An Overview of the Civil War in Virginia



Who, What, Where, When, Why, What of It



I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.

- Rudyard Kipling


  • Who was involved?
  • What happened?
  • Where did it take place?
  • When did it take place?
  • Why did that happen?
  • What of it?


  • Over 50,000 volumes have been written on the Civil War and many of them focus on the Civil War in Virginia both on the macro level and examining individual battles in great detail, it is difficult for those not involved in a detailed study of the war to get a concise overview and understanding of the war. This concise overview of the war addresses that issue focusing on “the first four W’s.” One hundred and fifty years later, historians, and we as a people are still struggling to understand the “Why” and I will leave that aspect to another discussion. Societally we are still working through the “What of It” issues and may for several generations to come. Traditionally news reporters are trained to ask and answer the “Who, What, Where, and When” questions, leaving the “Why” and “What of It” for the editorial writers and that is our objective here.

    Who Was Involved? In a study of the Civil War, this is referred to as an “Order of Battle” and for these battles which involved thousands of units and hundreds of thousands of people these alone can cover many volumes. We limit this overview to identifying the principal commanders. What Happened? We have identified 984 battles which occurred in Virginia. When you add the 239 which occurred in what is now West Virginia, the 164 in Maryland, the 76 which occurred along the northern coast of North Carolina, the 1 big one and the 17 little ones which occurred in Pennsylvania and the hundreds of naval encounters, the total approaches 1,500 events. Where Did It Happen? Often referred to as the “Eastern Theater,” the battles occurred primarily within physical boundaries of the state of Virginia. This work focuses on these events identifying where the events occurred and illustrating the troop movements by year with maps. When Did It Take Place? The Civil War occurred over 223 weeks with the first actions in Virginia occurring in week 3. The surrender at Appomattox occurred in week 211. This work focuses on the 208 week span of the war in Virginia.

    SAVE $22 when you get the CD and book together. This bundle also includes Confederate Military History - Virginia Volume and the memoirs of Gen. Grant.