Monday, October 25, 2010

Grant, The Wilderness, and Cold Harbor

Lincoln knew things were going well for the Union, but he still needed a general.

Then he realized, Ulysses S. Grant.

In March of 1864, the new commanding general of the Army of the Potomac was Grant.

Grant was all about constant pressure, instead of periods of rest between battles, Grant preferred to keep on truckin'.

Unfortunately, these next meetings between the Union and Confederate soldiers would be pretty brutal.

Grant and his men crossed into Virginia into an area known as The Wilderness. And in the Wilderness is where General Lee decided to attack.

Most of this battle was close range fighting. Hand to hand combat and shots being fired set the wilderness on fire.

There were wounded soldiers trapped in the burning forest, many begged to be shot so they would not burn to death.

18,000 casualties for the Union and 10,000 for the Confederates. This was not good.

But Grant decided to press on and the Battle of Cold Harbor began.

Grant decided a frontal assault against the Confederates would be the game plan, unfortunately, this game plan was terrible.

Things were so bad that soldiers were sewing their names into their clothing so they could be identified if they died. So far, all the dead were pretty much unrecognizable.

General Lee defeated Grant and in 12 days of fighting the Union had lost 13,000 men. Cold Harbor was bad news bears, and Grant knew it.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Battle of Vicksburg

The Union victory at Gettysburg was big, it showed that the Union could and would defend its own land. Morale was getting a boost, this was a turning point for the Union, but still...Lincoln was a bit upset.

While Lincoln is frustrated in the East, Ulysses S. Grant is still cleaning up house in the West.

Ok, not like that...

Grant was in Vicksburg, Mississippi, this would prove to be a little difficult.

The easiest way in to the town was via the Mississippi River, which the Confederates had heavily guarded.

Grant decides to have his troops ferried in from Louisiana, they would attack from the west, no one expected this.

Grant and his men attacked, because all of the Confederates were concentrating on was the river, they were not prepared. They took all the people along the river to combat the attacking Union.

Because of the Confederates move, Union boats were able to attack from the once impenetrable river.

Vicksburg was cut off completely from the rest of the country, citizens made make shift homes in the hills and resorted to eating rats.

This was a pretty much hopeless situation for the Confederates, so they surrendered.

Other key Union victories in the West were at Chattanooga, the Battle of Pea Ridge, and the Battle of Glorieta Pass.

By fall of 1863, the Union had control of the Mississippi, thousands of slaves left the south and morale was at an all time low in the south. However, it wasn't over yet...

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Battle of Gettysburg

On the first day of battle, the Confederates seemed to have the upper hand in this fight.

*Stick people hands sort of look like various farm implements.

On the second day, the Confederates had a lot of the key positions on the battlefield. Every time the Union would advance, they would be pushed back.

By July 3rd, Lee was feeling pretty good about the situation. He decided that General Meade's line was weak, and an all out assault should be done in order to take out the Union.

Meade, however, sort of had a feeling that Lee would try this, so he was prepared.

The final day of battle in Gettysburg took place on July 4th. The big event of the day was known as Pickett's Charge.

Imagine a huge game of Red Rover, but with guns, cannons, and bayonets....Ok, don't imagine that, its extremely horrifying.

On July 4, at 3 in the afternoon we find the two armies on Cemetery Ridge. An artillery duel was occurring.

All of a sudden, the Union guns went silent. The Confederate General, George Pickett, believed the Union artillery had been knocked out and led his soldiers on a charge.

This, was a terrible idea.

As soon as the Confederates started charging, the Union artillery started firing.

It was sort of like shooting fish in a barrel, which does not sound the least bit fun...

Pickett had lost half of his 13,000 men he led on the charge.

Lee felt absolutely terrible at the decision he made for an all out assault. He took the blame.

Lee told his men to brace for another attack, but it never came. Meade didn't act and the Confederates slipped out of Pennsylvania and went back to Virginia.

When it was all over, the Union suffered 23,000 casualties and the Confederates 28,000.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


After Chancellorsville, Lincoln was pretty distraught, so distraught, he threw his hat.

He told Hooker to follow Lee's troops, but Hooker decided to take a page out of Ol' McClellan's book and drag his feet.

While he was wasting time, Confederate troops marched into Pennsylvania.

With Lee and the Confederates in Pennsylvania, Lincoln got rid of Hooker, next in command would be General George Meade.

Remember Cinderella? She had an evil stepmother, horrible step sisters, and animals that made her a dress. Long story short....she went to a ball, had to be back by midnight, or she'd turn into a pumpkin or something. She met the Prince, he was like "Dang girl, you got it going on". The clock was about to turn twelve, she was like "ohh no...I must flee into the night". She runs off the prince follows and she randomly loses a shoe, a glass slipper to be precise. The Prince took the slipper and decided that he would make every girl in the kingdom try on the shoe until he found who owned it, because there would never be any possibility of more than one person having the same shoe size. Anyway.....

