Civil War Campaign Summaries
Fort Sumter, located on an island in Charleston Harbor, with its 90-man garrison commanded by Maj. Robert Anderson, was besieged by the Confederates late in December 1860. Anticipating a Union attempt to reinforce the Garrison, Brig. Gen. Pierre G. T. Beauregard, commander of Confederate forces in the Charleston area, demanded the surrender of the fort on 11 April 1861. Anderson rejected the demand. On the following morning Confederate batteries ringing the harbor began a heavy 34-hour bombardment of the fort. The Federal garrison vigorously returned the fire, but the result was inevitable. Anderson surrendered on 13 April with the honors of war, and was permitted to evacuate his command by sea on the following day.
After Sumter both sides energetically raised troops and prepared for war. Northern public opinion demanded immediate action, preferably an advance against Richmond, and the Confederate moves to defend the approaches to that city assumed the appearance of an intention to attack Washington. Late in June 1861, with the terms of 3-month militiamen nearing an end, Lincoln decided to attack. By this time some 50,000 Union troops had been assembled in the Washington area under the command of Brig. Gen. Irwin A. McDowell, and a force of 18,000 Federals under Brig. Gen. Robert E. Patterson was stationed at Martinsburg for the purpose of bottling up a Confederate force in the Shenandoah Valley. Opposing the Federals were about 20,000 Confederates under Beauregard at Manassas, 30 miles southwest of Washington, and about 11,000 under Brig. Gen. Joseph E. Johnston in the Shenandoah Valley.
Lincoln's decision to attack resulted in the Bull Run Campaign which the Confederacy identified as the First Manassas Campaign. McDowell left Washington on 16 July with around 35,000 troops and moved slowly 20 miles west to Centreville, Va. learning of the movement, Johnston adroitly slipped away from Patterson and shipped 9,000 reinforcements by rail to Beauregard, who deployed his army along a stream north of Manassas known as Bull Run. McDowell attacked on 21 July 1861. The main body of attacking force crossed Bull Run at Sudley Springs and succeeded in rolling back Beauregard's left flank. But the retreating Confederates rallied on a low ridge behind a brigade led by Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Jackson, who that day earned the name "Stonewall." After two hours of fighting Beauregard staged a counterattack that drove the Federals from the field in retreat. Of the troops in the area, not more then 18,500 Federals and possibly 18,000 Confederates got into the fight. The number of casualties is difficult to determine, but a fair estimate puts the Union loss at 500 killed, 1,000 wounded, and 1,200 missing and the Confederate loss at 400 killed, 1,600 wounded, and 13 missing. The wide variety of uniforms worn by participants in the battle had caused much confusion, which led subsequently to the adoption of a gray uniform for Confederate troops and blue for the Federals.
The North was spurred to greater effort because of the defeat at Bull Run, while the South tended to relax in an atmosphere of overconfidence. Nevertheless, both sides spent the remainder of 1861 in earnestly preparing for a hard war. During this period Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan replaced McDowell as commander of the forces around Washington (the Army of the Potomac); and he became General in Chief late in 1861, when the aging Lt. Gen. Winfield Scott retired from active duty. Another important personnel change came in January 1862 when Lincoln dismissed Simon Cameron and named Edwin McM. Stanton as Secretary of War.
Except for the capture of Fort Hatteras and Clark, N.C., and of Port Royal, S.C. and a battle at Wilson's Creek, Mo., in August, there were no significant military actions during the latter half of 1861.
The first important operation in 1862 took place in the Western Theater, where Federal forces were divided into two commands: one under Brig. Gen. Carlos Buell at Louisville, the other under Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck at St. Louis. Facing Buell and Halleck was Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston with 43,000 Confederate troops, occupying a line of forts and camps that extended from Cumberland Gap in Virginia, through Bowling Green, Ky., to New Madrid and Island No. 10 on the Mississippi. To protect a lateral railroad, vital to their communications, the Confederates has built Fort Henry on the Tennessee River and Fort Donelson on the on the Cumberland. The two forts were on the northern border of Tennessee and only 10 miles apart.
