Our Annual Field Trips


2014 Annual Field Trip: Northern Virginia



Northern Virginia BattleThe fall trip is set for October 25-26, 2014, with Scott Patchan as our guide. Scott last led a tour for our group in 2012 to First and Second Bull Run. (You can find a brief bio of Scott on the 2012 Annual Trip tab, adove.) That was an outstanding trip and this one is sure to be as well.

Here is a detailed description of the planned Field Trip.

The trip will be to Northern Virginia, following in the footsteps of Grant's operations that brought Lee and the Confederacy to Appomatox.

2013 Annual Field Trip: Charleston, South Carolina



On October 4–5, 2013, the MRRT traveled to Charleston, South Carolina, to visit the battle sites in and around the city. These included visits to Fort Moultrie; sites associated with the Battle of Secessionville; a boat tour of Charleston Harbor, Morris Island, and a narration of the attack on Fort Sumter. The Saturday group dinner was held at the Washington Light Infantry Armory. The tour guides were Doug Bostick and Dana MacBean. Click here for a video of trip highlights.

2012 Annual Field Trip: First and Second Bull Run


Manassas Battlefield
Scott Patchman

The MRRT toured the battlefields of First and Second Bull Run October 27–28, 2012. Click here for the complete trip information to include itinerary and costs.

Scott Patchan, our tour guide, provided MRRT members with an informative and memorable tour of these two battlefields. Scott is a well known and respected guide as well as the author of numerous Civil War books and articles to include: Second Manassas: Longstreet's Attack and the Struggle for Chinn Ridge; The Last Battle of Winchester: Phil Sheridan, Jubal Early, and the Shenandoah Valley Campaign, August 7–September 19, 1864; Shenandoah Summer: The 1864 Valley Campaign; The Battle of Piedmont and Hunter's Campaign for Staunton: The 1864 Shenandoah Campaign; and The Forgotten Fury: The Battle of Piedmont, Virginia.

You can watch video highlights of this trip online:

2011 Annual Field Trip: Springfield / New Salem


Abraham Lincoln

The MRRT's 2011 Fall Field Trip was to Springfield, Illinois the weekend of Saturday/Sunday, October 22-23. In contrast to our every other year visit to an Eastern or Western battlefield, for 2011 the MRRT visited Springfield and become immersed in all things Abraham Lincoln. Our tour guide was Justin Blanford, Director of the Old Court House/Law Office. The trip itinerary included visits to:

  • Lincoln's Home
  • Old State Capitol
  • Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices
  • Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Museum
  • Oak Ridge Cemetery
  • New Salem
  • Illinois State Military Museum

You can watch video highlights of this trip online.

2010 Annual Field Trip: Wilderness and Spotsylvania Battlefields


The Wilderness Campaign

Spotsylvania Court House: May 8–21, 1864


Spotsylvania Court House

Location:  Spotsylvania County

Campaign:  Chancellorsville Campaign (April–May 1863)

Principal Commanders:  Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and Maj. Gen. George G. Meade [US]; Gen. Robert E. Lee [CS]

Forces Engaged:  152,000 total (US 100,000; CS 52,000

Estimated Casualties:  30,000 total (US 18,000; CS 12,000

Description:  After the Wilderness, Grant's and Meade's advance on Richmond by the left flank was stalled at Spotsylvania Court House on May 8. This two-week battle was a series of combats along the Spotsylvania front. The Union attack against the Bloody Angle at dawn, May 12–13, captured nearly a division of Lee's army and came near to cutting the Confederate army in half.

Confederate counterattacks plugged the gap, and fighting continued unabated for nearly 20 hours in what may well have been the most ferociously sustained combat of the Civil War.

On May 19, a Confederate attempt to turn the Union right flank at Harris Farm was beaten back with severe casualties. Union generals Sedgwick (VI Corps commander) and Rice were killed. Confederate generals Johnson and Steuart were captured, Daniel and Perrin mortally wounded. On May 21, Grant disengaged and continued his advance on Richmond.

Result(s):  Inconclusive (Grant continued his offensive.

Source:  CWSAC Battle Summaries (NPS)

Wilderness: May 5–7, 1864


The Wilderness Campaign

Location:  Spotsylvania County and Fredericksburg

Principal Commanders:  Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and Maj. Gen. George G. Meade [US]; Gen. Robert E. Lee [CS]

Forces Engaged:  162,920 total (US 101,895; CS 61,025)

Estimated Casualties:  29,800 total (US 18,400; CS 11,400)

Description:  The opening battle of Grant's sustained offensive against the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, known as the Overland Campaign, was fought at the Wilderness, May 5–7. On the morning of May 5, 1864, the Union V Corps attacked Ewell's Corps on the Orange Turnpike, while A.P. Hill's corps during the afternoon encountered Getty's Division (VI Corps) and Hancock's II Corps on the Plank Road.

Fighting was fierce but inconclusive as both sides attempted to maneuver in the dense woods. Darkness halted the fighting, and both sides rushed forward reinforcements. At dawn on May 6, Hancock attacked along the Plank Road, driving Hill's Corps back in confusion. Longstreet's Corps arrived in time to prevent the collapse of the Confederate right flank. At noon, a devastating Confederate flank attack in Hamilton's Thicket sputtered out when Lt. Gen. James Longstreet was wounded by his own men. The IX Corps (Burnside) moved against the Confederate center, but was repulsed. Union generals James S. Wadsworth and Alexander Hays were killed. Confederate generals John M. Jones, Micah Jenkins, and Leroy A. Stafford were killed.

The battle was a tactical draw. Grant, however, did not retreat as had the other Union generals before him. On May 7, the Federals advanced by the left flank toward the crossroads of Spotsylvania Courthouse.

Result(s):  Inconclusive (Grant continued his offensive.)

