View Poll Results: What battle was the most decisive in the outcome of the American Civil War?

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  • Fredericksburg

    1 1.82%
  • Antietam

    10 18.18%
  • Vicksburg

    8 14.55%
  • Gettysburg

    27 49.09%
  • Atlanta

    3 5.45%
  • Franklin

    5 9.09%
  • Shiloh

    1 1.82%
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Thread: Most Decisive US Civil War Battle

  1. #46
    Defense Professional Dreadnought's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluesman View Post
    Incorrect; the North dam' near lost the war through politics, and then again at North Anna, the greatest 'what-if' that nobody's ever heard of.
    Have to admit Blues im not the greatest on Civil War and North Anna is a new one to me. Thanks.
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  2. #47
    Defense Professional Dreadnought's Avatar
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    from the lazy man's encyclopedia

    priceless!
    Fortitude.....The strength to persist...The courage to endure.

  3. #48
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    Quoting Shek: "Gettysburg did not end the war, not by a long shot, and Grant came dam' close to losing the war TWICE, well after Gettysburg. Once by horrendous casualties and a close election that almost went to the 'Surrender Now' Party (aka, the Democrats; ain't it odd how history repeats itself?) because of those casualties and an apparent inability to defeat Lee in the field. And then again when Lee manuevered Grant into a trap that almost saw the loss of either a third or two thirds of the Army of the Potomac at the North Anna River, failing only due to AP Hill's and his own seperate illnesses".


    I think its funny you called the Democrat Party the "Surrender Now" Party. Eisenhower (Republican) negotiated a truce to end the Korean War and Nixon (Republican) pulled the troops out of Vietnam. FDR / Truman (Democrats) led the country to victory in World War II and Woodrow Willson (Democrat) led the country to victory in World War I. I always like right-wingers who ignore historical facts.

  4. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Irishman7 View Post
    Quoting Shek: "Gettysburg did not end the war, not by a long shot, and Grant came dam' close to losing the war TWICE, well after Gettysburg. Once by horrendous casualties and a close election that almost went to the 'Surrender Now' Party (aka, the Democrats; ain't it odd how history repeats itself?) because of those casualties and an apparent inability to defeat Lee in the field. And then again when Lee manuevered Grant into a trap that almost saw the loss of either a third or two thirds of the Army of the Potomac at the North Anna River, failing only due to AP Hill's and his own seperate illnesses".


    I think its funny you called the Democrat Party the "Surrender Now" Party. Eisenhower (Republican) negotiated a truce to end the Korean War and Nixon (Republican) pulled the troops out of Vietnam. FDR / Truman (Democrats) led the country to victory in World War II and Woodrow Willson (Democrat) led the country to victory in World War I. I always like right-wingers who ignore historical facts.
    Get your quotes straight.
    "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

  5. #50
    Banned Defense Professional Bluesman's Avatar
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    And get your history straight, too, Irish. The president isn't a dictator, and Nixon ended the war at the insistence of the 'Surrender Now' Party in Congress.

    And after Truman insisted on war policies that would never result in victory, just what was left for Ike to do about Korea but end it? At least South Korea was still non-Communist, unlike what the Democrats did to South Vietnam.

    Don't bring that weak crap in here anymore. This Board is for people with something worthwhile to say.

  6. #51
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    Voted Antietam. Although only in conjunction with the emancipation proclaimation. Undermining the Confederates' economy by freeing slaves in occupied territories while leaving the border states alone, at the same time reducing the likelyhood of British intervention. On the other hand, one has to take into consideration the likelyhood of Lincoln shelving the the thing to a later date had Antietam ended in a Confederate victory.

  7. #52

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    Gettysburg

    Gettysburg. Without a doubt, this was the ANV's last opportunity to reverse the war. Had Lee interposed his forces between the AOP and Washington on terrain of his choosing, he might well have destroyed Meade.

    For me, the parallel to Zitadelle, the German attack at Kursk, is striking. Lee's invasion of the north was meant, like Zitadelle, as a "beacon" to the world. No force, like the German Army in June, 1943 awaiting battle in the Ukraine, was more professional or capable. Finally, I'd submit that the ANV and its officers knew that this was their last shot. Vicksburg was besieged and nearly fallen. With it the south would be split. With no hope of lifting the siege directly, I believe that Lee marched north in hopes of turning the tables on the Union by engaging an AOP stll reeling at the command levels from the twin debacles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.