In February 1862 Halleck effected a strategic penetration of the center of Johnston's line by the Henry and Donelson Campaign (6-16 February 1862). Federal troops under Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant moved on boats up the Tennessee River to a point near Fort Henry, landed, and marched overland to seize the fort. Brig. Gen. Lloyd Tilghman sent most of his garrison to Fort Donelson, and on 6 February surrendered to Flag Officer Andrew H. Foote, whose river flotilla had subjected the fort to a gunboat bombardment. Grant at once turned against Fort Donelson, which he invested on 12 February with a reinforced command of more than 25,000 men. Meanwhile the fall of Fort Henry had rendered the Confederate position at Bowling Green untenable, Johnston had therefore sent 12,000 men to reinforce Fort Donelson, and retired toward Nashville with about 14,000 men. Fort Donelson was a strong position, and gunboats attempting a bombardment were roughly handled. Grant prepared to lay siege, but when a Confederate sortie failed he made an attack. This resulted in the surrender of the fort and 11,500 Confederate troops by Brig. Gen. Simon B. Buckner on 16 February 1862. A number of Confederate units were able to escape shortly before the capitulation. Union losses at Donelson were 500 kited, 2,108 wounded, and 224 missing. Confederate losses, aside from prisoners were about 2,000 killed and wounded.
The beginning of the Henry and Donelson Campaign also marked the beginning of the longer Mississippi River Campaign which included several campaigns and engagements, and ended with the fall of Vicksburg and the surrender of Port Hudson in July 1863. After the Henry and Donelson success, Lincoln unified command of the four western armies under Halleck. The new command, with a total strength of more than 100,000 men, consisted of Brig. Gen. Samuel Curtis' Army of the Southwest in Missouri and Arkansas, Grant's Army of the Tennessee, Buell's Army of the Ohio, and Maj. Gen. John Pope's Army of the Mississippi.
The Army of the Potomac began sailing from Alexandria to Fort Monroe on 17 March 1862. This marked the beginning of the Peninsula Campaign in which perhaps as many as 155,000 Federals and 95,500 Confederates eventually became involved, although not that many were present at any one time.
McClellan began advancing from Fort Monroe early in April, but stopped for a month to besiege a much inferior Confederate force under Maj. Gen. John B. Magruder at Yorktown. During the siege Johnston had time to join Magruder with his entire force. McClellan planned a major assault on 5 May, but on 3 May Johnston began withdrawing up the peninsula. McClellan pursued, and the Confederate rear guard under Maj. Gen. James Longstreet fought a successful delaying action at Williamsburg on 5 May which developed into a major engagement, resulting in 1,866 Federal and 1,570 Confederate casualties. McClellan continued his pursuit in leisurely fashion, established his main base at White House, and toward the end of the month pushed two corps southwest across the Chickahominy River toward Richmond. His remaining three corps stayed north of the river. McClellan expected help from the force under McDowell which had metafile moved to Fredericksburg, but Jackson's valley campaign drained away half of McDowell's troops, and McClellan received only two divisions of reinforcements from this source during the campaign.
A heavy rain on 30 May flooded the Chickahominy, washing out bridges and rendering the stream unfordable. Recognizing this as an opportunity to defeat the Union force in detail, Johnston attacked the isolated Federals south of the stream near Fair Oaks on 31 May 1862. The Federals, after suffering initial reverses, were finally able to repel the attack. Each side committed some 41,000 men during the two-day engagement, the Federals losing 790 killed and 4,384 wounded, the Confederates 980 killed and 5,729 wounded.
Johnston was wounded at Fair Oaks and was replaced by Gen. Robert E. Lee. Jackson now moved quickly and with complete secrecy to Richmond, while Lee pulled back closer to Richmond and built fortifications. Late in June Lee struck hard on McClellan's right (north) flank and succeeded in cutting the Federal line of communications to the main base at White House. McClellan therefore shifted his base to Harrison's Landing on the south side of the peninsula, fighting all the way, and on 1 July was finally able to mass his forces, establish a strong defensive position, and repel Lee's attacks. It was a hard fought, complex operation known as the Seven Days' Battles and included major engagements in Mechanicsville. (26 June), Gaines' Mill or First Cold Harbor (27 June), Savage Station (29 June), Frayser's Farm or Glendale (30 June), and Malvern Hill (1 July). On 3 July Lee broke contact and returned his troops to the lines at Richmond. There was no more fighting. Casualties had been heavy on the peninsula. Federal losses in killed, wounded, and missing totaled 15,849; Confederate losses were 20,614.
