Rise of the Confederacy Study Guide

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Welcome to the study center for War Between the States: Rise of the Confederacy! Here you will find text, audio and video material to further your understanding of what caused America’s bloodiest war. To begin, select one of the episodes below.

If you have any questions about what you’ve seen, don’t hesitate to contact us.

First Blood at Manassas

In this episode, we’ll consider the formation of the armies and their preparation for war. Watch civilians turn into soldiers and engage in the first great battle of their lives – the Battle of Manassas, or Bull Run. We meet with historian Jim Burgess of the National Park Service to learn the story of this first major battle of the Civil War, the heroism of the men involved, and the mistakes that led to the Union defeat. View study materials for this episode here.

Struggle on the Seas

The Civil War wasn’t just fought on land – there was also an important naval theater that greatly effected the outcome of the war. Travel with us across the nation, following the tale of the Civil War navies from Mississippi, to Charleston, to Alaska. Watch as new technologies emerge that would revolutionize naval warfare, from iron-plated ships, to contact mines, even to submarines. Along the way listen to the tales from naval historian Craig Symonds and National Park Service Historian Emeritus Ed Bearrs. View study materials for this episode here.

Valley Campaign

In this episode, we explore the story of one of the Civil War’s most famous campaigns – Stonewall Jackson’s 1862 Shenandoah Valley Campaign. See the locations where against incredible odds, Jackson pushed his men hard to beat back multiple Union armies. Understand the campaign whose brilliance is still studied to this day. Join us as we travel up and down the Shenandoah Valley, tracing Jackson’s strategic movements and the battlefield tactics that brought him victory. View study materials for this episode here.

Lee Takes Command

In the spring of 1862, the Confederacy seemed on the verge of disaster. Explore with us how Robert E. Lee was able to take command and turn the war around. See how he took the demoralized Southern armies and struck back with bold blows. Travel to the places where he rapidly defeated George B. McClellan in the Seven Days battles and John Pope at 2nd Manassas. Understand how Lee was able to achieve victories that turned the tide of the war toward the South. View study materials for this episode here.

Antietam – America’s Bloodiest Day

In September, 1862, Lee decided it was time to head North. He had beaten back the Union armies in Virginia, but now he would take the war to the enemy. Join us in this episode as we explore the exciting story of Lee’s first invasion of Maryland. See how his brilliant campaign suddenly turned toward disaster as he was brought to the banks of Antietam Creek to fight the the bloodiest day of battle in American history. View study materials for this episode here.

The West – Fort Donelson

When most people think of the Civil War, they think of the great battles of the east, but the fighting in the West was also crucial. In this two part episode, we examine the critical campaigns in the west starting at the beginning of the war. Meet historian Greg Biggs at Fort Donelson as we discuss the campaign. Consider the mistakes made by the South that lost them so much control of the Western rivers. View study materials for this episode here.

The West – Shiloh

In this second part of the episode, we trace the Western campaigns to the Battle of Shiloh. Meet Park Ranger Chris Mekow and understand this important battle. Join us as we explore how Confederates drove back Ulysees S. Grant in some of the bloodiest fighting of the war, and see how he was able to recover for ultimate victory the next day. Go with us to the places where the Union was able to establish themselves to continue their invasion of the South. View study materials for this episode here.