Question of the Week: February 9, 2015

This edition of Question of the Week comes from our very own Dan Welch:

What do you think is the most significant military event of 1865 and why?

5 Responses to Question of the Week: February 9, 2015

  1. I believe it was the fall of Fort Fisher, North Carolina on January 15. This decisively cut off the Confederacy from the outside world (Scott’s anaconda finally, fatally choked its victim) and, more immediately, cut off outside supply for the armies.

    And what a military event it was: the enormous fleet; massive, unprecedented bombardment; treacherous landings of the ground forces, accompanied by their band, adding to the drama; Bragg’s stress and indecision (speaking of choking); Whiting’s pleas to Bragg, followed by his fateful return to the fort masterfully, obsessively fashioned from his brilliant mind; and the valiant, heroic fight-to-the-end of the bastion’s defenders. The fight was not even over when it was over: the explosion of the subterranean magazine put the final denouement on the climactic affair. (Read Rod Gragg’s “Confederate Goliath” to get the whole story.)

    The remainder of the military events of the year (fall of Petersburg and Richmond, Lee’s surrender, Bentonville, Johnston’s surrender, etc.), although not lacking in their own drama and heroism (Fort Gregg, for example), were all inevitable, foregone. Fort Fisher was the last true fight.

    1. Good analysis. Fort Fisher also was a true joint Army/Navy operation. Although the coordination could have been better, sailors and marines played a big role both in shore bombardment and on the beach.

  2. The most significant military event outside the surrender of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia to Grant at Appomattox was Lee’s directive that guerilla warfare not prolong the conflict. That decision prevented months if not years of additional blood-letting and began the healing process between the North and the South on the day of surrender. It would have weakened the nation as a whole if the bloodshed would have continued and have generated decades of hatred that would still be festering today.

  3. Perhaps the confederate attack on Fort Stedman because of the similarity with Early’s attack at Cedar Creek., a confederate victory in phase one, a union victory in phase two. For civil war , southern romantics like myself, it represents the last grand sttack of Stonewall’s legendary “Foot Cavalry.” It was pure desperation, a gamble that makes one say, “If only they could have reached the rails and with more support………………………….”

  4. Sherman’s March through the Carolinas. Continuation of the ‘Raiding Strategy’ of marching almost at will through the southern homeland, destroying communications links, war industry (and anything else that caught the raiders fancy; undermining any lingering belief that the Confederacy was a viable state, able to secure and serve it’s citizens. Incredible feat of logistics and field engineering, crossing the swamps and swollen rivers of South Carolina in the depths of winter. Bringing the Grand Army of the West nearly to the border of Virginia for the final concentration of Federal forces before Richmond. Reducing Jefferson Davis’ presidency to sliver of central Virginia.

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