Early Years of the War” Focus Question: How did each side in the war try to gain an advantage over the other



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Early Years of the War”

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Focus Question: How did each side in the war try to gain an advantage over the other/
*After the defeat at Bull Run, northerners realized a long and difficult struggle was ahead.
New Technology in the War

*New weapons made the Civil War more deadly.

Then: Generals charge enemy to overwhelm them.

Now (Civil War): New rifles and cannons were far more accurate and had a greater range than the old muskets and artillery. They could be loaded faster. Charging the enemy was no longer necessary.

*Civil War generals were slow to recognize how the changes in technology should change their tactics. Thousands of soldiers died by following orders to cross open fields against the new deadlier weapons.

*Both sides used ironclads. These were warships covered with protective iron plates. Cannon fire bounced harmlessly off this armor.

*Most famous ironclad battle: Union’s Monitor vs. Confederate’s Merrimack. They fought to a draw in March 1862. Maneuverability was a problem.

*The Confederates used ironclads against the Union’s naval blockade. Ironclad Union gunboats played an important role in the North’s efforts to gain control of the Mississippi River.
The War in the East

*After the loss at the Battle of Bull Run, Lincoln replaced General McDowell with General George McClellan. McClellan was a good organizer, but was cautious. For seven months, he trained his army but did not attack. This angered Lincoln.

*March 1862 – McClellan moved 100,000 soldiers by boat along Chesapeake Bay to a peninsula near Richmond (Confederate capital). Although Lincoln had 37,000 of McClellan’s troops guarding DC, McClellan’s remaining troops greatly outnumbered the 15,000 Confederate troops blocking the way. McClellan stopped his advance and asked for more troops.

*While McClellan waited for nearly a month, the Confederates had time to reinforce their small army. The Confederates stopped McClellan’s advance near Richmond. McClellan retreated.

*Since Richmond was no longer threatened, Lee decided to invade the North. He hoped a victory on Union soil would help win support for the South in Europe and turn northern public opinion against the war.

*Sept. 1862 – a Union officer found a paper showing Lee’s battle plan. McClellan learned that the Confederate army had divided into two parts.

*Sept. 17, 1862 - McClellan’s troops attacked the larger part of Lee’s army at Antietam Creek (Union name), near Sharpsburg (Confederate name), MD. THIS WAS THE BLOODIEST DAY OF THE CIVIL WAR. The Union suffered 12,000 casualties (military term for people killed, wounded, or missing in action). Lee lost 14,000 men (almost 1/3 of his army). Although Lee retreated, McClellan did not take advantage by pursuing Lee. Neither side won a clear victory, although the Union claimed victory because Lee retreated.
The War in the West

*McClellan moved cautiously in the East, but Union armies in the West were on the attack.

Union General Ulysses S. Grant led the most successful of these armies.

*McClellan vs Grant:

~McClellan – carefully fitted uniforms, cautious

~Grant – (once poor store clerk) wore rumpled clothes, took chances

*1862 – Union seized control of most of Mississippi River.

*Feb. 1862 – Grant moved army south from KY. He captured Fort Henry on the Tennessee River and then Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River.

*Two water routes into the western Confederacy were now wide open. Grant’s army continued south along the Tennessee River toward Corinth, Mississippi, an important railroad center.

*Before Grant could advance on Corinth, MS, Confederate General Albert Johnston attacked. On April 6, 1862, he surprised Grant’s troops at the Battle of Shiloh. (see p. 522-523).

*The Battle of Shiloh was costly yet important for both sides. The South suffered nearly 11,000 casualties and the North more than 13,000. The Union forced the Confederate army to withdraw from the railroad center. Union forces also gained control of western Tennessee and part of the Mississippi River.

*Two weeks after Shiloh, a Union fleet commanded by David Farragut entered the Mississippi River from the Gulf of Mexico. On April 26, Farragut captured New Orleans, LA. By summer, the entire Mississippi River was controlled by the Union.

Review Questions
*What new techniques were used in the Civil War?
New rifles and cannons that were more accurate and had greater range than earlier ones; ironclad ships
*How did McClellan’s caution hurt the Union?
It gave the Confederates time to reinforce their troops at Richmond and force the Union army to retreat. It prevented the Union army from further hurting Lee’s troops at Sharpsburg.
*What was the result of the Battle of Shiloh?
The South lost control of western Tennessee, a railroad junction, and part of the Mississippi River.

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