ultimately, the Confederates would be collapsed and be easily succumbed by the Union if Richmond fell as McClellan intended. There were battles fought there throughout July of 1862. The Confederates defeated the Union in the battles, and the first stage of the Peninsula Campaign ended in the inconclusive Battle of Seven Pines, during which Confederate General Joseph Johnston was injured and command passed to Robert E. Lee. General J.E.B. Stuart’s cavalry and General Stonewall Jackson’s famous “foot cavalry” overwhelmed McClellan’s forces, compelling the Union to cease the campaign. Beginning on June 25, Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia held off the Army of the Potomac in a series of engagements known as the “Seven Days’ Battles”, effectively ending McClellan’s campaign toward Richmond.

The Battle of Antietam

The Battle of Antietam was located in Washington County near Sharpsburg, Maryland. General Lee, commander of Northern Virginia Army, moved to strike the Union territory in Maryland. A Confederate messenger dropped a copy of the battle plans, which was found by a Union soldier. The Union learned that Lee's forces were divided, so General Grant attacked. The morning assault and vicious Confederate counterattacks swept back and forth through Miller’s Cornfield and the West Woods. Later the Union assaulted against the Sunken Road shortly overpowering the Confederates. The third and final major assault by the Union army took place at Antietam Creek. Just as the Federal forces began to collapse the Confederate right, the timely arrival of A.P. Hill’s division from Harpers Ferry helped to drive the Army of the Potomac back once more. The bloodiest single day in American military history ended in a draw, but the Confederate retreat gave Abraham Lincoln the “victory” he desired before issuing the Emancipation Proclamation.

The Battle of Chancellorsville

April 30, 1863 - May 6, 1863

The Battle of Chancellorsville was located in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. Confederate generals, General Lee and General Jackson, devised one of the boldest plans of the war against the Union’s Major General Joseph Hooker. Jackson planned to attack the Union from the right, hoping to expose the Union’s flank. On May 2, 1863, the Confederates were able to defeat the Union’s forces and Hooker’s position in battle. However, the victorious Confederate attack ended with the death of General Stonewall Jackson, who was killed by one of his own Confederate soldiers who misidentified him as a Yankee soldier. Lee pushed further, driving Hooker’s larger army back to a new defensive line on May 3, 1863. General Lee then defeated separated Union soldiers near Salem Church. Ultimately, this sparked newfound morale for the Confederate Army, and Lee’s victory at Chancellorsville is considered to be his greatest victory of the entire war.

The Battle of Gettysburg

The Battle of Gettysburg was located in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and Adams County, Pennsylvania. Confederate General Robert E. Lee launched his second invasion of the Northern territory, hoping to score politically meaning victories, take the war out of Virginia, and gather supplies for his army. Lee pushed against Union General Joseph Hooker, and then General George Meade, who replaced Hooker in late June. After colliding in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on July 1, the Confederates were able to gain the advantage on the Union, sweeping the west and north of the vicinity, but were unable to secure the south. The next day, Lee failed once again to secure the heights of the south. On July 3, Lee attacked the Union on Cemetery Ridge, known as Pickett’s Charge. Lee’s second invasion of the Union failed, resulting in 51,000 killed, wounded, captured, or missing soldiers after Gettysburg. The Union claimed the decisive victory against the Confederates.

The Fall of Atlanta/The Battle of Atlanta

The Battle of Atlanta, known as the “Fall of Atlanta”, was located southeast of Atlanta Georgia and in Fulton County, Georgia. Confederate General John Bell Hood desired to drive Major General William T. Sherman’s troops, who were marching to Atlanta, Georgia. On the night of Jul 21, 1864, General Hood ordered Lieutenant General William J. Hardee’s men to assault the Union left flank, which was commanded by Major General James B. McPherson. However, Hood’s attack failed to defeat the Union members, allowing them to strengthen their pursuit to Atlanta, Georgia. Union General Sherman was able to lead his troops into Georgia, seizing and burning Atlanta, which was an essential city and railroad junction for the Confederates.