Source:  CWSAC Battle Summaries (NPS)

2009 Annual Field Trip:
The Fredricksburg and Chancellorsville Campaigns


Fredericksburg Campaign

2009 Trip Overview and Video

You can click on this link to view video highlights of our 2009 tour of the Fredricksburg and Chancellorsville Campaigns (October 17–18, 2009). Our itinerary included:

  • The upper pontoon crossing of the Rappahannock
  • Chatham Manor
  • The Slaughter Pen Farm
  • Marye's Heights
  • The Lee & Jackson bivouac site
  • Jackson's Flank March
  • Catherine's Furnace
  • Hazel Grove
  • A Saturday evening candle-light tour of Guiney Station, the location of Jackson's death

Chancellorsville: April 30–May 6, 1863


Spotsylvania Court House

Location:  Spotsylvania County

Campaign:  Chancellorsville Campaign (April–May 1863)Principal Commanders:  Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker [US]; Gen. Robert E. Lee and Maj. Gen. Thomas J. Jackson [CS]

Forces Engaged:  154,734 total (US 97,382; CS 57,352)

Estimated Casualties:  24,000 total (US 14,000; CS 10,000

Description:  On April 27, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker led the V, XI, and XII Corps on a campaign to turn the Confederate left flank by crossing the Rappahannock and Rapidan Rivers above Fredericksburg. Passing the Rapidan via Germanna and Ely's Fords, the Federals concentrated near Chancellorsville on April 30 and May 1. The III Corps was ordered to join the army via United States Ford. Sedgwick's VI Corps and Gibbon's division remained to demonstrate against the Confederates at Fredericksburg. In the meantime, Lee left a covering force under Maj. Gen. Jubal Early in Fredericksburg and marched with the rest of the army to confront the Federals. As Hooker's army moved toward Fredericksburg on the Orange Turnpike, they encountered increasing Confederate resistance. Hearing reports of overwhelming Confederate force, Hooker ordered his army to suspend the advance and to concentrate again at Chancellorsville. Pressed closely by Lee's advance, Hooker adopted a defensive posture, thus giving Lee the initiative. On the morning of May 2, Lt. Gen. T.J. Jackson directed his corps on a march against the Federal left flank, which was reported to be "hanging in the air." Fighting was sporadic on other portions of the field throughout the day, as Jackson's column reached its jump-off point. At 5:20 pm, Jackson's line surged forward in an overwhelming attack that crushed the Union XI Corps. Federal troops rallied, resisted the advance, and counterattacked. Disorganization on both sides and darkness ended the fighting. While making a night reconnaissance, Jackson was mortally wounded by his own men and carried from the field. J.E.B. Stuart took temporary command of Jackson's Corps. On May 3, the Confederates attacked with both wings of the army and massed their artillery at Hazel Grove. This finally broke the Federal line at Chancellorsville. Hooker withdrew a mile and entrenched in a defensive "U" with his back to the river at United States Ford. Union generals Berry and Whipple and Confederate general Paxton were killed; Stonewall Jackson was mortally wounded. On the night of May 5-6, after Union reverses at Salem Church, Hooker recrossed to the north bank of the Rappahannock. This battle was considered by many historians to be Lee's greatest victory.

Result(s):  Confederate victory

Source:  CWSAC Battle Summaries (NPS)

Fredricksburg: December 11–15, 1862



Fredericksburg

Location:  Spotsylvania County and Fredericksburg

Principal Commanders:  Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside [US]; Gen. Robert E. Lee [CS]

Forces Engaged:  172,504 total (US 100,007; CS 72,497)

Estimated Casualties:  17,929 total (US 13,353; CS 4,576)

Description:  On November 14, Burnside, now in command of the Army of the Potomac, sent a corps to occupy the vicinity of Falmouth near Fredericksburg. The rest of the army soon followed. Lee reacted by entrenching his army on the heights behind the town. On December 11, Union engineers laid five pontoon bridges across the Rappahannock under fire. On the 12th, the Federal army crossed over, and on December 13, Burnside mounted a series of futile frontal assaults on Prospect Hill and Marye's Heights that resulted in staggering casualties. Meade's division, on the Union left flank, briefly penetrated Jackson's line but was driven back by a counterattack. Union generals C. Feger Jackson and George Bayard, and Confederate generals Thomas R.R. Cobb and Maxey Gregg were killed. On December 15, Burnside called off the offensive and recrossed the river, ending the campaign. Burnside initiated a new offensive in January 1863, which quickly bogged down in the winter mud. The abortive "Mud March" and other failures led to Burnside's replacement by Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker in January 1863.

Result(s):  Confederate victory

Source:  CWSAC Battle Summaries (NPS)

Marye's Heights (Fredricksurg II): May 3–4, 1863


Marye's Heights

Location:  Fredericksburg

Campaign:  Chancellorsville Campaign (April–May 1863)Principal Commanders:  Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick [US]; Maj. Gen. Jubal A. Early [CS]

Forces Engaged:  Corps

Estimated Casualties:  2,000 total

Description:  Description: On May 1, Gen. Robert E. Lee left Maj. Gen. Jubal A. Early's division to hold Fredericksburg, while marching with the rest of the army to meet Hooker's main offensive thrust at Chancellorsville. On May 3, the Union VI Corps under Sedgwick, reinforced by John Gibbon's II Corps division, having crossed the Rappahannock River, assaulted and carried the Confederate entrenchments on Marye's Heights. The outnumbered Confederates withdrew and regrouped west and southeast of town.

