Civil War Battles and Strategy

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What was the military strategy of each side at the start of the Civil War? How and why did it change as the war continued?

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When speaking about the Civil War from the Confederacy's point of view, what's critical is to recognize that while the Union needed a decisive victory to achieve its aims of bringing the seceding states back into the United States, the same is not true of the Confederacy. Generally speaking, across the course of the war, its main strategic objective seems to have been to fight defensively, in an attempt to wait the Union out, and apply for peace after the Union had exhausted its willingness to fight.

However, that being said, one should factor in the career of Robert E. Lee, who took a far more aggressive approach, launching attacks into Union territory. His farthest incursion was turned back in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. At least in his case, there seems to have been a judgment made that a long, protracted, largely defensive struggle would prove too costly for the Confederacy to endure.

In the very earliest phase of the war, the Union's primary strategy was to seize the Confederacy's...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 897 words.)

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