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  #1  
Old 06 Dec 16, 19:50
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Which battle had the biggest impact on the war?

Which battle had the biggest impact on the war, and why? I'm not gonna list a poll because the question is intentionaly vague, seeing that multiple battles had huge impacts on the course of events.

Was it First Bull Run that steeled the North for conflict?

Was it Shiloh that foreshadowed the human cost of the war?

Was it Seven Pines that incapacitated Johnston?

Was it Antietam that opened the way for the Emancipation Proclomation?

What battle had the biggest impact on the war, and why?
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  #2  
Old 07 Dec 16, 00:26
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Gettysburg had the greatest impact on morale, I believe. Lee's invasion of the North was not only stopped cold, but made to retreat. The AoV took heavy losses in veterans which it could not afford, but most importantly it marked the point where Lee lost operational initiative.

However the engagement that most impacted the course of the war by far was the seizure of New Orleans.

With the loss of the critical port the Union was able to draw the blockade tighter than it otherwise could have, it crippled the Mighty Miss, and it preordained the cutting of the CSA in two.

I cannot help but think that the Admirals in the UK watching the war saw the CSA's defeat in that action.
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Old 07 Dec 16, 01:39
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Originally Posted by Arnold J Rimmer View Post
Gettysburg had the greatest impact on morale, I believe. Lee's invasion of the North was not only stopped cold, but made to retreat. The AoV took heavy losses in veterans which it could not afford, but most importantly it marked the point where Lee lost operational initiative.

However the engagement that most impacted the course of the war by far was the seizure of New Orleans.

With the loss of the critical port the Union was able to draw the blockade tighter than it otherwise could have, it crippled the Mighty Miss, and it preordained the cutting of the CSA in two.

I cannot help but think that the Admirals in the UK watching the war saw the CSA's defeat in that action.
All good points, thanks for posting
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Old 07 Dec 16, 05:59
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I'll throw a dark horse candidate into the mix. Atlanta was a much needed morale boost after the bloodletting in Virginia in 1864. A lot of historians make the case that without Sherman capturing Atlanta and battering Hood out of the way, Lincoln would've probably not been reelected. McClellan would've been elected and that had nothing but disaster written all over it.
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Old 07 Dec 16, 13:19
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Old 07 Dec 16, 14:49
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Vicksburg-though it was a siege, not a battle.
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Old 07 Dec 16, 16:49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R. Evans View Post
I'll throw a dark horse candidate into the mix. Atlanta was a much needed morale boost after the bloodletting in Virginia in 1864. A lot of historians make the case that without Sherman capturing Atlanta and battering Hood out of the way, Lincoln would've probably not been reelected. McClellan would've been elected and that had nothing but disaster written all over it.
Good point, I recently did a research paper on this very theme. I think you may be right, IMO.

I was also thinking of Grant's Battle of Belmont; he says that battle taught him not to fear his enemy. He was lucky to learn that lesson early on.
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Old 07 Dec 16, 16:56
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Atlanta won the war for the north so I go with that. I think Gettysburg is well overrated in importance. Many north and south did not even see it as a defeat as the confederates were not beaten from the field, it was a tactical draw similar to Antietam and the south won a great victory on day 1. The south made off with large amounts of supply and did enough damage to the north to prevent them from major offensive campaigns for 10 months.
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Old 07 Dec 16, 17:07
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Originally Posted by 1stvermont View Post
Atlanta won the war for the north so I go with that. I think Gettysburg is well overrated in importance. Many north and south did not even see it as a defeat as the confederates were not beaten from the field, it was a tactical draw similar to Antietam and the south won a great victory on day 1. The south made off with large amounts of supply and did enough damage to the north to prevent them from major offensive campaigns for 10 months.
Are you dreaming?

They didn't win any sort of victory; their entire purpose in invading the north was to draw the AoP into action and defeat it in detail. Instead they mounted frontal assaults which accomplished nothing but terrible losses. It was a close-run battle, but no draw; the invasion had been repelled.

Never forget that Lee offered his resignation after Gettysburg. He saw it as a serious defeat.
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Old 07 Dec 16, 17:36
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I say Fort Donaldson and Henry. They opened up the way South and put the Confederacy on the defensive. They also, as American 87 referenced about Belmont, put Grant in the public eye and started his rise. It also marked the start of cooperation between the Army and Navy. That cooperation led to all of the victories along the Mississippi.
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Old 07 Dec 16, 19:21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arnold J Rimmer View Post
Are you dreaming?

They didn't win any sort of victory; their entire purpose in invading the north was to draw the AoP into action and defeat it in detail. Instead they mounted frontal assaults which accomplished nothing but terrible losses. It was a close-run battle, but no draw; the invasion had been repelled.

