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 52

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • Photograph on General Thomas

    How the Confederates were going to divide and conquer, while moving further north Read more

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