The American Civil War witnessed the intensive use of fortifications by both the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia, from Big Bethel and Charleston to Battery Wagner, Bristoe Station, and Plymouth. Commanders relied on breastworks, earthworks, or preexisting features in various campaigns between 1861 and 1864. The trench warfare evolved as protagonists tried to balance offensive action with defensive strategies. Both Federals and Confederates resorted to a great deal of digging during the Peninsula campaign. General George McClellan of the Union recognized the benefits of using earthworks and Confederates General Robert E. Lee also relied on extensive fortifications against McClellan. Both sides increased their use of earthworks at Chancellorsville.
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