In June 1862, during the Peninsula Campaign, Lincoln consolidated the Union forces in the Shenandoah Valley and other parts of western Virginia-some 45,000 men-as the Army of Virginia, assigning the commend to Pope. After Jackson moved to Richmond, Pope was given the mission of marching down the Shenandoah Valley and then east against Richmond to relieve McClellan. On 11 July 1862, Lincoln appointed Halleck as General in Chief. By that time Pope's army was in western Virginia, and McClellan's Army of the Potomac, 100,000 strong, was at Harrison's Landing, with Lee in between. Neither Halleck nor Lincoln liked the disposition of the forces, and on 3 August McClellan was ordered to Join Pope by way of Aquia Creek on the Potomac, a move that got under way about two seeks later.
Halleck's next move was against A.S. Johnston at Corinth. Buell moved to Savannah (Tenn.) on the Tennessee River, and Grant moved to Pittsburg Landing nine miles below Savannah. Johnston promptly advanced against Grant's force with some 40,000 men, and achieved surprise in an attack launched early on 6 April 1862 in the vicinity of Shiloh Church. Johnston was killed, and Beauregard assumed command during the first day's fighting, which went well for the Confederates. On the second day, with help from Buell, Grant counterattacked and regained lost ground, upon which the Confederates withdrew to Corinth. There was no pursuit. At Shiloh, of nearly 63,000 Federals engaged, 1,754 were killed, 8,408 wounded, and 2,885 were missing. Confederate losses were 1,723 killed, 8,012 wounded, and 959 missing.
Pope's Army of the Mississippi, in cooperation with Foote's river flotilla, took Island No. 10 and New Madrid, Mo., on 7 April 1862. Pope's force then joined the rest at Pittsburg Landing, where Halleck was massing his forces. Shortly thereafter Halleck began a slow careful advance on Corinth. When he arrived there on 30 May he found that Beauregard had left. Meanwhile Capt. David G. Farragut, with 8 steam sloops and 15 gunboats, had sailed up the Mississippi from the Gulf on 24 April, and after running a gantlet of fire had arrived three days later at New Orleans, from which Confederate troops had been withdrawn. On 1 May 1862 Union troops under Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler arrived and occupied the city.
For the remainder of 1862 little was accomplished by either side in the Western Theater. On 3-4 October a Confederate force under Brig. Gen. Earl Van Dorn attempted to drive a Union force under Brig. Gen. William S. Rosecrans out of Corinth, but retired after suffering heavy losses. At Perryville, Ky., another bloody encounter occurred on 8 October, when Buell's force pushed back a Confederate drive to the north led by Gen. Braxton Bragg.
Recognizing the threat to Richmond, Confederate authorities staged a bold diversion that resulted in the Valley Campaign. While Johnston hurried his army to the peninsula to stop McClellan, Jackson with about 10,000 Confederates became active in the Shenandoah Valley. On 23 March he attacked a Federal division at Kernstown and suffered defeat; but he won a strategic victory, for, by posing a threat to Harpers Ferry and Washington, he diverted forces from McClellan.
Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks' Department of the Shenandoah, which had the dual mission of protecting Washington and of bottling up and destroying Jackson, eventually had a total strength about three times that of his opponent. However, Jackson maneuvered with great skill, made two and a hair round tripe up and down the valley in about six weeks, and defeated the superior Union forces in detail. By 9 June 1862, Jackson had fought and won five battles-McDowell, Front Royal, Winchester, Cross Keys, and Port Republic.
Jackson with a force of 24,000 men marched northwest out of Richmond on 13 July to strike advance elements of Pope's army. He met and defeated the Federal II Corps, Banks commanding, at Cedar Mountain on 9 August, but did not pursue because Pope's main body was nearby. Lee followed Jackson out of Richmond with the remainder of the Army of Northern Virginia, intending to outflank and cut off Pope before he and McClellan could join forces.
Lee conducted a series of feints and maneuvers which caused Pope to withdraw to the northern bank of the Rappahannock. 0n 25 August Lee sent Jackson, followed the next day by Longstreet's divisions, on a wide turning movement around the Federal right flank. Jackson came in behind Pope on 26 August at Manassas, where he destroyed Federal military stores. Pope immediately moved northeast and clashed with Jackson at Groveton on 28 August. Jackson then took up a defensive position in the general vicinity of the Battle of Bull Run. On 29 August, as McClellan's troops began to arrive on the scene, Pope moved to crush Jackson. A two-day engagement ensued, during which Longstreet's divisions arrived and turned the tide against the Federals. Pope retired to Washington, fighting off an enveloping Confederate force at Chantilly on the way. This brought to a close the Manassas Campaign, or Second Bull Run. For the Confederates it was the second Manassas Campaign. During the period 48,527 Confederates had engaged 75,696 Federals; the Confederates had lost 1,481 killed, 7,627 wounded, and 89 missing; and the Federals 1,724 killed, 8,372 wounded, and 5,958 missing. Following the campaign Halleck dissolved the Army of Virginia and gave McClellan the command of all forces around the capital. Pope was sent to a command in Minnesota.
