James River


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The superior navy of the Federals at the beginning and throughout the war enabled them to gain the advantage of penetrating the rivers leading into the interior of the Confederacy and thus support the military forces in many telling movements. To this fact the surrender of Forts Henry and Donelson and the ultimate control of the Mississippi by the Union forces gives eloquent testimony. In the East the regions between Washington and Richmond were traversed by streams, small and large, which made aggressive warfare difficult. For this reason McClellan chose the James River Peninsula for his first advance upon the Confederate Capital. Far more dreaded than the advance of the army was the approach of the powerful Monitor and the Galena up the James River, and the


first thought of the Confederates was to hold this danger in abeyance. Hence the obstructions (shown on the opposite page) sunk in the bend of the James River near Drewry's Bluff, where a powerful battery known as Fort Darling was hastily but effectively constructed. These blocked the attempts of the Federals to invest the Confederate capital until Grant's superior strategy in 1864 rendered them useless by throwing his army across the James in one of his famous flanking movements and advancing toward Richmond in a new direction. The campaign developing into a siege of Petersburg on the Appomattox, the Federal vessels confined their activities to the lower James.

James River
Drewry's Bluff


Return to Civil War Strategy

[Click on Thumbnails Below for Detailed view and information of that Photograph]

Richmond Approach

Approach to Richmond along the James River

James River

Strategic Use of the James River in the Civil War


Count Zeppelin


Kings in Camp

Foreign Observers

Foreign Observers

Farrar's Island

Farrar's Island

Armstrong Run

Armstrong Run

Richmond Ruins

Richmond Ruins

Washington Defenses

Defense of Washington DC

Sherman at the Chattahoochee

Sherman's Feint at the Chattahoochee

Use of Railroads in the Civil War

City Point

City Point, Virginia








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