Western Theater of the American Civil War
The Western Theater of the American Civil War encompassed major military and naval 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 the states, except for Mobile Bay, are considered part of the Lower Seaboard Theater.)The Western Theater was the avenue of military operations by Union armies, chief among them the Army of the Tennessee, 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. Union operations began with securing Kentucky in Union hands in June 1861. Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's Army of the Tennessee had early successes in Kentucky and western Tennessee in 1861–1862, marched towards and captured Vicksburg in 1862–64, and combined with the armies of the Cumberland and of the Ohio, who had been working their way through central Tennessee in 1862–63, to capture Chattanooga in 1864. Chattanooga served as the launching point for Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman, who was put in charge of the combined armies by Grant following his elevation by Abraham Lincoln to General-in-Chief in command over all operations in the Eastern Theater, to capture the Confederate rail hub of Atlanta and march to the Atlantic. Operations in theater concluded with the surrender of Southern forces to the Union army in North Carolina and Florida in May 1865 following General Robert E. Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox Court House.