The Army of Northern Virginia

Major Battles Gettysburg-Wars End



This battle has been cited by many as the turning point in the War for Southern Independence. Many scholars believed that if the Rebels had won Gettysburg, they would have won the war. Early on July 1st John Buford’s Federal Cavalry entered Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to find that the Confederates were approaching on this town from the North and Northwest. A minor skirmish started which soon turned into a large battle. With more divisions rapidly coming in the fight became much larger. Finally after taking many losses, the Confederates started to drive the Yankee’s back. The Union Army started to dig in and hold it’s position on Cemetery Hill and formed a line that ran southeast on Cemetery Ridge. Finally nightfall came and it brought much needed rest and reinforcements with it. The fighting did not start until midday on the 2nd, when Longstreet attacked the Yankee left at Little Round Top. The Confederates attacked with valiant effort, but the Union lines were just too strong. Longstreet was not able to flank the Army of the Potomac, but the Confederate hopes were not yet dead. The 3rd of July would mark one of the greatest days of battle for the Union in the Civil War. Lee decided that the only option left was a 15,000-man attack on the Union center. The Confederate artillery bombarded the Union lines for hours but did little to move them from their position. Finally, Generals Pickett and Pettigrew ordered their men to make the mile long march over open ground towards the Yankee center. Yankee cannons bombarded them as soon as they were in range. This decimated the Confederate lines, but they did not stop the charge. Portions of the Confederate men broke through the Union lines, but not enough to cause any major damage. After all was said and done, the Union Army held its ground while the Confederates moved back in defeat. Two days later, Lee’s Army was back on the way to its home soil with its hopes and dreams left on the battlefields of Gettysburg. This battle, which took over 20,000 Confederates and 23,000 Yankees, changed the course of the war and the course of American History. This battle gave the Union hope and started it on its road to victory.


This battle, which took place in an area of dense forests to the west of Chancellorsville, was another bloody clash between the two sides. Grant and Meade, the Union Generals, were trying to get their men through the Wilderness, but it became clear that they would have to engage the Confederates before they were clear of the forests. Warren’s division was turned to the west to meet Ewell and his attacking Rebels. Hancock was ordered to move towards Lee’s flank and Sedgwick was ordered to support Warren’s right. As Ewell and Warren’s men clashed, A.P. Hill and his men arrived on the scene to help pressure Warren’s left flank. Just then Hancock’s men arrived on the scene to help stop the Confederates from flanking Warren. The battles between the two sides went on for the rest of the day with neither side getting a decisive advantage. Grant planned to launch a major assault on the 6th, but before he could put his plan into action Lee’s men attacked Sedgwick’s right flank. This attack failed but just then Longstreet’s men arrived from the south to put pressure on Hancock’s left. Longstreet’s men pushed through the Federal lines and by noon they were in a position to endanger the whole Union Army. Finally after hours of fighting the Confederates tired and they lost momentum. Nightfall was coming quick and Grant knew that there would be no victory today. He decided that the fight should continue another day at another time. During this battle Lee lost 8,700 of his 63,000 men and Grant lost 17,000 out of his 120,000 men. Unlike previous commanders, Grant didn’t go back to the North. He intended to stay in the South and take the fight to the Confederacy.


On June 1, 1864 Confederate infantry attacked Sheridan’s Union Cavalry that had occupied Old Cold Harbor. The Yankee’s were able to hold back the Rebel attacks until the shear numbers became too great. Finally the IV and XVIII Corps of the Union Army arrived to neutralize the situation. By the time both armies were fully formed on the 2nd they formed a line that was 7 miles long. The next day Union Corps attacked the Confederate lines and was brutally slaughtered. The armies stayed in the same position with little confrontation until the 12th when marched his left flank to the James River. This started the movement of the Union Army that wasn’t completed until the 15th. Grant decided to move his Army into a position that would threaten Petersburg. This would force the Confederates to engage them again. During this battle the Federals lost an astonishing 13,000 men while the Rebels lost only 2,500.



This battle, which had only 700 casualties on both sides, was the final battle for the Army of Northern Virginia. Lee formed his infantry and cavalry into a line around Appomatox Courthouse. They were ordered to advance and initially drove back Federal Cavalry. The tide would quickly change. Once the Federal infantry arrived Lee was surrounded on three sides and was forced to surrender. With Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia in Federal control the war and the hopes of the Confederate States of America were dead.




This Web Page by Dan Woolley

This page was last updated 3-5-00.