So eventually, after some lame shenanigans performed by evil step mother and step sisters, Cinderella tries on the shoe and it fits, they live happily ever after....

So, now that I've rambled about Cinderella, you are probably wondering what is the point? How does this have anything to do with the Civil War?

Well, a pair of shoes changed Cinderella's life and the biggest battle of the Civil war occured, because of Shoes.

The Confederates knew there was a stock pile of shoes in Pennsylvania. They really needed them, so they set out to get them, hoping that when they got there they wouldn't have to deal with the ridiculousness of a Shoe Carnival store.

Luckily, it was not a Shoe Carnival, but, that was as far as their luck went, they didn't realize the entire Army of the Potomac was right behind them..and they would Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hello Hooker, Goodbye Jackson.

Alright...the Emancipation Proclamation has been passed, General Burnside lost a battle...where are we now? Luckily for you reader, I KNOW!

After the ol' Burnside mishap of taking his troops and charging them directly at the Confederate troops no less than 14 times, Lincoln was looking for a new general.

The next general in line was Joseph Hooker, he was kind of a drunk.

He met Lee's army near Chancellorsville. The plan was to outflank Lee, this didn't work. Lee sent ol' Stonewall Jackson to outflank Hooker and his men.

Even though the Union outnumbered the Confederates two to one, the Confederates won the battle, but, it cost them a lot. Lee lost 13,000 men, and.....Stonewall Jackson. He was hit by fire from his own men. Lee was at a loss.

Even though the loss of Jackson was devastating for Lee, he knew what had to be done. A move so bold, a move so daring, he would have to attack the North!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Emancipation Procolomation

The war was raging, the country was still split, and thousands were dead.

Lincoln needed something, he wanted support from abroad, he needed a feel good sentiment, he needed something great. Whatever it was, he knew it had to be BIG.

He thought and he thought...and then....

Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation!

This freed the slaves in the Confederate States, IN YOUR FACE, CONFEDERACY!!!

After this, the slaves were free...or were they?

No...not really. First, the Confederate states were not under the authority of Lincoln, their president was Jefferson Davis.

Second, we have the Boarder States, remember them? should....but, if you don't, these were the states still in the Union that had slaves. Were they free? No...

What about the areas in the South that were under Union control...were they free? No, they weren't either.

Well, I guess its the the thought that counts.

Side Note!!!!!

After this was issued many freed blacks became soldiers. There were around 180,000 black soldiers in the Union Army. One very famous regiment was the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry....they were from Massachusetts.

They fought valiantly at Fort Wagner, South Carolina.

To learn more about this regiment, watch Glory, starring Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, and the always fantastic, Morgan Freeman!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

General Ambrose Burnside...

Lincoln named Ambrose Burnside the new head guy, Burnside was known for his sweet sideburns, its even where they got their name!

General Ambrose Burnside took 110,000 men towards Richmond.

They came upon 75,000 Confederate soldiers at Fredericksburg. Lee figured the Union would cross the river above or below town, but, Burnside thought a surprise would be better.

Yes, Burnside decided to cross directly in front of the Confederates. He figured their size alone would force the Confederates to retreat.

He was wrong. Over the course of the day, Burnside had his men charge 14 times, his commanding officers begged him to stop. After it was all said and done, the Union lost 13,000 men. The North went back into its depression.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Battle of Antitem and McClellan's Lack of Action

Morale in the Union was low. Besides in the West, the Union had no victories. People were growing concerned.

Robert E. Lee knew the North was in poor spirits and realized he had a chance to really make the North look bad. He wrote a letter to Confederate President, Jefferson Davis, telling him that now was the time to invade the north, Davis agreed.

September 1862, Lee's army crossed the Potomac River into western Maryland with McClellan following. Finally, something went right for the North...

A Union soldier had found Lee's marching orders, McClellan was super excited.

McClellan informed Lincoln and Lincoln told him to destroy the Rebels.

The two armies met in Sharpsburg, Maryland. 70,000 Union soldiers and 40,000 Confederates.

Even though the Union over powered the Confederates by 30,000, McClellan delayed...again.

16 hours later, September 17, 1862, the battle began, this was the Battle of Antietam.

The Union kept charging the Confederates.

Fighting in the Civil War was harsh. Just imagine, standing in a straight line, starring at another straight line, there are cannons, everyone has guns with bayonets attached, running at each other.

This happened over and over and over again. There were dead and wounded everywhere. In all, over 23,000 casualties were recorded. Antietam was the single bloodiest day of Battle to ever occur on United States soil.

Lee lost almost a third of his army and McClellan still had 25,000 soldiers in reserve, but he didn't use them.

The next day, McClellan had the best opportunity to do what Lincoln said, destroy the Rebel Army, but of course, he didn't.

Lee and his men started a slow retreat back to Virginia. Lincoln even ordered McClellan to go go after them.

McClellan didn't move. Lincoln had enough, McClellan got the boot.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July

Happy 234th Birthday America!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

In Some Cases, Slow and Steady Does Not Win the Race....

