Question of the Week: 5/6-5/12/19

May is a month of big battles and campaigns – particularly in 1862, 1863, and 1864. For example, the Peninsula Campaign, Vicksburg Siege begins, Chancellorsville, Wilderness and Spotsylvania, and the Atlanta Campaign.

Do you have a favorite May big battle/campaign from the Civil War to learn/teach about?

15 Responses to Question of the Week: 5/6-5/12/19

  1. I love the Vicksburg Campaign, Grant at his best in terms of Command and control, all three services working effectively together. Then, as a counterpoint, the Wilderness, redeemed only by Grant’s iron determination to continue.

  2. Fair Oaks – I know, only partly in May but one of the most interesting, screwed-up battles of the war which could/should have resulted in more and which did change the command of the ANV,.

  3. New Market. I have always found the story of the VMI cadets quite compelling in that battle…

    1. That’s a good one, Douglas! But I might be a little biased with my newest book topic 🙂

    1. I like reading about 1861 a lot, especially the period of time before the battles start. The commotion of it all is fascinating.

  4. I always refer to early May as “battlefield season” because, for me, Chancellorsville, the Wilderness, and Spotsylvania all happen in early May. Since they are three of the four battlefields I primarily focus on and write about, that keeps me pretty busy!

  5. May 1862: Vicksburg. In possibly the biggest Lost Opportunity of the War, Flag-Officer Farragut (after taking New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Natchez) moved his fleet up the Mississippi River and found himself face to face with the daunting bluffs at Vicksburg, towering over 200 feet above the Mississippi River, with well sited Rebel batteries perched on top. And Farragut realized he could not elevate his guns sufficiently; and also discovered he’d made an error (which he never admitted) by leaving behind his most effective weapons: 13 inch mortars, firing explosive shells weighing 227 pounds. Before firing a shot, F/O Farragut attempted a ruse; sent a “Demand for the Surrender of Vicksburg,” to which both the Confederate Commander and Mayor of Vicksburg said “No.”
    On 26 May 1862 after lobbing a few ineffective shells against what was soon to become “the Gibraltar of the Confederacy,” Farragut departed the scene; continued north and effected the join with elements of Flag-Officer Davis’s Western Flotilla below Memphis.
    And the Union Problem at Vicksburg continued to fester for another year…

  6. How about Jackson’s capture of Winchester on May 25, 1862? It had huge military, strategic, social, ideological, and medical impact!

  7. Given my manuscript is on the service of the 45th Illinois Infantry during the Civil War, the Vicksburg Campaign, especially the siege and the attack on the 3rd Louisiana Redan on June 25-26, is a favorite of mine to teach.

  8. The Port Hudson campaign. A microcosm of the Civil War.

    Okay, not really my favorite campaign if measured by what I like to read, but the one from my neck of the woods.

    I’ve probably read the most on the Peninsula campaign. The war finally gets going in the East then. Thank you McClellan.

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