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Great Campaigns of the Civil War

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Great Campaigns of the Civil War

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Atlanta 1864

Last Chance for the Confederacy

Richard M. McMurry

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Counter-Thrust

From the Peninsula to the Antietam

Benjamin Franklin Cooling

During the summer of 1862, a Confederate resurgence threatened to turn the tide of the Civil War. When the Union’s earlier multitheater thrust into the South proved to be a strategic overreach, the Confederacy saw its chance to reverse the loss of the Upper South through counteroffensives from the Chesapeake to the Mississippi. Benjamin Franklin Cooling tells this story in Counter-Thrust, recounting in harrowing detail Robert E. Lee’s flouting of his antagonist George B. McClellan’s drive to capture the Confederate capital at Richmond and describing the Confederate hero’s long-dreamt-of offensive to reclaim central and northern Virginia before crossing the Potomac.
 
Counter-Thrust also provides a window into the Union’s internal conflict at building a successful military leadership team during this defining period. Cooling shows us Lincoln’s administration in disarray, with relations between the president and field commander McClellan strained to the breaking point. He also shows how the fortunes of war shifted abruptly in the Union’s favor, climaxing at Antietam with the bloodiest single day in American history—and in Lincoln’s decision to announce a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. Here in all its gritty detail and considerable depth is a critical moment in the unfolding of the Civil War and of American history.

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Now for the Contest

Coastal and Oceanic Naval Operations in the Civil War

William H. Roberts

Now for the Contest tells the story of the Civil War at sea in the context of three campaigns: the blockade of the southern coast, the raiding of Union commerce, and the projection of power ashore. The Civil War at sea was profoundly influenced by innovation and asymmetry—both sides embraced innovation, but differences in their resources and their strategic objectives pushed them down different paths. At its peak the Union navy boasted over fifty thousand men and nearly seven hundred ships. The Confederate navy was far smaller, never exceeding some five thousand men, and it numbered its ships in the tens rather than the hundreds. The Confederacy’s “technology strategy” and its overseas programs formed the main counterweight to the Union’s numerical force.

Now for the Contest also examines how both sides mobilized and employed their resources for a war that proved to be of unprecedented intensity and duration. For both antagonists the conduct of the naval war was complicated by rapid technological change, as steam power, metal armor, and more powerful ordnance sparked experiment and innovation both in naval construction and in tactics. The war years brought tremendous change to a service that did not always welcome it. Innovative technologies flourished in this hothouse atmosphere, however, and a rising generation of naval leaders would carry the knowledge of combat into the long peace that followed.

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Spring 1865

The Closing Campaigns of the Civil War

Perry D. Jamieson

When Gen. Robert E. Lee fled from Petersburg and Richmond, Virginia, in April 1865, many observers did not realize that the Civil War had reached its nadir. A large number of Confederates, from Jefferson Davis down to the rank-and-file, were determined to continue fighting. Though Union successes had nearly extinguished the Confederacy’s hope for an outright victory, the South still believed it could force the Union to grant a negotiated peace that would salvage some of its war aims. As evidence of the Confederacy’s determination, two major Union campaigns, along with a number of smaller engagements, were required to quell the continued organized Confederate military resistance.

 

In Spring 1865 Perry D. Jamieson juxtaposes for the first time the major campaign against Lee that ended at Appomattox and Gen. William T. Sherman’s march north through the Carolinas, which culminated in Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s surrender at Bennett Place. Jamieson also addresses the efforts required to put down armed resistance in the Deep South and the Trans-Mississippi. As both sides fought for political goals following Lee’s surrender, these campaigns had significant consequences for the political-military context that shaped the end of the war as well as Reconstruction.

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Struggle for the Heartland

The Campaigns from Fort Henry to Corinth

Stephen D. Engle

Struggle for the Heartland tells the story surrounding the military campaign that began in early 1862 with the advance to Fort Henry and culminated in late May with the capture of Corinth, Mississippi. The first significant Northern penetration into the Confederate west, this campaign saw the military coming-of-age of Ulysses S. Grant and offered a hint as to where the Federals might win the war. For the South, it dashed any hopes of avoiding a protracted conflict. Stephen D. Engle colors in the details that bring great clarity and new life to the scene of these battles as well as to the social and political context in which they occurred.

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Vicksburg Is the Key

The Struggle for the Mississippi River

William L. Shea

The struggle for control of the Mississippi River was the longest and most complex campaign of the Civil War. It was marked by an extraordinary diversity of military and naval operations, including fleet engagements, cavalry raids, amphibious landings, pitched battles, and the two longest sieges in American history. Every existing type of naval vessel, from sailing ship to armored ram, played a role, and military engineers practiced their art on a scale never before witnessed in modern warfare. Union commanders such as Grant, Sherman, Farragut, and Porter demonstrated the skills that would take them to the highest levels of command. When the immense contest finally reached its climax at Vicksburg and Port Hudson in the summer of 1863, the Confederacy suffered a blow from which it never recovered. Here was the true turning point of the Civil War.
 
This fast-paced, gripping narrative of the Civil War struggle for the Mississippi River is the first comprehensive single-volume account to appear in over a century. Vicksburg Is the Key: The Struggle for the Mississippi River tells the story of the series of campaigns the Union conducted on land and water to conquer Vicksburg and of the many efforts by the Confederates to break the siege of the fortress. William L. Shea and Terrence J. Winschel present the unfolding drama of the campaign in a clear and readable style, correct historic myths along the way, and examine the profound strategic effects of the eventual Union victory.

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