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US Civil War Confederates Failures in the Western Theatre Essay

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One of the most important strategies of the Union in the Western Theatre that has caused failure of the Confederates in the American Civil War had been to take control of Vicksburg. The then President Abraham Lincoln held that it is a strategic location to end the war stating: “See what a lot of land these fellows hold, of which Vicksburg is the key! The war can never be brought to a close until that key is in our pocket…. We can take all the northern ports of the Confederacy, and they can defy us from Vicksburg.

” On March 29, 1863, the Union Army from Tennessee led by Major General Ulysses S.

Grant marched south towards Mississippi, winning battles on their way to Vicksburg. On May 19, wanting to overwhelm the Confederates before they could better organize their defenses, Grant ordered an assault on Vicksburg. The attacked, however, was repulsed, damaging Union morale and regaining a fighting edge for the Confederates. Undaunted and realizing he had been too hasty, Grant made a more thorough plan for another assault.

On May 22, Union artillery bombarded the city’s defenses before sending an assault but was, however, repulsed for the second time incurring a loss of over 3,000 men.

Grant reluctantly settled for a siege. Vicksburg suffered under constant bombardment and diminishing food supply. On July 3, General Pemberton of the Confederates rode with a white flag to meet witn Grant. Grant offered parole instead of unconditional surrender of the city, and on July 4 Pemberton had surrendered the city. The Batlle of Vicksburg was a crucial success to the Union. The Mississippi River was held firmly by the Union after the surrender of the Confederates and had further split the South in two, severing a vital Confederate supply line.

Another battle that was set on the Western Theatre that has given a decisive victory for the Union was the Battle of Chattanooga. The Union, under the generalship of Grant, eliminated the last of the Confederate control in Tennessee and paved way for the Atlanta campaign in 1864. Rosencrans, having been defeated at Chickamauga, retreated to Chattanooga. Confederate General Braxton Bragg, however, followed in pursuit and besieged the city hoping to starve the Union to surrender. He established encampments on Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain, which had excellent views of the city. Grant received the command to reinforce Chattanooga.

Union General Hooker led an assault on Lookout Mountain on November 24 and successfully pushed the Confederates to retreat. The next day, Missionary Ridge was assaulted with a General Sherman leading the attack on the right and General Hooker to attack the left and rear of General Bragg. Sherman was already engaged in a heavy contest while Hooker was delayed because of the burned bridge left by the retreating force from Lookout Mountain. Grant ordered General George H. Thomas to attack Bragg’s center. The instruction was to take the first line of rifle-pits, which they were successful, and wait there until further notice.

They were, however, under heavy fire from the two remaining enemy lines up the ridge. Without orders, Thomas’ troops pushed on with the attack and routed the Confederates’ center which, panic-stricken, broke in full retreat.


civilwarhome. com. “Chattanooga, Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge Battles”; available from http://www. civilwarhome. com/chatlookoutmissionary. htm. Internet; accessed 1 June 2008. Vicksburg National Military Park. “Vicksburg is the key! ” Available from http://www. nps. gov/archive/vick/vcmpgn/key. htm. Internet; accessed 1 June 2008.

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