Learning Lincoln On-line


Comparing the Army of the Potomac & the Army of the Northern Virginia)

The Chief Armies of the North and the South Respectively

--General Robert E. Lee, the Army of Northern Virginia

--General U.S. Grant, the Army of the Potomac


 To understand the Civil War, one must understand the organization and terminology used for two armies (Union and Confederate).   There were theaters of the war.  A theater is a large area that has not yet been "taken" The "Army of the Potomac" was the main Union army in the eastern theater of the war and the "Army of Northern Virginia" was the main Confederate force. Remarkably, both of the armies that fought the Battle of Gettysburg were organized in a similar fashion including a structure of corps, divisions, and brigades.

Acceptance of Surrender from General Lee by General Grant at Appomattox Courthouse


1 Use the articles provided on each of the great armies as a resource, and answer the questions as provided in the Battle-Summary Form.


Write short answers for each Question Cell.  You should find two points of evidence to answer the question. Be sure to document where the answer was found.


3 Design and make a visual "compilation presentation" of the results of your question answers.  Use Presentation computer software, or even make a poster for this presentation.



A Make a flowchart to describe the organization of the armies of both the north and the south.  Why were the great armies of the Civil War named after rivers?  Make a list of armies named after rivers.  A handy chart is provided by the National Park Service at: http://kpickel.iweb.bsu.edu/ArmyOrganization.pdf


B How would you describe the relationship between General Robert E. Lee and General Ulysses S. Grant.  What connections did they have before the Civil War?  How were these two generals alike and different?  View the N.Y. Times online slideshow about the two generals. One other resource is at http://mrkash.com/activities/grant&lee.html


C What are the battles that the generals led?  Which side won the battle?  What are the statistics on the number of casualties for each side? 


D Find a battle that each general lost, and describe why the battle was lost, or why the opposition won. An advanced resource for this question is provided from a Clevland Roundtable discussion at: http://clevelandcivilwarroundtable.com/articles/comment/why_grant_won.htm


E What did each general "say" during his army career and the civil war?  Find 3 quotes by each and write a short answer explanation of what was said and why.  You may have to infer why. Wikiquotes are available to help find quotes for each:




U.S. Grant at: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Ulysses_S._Grant 

Robert E. Lee at:  http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Robert_E._Lee


  About the soldiers of each of the great armies (North and South)
F According to the rank and file soldiers of both sides, why were they fighting for their respective sides?


G General Grant was called a "butcher" of soldiers by many, including Mary Todd Lincoln.  Why, and why is this true or untrue?

"He is a butcher and is not fit to be at the head of an army. Yes, he generally manages to claim a victory, but such a victory! He loses two men to the enemy's one. He has no management, no regard for life." Mary Todd Lincoln,conversation with Abraham Lincoln regarding General Ulysses S. Grant. 

From http://rogerjnorton.com/Lincoln90.html



General Lee was loved by his soldiers and this affection and respect can be felt by reading about the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, that ended the war.  While reading this find at least three facts or statements concerning:

     1. Find proof or instances of Confederate respect and reverence for the General. 

     2. Compare and contrast Grant and Lee at Appomattox including  the way they appeared, presented themselves, and any other details that seem to describe the two personalities.

     3. Look for the responses of Union troops during and after the surrender at the courthouse.



Compare and contrast the composition of both armies, including officers and men, and consider characteristics of a good commander, as leadership helped in winning. Read this article from the N.Y. Times,  that compares the two generals, for information.

View the "Armies Make-up chart including ethnicity" for each by clicking here.


J For both the Union and Confederate soldiers, to what extent does honor, glory, and chivalry play in the fighting. Be certain to give examples for both sides.  Go to the Chivalry site for lots of information.


K General Grant had a close military relationship with the Commander and Chief. If the President would give an order to proceed, Grant would proceed. An order once given to Grant was followed: "Hold on with a bulldog grip and chew & choke as much as possible"  A. Lincoln.  Click Here for details.


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