    Had Stuart performed his mission with the same excellence and aplomb as performed by Buford, we might not be discussing the greatest "meeting engagement" of modern times. It may well have happened elsewhere. That he didn't and Lee and the ANV found the AOP before them on the key terrain of Cemetary Ridge set the stage. When Lee ignored Longstreet's counsel to flank the AOP instead of giving battle under unfavorable circumstances, the south's fate was sealed.

  8. #53
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    Fredericksburg

    Not decisive. Did not prevent the Union from continuing operations in Central Virginia. Was a bloody repulse and only big outcome was removed Burnside as commander of AOP.

    Antietam

    The most decisive diplomatically on the outcome of the war because its outcome denied the Confederacy any chance of open support by the European nations, a la Saratoga in 1777.

    Vicksburg

    Cut the Confederacy apart along the MIssissippi, and when Grand Gulf fell a few weeks later, opened up the river to Northern Commerce to Europe. Why was that important? BEcause the grain from the American heartland was feeding the Industrial revolution in Europe. Read about Prince Wheat versus King Cotton in some of Jim McPherson's writings.

    Also pushed Grant further forward in prominence.

    Gettysburg

    It was big and it was bloody but was it decisive? Only in that it showed both sides the value of fighting from defensive works. The ANV was so beat up that Longstreet took his corps out west 2 months later and had a decisve role in the Cnnfederate success at Chickamauga. (Of course he would end up as the only Confederate Burnside ever beat!) Not to mention it was really a raid writ large. Lee's secondary mission was to conduct a giant foraging expedition and he was highly successful in that regard. Read Kent Masterson Brown's Retereat From Gettysburg for a great explanation.


    Atlanta

    Now we are talking. Its fall kept Lincoln in the White House, and without Lincoln the Union may well have fallen.

    Franklin

    Not Franklin but Nashville. That battle destroyed the offensive power of the Confeseracy in the West just like Spotsylvania and Cedar Creek did the same in the East.


    Of this list I would say Anietam 1 and Atlanta 2.

    BTW, as for North Anna...the battlefield is exceptiopanlly well preserved. A great what if.
    "The genius of you Americans is that you make no clear-cut stupid moves, only complicated stupid moves which make us wonder at the possibility that there may be something to them we are missing." - Gamal Abdel Nasser

  9. #54
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    Well ... I voted Antietum, but accidently. I read thru them, decided on Atlanta .. and hit Antietum because it starts with an A too. Which for those of you that don't know me ... it's very indicative of my computer skills in general, and forums in particular! Maybe I should just play along like I guessed Albany would say Antietum was #1?

    I do think Atlanta though. It seems to me that the campaigns up in Va were more of a see-saw slugfest that on their own weren't entirely decisive one way or another. Sherman running rough shod thru the heart of the South pretty much cut the head (Lee and the ANV) off the snake (what industrial capacity the South still had). If I'd been alive during the Civil War, watching Atlanta burn would have been the point where I turned to the guy next to me and said "Ya know ... I think we're pretty much screwed".
    Last edited by ChdNorm; 28 Apr 07, at 20:21. Reason: Numerous typos

  10. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by Albany Rifles View Post
    Antietam

    The most decisive diplomatically on the outcome of the war because its outcome denied the Confederacy any chance of open support by the European nations, a la Saratoga in 1777.
    An excellent candidate for the ‘flip side’ of the question, i.e. when did the CSA miss their best chance to ‘win’, rather than when did they ‘lose’ the war.

    Quote Originally Posted by Albany Rifles View Post
    Vicksburg

    Cut the Confederacy apart along the Mississippi, and when Grand Gulf fell a few weeks later, opened up the river to Northern Commerce to Europe. Why was that important? Because the grain from the American heartland was feeding the Industrial revolution in Europe. Read about Prince Wheat versus King Cotton in some of Jim McPherson's writings.

    Also pushed Grant further forward in prominence.
    This is a good point. I believe the ‘opening’ of the Mississippi for the Union was more important than the oft quoted ‘cut the Confederacy in half’. The ‘core’ of the Confederacy was all east of the Miss anyway and ‘overland’ routes, crossing the Miss between ‘east’ and ‘west’ were not that important in the scheme of things. However, the opening of the Miss to the Union, from top to bottom, was huge. Of course, the problems are that ‘Vicksburg’ was really more of a ‘campaign’ / ‘siege’ than it was a ‘battle’. That, plus the fact that, as you’ve mentioned, Vicksburg alone was not sufficient to completely open up the Miss (although it was clearly necessary).

    Quote Originally Posted by Albany Rifles View Post
    Atlanta

    Now we are talking. Its fall kept Lincoln in the White House, and without Lincoln the Union may well have fallen.
    Good point, however, I believe that an ‘invasion’ of the south and even a ‘siege’ of Atlanta would have been sufficient to achieve the same result. Those possibilities were opened up by the result at Chattanooga, which unfortunately isn’t on the list.


