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Manassus (Bull Run)
The first major battle of the war (July 1861) 30,000 federal troops marched from Washington D.C., to attack Confederate forces positioned near Bull Run Creek at Manassas Junction, VA. Just as the Union forces seemed close to victory, Confederate reinforcements under General Thomas (Stonewall) Jackson couterattacked and sent the inexperienced Union troops in disorderly and panicky flight to WA. The battle ended the illusion of a short war and also promoted the myth that the Rebels were invincible in battle.
Depended on sending an overpowering force down the Mississippi River in the fall, dividing the South in two. At the same time, the Union navy would seal off the South from outside supplies. Ground troops and land battles would be kept to a minimum.
Robert E. Lee
Of Virginia had served as an engineer, and officer in the Mexican War in the 1840s, and superintendent of West Point in the late 1850s. He resigned his U.S. military commission and accepted command of Virginia's forces. Lee made the same tortured decision so many southerners made when secession finally came. Led his troops to capture Brown and his band after a 2-day siege.
James E.B. (Jeb) Stuart
The Confederacy employed cavalry under the command of the flamboyant young James Stuart to move quickly up and down the valley keeping the North off balance.
Just as the Union forces seemed close to victory, Confederate reinforcements under General Thomas (Stonewall) Jackson counterattacked and sent the inexperienced Union troops in disorderly and panicky flight back to Washington. The battle ended the illusion of a short war and also promoted the myth that the Rebels were invincible in battle.
Replaced Lincoln after Bull Run. Although short of stature and only 34 years old, McClellan exuded great authority. He was known as the "young Napoleon" McClellan had distinguished himself in the Mexican War and had studied military tactics in Europe. Moreover, he had already frustrated Confederate forces under Robert E. Lee in western Virginia. He now threw himself into reorganizing and reenergizing the Union troops under his command.
The Trent Affair
Britain came close to siding with the Confederacy in late 1861 over an incident at sea. Confederate diplomats James Mason and John Slidell were traveling to England on a British steamer, the Trent, on a mission to gain recognition for their government. A Union warship stopped the British ship, removed Mason and Slidell, and brought them to the US as prisoners of war. Britain threatened war over the incident unless the 2 diplomats were released.
Ulysses S. Grant
Joined up for the war after an unsuccessful civilian career. Striking south from Illinois capture Fort Henry and Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River. In early 1861 Lincoln brought Grant east to VA and made him commander of all the Union armies. Grant's approach to ending the war was simply to outlast Lee by fighting a war of attrition. Recognizing that the South's resources were dwindling, he aimed to wear down the southern armies and systematically destroy their vital lines of supplies. Grant's Amy of the Potomac suffered heavier casualties than Lee's forces in the battles of the Wilderness.
The Union navy countered with an ironclad of its own, the Monitor which fought a 5 hour duel with the southern ironclad near Hampton Roads, VA, in March 1862. Although the battle ended in a draw, the Monitor prevented the South's formidable new weapon, an ironclad ship, from seriously challenging the US naval blockade. THe Monitor-Merrimac duel was also important for another reason. The ease with which these two ironclads destroyed wooden sailing ships was to revolutionize the future of naval warfare.
Johnston attacked the larger Union force at Shiloh Church on April 6. The scattered woods and rough terrain around Shiloh turned the battle into a series of brutal fights among desperate groups of scattered men with little coordinated leadership, Johnston, killing leading an attack, was replaced by Beauregard, who succeeded in pushing the Union men back 2 miles. The Confederates' dominance proved short-lived, however, for 25000 Northern reinforcements arrived overnight. The carnage at Shiloh exceeded anything anyone had ever seen. Exacted a horrible toll.
Grants drive down the Mississippi was complemented in April 1862 by the capture of New Orleans by the Union navy under David Farragut.
"Twenty negro law"
The Confederate Congress in the fall of 1862 passed a law exempting one white man for every twenty slaves on the plantation. it was enacted partly because of the long standing fear of slave revolt and prevented slaves from running away. Additionally, it was believed that women were incapable of running a plantation due to their femininity and higher Christian values. in other words it was believed that women would be to soft on the slaves. It was a so-called Overseer Exemption, or the Twenty Negro Law. This measure was exceedingly unpopular among the non-slave holders in the South. There was a lot of protest and alienation and disaffection with the south against this law
The Union called the black people who made their way to the Union ranks "contrabands," a word usually used to describe smuggled goods.
Democrats sympathetic to the south. They wanted slavery to remain in place so that the south would come back to the nation.
By July 1862 Lincoln had already decided to use his powers as commander in chief of the armed forces to free all slaves in the states then at war with the US. He would justify his policy by calling it a military necessity. Lincoln delayed announcement of the policy however until he could win the support of conservative northerns. At the same time, he encouraged the border states to come up with plans for emancipating slaves with compensation to owners.
Lee led his army across the Potomac into enemy territory in Maryland. In doing so he hoped that a major Confederate victory in the North would convince Britain to give official recognition and support to the COnfederacy. By this time Lincoln had restored McClellan to command of the Union army. McClellan had the advantage of knowing Lee's battle plan, because a copy of it had been dropped accidentally by a COnfederate officer. The Union army intercepted the invading Confederates at Antietam Creek in the Maryland town of Sharpsburg. Here the bloodiest single day of combat in the entire war took place, a day in which over 22000 men were either killed or wounded. Antietam in the long run proved to be a decisive battle because it stopped the COnfederates from getting what they urgently needed.
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