Turning Point of the Civil War
The initial turning point of the Civil War was which battle or event?
That is eventually a question asked to anyone who has studied the Civil
War. What was the initial turning point of the Civil War, was it the First Battle of Manassas, the Emancipation
Proclamation, or some other event? Because the answer has varied since the war was fought some 150 years ago, let us
review the history of what is believed to be the first major turning point of the Civil War.
First Battle of Manassas:
A Major Turning Point?
refer to the First Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) as the initial major turning point of the American Civil War, while the writer does not espouse that view. The Civil War was fought from
1861 to 1865, but both the North and South had taken some strong measures to prepare and ready for war by 1859 and two years
prior to the first shots.
While the First Battle of Manassas indicated that any notion of a "90 Day War" was incorrect and that a prolonged
war was inevitable, some individuals had previously embraced the "prolonged war concept."
Governor Sam Houston of
in 1860 and 4 years prior to Civil War:
Let me tell you what
is coming. After the sacrifice of countless millions of treasure and hundreds of thousands of lives you may win Southern independence,
but I doubt it. The North is determined to preserve this Union. They are not a fiery, impulsive
people as you are, for they live in colder climates. But when they begin to move in a given direction, they move with the
steady momentum and perseverance of a mighty avalanche.
General Robert Edward Lee prior to the American Civil War:
If it comes to a conflict
of arms, the war will last at least four years. Northern politicians do not appreciate the determination and pluck of the
South, and Southern politicians do not appreciate the numbers, resources, and patient perseverance of the North. Both sides
forget that we are all Americans. I foresee that our country will pass through a terrible ordeal, a necessary expiation, perhaps,
for our national sins.
As early at 1859 the Southern states accelerated their acquisition
of arms and munitions in anticipation of war, because, while the masses believed and hoped for a short war, most Southern
governors, military officers, senators, and congressmen understood that a protracted conflict was looming and therefore
made preparations. In North Carolina, for example, James Green Martin (later Confederate brigadier general) met with
the governor prior to hostilities and began organizing a State military and recruiting blockade runners in anticipation
of a protracted conflict. The North already enjoyed a robust warmaking capability prior to Civil War,
including the nation's major shipyards. The Northern states held the advantage by hosting most of the
nation's factories, too, which manufactured from arms to munitions. When signaled to mass produce firearms, for
example, the Northern juggernaut simply transitioned its economy and ramped its existing facilities to a wartime economy
which would soon be known for manufacturing at a pace and scale unseen in the Northern Hemisphere.
(See related reading below.)
Fields of Honor: Pivotal Battles of the Civil War, by Edwin C. Bearss (Author),
James McPherson (Introduction). Description: Bearss, a former chief historian of the
National Parks Service and internationally recognized American Civil War historian, chronicles 14 crucial battles, including
Fort Sumter, Shiloh, Antietam, Gettysburg, Vicksburg, Chattanooga, Sherman's march through the Carolinas, and Appomattox--the
battles ranging between 1861 and 1865; included is an introductory chapter describing John Brown's raid in October 1859. Continued
Bearss describes the terrain, tactics, strategies, personalities,
the soldiers and the commanders. (He personalizes the generals and politicians, sergeants and privates.) The text is
augmented by 80 black-and-white photographs and 19 maps. It is like touring the battlefields without leaving home. A must
for every one of America's countless Civil War buffs, this major work will stand as an important
reference and enduring legacy of a great historian for generations to come. Also available in hardcover: Fields of Honor: Pivotal Battles of the Civil War.
Reading: Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam (Pivotal Moments in American History)
(Hardcover). Description: The bloodiest day in United States
history was September 17, 1862, when, during the Civil War battle at Antietam, approximately
6,500 soldiers were killed or mortally wounded, while more than 15,000 were seriously wounded. James M. McPherson states
in Crossroads of Freedom the concise chronicle of America’s bloodiest day and that it may well have been the pivotal moment
of the war, as well as the young republic itself. Continued below...
after a series of setbacks in the spring of 1862, had reversed the war's momentum during the summer, and was on the "brink
of military victory" and about to achieve diplomatic recognition by European nations, most notably England and France. Though the bulk of his book concerns itself
with the details--and incredible carnage--of the battle, McPherson raises it above typical military histories by placing it
in its socio-political context: The victory prodded Abraham Lincoln to announce his "preliminary" Emancipation Proclamation,
freeing slaves. England and France
deferred their economic alliance with the battered secessionists. Most importantly, it kept Lincoln's party, the Republicans, in control of Congress. McPherson's account is accessible,
elegant, and economical. Also available in paperback: Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam (Pivotal Moments
in American History)
Reading: The Antietam
Campaign (Military Campaigns of the Civil War). Description: The Maryland campaign of September 1862 ranks among
the most important military operations of the American Civil War. Crucial political, diplomatic, and military issues were
at stake as Robert E. Lee and George B. McClellan maneuvered and fought in the western part of the state. The climactic clash
came on September 17 at the battle of Antietam, where more than 23,000 men fell in the single
bloodiest day of the war. Continued below...
topics related to Lee's and McClellan's operations from a variety of perspectives, numerous contributors to this volume explore
questions regarding military leadership, strategy, and tactics, the impact of the fighting on officers and soldiers in both
armies, and the ways in which participants and people behind the lines interpreted and remembered the campaign. They also
discuss the performance of untried military units and offer a look at how the United States Army used the Antietam battlefield as
an outdoor classroom for its officers in the early twentieth century. Also available in paperback: The Antietam Campaign (Military Campaigns of the Civil War)
Reading: The Civil War Battlefield Guide: The Definitive Guide, Completely
Revised, with New Maps and More Than 300 Additional Battles (Second Edition) (Hardcover). Description: This new edition of the definitive guide to Civil War battlefields is really a completely new book. While
the first edition covered 60 major battlefields, from Fort Sumter to Appomattox, the second covers all of the 384 designated as the "principal battlefields" in the American Civil War Sites Advisory Commission
Report. Continued below...
As in the first edition, the essays are authoritative and concise, written by such leading Civil War
historians as James M. McPherson, Stephen W. Sears, Edwin C. Bearss, James I. Robinson, Jr., and Gary W. Gallager. The second
edition also features 83 new four-color maps covering the most important battles. The Civil War Battlefield Guide is an essential
reference for anyone interested in the Civil War. "Reading this book is like being
at the bloodiest battles of the war..."
Reading: The Fighting Men of the Civil
War, by William C. Davis (Author), Russ A. Pritchard (Author). Description: "A must for any Civil War library!" The sweeping histories of the
War Between the States often overlook the men in whose blood that history was written. This account goes a long way toward
redressing the balance in favor of the men in the ranks. The reader follows the soldiers from enlistment and training to campaigning.
Attention is also given to oft-forgotten groups such as the sailors and black troops. Continued below...
No effort has
been spared to include rare war era photographs and color photos of rare artifacts. Engagingly written by William C. Davis,
the author of more than thirty books on the American Civil War. Award winning author and historian James M. McPherson states:
"The most readable, authoritative, and beautifully designed illustrated history
of the American Civil War."