Battles of the Civil War

Serena Blacklow


Battles raged throughout almost every state during the Civil War, which lasted from 1861-1865. The South suffered primarily from damage to plantations and fields. The North did not have as many battles centered in the area and there was no farmland to be ruined. One main battle was the Battle of Gettysburg, which took place in 1863 and resulted in fifty-one thousand dead or wounded soldiers, the most in the entire war. The Battle of Antietam and the Battle of Shiloh were also major battles, though they occurred in 1862. These three battles influenced the outcome of the Civil War greatly.

Background Information:

Robert E. Lee was the leading general for the Confederate troops in the Battle of Gettysburg and the Battle of Antietam. Here is the link to more
Crossed flags
information about him (within this Wikispace):
Robert E Lee & Ulysses S Grant
Beauregard was the Confederate commander who ordered the first fire upon Fort Sumter and was second in command of the Army of the Mississippi.
Albert Sidney Johnston
was the chief Confederate commander of the Army of the Mississippi who co-worked with Beauregard during the Battle of Shiloh.
George Meade was the Union general for the Army of the Potomac in the Battle of Gettysburg.
Don Carlos Buell was the Union commander for the Army of the Ohio, which was involved in the Battle of Shiloh.
Ulysses S. Grant was a strong Union commander who held the federal camp in Shiloh and co-worked with Don Carlos Buell in the Battle of Shiloh. Here is the link to more information about him (within this Wikispace): Robert E Lee & Ulysses S Grant
George McClellan was another Union general who lead the Union into the Battle of Antietam, though was not an aggressive man and failed to fight in the battle.

Battle of Gettysburg:

Date: July 1-3, 1863
Location: Adams County, Pennsylvania
Winner: Union
Main Commanders: George Meade (Union) and Robert E. Lee (Confederate)
Casualties: 51,000

The Battle of Gettysburg is remembered by the famous Gettysburg Address, though it was spoken on November 19th, about four and a half months afterwards. This three day battle resulted in the most casualties than any other battle of the Civil War.

On July 1st, General Lee's army engaged General Meade's Army of the Potomac. The skirmish was won by the Confederacy, but the Union had managed to hold a strong position at Cemetery Hill and continued to pose a threat.

Map: Day 3 at Gettysburg
Overnight, reinforcements came for both the Confederate and Union sides. For the Union, General Sickles' Third Army Corps and more soldiers from the Army of the Potomac arrived. The Union troops now formed a strong U-shaped line along Culp's Hill and Cemetery Ridge. This line was weakened unknowingly when Sickles' moved the stance of his Corps.

General Longstreet's Corps and General Ewell's Corps were the reinforcements for the Confederacy, and Lee ordered them to attack a side of the U-shaped line (Longstreet to the left and Ewell to the right). General Hill would hold the Union center back and later on July 2nd General McLaws' Mississippi brigade would back up Longstreet. Last, General Johnson would back up Ewell's attack on Culp's Hill.

On July 2nd, Longstreet's forces attacked Sickles' Corps near Devil's Den, the Peach Orchard, Little Round Top, and Wheatfield. More than 6,000 casualties occurred in the battle on Wheatfield. General Sickles was wounded and carried out of battle. Behind Longstreet, General McLaws' Mississippi brigade crashed through the line of Union soldiers stationed at the Peach Orchard, but Union reinforcements pushed the Confederates back as night fell.

Ewell's division attacked the right Union line in the early morning of July 2nd, but was pressed back by the forceful artillery of the North. Johnson's troops fought on Culp's Hill later, and almost came through, but more Union reinforcements were place there and successfully pushed the Confederate troops off Cemetery Hill. The next morning, the Union soldiers attacked Johnson on Culp's Hill and Johnson withdrew after six hours of fighting.

On the morning of July 4th, Lee withdrew his armies and lead them back along the Potomac River. The line of wounded Confederates lasted for more than fourteen miles.

Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg):

Date: September 16-18, 1862
Location: Washington County, Maryland
Winner: Inconclusive
Main Commanders: George McClellan (Union) and Robert E. Lee (Confederate)
Casualties: 23,100

The Battle of Antietam was a significant addition to the Civil War because it inspired Abraham Lincoln to write the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves. Now the war was considered a fight for not only unity, but for the liberation of slaves.

General Lee's Army of North Virginia had organized an attack on McClellan's Army of the Potomac, splitting up his army and distributing it throughout the area. Longstreet's forces were to move further into Maryland, and "Stonewall" Jackson was to move toward Harper's Ferry. Unluckily for Lee, a Federal soldier found a copy of his instructions and brought it to McClellan, so McClellan took the initiative to attack earlier than expected. The Union forces greatly outnumbered Lee's present army, 75,000 to 38,000.

