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 51-55 of 72

  • Photo of Robert E. Lee

    The Battle of Shiloh is remembered as a decisive moment in the Civil War - a brutal 2-day engagement that shocked the nation into facing the horrors of war. But there's another story that's less often told, about the battle's terrible toll on the local community in Tennessee. Read more

  • Painting showing removal of Missouri civilians from their homes by Union troops

    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 Bravest of the Brave - The Medal of Honor

    Painting of the fighting around the Dunker Church, by Captain John Hope

    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

  • Woodcut of spectators watching a train station set fire by Sherman's troops

    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

  • Photograph of the Union depot at Catlett Station in 1862

    Confederate General Lee is determined that the Union is no longer a threat to Richmond and decides to take action. Read more

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