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Letters from Soldiers in the War in the West

     The letters below are from soldiers in regiments in service in the western theater. While the Army of the Potomac was fighting mostly losing battles in the east, the war in the west was going mostly in the Union's favor. Early victories cleared the Confederates from Missouri and Kentucky and resulted in those states' staying in the Union. The Union scored major victories at Shiloh and Fort Donaldson in Western Tennessee and in Corinth, Mississippi. Control of the Mississippi River with its importance to transportation of both troops and supplies became the goal of both armies. The Union would win control of the lower Mississippi from New Orleans and points north and from Memphis to points south, but the South controlled the mid point with its fortress at Vicksburg, Mississippi. When frontal assaults on the city failed, the Union army, under the command of General Ulysses Grant, settled in for a prolonged siege. After forty days, and with supplies completely exhausted, the garrison surrendered on July 4, 1863, just one day after the South's devastating loss at Gettysburg. After the fall of Vicksburg, three of the leaders of this Union army, General Grant, General Sherman and General Sheridan, received commands elsewhere. General Grant was sent to the Army of the Potomac, Sherman to the Chattanooga area where he began planning for his Atlanta campaign, and Phil Sheridan became the commander of the cavalry for Grant's army in Virginia.
     Some of the letters below refer to the Red River Campaign of 1864, which was an attempt by the Union army to control most of Louisiana and East Texas. It proved to be a Union failure, but had little impact on the outcome of the war.

The Ram Fleet

56th Ohio Volunteer Infantry

3rd Iowa Volunteer Infantry

8th Missouri Volunteer Infantry

95th Ohio Volunteer Infantry

81st Ohio Volunteer Infantry

Letter from California