Lee followed his victory with an immediate attempt to invade the North. By 4 September he had reached Frederick, Md., with about 55,000 men. Lee then detached Jackson's column to guard against interference from a Union garrison at Harper's Ferry, and moved with the remainder of his command across the Blue Ridge to Hagerstown. Meanwhile McClellan had moved north with 90,000 men, arriving at Frederick on 12 September. Learning of Lee's plans he set off in pursuit, hoping to defeat the Confederate forces in detail as they passed through mountain gaps. However, Lee was able to concentrate his troops (including Jackson's forces, which arrived late during the ensuing battle) at Sharpsburg on Antietam Creek. McClellan attacked repeatedly on 17 September, but was unable to break the Confederate line. Of 75,316 Federals engaged, 2,108 were killed, 9,549 wounded, and 753 missing; of the 51,844 Confederates engaged, 2,700 were killed, 9,024 wounded, and about 2,000 missing. The next day Lee began an unmolested withdrawal to Virginia.
Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside, now commanding the Army of the Potomac, decided to make a drive across the Rappahannock at Fredericksburg toward Richmond to get between Lee and Richmond. Success depended on speed. Burnside tried to seize high ground southwest of Fredericksburg before Lee could get there. The campaign was doomed from the start because of the failure to coordinate the time of arrival of ponton trains at the Rappahannock with the arrival of the troops. Union forces leading the drive reached Falmouth, opposite Fredericksburg, on 17 November, but it was 25 November before the ponton trains came up. By the time that Burnside was ready to attack, Lee had 78,500 Confederates dug in and waiting on the high ground that had been the Federal's first objective. Burnside nevertheless attacked across the river on 11-12 December, and on the 13th staged a series of massive assaults on the Confederate positions. The Federals were repulsed with heavy casualties. Burnside was dissuaded by his corps commanders from renewing the attack, and his troops were withdrawn across the river on the night of 15-16 December. Lee did not follow. Of nearly 114,000 Federals engaged at Fredericksburg, 1,284 were killed, 9,600 wounded, and 1,769 missing; of some 72,500 Confederates engaged, 595 were killed, 4,061 wounded, and 653 missing.
In November, Bragg moved north again with a force of 35,000 men, this time to Murfreesboro, Tenn. (Stone's River). Rosecrans advanced to meet him with about 44,800 Federals, and the forces clashed at Stone's River on the last day of the year. Rosecrans was forced to break off the engagement on the second day of fighting and fall back to Tullahoma, having suffered losses of 1,677 killed, 7,543 wounded, and 3,686 missing. The Confederates lost 1,294 killed, 7,945 wounded, and about 2,500 missing.
In the East, during this period, Federal operations were directed by Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker, who replaced Burnside as commander of the Army of the Potomac on 25 January. Hooker effected some reorganization and by late April was ready to assume the offensive with about 134,000 men. Hooker's objective was to destroy Lee's army, about 60,000 strong, which was still holding Fredericksburg. To accomplish this he planned a double envelopment which could place strong Union forces on each of Lee's flanks. The Chancellorsville Campaign began, as planned, with the movement of five corps under Hooker up the Rappahannock and across the river to Chancellorsville, while two corps under Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick crossed below Fredericksburg. Meanwhile Union cavalry made a diversionary raid in Lee's rear. Lee quickly became aware of Hooker 's intentions, and on 1 May boldly launched an attack toward Chancellorsville, leaving on a small force to defend Fredericksburg. In a brilliant display of generalship, Lee outflanked Hooker's force and kept it on the defensive. He also repulsed Sedgwick, who had taken Fredericksburg on 3 May and had advanced west, only to be driven northward across the Rappahannock on 5 May. Lee then turned his full attention to Chancellorsville, but Hooker withdrew his forces across the Rappahannock on 6 May before the Confederates could launch an assault. Federal casualties were 1,575 killed, 9,594 wounded, and 5,676 missing; Confederate casualties were 1,665 killed, 9,081 wounded, and 2,018 missing. Among the Confederate losses was Stonewall Jackson, who was mortally wounded on 2 May.