Result(s):  Union victory

Source:  CWSAC Battle Summaries (NPS)

Salem Church: May 3–4, 1863


Salem Church

Location:  Spotsylvania County

Campaign:  Chancellorsville Campaign (April–May 1863)

Principal Commanders:  Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick [US]; Gen. Robert E. Lee [CS]

Forces Engaged:  Corps

Estimated Casualties:  5,000 total

Description:  After occupying Marye's Heights on May 3, Sedgwick's VI Corps marched out on the Plank Road with the objective of reaching Hooker's force at Chancellorsville. He was delayed by Wilcox's brigade of Early's force at Salem Church. During the afternoon and night, Lee detached two of his divisions from the Chancellorsville lines and marched them to Salem Church. Several Union assaults were repulsed the next morning with heavy casualties, and the Confederates counterattacked, gaining some ground. After dark, Sedgwick withdrew across two pontoon bridges at Scott's Dam under a harassing artillery fire. Hearing that Sedgwick had been repulsed, Hooker abandoned the campaign, recrossing on the night of May 5-6 to the north bank of the Rappahannock.

Result(s):  Confederate victory

Source:  CWSAC Battle Summaries (NPS)


2008 Annual Field Trip:
Grant's Campaign against Vicksburg: May 18–July 4, 1863


Grant's Campaign against Vicksburg

Grant's Campaign against Vicksburg: May 18–July 4, 1863


Battle of Vicksburg

Location:  Warren County, MS

Principal Commanders:  Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant [US]; Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton [CS]

Forces Engaged: Army of the Tennessee [US]; Army of Vicksburg [CS] 53,600 total (US 35,000; CS 18,600)

Estimated Casualties:  19,233 total (US 10,142; CS 9,091

Description:  In May and June of 1863, Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant?s armies converged on Vicksburg, investing the city and entrapping a Confederate army under Lt. Gen. John Pemberton. On July 4, Vicksburg surrendered after prolonged siege operations. This was the culmination of one of the most brilliant military campaigns of the war. With the loss of Pemberton?s army and this vital stronghold on the Mississippi, the Confederacy was effectively split in half. Grant's successes in the West boosted his reputation, leading ultimately to his appointment as General-in-Chief of the Union armies.

Result(s):  Union victory.)

Source:  CWSAC Battle Summaries (NPS)


2007 Annual Field Trip: Gettysburg


Battle of Gettysburg

The Gettysburg Campaign: July 1—3, 1864


Battle of Gettysburg

Location:  Adams County, PA


  • Principal Commanders: Maj. Gen. George G. Meade [US]; Gen. Robert E. Lee [CS]
  • Forces Engaged: 158,300 total (US 83,289; CS 75,054)
  • Estimated Casualties: 51,000 total (US 23,000; CS 28,000)

Gen. Robert E. Lee concentrated his full strength against Maj. Gen. George G. Meade's Army of the Potomac at the crossroads county seat of Gettysburg. On July 1, Confederate forces converged on the town from west and north, driving Union defenders back through the streets to Cemetery Hill. During the night, reinforcements arrived for both sides. On July 2, Lee attempted to envelop the Federals, first striking the Union left flank at the Peach Orchard, Wheatfield, Devil's Den, and the Round Tops with Longstreet's and Hill's divisions, and then attacking the Union right at Culp's and East Cemetery Hills with Ewell's divisions. By evening, the Federals retained Little Round Top and had repulsed most of Ewell's men. During the morning of July 3, the Confederate infantry were driven from their last toe-hold on Culp's Hill. In the afternoon, after a preliminary artillery bombardment, Lee attacked the Union center on Cemetery Ridge. The Pickett-Pettigrew assault (more popularly, Pickett's Charge) momentarily pierced the Union line but was driven back with severe casualties. Stuart's cavalry attempted to gain the Union rear but was repulsed. On July 4, Lee began withdrawing his army toward Williamsport on the Potomac River. His train of wounded stretched more than fourteen miles.

Result: Union victory

Additional Resources

  • High Tide At Gettysburg by Glenn Tucker
  • Gettysburg, The Second Day by Harry Pfanz
  • Last Chance For Victory by Scott Bowden and Bill Ward
  • My Enemy, My Brother by Joseph Persico
  • The Second Day At Gettysburg edited by Gary Gallagher
  • The Third Day At Gettysburg and Beyond edited by Gary Gallagher

2006 Annual Field Trip:
Franklin-Nashville Campaign (September–December 1864)


Battle of Franklin

Battle of Allatoona—October 5, 1864



Battle of Altoona

  • Principal Commanders: Brig. Gen. John M. Corse [US]; Maj. Gen. Samuel G. French [CS]
  • Forces Engaged: One brigade (1,944 men) [US]; one division (approx. 2,000 men) [CS]
  • Estimated Casualties: 1,505 total (US 706; CS 799)

After the fall of Atlanta, Hood moved northward to threaten the Western & Atlantic Railroad, Sherman's supply line. He attacked a number of minor garrisons and damaged track during October 2-4. Sherman sent reinforcements-John M. Corse's brigade-to Allatoona just before the Rebels attacked there. Maj. Gen. Samuel G. French's Confederate division arrived near Allatoona at sunrise on the 5th. After demanding surrender and receiving a negative reply, French attacked. The Union outer line survived a sustained two and a half hour attack, but then fell back and regrouped in an earthen "Star" fort of Allatoona Pass. French repeatedly attacked, but the fort held. The Rebels began to run out of ammunition, and reports of arriving Union reinforcements influenced them to move off and rejoin Hood's force.

Result: Union victory

Battle of Columbia: November 24 [24–29], 1864


Battle of  Columbia

  • Principal Commanders: Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield [US]; Gen. John Bell Hood [CS]
  • Forces Engaged: XXIII Army Corps and elements of IV Army Corps [US]; Army of Tennessee [CS]
  • Estimated Casualties: Unknown

Conflict near Columbia, during Hood's 1864 Tennessee invasion, constituted a Confederate diversion as part of a maneuver designed to cross the Duck River upstream and interdict the Union army's line of communications with Nashville. As Gen. John Bell Hood's army advanced northeastward from Florence, Alabama, Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield's force quickly withdrew from Pulaski to Columbia, arriving on November 24, just ahead of Forrest's Rebel cavalry. The Federals built two lines of earthworks south of the town while skirmishing with enemy cavalry on November 24 and 25. Hood advanced his infantry on the following day but did not assault. He made demonstrations along the front while marching two corps of his army to Davis Ford, some five miles eastward on the Duck River. Schofield correctly interpreted Hood's moves, but foul weather prevented him from crossing to the north bank before November 28, leaving Columbia to the Confederates. The next day, both armies marched north for Spring Hill. Schofield had slowed Hood's movement but had not stopped him.

