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The Western Theater served as an avenue of military operations by Union armies directly into the agricultural heartland of the South via the major rivers of the region (the Mississippi, the Tennessee, and the Cumberland). The Confederacy was forced to defend an enormous area with limited resources. Most railroads ran north to south, as opposed to east to west, making it difficult to send Confederate troops and supplies to troops further from the more heavily populated and industrialized areas of the eastern Confederacy. Union operations began with securing Kentucky in Union hands in September 1861. Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's Army of the Tennessee had early successes in Kentucky and western Tennessee in 1861 and 1862, capturing the important strategic locations of forts Henry and Donelson. The Army of the Tennessee and the Army of the Ohio defeated the Confederate Army of Mississippi, commanded by General Albert Sidney Johnston, at the Battle of Shiloh, driving it out of western Tennessee, subsequently marching into Mississippi and capturing Corinth. Grant's troops marched towards and captured Vicksburg in 1862–63. Meanwhile, the Army of the Ohio, later known as the Army of the Cumberland, experienced success, blocking a Confederate invasion of Kentucky and gaining control over large amounts of Tennessee through the Battle of Stones River and the 1863 Tullahoma Campaign while fighting against the Confederate Army of Tennessee, whose commander, Braxton Bragg, was often criticized for his alleged lack of military skill. The Union army was briefly checked in its invasion of Georgia at the Battle of Chickamauga, and besieged at Chattanooga. Grant, now commanding the newly created Military Division of the Mississippi, took command, and received reinforcements from the Army of the Tennessee, as well as from the eastern Army of the Potomac. The siege of Chattanooga was lifted in November 1863. Following his elevation by Abraham Lincoln to General-in-Chief, Grant put Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman in charge of the combined armies. Chattanooga served as a launching pad for Sherman to capture the Confederate rail-hub of Atlanta and to march to the Atlantic, inflicting a major logistical and psychological blow to the Confederacy. After reaching the ocean, Sherman invaded the Carolinas. Operations in the Western Theater concluded with the surrender of Southern forces to the Union armies in North Carolina and Florida in May 1865 following General Robert E. Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox Court House.