Richmond – Great Theatre Of The Civil War

THUS trumpeted William Cullen Bryant in “Our Country’s Call,” while the most powerful American editor of the time of the Civil War, Horace Greeley, raised his standard at the head of the New York Tribune’s editorial page early in 1861 with the words “On to Richmond.” The region between Washington and Richmond, and much of the adjacent country stretching southward beyond James River and northward into Pennsylvania, will always be historic because of the momentous movements, sanguinary conflicts and wonderful strategy of the great American Civil War from 1861 to 1865. We have described the environment of Chesapeake Bay, and now proceed to a consideration of this noted region west of the bay, where the tide of battle repeatedly ebbed and flowed. The first northern invasion of the Virginia Peninsula and the abortive siege of Richmond in the summer of 1862 were followed by McClellan’s retreat, Pope’s defeat and the southern invasion of Maryland, which was checked at Antietam in the autumn. The northern attacks at Fredericksburg in December and at Chancellorsville in the spring of 1863 were followed by the invasion of Pennsylvania, checked at Gettysburg, the “high-water mark” of the rebellion ; and Grant’s march down through “the Wilderness” in 1864, followed by his gradual advances south of the James, forced the evacuation of Richmond, and Lee’s final surrender at Appomattox in 1865.