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 6-10 of 72

  • Photo of United States Colored Troops at review in Washington, D.C.

    Petersburg, Virginia was a major supply hub for the Confederacy during the Civil War. Interestingly, half the population of this city, whose rail lines would prove so essential to the survival of Richmond, was comprised of both free African Americans and slaves. As the war closed in on this community, these individuals would play a critical role. Read more

  • Fort Davis National Historic Site

    African Americans in the Frontier Army

    Painting showing African American soldiers in New Mexico in the 1870s

    Following the Civil War, permanent African American regiments were constructed in the United States Army. Although segregated due to race, these regiments served with honor and distinction, and helped to tame the Wild West. Read more

  • Union signal station on Antietam battlefield

    Among the technical innovations to come out of the Civil War were advancements in the methods the armies had to communicate among themselves. Signal flags, torches and rockets were used to pass along messages and reconnaissance, while codes and ciphers ensured that the messages wouldn't be intercepted and read by the enemy. Read more

  • Antietam National Battlefield

    Antietam: Lead Up to and After

    Photograph of dead soldiers after the Battle of Antietam

    The preparations, battle and aftermath of the Battle of Antietam. Read more

  • Appomattox Court House National Historical Park

    Appomattox Court House Landscape

    A flat dirt road, bordered by wooden fencing, approaches the two-story red brick courthouse.

    The Appomattox Courthouse Landscape is the site of General Lee's 1865 surrender to General Grant, beginning the return to peace following the Civil War. The rural landscape is also significant in areas of architecture and conservation. Read more

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