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Key Battles of the Civil War

The Civil War was the most important even in American history. That's because it decided what kind of nation America would be and whether or not the promise of universal liberty would be fulfilled. And what decided the outcome of the Civil War was its battles.Hosted by history professors James Early and Scott Rank, this podcast explores the ten most important battles in the Civil War. It features every major conflict, from the initial shots fired at the Battle of First Bull Run to the end of the war at Appomattox Court House. Key battles include Shiloh, the Seven Days Battle, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Vicksburg, Chickamauga & Chattanooga, and the Overland Campaign. James and Scott explore additional topics such as emancipation, the naval wars of the Civil War, and weapons technology. Plus they get deep into the biographical backgrounds of the Union and Confederate generals (Grant, Sherman, McClellan, Thomas, Lee, Jackson, Beauregard, and Longstreet).

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Warning: This podcast is a series podcast

This means episodes are recommended to be heard in order from the very start. Here's the 10 best episodes of the series anyway though!

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Episode 13: The Battle of Gettysburg

The 1863 Battle of Gettysburg stopped Robert E. Lee's second invasion of the North. It was the deadliest battle of the Civil War, with over 50,000 casualties during the three day battle, a scale of suffering never seen before or since in America. The Union won victory and had new life injected into its war effort. The Confederacy saw its best chance at striking a deadly blow against the North and demoralizing them slip away.

1hr 20mins

11 Feb 2019

Rank #1

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Episode 2: Battle of First Bull Run

Abraham Lincoln believed that the Civil War would be over in a few months, with the Union Army marching on Richmond by late 1861. The Union and the Confederate armies hastily assembled armies and Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell led his unseasoned Union Army across Bull Run against the equally inexperienced Confederate Army of Brig. Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard. The Confederates won a surprise victory, particularly due to the efforts of Stonewall Jackson, and routed the Union. Both sides dug in their heels for a long war ahead.

57mins

7 Feb 2019

Rank #2

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Episode 1: Background to the Civil War

The origins of the Civil War go back decades, even before the United States became an independent nation The federal union had always been precarious, ever since the framing of the Constitution, with the institution of slavery led to two distinct cultures and societies. In this episode, Scott and James discuss the main social and political issues that sparked the Civil War.

46mins

7 Feb 2019

Rank #3

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Episode 4: The Battle of Shiloh

The Battle of Shiloh was a battle in the Western Theater fought April 6–7, 1862, in southwestern Tennessee. On the first morning, 40,000 Confederate troops struck Union Soldiers at Pittsburg Landing. They were under the command of Major General Ulysses S. Grant. The Confederate Army of Mississippi, under the command of General Albert Sidney Johnston, launched a surprise attack on Grant's army from its base in Corinth, Mississippi. Johnston was mortally wounded during the fighting; Beauregard took command of the army and decided against pressing the attack late in the evening. Overnight, Grant was reinforced by one of his divisions stationed further north and was joined by three divisions. The Union forces began an counterattack the next morning which reversed the Confederate gains of the previous day.

44mins

7 Feb 2019

Rank #4

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Episode 11: The Western Campaign and the Siege of Vicksburg

In the next two episodes Scott and James will discuss the Siege of Vicksburg. In the summer of 1863, Grant’s Army of the Tennessee came to Vicksburg, located on a high bluff converged on Vicksburg, a Mississippi town on the same river. Union occupation of the town was critical to control of the strategic river. If it fell then the Confederacy would completely lose access to critical supply lines in Texas and Mexico.Grant's six-week campaign began in June. His army came to Vicksburg, which was defended by Confederate General John C. Pemberton's men, who built a series of trenches, forts, and artillery lunettes surrounding the city.  Grant's army surrounded Pemberton and outnumbered him two to one. Trapped for six weeks, the residents of Vicksburg were forced to dig caves and eat rats to survive. But, due to Pemberton's diligence and resourceful mind, they continued to trust his command despite dire circumstances.

53mins

11 Feb 2019

Rank #5

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Episode 3: Border States and the War in the West

In the summer of 1861, four slave states had still not seceded. If even two or three joined the Confederacy, the Union would be in big trouble. Lincoln was determined to keep all four in (Maryland, Kentucky, Delaware, and Missouri). We will look at these developments, along with the The War in the West, April 1861 - April 1862, where many famous Civil War figures emerge, such as Ulysses S. Grant.

41mins

7 Feb 2019

Rank #6

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Episode 12: The Fall of Vicksburg

Welcome to the second part in our episodes on the Vicksburg Campaign, one of the most consequential Civil War battles in the Western theatre and what many historians consider to be the turning point of the war.Grant's Vicksburg campaign is considered one of the most brilliant of the war. With the loss of Pemberton’s army at Vicksburg and later Union victory at Port Hudson five days later, the Union now controlled the entire Mississippi River. The Confederacy was now split in half. Grant's reputation soared, which led to him being appointed as General-in-Chief of the Union armies

40mins

11 Feb 2019

Rank #7

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Episode 7: The Battle of Antietam

The Battle of Antietam—an 1862 clash between Robert E. lee's Army of Northern Virginian and George McClellan's Army of the Potomac—was the deadliest one-day battle in American history, with a total of 22,717 dead, wounded or missing. It came after Lee thwarted McClellan's plans to lay siege to the Confederate capitol of Richmond and tried to seize the momentum by crossing north into Maryland.

53mins

11 Feb 2019

Rank #8

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Episode 14: The Battle of Chickamauga

The Battle of Chickamauga marked the end of Union Maj. Gen. William Rosencran's offensive into southwestern Tennessee and northwestern Georgia and the most significant Union defeat in the Western Theatre. More died here than in any other battle, save Gettysburg. After the battle Union forces retired to Chattanooga while Confederates besieged the city by occupying the surrounding heights.

36mins

11 Feb 2019

Rank #9

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Episode 5: The 1862 Peninsula Campaign

In early 1862 the Union Army launched a major operation in southeastern Virginia, the first large-scale offensive in the Eastern Theater. Lincoln replaced McDowell with George B. McClellan as commander. He reorganized the army, whipped it into shape, and also renamed it the Army of the Potomac. The goal was to roll over the Confederacy. The Rebels were not about to let that happen.

55mins

7 Feb 2019

Rank #10