Download Transcript: Civil War

In this video, historian Edward Ayers discusses the importance of geography in understanding the Civil War in Virginia and why specific parts of the Commonwealth became key targets for the Union army.

Virginia’s environment – specifically its location on the border with the Union and its physical geography – played an important role in the Civil War. The Confederate capital was moved to Richmond after Virginia seceded in 1861. With its proximity to Washington, D.C., the federal capital, Virginia was the focus of military operations and battles. The Union built a war strategy that aimed to capture the Confederate capital, and block off Southern ports on the Atlantic and Mississippi to weaken the Southern economy and will to fight.

Source: Will Davis and Virginia Center for Digital History, “Decoding the Past: Exploration in History; Maps: Terrain and Tactics,” The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar, 2011, accessed September 17, 2011.


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