Civil WarThe Civil War lasted for four long, bloody years. More than 618,000 Americans died in the conflict, far more than the 115,000 who died in World War I or the 318,000 who died in World War II. In the opening stages of the war, Confederate armies thwarted Union hopes for a quick victory in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. Throughout 1862, however, Union forces made considerable progress in the West, capturing New Orleans, Shiloh, and Memphis. Vicksburg and Port Hudson both fell in 1863, giving the Union effective control over the Mississippi River. In the East, meanwhile, Lee's invasion of the North had been turned back and his army was crippled at Gettysburg. In the final stage of the war, 1864-1865, Grant's army pursued Lee through Virginia while William T. Sherman made a devastating march across Georgia to Savannah. Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865.
How was the Civil War in the West different from the Civil War in the East? What side enjoyed initial victories in each area? What impact did the war in the West ultimately have on the fate of the Confederacy?
What role did geographic factors play in Civil War strategy? What locations were considered vital to attack and defend? What geographic features made fighting and attacking more difficult?
What role did transport and supply play in the outcome of the Civil War? In your answer, include an analysis of the rail systems of both the Union and Confederacy, as well as an assessment of the effect of the Union blockade strategy on the Southern economy.
What was the most important campaign or battle in the Civil War? Defend your choice with reference to political, economic, and military factors that make this battle or campaign critical for the outcome of the war.
Create an annual series of letters home from a Civil War soldier or nurse. What important sights have you seen during your service? How has your view of the war shifted in the years since 1861? Why do you believe the war is worth fighting?
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