Summary Of ' The Wilderness Around Chancellorsville ' Essay

Summary Of ' The Wilderness Around Chancellorsville ' Essay

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After being made General in Chief of all Union armies, Ulysses S. Grant made it his mission to destroy the Confederacy. In order to destroy the South, Grant ordered Benjamin Butler to threaten Richmond, unfortunately, Butler’s men only got within 15 miles of the capital before being forced back. While Butler failed in Richmond, Nathaniel Banks was failing to crush Southern resistance in Texas. Even though Lincoln wanted Union presence in Texas, Confederates refused to back down and give up control. Due to a lack of poor campaigning, Banks could not remove Confederate control in Texas, northern Louisiana, and southern Arkansas. After numerous failures, Grant knew that it was up to him and his Army of the Potomac to defeat both Lee and the Confederacy. Although Lee accepted the challenge, he chose an extremely difficult location for the battle; the wilderness around Chancellorsville.
Lee knew it would be a struggle to face Grant’s army of 115,000 men considering he only had 64,000 men. Due to this huge gap in numbers, Lee decided the best location for the battle to take place was the wilderness near Chancellorsville, where almost a year earlier he faced off against Joseph Hooker and won. Gregory A. Mertz explains that the seventy square mile patch of dense woods neutralized Union superiority in both numbers and artillery. While the condensed woods and thickets evened out the two armies, both armies struggled to get through it due to poor maps of the area and a lack of roads. Nevertheless, on May 5th, 1864, the two armies went head to head despite the difficulties the infamous wilderness presented.
According to the article “The Wilderness” Grant did not want to fight in the tangled forest, so he pushed his men through the woods a...

... middle of paper ...

... breaking through two brigades and forcing Union soldiers to retreat.
Due to the confusion of the Wilderness, thousands of soldiers lost their lives. According to Mertz, the South suffered over 11,000 casualties, while the North suffered nearly 18,000 casualties. Despite the Southern victory, the Confederacy could not afford to lose so many men simply because they had no more reinforcements. Fortunately for the North, they were well supplied, allowing Grant to pursue Lee instead of retreat back to Richmond. Even when generals expressed their fear of what Lee’s next attack may endure, Grant replied by saying “Go back to your command, and try to think what we are going to do ourselves, instead of what Lee is going to do." Even though the Wilderness created mass confusion among the soldiers, Grant’s thoughts were well organized; Grant was going to destroy Lee’s army.

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