The turning points in the civil war Vicksburg, Gettysburg, and a Surge for the Union
Vicksburg, Mississippi The city of Vicksburg was the last stronghold in along the Mississippi River for the Confederacy. By taking control of the area, the Union could claim complete control over the Mississippi River, from Minneapolis to New Orleans. It would also split the Confederacy in half, separating Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana from the other states in the Confederacy.
The Siege of Vicksburg, MS • Lead by General Ulysses S. Grant, with especially important cooperation from Colonel Benjamin Grierson. • The siege of Vicksburg would last for over six weeks, during which time the city was reduced to rubble. Union soldiers nicknamed the place “Prairie Dog Town” because most residents moved underground. • When the Confederacy surrendered on July 4, 1863, the Union had complete control of the Mississippi River.
George B. McClellan Fired! • The principle reason McClellan was sacked and replaced by the President was his consistent inaction. After the Battle of Antietam, Lincoln demanded that McClellan launch an attack against the retreating Army of Northern Virginia. When McClellan demurred – again – he was fired and replaced by Ambrose Burnside.
Ambrose Burnside invented…. • S-I-D-E-B-U-R-N-S! • S-I-D-E-B-U-R-N-S! • S-I-D-E-B-U-R-N-S! • S-I-D-E-B-U-R-N-S! • S-I-D-E-B-U-R-N-S! • S-I-D-E-B-U-R-N-S! • S-I-D-E-B-U-R-N-S! • S-I-D-E-B-U-R-N-S! • S-I-D-E-B-U-R-N-S!
Fredericksburg, December of 1862 • Fredericksburg was perhaps the saddest and most miserable defeat of the Union Army in the entire war. Finally given a general who would take the offensive, Lincoln’s new commander assaulted an impossible position at Marye’s Heights in Fredericksburg. Over 12,000 casualties were taken over the course of several fruitless attacks.
Chancellorsville, VA After Fredericksburg, Ambrose Burnside was beside himself with grief. His resignation was accepted, and Joseph Hooker took command of the army. Attempting to put Lee on his heels by splitting his army, Hooker soon found himself outmaneuvered, just as so many other Union generals had been before.
Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson dies. • During an unusual nighttime scouting mission, “Stonewall” was not recognized by his own sentries, and shot by his own men. Although it appeared that he may live at first, his arm was amputated, the wound became infected, and he perished. Robert E. Lee recognized the enormity of the loss right away. He never had greater confidence in his subordinate officers again.
Gettysburg • In June of 1863, Lee once again launched an invasion of the North, seeking a great victory to convince European onlookers that the Confederacy was a legitimate nation. • The ground at Gettysburg was of little value in and of itself, and some of Lee’s associates suggested that he not contest the ground, turn South, and invade Washington. • The Union leader at the battle was George Meade, who had recently replaced Joseph Hooker, after his failed debut at Chancellorsville.
Gettysburg • The outcome of the battle may have been determined on the first day, when the Union used a little known strategy called the “swinging gate” to secure the high ground at Little Round Top. • Instead of fighting a defensive battle, as they had the entire war, the Confederacy took the offensive. • During the second day of fighting, despite mounting casualties, no ground was gained by the Lee’s Army.
Gettysburg Pickett’s Charge on the final day of Gettysburg was a desperate and unsuccessful attempt to break through the Union lines. Scarcely a trained soldier in the field though it could ever be successful. Union guns inflicted over 7,000 casualties in twenty minutes of fighting, and the Army of Northern Virginia fell into retreat.
The Battle of Chattanooga – Reinforcements by Rail Lincoln and the Union Army relied upon the railroads to provide supplies and reinforcements throughout the war, but never was it more important than during the engagement at Chattanooga. Over 20,000 men were sent over 1,200 miles in just a few days – along with all of their supplies, ammunition, horses, and heavy guns.
Ulysses S. Grant – Western Command Ulysses S. Grant was placed in charge of all of the Armies of the West immediately after his victory at Vicksburg. Grant’s ability to achieve victory – even if it came at a cost in terms of men and materials – was essential. Over the course of the war, Grant had proven to be the most reliable general in the Army as far as Lincoln was concerned. Now, he sought to reward Grant for his steady leadership.
From Chickamauga to Atlanta • The loss at Chickamauga was substantial, and became a rallying cry for Union soldiers at Chattanooga. • During the Battle of Chattanooga, a decisive victory was gained, forcing the Confederates to retreat. • Having captured Chattanooga, the United States Army set it eyes on Atlanta, which was now open to a siege. William Tecumseh Sherman would lead this invasion in the coming days. • Atlanta would be reduced to rubble and set ablaze.
Ulysses S. Grant was appointed General in Chief. His objective: Lee.