The Military Experience

Painting of Union troops attacking Confederate Fort Gregg near Petersburg, Va.

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.

Showing results 16-20 of 52

  • Gulf Islands National Seashore

    Exceeding Expectations

    Photo of African American soldier

    During the fight for freedom, African American soldiers were forced to deal with discrimination on a regular basis. For no other reason than possessing a different skin color, these men were perceived to be inferior troops. Yet over several fierce fights, men such as the Louisiana Native Guard proved their worth. Read more

  • Fort Scott National Historic Site

    Forgotten Warriors

    Painting of Creek Chief Opotheyehala

    During the Civil War, Native Americans that enlisted in the United States Army found themselves the subject of discrimination. Yet through bravery, pride, and determination these individuals not only fought to earn the respect of their white compatriots, but to protect their homeland. Read more

  • Fort Monroe National Monument

    Fort Monroe and the "Contrabands of War"

    Wartime print of Fort Monroe

    In the early months of the Civil War, slaves were fleeing to Union lines seeking freedom but emancipation was not yet a stated war aim of President Lincoln. At Fort Monroe, General Benjamin Butler came up with a creative solution to this difficult situation. Read more

  • Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

    Frederick Roeder

    Wartime photograph of Harpers Ferry

    Because of its strategic military importance, Harpers Ferry was the object of Union and Confederate attention throughout the war. The town's residents, including Frederick Roeder, were often caught in the crossfire. Read more

  • Lithograph showing industrial and technological advancements of the Civil War

    Both North and South mobilized industry to an unprecedented degree. But the North, which already had a head start in nearly every realm of industrial and agricultural development, far outpaced the South during the war. Unhampered by the southern opposition in such areas as providing free land to farmers and subsidizing a transcontinental railroad before the war, Congress passed sweeping legislation to expand the economy. As the war dragged on, in part because many of the battles were fought on southern soil, and in part because the South fell further behind in its economic development, the North was better able to muster its economic might for the war effort. As a result, the United States was a much different country after the war. Read more

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