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"Of more than one thousand battles fought during the war," William C. Davis notes, "a few have risen to lasting fascination and prominence, some even regarded as 'turning points.' The battles included in this book are those that caused the greatest casualties, produced the greatest feats of heroism, and won or lost major campaigns. They decided the course of the war in the East and the West, set the standard for valor and sacrifice, defined who the American soldier was to be in this war and in the future, and established the American military tradition."

This volume presents accounts of five Confederate victories (Fort Sumter, First Manassas, Fredericksburg, Chickamauga, and Franklin), five Union victories (New Orleans, Gettysburg, Vicksburg, Chattanooga, and Nashville), and three stalemates (Monitor v. Virginia, Antietam, and Charleston). Also included are chapters on solder life, the steadfast Iron Brigade, and the first volunteer African-American combat troops recruited in the North-the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Infantry. From the first shot in Charleston Harbor to the one-day decimation of the Southern army on the outskirts of Nashville, these pages are colored with the wide range of expectation and disappointment that frustrated the country during four years of war.

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