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The Leaders:
The Politicians

Jefferson Davis

Above: Jefferson Davis of the Confederacy.
Below: Abraham Lincoln of the Union.

Abraham Lincoln

Charles Terry Saxton
The American Civil War


The Civil War: Hostilities

The Road to Conflict

The Civil War: the Peace

The Hostilities: 1861 - 1865

            Neither the North nor the South were particularly eager to begin fighting once war had been declared. Nevertheless, both sides were fairly confident of a swift victory. The North: because they had a greater population, had more industry, and had better organization. The south: because they had more trained soldiers, had allies abroad, and felt that all they need do was hold out and wait for the North to lose interest. Both sides underestimate each other's resolve.

           Because the South had broken away from the Union and set up a new state which the North saw as an act of rebellion, the initiative fell on the North to act in order to restore the Union.

           The politicians and military leaders of the North argued amongst themselves over two strategies. The first was to make a concerted attack on the South's capital, Richmond in Virginia, and thus knock them out, by taking away their control centre. The second strategy was to concentrate their resources on forming a blockade around the South. This was the strategy which was followed.

           The Anaconda Plan involved using the North's superior navy to patrol the Atlantic coast and the gulf of Mexico to stop supplies coming in from abroad, and prevent the South trading with Europe. It was devised by General-In-Chief Winfield Scott, and was so named because the action resembled a snake slowly constricting its prey by wrapping around it, then squeezing in. Part of the reason it was favoured was that it was thought that it would be the least costly in terms of human lives for both sides.

           Though this plan was effective in stopping their trade with Europe and was never abandoned at any point throughout the war, the South's internal resources were too great to make it decisive. Battles were not avoided and, as the war progressed, casualties and mortalities became greater and greater.

           The war was complicated and lasted four years. It took place on three main theatres, mostly in the southern states of the Confederacy: in the north-east around Virginia, in the west around Kentucky and Tennessee, and later in the south around the Mississippi river, and Georgia.

           It is a reflection of how much the whole war was a stalemate that at the Battle of Gettysburg, generally regarded as the decisive victory for the North, casualties on each side were not much different: 23,000 from the Union Army; about 27,000 from the Confederate Army;
Casualties means dead, wounded (losing limbs) and missing.

Chronology of Events


12 April:
Fort Sumter, a skirmish which sparks the outbreak of conflict.

21 July:
Bull Run; 30,000 Union troops marching on Richmond, Virginia, were stopped and sent back by Confederates commanded by General Thomas Jackson.

           Later in the year: General George McClellan undertakes the task of recruiting and training 500,000 new recruits for the Union Army of the Potomac.


Fort Henry and Fort Donelson in Tennessee captured by Union forces led by General Ulysses Grant.

New Madrid, Missouri, captured by Union forces.

6-7 April:
Battle of Shiloh in Tennessee.

New Orleans captured from the sea by Union forces.

Corinth and Memphis, Tennessee, captured by union forces.

25 June - 1 July:
A major offensive, 100,000 strong, by Union Army to capture Richmond, Virginia, led by General McClellan; repelled by Confederate forces led by General Robert Lee and Generals Jackson and Johnson.

29-30 August:
a victory for Confederates at the Second Battle of Bull Run, driving Union army out of Virginia. General Robert Lee follows up by invading Maryland.

17 September:
Antietam, Lee's army forced to withdraw after intervention of Union troops led by General McClellan.

           General McClellan replaced by General Burnside as commander of the Army of the Potomac.

13 December:
Frederickburg, Virginia, a victory for Confederates led by General Robert Lee against Union forces led by General Burnside.


           President Lincoln replaces General Burnside with General Hooker as commander of the Union army of the Potomac.

April - May:
Chancellorsville, Virginia, General Hooker's forces defeated by Confederates led by General Robert Lee who begins an offensive into Pennsylvania in the North which leads to the Battle of Gettysburg.

1-3 July:
Battle of Gettysburg, Confederate Army defeated by Union Army led by General Meade, and forced back into Virginia.
           This battle is generally regarded by historians as the decisive battle of the American Civil War. Nevertheless, and it serves as a reflection of how much the whole war was a stalemate, casualties on both sides were not very different: 23,000 from the Union Army; about 27,000 from the Confederate Army;
casualties means dead, wounded (losing limbs) and missing.

3 July:
Battle of Vicksburg, Mississippi; victory for Union Army led by General Grant in the west brings the entire Mississippi river under their control.

19-20 September:
Chickamauga Creek, Georgia, Confederate victory.

23-25 November:
Confederates forced out of Chattanooga. Union Army captures Knoxville.


March: General Ulysees Grant appointed supreme commander of all Union forces.

battles of the Wilderness, and Cold Harbor; victories for the Union army in Virginia.

Confederates under General Lee surrounded at Petersburg, Virginia, and a siege begins, which continues for 10 months.

Union army under General Sherman takes Atlanta, Georgia

10 December:
General Sherman captures Savannah.


1-3 April:
after 10 months siege, General Grant attacks at Five Forks and captures Richmond, Virginia, the Confederate capital.

9 April:
General Robert Lee surrenders.

9 April:
General Sherman moves into North Carolina.

26 April:
General JE Johnson surrenders.

The Union have won; the Confederates have lost.

The war is over.

The Road to War

The Civil War: the Peace

Top of Page

Civil War History

The Confederate states:

      South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina.

Key West, Florida, 1861:

      Located where the gulf of Mexico meets the Atlantic ocean, Key West was of enormous strategic importance in upholding the blockade against the southern states. It was also used to train new recruits.

the blockade of the South

Mrs AH Wilcox of
Barrington Street.
Rochester, N.Y.

originally typed up the diary of
her father, Charles Terry Saxton,
and preserved it for posterity.

Trees of London        A James Wilkinson Publication ©