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AMERICAN CIVIL WAR - my-area



AMERICAN CIVIL WAR
The American Civil War started with Abraham Lincoln's victory in the presidential election of 1860, which triggered South Carolina's secession from the Union. Leaders in the state had long been waiting for an event that might unite the South against the antislavery forces.

Once the election returns were certain, a special South Carolina convention declared "that the Union now subsisting between South Carolina and other states under the name of the "United States of America' is hereby dissolved." By February 1, 1861, six more Southern states had seceded. On February 7, the seven states adopted a provisional constitution for the Confederate States of America. The remaining southern states as yet remained in the Union.

Less than a month later, on March 4, 1861, Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as president of the United States. In his inaugural address, he refused to recognize the secession, considering it "legally void." His speech closed with a plea for restoration of the bonds of union. But the South, particularly South Carolina, turned deaf ears, and on April 12, Federal troops stationed at Fort Sumter in the Charleston, South Carolina harbor were fired upon.

As a Confederate force was built up by July 1861 at Manassas, Virginia, a march by Union troops under the command of Maj. Gen Irvin McDowell on the Confederate forces there, was halted in the battle of First Bull Run, or First Manassas, whereupon they were forced back to Washington, DC by Confederate troops under the command of Generals Joseph E. Johnston and P.G.T. Beauregard.

Alarmed at the loss, and in an attempt to prevent more slave states from leaving the Union, the United States Congress passed the Crittenden-Johnson Resolution on July 25 of that year which stated that the war was being fought to preserve the Union and not to end slavery.

Major General George McClellan took command of the Union Army of the Potomac on July 26 (he was briefly given supreme command of all the Union armies, but was subsequently relieved of that post in favor of Maj. Gen. Henry Halleck), and the war began in earnest in 1862. Ulysses S. Grant gave the Union its first victory of the war, by capturing Fort Henry, Tennessee on February 6 of that year.

McClellan reached the gates of Richmond in the spring of 1862, but when Robert E. Lee defeated him in the Seven Days Campaign, he was relieved of command of the Army of the Potomac. His successor, John Pope, was beaten spectacularly by Lee at Second Bull Run in August.

Emboldened, the Confederacy's made its first invasion of the North, when General Lee led 55,000 men of the Army of Northern Virginia across the Potomac River at White's Ford near Leesburg, Virginia into Maryland on September 5. Lincoln then restored McClellan, who won a bloody, almost Pyrrhic victory at the Battle of Antietam near Sharpsburg, Maryland, on September 17, 1862. Lee's army, checked at last, returned to Virginia.

When McClellan failed to follow up on Antietam, he was replaced by Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside. Burnside suffered near-immediate defeat at the Battle of Fredericksburg, and was in his turn replaced by Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker. Hooker, too, proved unable to defeat Lee's army, and was relieved after the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863.

He was replaced by Maj. Gen. George Meade, who stopped Lee's invasion of Union-held territory at the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863), inflicting 28,000 casualties on Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, and again forcing it to retreat to its namesake state.

While the Confederate forces had some success in the Eastern theater holding on to their capital, fortune did not smile upon them in the West. Confederate forces were driven from Missouri early in the war, holding that key strategic state for the Union.

Nashville, Tennessee fell to the Union early in 1862. The Mississippi was opened, at least to Vicksburg, with the taking of Island No. 10 and New Madrid, Missouri and then Memphis, Tennessee. New Orleans was captured in January, 1862, allowing the Union forces to begin moving up the Mississippi as well.

The Union's key strategist and tactician was Ulysses S. Grant, who won victories at Fort Donelson, Battle of Shiloh, Vicksburg, Mississippi, and Chattanooga, Tennessee, driving Confederate forces out of Tennessee. Grant understood the concept of total war and realized, along with Lincoln, that only the utter defeat of Confederate forces would bring an end to the war. At the beginning of 1864, Grant was given command of all Union armies.

He chose to make his headquarters with the Army of the Potomac although Meade remained the actual commander of that army. Union forces in the East attempted to manuver past Lee and fought several battles during that phase of the Eastern campaign: the Battle of the Wilderness, the Spotsylvania, and the Cold Harbor.

An attempt to outflank Lee from the South failed under Generals Butlet and Smith, who were 'corked' into the Bermuda Hundred river bend. Grant was tenacious and kept pressing the Army of Northern Virginia under the command of Robert E. Lee.

He extended the Confederate army, pinning it down in the Siege of Petersburg and, after two failed attempts (under Siegel and Hunter), finally found a commander Phillip Sheridan who could clear the threat to Washington DC from teh Shenandoah Valley.

Meanwhile, General William Tecumseh Sherman marched from Chattanoga on Atlanta and laid waste to much of the rest of Georgia after he left Atlanta and marched to the sea at Savannnah. When Sherman turned North through South and North Carolina to approach the Virginia lines from the South, it was the end for Lee and his men, and with them, for the Confederacy.

