What happened: On February 14, ironclads and timberclads were bombarding each other. Union Officer Foote was wounded, and the Union ships were badly damaged, so the Union army had to retreat. That wasn’t for long though, because the next day, reinforcements were coming to help General Grant’s Union army. The Confederate army was being encircled and trapped by the Union army, and the two sides fought. At the end of the day, the Union army had to retreat. The Confederate army was ordered to go back to their trenches; however, the Union army had not completely retreated. The armies fought once again when Grant organized an attack on the Confederate army. On February 16, Confederate General Buckner realized that the Confederate army was trapped again, and he asked Grant for his surrender terms, which were only that it be done completely and immediately.
Why it’s important: This was the first time the Union had won a major victory against the Confederacy, which had to give up Kentucky and the Western half of Tennessee. The Union now had control of Nashville, which became an important port for supplies. It also had control of two rivers: the Tennessee and Cumberland, along with various railroads, all of which helped bring supplies to the Union armies in the West.
Fact: General Buckner really had no choice but to agree to the surrender; there were no terms, and he couldn’t fight on
What happened: On April 6, Confederate General Johnston commanded his troops to attack Union General Grant’s troops, most of which fled from the camp. Some stayed to fight. They fought with much better artillery than the Confederates did, and that helped the Union soldiers a lot. On April 7, the Army of the Ohio came to help the Union soldiers, and they outnumbered the Confederates. The counteroffensive Grant launched severely overpowered the Confederate troops, causing them to retreat.
Why it’s important: It was the bloodiest battle of the war up to that point. After this battle, the Union forces could go into northern Mississippi, and the Confederate forces there would be too weak to stop them. There were no more chances of the South getting back Tennessee from the North.
Fact: The Sunken Road and Bloody Pond at which the battle was fought probably did not live up to their name.
What happened: Union Major General McClellan’s Army of the Potomac attacked Confederate forces stationed on Antietam Creek. There were many assaults against Confederate General Lee’s army. Confederate General Jackson fought back hard in many locations across Antietam Creek. The Union army was making progress in the center of the battlefield and managed to go through the heart of the Confederate army, but they failed to take more advantage of their stance. Union General Burnside organized a final assault, and the Confederate forces kept driving the his army back over Antietam Creek. Both sides were too weak to keep fighting each other, so the battle technically ended in a tie.
Why it’s important: This battle is considered a Union victory though because the Confederates kind of retreated in the end. President Lincoln took it as a Union victory and wrote the Emancipation Proclamation.
Fact: It’s also called the Battle of Sharpsburg because Confederate armies named the battles after nearby towns and Union armies named them after nearby natural resources.
What happened: Confederate General Lee wanted to have a victory in the North. He hoped that that would convince Lincoln to call a truce and the war would be over. He also wanted to get supplies for the Army of Northern Virginia. He used the Shenandoah Valley to cover his troops, but that did not work for long. Union General Hooker, who was then replaced by General Meade, was trying to follow him with the Union army. The Union and Confederate armies met in Gettysburg on July 1, and they started to fight. Lee succeeded in securing the West and North against the Union army, but he could not secure the South. On July 3, Lee surrendered.
Why it’s important: This would be the last time the South tried to take over the North. The hope for the South’s victory of the war was dwindling after this point, and it was a turning point in the war because of that. It was the bloodiest battle of the war, resulting in the most casualties of any battle fought. It also gave Lincoln the inspiration to write the “Gettysburg Address”.
Fact: This battle was not the biggest battle of the war, but it was the costliest in terms of lives perished.
What happened: Union General Grant wanted to lift the siege on Chattanooga, TN. Confederate forces, under General Bragg, had taken their places on Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain. They had incredibly good vantage points of the city from those places. On November 23, Union forces inside began to fight back against the Confederates at Missionary Ridge. Grant focused on attacking Lookout Mountain. He ordered Sherman to fight on the eastern ridge of the city - Tunnel Hill. At first, the fight was unsuccessful. But Union Major General Thomas was successful in taking back Missionary Ridge. The Confederate forces withdrew.
Why it’s important: The lifting of the siege of Chattanooga made the deep South available for Union invasion and future victories and battles. It also started to pave a path for Sherman to attack Atlanta in the future.
Fact: This battle was actually three separate ones, all of which were fought on separate days.
What happened: Confederate Lieutenant General Hood wanted to drive the Northerners out of Atlanta. He told Lieutenant General Hardee to have his troops attack Union General McPherson’s Army of the Tennessee. General Hardee worked with Major General Cheatham to attack McPherson from the south and west. The Confederates had initial success. However, even though McPherson died, the Union army kept fighting and eventually captured Atlanta.
Why it’s important: This battle strengthened the Union’s hope for victory in the war. It also helped in Lincoln’s reelection. In the end, the Union army burned Atlanta and began the March to the Sea.
Fact: It was a part of the Atlanta Campaign, which was a series of battles.
What happened: General Lee was running low on supplies for his army. He decided to go to the South Side Railroad at Appomattox Station to look for supplies because there was going to be food there. However, the the Union army knew they were going to be there, so General Custer ordered for them to burn three of the supply trains and ordered Lee to surrender on April 8. Lee refused and tried to go to Lynchburg for supplies instead. Confederate General Gordon attacked Union General Sheridan’s army the next morning. However, Gordon realized his army was outnumbered by the Union and Lee realized his army was trapped. Lee and Grant sent messages to each other, arranging that they would meet at the Appomattox Courthouse later that day to talk about Lee’s surrender.
Why it’s important: General Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia, which meant the war in Virginia was over. This event was the start of many surrenders of many Confederate armies, which ended the Civil War.
Fact: The conditions for Lee’s surrender were first drafted by Lt. Col. Ely Parker, a Seneca Indian.