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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 ...


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