Civil War Generals

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How Many Civil War Generals Were There

Civil War generals numbered in the hundreds during the war. Many officers were promoted to higher ranks during the war, which included promotions to the rank of general.

These promotions were called brevet promotions. They were only valid for as long as the war lasted.

After the war ended their rank reverted back to where it was prior to their brevet promotion. George Armstrong Custer was one example of this type of wartime promotion. He was promoted to the rank of general during the Civil War.

George Armstrong Custer

George Armstrong Custer

Generals of the Civil War either won or lost battles due to their competence or incompetence as commanders.

Who Were the Best Civil War Generals

  • Ulysses S. Grant
  • William Tecumseh Sherman
  • Phillip Sheridan
  • Winfield Scott Hancock
  • George Thomas
  • Robert E. Lee
  • Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson
  • James Longstreet
  • Nathan Bedford Forrest
  • Albert Sidney Johnston
  • Jeb Stuart
  • Edward Porter Alexander

This list is in no particular order. It is difficult to proclaim one general is better than another. Each of these generals possessed unique abilities and qualities of their own.

For example Jeb Stuart’s brilliant cavalry leadership can’t be compared to Edward Porter Alexander’s talent using artillery, or Stonewall Jackson’s tactical abilities on the battlefield.

Although if I had to pick the best general of the Civil War, I would pick General Ulysses S. Grant. This choice is not based on any particular talent he had. Instead it’s based on his overall ability to get things done. He did more than any other general to win the war. As Abraham Lincoln once said “I can’t spare this man, he fights”

Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant

A must read book about Stonewall Jackson is #ad Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson this is a very well researched and fascinating biography about one of the Confederates best and most famous generals.

Who Was the Worst General in the Civil War

Some less impressive generals during the Civil War are remembered simply for being as equally terrible as Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee were great.

Union General Ambrose Burnside was arguably the worst general in the Civil War. He was an example of incompetence and ineptitude that was nothing more than a burden to his subordinates and his men.

General Ambrose Burnside

General Ambrose Burnside

What Happened at Burnside Bridge

One of General Burnside’s most famous blunders was during the Battle of Antietam at a bridge which forever bears his name called Burnside bridge.

He ordered his men to cross the bridge so that Union forces could cross Antietam creek and continue their attack against the Confederates. The bridge was defended by a small group of Confederate soldiers who held the high ground on the other side.

The defenders had easy targets as the Union troops tried to cross the narrow bridge.

Burnside Bridge During Civil War

Burnside Bridge During Civil War

Hundreds of General Burnside’s men were needlessly sacrificed trying to cross this bridge. Meanwhile General Burnside could have had his soldiers cross the creek a few hundred feet downstream where it wasn’t defended and it was shallow enough for his men to have easily and safely walked across the Antietam creek.

Burnside himself even admitted publicly that he would make a very poor general, apparently nobody was listening and he was put in command anyway.

A great book about Civil War Generals from both sides of the conflict is #ad Generals South, Generals North: The Commanders of the Civil War Reconsidered

Who Were the Main Generals in the Civil War

These are some of the more famous Civil War Generals

Andrew Johnson

(1808-1875) President Andrew Johnson was born in Raleigh, North Carolina on December 29, 1808. The presidency was forced upon Andrew Johnson with the assassination of President Lincoln. The name was readily familiar as Johnson was the Vice-President for the [...]


September 17, 1862 The battle of Antietam took place on September 17, 1862. This was Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s first invasion of the north. Following his recent victories over the Union during the Seven Days battles and Second Manassas, Lee [...]

AP Hill

(1825-1865) AP Hill had his most brilliant engagement during the Battle of Gettysburg. General Hill would be seen as a man of courage and great valor during the battle and would lay claim as one of Lee's favorites. General [...]


Near Appomattox Courthouse VA on April 7, 1865 at 5 PM Union General Ulysses S. Grant commander of the Army of the Potomac sent a letter to his counterpart Confederate General Robert E. Lee commander of the Army of [...]

Arthur MacArthur

(1845-1912) Arthur MacArthur is most famous for winning the Medal of Honor during the battle of Chattanooga and for being the father of General Douglas MacArthur. At the outbreak of the Civil War he was residing in Wisconsin and [...]

Ball’s Bluff

October 21st 1861 The Battle of Ball’s Bluff  although not as monumental or tactically important during the Civil War as other battles, was a very compelling fight nonetheless. The Confederate troops defeated the Union army on the cliffs of [...]

Barnard Bee

(1824-1861) Barnard Bee was the Confederate General, who is attributed with giving one of the most famous generals of the Civil War, his sterling nickname, General Stonewall Jackson. General Bee was a Confederate army officer, who commanded the 3rd [...]

Battle of Gettysburg

The battle of Gettysburg is the most well known battle of the American Civil War. The battle lasted for three days from July 1st to July 3rd 1863. When it was over more than 8,000 soldiers on both sides [...]

Battle of Jonesborough

August 31, 1864 - September 1, 1864 The battle of Jonesborough was the last battle fought during the Atlanta Campaign. General William T. Sherman wanted to capture the city of Atlanta and destroy General Hood’s Army of Tennessee. He had [...]

Battle of New Orleans

April 25th - May 1st 1862 The battle of New Orleans was the start of the Anaconda Plan; this was the name of the operation set-up by the Union to divide the Confederate States. The statuesque crescent city, the [...]

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