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US Civil War Generals

Ask questions here about famous US Civil War generals, on both the Union and Confederate side.

3,553 Questions

What strategy did grant use against Lee?

Pure attrition.

He kept Lee pinned down at Petersburg, where he would not be able to execute any of his famous lightning thrusts, and then just waited for the Confederates to run out of manpower.

It went on for nearly ten months, and the Northern public did not feel that anything was being achieved in exchange for these shocking casualties. This would have cost Lincoln the election of '64, had it not been for some timely victories by Sheridan, Sherman and Admiral Farragut.

Did Ulysses S. Grant replace George McClellan?

McClellan was replaced by Major General Ambrose E. Burnside on November 7, 1862, shortly after the Battle of Antietam.

Why did Civil War generals use Napoleon Bonaparte's famous military strategies?

At the time Napoleonic tactics were a widespread and accepted military doctrine in many military institutions around the world and Napoleon's campaigns had widespread influence on the western world. These tactics were feverishly taught at West Point where a majority of the American generals were taught. So much so that students were required to learn French to be able to translate the reading material given to them on Napoleon. You also have to understand that for over 20 years Napoleon and his French armies dominated the other powers of Europe and defeated multinational coalitions brought up to defeat him so it would make sense they would be studied and emulated by future generations. Many military commanders in the American Civil War also idolized and emulated Napoleon and his tactics along with dreams of glory and grandeur. The basic point of Napoleonic tactics was to have masses of infantry in shoulder to shoulder ranks usually three men deep to maximize their firepower against the enemy. Unfortunately technology had far outpaced the tactics by this time. By this time most weapons used rifling which greatly increased the accuracy of artillery and muskets as well as the minie-ball which resulted in the horrendous casualties during battles. By wars end these tactics had been largely abandoned such as the Siege of Petersburg which quickly transformed into trench warfare and a lesson Europe would wait to learn in World War One.

What civil war ranks did John bell Hood make?

John Bell Hood entered Confederate service as a First Lieutenant in the cavalry in April 1861. He would hold the rank of major, colonel, brigadier general, major general, lieutenant general, and general. He would command companies, regiments, divisions, corps' and finally an army. He surrendered himself and a small detachment of troops May 31,1865 at Natchez Mississippi.

Who is the Confederate general whose surrender led to the end of the US Civil War?

General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S Grant at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9th 1865. This led directly to the end of the US Civil War. This took some time, however, for all practical purposes, Lee's surrender began the ending process.

Was general lee union or confederate?

Robert E. lee was the commander of the Confederate army

Why was the Battle of Stone's River an important battle of the US Civil War?

The US Civil War Battle of Stone's River was important in several ways. The first element of this battle to consider was the high number of casualties that were suffered on both sides. The three day battle was also noteworthy in that Confederate General Braxton Bragg had no qualms about being the aggressor and initiated a strong assault on December 31, 1862. Further more it displayed an element that is seldom given credit in historical accounts in the war, namely artillery. The account of this battle is also important in that it was a battle in the Western Theater that is so often downplayed in comparisons to battles fought in the East.

Some key elements of the battle are as follows:


1. At dawn on December 31, Confederate General William J. Hardee begins an assault against Union troops commanded by General Alexander McCook. At first Rebels push back the Federals but later their defense stiffens. Bragg would like to finish off the left flank of the widely spread Union force and sends in General Leonidas Polk to make the assault a rout;

2. At dawn on January 1, 1863, Union General Horatio Phillips Van Cleve crosses Stone's River. He must change all of his plans in that General McCook needs reinforcements from McClelve who remains under pressure.

3. Union General Rosencrans's entire battle plans are now changed as he must insure that McCleve can help McCook from being destroyed;

4. Van Cleve's forces help, however, the assault by Hardee and Polk continue to push back McCook's unit. The good news for the Union is that General Sheridan holds the Nashville Pike and the Federals rally;

5. Union generals Thomas and Crittenden and Thomas Have been brought in to stop the Confederate's advance;

6. On the far easter front of the battle, Bragg himself leads an assault on the Union's left flank;

7. Bragg's early success weakens as once again Union troops rally and now Bragg is under heavy artillery fire and cannot remain in that position; and

8. Bragg chooses to disengage and retreat to Tullahoma, Tennessee.


The battle is over and both sides claim victory in what military historians label the battle as a technical draw.


The importance of this battle significant to Washington DC, as it has claimed a victory not long after it tremendous loss at Fredericksburg in Virginia. The importance of artillery is highlighted and from a Union prospective, at that time, Bragg's attempt to recapture important territory in Tennessee has been ended.



Where was General Joshua Chamberlain born?

Joshua Chamberlain was born in Brewer, Maine September 8, 1828. See the link below for more on Chamberlain's life.

When did John Hunt Morgan die?

John Hunt Morgan died on September 4, 1864 at the age of 39. (He was a general in the confederate army.)

Who was highest rank gen killed in civil war?

General Albert Sydney Johnston was the second highest ranking officer in the Confederacy (behind the elderly Samuel Cooper and ahead of Robert E. Lee). he was killed at the battle of Shiloh.

Two goals of the anaconda plan?

1. Establish a blockade of Northern ships around the Southern State's coastline; and

2. Prevent the South from exporting cotton and receiving supplies.

The third part of General Winfield Scott's plan was to take control of the Mississippi River. This would enhance the Union's use of this major waterway by having it act as a supply route and transportation of troops vis the river instead of railways and roads. Large cargo loads would be made possible via the river.