    Quote Originally Posted by Albany Rifles View Post
    Franklin

    Not Franklin but Nashville. That battle destroyed the offensive power of the Confederacy in the West just like Spotsylvania and Cedar Creek did the same in the East.
    Agreed, it was Nashville that finished the CSA in the west, not Franklin. However, was that not already ‘too late’ for the Confederacy? The only argument I can see that would point to Nashville as ‘the’ decisive battle would be that it ‘freed’ Sherman to move NE rather than back out west after his ‘March to the Sea’. I’m not sure that Sherman was going to be sent out west though, unless Hood had managed to pose more of a serious threat – e.g. if he had managed to catch and decisively defeat Schofield at Spring Hill and appeared to be a serious threat to Thomas.



    Quote Originally Posted by Albany Rifles View Post
    Of this list I would say Antietam 1 and Atlanta 2.

    Quote Originally Posted by ChdNorm View Post
    I do think Atlanta though. It seems to me that the campaigns up in Va were more of a see-saw slugfest that on their own weren't entirely decisive one way or another. Sherman running rough shod thru the heart of the South pretty much cut the head (Lee and the ANV) off the snake (what industrial capacity the South still had). If I'd been alive during the Civil War, watching Atlanta burn would have been the point where I turned to the guy next to me and said "Ya know ... I think we're pretty much screwed".
    Again, a good case for Atlanta. However, IMHO it was Chattanooga that really ‘opened’ up the south to invasion. From that point on the CSA’s dilemma was to either to hold Atlanta and thereby allow themselves to get ‘besieged’ in Atlanta, leaving ‘other’ Union forces to ‘rampage’ throughout the area or to ‘give up’ Atlanta (as they did historically) in order to retain their freedom of maneuver. Again, IMO, it was a ‘no win’ situation created by the decisive Union victory at Chattanooga.

  11. #56
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    I voted Vicksurg. Gettysburg was decisive in that the Confederate army was too weak to ever launch a major offensive again, but other than that it it didn't decide much.

    Vicksburg on the other hand annihilated an army, captured the Mississippi and in so doing cut the confederacy in half, and it left the deep South wide open for invasion. Gettysburg didn't do any of this.
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  12. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by ExNavyAmerican View Post
    ...Vicksburg on the other hand annihilated an army, captured the Mississippi and in so doing cut the confederacy in half, and it left the deep South wide open for invasion. Gettysburg didn't do any of this.
    Actually Vicksburg didn't 'capture the Miss' in and of itself - there were other battles that needed to be fought to clear it from top to bottom. It actually cutoff Texas, Arkansas and most of Louisiana - hardly 'half' of the Confederacy. I'm curious if anyone has any detailed information on exactly what effect this 'cutting off' had on the Confederacy. I've not been able to identify any important 'LoC' that were severed. I believe, as was previously noted, that opening the Miss for the Union was actually more important than severing it for the Confederacy.

  13. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by deadkenny View Post
    Actually Vicksburg didn't 'capture the Miss' in and of itself - there were other battles that needed to be fought to clear it from top to bottom. It actually cutoff Texas, Arkansas and most of Louisiana - hardly 'half' of the Confederacy. I'm curious if anyone has any detailed information on exactly what effect this 'cutting off' had on the Confederacy. I've not been able to identify any important 'LoC' that were severed. I believe, as was previously noted, that opening the Miss for the Union was actually more important than severing it for the Confederacy.
    Vicksburg was the last major port along the Mississippi, and the other negligible
    fighting along the river was a war all by itself in view of its indecisiveness.

    By cutting off any part of the Confederacy, and Texas was the largest member, it essentially destroyed any chance for the South to become a powerful independent political entity. It was like tying off an arm, or a leg.

    The importance of cutting the Confederacy in half was so that we could carry on the war against the eastern half without any problem with reinforcements coming from the west. And as I said before, the size of Texas became irrelevant to the Confederacy when it can't communicate with it. And it also destroyed any chance of capturing, and holding any western territories for the South.

    I agree that capturing the Mississippi for the Union was more important then the severing of the Confederacy, but the capture combined with the severing made a very decisive battle out of Vicksburg. And then of course the Confederate army that was destroyed in the process.

