Question of the Week: 4/5-4/11/21

In your opinion what was the most significant military action at the borderline of states? (Any state during the Civil War; not just the usual “border states.”)

11 Responses to Question of the Week: 4/5-4/11/21

  1. My first thoughts are the firing on Fort Sumter and/or the capture of Port Royal, both of which occurred along South Carolina’s sea frontier.

    Inland, the Union victories at Vicksburg and Chattanooga were decisive battles that quite likely the United States could not have own the war without.

  2. Antietam. Lee’s first invasion of the North ended almost on the banks of the Potomac between Virginia and Maryland.

  3. I’d think Chattanooga in 1863 for two reasons. It opened up the way for the Union forces to really penetrated into the interior of the Confederacy in 1864, and it marked the shift in command and military style – Braxton Bragg being replaced by Joe Johnston, and Sherman placed in control of the campaign through Georgia. That new combination, I think, proved in the Union’s favor and helped expedite Grant’s overall plan for the different departments to swamp the Confederacy at one time. But none of that would have happened without the success at Chattanooga/Missionary Ridge.

  4. I’ll go with Perryville. That campaign and battle set in motion many of the events that would lead to the engagements at Vicksburg and elsewhere, all contributing to the Confederate defeat. It also denied Kentucky to the Confederates while ending their fabled ‘Heartland Campaign’.

  5. The Devil is in the details… and at the margins.
    For those in the North who advocated “Let them go,” there was no obvious awareness of geography and legal borders. The Ohio River flowed THROUGH Kentucky and THROUGH Virginia in 1861. And the Mississippi River flowed THROUGH Missouri at several locations north of Cairo Illinois. At any time, a recalcitrant Confederate States of America could have closed United States access to both rivers, with no recourse except payment of fines; negotiation (from a position of USA weakness) or war. To make matters worse, the St. Lawrence River (possible alternative to the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers) flows THROUGH Canada in many places: a joint CSA/ Canada blockade of river trade at some time in the future had potential to cripple the USA economy.
    For those who believed, “The peacefully established Confederate States would never do that,” it was the CSA with eagle-eye focus on borders that sited Fort Henry and Fort Donelson as far north in Tennessee as possible, in order to avoid offending neutral Kentucky. Yet when expediency required, land in neutral Kentucky was appropriated in order to better defend the Confederate Nation.
    A “peacefully separated Confederacy” was merely war delayed, and not war avoided.
    [And in answer to the Question of the Week, it was General Grant’s timely occupation of Paducah Kentucky, less than one mile from Illinois, that set the ball rolling for Confederate defeat in the West.]

  6. This isn’t a military action, but I think it fits the topic: Lincoln preventing the Maryland legislature from meeting and possibly seceding in September, 1861. Secessionist-leaning representatives were arrested. It was heavy handed and questionable but it worked, and was extremely important.

  7. Sabine Pass. Texas can still trickle in supplies across the Mississippi even after Grant took Vicksburg.

    Most important is probably Ft. Henry… opens up middle Tennessee for the taking. Pea Ridge , another important border battle, ended Confederate hopes in Missouri and left Arkansas open for further Union advances.

    1. The Battle of Pea Ridge (March 7-8 of 1862) essentially denied the Confederates from ever regaining control of Missouri, even though Conf. General Sterling Price (a former governor of the state and a participant in the battle) tried to wrest control of it from the Union in his hapless Missouri Raid of 1864. I am glad you mentioned it! (I live in the area)

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