The 14 Largest Battles of the Civil War

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14. Second Battle of Petersburg
> Total forces engaged: 104,000 (Union: 62,000)
> Location: City of Petersburg, VA
> Date(s): June 15-18, 1864
> Union Casualties: 8,150
> Confederate Casualties: 3,236

Taking Petersburg was a primary objective of Union forces throughout the Civil War. If it fell, so too would the Confederate capital of Richmond 22 miles to the north. Though the Confederates managed to hold off Union forces during the three-day battle, it initiated the longest siege of the war, lasting 292 days. The siege ended with decisive victory for the Union, with Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendering to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Virginia, on April 2, 1865, seven days after the fall of Petersburg – effectively ending the Civil War.

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13. Battle of Vicksburg
> Total forces engaged: 110,000 (Union: 93,921)
> Location: Warren County, MS
> Date(s): May 18-July 4, 1863
> Union Casualties: 4,910
> Confederate Casualties: 32,363

Strategically located on the Mississippi River, Vicksburg was a prize target for Gen. Grant and his Union forces. After taking the state capital of Jackson, Union forces turned their guns to the west and fought their way toward the river, 47 miles west of Jackson. Confederate forces retreated to their fortifications at Vicksburg where they endured a 47-day siege. Realizing the futility of staying huddled amid dwindling supplies, about 29,000 Confederate troops surrendered on Independence Day 1863.

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12. Battle of Shiloh
> Total forces engaged: 110,053 (Union: 65,085)
> Location: Hardin County, TN
> Date(s): April 6-7, 1862
> Union Casualties: 13,047
> Confederate Casualties: 10,669

Almost a year into the war, Union troops beat back the enemy and marched into the Confederate heartland. The Battle of Shiloh, also known as the Battle of Pittsburg Landing, opened the way for the Union to advance and eventually cut off Confederate military initiatives west of the Mississippi River. Contributing to the defeat was the demise of Confederate Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston, who died in battle, causing morale to plunge among his troops.

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11. Battle of Chattanooga
> Total forces engaged: 121,400 (Union: 72,500)
> Location: Hamilton County and city of Chattanooga, TN
> Date(s): Nov. 23-25, 1863
> Union Casualties: 5,824
> Confederate Casualties: 8,000

The battle began following the defeat of Union General William Rosecrans at Chickamauga, in Georgia, and his retreat to Chattanooga. After Gen. Grant replaced Rosecrans with Maj. Gen. George Thomas, the Union had one of the most significant turnarounds in U.S. military history. Their win at Chattanooga meant that Federal troops could now plan to invade the Deep South. The invasion included Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s March to the Sea, also known as the Atlanta Campaign, the following year – a scorched-earth march to Savannah intended to cripple and demoralize the Confederacy.

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10. Battle of Chickamauga
> Total forces engaged: 125,000 (Confederate: 65,000)
> Location: Catoosa and Walker counties, GA
> Date(s): Sept. 18-20, 1863
> Union Casualties: 16,170
> Confederate Casualties: 18,454

Following their defeats at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, the Confederates scored a must-needed turnaround at the Battle of Chickamauga in northwestern Georgia. But the battle came at great cost to both sides: It was the second-bloodiest battle of the Civil War after Gettysburg, which had taken place two months earlier. The Confederate victory set the stage for a siege of Union forces at Chattanooga, just across the border in Tennessee. The Battle of Chattanooga was another turnaround moment in the war, but this time for the Federals who beat the Confederates back into Georgia.

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