Sherman’s March to the Sea

November 15, 1864 - December 21, 1864

“Sherman’s March to the Sea” was located in Atlanta through Savannah, Georgia. After losing Atlanta, Georgia, the Confederate Army headed west into Tennessee and Alabama, attacking Union supply lines as they went. Union Major General William Sherman split his troops into two separate groups, chasing the Confederates across the South. Union Major General George Thomas took 60,000 men to meet the Confederates in Nashville, Tennessee, while Major General Sherman took 62,000 men through Georgia to Savannah, scorching towns as he marched up to Virginia. In the process of the “scorched earth policy”, Major General Sherman and his men would burn and tear up railroad tracks, raided and burned homes, and captured livestock. The Union was able to force the Confederates out of the Atlantic port of Savannah, Georgia on December 22, 1864.

The Surrender at Appomattox/The Battle of Appomattox Court House

The Battle of Appomattox Court House, known as the “Surrender at Appomattox”, was located in Appomattox County, Virginia. The Union seized Petersburg, Virginia and Richmond, Virginia, pressing onward to North Carolina. Battered and cut-off from supplies from the Union’s endless victories and undying determination, General Lee and the Confederates headed west, arriving in Appomattox County, Virginia on April 8, 1865. The Confederates headed for the South Side Railroad at Appomattox Station, where food supplies awaited their arrival. However, the Union was able to surround the Confederates near the Appomattox Court House, trapping Lee and his army. General Lee surrendered his remaining troops to General Grant on April 9, 1865 at the McLean House in Virginia.


After the Emancipation Proclamation (1863-4)

Lincoln had used the occasion of the Union victory at Antietam to issue a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all enslaved people in the rebellious states after January 1, 1863. He justified his decision as a wartime measure, and did not go so far as to free the enslaved people in the border states loyal to the Union. Still, the Emancipation Proclamation deprived the Confederacy of the bulk of its labor forces and put international public opinion strongly on the Union side. Some 186,000 Black Civil War soldiers would join the Union Army by the time the war ended in 1865, and 38,000 lost their lives.

In the spring of 1863, Hooker’s plans for a Union offensive were thwarted by a surprise attack by the bulk of Lee’s forces on May 1, whereupon Hooker pulled his men back to Chancellorsville. The Confederates gained a costly victory in the Battle of Chancellorsville, suffering 13,000 casualties (around 22 percent of their troops) the Union lost 17,000 men (15 percent). Lee launched another invasion of the North in June, attacking Union forces commanded by General George Meade on July 1 near Gettysburg, in southern Pennsylvania. Over three days of fierce fighting, the Confederates were unable to push through the Union center, and suffered casualties of close to 60 percent.

Meade failed to counterattack, however, and Lee’s remaining forces were able to escape into Virginia, ending the last Confederate invasion of the North. Also in July 1863, Union forces under Ulysses S. Grant took Vicksburg (Mississippi) in the Siege of Vicksburg, a victory that would prove to be the turning point of the war in the western theater. After a Confederate victory at Chickamauga Creek, Georgia, just south of Chattanooga, Tennessee, in September, Lincoln expanded Grant’s command, and he led a reinforced Federal army (including two corps from the Army of the Potomac) to victory in the Battle of Chattanooga in late November.


The major battle and events of the Civil war - 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.


5. Battle of Antietam (1862)

The Battle of Antietam took place on September 17th in Washington County by the city of Sharpsburg, Maryland. The Union forces were under the command of Major General George B. McClellan (1826-85), who had been given command following the Second Battle of Bull Run and were 75,300 strong. The Confederate forces, under the command of Robert E. Lee, numbered only 52,000. The Battle of Antietam was the major battle of Lee's Maryland Campaign, which was undertaken due to Lee's increased confidence, to take pressure off of the Shenandoah Valley at harvest time, to demoralized Northerners and to encourage European support for the Confederacy. The one day battle between Lee and McClellan would result in the bloodiest single day in the Civil War and all of American history. When the fighting was done a total of 12,400 Union and 10,300 Confederate soldiers were dead. Despite the battle ending in a stalemate, the Union technically won due to the fact that they stopped Lee's northern invasion. In the aftermath of the battle McClellan was replaced as head of the Army of the Potomac by Ambrose Burnside (1824-81) due to his failure to pursue Lee's retreating forces. President Abraham Lincoln (1809-65) also used the repealing of Lee's forces as the justification for announcing the Emancipation Proclamation and basically ended any chance of European support for the Confederates.


