• 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 26-30 of 51

  • 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

  • Civil War Defenses of Washington

    Living Contraband - Former Slaves in the Nation's Capital During the Civil War

    Photo of three African American boys in a Union army camp

    For thousands of African Americans during the Civil War, Washington, D.C. was a beacon of freedom - and a place where they could work to assist the war effort. There they found themselves digging fortifications, driving wagons, or cooking, but as free men and women selling their services, many for the first time in their lives. 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

  • No Time for Games

    Photograph of a Union family at a military camp

    An entire generation was shaped by this critical chapter of American history and the weight of war was borne on little shoulders as well as large. Whether they snuck into the army, served as drummer boys, helped tend the wounded, or faced an every-day struggle to stay alive, the perspectives of children offer unique insight into the effects of the Civil War. Read more

  • Fort Sumter National Monument

    Robert Small's Journey to Freedom


    In Civil War Charleston, slave Robert Smalls commandeered a Confederate vessel, piloting it to freedom and embarking on a journey that ultimately led him to the halls of Congress. Read more