Result: Confederate victory

Battle of Decatur: October 26–29, 1864


Battle of Decatur

  • Principal Commanders: Brig. Gen. Robert S. Granger [US]; Gen. John B. Hood [CS]
  • Forces Engaged: Garrison and other troops sent there (approx. 5,000 men) [US]; Army of Tennessee [CS]
  • Estimated Casualties: 605 total (US 155; CS 450)

As Gen. John B. Hood began the Franklin-Nashville Campaign during the fall of 1864, his Army of Tennessee demonstrated against Decatur, Alabama, October 26-29, in an attempt to cross the Tennessee River. Union forces, under the command of Brig. Gen. Robert S. Granger for most of the battle, numbered only about 5,000 men, but successfully prevented the much larger Confederate force from crossing the river.

Result: Union victory

Battle of Franklin: November 30, 1864


Battle of Franklin

  • Principal Commanders: Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield [US]; Gen. John B. Hood [CS]
  • Forces Engaged: IV and XXIII Army Corps (Army of the Ohio and Cumberland) [US]; Army of Tennessee [CS]
  • Estimated Casualties: 8,587 total (US 2,326; CS 6,261)

Having lost a good opportunity at Spring Hill to hurt significantly the Union Army, Gen. John B. Hood marched in rapid pursuit of Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield's retreating Union army. Schofield's advance reached Franklin about sunrise on November 30 and quickly formed a defensive line in works thrown up by the Yankees in the spring of 1863, on the southern edge of town. Schofield wished to remain in Franklin to repair the bridges and get his supply trains over them. Skirmishing at Thompson's Station and elsewhere delayed Hood's march, but, around 4:00 pm, he marshaled a frontal attack against the Union perimeter. Two Federal brigades holding a forward position gave way and retreated to the inner works, but their comrades ultimately held in a battle that caused frightening casualties. When the battle ceased, after dark, six Confederate generals were dead or had mortal wounds. Despite this terrible loss, Hood's army, late, depleted and worn, crawled on toward Nashville.

Result: Union victory

Battle of Johnsonville:  November 4–5, 1864


Battle of Johnsonville

  • Principal Commanders: Col. C.R. Thompson and Lt. Cdr. Edward M. King [US]; Maj. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest [CS]
  • Forces Engaged: Supply depot garrison (approx. 4,000) [US]; Forrest's Cavalry [CS]
  • Estimated Casualties: Unknown

In an effort to check the Union army's advance through Georgia, Maj. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest led a 23-day raid culminating in an attack on the Yankee supply base at Johnsonville, Tennessee. Swinging north from Corinth, Mississippi, toward the Kentucky border and temporarily blockading the Tennessee River at Fort Herman, Forrest then moved southward along the Tennessee River's west bank, capturing several U.S. steamers and a gunboat which he later had to abandon. On November 4, Forrest began positioning his artillery across the river from the Federal supply base and landing at Johnsonville. The Union discovered the Confederates finishing their entrenchments and battery emplacements in the afternoon of the 4th. The Union gunboats and land batteries, across the river, engaged the Confederates in an artillery duel. The Rebel guns, however, were so well positioned, the Federals were unable to hinder them. In fact, Confederate artillery fire disabled the gunboats. Fearing that the Rebels might cross the river and capture the transports, the Federals set fire to them. The wind then extended the fire to the piles of stores on the levee and to a warehouse loaded with supplies. Seeing the fire, the Confederates began firing on the steamboats, barges, and warehouses to prevent the Federals from putting out the fire. An inferno illuminated Forrest's night withdrawal, and he escaped Union clutches without serious loss. Damages totaled $2.2 million. The next morning, on the 5th, some Confederate artillery bombarded the depot in the morning but then left. Although this brilliant victory further strengthened Forrest's reputation and destroyed a great amount of Union materiel, it failed to stem the tide of Union success in Georgia. By this time, Forrest often harassed the Union Army, but, as this engagement demonstrated, he could not stop their operations..

Result: Confederate victory

Murfreesboro: December 5–7, 1864


Battle of Murfreesboro

  • Principal Commanders: Maj. Gen. Lovell H. Rousseau and Brig. Gen. Robert Milroy [US]; Maj. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest [CS]
  • Forces Engaged: District of Tennessee (forces in Murfreesboro area; approx. 8,000) [US]; Forrest�s Cavalry, Bate's Infantry Division, and Brig. Gen. Claudius Sears�s and Brig. Gen. Joseph B. Palmer�s Infantry Brigades (6,500-7,000) [CS]
  • Estimated Casualties: 422 total (US 225; CS 197)

