Key Battles of the Civil War
Fort Sumter: Fort Sumter was one of the last forts under federal control located in seceding states. Confederate forces staged a 24-hour bombardment against it and, by attacking federal property, had committed an act of open rebellion
Antietam––September 1862––Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee marched his forces to Antietam Creek, Maryland, where he fought the war’s first major battle on northern soil. It was the deadliest one-day battle in American history, with over 26,000 casualties, but neither side won a victor. The significance of the Battle of Antietam was that Lee’s failure to win and the Union’s claim of victory encouraged Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation
Gettysburg––July 1863––Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee hoped that an invasion of Union territory would significantly weaken Northern support for the war effort. Lee’s army was met by Union troops at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. In the course of a three-day battle, as many as 51,000 were killed. It was the deadliest battle of the American Civil War. Gettysburg marked the beginning of the end for the Confederate forces in the east
Vicksburg––May–July 1863––Union Major Gen. Ulysses S. Grant laid siege to Vicksburg, Mississippi, because the army that controlled its high ground over a bend in the Mississippi River would control traffic on the whole river. After a seven-week siege Grant, aided by naval actions along the mouth of the Mississippi River, achieved one of the Union’s major strategic goals: by gaining control of the Mississippi River. Confederate troops and supplies in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas were cut off from the Confederacy. This Union victory, coupled with the Union victory at Gettysburg, was the turning point of the war
Atlanta––July–September 1864––Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman besieged Atlanta, Georgia, for six weeks before capturing this vitally important center of Confederate manufacturing and railway traffic. Sherman’s goal was to disrupt the Confederacy’s capacity to resupply its troops throughout the South. Union troops burned Atlanta to the ground and then marched across Georgia to the Atlantic Ocean, destroying the railways, roads, and bridges along the path, as well as the crops and livestock his troops did not harvest and butcher to feed themselves. Now the South knew it would lose the war, and the North knew it would win.