The Vicksburg Campaign: November 1862 - July 1863 - The campaign for the control of Vicksburg was one of the most important contests in determining the outcome of the Civil War. As President Abraham Lincoln observed, "Vicksburg is the key. The war can never be brought to a close until that key is in our pocket." The struggle for Vicksburg lasted more than a year, and when it was over, the outcome of the Civil War appeared more certain. The centerpiece of the Vicksburg campaign was the Mississippi River, just as the great river is the centerpiece of the North American continent. The Mississippi and its tributaries drain over a million square miles of territory in the United States and Canada. These waterways included twenty thousand miles of navigable water, extending from Montana to Pennsylvania and from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico, making possible the large-scale settlement of the west. Between 1810 and 1860, the number of whites residing west of the Appalachians swelled from one million to fifteen million, thanks in large part to the availability of navigable waterways.
The Chancellorsville Campaign: January - May 1863 - The battle of Chancellorsville, fought in the spring of 1863 in Virginia's Piedmont region, pitted a powerful Union Army under its newly appointed commander, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker, against a significantly smaller but well-led Confederate force under General Robert E. Lee. Hooker had refit and reorganized his 130,000 men into a potent fighting force over the winter following the Union Army of the Potomac's bloody defeat at Fredericksburg, Virginia, in December 1862, under Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside. After Hooker had replaced Burnside, he developed a plan to hold Lee's 60,000 ill-supplied Confederates at Fredericksburg with a small part of the Army of the Potomac, and march most of his troops in a wide flanking maneuver to the west to attack Lee's flank and rear. Hooker hoped this daring move would either crush Lee's Army of Northern Virginia or force it to retreat toward Richmond, Virginia. Either way, he anticipated a glorious victory for his Federals over the fabled Confederate commander.
Bonus: America's Civil War 1861 to 1865 - This Army history publication provides details and analysis of the Civil War from its beginnings in 1816 through its conclusion. Contents include: Secession, Sumter, and Standing to Arms * The Balloon Experiment * The Baltimore Riots * The Opponents * Anaconda Plan * First Bull Run (First Manassas) * Shield of the Capital: The Washington Forts * The Second Uprising in 1861 * The War in the East: The Army of the Potomac Moves South * Jackson's Valley Campaign * Peninsula Campaign * The Seven Days' Battles * Second Bull Run * Lee Invades Maryland * The Emancipation Proclamation * Fiasco at Fredericksburg * The War in the West: The Twin Rivers Campaign * Capture of Forts Henry and Donelson * Confederate Counterattack at Shiloh * Perryville to Stones River * Hardee's Tactics * The War West of the Mississippi * The East: Hooker Crosses the Rappahannock * General Orders 100 * Chancellorsville: Lee's Boldest Risk * The Death of Stonewall Jackson * Lee's Second Invasion of the North * James Longstreet (1821-1904) * Gettysburg * Joshua L. Chamberlain (1828-1914) * "Pickett's" Charge * The West: Confusion over Clearing the Mississippi * Grant and Headquarters * Grant's Campaign against Vicksburg * Railroads in the Civil War * Chickamauga Campaign * The New York Draft Riots * Snodgrass Hill * Grant at Chattanooga * Unity of Command * Sherman * Lee Cornered at Richmond * Cold Harbor * The Crater * Sherman's Great Wheel to the East * Atlanta to the Sea and into the Carolinas * Thomas Protects the Nashville Base * Lee's Last 100 Days * Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885) * Robert E. Lee (1807-1870) * Andersonville and Elmira Prison Camps * Dimensions of the War