Brief Description of Civil War Battles: Letters A-B

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Allatoona (GA.), Battle of. (1864)

In the hope of drawing Gen. Sherman's army out of Georgia, the Confederates 36,000 strong, under Gen. Hood, threatened his railroad communications with Nashville. October 5, 1864, a division of Hood's infantry appeared before Allatoona Pass, where were stored about 1,500,000 rations. The post was held by Col. Tourtelotte, who was reinforced by Gen. Corse, thus increasing the Union force to 1,944 men. The attack was made on the 6th. The conflict lasted from 8:30 a.m. until night, when the Confederates withdrew, leaving 231 dead and 411 prisoners. Corse lost 707 men and was himself wounded. Hood crossed the Coosa Oct. 10, and Sherman's army followed him to Gaylesville by way of Rome, and then returned to Atlanta.

Antietam (Md.), Battle of (1862)

After the severe engagement at South Mountain, Lee's army concentrated to the west of Antietam Creek, a small stream flowing into the Potomac River about 8 miles above Harpers Ferry. Here, near the town of Sharpsburg, between the Potomac and the creek, Lee awaited the return of Jackson, who had been sent to capture Harpers Ferry. According to Federal accounts, Lee had not more than 25,000 men until Jackson's two divisions came up. Later he was joined by D.H. Hill's, McLaw's, and Anderson's divisions. This raised the strength of Lee's command to over 45,000 combatants. Sept. 16, 1862, McClellan's army, about 70,000 strong, was assembled on the east bank of Antietam Creek. This command was reinforced to 87,164, of which 4,320 were cavalry. About 60,000 of this force bore the brunt of the battle. On the evening of the 16th Hooker's division crossed the creek and began an attack, which darkness ended. Fighting was resumed at daylight on the 17th and continued all day, with varying success and terrific slaughter. Darkness again put an end to the carnage. McClellan did not renew the attack on the 18th, but orders were issued to resume fighting on the 19th. During the night of the 18th, however, the Confederates withdrew to the west of the Potomac and proceeded toward Martinsburg. A few days later McClellan occupied Martinsburg. The total loss of the Union Army was 12,469 (2,010 killed); of the Confederates, 25,899. Other estimates of the Confederate loss are 9,000 to 12,000. The official Confederate accounts claim that this was a drawn battle, and that the total effective force of Lee was a little more than 35,000. This was called by the Confederates the battle of Sharpsburg.

Appomattox (Va.), Battle. (1865)

After the battle of Farmville, Apr. 7, 1865, Lee moved off toward the west, closely followed by Meade on the north side of the Appomattox. Sheridan, learning of the arrival of supply trains for Lee's army at Appomattox Station, pushed forward for that place with all the cavalry. Lee's hopeless condition being now apparent, Grant sent him a note inviting surrender. Lee replied, asking for terms and Grant insisted upon the unconditional surrender of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. On the night of Apr. 8 Custer, who was in Sheridan's advance, reached Appomattox Station, where the Confederate advance had just arrived. He attacked the forces and captured 25 guns and 4 supply trains, a hospital train, and a park of wagons. During the night Sheridan came up, and by daylight was joined by Gen. Ord's command and the Fifth Corps. Lee was now only 20 miles from Lynchburg, his objective point. AT first, underestimating the opposing forces, he ordered Gen. Gordon to make a reconnaissance and attack. Sheridan's cavalry withdrew to one side and revealed the lines of Ord's and Griffin's commands in line of battle. Gordon sent forward a white flag. Gen. Lee then dispatched a note to Gen. Grant requesting an interview, which being allowed closed with the signing of articles of surrender of Lee's army and camp followers, about 27,000 men. The officers and men were paroled Apr. 12 and allowed to return to their homes. All public property was turned over, but the officers were allowed to keep their side arms and both officers and men to retain their private horses and baggage.