Encouraged by the victory at Chancellorsville, Confederate authorities decided to attempt another invasion of the North. In early June Lee began moving his units up the Shenandoah and Cumberland Valleys into Pennsylvania, where he was forced by the exigencies of scanty supply to disperse his army over a broad area. Hooker had become aware of Lee's intentions by mid-June, and had promptly started north with his army, crossing the Potomac near Leesburg on 25-26 June. When Lee learned of this he ordered his army to concentrate at once between Cashtown and Gettysburg.
As the Army of the Potomac moved north, Hooker became embroiled in an argument with Halleck, and was replaced by Maj. Gen. George G. Meade on 28 June. Two days later, fringe elements of Lee's and Meade's armies clashed at Gettysburg. As a result both armies, still widely dispersed, began to converge on the little Pennsylvania town.
At the beginning of the Gettysburg Campaign, the Army of the Potomac numbered 110,256 men, with 362 guns. The Army of Northern Virginia, late in May, had a strength of 76,224 men and 272 guns. The numbers committed to action at Gettysburg probably did not exceed 90,000 Federals and 75,000 Confederates. Serious fighting began on 1 July as Federal troops poured into the Gettysburg area, and continued throughout 2 July without a decision. On the afternoon of 3 July, Lee made a massive frontal assault with 15,000 men under Maj. Gen. George E. Pickett, against a mile-long section of Meade's position. Artillery and rifle fire from prepared positions broke up the brave but suicidal charge before it reached the Union lines, except in one place where the breach was quickly closed. The survivors of Pickett's shattered command retired, and the fighting was over except for an ill-advised Union cavalry charge which the Confederates easily repelled.
As in 1862, major operations began in the Western Theater. The principal objective there was to gain control of the Mississippi. To do that it was necessary to reduce Vicksburg and Port Hudson. Futile attempts were made to take Vicksburg in 1862 and early in 1863, and several plans were made and discarded before Grant was given full responsibility for the mission. Grant started the campaign with 45,000 men organized into three corps. Late in the campaign he received two more corps, bringing his total strength to 75,000.
Grant's bold plan for the conduct of the Vicksburg Campaign was carried out to perfection. While a corps under Maj. Gem. William T. Sherman demonstrated north or Vicksburg late in March, the other two corps, under Maj. Gens. John A. McClernand and James B. McPherson, made a wide swing southward on the west side of the Mississippi and then back to the river at Bruinsburg, about 30 miles below Vicksburg. Sherman's corps followed the same route, Joining Grant early in May. Meanwhile, on the night of 16-17 April, Flag Officer David D. Porter sailed his river fleet down the river, survived a heavy bombardment as he passed Vicksburg, and, beginning on 30 April, ferried Grant's troops across the river.
Vicksburg was defended by some 30,000 Confederates under Lt. Gen. John G. Pemberton. Other Confederate forces under J. E. Johnston were concentrated in the vicinity of Jackson, Miss., 40 miles east of Vicksburg. Grant's plan was to interpose his army between Pemberton and Johnston and then to fend off Johnston while taking Vicksburg. Therefore he fought his way northeastward, took Raymond on 12 May, and drove Confederate forces out of Jackson on 14 May. Then, while Sherman's corps contained Johnston, Grant advanced on Vicksburg, winning engagements at Champion's Hill (16 May) and Black River Bridge (17 May), and drove Pemberton's forces into the city. Assaults on 18 and 22 May failed to breach Vicksburg 's defenses. The Federals thereupon settled down to a siege, which ended with Pemberton's surrender on 4 July 1863. Pemberton's 29,396 officers and enlisted men were granted parole under the terms of the surrender. Federal losses during the campaign were about 3,500; Confederate losses were more than 8,000 killed, wounded, and missing.
While Grant was laying siege to Vicksburg, a 15,000-man force under Banks (who had replaced Butler) moved north from New Orleans and attacked Port Hudson, which fell on 8 July 1863. The whole Mississippi River thereby came under Union control and the Confederacy had been cut in two.
After Gettysburg and Vicksburg the center of strategic interest shifted to Tennessee, where Chattanooga, an important communications center, become the primary objective of Federal operations. Preliminary moves to take Chattanooga resulted in the Chickamauga Campaign.
