The Civil War counted hundreds of generals on both sides of the Union and Confederate armies, many of whom became very famous. Confederate generals were often former officers of the U.S. Army, but some received the rank by merit. On both sides, the rank of general had to be approved by the president and Senate (of either the Union or Confederate States.) Let’s have a look of some of the more prominent Civil War generals:
Some Of the Main Confederate Generals
Robert E. Lee – Arguably the Confederate general who was the most successful. Lee replaced Joe Johnston, who suffered severe injuries at Fair Oaks. He forced the Seven Days Retreat onto George McClellan, had great victories at Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg and threatened invading the North. He managed to hold Petersburg with only 33,000 men.
P.G.T. Beauregard – The general who started everything with his attack on Fort Sumter, which started the Civil War. He also emerged victorious from the First Battle of Bull Run and commanded confederate forces during the Siege of Corinth and the Battle of Shiloh. Beauregard also managed to defend Petersburg and Richmond from Union assaults.
Nathan Bedford Forrest – This great cavalry commander was very innovative and the only General in the Civil War (on either side) who managed to work himself up from the rank of a private to that of a general. Forrest, who didn’t have any military training before the war, was feared by great Union names such as William Tecumseh Sherman and Ulysses S. Grant, who called him “that devil Forrest.” Refusing to surrender at Fort Donelson, Forrest managed to get his men to safety. His cavalry raids put so much pressure on the Union that Sherman made it a goal to try and capture Forrest. He planned and commanded at the battle of Tishomingo Creek, which historians still consider to be one of the greatest cavalry battles of the war.
Thomas Jackson – This general earned his nickname “Stonewall” for his brilliant strategies and steadfast command during some of the heaviest battles, including that of the First Bull Run. At the Second Battle of Manassas he almost destroyed the Army of Virginia under command of John Pope. He held off a strong federal assault at Fredericksburg but unfortunately was killed at Chancellorsville from friendly fire.
J.E.B. Stuart – His cavalry was Lee’s “eyes and ears” and often played a supporting role for Lee’s army. Although he got to Gettysburg late he managed to reach the Confederates with the necessary supplies to support them. Stuart also played a large role in boosting the morale of the Confederates and was known as an expert at reconnaissance.
Some Of The Main Union Generals
Ulysses S. Grant – Thanks to Grant, the Union won the Civil War. His first major victory was to capture Fort Donelson and Fort Henry. He defended the Battle of Shiloh so effectively, it turned to victory. He fought a war of attrition with Lee, pursuing the Confederates wherever they went to destroy them. In the end, Lee had no choice but to surrender, effectively ending the war.
William T. Sherman – At Shiloh, Sherman managed to absorbed the first Confederate attack. He took Atlanta before 1864’s election, which worked greatly in Lincoln’s favor. Sherman’s 60,000 men who, in the “March to the Sea,” moved in to join Ulysses S. Grant’s forces convinced Lee that he was unable to defend Richmond, shortly before the surrender at Appomattox.
George Henry Thomas – Was known as a general who never retreated. Although he was from Virginia in the south, Thomas chose to fight on the Union side. Thomas won the Battle of Mill Springs with a small force and also managed to hold the Union center at Stone’s River. At Chattanooga, his troops took Missionary Ridge and he proposed the Resaca attack during the Atlanta Campaign and absorbed the Peachtree Creek Confederate attack. At the Battle of Nashville, Thomas defeated the Army of Georgia.
George G. Meade – Played an important role in almost every battle the Army of the Potomac fought, finally ending in Lee’s surrender. His brigade managed to stop James Longstreet from reaching the supply train, he protected an important line of retreat during the Second Bull Run and his division was the first to engage at Antietam. He was one of the few Union commanders who had success at Fredericksburg. Meade won the Battle of Gettysburg and contributed greatly to most of Grant’s successes.
Philip Sheridan – this infantry commander managed to absorb Braxton Bragg’s assault at the battle of Stone’s River. He also tried led the Chattanooga assault on Missionary Ridge and claimed Shenandoah Valley from the Confederates. Sheridan’s interception of Lee’s orders allowed him to cut off the train that carried important Confederate supplies, bringing an end to Lee’s campaign.
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