Arkansas Post (Ark.), Battle of. (1863)

Jan. 10, 1863, an expedition under command of Gen. McClernand and convoyed by Admiral Porter's fleet of gunboats moved against Fort Hindman, at Arkansas Post, on the Arkansas River. Jan. 11 a combined attack was begun, which was maintained until 4 o'clock in the afternoon, when the post, with 5,000 prisoners, was surrendered to the Union forces. The Federal loss in the action was 977 killed, wounded, and missing.

Atlanta (Ga.), Battle of. (1864)

On the night of July 21, 1864, Gen. Hood transferred his forces before Atlanta to a point near Decatur, about 5 miles east of Atlanta. Sherman came up and finding the works on Peach Tree Creek abandoned, proceeded to invest the city. At 11 a.m. of the 22d Hood surprised the left wing of Sherman's army, under McPherson, by a sudden movement from Decatur. The whole line was soon engaged. Gen. McPherson was killed in the action, and the command of the Army of the Tennessee devolved upon Gen. Logan. After 4 hours of fighting the Confederates retired into their main works about Atlanta, leaving their dead and wounded on the field. The total Confederate loss was estimated at about 8,000. The Federal loss was 3,722 killed, wounded, and missing. Sherman now drew his lines closely around Atlanta and prepared for a siege, but was unable to cut off Confederate supplies from Macon. Aug. 25 he gave up the idea of a direct siege. Sept. 1, however, a part of Hood's forces under Hardee having been repulsed at Jonesboro, Hood blew up his magazines and evacuated the city.

Averysboro (N.C.), Battle of (1865)

Mar. 16, 1865, Gen. Slocum, in the advance of the Union army, encountered the confederates under Gen. Hardee near Averysboro, in the narrow swampy neck between Cape Fear and South rivers. Hardee hoped to hold Sherman in check until Johnston could concentrate his army at some point in his rear. Incessant rains had made the ground so soft that men and horses sank deep in the mud. A severe fight took place amid showers of rain and gusts of wind. The whole line advanced late in the afternoon and the Confederates retreated to Smithfield, leaving 108 dead upon the field . The Federal loss was 77 killed and 477 wounded.


Balls Bluff (Va.), Battle of.(1861)

In October, 1861, Gen. McClellan directed Brig. Gen. Charles P. Stone to make a demonstration toward Leesburg, Va. Stone ordered Col. Devens, of the Fifteenth Massachusetts, to cross the Potomac near Balls Bluff and attack and destroy any Confederate camps found, or to report and wait for reinforcements. Devens, with about 300 of his own regiment and 100 men of the Twentieth Massachusetts, advanced to Leesburg, but, encountering opposition, fell back to the place of crossing, and was attacked there by the Confederates Oct. 21. Col. Baker, who was a United States Senator, arriving with a California regiment and the Tammany regiment of New York, assumed command. The Union forces now numbered 1,900. At 5 o'clock p.m. Col. Baker was killed, and the Federals, after a vain attempt to cut their way through to Edwards Ferry, were given orders to retreat to the river bank and to save themselves as best they could, Many of the retreating army were drowned while swimming the river. The number of Federals lost was 894. The Confederates lost 302. Gen. Stone was arrested and kept in confinement from Feb. 9 to Aug. 16, 1862.

Baton Rouge (La.), Battle of. (1862)

Early in May, 1862, after the fall of New Orleans, Admiral Farragut passed up the river and raised the American flag over the public buildings in Baton Rouge, the capital of Louisiana. Gen. Thomas Williams was placed in command of the place with a small garrison. August 5, 1862, he was attacked by Gen. Breckenridge, who was to have been assisted by the ironclad gunboat Arkansas. The Arkansas exploded her boilers and failed to reach the scene of action. The Confederates were repulsed. The Union loss was 200, including Gen. Williams, who was killed.