Defining Battles of the Civil War

The United States Civil War, fought between 1861 and 1865, featured many major and minor engagements, and military actions. Among the most significant were the First Battle of Bull Run, the Battle of Shiloh, the Battle of Antietam, the Battle of Gettysburg, and the Vicksburg Campaign.

Geography, Human Geography, Social Studies, U.S. History

Battle of Vicksburg Blockade

Union General Ulysses S. Grant's defeat of Confederate General John C. Pemberton at the battle at Vicksburg, Mississippi, in 1963, gave the Union control of the Mississippi River. Portrayed here is Union Admiral David D. Porter running the heavily defended Confederate blockade.

Painting courtesy of the Niday Picture Library

This lists the logos of programs or partners of NG Education which have provided or contributed the content on this page. Leveled by

The United States Civil War lasted four years and was the bloodiest war in American history. More than 50 major battles were fought on American soil. Below, in chronological order, are five of the most significant battles that took place.

First Bull Run (July 21, 1861)

The first Battle of Bull Run (also called the first Battle of Manassas) was the first major land battle of the Civil War.

Following President Abraham Lincoln&rsquos orders, the Union Army under General Irvin McDonnell marched from Washington, D.C., to seize the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia. Approximately 42 kilometers (25 miles) into the march, his path was blocked by the Confederate Army under the command of General P.G.T. Beauregard.

At first, it seemed as if the Union Army would prevail, but as the battle raged throughout the morning, the Confederates held their ground. Once the Confederate army received reinforcements early that afternoon, their counteroffensive defeated the Union troops.

The retreating Union troops left the route to Washington, D.C., wide open, however, the Confederates were not able to pursue. Even though combined casualties were relatively few (around 4,800) as a result of the battle, the North realized they were in for a long, bitter war.

Shiloh (April 6, 1862&ndashApril 7, 1862)

By February of 1862, the Union Army had achieved victories in central Kentucky and Tennessee. The army planned to move south and capture an important Confederate east-west railway hub in northern Mississippi. To defend the hub, Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston fortified the town of Corinth, Mississippi. The Union planned to unite two armies&mdashunder Ulysses S. Grant and Don Carlos Buell&mdashand then take Corinth.

Grant&rsquos army arrived first and set up a camp in the town of Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee, near the Shiloh Meeting House. Johnston planned to strike Grant&rsquos army before Buell arrived, and at dawn on the sixth of April, Johnston's forces attacked. Grant&rsquos Union forces were surprised, but remained in the field after a day of fierce fighting. Buell&rsquos forces finally arrived overnight, and the combined Union force attacked at dawn. Beauregard&mdashthe new Confederate general after Johnston was mortally wounded&mdashwithdrew.

The battle resulted in combined casualties of more than 23,000 people.

Antietam or the Battle of Sharpsburg (September 17, 1862)

Confederate General Robert E. Lee had decided to take the war to the North. He devised a plan to split his army and take supplies to Maryland, move into Pennsylvania, and threaten Washington, D.C. His plans fell into Union hands, and the Union Army marched to confront the force he commanded at Antietam Creek, in northern Maryland. However, the Union General McClellan, known for his cautious approach to engaging in battle, responded tentatively, waiting 18 hours before moving his troops. This gave the Confederates time to bring in reinforcements.

The day ended in a draw, with 23,000 men killed, but halted Lee&rsquos plans to invade the North for the time being. Although Lincoln was furious that McClellan allowed Lee to escape, he used the occasion to announce the Emancipation Proclamation.

