The American Civil War: Formations and Units


Figure 1.--

The great bulk of the Federal and Confederate armies were composed of regiments raised in the states. They were then assigned by the Federal and Confederate Governments to the major military formations. The two most important military formations in the Civil War were the Federal Army of the Potomac and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. Most of the most famous battles of the War were fought by these two formations. The Army of Northern Virginia was commanded for most of its history by Gen. Robert E. Lee. At the hear of the AONV was Jackson's Corps which heped beginning at First Bull run gain one victory after another. This included Lee's most stunning victory at Chancellorsville, but failed at Gettysburg under a new commander. The Army of the Potomac (AOTP) had a series of commanders as President Lincoln struggled to find a competent commander. Gen. George McClellan played a major role in building the AOTP, but he was reluctant to use it. Lincoln once quiped, "If McClellan isn't going to use the Army, perhaps he will lend it to me. Civil War armies were composed of corps, usually 2-4 divisions or 10,000-30,000 men. At the heart of the AOFP was the famed Second Corps in which 40,000 of the 100,000 men who served were killed. [Kreiser] There were also Federal and Confederate formations in the West. There Federal armies under Granht and Sherman largely destroyed the Confederate formations during the first three years of the War. Small units operated in the West.

Federal Army


Formations

The most important Federal military formation in the Civil War was the Army of the Potomac (AOTP). Most of the most famous battles of the War were fought by the AOTP and the Army of Northern Vorginia. The AOTP had a series of commanders as President Lincoln struggled to find a competent commander. Gen. George McClellan played a major role in building the AOTP, but he was reluctant to use it. Lincoln once quiped, "If McClellan isn't going to use the Army, perhaps he will lend it to me. Civil War armies were composed of corps, usually 2-4 divisions or 10,000-30,000 men. At the heart of the AOFP was the famed Second Corps in which 40,000 of the 100,000 men who served were killed. [Kreiser] There were also Federal and Confederate formations in the West. There Federal armies under Granht and Sherman largely destroyed the Confederate formations during the first three years of the War. Small units operated in the West.

Notable units

There are many famed Federal units. Most suffered horrendous casualties on the path to glory.

The Irish Brigade: The Irish Brigade played a critical role in the Federal Center at Antitem.

The Iron Brigade: The Iron Brigade is best know for its remarkable, critical stand west of Gettsburg which made it possible to anchor the fish hook of the Union line on Culps Hill, the most important singl action of the battle. This saved the highground on which the Federal line was built making posible Federal victory. In doing so, the Brigade was nearly destroyed. The Iron Bigade was an important part of the Army of the Potomac from Bull Run to the grand victory march up Pennsylvania Avenue. The Iron Bigade was the only all Western uni fighting in the East. They were also known as the 'Black Hat Brigade' for their destinctivbe black felt hats worn with the dress uniform. They fought at Gainesville, Second Bull Run, south Mountain (McClellan claims to have given them their name there), Antitem, Fredericksbug, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg. The Brigade was nearly destroyed at Gettysburg, but the remnants fought on in the Wilderness, Petersbug, and Appomattox. [Herdegen]

The Liberators of the Ninth Minnesota: A fugative slave beseeched men of 9th Minnesota to save his wife and children who were being shipped of to be sold (November 1963). This was nearly a year after the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation. But the incident occurred in Missouri, a border state and exempted from the Proclamation. Even so, 38 men responding to the man's despearte pleas, stopped the train and freed the man's wife, children, and three other family members. The Federal soldiers in Missouri were under orders not not to interfere with slaveoners. It was vital to keep Missouri in the Union. The men were charged with mutiny. They were arested and hald for 2 months without a trail. Federal authoriies did not want the unfavotabe publicity. Senators debated the issue. After a defeat at Brice's Crossing Mississippi, many werev taken prioner, some held at Andsonville. The Regiment suffeed a death rate exceeding 60 percent. They helped destroy the Confederate Army of the Tennessee at Nashville as well as capture Mobile. Only 14 Liberators survived the War. "Grierson overheard Sturgis remark 'in a petulant manner' to a staff officer that 'if the damned cavalry could not be gotten out of the way,' he would 'soon whip the enny with his infantry.' From the commanding geneal's brusque behavior, Grierson deducd he did not, even then realize the fact that the rebels wee in large force in our front.' Sturgis, though, did not care. He believed stalwart infantry could sop any dismounted cavalry and never comprehended how the grueling forced march had shreded the endurance of his hapless foot soldiers and how the thick brush would reduce their formidable firepower." [Lundstrom]

The XXV Corps: The XXV Corps ws the Federal's all-black cotps. Commanded bt German immigrant Godfrey Weitzel, theymarched into Richmond after Lee abandind the city.

Confederate Army


Formations

The most important Confederate military formations in the Civil War was the Army of Northern Virginia. Most of the most famous battles of the War were fought by these two formations. The Army of Northern Virginia was commanded for most of its history by Gen. Robert E. Lee. At the hear of the AONV was Jackson's Corps which heped beginning at First Bull run gain one victory after another. This included Lee's most stunning victory at Chancellorsville, but failed at Gettysburg under a new commander. The Confederate Army of the Tennessee under Braxton Brague guarded the approaches to Atlanta and the important Confederate war industries in Georgia.

Notable units


Sources

Herdegen, Lance J. The Iron Brigade in Civil War and Memory: The Black Hats from Bull Run to Appomattox and Thereafter (2012), 696p.

Kreiser, Lawrence A. Jr. Defeating Lee: A History of the Second Corps Army of the Potomac (2012), 416p.

Lundstrom, John B. One Drop in Sea of Blue: The Liberators of the Ninth Minnesota (2012), 512p.







CIH







Navigate the CIH Civil War Pages:
[Return to Main Civil War campaign page]
[Return to Main Civil War page]
[Biographies] [Campaign] [Causes] [Emancipation] [Families and youth] [Fiscal policy] [Formations and units] [Law]
[Railroads] [Reconstruction] [Slavery] [Soldiers] [Uniforms] [Weaponry]
[Lost Cause] [Civil Rights movement]
[Return to CIH Home page]





Created: 1:07 AM 6/5/2013
Last updated: 1:07 AM 6/5/2013