• 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 11-15 of 51

  • Andersonville National Historic Site

    Camp Sumter/Andersonville Prison

    Drawing showing bird's eye view of Andersonville prison camp

    As the war dragged on, both sides faced the challenge of how to adequately feed, clothe and house enemy prisoners. Although conditions were bad in both Southern and Northern prison camps, the Confederacy's Andersonville prison became the most notorious of all Civil War prison camps. Read more

  • Richmond National Battlefield Park

    Chimborazo Hospital

    Photo of a model of the Chimborazo Hospital

    From 1861 to 1865 the surgeons and nurses of Chimborazo Hospital in the Confederate Capitol of Richmond, Virginia waged their own war against disease and infection while they cared for over 75,000 men. Read more

  • Gettysburg National Military Park

    Civilians at Gettysburg

    The David Wills home, where Abraham Lincoln spent the night prior to delivering the Gettysburg Address

    In 1863, invading Confederates occupied Gettysburg, Pennsylvania before and during the Battle of Gettysburg. A few citizens of the town joined the fight, while others fled. As the battle intensified, many found themselves tending the wounded and dying. Many first-person accounts of this harrowing experience survive. Read more

  • Death and Dying

    Photo of freshly buried marked and unmarked graves near Petersburg, Va.

    The somber aftermath of Civil War battles introduced Americans--North and South--to death on an unprecedented scale and of an unnatural kind, often ending in an unmarked grave far from home. Neither individuals, nor institutions, nor governments were prepared to deal with death on such a massive scale, for never before or since have we killed so many of our own. The Civil War revolutionized the American military's approach to caring for the dead, leading to our modern culture of reverence for military death. Read more

  • Death of a Brigade

    Photograph of Confederate General D. H. Hill

    How Confederate General D. H. Hill lost so many men at South Mountain Read more