Gettysburg (July 1, 1863&ndashJuly 3, 1863)

Although Antietam was a setback to Lee&rsquos plans, the Union failed to capitalize on it. Lincoln replaced McClellan, but his new generals lost decisively at Fredericksburg, Virginia (December 13, 1862), and Chancellorsville, Virginia (April 30, 1863&ndashMay 4, 1863). These Confederate victories encouraged Lee to renew his plan to invade the North.

Lee moved the Army of Northern Virginia north, and the new Union General, George Meade, shadowed him to protect Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C. The forces met at the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on the morning of the first of July.

Despite early successes, the Confederate forces were not able to drive the Union Army off their ground. The following day, as reinforcements arrived for both sides, Lee again failed to dislodge the Union Army.

The thrid of July saw one last push from the Confederates. Lee ordered what has become known as the Pickett&rsquos Charge&mdashan assault of some 15,000 Confederate troops&mdashup Cemetery Ridge. Although the charge broke through Union lines, the Confederates were unable to consolidate their gains, and retreated.

Lee prepared for the counterattack he expected the next day, but it never came. He withdrew his forces on the fourth of July, and the Union Army did not pursue. While Meade won the battle and stopped the invasion, he failed to destroy Lee&rsquos army and end the rebellion.

Union casualties numbered around 23,000 people, while Confederate casualties numbered around 28,000 people.

Lincoln delivered the famous Gettysburg Address at the dedication of the military cemetery later that fall.

Vicksburg (May 22, 1863&ndashJuly 4, 1863)

Vicksburg, Mississippi, lies on the east bank of the Mississippi River, about halfway between Memphis, Tennessee, to the north and New Orleans, Louisiana, to the south. Capturing it would give control of the entire Mississippi to the Union. But the city, located on a bluff overlooking the river, was heavily defended, with trenches, gun batteries, and a Confederate Army led by General John C. Pemberton.

In May, Union General Ulysses S. Grant led an army south on the west side of the Mississippi past Vicksburg, then crossed over and led his troops back north to lay siege to the city. By mid-June, the Confederates were running low on supplies. General Pemberton surrendered on the fourth of July.

The victories&mdasha day apart&mdashat Gettysburg and Vicksburg marked the turning point of the Civil War. They also ensured that European powers did not recognize the Confederacy as a sovereign nation, withholding much-needed support.

The Civil War killed hundreds of thousands and scarred the countryside. These are just some of the war&rsquos major battles. Today, many battlefield sites have been set aside as National Parks.

Union General Ulysses S. Grant's defeat of Confederate General John C. Pemberton at the battle at Vicksburg, Mississippi, in 1963, gave the Union control of the Mississippi River. Portrayed here is Union Admiral David D. Porter running the heavily defended Confederate blockade.


The major battle and events of the Civil war - History


Civil War Years, 1865, T-Shirts and Souvenirs from the official merchandise of America's Best History.

ABH Travel Tip


National Park Service sites are made available for your enjoyment of the history and recreation opportunities there. Please take time to keep your parks clean and respect the historic treasures there.

Photo above: St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Richmond. Church where the message from General Lee reached Confederate President Jefferson Davis telling him that Petersburg had fallen and that he should evacuate Richmond.

Civil War Timeline - Major Battles

For four years from 1861-1865, battles were waged around the landscape of the United States, pitting brother against brother in a Civil War that would change the history of the USA forever. Over 720,000 of our citizens would perish in the battle for state's rights and slavery. Major battles were fought from Pennsylvania to Florida, from Virginia to New Mexico, and in the end, there would be one nation, under God, and indivisible, that last trait in jeopardy through the first half of the 1860's. The battles listed below are considered Class A/B (Decisive/Major) battles by the American Battle Protection Program of the National Park Service.

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January 13-15, 1865 - Second Battle of Fort Fisher - Class A. Strength: Union 12,000, 58 ships Confederates 8,300. Casualties: Union 1,057 Confederates 1.900. Assault by the Union Army and Navy against the North Carolina fort captures the last remaining stronghold on the coast for the Confederacy.

