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 26-30 of 60

  • Photograph of General Ambrose Burnside

    Lee and McClellan were the faces and the brains of their respective armies, but once their orders were issued, the responsibility fell to the next level of generals to position the men, carry out the battle plans, and achieve success. Read more

  • Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park

    Lifeblood of a Nation

    Photo of Monocacy Aqueduct along the C&O Canal

    The blood of a nation - its life, its health, its wealth - is carried by arteries of railroads, rivers, roads and canals. During the Civil War, as the armies marched back and forth across the landscape and the blood of its citizens was spilled, these arteries became more important than ever. Read more

  • Print of General McClellan

    Special Orders 191 are lost and McClellan get a hold of them Read more

  • Modern photograph of Civil War medicine bottles

    The story of Civil War medicine is a complex one. Through the dedication, innovation and devotion of surgeons and medical support staff, the foundation for today's modern military medicine was laid. Read more

  • Wilson's Creek National Battlefield

    Military Medicine at Wilson's Creek

    Modern photo of Civil War surgeon's amputation kit

    Elongated bullets, lack of equipment, unsterilized instruments, and live gun fire were just some of the issues hindering medical efforts for Civil War field hospitals and surgeons. Many soldiers were wounded in the Civil War but even more perished from disease. Learn about the medicine and medical professionals who served on the front lines. Read more

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