The Northern states (the Union) had won. Advantages widely believed to have contributed to the Union's success include:

The North's strong, industrial economy

The North's larger population

The North's possession of the U.S. merchant marine fleet and naval ships

The North's established government

The North's moral cause (the Emancipation Proclamation) given to the war by Abraham Lincoln mid-way during the war and encouraged international support.

The war ended in 1865. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia on 9 April 1865 at Appomattox Court house. Joseph E. Johnston, who was commanded Confederate forces in North Carolina, surrendered his troops to Sherman shortly thereafter.

The Battle of Palmito Ranch, fought on May 13, 1865 in the far south of Texas was the last land battle of the war and ended with a Confederate victory. All Confederate land forces had surrendered by June 1865. Confederate naval units surrendered as late as November of 1865.

Cause of the Civil War
While there is considerable debate about the influence of individual events that led the states to this civil war, the following events are often cited as contributing:

Widening abolitionist sentiment in the North had been influenced by:
Uncle Tom's Cabin published in 1852
Dred Scott case, 1857
John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry in 1859, resulting in Brown's capture and execution. Abolitionists paid for his legal defense, deeply offending the South.
William Lloyd Garrison's American Anti-Slavery Society
The issue of whether new states would be slave states or free states:
Missouri Compromise of 1820
Compromise of 1850
Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854
The rising of the Republican Party:
Created in 1854, it was against expansion of slavery territory and composed of Conscience Whigs, Anti-Nebraska Democrats, Know-Nothings, and Nativists
Election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 (Lincoln had no electoral votes from the South)
Earlier expressions of states' rights against federal authority such as the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions and the South Carolina Exposition and Protest, which supported the doctrine of nullification and preceded the doctrine of succession.
Economic issues including taxation and imbalance of trade.
There is little question that the salient issue in the minds of the public and popular press of the time, and the histories written since, was the issue of slavery. Slavery had been abolished in most northern states, but was legal and important to the economy of the Confederacy, which depended on cheap agricultural labor. State sovereignty (for the South) and preservation of the Union (for the North) have both also been cited as issues, but both were reflections of the slavery issue, i.e., could the Federal government force southern states to end slavery or could the southern states leave the Union to preserve slavery?

Although the war was also known in the South as The War Between the States, The War of Northern Aggression, The War of Southern Independence, Mr. Lincoln's War, or simply as The War, these names are infrequently used today. More obscure names for the war include The Second American Revolution and The War in Defense of Virginia. Northerners often referred to this conflict as The War of the Rebellion or The War of Southern Rebellion, The War to Save the Union, and The War for Abolition.

The states which seceded consisted of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Three 'slave states' did not secede: Delaware, Maryland, and Kentucky. Although Kentucky did not secede, it declared itself neutral in the conflict. Delaware and Maryland were garrisoned by Union forces throughout the war to prevent their secession. Missouri's government split, with a Unionist government in the capitol and a secessionist government-in-exile run from Camden, Arkansas and Marshall, Texas. The state of West Virginia was created by the secession from Virginia of its northwestern counties, and added to the Union in 1863.

The Union was led by President Abraham Lincoln and the Confederacy by President Jefferson Davis.



Introduction to the Civil War
The American Civil War was fought in the United States of America between the northern states, popularly referred to as the "Union", and the seceding southern states calling themselves the Confederate States of America or the "Confederacy" between 1861 and 1865.

The war was and is also known in the South as The War Between the States, The War of Northern Aggression, The War of Southern Independence, or simply as The War.

More obscure southern names for the war include The Second American Revolution and The War in Defence of Virginia. Northerners often referred to it as The War of the Rebellion, The War to Save the Union, or The War for Abolition.


The states which seceded consisted of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Three 'slave states' did not secede: Delaware, Maryland, and Kentucky. Although Kentucky did not secede, it declared itself neutral in the conflict.

Delaware and Maryland were garrisoned by Union forces throughout the war to prevent their secession. Missouri's government split, with a Unionist government in the capitol and a secessionist government-in-exile run from Camden, Arkansas and Marshall, Texas.

The state of West Virginia was created by the secession from Virginia of its northwestern counties, and added to the Union in 1863.

The Union was led by President Abraham Lincoln and the Confederacy by President Jefferson Davis.

Prior to and during the Civil War, the North and South differed greatly in the resources that they could use.

Documents held by the National Archives can aid in the understanding of the factors that influenced the eventual outcome of the War Between the States.

After the election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency in 1860, the states of the southern United States broke away from the federal union that had existed since the ratification of the Constitution.

Believing that Lincoln would restrict their rights to own slaves, Southerners decided that secession was a better choice than to give up their economic system and their way of life.

President Lincoln and the North opposed the South's withdrawal; the president steadfastly maintained throughout the war that the secession was illegal and that the newly formed Confederate States of America was not valid as a new nation to the world.