Never forget that Lee offered his resignation after Gettysburg. He saw it as a serious defeat.
I would suggest Gary Gallaghers discussion on the civil war where he goes into detail on the reaction to the battle from soldiers, newspapers, generals etc at the time of the battle and aftermath. The south viewed [at the time] Gettysburg not as a defeat, but a great victory on day 1 , followed by a bloody tactical draw on day 2-3. Long after Lees men, and the south at large, always spoke of lee as never being defeated and never would. Lee offered his resignation for not earning the major victory and failing health issues. Lee himself did not see Gettysburg as a disaster because it was not a loss, but a draw, and accomplished the secondary goal of coming back to Virginia with massive supplies from the north.

neither did the north view it totally as a great victory, they failed to win the field and just held their ground after the first days losses. Were bloodied bad enough to not be able to invade for 10 months.
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Old 07 Dec 16, 19:40
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Quote:
and the south won a great victory on day 1
We do not judge battles by individual time frames taken out of context, but by the end result.

Quote:
Long after Lees men, and the south at large, always spoke of lee as never being defeated and never would.
Such is a common theme in accounts from the side that lost in many wars, to ease the bitter taste of defeat. It should not obviate what actually happened on the field at Gettysburg. Lee sought battle and was clearly defeated on the field, suffering a major repulse and taking a horrible attritional beating that in the long term he certainly could not afford.

I do strongly sympathize with not seeing Gettysburg as decisive; the strategic tempo in the eastern theater did not ultimately change as a result of it. It would take Grant's promotion and arrival in the east to do that. But arguing it as anything other than a defeat is not justified.

Quote:
and did enough damage to the north to prevent them from major offensive campaigns for 10 months.
That's something of an exaggeration. As much as Gettysburg, Meade also lost troops for a time to the New York draft riots, at a time when he very much wanted to continue offensive operations against Lee; the Army of the Potomac, unlike at Antietam, followed Lee over the Potomac when he withdrew, and continued to pursue him, though it was unable to immediately bring him to battle, and the War Department called Meade off. And of course, there was maneuvering and minor engagements throughout late 1863; greater efforts were disrupted by both sides detaching troops to the west.
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Old 07 Dec 16, 23:22
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I want to nominate the siege of Port Hudson. These were not the best of the troops, and they had Generals of lesser ability, but once the Union took Vicksburg and Port Hudson, the war was over.

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Old 08 Dec 16, 02:26
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Antietam (Sharpsburg) ?? Given its association with the Emancipation Proclamation ?
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Old 08 Dec 16, 06:10
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IMOH...The Battle of the WILDERNESS, 1864.....

The Army of the Potomac: KNEW they had found the man they been wanting, who was not intimidated by Lee, who could conduct a drawn or lost battle and still move "Forward by the right..."

The Army of Northern Virginia: KNEW their days of holding the field and claiming victory were DONE.

Grant: KNEW that Lee's Army was not the unstoppable force that other Eastern Union Generals had been mezmerized by for two years. Grant began to "take the measure" of Lee, and to "second guess" him...most of the time.

Lee: KNEW that once Grant was in charge, there was going to be NO REPLACEMENT, and no more "rebound" moves that turned defensive Offensives into offensive stalemates. Lee realised that he would have to either surround and smash Grant's army altogether, or keep moving southward, from entrenchment to entrenchment, and end up on the outskirts of Richmond itself.

JEFFERSON DAVIS: REALISED that Lee, although retained as commander of the South's largest army grouping, was not going to use the large amounts of men and material allocated to him for anything else in the rest of the war but a defensive strategy. Davis saw the writing on the wall after the Wilderness, and began to re-organize his higher General officers in other Armies along the lines of more "offensive minded" men, who could do what Longstreet had (supposedly) at Chickamauga and completely dominate the field, to turn a tactical victory into a strategic advance....(until his good Freind Braxton interfeared!)

Finally,

Lincoln: He REALISED that Grant's strategy was the first of it's kind in the war, a plan that encompassed both Eastern and Western theaters, with everyone moving to the tune of a cohesive plan. I mean, it didn't always GO as planned, but, at least the force in question could retire, regroup, and then commence something similar strategically to what it had been doing before, rather than changing commanders and re-inventing strategy, tactical planning, intelligence , and all the other factors that change with a removal at command level.

Shiloh was the shock that woke the country up to the true nature of the conflict...(Seeing the elephant). Vicksburg had rendered the Confederacy an isolated element from one side to the other, "pocketed" to use a later phrase, but it had not stopped foreign and Rebel shipping from supply..

New Orleans and other ports had strangled the CSA...but slowwwly...

Gettysburg was the national awakening to the REAL power of the Union....


BUT...only The Wilderness represented the actual "switch hit", where the Conferderacy, in the minds of many participants, had numbered days left....where the writing was on the wall...the pinpoint of light getting bigger for the Union suddenly came through the tunnel. They KNEW they COULD WIN after The wilderness...

It was just a matter of "Heads down, asses up...and lets FINISH what we started all those months ago....now, some of us are gonna' die...but we will prevail!"

Drusus

Last edited by Drusus Nero; 08 Dec 16 at 06:17..
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