February 5-7, 1865 - Battle of Hatcher's Run - Class B.
Strength: Union 34,517 Confederates 13,835.
Casualties: Union 1,539 Confederates 1,161.
Union plan for an offensive during the siege of Petersburg of sending cavalry under General David McM. Gregg to destroy supply line between Boydton Plank Road and the Weldon Railroad west of the city. Considered a Union victory, although their advance was halted and the supply road still open to Confederate supplies.

March 2, 1865 - Battle of Waynesboro - Class B.
Strength: Union 2,500 Confederates 1,600.
Casualties: Union 9 Confederates 1,500, including more than 1,000 captured.
Final battle for Confederate General Jubal Early in the Shenandoah Valley against the cavalry of Generals Sheridan and Custer. General Early would escape.

March 19-21, 1865 - Battle of Bentonville - Class A.
Strength: Union 2,500 Confederates 1,600.
Casualties: Union 1,527 Confederates 2,606.
Final battle between General Sherman's Union Army as they pushed north after the March to the Sea against Confederate General Joseph Johnston.

March 25, 1865 - Battle of Fort Stedman - Class A.
Strength: Union 15,000 Confederates 10,000.
Casualties: Union 1,044 Confederates 4,000.
Confederate pre-dawn attack on the federal fortification along the Petersburg Siege line was a final desperate attempt to break the line. General John B. Gordon was repulsed by Union General John B. Parke and members of the 9th Corps.

March 27 - April 8, 1865 - Battle of Spanish Fort - Class B.
Strength: Union 30,000 Confederates 2,500.
Casualties: Union 657 Confederates 744.
Spanish Fort, the eastern defense to Mobile Bay, was laid siege by Union General E.R.S. Canby and overtaken. Most Confederate soldiers escaped, but the fort was no longer a threat.

March 31, 1865 - Battle of White Oak Road - Class A.
Strength: Union 22,000 Confederates 8,000.
Casualties: Union 1,870 Confederates 800.
Final offensive action of General Robert E. Lee during the Petersburg siege to stop Grant from cutting supply lines and extending the Confederate front. Despite initial success for Lee, a Union victory ensued, leading to the Battle of Five Forks the next day.

April 1, 1865 - Battle of Five Forks - Class A.
Strength: Union 22,000 Confederates 10,600.
Casualties: Union 830 Confederates 2,950.
Southwest of the main Petersburg siege line, Union troops under General Sherman fight Confederate General Pickett for control of the Southside Railroad junction at Five Forks. This loss, combined with the loss the next day at Third Petersburg by General Lee prompted Lee's attempt to escape west and south, eventually leading to Appomattox.

April 2, 1865 - Battle of Selma - Class B.
Strength: Union 9,000 Confederates 4,000.
Casualties: Union 359 Confederates 2,700.
Union cavalry under General James Wilson fought against the cavalry of General Nathan Bedford Forrest after his retreat into the city. Union broke through the lines at various points, causing the city to surrender. Forrest would escape.

April 2, 1865 - Third Battle of Petersburg - Class A.
Strength: Union 114,335 Confederates 40-45,000.
Casualties: Union 3,936 Confederates 5,000.
After the victory at Five Forks, General Grant attacked the Confederate entrenchments at Petersburg south and southwest of town, exposing the Confederate right flank and rear. Remaining Confederate forces fled both Petersburg and Richmond during the night of April 2-3.

April 2-9, 1865 - Battle of Fort Blakely - Class A.
Strength: Union 45,000 Confederates 4,000.
Casualties: Union 629 Confederates 2,900.
Fought hours after the surrender of Lee at Appomattox, this final main action of the Civil War saw Union troops storm Fort Blakely in the Mobile Campaign.