    In contrast, at Gettysburg, the Southern army was wipped, and they could not hope to replace their casualties, but they defeated the northern army at every battle as the Union drove south toward Richmond. The reason the Union army was able to continue after several crushing defeats (i.e North Anna, and Cold Harbor) was because of the Napoleonic determination of Grant; it had nothing to do with Gettysburg. So, though Gettysurg was important no doubt about it, in my opinion, it was far less decisive than Vicksburg.
    Last edited by ExNavyAmerican; 05 May 07, at 08:23.
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  14. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by ExNavyAmerican View Post
    Vicksburg was the last major port along the Mississippi, and the other negligible
    fighting along the river was a war all by itself in view of its indecisiveness???
    .

    By cutting off any part of the Confederacy, and Texas was the largest member, it essentially destroyed any chance for the South to become a powerful independent political entity. It was like tying off an arm, or a leg.

    The importance of cutting the Confederacy in half was so that we could carry on the war against the eastern half without any problem with reinforcements coming from the west. And as I said before, the size of Texas became irrelevant to the Confederacy when it can't communicate with it. And it also destroyed any chance of capturing, and holding any western territories for the South.

    I agree that capturing the Mississippi for the Union was more important then the severing of the Confederacy, but the capture combined with the severing made a very decisive battle out of Vicksburg. And then of course the Confederate army that was destroyed in the process.

    In contrast, at Gettysburg, the Southern army was wipped, and they could not hope to replace their casualties, but they defeated the northern army at every battle as the Union drove south toward Richmond. The reason the Union army was able to continue after several crushing defeats (i.e North Anna, and Cold Harbor) was because of the Napoleonic determination of Grant; it had nothing to do with Gettysburg. So, though Gettysurg was important no doubt about it, in my opinion, it was far less decisive than Vicksburg.

    Vicksburg ceased to be a port in late 1862 once the Union forces arrived there. The fighting earlier 1862 around Island No. 10 was hardly indecisive. And Teh 49 day siege at Port Hudson which fell on 9 July 1863 was easily as terrible as the Vicksburg siege. While it did not feature the manuever battles of Vicksburg, this success was what actually opened the river.



    There wasn't a whole lot more help to come from Texas. Texas had provided pretty much all of the man power it could at the start of the war.


    The Army of Mississippi was paroled after the surrender to Grant and violated that parole almost immediately. Even soldiers who deserted returned to the colors by mid autumn 1863. It was this violation of the parole which helped convince Grant to end all parole and prisoner exchange with teh Confederacy when he became general in chief. It was this ending of parole which lead to Andersonville and other problems in Confederate POW camps.


    North Anna was hardly a crushing defeat. The 9th Corps really took heavy casualties in 1 brigade, only 1 division of the 6th Corps was enagaged and the 2d Corps had some fighting around Chesterfield Bridge. And the AOP took more casualties at both the Wilderness and at Spotsylvania than at Cold Harbor. And I would not call the OVerland Campaign a crushing defeat since they Confederates may have prevented defeat but they never stopped the AOP.
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  15. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by ExNavyAmerican View Post
    ...
    By cutting off any part of the Confederacy, and Texas was the largest member, it essentially destroyed any chance for the South to become a powerful independent political entity. It was like tying off an arm, or a leg.

    The importance of cutting the Confederacy in half was so that we could carry on the war against the eastern half without any problem with reinforcements coming from the west. And as I said before, the size of Texas became irrelevant to the Confederacy when it can't communicate with it. And it also destroyed any chance of capturing, and holding any western territories for the South.
    ....
    I'll just add to the excellent points made by "Albany Rifles" by mentioning that although Texas may have been the 'largest member' in terms of the geographical area - it was far from the largest in terms of population or relative importance to the Confederacy. The Confederate states east of the Miss would have been an entirely viable 'country' on it's own. Perhaps access to the 'Far West' would have been of longer term importance, but in terms of simply 'surviving' (or not) the Civil War, the Western territories mattered very little.

    Say for example Davis had decided to go ahead with his original intention of replacing Bragg with Longstreet in command of the AoT. Aside from having a more competent commander, there is also 'unity of command' without both Bragg and Longstreet trying to outmanuever each other rather than the enemy. Then further say that the battle of Chattanooga results in a crushing defeat of the Union. The CSA manages to prevent any invasion of the 'heart' of the CSA, and to 'hold' most of the 'western' sector that lies east of the Miss. It would have been entirely possible that Lincoln could have lost the election under those circumstances, and that a 'peace party' could have agreed to some sort of 'compromise' settlement. Now I'm not suggesting that any of that was 'highly likely', but it does illustrate the point that the South still had some 'outs', even after the loss of Vicksburg and control of the Miss - even given the possible loss of the 'Trans-Miss' to the Confederacy.

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