The Western Theater of the Civil War: The History and Legacy of the Most Important Battles Fought across the West by Charles River Editors

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*Includes pictures *Includes excerpts of soldiers' accounts *Includes a bibliography for further reading While the Lincoln Administration and most Northerners were preoccupied with trying to capture Richmond in the summer of 1861, it would be the little known Ulysses S. Grant who delivered the Union's first major victories, over a thousand miles away from Washington. In January of 1862, Grant persuaded General Henry "Old Brains" Halleck to allow his men to launch a campaign on the Tennessee River. As soon as Halleck acquiesced, Grant moved against Fort Henry, in close coordination with the naval command of Flag Officer Andrew Hull Foote. The combination of infantry and naval bombardment helped force the capitulation of Fort Henry on February 6, 1862, and the surrender of Fort Henry was followed immediately by an attack on Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River, which earned Grant his famous nickname "Unconditional Surrender". The Battle of Shiloh lasted two days, but the battle over the battle had just begun. Grant's army had just won the biggest battle in the history of North America, with nearly 24,000 combined casualties among the Union and Confederate forces. As a result of the Battle of Shiloh, Grant was demoted to second-in-command of all armies in his department, an utterly powerless position. And when word of what many considered a "colossal blunder" reached Washington, several congressmen insisted that Lincoln replace Grant in the field. Lincoln famously defended Grant, telling critics, "I can't spare this man. He fights." Given its importance, it's somewhat surprising in retrospect that the Union managed to capture New Orleans in an easier manner than places like Vicksburg and Atlanta. Admiral David Farragut's naval forces battered their shaky Confederate counterparts and were able to get over a dozen ships upriver past a couple of crucial Confederate forts along the Mississippi. By May 1862, Union forces occupied the city and General Benjamin Butler became its military governor, leaving the last true bastion of Confederate defenses on the Mississippi at Vicksburg. When Grant captured that in July 1863, the Union controlled the entire river and essentially cut the Confederacy in two. Americans have long been fascinated by the Civil War and its biggest battles, particularly Gettysburg, Antietam, and Shiloh, all of which involved Robert E. Lee or Ulysses S. Grant. But one of the 6 biggest battles of the war, and the one that took the heaviest toll by % on both armies was fought at the end of 1862 in Tennessee, and it involved neither of those generals. At the start of 1863, Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia had been frustrating the Union in the Eastern theater for several months, but the situation in the West was completely different. The Confederates had lost control of several important states throughout 1862, and after New Orleans was taken by the Union, the North controlled almost all of the Mississippi River, which Confederate general James Longstreet called "the lungs of the Confederacy". By taking control of that vital river, the North would virtually cut the Confederacy in two, putting the South in a dire situation. The only domino left to fall was the stronghold of Vicksburg, and both sides knew it. In the aftermath of the Battle of Chickamauga, several Confederate generals blamed the number of men lost during what would be the bloodiest battle of the Western Theater on Bragg's incompetence, also criticizing him for refusing to pursue the escaping Union army. General Longstreet later stated to Jefferson Davis, "Nothing but the hand of God can help as long as we have our present commander." Although the Chattanooga Campaign was months long and involved several battles, it has become mostly remembered for the Battle of Missionary Ridge, one of the most remarkable and successful charges of the war.

  • | Author: Charles River Editors
  • | Publisher: Independently published
  • | Publication Date: January 16, 2020
  • | Number of Pages: 563 pages
  • | Language: English
  • | Binding: Paperback
  • | ISBN-10: 166140944X
  • | ISBN-13: 9781661409449
Charles River Editors
Independently published
Publication Date:
January 16, 2020
Number of pages:
563 pages