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Union victory in battles in the Western Theater were strategically important in defeating the Confederacy.
Identify the battles fought by Generals Johnston, Bragg, Hood, Sherman, Rosecrans, and Grant in the Western Theater of the Civil War.
Generals Albert Sidney Johnston, Joseph E. Johnston, Braxton Bragg, and John Bell Hood commanded Confederate troops in the Western Theater.
Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and Major Generals William T. Sherman and William Rosecrans were important Union leaders in the theater.
On April 18, 1865, Confederate troops in the Western Theater surrendered at Bennett Place, a farmhouse near Durham Station.
The next major event, Sherman's Savannah Campaign, is popularly known as the March to the Sea. He and Grant believed that the Civil War would end only if the Confederacy's strategic, economic, and psychological capacity for warfare were decisively broken.
Braxton Bragg (March 22, 1817 – September 27, 1876) was a career United States Army officer, and then a general in the Confederate States Army. He was a principal commander in the Western Theater of the American Civil War and later the military adviser to Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
William Tecumseh Sherman (February 8, 1820 – February 14, 1891) was an American soldier, businessman, educator and author. He served as a General in the Union Army during the American Civil War (1861–65). He received recognition for his outstanding command of military strategy as well as criticism for the harshness of the "scorched earth" policies that he implemented in conducting total war against the Confederate States.
Joseph Eggleston Johnston (February 3, 1807 – March 21, 1891) was a career U.S. Army officer, serving with distinction in the Mexican-American War and Seminole Wars. He was also one of the most senior general officers in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War.
The Vicksburg Campaign was a series of maneuvers and battles in the Western Theater of the American Civil War. These were specifially directed against Vicksburg, Mississippi, a fortress city that dominated the last Confederate-controlled section of the Mississippi River.
The Western Theater of the Civil War included the area east of the Mississippi River and west of the Appalachian Mountains. It initially excluded operations against the Gulf Coast and the Eastern Seaboard but as the war progressed the definition of the theater expanded to encompass operations in Georgia and the Carolinas.
General Albert Sidney Johnston commanded many Confederate forces in the Western Theater. He had the problem of defending a broad front with numerically inferior forces but he had an excellent system of lateral communications which permitted him to move troops rapidly where they were needed. He also had two able subordinates: Major Generals William J. Hardee and Leonidas Polk. The Union's key strategist and tactician in the West was Union Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. Union control of the Mississippi River began to tighten. On May 18, the Union captured New Orleans, the South's most significant seaport.
Next Part of the Theater Campaign
The next part of the campaign took place from June 1862 to January 1863 in Kentucky, Tennessee, and northern Mississippi . In June, Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg took command of 56,000 troops of the Army of Tennessee. Bragg's general plan was to invade Kentucky, cut Union lines of communications, and then turn back to defeat Grant. However, after some small successes, Bragg realized that he was outnumbered and retreated through the Cumberland Gap, returning to Murfreesboro by way of Chattanooga.
The theater's next phase was the Vicksburg Campaign . Abraham Lincoln believed that the river fortress city of Vicksburg, Mississippi, was a key to winning the war. Vicksburg and Port Hudson were the last remaining strongholds that prevented full Union control of the Mississippi River.
Map of the Vicksburg Campaign of the American Civil War
Grant's operations against Vicksburg.
Grant's first campaign was a two-pronged movement. William T. Sherman sailed down the Mississippi River while Grant moved parallel to the Mississippi by railroad. Grant, however, was forced to fall back when Confederates cut his supply lines. Sherman reached the Yazoo River just north of the city of Vicksburg but without support from Grant's half of the mission, he was repulsed in bloody assaults against Chickasaw Bayou in late December.
For the rest of the winter, Grant attempted five unsuccessful separate projects to reach the city by moving through or reengineering, rivers, canals, and bayous to the north of Vicksburg.
The second campaign, beginning in the spring of 1863, was successful and is considered Grant's greatest achievement of the war. He knew that he could not attack through Mississippi from the northwest because of the vulnerability of his supply line and river-born approaches that had failed repeatedly. So after movement became possible on dirt roads that were finally drying from the winter rains, Grant moved the bulk of his army down the western bank of the Mississippi. To mask his intentions, Grant employed two strategic diversions which drew out significant Confederate forces and dispersed them around the state.
The Battles for Chattanooga began in earnest on November 24, 1863. By its end, Chattanooga was saved and politically sensitive eastern Tennessee was free of Confederate control. An avenue of invasion pointed directly to Atlanta, the heart of the Confederacy. Bragg was relieved of duty and replaced by General Joseph E. Johnston.
At the Battle of Nashville, facing combined Union forces, Johnston dug in a few miles south of the city and waited; hoping to wreck the coming Union troops on the Confederate fortifications. However, Union troops unleashed an overwhelming assault that sent Confederate Lt. Gen. Hood and his survivors in retreat to Franklin and then to Mississippi, never to recover as a fighting force. By his own request, Hood was relieved of command of the Army of Tennessee.
The next major event, Sherman's Savannah Campaign , popularly known as the March to the Sea. He and Grant believed that the Civil War would end only if the Confederacy's strategic, economic, and psychological capacities for warfare were decisively broken. Sherman therefore applied the principles of scorched earth: ordering his troops to burn crops, kill livestock, consume supplies, and destroy civilian infrastructure along their path.
Map of the Savannah Campaign (Sherman's March to the Sea) of the American Civil War.
Sherman's March to the Sea.
On April 11, Johnston received word that General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House. This induced him to send a message to Sherman requesting terms for surrender. On April 18, three days after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, Johnston signed an armistice with Sherman. When they received word of Lee and Johnston's surrenders, smaller Confederate regiments also surrendered. A detachment of Wilson's cavalry captured Confederate President Jefferson Davis on May 10. On May 20, Wilson officially took control of Tallahassee, the last Confederate state capital east of the Mississippi to be captured.
Source: Boundless. “Union Victories in the Western Theater.” Boundless U.S. History. Boundless, 01 Jul. 2015. Retrieved 02 Jul. 2015 from https://www.boundless.com/u-s-history/textbooks/boundless-u-s-history-textbook/the-civil-war-1861-1865-18/the-battles-1863-1865-134/union-victories-in-the-western-theater-717-9681/