Map: Battle of Antietam
Lee was waiting for his other forces to reinforce his present army in Sharpsburg, before engaging in battle with McClellan. Lee was positioned at Antietam Creek with Longstreet's forces on his right and Jackson's soldiers on the left.

Hooker and Jackson's men were the first to fight near Dunker Church. The battle swept through the Cornfield, and just as the Union was about to win, Hooker was wounded and his army was hit by a force of Hood's men. Once the Confederates took command of the Cornfield, Mansfield's army dislodged them, though he was wounded in the process. Soon, Sumner's men entered the battle, trying to take the West Woods out of Confederate hands, but they were repulsed and lost badly.

Meanwhile, Porter's army and Richardson's division attacked Hill's men in the center of the battlefield. They eventually took Sunken Road, later named "Bloody Lane". Burnside's men crossed the Antietam Creek after numerous costly efforts, and engaged in a battle with Longstreet's men. Burnside easily won the skirmish, but Lee quickly lead Hill's forces there to make up for the loss, and the Union was defeated, forced to leave the site and cross back over the bridge. Here, the battle came to an end.

The next day, Lee retreated to Virginia, but McClellan was too slow to follow him and let the South leave without any complete destruction. The battle was named a Union strategic victory, though it was inconclusive.

McClellan's forces, hiding in the rear, never engaged in the Battle of Antietam.

Battle of Shiloh:

Date: April 6-7, 1862
Location: Hardin County, Tennessee
Winner: Union
Main Commanders: Ulysses Grant, Don Carlos Buell (Union) and Albert Sidney Johnston, Beauregard (Confederate)
Casualties: 23,746

The Battle of Shiloh is remembered by its significance in the development of war tactics and medical progression. This two day long battle changed the mindsets of American people, providing a realization that the Civil War would last longer than expected. Confederate commander Johnston would be dead.

Map: April 7, 1862 (Day 2 of Shiloh)
After the captures of forts in Tennessee and parts of Kentucky, Johnston's army was pushed back further into their own territory. The Union troops, under Grant's command, settled a camp in Shiloh. Grant wanted to wait for Buell's Army of the Ohio to arrive, before engaging in another attack.

Meanwhile, Johnston and Beauregard's Army of the Mississippi planned a surprise attack on the Union camp in Shiloh. Since Grant thought the closest Confederate army rested in Corinth, the Confederates used the ignorance to their advantage and indeed launched a surprise attack on Grant's army.

On the 5th of April, the Army of the Mississippi was just outside the Union borders and ready to attack. The front row of men made the mistake of firing before the order, so Beauregard argued with Johnston that the Federal troops had heard and there would be no surprise. Johnston had the final say, so the attack would not to be postponed. To the Confederate's luck, the Union camp had not heard the bullet shots and they carried out the surprise attack on April 6th.

The Confederate troops pushed back the Union army until the Yankees finally could hold a wavering line. This road was named the Hornet's Nest after the buzzing of bullets through the trees. Another place of battle was a peach orchard, a few lengths away from Hornet's Nest. Johnston died from his last attack in the orchard - he bled to death.

On the night of April 6th, Buell's reinforcements arrived by boat up the Mississippi and the next morning, the Rebels were forced back into their territory and to return to Corinth. The Mississippi Valley, Memphis, and Vicksburg were now Confederate areas prone to attack.

Shiloh is the Hebrew word for Place of Peace.

For a movie of the Battle of Shiloh, visit this link: Battle of Shiloh


The battles of Gettysburg, Antietam, and Shiloh were major battles that influenced the direction of the Civil War. The Battle of Gettysburg lasted for three days and resulted in a Union victory, though Lee's forces has beaten the Army of the Potomac on the first day of that battle, July 1st. Cemetery Hill and Culp's Hill were under strenuous attack, but the Union was eventually successful in pushing the Confederate troops back. This
A battlefield during the Civil War
battle caused 51,000 casualties, yet the second day of the battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862, was the bloodiest day of American military history.

The Battle of Antietam is considered a strategic Union victory, but in truth was an inconclusive battle. McClellan's Union army outnumbered Lee's Confederate forces, but neither side suffered enough destruction to give a conclusive victory. In the end, Burnside's men were forced to retreat, since Hill's reinforcement for the Confederacy overthrew their position. Lee withdrew to Virginia, and McClellan failed to pursue him.

The Battle of Shiloh was another Union victory. This two day long battle lead to the death of General Johnston, but it was important because it gave new advances in medicine and war tactics. The Confederate troops launched a surprise attack on the Union camp in Shiloh, but the next day, when Buell's reinforcements arrived, the Union pushed back into their position so Johnston and Beauregard's armies were forced to retreat.


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4. Shiloh: A Virtual Tour., 5 Aug., 2007. 13 May, 2009.

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