Special Report

The Most Violent Civil War Battles

Source: Archive Photos / Archive Photos via Getty Images

5. Battle of Chancellorsville
> When: April 30-May 6, 1863
> Total casualties: 24,000
> Fatalities: 3,418

General Robert E. Lee cemented his reputation as a tactical expert at the Battle of Chancellorsville in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. By splitting his army into two forces, he defeated an army twice the size of his led by Union General Joseph Hooker. The battle is also famous for having been the last fought by Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, who was shot during the fighting and succumbed to pneumonia eight days later.

Source: MPI / Archive Photos via Getty Images

4. Battle of the Wilderness
> When: May 5-7, 1864
> Total casualties: 29,800
> Fatalities: 3,723

Newly appointed General in Chief of the Union Army Ulysses S. Grant confronted General Robert E. Lee in the dense woods in northern Virginia known as the Wilderness. The thick brush negated the Union’s numerical advantage, but after two days of fierce fighting, the battle was considered a draw. Grant, however, refused to retreat and continued his march toward the Confederate capital of Richmond.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

3. Battle of Spotsylvania Court House
> When: May 9-21, 1864
> Total casualties: 30,000
> Fatalities: 4,240

After the Battle of the Wilderness, Confederate and Union forces clashed again at the Spotsylvania Court House in Virginia. Over 12 days, Ulysses S. Grant’s Army of the Potomac and Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia battled as both sides inflicted huge losses. But the battle was ultimately considered a stalemate as Grant disengaged his troops. Yet Grant kept up his march on the Confederate capital, forcing Lee to order his troops to deploy between the Union forces and Richmond.

Source: MPI / Archive Photos via Getty Images

2. Battle of Chickamauga
> When: Sept. 18-20, 1863
> Total casualties: 34,624
> Fatalities: 3,969

The Army of Tennessee led by General Braxton Bragg initially defeated a force commanded by Union General William Rosecrans at Chickamauga, Georgia. When Bragg failed to build on the initial success, he allowed the Federal troops to reach Chattanooga. Reinforced by troops led by Ulysses S. Grant, the Union overtook Chickamauga, reversing what could have been a decisive victory for the South.

Source: Public Domain via The Library of Congress / Wikimedia Commons

1. Battle of Gettysburg
> When: July 1-3, 1863
> Total casualties: 51,000
> Fatalities: 7,058

The Battle of Gettysburg was the pivotal battle of the Civil War. After his victory at Chancellorsville, Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia marched into the small town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. There, Lee’s army clashed with Federal troops led by General George G. Meade. Both sides suffered heavy losses. But when Lee’s troops failed to break the Union line at Cemetery Ridge, the Southern general retreated on July 4 and his advance on the North was halted.

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