Special Report

US Cities and Towns Destroyed During the Civil War

During the American Civil War, dozens of major cities and small towns were destroyed by battles, bombardment, and fires. The strategic destruction of enemy cities served two major purposes: disrupting military supply lines, and damaging civilian morale in order to decrease public support for the war. (Destruction of cities has been a hallmark of war for centuries. Here are 26 cities that were destroyed by war.)

To determine U.S. cities and towns destroyed during the Civil War, 24/7 Tempo consulted numerous online sources including Oxford Research Encyclopedias. Accidental fires that were not started as a result of war strategizing were excluded.

As most of the battles of the Civil War were fought on Southern soil, the vast majority of damaged cities were Southern sites destroyed by Union forces. At least eight towns in Mississippi suffered catastrophic damage during the war, as did multiple towns in South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, and Louisiana. While some were incidentally destroyed during battles, sieges and bombardment, many were intentionally entered by troops who aimed to take out key infrastructure such as railroads, warehouses, armories, and factories.

Only three of the cities on the list were burned by Confederate forces. Two were Southern cities that the rebels burned on purpose in an attempt to keep Union forces from utilizing them militarily. Only one city in the North was destroyed, when Southern troops entered Pennsylvania in a rare offensive on Union soil. These were the largest battles of the Civil War.

Click here to see the US cities and towns destroyed during the Civil War

To determine U.S. cities and towns destroyed during the Civil War, 24/7 Tempo consulted numerous online sources including Oxford Research Encyclopedias. Accidental fires that were not started as a result of war strategizing were excluded.

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