The American Civil War was a monumental time in American history that transformed the nation. After the war, more Americans lay dead than all another American wars before or since combined. The favourite (or infamous) battle from the war was Gettysburg – it had been the bloodiest battle of the world and remains a website of deep soul searching.
The war raged for years and was fought in many places of the country – including across the Mississippi River. If your are thinking about the military history of the United States, there are many battlefields and other attractions to visit.
The Great Battlefields of The Civil War Are Managed By The NPS
Gettysburg was marked by Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg address – a convention which has continued with presidents since then. But Gettysburg was not the only real major battle – it didn't even have the deadliest day of the war. Learn more about the Gettyburg address in the Lincoln Memorial in DC.
Many extremely costly battles were fought, the biggest battles were Gettysburg, Antietam, Shiloh, Chickamauga/Chattanooga, and Vicksburg – which are managed through the National Park Service today.
Between 1890 and 1899 Congress decided to go past the idea of monuments to mark the main battlefield sites. Instead, they decided to mark the main battlefields as national military parks.
The first four major military parks to become established were Chickamauga and Chattanooga authorized in 1890, Shiloh in 1894, Gettysburg in 1895, and Vicksburg in 1899. Afterwards Antietam was a fully-fledged national military park and also the fifth one, but in 1890 it was marked but not full-fledged.
- Major Battle Sites From the Civil War: Gettysburg, Antietam, Shiloh, Chickamauga/Chattanooga, and Vicksburg
- Gettysburg: The Deadliest Battle of the War (Happened Over 3 Days)
- Antietam: The Deadliest Day Of The War
Timeline from the Major Battles of The Civil War
The Battle of massive Bethel on June 10, 1861, was the first land battle of the war in Virginia and set the tone for what ended up being to come.
Battle of Shiloh:
The following year on April 6-7, 1862 the armies of the North and South clashed in the Battle of Shiloh. It had been the first major battle in Tennessee. It pitted Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston (an experienced of the Texas War of Independence and the War with Mexico) against General Ulysses S. Grant. Johnston was one among the best officers from the South, but he was killed around the first day of fighting.
This battle alone incurred more casualties than all America's previous wars combined.
- Number of Troops: Nearly 110,000 Total
- Casualties: 23,746
Battle of Antietam:
Also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg occurred months after Shiloh in Maryland on September 17, 1862. It was the bloodiest day (just 12 hours) from the war and ended General Lee's first invasion of the North.
The strategic victory emboldened Lincoln to introduce the Emancipation Proclamation, an executive order that freed every slave in the Confederate States (but not the slave states from the north like Maryland).
If visiting Antietam, visit the Dunker Church, Pry House Field Hospital, along with other sites of one of the great battles before Gettysburg.
- Casualties: 23,000 Killed, Wounded, or Missing
Siege of Vicksburg:
Led by General Ulysses S. Grant the Union forces besieged Vicksburg in Mississippi. Eventually, the city fell and the Union gained charge of the Mississippi River. It was the last major Confederate stronghold on the river. It eventually fell on July 4.
Battle of Gettysburg:
The Battle of Gettysburg was probably the most deadly engagement from the war and dashed Robert E. Lee's wants a successful invasion from the North. Find out more about it by visiting the Battle of Gettysburg Military Park.
- Date: July 1-3, 1863
The Battle of Chickamauga:
The Battle of Chickamauga in Georgia resulted in the defeat of the Union Army in September 1863. The Union Army retreated to its supply base at Chattanooga, Tennessee. Eventually, the Union forces broke the Confederate siege after the Battle for Chattanooga.
There are lots of more battles and many more memorials to those battles across the nation.
The Battle of Fredericksburg
Another big battle occurred in Virginia and resulted in the Army of the Potomac under General Ambrose Burnside being soundly defeated by the South led by General Lee. The battle on December 13, 1862, vividly depicted the tragic brutality of the war in all its forms.
Visit the battlefields at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness, and Spotsylvania and find out the way the towns were bombarded and looted, farms were destroyed, civilians were created refugees, and thousands were killed.
- Number of Troops: 85,000 Total
- Casualties: 15,000 (Killed)
Fredericksburg is also managed by the National Park Service and is one of the most informative sites from the war.