Question of the Week: 2/6-2/12/17

Question-HeaderRyan Quint’s new book on the Battle of Monocacy has us thinking about “lesser-known battles.”

What’s your favorite lesser-known battle to study or battlefield to visit?

24 Responses to Question of the Week: 2/6-2/12/17

  1. Definitely South Mountain. Very important battle which set the stage for Antietam/Sharpsbure 3 days later. If managed correctly could have resulted in the defeat of Lee.

  2. Pea Ridge…fascinated with Curtis’ changing of his forces orientation by 180 degrees to meet Van Dorn’s outflanking movement. High drama, both armies needing victory and a re-connection to their supply lines; both armies such a collection of disparate components and such a collection of clashing personalities.


    1. Kentucky’s neutrality was broken by the Federals at Camp Dick Robinson with several KY Union regiments and two Tennessee Union regiments forming there. It opened in early August 1861…about three weeks before Polk moved into Western Kentucky. At least two recent books on the war in that state bring this out more and correctly. No fan of Polk but the blame does not rest on his shoulders.

  4. Glendale. The brilliant work of the Civil War Trust and the thoughtfulness of some landowners has left us with a surprisingly well-preserved battlefield in an area where important sites are gravely threatened. While the significance of the ANV’s failure to execute Lee’s complex plan is subject to exaggeration, this was the most meaningful of the Seven Days’ fights.

    1. While a huge fan of visiting the 7 days battlefields and very grateful to the CWT and others for their excellent work on many of the sites, I am not sure about your comment that Glendale was the most “meaningful” of the 7 days battles?

      1. Without going into detail, it’s the one real opportunity Lee had to inflict a potentially disastrous defeat on the Army of the Potomac. If you believe McClellan’s post-war account, he had already decided to “change base” on June 25 – before Beaver Dam Creek/Gaines’s Mill (which only involved his right wing anyway); Savage’s Station was a minor blocking action; and by July 1 at Malvern Hill, Lee’s opportunity was gone. I’ll leave it to the Comte de Paris – on June 30 the union army’s situation at the crossroads was “dire”. Now which do you think had the most significance and why?

    2. Thanks for the clarification of your comments, I guess we’re debating over somantics. My go to book on these battles is Burton – Extraordinary Circumstances. My view would be that many of the battles had great significance / meaning, it’s just hard to quantify that significance. Mechanicsville was the first time Lee had command in the field. Turning back the enemy from the gates of ones Capital is significant. Gaines Mill is one of the biggest single battles of the war and if things had gone differently the federal right could have been bagged with huge consequences, alternatively the slim confederate defences on the federal left could have been attacked and breeched allowing a clear path to Richmond. Jackson’s inaction at White Oak Swamp was a highly significant moment and indeed the opportunities at Glendale, if taken could have had a major impact on the course of the war. The behaviour of McClellan throughout the battles also was highly significant in displaying his generalship and how that would impact on the future war and his rating by Lincoln et al. Finally, Malvern Hill was not short of meaning maybe? A better orchestrated assault may have proven successful, and also it was a good insight into Lee’s generalship, ready to take a gamble and attack well defended positions, it could be seen as a portent to -Picketts charge maybe.
      However, I am starting to drift to wider events. I guess given the initial quesion, Glendale clearly is for whatever reason a lesser known battle, and I agree with you that its significance is generally under appreciated.

      1. Thanks. I certainly agree that there are “semantics” issues. I’m looking at it strictly from an operational/military standpoint. Given McClellan’s decision that he would “change his base”, Beaver Dam Creek and Gaines’s Mill were important but they involved his right wing hanging on as he executed that decision. Malvern Hill found much of his army either already at HL or in an advanced defensive position. Glendale presented the chance for a truly devastating defeat if, as Lee intended, the ANV could split McClellan’s army in half during its retreat. That failure allowed it to stay intact and to establish a position at HL.

  5. Prairie Grove, great Trans-Mississippi battle fought to a tactical draw with huge strategic implications. Included perhaps the greatest forced march of the Civil War & a decisive delayed pursuit.

    1. I will second this one, it is one of those battles in which the outcome in the wider area was greater than that on the field itself. Combine that with the story of just how Hindman got an army together and you have something that deserves a good detailed look.

  6. For me it’s always been the battle of Perryville. Great park. Fun to study. Killed any idea of Kentucky being part of the confederacy.

    1. We recently visited Eltham and White House, both on the Pamunkey.. Once they were bustling with activity, and now they are obscure and quiet. Charming.

  7. Glorieta Pass.

    While Southwestern CW fans might be familiar with this “Gettysburg of the West,” I dare say most of those from the rest of the countyry have never heard of it. This Union victory east of Santa Fe MN ended Rebel dreams of adding the rich gold fields of Colorado and other Western territories to the Confederacy. Much of the wide-ranging battle site is preserved. Unfortunately, I-25 bisects part of it.

  8. Spring Hill, Tennessee always fascinated me with the long time “mystery” of how General Schofield escaped General Hood’s trap. Stephen Hood’s recent discoveries and his excellent books solved the mystery but the battle is no less fascinating to study. It is especially interesting to me because my great-grandfather Fishel was right in the middle of those events with Opdycke’s 125th Ohio Infantry Regiment.

    1. The best book hands down on Spring Hill is by Tennessee author Jamie Gillum. You can find it on Amazon. He knows more about this battle than alone I have ever met…hands down.

  9. I’m partial to North Anna because it gets overlooked between the bloodbaths of Wilderness/Spotsy on one hand and Cold Harbor on the other. However, I think it best illustrates the wear on both armies–and commanders–by Grant’s war of attrition.

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