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Monday, June 10, 2013

The Confederacy is cut in two!

A hundred and fifty years ago last week, the Confederacy was cut in two. The last bastions on the Mississippi River, Vicksburg and Port Hudson, were both invested by Union forces. It would be another month before they fell, but with the main rebel armies on the river cooped up behind defenses, the Confederacy was essentially divided between those states west of the Mississippi and those east of it.

This would have a profound effect on the war to the west of the river, the so-called Trans-Mississippi Theater. Most of the experienced rebel troops had already been transferred to the East, and those who were left were slowly whittled down by sickness, death in battle, and increasing levels of desertion. Confederate commanders west of the river did their best to find new recruits, but war weariness was already setting in for many in Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, and Texas.

One would think that this would be a prime opportunity for Union forces to sweep down and take these weakened states, but northern states west of the river such as Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, and the loyalist parts of Missouri had also been drained of men to fight in the east. Most of the Union military strength remaining in these areas was made up of local militias who only fought in their county or state. The few Union campaigns west of the river after this point were generally weak and poorly planned affairs.

That didn't mean the action was over. As we shall see, the war west of the river was only getting worse.

Image courtesy Library of Congress.


  1. And a divided army always falls.
    I imagine everyone was just exhausted at that point.

  2. I rely on a lot of Civil War history like this to shape the battles in my futuristic novel. Something what you described, where each side is weakened by sickness, fatigue and desertion, is about where I'm at now in the novel too.

  3. Interesting. I lived a long time in No. Va. so don't think of the Civil War being fought in the west much. Bad on me. I love learning something new.


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