The American Civil War might easily have ended in 1862. In the event, it dragged on for three more years, claiming the lives of 600,000 men, more than all of America’s other wars combined. A strong case can be made that this outcome was the work of two very different men – George B McClellan and Robert E Lee. To what extent do individuals change the course of history?
American Civil War
Grant’s conduct of the Overland Campaign has sometimes been criticised as bludgeoning – lacking in tactical finesse, restricted to frontal attacks, callous about casualties. But is this assessment fair? Neil Faulkner weighs up the debate.
What is the role of the individual in history? The collaboration between Robert E Lee and Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson changed the course of the American Civil War. Before Lee’s appointment, and his choice of Jackson as second-in-command, the conflict would likely have ended in 1862. We look back at one of history’s great military partnerships.
Patrick Boniface analyses the expansion and transformation of the US Navy during the American Civil War. ‘Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I shall spend the first four sharpening the axe.’ So said Abraham Lincoln, one of America’s greatest presidents, and he might well have been speaking about the creation of the […]
Ron Field uncovers the role of Scots Americans in the war to free the slaves. In the wake of the failed Union attack on the Tower Battery at Secessionville on James Island, near Charleston, South Carolina, on 16 June 1862, the Charleston Mercury reported, ‘It was left to the brave 79th Highlanders, to test the […]
On the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, David Williams writes that it was the Southerners themselves who brought down the Confederacy: ‘More has been published about the American Civil War than any other era in US history. But for all that has been written about the war, one is astonished at how little we […]
On the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, Ken Burns writes that it was American Civil War that made America what it is today. ‘Before the war, in speaking about our country, we said “The United States are” – plural. We saw ourselves as a union, a stitched-together collection of states, a “many” thing. After […]
It was 150 years ago on 12 April 1861, that the guns opened fire at Fort Sumter, marking the start of America’s bloodiest war. We have asked several notable writers to give their viewpoints on the American Civil War, starting with Peter Tsouras and his belief that it was British arms that sustained the Confederacy […]