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The Major Battles of the Civil War Part II

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  1. The Major Battles of the Civil War Part II MOI

  2. Learning Objectives • Comprehend and compare the battles at Antietam, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and the Wilderness Campaign • Know and understand the significance of said battles and how they affected the outcome of the war • Comprehend the impact that the Civil War had on future conflicts

  3. Antietam17 Sep 1862 • VA cleared of Union troops after win at Second Bull Run • Lee attacks North with objectives: • Convince Maryland to secede • Capitalize on Union’s weariness • Indirectly threaten Washington • Gain international support

  4. Antietam • Lee crosses Potomac • McClellan (back in command) marches NW with 95,000 • Union lucks upon Lee’s battle plan • Still, McClellan moves too slowly • Gives Lee time to fall back to Sharpsburg • Intercept Lee near Potomac with 70,000 vs. Lee’s 39,000 • Lee outnumbered but holds of charge • Shorter interior lines of communication • By late afternoon in danger of collapse • Timely arrival of Hill with reinforcements ends battle

  5. Analysis • McClellan again removed from command • Waited too long to attack • Hesitated before committing troops when Lee was pressed • Allowed Confederates to escape back to VA • Antietam had two far-reaching effects • Caused international support to be postponed • Emancipation Proclamation

  6. Preparation at ChancellorsvilleMay 1863 • Hooker – commander of Union forces • 134,000 Union vs. 60,000 Confederates • Hooker’s plan • Three corps move up river • Two corps hold Lee’s attention • Cavalry corps maneuver to rear and destroy comm and supply • Double envelopment • Lee’s plan • Keep Hooker under surveillance • Use offensive, maneuver, economy of force to make up for inferior numbers

  7. Battle of Chancellorsville • 1 May: Hooker falls back to Chancellorsville after skirmish • Lee informed of Hooker’s exposed flank • Lee “envelop the envelopers” • 17,000 hold Union attention • Jackson’s 26,000 make 15 mile-wide swing • 2 May, 1700: Jackson charges Union’s flank • Confederates weary after movement • Jackson wounded and Confederates pushed back • Hooker withdraws whole line next morning

  8. Battle of Chancellorsville • 3 May: Sedgewick (Union) assaults Marye’s Heights • Lee leaves Stuart (Jackson’s successor) with 25,000 to guard Hooker • Lee moves with 21,000 to meet Sedgewick & repels • 6 May: Lee prepares to repel Hooker • Hooker surprises him by withdrawing

  9. Analysis • Use of cavalry • Stuart’s recon contributes to Lee’s plans • Hooker’s use as rear assault ineffective • Lee uses principle of movement well • Didn’t violate mass due to common mission • Hooker yielded the initiative when his stronger force could have divided Lee’s forces

  10. Analysis • Union loses 17,000 vs. CSA 13,000 • Remember … initially, 134,000 vs 60,000 • Lee loses critical general: Jackson • Chancellorsville shows peak of Lee’s brilliance • Lee’s moral superiority over Hooker • Napoleon: “The General is the head, the whole of the army.”

  11. Preparation for Gettysburg • Lee wants to use his initiative • Morale high after Chancellorsville • Attack on North would remove Feds from VA • Lee’s favored defensive tactics would not work • Limited ammunition supply • Confederates unfamiliar with territory • Lee’s confidence in troops • Stuart’s lack of proper intelligence • Lincoln vetoes Hooker’s plan to counter in Richmond; replaced by Gen Meade

  12. Battle of Gettysburg1 July 1863 • Confederates outflank at Cemetery Hill and hold Gettysburg • Pickett to arrive with 15,000 fresh CSA • Lee has no luck assaulting flanks • 3 July: Decides to try final, frontal assault • Union troops expertly entrenched • “Pickett’s charge” fails to break Union lines • Both sides lose 20,000+ • Lee withdraws across Potomac • Meade misses opportunity to overwhelm Lee

  13. Analysis • Shows importance of communication • Lee relied too heavily on frontal assault • After breaking lines, numbers to small to assault • Stuart’s cavalry neutralized by Custer • Lee still weakened by loss of Jackson • New leadership lacked proper comm • Also lacked experience • Lee overestimates his troops • Union victory which begins decline of CSA

  14. U. S. Grant • Feb 1864: Grant promoted to Lt. Gen. • Considers big picture • Meade to contain Lee while Sherman strikes from south • Begins the Wilderness Campaign • Intensely bloody battles as Grant fights to Richmond • 50,000 Union vs 25,000 CSA losses

  15. Wilderness Campaign • Grant smashes into Lee’s lines • Grant repelled • Grant would “slide down” • Lee would follow • Grant would hit Lee’s line, repelled, etc. • Both sides win • Lee keeps Grant from reaching Richmond • Grant weakened Confederate army • Grant’s army – troops replenished; Lee’s – no replacements

  16. Petersburg • Grant attempts to flank Lee • Lee unaware • Union commanders too cautious • Stalemate • Apr 1865: Lee withdraws to west to resupply • Find supply lines cut • Retreat route blocked • 9 Apr 1865: Appomattox Court House

  17. Impact of Future Conflicts • Expanding battlefield due to new technology • Land and water mines see first use • Trench warfare begins • Breech-loading rifle appears • Trend toward dispersal and increased “individual” combat

  18. Summary • Chancellorsville • Lee’s pinnacle • Gettysburg • Turning point of Civil War • Wilderness Campaign • Future of warfare

  19. Questions?