The Chattanooga area was defended by Bragg 's Army of Tennessee. In mid-September Longstreet Joined Bragg with 10,000 men and 6 field artillery brigades, bringing the force to a total strength of about 62,000 men. Opposing Bragg was the Army of the Cumberland, commanded by Rosecrans and numbering about 65,000.
In July 1863 Rosecrans moved his army southeast out of Murfreesboro. His intention was to swing south of Chattanooga, in order to cut off Bragg's southern escape route, and then to attack. By 4 September Rosecrans had crossed the Tennessee River near Stevenson, Ala., and was moving northeast toward Chattanooga. Bragg, learning of his approach, promptly moved his own force out of the city, making a stand along Chickamauga Creek near Lafayette, Ga., about 15 miles south of Chattanooga. Rosecrans changed his direction of march to intercept Bragg. Moving across mountainous terrain, Rosecrans made contact sooner than expected and had difficulty in concentrating his troops. Bragg waited until 18 September, when Longstreet's force began to arrive, before launching his attack across Chickamauga Creek. The battle raged throughout 19 September without decision. On the next day a Confederate assault pierced the Union line and drove about a third of the Federals, Rosecrans among them, northward in retreat. Rosecrans conceded the victory and moved on into Chattanooga, but the remaining Federals, under Maj. Gen. George E. Thomas, stood fast under repeated attacks. Thomas retired his force from the field that night, and the next day joined Rosecrans in Chattanooga. Federal losses in the three-day battle were 1,657 killed, 9,756 wounded, and 4,757 missing. Confederate losses were 2,312 killed, 14,674 wounded, and 1,468 missing.
Bragg took up positions south and east of Chattanooga on Lookout Mountain and along Missionary Ridge. He thereby turned the tables on Rosecrans, who found himself shut up in Chattanooga and cut off from direct supply by rail. Washington authorities moved to help Rosecrans, dispatching two corps under Hooker (about 20,000 men) from the Army of the Potomac by rail at the end of September. Hooker's troops eventually attacked Confederate forces southwest of Chattanooga, thereby opening up the rail supply line to the city late in October. During that month Grant took overall charge of the operation in his capacity as newly appointed commander of the Military Division of the Mississippi. Sherman took over Grant's Army of the Tennessee and Thomas replaced Rosecrans in Chattanooga.
Early in November Bragg sent Longstreet's force after Burnside in eastern Tennessee. This reduced the Confederate force besieging Chattanooga to little more than 40,000 men. At about the same time Sherman arrived in Chattanooga, bringing Grant's strength there to about 60,000 men. Grant took the offensive in the latter part of November. Hooker's force took Lookout Mountain on 24 November, and Thomas' and Sherman's troops took Missionary Ridge the next day. Bragg was forced to retreat south, one of his divisions skillfully halting Grant 'e attempted pursuit. During the period 23-25 November 1863, Federal losses were 753 killed, 4,722 wounded, and 349 Biasing; Confederate losses were 361 killed, 2,160 wounded, and 4,165 missing.
Shortly after Bragg's defeat Longstreet returned to Virginia, and practically all of Tennessee was cleared for the Union. With Chattanooga available as a base of operations, the way was open for an invasion of the lower South. There was a lull in major operations until the spring of 1864.
At the beginning of the campaign, the Army of the Potomac under Meade consisted of three infantry corps of about 25,000 men each and a cavalry corps. Burnside's corps of 20,000 men, which Grant kept directly under his command for a time before assigning it to Meade, brought the striking force to a total strength of more than 100,000 effectives. Butler's Army of the Jams on the peninsula numbered about 25,000. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, about 70,000 strong, was organized into three infantry corps under Generals Longstreet, Ewell, and Hill, and a cavalry corps under Maj. Gen. J. E. B. Stuart. At the beginning of May 1864 Meade's forces were located generally north of the Rapidan River east of Culpeper, and Lee's were in the wilderness area west and south of Chancellorsville.
Meade's forces (including Burnside's corps) moved south across the Rapidan on 4 May 1864 in an attempt to slip past Lee's right (east) flank and then envelop his army. As the Federals halted briefly near Chancellorsville, Lee struck hard at Meade's right (west) flank. Grant and Meade swung the troops into line and fought back. The battle raged during 5 and 6 May without decisive result, but Grant was worsted in that his initial attempt to envelop Lee had been foiled. Of 101,895 Federals engaged, 2,246 were killed, 12,037 wounded, and 3,383 were missing. Losses of the 61,025 Confederates engaged are estimated at about 7,750 killed and wounded.
