Civil War Battles List

The American Civil War began in 1861 and ended in 1865. It was one of the largest military conflicts of the 19th century in terms of the sheer size of the armies, the number of deaths and the scale of the battles. The Civil War decided the fate of the country and permanently abolished slavery in the US. It also saw the rise of many military geniuses who showed their abilities during Civil War battles. Following are some of the key battles that took place during the war.

First Battle of Bull Run

The First Battle of Bull Run took place on July 21, 1861. It was one of the first major engagements of the Civil War. The military strength of both the Union and the Confederate forces was around 35,000 in this battle. The Union army planned to reach the Confederate capital and capture it. On their way, they were met by the Confederate army.

Initially, the Union forces had an advantage. But before soon, Confederate reinforcements arrived and the battle turned. The battle was a decisive Confederate victory. It resulted in heavy casualties for both sides and the country came to the realization that the Civil War was going to be fought bitterly over a long period.

Battle of Shiloh

The Battle of Shiloh was fought on April 6 and 7, 1862. It was fought in Hardin County, Tennessee. The Union forces numbered at around 63,000 while the Confederate forces numbered at around 40,000. Initially, both sides were evenly matched in terms of numbers. The Confederate army launched a surprise attack on the Union army under Major General Ulysses S. Grant.

The Union army was initially on the defensive. On the second day of the battle, more troops arrived and the Union numbers rose. The Union army then launched a counterattack and forced a retreat of the Confederate forces, securing a decisive victory.

Battle of Antietam

The Battle of Antietam was fought on September 17, 1862. It was fought in Washington County, Maryland. The Union army numbered at around 88,000 under the command of George B. McClellan. Confederate troops numbered 38,000 under the command of Robert E. Lee.

The Union army launched an attack on the Confederate army but the Confederates were able to withstand the attacks. Lee’s strategic leadership helped the Confederate army fight back and prevent the Union army from securing a definite victory. In the end, the battle was inconclusive – Confederate army was battered but undefeated while Union forces possessed the battlefield but hadn’t defeated the other side.

The battle Battle of Antietam was one of the bloodiest of the Civil War, with nearly 22,000 casualties.

Second Battle of Bull Run

The Second Battle of Bull Run took place from August 28 to August 30, 1862. It was fought in Prince William County, Virginia. 62,000 Union soldiers fought against 50,000 Confederate soldiers in this battle. Union forces were led by Major General John Pope. General Robert E. Lee led the Confederate forces.

Stonewall Jackson, a Confederate commander, used a smaller part of the Confederate army to create a diversion. The Union army focused on this diversion when they were taken by surprise by the rest of the Confederate army. The battle was a decisive Confederate victory. Union casualties were around 15,000 – Confederates suffered around 7,000 casualties.

Battle of Chancellorsville

The Battle of Chancellorsville was fought from April 30 to May 6, 1863. It was fought in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. The Union forces numbered around 133,000 under the command of Major General Joseph Hooker. Confederate forces numbered around 60,000 and were led by General Robert E. Lee.

Despite a much smaller army, Lee’s strategy helped the Confederates secure a victory. Lee boldly divided his smaller army into two and used this to engage the Union forces. The Union army suffered around 17,000 casualties while the Confederates suffered around 13,000 casualties. A notable loss for the Confederate army was one of its bravest commanders, Stonewall Jackson.

Battle of Spotsylvania Court House

The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House was fought from May 8, 1864 to May 21, 1864. It took place in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. Union forces numbered at around 100,000 under the command of Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant. Confederate forces numbered around 60,000 under General Robert E. Lee. The battle was fought during the Overland Campaign of Grant’s army.

The Confederate forces attempted to block the advance of the Union forces which led to the battle. The battle resulted in heavy casualties for both sides – around 18000 for Union forces and around 13,000 for the Confederate army. In the end, there was no clear victor – the Confederates successfully defended their position while Grant maneuvered around the Confederate army and continued his march.

Battle of Fredericksburg

The Battle of Fredericksburg was fought from December 11, 1862 to December 15, 1862. It was fought in Virginia. Union forces were led by Major General Ambrose Burnside. General Robert E. Lee led the Confederate forces. The Union army originally planned to race to Richmond, the capital city of Confederacy, and capture it.

The plan failed due to delays and the Confederate army reached in time to block the advance of the Union forces. In the battle that ensued, Union forces sustained very heavy losses. In all, Union army suffered around 13,000 casualties whereas the Confederacy sustained 5,500 casualties. The battle was a decisive Confederate victory.

Battle of Gettysburg

The Battle of Gettysburg was fought from July 1, 1863 to July 3, 1863. It was fought in Gettysburg, Adams County, Pennsylvania. The battle is known for the largest number of casualties in any battle during the Civil War. The battle was fought as General Lee planned to take the Confederate army through Pennsylvania and penetrate into the North. Lee’s forces were confronted by the Union army under Major General George Meade.

Confederate forces launched fierce attacks on the Union forces all along the battle lines. The battle raged on for three days, resulting in heavy casualties. In the end, Lee’s army failed to break through the Union lines and had to retreat back into Confederate territory. The battle is often considered a turning point of the American Civil War.

The battles fought during the American Civil War were some of the most important in American history. These battles determined the fate of the country. They also necessitated the rapid development of military technology, strategy and weaponry in the country.

Atlas of the Civil War: A Complete Guide to the Tactics and Terrain of Battle First Edition Edition

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The American Civil War began in 1861 and ended in 1865. It was one of the largest military conflicts of the 19th century