Friday, August 21, 2009

Army Names Are the Definite Article

It's hard to keep track of the different Civil War armies especially when battles may take place between the Army of Tennessee and the Army of the Tennessee or the Army of Mississippi and the Army of the Mississippi.

They key of course is in the definite article "the." "The" is a rather special word and is uniquely classified as a definite article. Civil War students will find the "the" important because its use helps to distinguish Union armies from closely named Confederate units. The "the" refers to a river, namely the Tennessee River or Mississippi or Potomac River. Union armies were generally named for rivers in much the same way that the Federals named battles. Confederates named their armies using states or geographic regions. Examples here are the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of Tennessee.


So when you see the "the" you can bet that it is a Yankee unit.

For more on the subject, please see Armies of the Civil War.

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