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And there were soldiers as well as spectators who wanted to see the war before it ended.

8 things to think about as we mark the conflict's 150th anniversary

When the two armies met near Manassas, Virginia on a Sunday afternoon both sides committed a number of errors. And in the end, the Confederates managed to rally and defeat the northerners. A chaotic retreat back toward Washington, D. After the Battle of Bull Run, people began to realize that the Civil War would probably not end soon and the fighting would not be easy. During fighting spanning two days in a remote part of rural Tennessee, Union troops who had landed by steamboat slugged it out with Confederates who had marched to head off their invasion of the South.

The Union troops were almost driven back to the river at the end of the first day, but on the following morning, a fierce counterattack drove the Confederates back. Shiloh was an early Union victory, and a Union commander, Ulysses S. Grant, gained considerable fame during the Shiloh campaign.

The Battle of Ball's Bluff was an early military blunder by Union forces early in the war. Northern troops who crossed the Potomac River and landed in Virginia were trapped and suffered heavy casualties. The disaster had serious consequences as an outrage on Capitol Hill led the U. Congress to form a committee to oversee the conduct of the war.

The congressional committee would wield influence throughout the rest of the war, often vexing the Lincoln Administration. The Battle of Fredericksburg, fought in Virginia at the end of , was a bitter contest that exposed serious weaknesses in the Union Army. Casualties in the Union ranks were heavy, especially in units that fought heroically, such as the legendary Irish Brigade.

The second year of the war had begun with some optimism, but as ended, it was clear that the war would not end quickly. And it would continue to be very costly. Share Flipboard Email. Robert J. McNamara is a history expert who has been writing for ThoughtCo since Delayed by the opposition of his corps commanders, Lee did not issue his orders until am. Hill and Ewell were to make secondary attacks. This created a dangerous salient and weakened the south flank, but it was too late to pull him back.

About this time Gen. Gouverneur K. Before the Alabama troops who had scaled Big Round Top could continue their attack from that hill, Warren had diverted sufficient Federal reserves to defend Little Round Top. Both Hood and Sickles were seriously wounded.

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  6. The American Civil War: Battle of Gettysburg Aids the Union, but at a Cost!

Confederate secondary attacks were so poorly timed, however, that Meade could shift strength from quiet parts of his line and move reserves to meet each new threat. Casualties on the second day numbered some 20, killed, captured, wounded, or missing; taken by itself, the second day of Gettysburg ranks as the 10th bloodiest battle of the entire war. Meade, on the other hand, was less confident, and it was only after a formal council of war that he decided to stay and fight.

Isaac Trimble who had taken over Gen.

Major Battles of the Civil War

Longstreet, not Pickett, was in command of the operation. Shortly after pm the Confederates started a tremendous artillery bombardment, which was answered immediately by Federal counterfire. At pm the infantry moved out of the woods in parade ground order and started across the 1, yards 1, metres of open fields toward Cemetery Ridge. The Federals watched in awed silence as some 15, Confederate troops moved toward them.

Then the Federal artillery, which had ceased fire an hour earlier to save ammunition, went back into action with devastating effect at a range of about yards metres. Almost unscathed by the Confederate artillery preparation, most of which had gone over their heads, the roughly10, Federal infantry against whom the attack was directed waited coolly behind stone walls and held their fire until the Confederates were within effective range.

The southern spearhead broke through and penetrated onto Cemetery Ridge, but there it could do no more.


Leaving 19 battle flags and hundreds of prisoners, the Confederates retreated, demoralized but without panic. Part of one Union brigade advanced to hasten their retreat, but the Army of the Potomac had been too roughly handled to mount a counterattack. Lee waited during July 4 to meet an attack on Seminary Ridge that never came. That night, taking advantage of a heavy rain, he started retreating to Virginia through the South Mountain passes. Lee was held up at Williamsport for a week waiting for the Potomac River to run down, but on the night of July 13 he withdrew his army and trains into the Shenandoah Valley before Meade, who had appeared on his front the day before, could launch an attack.

Longstreet was unenthusiastic about the invasion of Pennsylvania and advocated forcing the Federal army to attack. Confederate successes at First and Second Bull Run , Antietam , and Fredericksburg had convinced him that the war could be won by adopting a tactical defensive posture while conducting strategic offensive operations. Thomas J. Lee was so dependent on Stuart personally that he failed to properly employ the four cavalry brigades left at his disposal.

Meade has been criticized for not destroying the Army of Northern Virginia by a vigorous pursuit. However, it must be said to his credit that only five days after taking command, Meade had stopped the Confederate invasion and won a three-day battle. Coming the day before Gen.

Ulysses S. Dedication of the National Cemetery at the site in November was the occasion of Pres.

The American Civil War: Battle of Gettysburg Aids the Union, but at a Cost

The battlefield became a national military park in , and jurisdiction passed to the National Park Service in Battle of Gettysburg. Article Media. Info Print Print. Table Of Contents. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback. Top Questions. American Civil War. Confederate States of America. The Battle of Gettysburg was won by the Union army the North.

American Civil War: The war in the east. Gettysburg Address. Start your free trial today for unlimited access to Britannica. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. While both armies were licking their wounds and reorganizing, Hooker, Lincoln, and Halleck debated Union strategy. They were thus engaged when Lee headed north again on June 5, What his ultimate target may have been remains a historical mystery; he never told anyone. Meade, commanded defensive positions.