The Most Violent Civil War Battles

Source: Kean Collection / Archive Photos via Getty Images

10. Siege of Vicksburg
> When: May 18-July 4, 1863
> Total casualties: 19,233
> Fatalities: 1,611

For 47 days, Union forces led by Ulysses S. Grant fought an intense battle against an entrenched Confederate army at Vicksburg. But it wasn’t Grant’s first attempt at taking over the key port city. In the winter of 1862-63, the Union general failed to overtake Vicksburg. His effort in the spring was successful. Due to its location along the Mississippi River, Vicksburg provided an essential supply route for the Confederacy. By gaining control of the city, the Union cut off that supply line. Abraham Lincoln termed the Vicksburg victory “the key to the war.”

Source: MPI / Archive Photos via Getty Images

9. Second Battle of Bull Run
> When: Aug. 28-30, 1862
> Total casualties: 22,180
> Fatalities: 2,843

The Second Battle of Bull Run (also known as the Battle of Second Manassas) proved to be a major victory for the South and General Robert E. Lee. However, it cost more than 1,000 Confederate lives. Commanding the Army of Northern Virginia, Lee beat numerically superior forces led by Union Major General John Pope and General George McClellan. Lee’s victory enabled him to take his army across the Potomac and into western Maryland, where he and McClellan would battle again at Antietam.

Source: Alexander Gardner / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

8. Battle of Antietam
> When: Sept. 17, 1862
> Total casualties: 22,717
> Fatalities: 3,654

In September of 1862, President Abraham Lincoln was planning to announce the Emancipation Proclamation, but he needed a Union victory to bolster his support. On Sept. 17, tRobert E. Lee and George McClellan were once again pitted against each other at Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg, Maryland. The Union declared victory in the bloodiest one-day battle in U.S. history until World War II. Despite the toll, the Union win gave Lincoln the victory he needed to release his proclamation.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

7. Battle of Stones River
> When: Dec. 31, 1862-Jan. 2 1863
> Total casualties: 23,515
> Fatalities: 2,971

After their defeat at Fredericksburg, Virginia, the Union Army was in desperate need of a victory. When Union forces led by Major General William Rosecrans clashed with a Confederate army commanded by General Braxton Bragg, the two sides battled back and forth near Murfreesboro, Tennessee. On Jan. 2, 1863, Union forces achieved a much-needed victory.

Source: MPI / Archive Photos via Getty Images

6. Battle of Shiloh
> When: April 6-7, 1862
> Total casualties: 23,746
> Fatalities: 3,482

An early battle in the Civil War, the Battle of Shiloh in southwestern Tennessee was one of the deadliest. The Confederate army scored an initial victory against Ulysses S. Grant’s Union army in a surprise attack. But a Union counterattack proved decisive. The battle gets its name from Shiloh Church near which the fighting occurred.

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