There was much uncertainty in both North and South regarding the war effort. Many northerners doubted that the Union could be restored, and many southerners doubted that they could maintain their independence. People on both sides were losing their romantic sentiments toward war as soldiers huddled in cold, muddy winter camps.


The Confederate defensive line through Kentucky had been broken, and Federal forces were preparing to advance on the Mississippi, Tennessee, and Cumberland Rivers. Federals were also readying offensives on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. Southern concerns intensified as Confederate armies had been depleted by soldiers returning home for the winter.


Confederate hopes for independence were fading following their worst month of the war to date. Conversely, optimism was rising in the North as Federal armies were threatening northern Virginia at Harpers Ferry; Richmond and Norfolk at Fort Monroe; Savannah and Charleston at Port Royal, South Carolina; New Orleans and Mobile on the Gulf Coast; in northwestern Arkansas; and on the Mississippi, Cumberland, and Tennessee Rivers.


Federal armies were advancing on several fronts as massive efforts were underway to capture the Confederate capital at Richmond and split the Confederacy in the West. Southerners were watching the advances with apprehension because they knew that hard fighting would be needed if they were to maintain their independence. Northerners were complaining that the Federal forces were still not moving fast enough.


Federal forces were still on the offensive, and hopes were dimming for Confederate independence. Few southerners openly acknowledged the possibility of defeat, but the possibility was apparent nonetheless. Northerners who had called for more action were now seeing it, but they were not yet satisfied.


The Confederacy was still reeling from recent defeats, but the Federal momentum was beginning to slow. Henry Halleck was using extreme caution in the West, and George McClellan was stalling in the East. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s recent Confederate victories in the Shenandoah Valley helped brighten southern spirits, and the deadly struggle for the Confederate capital had begun.


The war’s momentum had shifted from the North to the South. The Federals had gone from nearly capturing Richmond to trying to avoid destruction on the Virginia Peninsula. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and Robert E. Lee were emerging as southern heroes, but Confederate fortunes in the West were still precarious.

Last Updated: 7/1/2022

Leave a Reply