Lower Seaboard Theater of the American Civil War

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The Lower Seaboard Theater of the American Civil War encompassed major military and naval operations that occurred near the coastal areas of the Southeastern United States: in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas) as well as southern part of the Mississippi River (Port Hudson and south).

Southeastern United States eastern portion of the Southern United States

The Southeastern United States is broadly, the eastern portion of the Southern United States, and the southern portion of the Eastern United States. It comprises at least a core of states on the lower East Coast of the United States and eastern Gulf Coast. Expansively, it includes everything south of the Mason–Dixon line, the Ohio River and the 36°30' parallel, and as far west as Arkansas and Louisiana. There is no official U.S. government definition of the region, though various agencies and departments use different definitions.

Alabama State in the Deep South region of the United States

Alabama is a state in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama is the 30th largest by area and the 24th-most populous of the U.S. states. With a total of 1,500 miles (2,400 km) of inland waterways, Alabama has among the most of any state.

Florida U.S. state in the United States

Florida is the southernmost contiguous state in the United States. The state is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the northwest by Alabama, to the north by Georgia, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the south by the Straits of Florida. Florida is the 22nd-most extensive, the 3rd-most populous, and the 8th-most densely populated of the U.S. states. Jacksonville is the most populous municipality in the state and the largest city by area in the contiguous United States. The Miami metropolitan area is Florida's most populous urban area. Tallahassee is the state's capital.


Inland operations are included in the Western Theater or Trans-Mississippi Theater, depending on whether they were east or west of the Mississippi River. Coastal operations in Georgia, including the culmination of Sherman's March to the Sea, are included in the Western Theater.

Western Theater of the American Civil War Military operations in of Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, Kentucky, South Carolina and Tennessee, and Louisiana east of the Mississippi

The Western Theater of the American Civil War encompassed major military operations in the states of Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, Kentucky, South Carolina and Tennessee, as well as Louisiana east of the Mississippi River. Operations on the coasts of these states, except for Mobile Bay, are considered part of the Lower Seaboard Theater. Most other operations east of the Mississippi are part of the Eastern Theater. Operations west of the Mississippi River took place in the Trans-Mississippi Theater.

Trans-Mississippi Theater of the American Civil War

The Trans-Mississippi Theater of the American Civil War consists of the major military operations west of the Mississippi River. The area is often thought of as excluding the states and territories bordering the Pacific Ocean, which formed the Pacific Coast Theater of the American Civil War (1861-1865).

Mississippi River largest river system in North America

The Mississippi River is the second-longest river and chief river of the second-largest drainage system on the North American continent, second only to the Hudson Bay drainage system. From its traditional source of Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota, it flows generally south for 2,320 miles (3,730 km) to the Mississippi River Delta in the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains all or parts of 32 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces between the Rocky and Appalachian mountains. The main stem is entirely within the United States; the total drainage basin is 1,151,000 sq mi (2,980,000 km2), of which only about one percent is in Canada. The Mississippi ranks as the fourth-longest and fifteenth-largest river by discharge in the world. The river either borders or passes through the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

The campaign classification established by the U.S. National Park Service, [1] which calls these the Lower Seaboard Theater and Gulf Approach operations, is more fine-grained than the one used in this article. Some minor NPS campaigns have been omitted and some have been combined into larger categories. Only a few of the 31 battles the NPS classifies for this theater are described. The Port Royal Expedition of 1861 has been added, although it has not been classified by the NPS. Boxed text in the right margin show the NPS campaigns associated with each section.

National Park Service United States federal agency

The National Park Service (NPS) is an agency of the United States federal government that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations. It was created on August 25, 1916, by Congress through the National Park Service Organic Act and is an agency of the United States Department of the Interior. The NPS is charged with a dual role of preserving the ecological and historical integrity of the places entrusted to its management while also making them available and accessible for public use and enjoyment.

1861 cartoon map of Scott's plan. Scott-anaconda.jpg
1861 cartoon map of Scott's plan.

