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The Major Battles of the Civil War

Powerful Essays
The Major Battles of the Civil War

No other war seems to hold our focus like the Civil War. Scholars have chosen to make it their life's work, authors have written reams about it, and we all feel some kind of connection to the Civil War. This paper was created to highlight some of the major battles that took place during that conflict. Major battles usually marked a drastic change in the momentum from one side to the other or led to massive losses of troops. These battles and their results all played a huge part in the outcome of the war.

One of the war’s first battles was the Battle of First Bull Run. Today's site of the Battle of First Bull Run is a tranquil pasture surrounded by trees and a split rail fence. Instead of the neigh of a horse, you'll hear, in the distance, the sound of passing cars. A community college has a campus nearby, couples enjoy the sunshine and a nice walk, and a few kites fly leisurely in the breeze held by the hands of children. It's nothing like July 21, 1861; it's quiet.

Everyone in Washington and the surrounding area had heard talk of the troops gathering outside Manassas Junction, Virginia. Expectations ran high that the Union troops would quickly send their Confederate brothers running for the hills. Buggies of spectators traveled the thirty miles from Washington to see the battle. Picnic baskets were opened and folks prepared to watch the show. No one expected what they saw.

This wasn't one of the biggest battles of the war, but it was the formal opening for both sides. Of the 32,500 Confederate soldiers, 1,982 of them became casualties, while the Union counted 2,896 casualties from 35,000 troops. Many thought this would quickly settle the dispute; all it did was prepare everyone for a long war and move the Federal government into action.

Another major battle took place at Shiloh. Isn't it strange that a battle as bloody as the battle at Shiloh would begin on a Sunday morning and be named for a country church near the battlefield? Maybe the soldiers didn't even see the irony. Then again, maybe someone did.

The Union soldiers weren't prepared for the charge of their Confederate brothers. Many of the Union troops were untrained and undisciplined, but as in so many battles of war, mundane events served to alter the future.

General Albert S. Johnston, CSA, had given his commanding generals orders to attack ...

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...uring the Peninsula Campaign in 1862. He impressed his commanding general, Major General George McClellan, and steadily made rank afterward. Meade commanded a division at Antietam and the V Corps at Chancellorsville.

Lincoln chose Meade to replace Major General Joseph Hooker in June 1863, as the commander of the Army of the Potomac. Meade was criticized for not pursuing the Rebel forces after the battle, but that didn't shake Lincoln's faith in Meade. Meade held command of the Army of the Potomac until the end of the war and became the most successful and longest serving Union commander.

There were many battles that followed the battle of Gettysburg. Some were more important than others, but all played a part in the outcome of the war. The victories by the Union at Petersburg and Richmond led General Robert E. Lee to surrender at Appomattox. This effectively brought the most horrifying war in American History to an end. Many American soldiers died but not in vein. They fought for our country and to help hold it together. These battles and many more just show us how horrible war was, but without these battles America wouldn’t be what it is today, a unified and free country.
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