In a last, desperate attempt to force Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman�s army out of Georgia, Gen. John Bell Hood led the Army of Tennessee north toward Nashville in November 1864. Although he suffered a terrible loss at Franklin, he continued toward Nashville. In operating against Nashville, he decided that destruction of the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad and disruption of the Union army supply depot at Murfreesboro would help his cause. He sent Maj. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, on December 4, with an expedition, composed of two cavalry divisions and Maj. Gen. William B. Bate�s infantry division, to Murfreesboro. On December 2, Hood had ordered Bate to destroy the railroad and blockhouses between Murfreesboro and Nashville and join Forrest for further operations; on December 4, Bate�s division attacked Blockhouse No. 7 protecting the railroad crossing at Overall Creek, but Union forces fought it off. On the morning of the 5th, Forrest headed out toward Murfreesboro, splitting his force, one column to attack the fort on the hill and the other to take Blockhouse No. 4, both at La Vergne. Upon his demand for surrender at both locations, the Union garrisons did so. Outside La Vergne, Forrest hooked up with Bate�s division and the command advanced on to Murfreesboro along two roads, driving the Yankees into their Fortress Rosencrans fortifications, and encamped in the city outskirts for the night. The next morning, on the 6th, Forrest ordered Bate�s division to �move upon the enemy�s works.� Fighting flared for a couple of hours, but the Yankees ceased firing and both sides glared at each other for the rest of the day. Brig. Gen. Claudius Sears�s and Brig. Gen. Joseph B. Palmer�s infantry brigades joined Forrest�s command in the evening, further swelling his numbers. On the morning of the 7th, Maj. Gen. Lovell Rousseau, commanding all of the forces at Murfreesboro, sent two brigades out under Brig. Gen. Robert Milroy on the Salem Pike to feel out the enemy. These troops engaged the Confederates and fighting continued. At one point some of Forrest�s troops broke and ran causing disorder in the Rebel ranks; even entreaties from Forrest and Bate did not stem the rout of these units. The rest of Forrest�s command conducted an orderly retreat from the field and encamped for the night outside Murfreesboro. Forrest had destroyed railroad track, blockhouses, and some homes and generally disrupted Union operations in the area, but he did not accomplish much else. The raid on Murfreesboro was a minor irritation.

Result: Union victory

Nashville: December 15–16, 1864


Battle of Nashville

  • Principal Commanders: Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas [US]; Gen. John Bell Hood [CS]
  • Forces Engaged: IV Army Corps, XXIII Army Corps, Detachment of Army of the Tennessee, provisional detachment, and cavalry corps [US]; Army of Tennessee [CS]
  • Estimated Casualties: 6,602 total (US 2,140; CS 4,462)

In a last desperate attempt to force Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman�s army out of Georgia, Gen. John Bell Hood led the Army of Tennessee north toward Nashville in November 1864. Although he suffered terrible losses at Franklin on November 30, he continued toward Nashville. By the next day, the various elements of Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas�s army had reached Nashville. Hood reached the outskirts of Nashville on December 2, occupied positions on a line of hills parallel to those of the Union and began erecting fieldworks. Union Army Engineer, Brig. Gen. James St. Clair Morton, had overseen the construction of sophisticated fortifications at Nashville in 1862-63, strengthened by others, which would soon see use. From the 1st through the 14th, Thomas made preparations for the Battle of Nashville in which he intended to destroy Hood�s army. On the night of December 14, Thomas informed Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck, acting as Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant�s chief of staff, that he would attack the next day. Thomas planned to strike both of Hood�s flanks. Before daylight on the 15th, the first of the Union troops, led by Maj. Gen. James Steedman, set out to hit the Confederate right. The attack was made and the Union forces held down one Rebel corps there for the rest of the day. Attack on the Confederate left did not begin until after noon when a charge commenced on Montgomery Hill. With this classic charge�s success, attacks on other parts of the Confederate left commenced, all eventually successful. By this time it was dark and fighting stopped for the day. Although battered and with a much smaller battle line, Gen. Hood was still confident. He established a main line of resistance along the base of a ridge about two miles south of the former location, throwing up new works and fortifying Shy�s and Overton�s hills on their flanks. The IV Army Corps marched out to within 250 yards, in some places, of the Confederate�s new line and began constructing fieldworks. During the rest of the morning, other Union troops moved out toward the new Confederate line and took up positions opposite it. The Union attack began against Hood�s strong right flank on Overton�s Hill. The same brigade that had taken Montgomery Hill the day before received the nod for the charge up Overton�s Hill. This charge, although gallantly conducted, failed, but other troops (Maj. Gen. A.J. Smith�s �Israelites� ) successfully assaulted Shy�s Hill in their fronts. Seeing the success along the line, other Union troops charged up Overton�s Hill and took it. Hood�s army fled. Thomas had left one escape route open but the Union army set off in pursuit. For ten days, the pursuit continued until the beaten and battered Army of Tennessee recrossed the Tennessee River. Hood�s army was stalled at Columbia, beaten at Franklin, and routed at Nashville. Hood retreated to Tupelo and resigned his command.

Result: Union victory

Battle of Spring Hill: November 29, 1864


Battle of Spring Hill

  • Principal Commanders: Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield [US]; Gen. John Bell Hood [CS]
  • Forces Engaged: IV and XXIII Army Corps [US]; Army of Tennessee [CS]
  • Estimated Casualties: Unknown

Spring Hill was the prelude to the Battle of Franklin. On the night of November 28, 1864, Gen. John Bell Hood's Army of Tennessee marched toward Spring Hill to get astride Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield's Union army's lifeline. Cavalry skirmishing between Brig. Gen. James H. Wilson's Union cavalry and Maj. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest's Confederate troopers continued throughout the day as the Confederates advanced. On November 29, Hood's infantry crossed Duck River and converged on Spring Hill. In the meantime, Maj. Gen. Schofield reinforced the troops holding the crossroads at Spring Hill. In late afternoon, the Federals repulsed a piecemeal Confederate infantry attack. During the night, the rest of Schofield's command passed from Columbia through Spring Hill to Franklin. This was, perhaps, Hood's best chance to isolate and defeat the Union army. The engagement has been described as "one of the most controversial non-fighting events of the entire war."

