• Photo of cannon at Antietam National Battlefield

    The Civil War

The Military Experience

The battles and campaigns of the Civil War were waged over four years across a front spanning 2,000 miles. Leaders on both sides improvised and innovated, trying to achieve a decisive battlefield victory. New technologies forced changes in tactics that evolved warfare and transformed the experience of soldiers in the field and navies on the waters.

Despite the massive military effort and the innovations on both sides, ultimately it became clear that the Civil War would not be settled on the battlefield alone. Military victories could not resolve a conflict between two sides mobilized against one another politically, socially, philosophically, economically, and emotionally.

Stories from The Military Experience

Showing results 1-5 of 51

  • Manassas National Battlefield Park

    "My Very Dear Wife" - The Last Letter of Major Sullivan Ballou

    Kurz & Allison print of the First Battle of Manassas

    Like many soldiers on the eve of the first major battle of the Civil War, Sullivan Ballou feared he might not survive the conflict. The letter he wrote to his wife, expressing his anxiety, remains on the the most famous, and poignent, written during the war. Read more

  • A Brave Black Regiment

    Recruitment poster for 54th Massachusetts Infantry

    After the war, soldiers once again become private citizens. For the Union army's African American troops, they were citizens for the first time in their lives, the culmination of what, for them, the war was truly all about. Read more

  • A Most Horrid Picture

    Modern photograph of a medicine kit from the Civil War

    When the war began, medical practitioners were only beginning to understand the benefits of cleanliness and good sanitation. As a result, two out of every three deaths in the Civil War were caused by disease rather than injury. Caregivers like Clara Barton, the "Angel of the Battlefield" brought food and supplies to the soldiers and inspired new hope and life to the injured and dying. Read more

  • Manassas National Battlefield Park

    A New Economy of War

    Photo of the Stone House at Manassas National Battlefield Park

    Dozens of wounded Federal troops found shelter inside the massive walls of the Stone House during both Battles of Manassas. Its location at the junction of two major turnpikes put it in the center of battle each time. Read more

  • Antietam National Battlefield

    A Short Overview of the Battle of Antietam

    Photograph of dead by Dunker Church after the Battle of Antietam

    A brief overview of the Battle of Antietam Read more