Belmont (Mo.), Battle of. (1861)

Nov. 1, 1861, Gen. Grant, who had been in command of posts in eastern Missouri and southern Illinois under Fremont, had a force of 20,000 men at Cairo. A Confederate force under Gen. Polk held Columbus, Ky., on the east bank of the Mississippi River. This position commanded the navigation of the river and was eventually made very strong, being defended by more than 120 heavy guns. On the Missouri bank opposite Columbus the Confederates had established a camp at Belmont, under Gen. Pillow, Grant learned that reinforcements were to be sent by way of this camp in November to join Price. He thereupon left Cairo and, sending a force to occupy Paducah, Ky., conveyed 3,000 men down the river in transports, accompanied by gunboats, to attack Belmont. The battle was fought Nov. 7, 1861. Few of the men had been under fire before. Grant's men took the camp, but were compelled to abandon it and return to their transports. The Federal loss was 485 killed, wounded, and missing. The Confederate loss was 642, including prisoners.

Bentonville (N.C.), Battle of. (1865)

After the engagement at Averysboro Sherman's army continued its march toward Goldsboro. When near Bentonville, Mar. 18, 1865, Slocum's advance encountered the Confederates in force. Johnston had hastily collected Stewart's and Cheatham's corps, Hardee's force, and Hampton's cavalry, aggregating something like 24,000 men. The attack of the Confederates was directed mainly against the corps of Jeff C. Davis. A strong line of battle confronted Johnston, with Mill Creek and a single bridge in his rear. Mar. 20 a general attack was made by Sherman's skirmish line. During the night Johnston retreated, as it was not his purpose to bring on with his small force a general battle with the larger army of Sherman. The battle was not a distinct victory for either side.

Big Bethel (Va.), Battle of (1861)

One of the preliminary skirmishes of the Civil War. In June, 1861, Maj. Gen. B.F, Butler, of Massachusetts, was placed in command of the Federal forces in eastern Virginia. He established headquarters at Fortress Monroe and was soon in command of 10,000 men. June 9 Butler sent Brig. Gen. E.W. Pierce with a detachment of 3,500 men (composed of New York, Massachusetts, and Vermont infantry and a battery of artillery) to dislodge the Confederates at Big and Little Bethel under Gen. J.B. Magruder's command. Magruder's force (1,400) had made frequent raids upon the Federal lines. The attack, which was intended as a surprise, was made by the Union forces on the morning of June 10 and was repulsed. The Union loss was 76. Among the killed was Maj. Theodore Winthrop. The Confederate loss was 1 killed and 4 wounded. Big Bethel was the first real battle of the war.

Big Black (Miss., Battle of. (1863)

May 17, 1863, the day after the battle of Champion Hills, Grant's army pushed on toward Vicksburg. McClernand's corps, in advance, soon came upon Pemberton's army, strongly entrenched on both sides of the Big Black River. The Confederate batteries posted on the high bluffs were carried after a sharp engagement, the Federal assault being led by Lawler's brigade. The Confederates retreated. Seventeen pieces of artillery and about 1,200 prisoners were here taken. A portion of Pemberton's outposts crossed the river on temporary bridges, which they destroyed behind them, and joined the main body of the army in the retreat into the fortifications at Vicksburg. The Federal loss was 279.

Boonville (Mo.), Battle of. (1861)

When President Lincoln's call for troops, Apr. 15, 1861, reached Governor Jackson, of Missouri, he refused to furnish the 4 regiments forming the quota of the State. Francis P. Blair, jr., had, however, organized, under the military command of Nathaniel Lyon, 5 regiments, and these were mustered in immediately, Lyon being made brigadier-general. When another Missouri brigade had been formed, May 8, Lyon was put in command of the department. Meantime Governor Jackson ordered the State militia to camp at St. Louis. May 10 Gen. Lyon surrounded the camp, and on its surrender by Gen. Frost paroled the men, 700 in number. June 15 he occupied Jefferson City, the governor fleeing to Boonville. Lyon followed. On June 17 he dispersed the State troops collected there.

