Presentation on theme: "Civil War Battles. Fort Sumter Confederates opened fire on Fort Sumter, on an island in Charleston harbor, on April 12, 1861, when US naval expedition."— Presentation transcript:
Civil War Battles
Confederates opened fire on Fort Sumter, on an island in Charleston harbor, on April 12, 1861, when US naval expedition attempted to bring food to the fort. After 34 hours, Major Robert Anderson surrendered. President Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to fight, and four more southern states seceded from the Union.
Southerners sought their independence and prepared for a defensive battle while Northerners developed offensive campaigns to preserve the Union.
The Union’s attention focused directly on Richmond, Virginia, the new capital of the Confederacy. The Northern and Southern capitals were within 100 miles of each other.
When Lincoln announced the call for troops, he requested that the men sign three-month service agreements. Neither side figured the war would last that long. Southerners hoped that Northerners would tire of the war and give in to the Confederacy’s demands. Many Southerners theorized that European nations, including Great Britain, would support their independence. However, Great Britain chose not to support the South since a majority of Britons detested slavery. England and France did declare themselves neutral and allowed merchants from the two countries to trade with both Southern and Northern forces.
The Battle of Bull Run, or the First Manassas
With the beginning of the war still fresh in their minds, and expectations that fighting would be intense but short, Union troops were eager for action. Cries of “On to Richmond” echoed across the hills surrounding Washington as the troops advanced on Confederate forces near Bull Run, approximately 30 miles southwest of the northern capital. President Lincoln believed an attack on a smaller Confederate unit would boost morale and clear a path to Richmond, where he hoped to capture the Confederate capital. A quick end to the war would save the Union and avoid severe damage to the economy.
The inexperienced Union troops, however, encountered determined Confederate soldiers who refused to give up their ground. On July 21, 1861, a Virginia brigade led by Thomas J. Jackson blocked the Yankee advance like a stone wall. Jackson became a southern war hero and the nickname “Stonewall” Jackson stuck. The counterattack by the Southerners effectively pushed back the Union troops. Many Yankee soldiers even dropped their guns and supplies in their hasty retreat.
The impressive win at Bull Run greatly boosted the Confederates soldiers’ confidence—and egos. Southerners bragged about their victory and believed they had proven their military superiority. A feeling of pride swept through the south and many thought the war was over. Southern enlistment numbers dropped sharply, and plans to advance through northern territory to capture Washington were slow to materialize. Although the victory over the Union army at Bull Run was a mighty success, it would later be discovered that it actually harmed the cause of the Confederacy.
Battle of the Peninsula
The Peninsula Campaign called for McClellan and about 100,000 troops to slowly work their way up the James River toward Richmond. In the spring of 1862, as the Union soldiers moved along the eastern coastline toward the peninsula, fighting in the area moved to the water. The USS Monitor and the Confederate Merrimack participated in history’s first fight between armored ships. The powerful ironclads battled to a standstill when the Merrimack began taking on water and returned to Norfolk.
The Union’s naval technology and perseverance secured the waterway for the North and helped the Yankees capture Yorktown. McClellan proceeded up the river where he was scheduled to meet up with reinforcements before attacking the capital. Lincoln, however, diverted the reinforcements to attack Stonewall Jackson’s regiment that was raising havoc in the Shenandoah Valley and threatening the security of Washington, D.C.
With the unexpected change in plans, McClellan’s group stalled near Richmond. The delay gave Robert E. Lee time to launch an attack on the Union troops. The Seven Days’ battles took place between June 26 and July 2, 1862 and eventually forced McClellan back to the coast.
More than 10,000 Union soldiers died and nearly 20,000 Southerners lost their lives in the week-long fighting. Once again, the Confederacy pinned an embarrassing loss on the North and forced Union leaders to re- evaluate their plans. Lincoln then fired McClellan.
On September 16, 1862, Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan and his Union Army of the Potomac confronted Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia at Sharpsburg, Maryland. At dawn on September 17, Maj. General Joseph Hooker’s Union corps mounted a powerful assault on Lee’s left flank that began the Battle of Antietam, and the single bloodiest day in American military history; over 23,000 soldiers were killed that day.
While the Battle of Antietam is considered a draw from a military point of view, Abraham Lincoln and the Union claimed victory. This hard-fought battle, which drove Lee’s forces from Maryland, would give Lincoln the “victory” that he needed before delivering the Emancipation Proclamation - a document that would forever change the course of the American Civil War, because the cause became not just to keep the Union together, but to abolish slavery.
After Antietam, Lincoln appointed a series of generals to lead the Army of the Potomac, and each commander was just as successful in failure as his predecessor. In late June, 1863, General George Meade was handed the reins of the army. He and Lee were friends and served together during the Mexican War. Meade took command of nearly 100,000 men at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania where the soldiers were battling 76,000 Confederate troops. For three days, between July 1 and July 3, momentum shifted from the South to the North and back to the South.
On July 3, when Union guns went silent and Confederate soldiers thought they had the upper hand, Southern General George Pickett led a charge against Union lines. However, as the Confederates marched closer and closer, Union forces sprang back to life and annihilated the advancing divisions. The Union suffered more than 23,000 casualties, the South 28,000. The Battle of Gettysburg became the bloodiest battle of the Civil War.
Later that year on a cold autumn day, President Lincoln visited the site where so many men lost their lives. He was scheduled to dedicate the cemetery and offer a short speech. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was quickly branded as “ludicrous” and “silly” by critics, but it would become one of the most famous speeches ever spoken.
After northern forces seized New Orleans, Grant led his army to attack Vicksburg, Mississippi. The Confederacy used an area between Vicksburg and Port Hudson, Louisiana to transport cattle and other supplies from the west to southern cities. After intense fighting, Grant seized Vicksburg on July 4, Grant’s victory, coupled with the Confederate defeat at Gettysburg, shifted the tide of momentum in the Union’s favor. The change of events forced England and France to cancel major contracts to supply weapons and ships to the South.
After weeks of preparation, on July 30, 1864, the Federals exploded a mine, blowing a gap in the Confederate defenses of Petersburg. Unit after unit charged into and around the crater, where soldiers milled in confusion. The Confederates quickly recovered from the blast and launched several counterattacks. The break was sealed off, and the Federals were repulsed with severe casualties. One division of black soldiers was nearly destroyed. This may have been Grant’s best chance to end the Siege of Petersburg. Instead, the soldiers settled in for another eight months of trench warfare. Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside was relieved of command for his role in the debacle.
On April 3, 1865, Grant ordered more than 100,000 troops to surrounded Lee and his 30,000 men outside Richmond. The decorated Confederate leader realized the end was near and resistance was futile. On April 9, 1865, Lee and Grant met at Appomattox Court House to agree to the terms of surrender. Per Lincoln’s orders, the Union’s only requirement was to have the Confederate soldiers lay down their arms.
After fours years of fighting and 600,000 soldiers killed—totaling nearly as many lives lost than all American wars combined—the Civil War finally ended. One out of every four Confederate soldiers died or suffered debilitating injuries while one in ten Union troops lost their lives. The year following the surrender, Mississippi allocated one- fifth of its budget to buy artificial limbs for its veterans. The South, which lost one-fourth of its white male population between the ages of 20 and 40, vowed to rebuild its land and remember its heroes.