Secession and Civil War Questions and Answers

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Why can 1863 be considered the turning point of the Civil War?

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The Civil War (1861–1865) was much lengthier and bloodier than most people had expected. Both the North and the South expected a quick victory. The first big battles—at Bull Run (1861) and Shiloh (1862)—were shocking for their carnage and ferocity. At Bull Run, spectators from Washington, DC, actually went to watch the battle. They were surprised by the South's victory, and many of them had to scurry back to Washington, DC, quickly.

As the war entered its third year, 1863, neither side had achieved victory. In the West, Union troops under Ulysses Grant were making some progress, but it was slow and difficult. In the East, Confederate troops under Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson proved to be practically unbeatable. By the end of 1863, the stalemate was over, and the North was clearly winning.

In the East, Lee's victory at Chancellorsville was his most impressive and his costliest. Lee thoroughly defeated another Union general, Joseph Hooker. But Jackson, Lee's finest general,...

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