Outcome: Union Victory. Casualties None. Following the passage of forts Jackson and St. Philip, near the mouth of the Mississippi River, on April 24, 1862, the Union occupation of New Orleans was inevitable. Union Flag-Officer David G. Farragut, with his squadron, continued up the Mississippi River and demanded the surrender of the City of New Orleans the next day. The city surrendered on April 28. On May 1, Maj. Gen. Benjamin Franklin Butler’s army began landing at New Orleans and occupying the city. New Orleans, considered an international city and the largest city in the Confederacy, had fallen.
The Union occupation of New Orleans was an event that had major international significance.
The First Battle of Bull Run
War preparations took some time, so it was not until three months after Fort Sumter that Union and Confederate troops met again at the First Battle of Bull Run in Virginia, between Washington, D.C., and Richmond. Still believing that the war was a trifling matter that would be over quickly, a number of government officials and spectators from both sides came to “observe” the battle, some even packing picnic lunches. By the end of the day, Union forces had lost and were forced to retreat. The loss shocked Northerners out of their complacency and prompted them to prepare more seriously for the struggle ahead. Meanwhile, many Southerners interpreted the victory as an indicator of an early end to the war and as decisive proof that most Northerners didn’t have the will to fight.
President Abraham Lincoln and General Ulysses S. Grant chose to step up the war in 1864 after realizing that limited campaigns against Confederate forces were having little effect. Both knew that the war had to end quickly if the Union were to be restored. Grant therefore ordered his close friend and fellow general William Tecumseh Sherman to take a small force through the heart of the Deep South. That summer, Sherman embarked on his now-famous March to the Sea, defeated Confederate troops protecting Atlanta, Georgia, and then besieged the city. When the citizens of Atlanta failed to surrender, Sherman burned the city and then marched on to Savannah. Along the way, he destroyed railroads, burned homes, razed crops, and generally looted and pillaged the entire countryside—one witness said a tornado could not have done more damage. Sherman arrived in Savannah that December and accepted the city’s surrender, then marched northward to South Carolina.