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Antietam photo gallery

Battle of Manassas

Why the South lost the war

The Emancipation Proclamation

Battle at First Bull Run



The Civil War Battles to End of Slavery

Cannon on a ridge that over looked the Bull Run creek
The on the morning of July 16, 1861, cheers could be heard throughout Washington D.C. as Irvin McDowell's army -- 35,000 strong - began the long-awaited march to capture Richmond in the South, and end the Civil War. Almost all of the men were 90-day volunteers who had never seen war and had no idea of the magnitude of what they were walking into.

The soldiers included men from many professions, such as barbers and farmers. All were proud northerners, ready to capture the South in the name of the union army. President Abraham Lincoln had appointed the soldiers after the startling incident at Fort Sumter in April 1861. They expected a quick and easy win in Richmond. What they got was a rude awakening, just the beginning of a horrible, gruesome war that would tear the nation apart.

Confident Soldiers Plan Strategy
The inexperienced soldiers began their journey to Richmond followed by hundreds of spectators who wanted to watch a show. As they walked closer to Manassas junction, they picked berries and filled up their water jugs. It was like they were going to the movies! Could you imagine walking out to a battle site to watch a war, just for entertainment?

The site of the battle was Manassas junction, a spot where the Alexandria railroad met the Manassas Gap railroad. That railroad led south, towards Richmond, the capital of the South and headquarters for the confederates. If McDowell and the union army could take this junction, they could have easy excess to Richmond and the War would come to a quick end.

Near Manassas junction, there was a creek called Bull Run where the northern troops and spectators stopped to eat lunch. The soldiers scouted the area to prepare for battle. During the next few days, they dug trenches and set up command post.

Nick on the wall at Fredricksburg battlefield
The Battle at Bull Run, Manassas Junction
In the early morning of July 22, 1861, near the stone bridge at Bull Run, shots rang out on both sides of the line between the North and the South. The battle at Bull Run, the first major battle of the Civil War, lasted only one day. Nine hundred men lay dead. The inexperienced soldiers fled, scared out of their minds. They had never seen anything so horrible in their lives! They realized then that what they thought was going to be quick and easy was going to be very difficult.

The next morning, the defeated union army fled back into Washington. Both sides - the unionists and the confederates - were in bad shape. Although the confederates had won the battle, they couldn't capitalize on it because they were too tired and mentally defeated by the bloody battle.

Cannon's used in the battle of Anietam
The Battle at Antietam
Bull Run was a bloody battle, but nothing compared to the battle of Antietam, which involved 87,000 union soldiers and about 40,000 confederates. The battlefield covered twelve square miles of mostly hilly terrain with trees and bushes. In the middle of the battlefield were three miles of flat ground. That's where most of the killing took place.


Well, it's been a funny last couple of days.

The bloodiest day of the entire Civil War occurred on September 17, 1862. A lot of the fighting was hand-to-hand combat. The fighting was so fierce it seemed like the soldiers had lost respect for human life. By sunset, 23,010 soldiers were dead: 12,410 union men and 10,700 confederate men.

The Bloodiest square mile in America Antieatam National Battlefield
As I walked around the Antietam battlefield, I thought of the fighting that had gone on there and throughout the Civil War. I passed a sign that stated that the square mile of land I was standing on was the bloodiest square mile in America. Thousands upon thousands of people died there. I had never been interested in the Civil War before, but when I was standing there, an overwhelming feeling came over me. I felt so sympathetic to people on both sides of the War. I still can't believe that our country was in such a horrible situation and that we survived it.

Antientam Creek. Beautiful and on the same level sad because of the amount of people who died on it's banks.
At Last - The Abolition of Slavery
During the Civil War, both black and white abolitionists never let Lincoln forget about the issue of slavery. They marched at rallies, held meetings, and sent thousands of petitions to President Lincoln. They knew his goal was to preserve the union. To do that, he needed the support of as many people as possible.

Finally, after the battles at Bull Run, Fredericksburg, and Antietam, and influence of the abolitionists' movement, Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation (see Irene's dispatch - Irene Lincoln). On January 1, 1863, Lincoln freed all slaves in states still rebelling against the union. From that point on, the Civil War had two purposes: to preserve the union AND to end slavery.


Please email me at: nick@ustrek.org


Links to Other Dispatches

Daphne - And the answer is:c) "We are ignorant of our past"
Irene - Was the Civil War really about freedom
Stephanie - I'm nine but I can still fight!
Teddy - It's never enough to just get by
Making A Difference - When our wars destroy our children