In the Western Theater during 1864 the principal operation was the Atlanta Campaign followed by Sherman's "March to the Sea." Sherman moved south out of Chattanooga on 4 May 1864 at the head of three armies and four divisions of cavalry, a total of about 105,000 men. Opposing him was Johnston with two corps of the Army of Tennessee, Lt. Gen. Leonidas Polk's Army of Mississippi, and Maj. Gen. Joseph W. Wheeler's cavalry, a total of about 65,000 men. Johnston adopted defensive tactics, fighting delaying actions and constantly forcing Sherman to halt, deploy, and maneuver. In 74 days Sherman was able to advance only 100 miles toward Atlanta. On 27 June Sherman attempted a direct assault against prepared positions at Kenesaw Mountain, but was repulsed, suffering 2,000 casualties to only 270 for the Confederates. He then returned to a war of maneuver, forcing Johnston back to positions in front of Atlanta. President Davis, dissatisfied with Johnston' delaying tactics, now replaced him with Maj. Gen. John B. Hood, a more impetuous commander. On 20 July, and again on 22 July, Hood led attacks outside his fortifications, but was beaten back both times with heavy losses. Having dissipated his striking power, Hood gave up on the last day of August, moving his force out of Atlanta on a roundabout route to northwest Alabama. Sherman marched his army into Atlanta unopposed on 1-2 September 1864. During the four-month campaign the losses in killed and wounded had been more than 26,000 for the Federals and 23,000 for the Confederates.
Sherman sent 30,000 men to General Thomas at Nashville on the chance that Hood would attempt to invade Tennessee. He then proposed to take four corps of about 62,000 men and march to the coast, laying waste all Confederate resources in his path. Lincoln and Grant hesitantly agreed to the plan. On 12 November 1864 Sherman marched out of the ruins of Atlanta, cut a 60-mile wide path of destruction through the heart of the South, and on 10 December arrived before Savannah, which yielded to the Federals eleven days later. Late in January 1865, Sherman's force began moving north to join the Army of the Potomac. It easily brushed aside what opposition Johnston could offer. When the war ended it was approaching Raleigh, N.C.
Grant persisted in his attempt to get around Leeds flank. On 7 May he moved south toward Spotsylvania, but Lee got there first and quickly built fortifications. The Army of the Potomac and Burnside's carps struck repeatedly at these positions at Spotsylvania but were repulsed with heavy losses. On 20 May Grant sideslipped south in another effort to envelop his opponent. Lee skillfully avoided the trap and retired to the North Anna River, There he established a defensive position that Grant considered too strong to attack. In the two major attacks at Spotsylvania (10 and 12 May), during which about 66,00 Federals were committed, Federal losses were 10,119 killed and wounded and about 800 missing. No accurate report exists on the number of Confederates engaged or their losses, but estimated place the losses between 9,000 and 10,000 including about 4,000 taken prisoner.
Early in May, Stuart's cavalry had effectively harassed and slowed Grant's movements. In order to reduce this threat Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan took off toward Richmond in mid-May on a 16-day raid that drew Stuart after him. Sheridan fought several running engagements, culminating in a victory at Yellow Tavern (where Stuart was killed) which ended forever the offensive power of Lee's cavalry.
Meanwhile Butler had marched the Army of the James up the peninsula, but had been outmaneuvered and bottled up at Bermuda Hundred by Beauregard. Therefore, Lee was able to fall back to the Richmond defenses, where he placed his right flank on the Chickahominy and his center at Cold Harbor. Grant's forces took position along six to eight miles of front facing the entrenched Confederates. On 3 June Grant launched a heavy assault at Cold Harbor. The Federals were repulsed with a loss of some 12,000 killed and wounded.
Up to and including Cold Harbor, Grant's 1864 eastern campaign had resulted in some 25,000 to 30,000 casualties for the South and from 55,000 to 60,000 for the North. Grant had not yet achieved a single major objective in the East. But he had dealt a nearly fatal blow to the South, which was running out of men; whereas the North, though suffering even greater losses, could still draw upon a large reservoir of manpower.