What was the Anaconda Plan that General in Chief Winfield Scott prepared to end the Southern rebellion?

The Anaconda Plan or Scott's Great Snake is the name widely applied to an outline strategy for subduing the seceding states in the American Civil War. Proposed by General-in-Chief Winfield Scott, the plan emphasized the blockade of the Southern ports, and called for an advance down the Mississippi River to cut the South in two. The plan was sound, however, many Northerners demanded direct and fast action to end the Southern rebellion. Later major parts of the plan would be implemented.

Why did the north and south fight the civil war?

The main cause of the Civil War was States Rights. The South was afraid that Abraham Lincoln would emancipate slaves, and they believed that the US President should not be making decisions that affected the entire country and that States should have the right to make those decisions. It wasn't so much the emancipation of slaves that concerned the South, but rather the fact that if Lincoln were to free the slaves, it would be denying the states their rights.

In order to fully understand the reasoning of the South, you have to step into their shoes. Back then the US was thought of much as we think of the UN, a group of nations (or states) that were united. So if several leading nations in the UN were to tell us to do something that we thought was infringing on our rights, what would we do?

On the other side of the argument, the Northern states saw is as an uprising, or rebellion, against the US, and were determined to keep the Union together. If it meant war, so be it. Lincoln summed it up when he said, "A house divided against itself cannot stand." The North believed that if the South seceded that both nations would collapse. The economy was very dependent on both the agriculture of the South and the factories of the North. If the South had won the war, there might have been an economical collapse.

Of course there is many other reasons contributing to the friction felt between the US and CS, and there will always be debating about the cause of the war, but most agree that the reason stated above is the main, underlying issue.

The Division Over Slavery

It is, of course, the fact that slavery was an integral part of the Southern agricultural economy made it a more important "right" than other activities that the states did not want to cede to the federal government. Some historians describe the Civil War as the triumph of industry over agriculture, which when comparing the two economies is also a reasonable factor. And slavery was the biggest single attribute that differentiated the North and South. To say that the war's single biggest cause was not slavery is to overlook the contentious history of the early 19th century, in which slavery was a principal issue.

Who had the anaconda strategy?

The Union or the US side had the Anaconda Plan. It was devised by the aged General In Chief, Winfield Scott. It was a plan to blockade the Southern coast and capture ports along the Mississippi River in order to choke off Confederate supply lines from Europe as well as from the western reaches of the Confederacy.

Was Nathan Bedford Forrest good or bad?

Both. He was a human being and had numerous faults. He was also a very kind, generous person and no better soldier ever lived.

Who is Nathan Bedford Forrest?

He was a Confederate Lieutenant General who served as one of the most gifted cavalry and guerrilla commanders of the American Civil War. After the war he became involved in the newly formed Ku Klux Klan and opposed Reconstruction in his home state of Tennessee. Within a few years of taking over the KKK however, Forrest felt it had become too violent in regard to African Americans and other people involved with Reconstruction, and ordered it disbanded.

Was Lieutenant General Robert E. Lee a great general?

That's a matter of opinion. If you share his views and agree with his decisions, he was. If you disagree, he wasn't. Historians should not answer this question because it's opinionated. Of course, that's just my opinion.

Lee was excellent on the defensive. His spoiling attacks repulsed several Union offensives. He was able to fend off vastly superior forces through rapid outflanking maneuvers, confounding the enemy command. He was far less successful on the offensive. Both of his invasions of the North were turned back after crushing defeats incurring great loss of life. His experience in the Mexican War may have worked against him on the offensive, where he had been able to dislodge numerically superior forces with superior firepower. At Gettysburg, that led him to order Pickett's Charge, which ended disastrously. He did take responsibility for the debacle, and never lost the respect of his men.

Why is General George B McClellan a famous US Civil War general?

He was a popular young General who put the Army of the Potomac on a war footing. His performance in the field was disappointing, and he caused so many delays that some of Lincoln's cabinet doubted his loyalty to the cause. After failing to pursue the enemy after the Union win at Antietam, he was removed from command. In the 1864 election, he stood against Lincoln, but was defeated.

Where did general lee surrendered to general grant?

General Lee (commander of the Confederate Army) surrendered to General Grant (commander of the Union Army) at the Appomattox Court House, Virginia. This ended the Civil War.

The war itself was not ended at Appomattox. There were a few more small battles in other arenas of the war. By May of 1865 the war for all practical purposes was over.

Where is General Robert E. Lee buried?

In 1870 at the age of 63, Robert E. Lee died. The date was October 12, 1870. He suffered from a stroke and later pneumonia. He was laid to rest at the chapel of Washington & Lee University.

Who was General George B McClellan?

General George Brinton McClellan was a Union general during the US Civil War. He is most profoundly known for "winning" the battle at Antietam. He was known as a very cautious general which is what caused him to be replaced by General John Popein 1862. After Pope was replaced he later regained his title as Union general and fought in many other minor battles. He was then replaced a second time by General Ambrose Burnside for the same reason as before. He later ran against Lincoln for the presidency of 1864. He lost. He later retired from the military to become a railroad engineer. Tragically, many years later he died of heart failure on October 29, 1885

He was a Union General. But he moved so slowly that some of Lincoln's cabinet began to question his loyalty.

After Lincoln fired him, he stood against him as Democrat candidate for President. If he'd won, there are no solid or supportable facts regarding on how he would end the Southern rebellion, a policy he made while running for office.