In what ways were the western and eastern theaters of the Civil War different from each other?

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Broadly speaking, the Union strategy in the western theater of the war revolved around securing the major waterways in the region, including the Tennessee and especially the Ohio rivers. As such, the theater saw more siege warfare, as Union forces sought to reduce Confederate strongholds guarding important strategic points along the rivers. Ulysses S. Grant's capture of Forts Henry and Donelson, as well as Vicksburg is an example of this trend. The region did see a great deal of maneuvering and open battles, so the focus on securing the rivers is perhaps the biggest strategic difference. In the East, the Union objective was simply to capture the Confederate capital of Richmond, and the majority of the major battles in the region were fought within 100 miles of the respective capitals at Washington and Richmond. The geographic area was far more compact, but the objective was no less difficult. Indeed, the North suffered far more setbacks in the eastern theater than in the West. 

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