Since Lee was firmly entrenched in Richmond, Grant decided to starve him into the open by taking Petersburg, through which ran all the railways and main roads connecting Richmond with the south. In a move that took Lee by surprise, Grant suddenly crossed the James River below Richmond with about 64,000 Federals on 14 June. The next day his leading elements reached Petersburg. The city was lightly held, but the Federals unaccountably delayed their attack and Lee was able to move into Petersburg in force. A Federal assault on 18 June failed to pierce the Confederate defenses and cost Grant 8,150 casualties. At the end of July a great mine tunneled under the Confederate works was exploded. However, the succeeding infantry assault at "The Crater" failed to exploit the huge breach in the line and Grant suffered another 4,000 casualties. Grant thereupon undertook siege operations which lasted until April 1865.
After Lee had firmly established his position at Petersburg, he sent Maj. Gen. Jubal A. Early with one corps on a raiding expedition up the Shenandoah Valley to ease pressure that had been exerted from that direction. Early, skillfully eluding Federal opposition, made a rapid drive north and then east that carried him to the northern outskirts of Washington on 11 July. Here he skirmished briskly in the vicinity of Fort Stevens. On that same day a body of troops hastily dispatched by Grant arrived on the scene, and Early discreetly made off. In order to remedy defects in the command structure that in Grant's opinion had permitted Early to elude superior forces, Grant formed one command (where there had been four) embracing Washington, western Maryland, and the Shenandoah, and put Sheridan in command with orders to destroy Early. Sheridan spent the next four months in the Shenandoah Campaign, defeating Early at Winchester and Fisher's Hill in September and finally chattering his forces at Cedar Creek on 19 October. Sheridan then devastated the Shenandoah Vn11ey, in order to stop raids and to destroy sources of food for Lee's army.
The force of 30,000 men which Sherman had dispatched to Nashville in November (two infantry corps under Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield) was attacked on 30 November at Franklin, Tenn., by Hood's force of 30,000 Confederates, who had invaded Tennessee as anticipated by Sherman. Schofield beat off Hood in a short, furious engagement. Federal losses were 189 killed, 1,033 wounded, and 1,104 missing; Confederate losses were 1,750 killed, 3,800 wounded, and 702 missing.
The next day Schofield moved on to Nashville, where his arrival brought the Federal force under Thomas to a total strength of about 50,000. Thomas made slow careful preparations for his Nashville Campaign. Finally, in a two-day battle beginning 15 December, Thomas struck hard and drove Hood's forces from the field in complete disorder, inflicting heavy losses and taking 4,462 prisoners. Thomas lost 387 killed and 2,949 wounded. There is no report on Hood 's losses, but his command had been shattered and was never again an offensive threat.
The beginning of 1865 found Confederate resistance practically at an end at Petersburg and Richmond, where Lee' Army of Northern Virginia grimly held its position. Late in March Grant began a mayor effort to destroy this last island of resistance, Federal troops immediately under Grant in the Richmond area numbered 101,000 infantry, 14,700 cavalry, and 9,000 artillery. Lee had 46,000 infantry, 6,000 cavalry, and 5,000 artillery. Except for a holding force at Richmond, most of Lee's troops were manning the long line of fortifications that extended north and south of Petersburg.
At Petersburg on 29 March, Grant began an encircling movement with part of his force around Lee's right (south) flank, while his main body of troops moved to strike directly at that flank. The movement was halted by Confederate forces under Generals Pickett and Ewell in battles around White Oak Road (31 March) and at Five Forks (1 April); but on 2 April Grant mounted an assault on Lee's right that broke the Confederate line. As the Confederates withdrew toward Petersburg, Lee pulled Longstreet's corps away from Richmond to help hold the line.
The action on 2 April ended the Petersburg consign, which had begun in June of 1864, and 3 April marked the beginning of the Appomattox Campaign. Forced to abandon the fortifications, Lee struck out with his army on 3 April and hastened west along the Appomattox River, hoping to break loose and eventually join forces with Johnston to the south. But Grant pursued relentlessly, and a four-day running right ensued during which Lee's army began to disintegrate. Finally a Union force under Sheridan raced ahead and took a position squarely athwart Lee's line of retreat at Appomattox Court House. This ended the fight. On 9 April 1865 Lee met Grant in Appomattox and surrendered. Confederate losses in killed and wounded from 29 March through 7 April are estimated at well over 6,000; other thousands, individually or by unit, escaped capture or deserted, and 26,765 were surrendered by Lee on 9 April. Federal losses during the same period were 1,316 killed, 7,750 wounded, and 1,714 missing.
On 26 April 1865 Johnston surrendered to Sherman near Raleigh, and by the end of May other Confederate forces had given up the struggle.