April 6, 1865 - Battle of Sailor's Creek - Class B.
Strength: Union 25-26,000 Confederates 18,500.
Casualties: Union 1,148 Confederates 7,700, including captured.
Three almost simultaneous engagements in this battle on the road to Appomattox Hillsman's House, Marshalls Crossroads, and Lockett's Farm, saw the capture of a signficant remainder of the Confederate force as it attempted to march west, then south after leaving Petersburg to meet with General Joseph Johnston's army in North Carolina.

April 7, 1865 - Battle of Appomattox Station - Class A.
Strength: Union 4,000 Confederates 3,000.
Casualties: Union 45-118 Confederates unknown killed/wounded, 1,000 surrendered/paroled.
While Lee attempted to meet his supply trains at Appomattox Station, cavalry under Sheridan and Custer thwarted the meeting at the station by commandeering the trains, then engaged in a swift battle two miles away.


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January 19, 1862 - Battle of Mill Springs - Class B. Strength: Union 4,400 Confederates 5,900. Casualties: Union 246 (Killed/Wounded/Missing) Confederates 529. Confederate offensive into eastern Kentucky was thwarted after two attacks by General Crittenden's southern troops. Two Union counterattacks pushed a retreating Confederate force back to Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Mill Springs was the first major Union victory of the war.

February 6, 1862 - Fort Henry - Class B.
Strength: Union 15,000, 7 ships Confederates 3,000-3,400.
Casualties: Union 40 Confederates 79.
U.S. Grant's approaching troops and Andrew Foote's Union ships gain control of the Tennessee River after bombardment. Confederate commander surrendered the fort after ordering the majority of his men to escape to Fort Donelson.

February 7-8, 1862 - Battle of Roanoke Island - Class B.
Strength: Union 10,000 Confederates 3,000.
Casualties: Union 264 Confederates 2,643, including 2,500 captured.
Opening phase of the Burnside expedition of gunboats and soldiers into North Carolina sees the surrender of four forts that protected Roanoke Island. Roanoke Island would remain in Union control for the remainder of the war.

February 11-16, 1862 - Battle of Fort Donelson - Class A.
Strength: Union 24,531 Confederates 16,171.
Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing/Captured): Union 2,691 Confederates 13,846, including 12,392 captured/missing.
Union forces, under the command of obscure General U.S. Grant, captured the fort near the Kentucky/Tennessee border, under the terms "unconditional surrender."

February 20-21, 1862 - Battle of Valverde - Class B.
Strength: Union 3,000 Confederates 2,590.
Casualties: Union 432 Confederates 187.
New Mexico territory battle on Confederate quest to capture Santa Fe, then take California. General Sibley, approaching Fort Craig, battles the Union at Valverde, eventually forcing the Union soldiers back to Fort Craig. Sibley abandons the idea of taking the fort and moves toward Santa Fe.

February 28-April 8, 1862 - Battle of New Madrid - Class A.
Strength: Union 6 gunboats, 7 mortar rafts Confederates 7,000 soldiers.
Casualties: Union 78 Confederates 7,030, including 7,000 captured.
Missouri battle, also known as the Battle of Island Ten, began with a siege on the town of New Madrid, then Island Ten on the Mississippi River. The Confederate forces surrendered, giving Union control of the river to Fort Pillow.

March 6-8, 1862 - Pea Ridge, Arkansas - Class A.
Strength: Union 10,500 Confederates 16,500.
Casualties: Union 1,384 Confederates 2,000.
Union positioned itself in Arkansas, but Southern forces, which outnumbered the Federals would attempt to reopen the gateway to Missouri in a three day battle. Despite the unusual advantage in manpower for the Confederates, Union forces prevailed and Missouri would not be threatened again by the South during the rest of the War.

March 8-9, 1862 - Monitor vs. Merrimac - Class B.
Strength: Union 1 ironclad, 5 wooden frigates Confederates 1 ironclad, 2 wooden warships, 1 gunboat, 2 tenders.
Casualties: Union 369 Confederates 95.
The Union ironclad Monitor fights battle against the Confederate ironclad Virginia (Merrimac) off the coast of Hampton Roads, Virginia. Most consider this action a draw.

