During the Civil War, many American cities and towns were intentionally destroyed as part of military strategy. Burning enemy cities served to disrupt supply lines and lower civilian morale. (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 fighting occurred in the South, Union forces destroyed the majority of cities, with at least eight towns in Mississippi and multiple locations in several Southern states catastrophically damaged. Some were destroyed incidentally in battles, but many were deliberately targeted to eliminate key infrastructure.
Only three cities were burned by Confederates – two Southern cities they torched to prevent Union use, and one Northern city damaged when rebels made a rare offensive into Pennsylvania. These were the largest battles of the Civil War.
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