11.28.2014  |   | Subscribe  | Contact us


Events and battles

Shiloh to Gettysburg

Bodies of Federal soldiers killed at Gettysburg

Photo gallery of the Gettysburg battlefield.

The Union and Confederacy clashed in bloody battles across Virginia and Maryland for two years. The Army of the Potomac possessed more men and material, but the Confederate army managed to win victories under excellent leadership.

The armies fought at Fort Henry and Fort Donelson on the Mississippi, the Virginia Peninsula to capture Richmond, Shiloh, Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville. By July of 1863, the Union blockade was succeeding, only one stronghold remained on the Mississippi River, and Gen. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia had invaded the North for the second time.

The Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all the slaves in the South, also took effect in January 1863. This proclamation changed the focus of the war from "preserving the Union" to "freeing the slaves."

As a result, many freed slaves joined the Union army. The noose was tightening on the Confederate States of America.

The Confederacy had survived longer than expected, and Lee realized he could not destroy the massive Army of the Potomac. The North was able to replace soldiers and cannons as fast as he drove them off, so Lee knew he must force the Union to surrender or give up the fight.

Gen. Lee marched his army into Pennsylvania, hoping to win a victory north of Washington, D.C.

By mere coincidence, he encountered elements of the Union army outside the small town of Gettysburg in southern Pennsylvania. A major battle was fought for three days, July 1-3. The Confederate army was successful the first day, driving the Federals back to a series of hills south of town.

Although Lee's army had pushed the Union forces, the Northern troops now had control of the high ground, which was an advantage to defend. On the second day, Lee attacked the flanks of the Union army, but his men were not able to take the hills. Finally, on July 3, Lee ordered Pickett's Charge. He sent 15,000 men across a mile-long open field to attack the center of the Union army.

The attack failed, and the Army of the Potomac won a significant victory at Gettysburg, repelling Lee's invasion. Lee retreated back to Virginia on July 4, 1863. Gettysburg was a turning point in the Civil War because the Confederacy was never as powerful as it was before the battle. and Lee can never again invade the North.

Back | Next

The story

1. A Nation Divided

2. Events and Battles

3. Leaders

4. Daily Life

5. Aftermath


North or South?

Match the abolitionist

What would you do?

Name that leader

Study the artifact

Be a columnist

Interactive map


SOL Civil War key word index