Union Naval activities in this theater were dictated by the Anaconda Plan, with its emphasis on strangling the South with an ever-tightening blockade, and later in executing attacks on and occupying the port cities of New Orleans, Mobile, and Galveston. The Confederate response was mainly limited to blockade running and the Confederate Navy reacting defensively to Union incursions, with mixed success.

Union Navy United States Navy during the American Civil War

The Union Navy was the United States Navy (USN) during the American Civil War, when it fought the Confederate States Navy (CSN). The term is sometimes used carelessly to include vessels of war used on the rivers of the interior while they were under the control of the United States Army, also called the Union Army.

Anaconda Plan Union military strategy for suppressing the Confederacy established at the beginning of the American Civil War

The Anaconda Plan is the name applied to a Union Army outline strategy for suppressing the Confederacy at the beginning of the American Civil War. Proposed by Union General-in-Chief Winfield Scott, the plan emphasized a Union blockade of the Southern ports and called for an advance down the Mississippi River to cut the South in two. Because the blockade would be rather passive, it was widely derided by a vociferous faction of Union generals who wanted a more vigorous prosecution of the war and likened it to the coils of an anaconda suffocating its victim. The snake image caught on, giving the proposal its popular name.

New Orleans Largest city in Louisiana

New Orleans is a consolidated city-parish located along the Mississippi River in the southeastern region of the U.S. state of Louisiana. With an estimated population of 391,006 in 2018, it is the most populous city in Louisiana. Serving as a major port, New Orleans is considered an economic and commercial hub for the broader Gulf Coast region of the United States.


South Carolina

Much of the war along the South Carolina coast concentrated on capturing Charleston, due both to its role as a port for blockade runners and to its symbolic role as the starting place of the war. [2] One of the earliest battles of the war was fought at Port Royal Sound, south of Charleston. The Union navy selected this location as a coaling station for the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. [3]

Charleston, South Carolina City in the United States

Charleston is the oldest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina, the county seat of Charleston County, and the principal city in the Charleston–North Charleston–Summerville Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city lies just south of the geographical midpoint of South Carolina's coastline and is located on Charleston Harbor, an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean formed by the confluence of the Ashley, Cooper, and Wando rivers. Charleston had an estimated population of 136,208 in 2018. The estimated population of the Charleston metropolitan area, comprising Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester counties, was 787,643 residents as of 2018, the third-largest in the state and the 78th-largest metropolitan statistical area in the United States.

Battle of Port Royal 1861 battle of the American Civil War

The Battle of Port Royal was one of the earliest amphibious operations of the American Civil War, in which a United States Navy fleet and United States Army expeditionary force captured Port Royal Sound, South Carolina, between Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina, on November 7, 1861. The sound was guarded by two forts on opposite sides of the entrance, Fort Walker on Hilton Head Island to the south and Fort Beauregard on Phillip's Island to the north. A small force of four gunboats supported the forts, but did not materially affect the battle.

In attempting to capture Charleston, the Union military tried two approaches, by land over James or Morris Islands or through the harbor. However, the Confederates were able to drive back each Union attack. One of the most famous of the land attacks was the Second Battle of Fort Wagner, in which the 54th Massachusetts Infantry took part. The Federals suffered a serious defeat in this battle, losing 1,500 men while the Confederates lost only 175. [4] During the night of February 23, 1864, the CSS Hunley made the first successful sinking of an enemy warship by a submarine, although the Hunley was also sunk shortly afterwards. The Confederates used other crafts such as the David but these were not as successful. [5]

Second Battle of Fort Wagner Battle of the American Civil War

The Second Battle of Fort Wagner, also known as the Second Assault on Morris Island or the Battle of Fort Wagner, Morris Island, was fought on July 18, 1863, during the American Civil War. Union Army troops commanded by Brig. Gen. Quincy Gillmore, launched an unsuccessful assault on the Confederate fortress of Fort Wagner, which protected Morris Island, south of Charleston Harbor. The battle came one week after the First Battle of Fort Wagner.