Result: Confederate victory

2004 Annual Field Trip: The Battles of Chattanoogaa and Chickamauga



Chattanooga

Chattanooga: November 23–25, 1863


Chattanooga

Location:  Hamilton County and City of Chattanooga

Principal Commanders:  . Gen. Ulysses S. Grant [US]; Gen. Braxton Bragg [CS]

Forces Engaged:  Military Division of the Mississippi [US]; Army of Tennessee [CS]

Estimated Casualties:  212,485 total (US 5,815; CS 6,670)

Description:  From the last days of September through October 1863, Gen. Braxton Bragg’s army laid siege to the Union army under Maj. Gen. William Rosecrans at Chattanooga, cutting off its supplies. On October 17, Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant received command of the Western armies; he moved to reinforce Chattanooga and replaced Rosecrans with Maj. Gen. George Thomas. A new supply line was soon established. Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman arrived with his four divisions in mid-November, and the Federals began offensive operations. On November 23-24, Union forces struck out and captured Orchard Knob and Lookout Mountain. On November 25, Union soldiers assaulted and carried the seemingly impregnable Confederate position on Missionary Ridge. One of the Confederacy’s two major armies was routed. The Federals held Chattanooga, the “Gateway to the Lower South,” which became the supply and logistics base for Sherman’s 1864 Atlanta Campaign.

Result(s):  Union victory.

Source:  CWSAC Battle Summaries (NPS)

Chickamauga: November 23–25, 1863


Battle of Chickamauga

Location:  Catoosa County and Walker County, GA

Campaign:  Chickamauga Campaign (1863)
Principal Commanders:  Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans and Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas, The Army of the Cumberland (US)
Gen. Braxton Bragg and Lt. Gen. James Longstreet, The Army of Tennessee [CS]

Estimated Casualties:  34,624 total (US 16,170; CS 18,454)

Description:  After the Tullahoma Campaign, Rosecrans renewed his offensive, aiming to force the Confederates out of Chattanooga. The three army corps comprising Rosecrans’ s army split and set out for Chattanooga by separate routes. In early September, Rosecrans consolidated his forces scattered in Tennessee and Georgia and forced Bragg’s army out of Chattanooga, heading south. The Union troops followed it and brushed with it at Davis’ Cross Roads. Bragg was determined to reoccupy Chattanooga and decided to meet a part of Rosecrans’s army, defeat them, and then move back into the city. On the 17th he headed north, intending to meet and beat the XXI Army Corps. As Bragg marched north on the 18th, his cavalry and infantry fought with Union cavalry and mounted infantry which were armed with Spencer repeating rifles. Fighting began in earnest on the morning of the 19th, and Bragg’s men hammered but did not break the Union line. The next day, Bragg continued his assault on the Union line on the left, and in late morning, Rosecrans was informed that he had a gap in his line. In moving units to shore up the supposed gap, Rosencrans created one, and James Longstreet’s men promptly exploited it, driving one-third of the Union army, including Rosecrans himself, from the field. George H. Thomas took over command and began consolidating forces on Horseshoe Ridge and Snodgrass Hill. Although the Rebels launched determined assaults on these forces, they held until after dark. Thomas then led these men from the field leaving it to the Confederates. The Union retired to Chattanooga while the Rebels occupied the surrounding heights.

Result(s):  Confederate Victory

Source:  CWSAC Battle Summaries (NPS)

2003 Annual Field Trip: The Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864



Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864

Battle of Lynchburg, VA: June 17–85, 1864


Map of the Battle of Lynchburg

In March 1864, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant assumed overall command of the Union armies, east and west. In May, he ordered Maj. Gen. Franz Sigel to cooperate with the Army of the Potomac's spring offensive by advancing up the Valley to disrupt Confederate communications at Staunton and Charlottesville. On May 15, while Grant and Lee were locked in desperate combat at Spotsylvania Courthouse, Sigel made contact with a Confederate force under former vice president of the United States John C. Breckinridge at New Market. Sigel was defeated and retreated rapidly beyond Strasburg, crossing Cedar Creek by dusk on May 16. Grant then replaced Sigel with Maj. Gen. David "Black Dave" Hunter, who was given the task of cutting the Virginia Central Railroad.

In the meantime, Breckinridge's division had been called east to reinforce the Army of Northern Virginia at Hanover Junction, and Brig. Gen. William E. "Grumble" Jones assumed command of the remaining Confederate forces in the Valley. On June 5, Hunter crushed the smaller Confederate army at Piedmont, killing Jones and taking nearly 1,000 prisoners. The disorganized Confederates could do nothing to delay Hunter's advance to Staunton, where he was joined by reinforcements marching from West Virginia.

From Staunton, Hunter continued south, sporadically destroying mills, barns, and public buildings, and condoning widespread looting by his troops. On June 11, Hunter swept aside a small cavalry force and occupied Lexington, where he burned the Virginia Military Institute and the home of former Virginia Governor John Letcher. Hunter's successes forced Lee to return Breckinridge and to send the Second Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia under Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early to the defense of Lynchburg. Sending Early to the Valley was a desperate decision that restricted Lee's ability to undertake offensive operations against Grant on the Richmond-Petersburg front.

On the afternoon of June 17, Hunter's army reached the outskirts of Lynchburg, even as Early's  vanguard began to arrive by rail from Charlottesville. After a brief, but fierce engagement, Hunter retreated into West Virginia. Early pursued for two days, but then returned to the Valley and started his troops north to the Potomac River.

Early's Maryland Campaign: June–August 1864


Historical Marker: Action at Rutherford's Farm

Hunter's retreat left the Shenandoah Valley virtually undefended, and Early moved swiftly north, reaching Winchester by July 2. General Sigel, commanding a reserve division, withdrew to Maryland Heights at Harpers Ferry, offering little resistance. On July 4, Early confronted Sigel but then determined to turn the position by crossing the Potomac and moving over South Mountain to Frederick, Maryland. On July 9, Early defeated a hastily organized Union force under Maj. Gen. Lew Wallace at the Monocacy River. Wallace retreated toward Baltimore, leaving open the road to Washington, but his defeat had bought valuable time.

