Important Battles of the Civil War

Over the course of four years, the Union and the Confederate Armies engaged in 50 major battles, with nearly 100 other battles that proved to be decisive throughout the Civil War. Though both sides were able to claim victories, it would ultimately be the Union Army to come out victorious in 1865.

In July of 1861, the first year of the Civil War, the two armies fought in what is known as the Battle of Bull Run. Also known as the First Battle of Manassas, it was the first battle of the Civil War and demonstrated how unprepared the Union and Confederate sides were to fight. It was fought in Prince William County in Virginia, and proved to be a victory for the Confederate side

Months later, down in Tennessee, Robert E. Lee’s Confederate forces engaged in a surprise attack against Ulysses S. Grant’s Union troops in what became known as the Battle of Shiloh. The two sides fought on April 6 and 7 of 1862, and despite there being over 20,000 casualties, it was a major Union victory in the Western Theater.

Then, in September in 1862, the Union army counted another win in the Battle of Antietam, which is remembered as the single deadliest day in U.S. history. Over 20,000 casualties were counted in one day, and it was Union General McClellan who was granted the victory in his defeat of Lee’s Confederate soldiers that day. The Battle took place near Sharpsburg, Maryland.

The Civil War reached a turning point in the proper middle of the conflict with the Battle of Gettysburg, waged over three days from July 1 to July 3, 1863, in Pennsylvania. This was yet another Union victory, led by General Meade, and there were more than 40,000 casualties counted over those three days. It was a turning point due to the fact that it completed quashed Confederate General

Toward the end of 1864, General William Tecumseh Sherman would lead his military campaign, now known as Sherman’s March to the Sea. Between November and December of that year, Sherman directed his Union forces throughout Georgia, devastating both the land and the cities that were in his path. This became known as a “scorched earth” military policy, in which soldiers were directed to burn or destroy everything in their paths so that the Confederates - the troops as well as the citizens - experienced great losses in their industries, agriculture, and transportation.

Finally, the four-year war ended in April of 1865 in Virginia at the Battle of Appomattox. Understanding that the Confederate troops were being surrounded by Grant’s Union forces, General Robert E. Lee made the decision to surrender the navy to Grant. This marked the final battle of the Civil War.