<i>H. L. Hunley</i> (submarine) submarine

H. L. Hunley, often referred to as Hunley, was a submarine of the Confederate States of America that played a small part in the American Civil War. Hunley demonstrated the advantages and the dangers of undersea warfare. She was the first combat submarine to sink a warship, although Hunley was not completely submerged and, following her successful attack, was lost along with her crew before she could return to base. The Confederacy lost 21 crewmen in three sinkings of Hunley during her short career. She was named for her inventor, Horace Lawson Hunley, shortly after she was taken into government service under the control of the Confederate States Army at Charleston, South Carolina.

CSS <i>David</i> Confederate States Navy torpedo boat

CSSDavid was a Civil War-era torpedo boat. On October 5, 1863, she undertook a partially successful attack on the USS New Ironsides, then participating in the blockade of Charleston, South Carolina.


Fort Pulaski on the Georgia coast was an early target for the Union navy. Following the capture of Port Royal, an expedition was organized with engineer troops under the command of Captain Quincy A. Gillmore. After a month of positioning 36 mortars and rifled cannons on nearby Tybee Island, Gillmore opened a bombardment of the fort on April 10. The Confederates surrendered the following afternoon after their magazine was threatened by Union shells. The Union army occupied the fort for the rest of the war after making repairs. [6]


Following the secession of Florida in January 1861, Florida troops seized most Federal property in the state with the exceptions of Fort Zachary Taylor at Key West and Fort Pickens at Pensacola. The Union navy established a blockade of the coast early in the war, with the state's Atlantic coast covered by the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron and the Gulf coast by the East Gulf Blockading squadron. [7]

Several small skirmishes were fought in the state, but no major battles. In 1864, in an attempt to organize a pro-Union government in Florida, a Union force under Brigadier General Truman Seymour moved inland from Jacksonville but was defeated at the Battle of Olustee on February 20, which was the largest Civil War battle in Florida. [8] The Union army attempted to capture the state capital of Tallahassee but were defeated at the Battle of Natural Bridge on March 8, 1865. Florida was one of only two Confederate states not to have its capital captured in the war. [9]


One of the early Union objectives in the war was the capture of the Mississippi River, in order to cut the Confederacy in half. "The key to the river was New Orleans, the South's largest port [and] greatest industrial center." [10] In April 1862, a Union naval task force commanded by Commander David D. Porter attacked Forts Jackson and St. Philip, which guarded the river approach to the city from the south. While part of the fleet bombarded the forts, other vessels forced a break in the obstructions in the river and enabled the rest of the fleet to steam upriver to the city. A Union army force commanded by Major General Benjamin Butler landed near the forts and forced their surrender. [11]

The following year, the Union Army of the Gulf commanded by Major General Nathaniel P. Banks laid siege to Port Hudson for nearly eight weeks, the longest siege in US military history. To cut Port Hudson's supply lines through the Red River, Banks first advanced up Bayou Teche, capturing the Atchafalaya and the Red rivers up to Alexandria. (See Bayou Teche Campaign.) [12] The Confederates defending the city surrendered on July 9, after hearing of the surrender at Vicksburg. These two surrenders gave the Union control over the entire Mississippi River and split the Confederacy in half. [13]

For the rest of war the Confederates concentrated on trying to recapturing the areas they lost. From June to September 1863 Major General Richard Taylor, commander of the District of West Louisiana, attempted to recapture the Union gains, both to cut Bank's communications with New Orleans and possibly to recapture the city itself. While successful in some battles, the Confederates failed in both objectives. [14]


  1. U.S. National Park Service, Civil War Battle Studies by Campaign
  2. Symonds, p. 5.
  3. Symonds, p. 15
  4. Chaitiin, p. 127-128.
  5. Symonds, p. 5; Chaitin, p. 139-141.
  6. Kennedy, p. 63-67.
  7. Chaitin, p. 138.
  8. Chaitin, p. 139.
  9. Kennedy, p. 434.
  10. Kennedy, p. 58.
  11. Kennedy, p. 58.
  12. Kennedy, p. 179.
  13. Kennedy, p. 182-183.
  14. Kennedy, p. 180-181.

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