Brandy Station, or Fleetwood (Va.), Battle of. (1863)

After the battle of Chancellorsville Hooker's army remained inactive on the north side of the Rappahannock for about a month. June 9, 1863, two divisions of cavalry, supported by 2 brigades of infantry, were sent across the river to reconnoiter the Confederate position. Gen. Pleasanton was in charge of the expedition and the cavalry was commanded by Generals Buford and Gregg. They were driven back after the loss of 500 men in one of the most important cavalry fights of the Civil War. The only practical result of the expedition was the discovery that Lee's infantry was moving north by way of Culpeper. Here also, on Aug. 1, Gen. Buford with his division of cavalry met the Confederate General Stuart and compelled him to retreat until reinforced, when Buford in turn retreated. Between Oct. 10 and 16 desultory fighting with both cavalry and infantry occurred in the vicinity of Brandy Station.

Bristow Station (Va.), Battle of. (1862)

Hooker's and Heintzelman's divisions of McClellan's army had been sent to reinforce Pope, who had taken a position west of the Rappahannock. Stonewall Jackson made a forced march from the Shenandoah Valley by way of Thoroughfare Gap and, passing by the battlefield of Bull Run, Aug. 26. 1862, destroyed Pope's stores at Bristow Station, and then advanced to Manassas. Hooker's division the next day came upon the Confederates under Ewell at Bristow Station and drove them from the field. Each side suffered a loss of about 300 men.

Bull Run (Va.), Battle of, or First Battle of Manassas. (1861)

For the double purpose of menacing Washington and preventing an advance of the Federal Troops into Virginia, the Confederates during the summer of 1861 collected a large body of troops in the vicinity of Manassas Junction, Va. The position was 33 miles southwest of Washington. The troops here assembled numbered, including all reinforcements received during the battle, about 32,000, under command of Gen. Beauregard. The senior officer, Gen. J.E. Johnston, after his arrival on the field, did not take the actual command. The aggregate force of Union soldiers in and around Washington was 34,160 men. Both armies were composed mostly of undisciplined volunteers. July 16, 1861, Maj. Gen. McDowell began a general forward movement. Lieut. Gen. Scott advised postponement until the forces should be better prepared for service, but his warning was disregarded. The Federal army was divided into 5 divisions. Leaving 5,700 men under Brig. Gen. Runyon to guard the approaches to Washington, the other 4 divisions, aggregating 28, 500 men, under Brigadier-Generals Tyler, Hunter, Heintzelman, and Miles, advanced to Bull Run, a tributary of the Potomac River, about 30 miles from Washington, on the way to Manassas Junction. Hunter's and Heintzelman's divisions crossed the run July 21 and attacked the Confederate left, slowly forcing it back. Beauregard's army, when the action began, consisted of about 24,000 available men. He was reinforced at intervals during the day by 8,000 men under Johnston, who had been encamped in the Shenandoah Valley and whose junction with the main army it was thought would be prevented by Gen. Patterson. The latter had been stationed at Martinsburg with 18,000 men. Between 3 and 4 o'clock in the afternoon, when everything seemed favorable to the Federals, the last 3,000 of Johnston's men, under Gen. Kirby Smith, arrived and fell upon the federals, forcing a retreat. This attack was followed by another by Early's brigade, and the Federal retreat became a rout. Men threw away their arms and equipments; artillery horses were cut from their traces and guns abandoned on the road; soldiers, civilians, and camp followers fled panic-stricken toward Washington afoot, astride, and in carriages. The retreating army and followers reached Washington July 23. The casualties of the battle were: Federal losses killed, 481; wounded, 1,011; missing, 1,216; total, 2,708. Confederate losses_killed, 387; wounded 1,582; missing, 13; total, 1,982. This battle was the first very important engagement of the war. (See also Groveton (Va.), Battle of; Manassas (Va.), or Bull Run, Second Battle of.)


Website: The History
Article Name: Brief Description of Civil War Battles: Letters A-B
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: From my collection of Books: A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents 1789-1897 by James D. Richardson, A Representative from the State of Tennessee published by the authority of Congress 1899.
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