Digital History

The Civil War

The Significance of Names Previous Next
Digital History ID 3073



During the Civil War, the Union and Confederate armies tended to give battles different names. Thus the battle known to the Union as Bull Run was called Manassas by the Confederacy. Similarly, the Battle of Antietam was known by the Confederacy as the Battle of Sharpsburg. In general, the North tended to name battles and armies after bodies of water (such as the Army of the Potomac or the Army of the Mississippi), while the Confederacy tended to name battles after towns and armies after land areas (such as the Army of North Virginia or the Army of Kentucky). It seems plausible that the Confederacy used such names to convey a sense that its soldiers were defending something of pivotal importance: their homeland.

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