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.
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The existence of divided populations in Border States had a profound impact on Union and Confederate strategy-both political and military. Each side undertook military and political measures--including brutal guerilla warfare-- in their attempts to control areas of divided loyalty and hostile moral and political views held by local civilians. Read more
Antietam National Battlefield
The Medal of Honor, the nation's highest recognition for military gallantry over and above the call of duty, was one of the Civil War's many innovations, first awarded to sailors in 1861 and soldiers in 1862. Read more
Begun as a purely military effort with the limited political objectives of reunification (North) or independence (South), the Civil War transformed into a social, economic and political revolution with unforeseen consequences. As the war progressed, the Union war effort steadily transformed from a limited to a hard war; it targeted not just Southern armies, but the heart of the Confederacy's economy, morale, and social order-the institution of slavery. Read more
Confederate General Lee is determined that the Union is no longer a threat to Richmond and decides to take action. Read more
The course of the war was the cumulative result of political, economic, and social policies that affected (and were affected by) military operations and battles waged across a front spanning 2,000 miles. The battles and campaigns of 1861-65 ultimately demonstrated that the simple application of massive military force, even with innovations in technologies and tactics, was insufficient to resolve a conflict between two sections mobilized against one another politically, socially, philosophically, economically, and emotionally. Read more