Key Battles

The First Battle of Bull Run
Union troops gathered around Washington D.C. in hope of seizing Manassas, VA, which was a vital railroad, but the Confederate troops aligned the creek waiting for Union forces at Bull Run.  This was the first large battle of the war.  The Confederate forces defeated the Union.

The First Battle of Bull Run (First Manassas) on Sunday July 21, 1861
The Peninsular Campaign
General McClellan was in command of Union Army.  He decided to approach Richmond from the Atlantic coast.  McClellan landed troops in Yorktown, which is a peninsula between the York and James River, east of Richmond.  There were battles fought there throughout July of 1862.  The Confederates defeated the Union in the battles, led by General Joseph E. Johnston, then General Robert E. Lee.

The Seven Days' battles, June 25-July 1, 1862
The Battle of Antietam
General Lee, commander of the Northern Virginia Army, moved to strike Union territory in Maryland.  A Confederate messenger dropped a copy of the battle plans, which was found by a Union soldier.  The Union then learned that Lee's forces were divided, so General Grant attacked.  Antietam (Sharpsburg) was a day long battle on September 17, 1862 at Antietam Creek in Maryland.  The battle ended in a draw.

The Bloody Lane of Antietam, September 17, 1862
The Battle of Shiloh
This battle was the first after the Union dispersed troops into the West, as well as the East.  The Battle of Shiloh was fought as one of the battles of the "War in the West."  General Grant led his army into Tennessee and continued to advance.  Confederate forces attacked near Shiloh, resulting in thousands of casualties between both armies in two days of fighting.  The Union won the bloodiest battle of the Civil War, even though they suffered more losses than the Confederates.

The Bloody Pond of Shiloh in February of 1862
The Battle of Chancellorville
The South won the Battle of Chancellorville, part of the rising hope in the South.  This was a time for hope in the South because the Union was loosing troops.  Stonewall Jackson was killed accidentally by one of his own men at Chancellorville  when mistaken for a Yankee.

Hope for the Confederates
The Battle of Gettysburg
Almost accidentally, Confederate troops discovered Union calvary in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  The Confederates attacked, paving the way for the largest battle of the war, lasting three days.  The Union Army won the Battle of Gettysburg, destroying Lee's hopes of carrying the fighting further up North. 

Began July 1, 1863
Fall of Atlanta
General Sherman took command of the Union Army during the Fall of Atlanta.  Sherman led troops through Georgia, seizing and burning Atlanta, a vital city and railroad junction, on September 2, 1864.

Refugees of Atlanta burning in boxcars outside railroad junction
Sherman's March to the Sea
General Sherman scorched the towns he marched through on his way towards the Atlantic coast and up to Virginia.  His army followed the "scorched earth policy," beginning first with Atlanta.  They would burn, tear up railroad tracks, raided and burned homes, and captured livestock; Ruthless destruction.  Union Army forces Confederate Army out of the Atlantic port of Savannah, GA on December 22, 1864.

Another burned railroad town, Allatoona Pass, North Georgia
Surrender at Appomattox
Sherman continued his burning through North Carolina with hopes of reaching Virginia.  But, General Lee attempted to halt the Union Army and break through Grant's lines in Petersburg, VA.  The Union seized Petersburg on April 2, 1865 and then Richmond on the next day.  Union forces cut Lee off from leading his remaining army to North Carolina.  On April 9, 1865, General Lee surrendered to Grant waving the white flag atop a hill overlooking the Appomattox River in Virginia.  General Grant later accepted General Lee's surrender in the Appomattox Court House.

McLean Court House in Appomattox, where the surrender of General Lee to General Grant took place
To view a poster on the main key battles, click here

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This Web site has been created and maintained by Jennifer L. Meador