March 14, 1862 - Battle of New Bern - Class B.
Strength: Union 13 infantry regiments, 14 gunboats Confederates 6 infantry regiments, 1 cavalry regiment.
Casualties: Union 471 Confederates 578.
Battle of the Burnside expedition against raw Confederate force that saw general retreat when center of the line was penetrated. New Bern remained under Union control for remainder of the war.

March 23, 1862 - First Battle of Kernstown - Class B.
Strength: Union 6,352-9,000 Confederates 2,990-4,000.
Casualties: Union 590 Confederates 718.
First battle of Stonewall Jackson's Shenandoah Valley Campaign meant to tie down Federal forces in the valley and prevent reinforcements to the Peninsula Campaign and Richmond. Mistakes in Jackson's intelligence led to a Union victory, although the battle was effective in tieing up Union resources.

March 26-28, 1862 - Battle of Glorieta Pass - Class A.
Strength: Union 1,300 Confederates 1,000.
Casualties: Union 147 Confederates 222.
The decisive battle of the New Mexico campaign to eradicate claims by the South on Confederate Arizona (southern Arizona and New Mexico). It was, at first, thought to be a Confedeate victory until a final Union raid of the Southern supply wagons left the entire mission in jeopardy. After a retreat back to Santa Fe, the Confederates would move back to Texas two weeks later, thus giving control of New Mexico and supply routes to the Union.

April 6-7, 1862 - Shiloh - Class A. Strength: Union 63,000 Confederates 40,335. Casualties: Union 13,047 Confederates 10,699. Surprise attack by Confederates under Johnston and Beauregard gain ground on U.S. Grant's Union forces, but failure to force the attack during the evening of the first day allowed reinforcements to counterattack the next day and reverse Confederate gains.

April 5 - May 4, 1862 - Battle of Yorktown - Class B.
Strength: Union - 121,500 Confederates - 35,000.
Casualties: Union 182 Confederates 300.
McClellan encounters small Confederate force at Yorktown on way to Peninsula Campaign and engages in a siege. Inconclusive result as the Confederates retreated to Williamsburg, but held up the Union pursuit of Richmond for weeks. Battle held near site of American Revolution 1781 battle.

April 10-11, 1862 - Fort Pulaski - Class B.
Strength: Union - 10,000, 15 warships, 36 transports Confederates - 385, 3 warships, 2 transports.
Casualties: Union 1 killed, several wounded Confederates Several killed, 363 captured.
One hundred and twelve day siege of Georgia fort leads to two day battle and thirty hour bombardment. Confederate surrender effectively closed Savannah as a port and rifled guns against Third System masonry fort proved that those forts were now obsolete.

April 18-28, 1862 - Battles of Fort Jackson and St. Philip - Class A.
Strength: Union - West Gulf Blockade Squadron Confederates - 2 forts and River Defense Fleet.
Casualties: Union 229 Confederates 782.
Union Navy attacked the two Confederate forts that protected New Orleans from the south, then ran past them to attack and occupy New Orleans. During the battle to pass the forts, Union lost one gunboat while the Confederates lost twelve. New Orleans fell to Union forces.

April 29 - May 30, 1862 - Siege of Corinth, 1st Battle of Corinth - Class A.
Strength: Union 120,000 Confederates 65,000.
Casualties: Union 1,000 Confederates 1,000.
Strategic junction of two rail lines became goal of Union Army under Henry Halleck, who thought of the junction as important as Richmond, with an ability to attack Vicksburg or Chattanooga after its capture. Confederate General Beauregard engaged a hoax of continued attack after the month long seige, but retreated instead.

May 5, 1862 - Battle of Williamsburg - Class B.
Strength: Union - 40,768 Confederates - 31,823.
Casualties: Union 2,283 Confederates 1,682.
First pitched battle of the Peninsula campaign saw the division of General Hooker assault Fort Magruder, but was pushed back. Counterattacks by Confederate forces were thwarted, leaving the battle with an inconclusive result. Southern soldiers withdrew during the evening toward Richmond.