Despite Lincoln's hopes that the secession would end without conflict, the two regions fought a war that exploited the advantages and opportunities that each held over the other before their differences could be resolved.

The North held many advantages over the South during the Civil War.

Its population was several times that of the South, a potential source for military enlistees and civilian manpower.

The South lacked the substantial number of factories and industries of the North that produced needed war materials.

The North had a better transportation network, mainly highways, canals, and railroads, which could be easily used to resupply military forces in the field.

At sea, the Union navy was more capable and dominant, while the army was better trained and better supplied.

The rest of the world also recognized the United States as a legitimate government, allowing U.S. diplomats to obtain loans and other trade concessions.

The South had fewer advantages, but it held several that would pose great threats to attempts by their Northern neighbors to end the rebellion.

The South was able to fight on its home terrain, and it could win the war simply by continuing to exist after the hostilities ended later.

The South also had a military tradition that encouraged young men to serve in the armed forces or attend a military school; many had served the U.S. military prior to the Civil War, only to resign and fight for their states and family.

In addition, the South had the leadership of great commanders, including Robert E. Lee, Joseph Johnston, and "Stonewall" Jackson.

As disadvantages, the South had to worry about its slave population, which posed the threat of rebellion and assistance to the Northern cause.

Actions by the North to promote this fear included the Emancipation Proclamation, which ended slavery in all territories held by Union troops, but not in all areas of the North, such as loyal, but slave-owning, states along the borders of the two powers.

Had the North tried to free slaves in these areas, more aid would have been generated for the South, and slave-owning Maryland's secession would leave the U.S. capital in Confederate hands.

In addition, the North suffered because a series of senior generals did not successfully exploit the weaknesses of the South, nor did they act upon the suggestions of their commander-in-chief.

President Lincoln finally got his desired general in Ulysses S. Grant, who had solidified the Union's control of the West in parts of the Mississippi River Basin.

Grant directed the defeat of Southern forces and strongholds and held off determined advances northward by the Confederates on several occasions before the surrender by Lee to Grant took place in 1865.

To defeat the South, the North had to achieve several goals. First, control of the Mississippi River had to be secured to allow unimpeded movement of needed Western goods.

Second, the South had to be cut off from international traders and smugglers that could aid the Southern war effort.

Third, the Confederate army had to be incapacitated to prevent further northward attacks such as that at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and to ease the battle losses of the North.

Fourth, the South's ability to produce needed goods and war materials had to be curtailed.

It was these measures that the South had to counter with their own plans to capitalize on early victories that weakened the Northern resolve to fight, to attain international recognition as a sovereign state, and to keep Union forces from seizing Confederate territory.

The South ultimately did not achieve its goals, and after four years of fighting the North won the war.

The devisive, destructive conflict cast a shadow on the successes of the United States during the 19th century, however.

The country had to find ways to heal the wounds of war during Reconstruction


Civil War Facts

Of the 364,000 on the Union side who lost their lives, a third were killed or died of wounds and two-thirds died of disease.

The chance of surviving a wound in Civil War days was 7 to 1; in the Korean War, 50 to 1.

Many doctors who saw service in the Civil War had never been to medical school, but had served an apprenticeship in the office of an established practitioner.

Approximately 130,000 freed slaves became Union soldiers during the war.

Besides the rifle and cannon, weapons consisted of revolvers, swords, cutlasses, hand grenades, Greek fire and land mines.

About 15 percent of the wounded died in the Civil War; about 8 percent in World War I; about 4 percent in World War II; about 2 percent in the Korean War.

Most infantry rifles were equipped with bayonets, but very few men wounded by bayonet showed up at hospitals. The conclusion was that the bayonet was not a lethal weapon. The explanation probably lay in the fact that opposing soldiers did not often actually come to grips and, when they did, were prone to use their rifles as clubs.

Eighty percent of all wounds during the Civil War were in the extremities.

Most wounds were caused by an elongated bullet made of soft lead, about an inch long, pointed at one end and hollowed out at the base, and called a "minie" ball, having been invented by Capt. Minié of the French army.

During the Civil war a person who had been drafted could hire a substitute. This bounty system was exploited by so called “bounty jumpers”. These men would hire out to more than one draftee and then make a hasty exit once they were paid. The record for bounty –jumping was held by John O’Connor. He admitted to hiring himself out 32 times before being caught. He received a 4 year prison term.

The first U. S. Naval hospital ship, the Red Rover, was used on the inland waters during the Vicksburg campaign.

Black soldiers were paid $10 per month while serving in the Union army. This was $3 less than white soldiers.

Artillery was used extensively, but only about 10 percent of the wounded were the victims of artillery fire.

General Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confederate forces, traveled with a pet hen that laid one egg under his cot every morning.

Fully armed, a soldier carried about seven pounds of ammunition. His cartridge box contained 40 rounds, and an additional 60 rounds might be conveyed in the pocket if an extensive battle was anticipated


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