11 Civil War Generals That Defined America

Civil War Generals
Credit: Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Historic Civil War Generals were pitted against each other in nation-defining battles – and these are the Union and Confederates most prominent:

Union Generals

Ulysses S. Grant

General Grant was given charge of the Army of Tennessee during the early days of the war. He led the Union to victories at Fort Henry and Fort Donelson.

He was nicknamed ‘Unconditional Surrender’ after winning several significant accomplishments, including at Shiloh and Vicksburg. President Lincoln promoted General grant to lead the entire Union Army.

General Grant led the Army of the Potomac to several battles against Confederate forces and finally accepted surrender at the Appomattox Court House to General Robert E. Lee.

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George McClellan

General McClellan was appointed as the head of the Union Army of the Potomac after the First Battle of Bull Run.

However, McClellan was a cautious general, who refused to go after the Confederates during the Battle of Antietam. He was relieved of his command after this.

William Tecumseh Sherman

General Sherman led the Union Army under General Grant at the Battle of Shiloh and the Siege of Vicksburg. He was then given command of his own army and went on to conquer the city of Atlanta.

He is famous for his ‘march to the sea’, which was from Atlanta to Savannah. He successfully destroyed everything that could possibly be used against his army along the way.

Joseph Hooker

General Hooker was given command at many major Civil War battles, such as the Battle of Antietam and the Battle of Fredericksburg.

After the Battle of Fredericksburg, he was given command of the entire Army of the Potomac. However, he did not hold onto this position for very long as he faced heavy defeat at the Battle of Chancellorsville.

President Lincoln removed him from command just before the Battle of Gettysburg.

Winfield Scott Hancock

General Hancock is considered to be one of the bravest and most talented generals of the Union Army.

He commanded many major battles, including the Battle of Antietam, Battle of Gettysburg, and the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House.

He is most famous for the bravery and leadership he displayed at the Battle of Gettysburg.

George Thomas

General Thomas is considered to be one of the best generals of the Civil War. He is most famous for the tough defense he put forward at the Battle of Chickamauga, which earned him the nickname ‘the Rock of Chickamauga.’

He is also known for leading the Union Army to a major victory at the Battle of Nashville.

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Confederate Generals

Robert E. Lee

General Lee remains one of the greatest generals of the Civil War. He led the Confederate Army of Virginia throughout the entire duration of the Civil War.

He was a top commander who went on to win many battles in the war even after being vastly outnumbered.

Under his leadership, the Confederate Army won several important victories, including the Second Battle of Bull Run, the Battle of Fredericksburg, and the Battle of Chancellorsville.

Stonewall Jackson

Another famous general of the Civil War, General Jackson, was given the nickname ‘Stonewall’ very early on in the war after the First Battle of Bull Run when his soldiers firmly held on against a strong Union attack.

General Jackson was known for his fast-moving foot cavalry and his strong command. He won many battles for the Confederates in the Shenandoah Valley during the Valley Campaign.

General Jackson was accidentally killed by his own soldiers at the Battle of Chancellorsville.

J.E.B. Stuart

General Stuart, also known as Jeb, was one of the famous cavalry commanders of the Confederacy. He displayed his skill and courage in many battles like the First Battle of Bull Run, the Battle of Chancellorsville, and the Battle of Fredericksburg.

Even though he was a gifted commander, he committed a blunder at the Battle of Gettysburg that cost the Confederacy the battle. He was killed at the Battle of Yellow Tavern.

P.G.T. Beauregard

General Beauregard commanded the South Army in capturing Fort Sumter in the very first battle of the Civil War.

He went on to fight at Shiloh and Bull Run. He is well known for holding off the Union Army at St. Petersburg while reinforcements arrived under General Robert E. Lee.

Joseph Johnston

General Johnston was responsible for giving the Confederates their first major victory at the First Battle of Bull Run. However, he never got along well with Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

He also suffered several defeats while leading the army in the west, including Chickamauga and Vicksburg. His career ended with his surrender to Union General Sherman at the end of the war.

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