On the afternoon of July 11, Early's command, numbering no more than 12,000 infantry, demonstrated before the Washington fortifications, which were weakly manned by garrison troops. Veteran reinforcements (VI and XIX Corps), diverted from Grant's army to meet the threat on the capital, began arriving at mid- day, and by July 12, fully manned the Washington entrenchments. After a brief demonstration at Fort Stevens, Early called off an attack on the capital. The Confederate army withdrew that night, recrossed the Potomac River at White's Ford and reentered the Valley by Snickers Gap. Maj. Gen. Horatio Wright, commanding the pursuing Union army, attempted to bring Early to bay.

On July 18, a Union division crossed the Shenandoah River west of Snickers Gap but was thrown back at the battle of Cool Spring. Union cavalry were turned back at Berry's Ferry, nine miles farther south, the next day. On July 20, Union Brig. Gen. William Averell's mounted command, backed by infantry, moved south from Martinsburg on the Valley Turnpike and attacked the infantry division of Maj. Gen. Stephen D. Ramseur at Rutherford's Farm near Winchester and routed it. In response to this setback and converging threats, Early withdrew to Fisher's Hill south of Strasburg.

Early's withdrawal convinced Wright that he had accomplished his task of driving off the Confederate invaders. He therefore ordered the VI and XIX Corps to return to Alexandria, where they would board transports to join the Army of the Potomac. Wright left Crook with three small infantry divisions and a cavalry division at Winchester to cover the Valley.

Under a standing directive to prevent Union reinforcements from reaching Grant, Early was quick to take advantage of Wright's departure. He attacked and routed Crook's command at Second Kernstown on July 24, and pressed the retreating Union forces closely. When Crook retreated toward Harpers Ferry, Early sent his cavalry to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, to exact tribute or burn the city. The citizens refused to comply, and McCausland's cavalry burned the center of the town in retaliation for Hunter's excesses in the Valley.

Sheridan's Valley Campaign: August 1864–March 1865


Sheridan's Valley Campaign

Early's threat to Washington, Crook's defeat at Second Kernstown, and the burning of Chambersburg, forced Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant to move decisively to end the Confederate threat in the lower Shenandoah Valley. Grant returned the VI and XIX Corps to the Valley, reinforced by two divisions of cavalry, and consolidated the various military districts of the region under Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan, who assumed command of the Middle Military District at Harpers Ferry on August 7.

Early deployed his forces to defend the approaches to Winchester, while Sheridan moved his army, now 50,000 strong, south via Berryville with the goal of cutting the Valley Turnpike. On August 11, Confederate cavalry and infantry turned back Union cavalry at Double Toll Gate in sporadic, day-long fighting, preventing this maneuver.

Lee was quick to reinforce success and sent Maj. Gen. Joseph Kershaw's infantry division of the First Corps, Fitzhugh Lee's cavalry division, and an artillery battalion, under overall command of Lt. Gen. Richard Anderson, to join Early. On August 16, Union cavalry encountered this force advancing through Front Royal, and in a sharp engagement at Guard Hill, Brig. Gen. George A. Custer's brigade captured more than 300 Confederates.

Sheridan had been ordered to move cautiously and avoid a defeat, particularly if Early were reinforced from the Petersburg line. Uncertain of Early's and Anderson's combined strength, Sheridan withdrew to a defensive line near Charles Town to cover the Potomac River crossings and Harpers Ferry. Early's forces routed the Union rear guard at Abrams Creek at Winchester on August 17 and pressed north on the Valley Turnpike to Bunker Hill. Judging Sheridan's performance thus far, General Early considered him a "timid" commander.

On August 21, Early and Anderson launched a converging attack against Sheridan. As Early struck the main body of Union infantry at Cameron's Depot, Anderson moved north from Berryville against Sheridan's cavalry at Summit Point. Results of the fighting were inconclusive, but Sheridan continued to withdraw. The next day, Early advanced boldly on Charles Town, panicking a portion of the retreating Union army, but by late afternoon, Sheridan had retreated into formidable entrenchments at Halltown, south of Harpers Ferry, where he was beyond attack. Early then attempted another incursion into Maryland, hoping by this maneuver to maintain the initiative. Leaving Anderson with Kershaw's division entrenched in front of Sheridan at Halltown, he directed the rest of the army north toward Shepherdstown.

On August 25, two divisions of Sheridan's cavalry intercepted Early's advance, but the Confederate infantry drove them back to the Potomac River in a series of actions along Kearneysville-Shepherdstown Road. Early's  intentions were revealed, however, and on August 26, Sheridan's infantry attacked and overran a portion of the Confederate entrenchments at Halltown, forcing Anderson and Kershaw to withdraw to Stephenson's Depot. Early abandoned his raid and returned south, establishing a defensive line on the west bank of Opequon Creek from Bunker Hill to Stephenson's Depot.

On August 29, Union cavalry forded the Opequon at Smithfield Crossing (Middleway) but were swiftly driven back across the creek and beyond the hamlet by Confederate infantry. Union infantry of the VI Corps then advanced and regained the line of the Opequon. This was one more in a series of thrusts and parries that characterized this phase of the campaign, known to the soldiers as the "mimic war."

On September 2–3, Averell's cavalry division rode south from Martinsburg and struck the Confederate left flank at Bunker Hill, defeating the Confederate cavalry but being driven back by infantry. Meanwhile, Sheridan concentrated his infantry near Berryville. On the afternoon of September 3, Anderson's command encountered and attacked elements of Crook's corps (Army of West Virginia) at Berryville but was repulsed. Early brought his entire army up on the 4th, but found Sheridan's position at Berryville too strongly entrenched to attack. Early again withdrew to the Opequon line.

On September 15, Anderson with Kershaw's division and an artillery battalion left the Winchester area to return to Lee's army at Petersburg and by the 18th had reached the Virginia Piedmont. Early spread out his remaining divisions from Winchester to Martinsburg, where he once more cut the B&O Railroad. When Sheridan learned of Anderson's departure and the raid on Martinsburg, he determined to attack at once while the Confederate army was scattered.