Meanwhile, back in the East......things were pretty terrible.

They were still trying to reach Richmond, so General McClellan had an idea....

It was a good idea, but McClellan was a little slow on the uptake which often frustrated Lincoln.

Finally, McClellan and his men moved out. He had around 100,000 troops when they met up with 15,000 Confederate soldiers in Yorktown. 100,000 v. 15,000, should have been an easy win, but nope, not for McClellan.

He wanted more troops from Lincoln, Lincoln said no and told him to stop being a wuss.

Of course, McClellan ignored Lincoln and curled into the fetal position for a month until he decided to finally go to Yorktown.

The Confederates turned around and went towards Richmond, but because of McClellan's delay, the Confederates were able to gather more troops.

The Union were still traveling when, OMG! The Confederates attacked when the Union forces were on opposite sides of a river.

This was the Battle of Seven Pines, neither side won, but both sides suffered heavy losses.

Once again, McClellan waited for reinforcements and while he was waiting, Robert e. Lee knew McClellan was a "wait around Wanda", so he sent Stonewall Jackson to fight in the Shenandoah. This left Lee really short handed, but he pretty much knew McClellan wouldn't act.

Then the Confederates decided to be tricksters and let it out that they were going to attack Washington D.C. Lincoln heard this and told McClellan reinforcements to stay in D.C.

This is what the Confederates were hoping for.

Jackson returned to Lee and no reinforcements were coming to McClellan. Confederates attacked, these battles lasted for 7 days, they called it the Seven Day's Battle, they were very clever.

The Union won 4 of these battles, but still, under McClellan's orders, they retreated.

While McClellan was doing nothing, Lincoln sent another General, John Pope, to Northern Virginia.

Lincoln told McClellan to attack and trap Lee's forces. Guess what..?

He didn't do it. Then Lincoln told him to join Pope's troops in Virginia.

Lee decided to strike before the two armies combined. They met in Mananas and fought. Pope was defeated.

Ironically enough, it was pretty much the same place the Union lost their first battle a year earlier. The Union had lost the 2nd Battle of Bull Run.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

New Orleans

The Confederates did not believe the Union could capture New Orleans. There were two forts on opposite sides of the river, there was no way a ship could go unseen.

The Union ships tried to outgun the forts for six days to no avail. Then, Admiral David Farragut, had an idea. They would go past the forts under the cover of night, much like ninjas, but on boats.

On April 24, 1862 at 2:00 a.m., Farragut made his move. They were doing ok until the moon came out and turned Farragut into a werewolf....

Ok, that didn't happen, but because of the moon, the Confederates could see the ships and they opened fire.

Despite some damage, the Union made it through and arrived in New Orleans with little resistance.

Farragut went from New Orleans to Baton Rouge to Natchez Mississippi, while another Union fleet came south from Missouri to meet up. However, there was still another obstacle. this was the town of Vicksburg, Mississippi and it was high on a bluff.

This job would be left up to Ulysses S. Grant.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Grant in the West

Meanwhile, out by the Mississippi River....

There was a pretty awesome new weapon called an ironclad. The Union had them on the Mississippi River, these were armored gun boats.

These boats were virtually invincible against the Confederate cannon fire.

The man behind the action in the Mississippi River Valley was General Ulysses S. Grant, he was kicking butt and taking names.

Grant, gunboats, and 15,000 troops moved up the Tennessee River and took Fort Henry, a confederate controlled fort, like it was nothing.

Then they headed to Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River.

This battle went on for three days and the Confederate General wanted to negotiate. Grant wasn't having this, he said...

In layman's terms, he said, "Oh hells naw".

The Confederates knew they were dealing with an intense guy, so they gave up.

This was reported in newspapers and Grant was seen as a hero.

The defeat of these two forts opened up the Western Confederacy and made the Mississippi easier to get to and attack.

Grant's next stop was a town called Corinth, Mississippi, which was located on the Tennessee River where 40,000 Confederate soldiers were waiting.

On the way, Grant stopped off in Pittsburgh Landing, Tennessee to wait on 25,000 more troops.

The Confederates decided to surprise the Union instead of wait.

No, not that kind of surprise.

The Confederates took the Union off guard and pushed them back to the Tennessee River. Someone suggested to Grant that they retreat, he wasn't having it.

The extra troops Grant was waiting on finally arrived and Grant attacked. The Confederates were out numbered and retreated. This became known as the Battle of Shiloh.

Shiloh ended with the Union losing 13,000 soldiers and the Confederates losing more than 10,000. To give this a better perspective, during this two day battle, one of every four soldiers were killed our wounded.

The Union win at Shiloh made it possible for the Union to take the Mississippi River and split the Confederacy in half.

100,000 Union soldiers were gathering at Pittsburgh Landing and 24 wooden ships entered the river from the Gulf of Mexico. Why?

To Capture New Orleans....