May 15, 1862 - Battle of Drewry's Bluff - Class B.
Strength: Union - 3 ironclads, 2 gunboats Confederates - 1 fort and 1 shore battery.
Casualties: Union 24 Confederates 15.
Union boats tested Richmond defenses up the James River, but were unsuccessful, turning back in the first foray of the amphibious forces during McClellan's Peninsula Campaign.

May 25, 1862 - First Battle of Winchester - Class A.
Strength: Union 6,500 Confederates 16,000.
Casualties: Union 2,019 Confederates 400.
During the Shenandoah Valley campaign, Stonewall Jackson won a victory at Winchester after capture of the garrison at Front Royal, taking the right flank of the Union Army under General Banks, who was retreating from Strasburg, and pushing it across the Potomac.

May 31 - June 1, 1862 - Battle of Fair Oaks - Class B.
Strength: Union - 34,000 Confederates - 39,000.
Casualties: Union 5,031 Confederates 6,134.
Culmination of Union offensive against Richmond in the Peninsula Campaign and second largest battle of the war til this time saw Confederate forces under General Johnston attack along the Chickahominy River, driving the Union back. Union reinforcements halted a second attack and the battle proved inconclusive.

June 6, 1862 - Battle of Memphis - Class B.
Strength: Union - 5 ironclads, 2 rams Confederates - 8 rams.
Casualties: Union 1 Confederates 180.
Two hour battle resulted in crushing defeat of the Confederates and surrender of the city in a Mississippi naval battle north of Memphis.

June 8, 1862 - Battle of Cross Keys - Class B.
Strength: Union 11,500 Confederates 5,800.
Casualties: Union 664 Confederates 287.
Culmination of Jackson's Shenandoah Valley Campaign when combined with the battle of Port Republic one day later forces Union army to retreat, allowing Stonewall Jackson to reinforce Gneral Lee on the Peninsula.

June 9, 1862 - Battle of Port Republic - Class B.
Strength: Union 3,500 Confederates 6,000.
Casualties: Union 1,002 Confederates 816.
Pitched battle ended in a Confederate victory, pushing a Union retreat toward Harrisonburg and allowing Stonewall Jackson to reinforce Gneral Lee on the Peninsula in the Seven Days Battles.

June 16, 1862 - First Battle of James Island - Class B.
Strength: Union 6,600 Confederates 2,000.
Casualties: Union 685 Confederates 204.
Union Army under General Hunter attempts to capture Charleston by land, debarking south of the city on James Island and attacking Fort Lamar at Secessionville. The fort held.

June 26, 1862 - Battle of Beaver Dam Creek (Seven Days Battles) - Class B.
Strength: Union 6,600 Confederates 2,000.
Casualties: Union 685 Confederates 204.
General Robert E. Lee proceeds with the Seven Days battles with an offensive against McClellan, but the troops of Stonewall Jackson do not arrive on time and his attempt to turn the right flank fails. Although the battle objectives would fail for the Confederates, McClellan began to withdraw south toward Gaines Mill and lose the initiative of the Peninsula Campaign.

June 27, 1862 - Gaines Mill (Seven Days Battles) - Class A.
Strength: Union 34,214 Confederates 57,018.
Casualties: Union 6,837 Confederates 7,993.
Third battle of Lee's offensive against McClellan in the Peninsula campaign continues against the right flank on the north side of the Chickahominy River. At dusk, the Confederates broke the Union line, leading to victory.

June 30, 1862 - Battle of Glendale (Seven Days Battles) - Class B.
Strength: Union 40,000 Confederates 45,000.
Casualties: Union 3,797 Confederates 3,673.
Confederates converge on the retreating Federal force, but Union counterattacks save the line of retreat toward Malvern Hill.

Note: Photo above: Currier and Ives 1862 print of General Grant leading a charge in the 2nd day of the Battle of Shiloh. Image courtesy Library of Congress. Casualty and troop strength numbers from Wikipedia Commons via various sources.


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