On September 19, Sheridan advanced his army on the Berryville Turnpike, precipitating the battle of Opequon. By forced marches, Early concentrated his army in time to intercept Sheridan's main blow. The battle raged all day on the hills east and north of Winchester.

Early's veterans decimated two divisions of the XIX Corps and a VI Corps division in fighting in the Middle Field and near the Dinkle Barn. Confederate division commander Maj. Gen. Robert E. Rodes and Union division commander Brig. Gen. David A. Russell were killed within a few hundred yards of one another in the heat of the fighting. Late in the afternoon a flanking movement by Crook's corps and the Union cavalry finally broke Early's overextended line north of town. Opequon was a do-or-die effort on the part of both armies, resulting in nearly 9,000 casualties.

Sheridan's victory was decisive but incomplete; Early retreated twenty miles south to his entrenchments at Fisher's Hill and Sheridan followed. Preliminary skirmishing on the 21st showed that a frontal assault would be costly, so Sheridan resorted to a flanking movement on September 22. Hidden from the Confederate signal station on Massanutten Mountain by the dense forest, Crook's two divisions marched along the shoulder of Little North Mountain to get behind the Confederate lines. In late afternoon, Crook's soldiers fell on Early's left flank and rear "like an avalanche," throwing the Confederate army into panicked retreat. At Milford (Overall) in the Luray Valley on the same day Confederate cavalry prevented two divisions of Union cavalry from reaching Luray and passing New Market Gap to intercept Early's defeated army as it withdrew up the Valley.

Early retreated to Rockfish Gap near Waynesboro, opening the Valley to Union depredations and what became known as "The Burning" or "Red October." Sheridan thought he had destroyed Early's army, but Kershaw's division and another brigade of cavalry were returned to the Valley, nearly making up the losses suffered at Opequon and Fisher's Hill. After convincing Grant that he could proceed no farther than Staunton, Sheridan withdrew down the Valley systematically burning mills, barns, and public buildings, destroying or carrying away the forage, grain, and livestock. During this portion of the campaign, Confederate partisan groups under John S. Mosby and Harry Gilmor increased their activities against Union supply lines in the Lower Valley.

Early followed Sheridan's withdrawal, sending his cavalry under Maj. Gen. Thomas L. Rosser to harass the Union rear guard. Angered by Rosser's constant skirmishing, Sheridan ordered his commander of cavalry, Maj. Gen. Alfred T. Torbert, to "whip the enemy or get whipped yourself." On October 9, Torbert unleashed the divisions of his young generals, Wesley Merritt and George Custer, on the Confederate cavalry, routing it at Tom's Brook. In the melee that followed, victorious Union troopers chased the Confederates twenty miles up the pike and eight miles up the Back Road, in what came to be known as the "Woodstock Races." The morale and efficiency of the Confederate cavalry were seriously impaired for the rest of the war.

On October 13, Early reoccupied Fisher's Hill and pushed through Strasburg to Hupp's Hill where he engaged a portion of Sheridan's army at Hupp's Hill and the Stickley Farm. When Sheridan realized the proximity of Early's forces, he recalled the VI Corps, which had again been dispatched to join Grant. On October 19, at dawn, after an unparalleled night march, Confederate infantry directed by Maj. Gen. John B. Gordon surprised and overwhelmed the soldiers of Crook's corps in their camps at Cedar Creek. The XIX Corps suffered a like fate as the rest of Early's army joined the attack. Only the VI Corps maintained its order as it withdrew beyond Middletown, providing a screen behind which the other corps could regroup. Sheridan, who was absent when the attack began, arrived on the field from Winchester and immediately began to organize a counterattack, saying "if I had been with you this morning, boys, this would not have happened." In late afternoon, the Union army launched a coordinated counterattack that drove the Confederates back across Cedar Creek. Sheridan's leadership turned the tide, transforming Early's stunning morning victory into afternoon disaster. Early retreated up the Valley under sharp criticism of his generalship, while President Abraham Lincoln rode the momentum of Sheridan's victories in the Valley and Sherman's successes in the Atlanta campaign to re-election in November. A campaign slogan of the time duly noted that the "Early" bird had gotten its "Phil."

Early attempted a last offensive in mid-November, advancing to Middletown. But his weakened cavalry was defeated by Union cavalry at Newtown (Stephens City) and Ninevah, forcing him to withdraw his infantry. The Union cavalry now so overpowered his own that Early could not maneuver offensively against Sheridan. On November 22, the cavalry fought at Rude's Hill, and on December 12, a second Union cavalry raid was turned back at Lacey Springs, ending active operations for the winter season. The winter was disastrous for the Confederate army, which was no longer able to sustain itself on the produce of the devastated Valley. The only bright spot for the Confederates in the valley was Rosser's Bevelry Raid in January 1865. Cavalry and infantry were returned to Lee's army at Petersburg or dispersed to feed and forage for themselves.

Riding through sleet on March 2, 1865, Custer's and Brig. Gen. Thomas Devin's cavalry divisions advanced from Staunton, arriving near Waynesboro in the early afternoon. There, they found Early's  small army, consisting of a remnant of Brig. Gen. Gabriel Wharton's division and some artillery units. Early presented a brave front although the South River was to his rear, but in a few hours, the war for the Shenandoah Valley was over. Early's army fled before the Union cavalry, scattering up the mountainside. Early escaped with a few of his aides, riding away from his last battle with no forces left to contest Union control of the Shenandoah Valley.

With the Confederate threat in the Valley eliminated, General Sheridan led his cavalry overland to Petersburg to participate in the final campaign of the war in Virginia. On April 9, 1865, after collapse of the Petersburg lines and a harried retreat, General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse.