The Civil War: The War Between the States

The Civil War took place from 1861-1865. It was called the first “modern war” by many Americans and Europeans. This was visible for many reasons. First, Railroads were used by both sides to transport troops and supplies across the country. Second, there were many technological advances in weaponry and warfare, for instance balloons. Hot air balloons were often lifted above the trees to spy on enemy defenses. Also, steam and ironclad ships became common warships, as opposed to the wooden warships of old times. For the first time ever, civilians began to be targeted. This idea was very different from those being used in Europe. Communication in war became much quicker by the use of telegraph and Morse code. Lastly, the Civil War was the first war ever photographed. One of the main photographers during this time period was Matthew Brady, who was most famous for his expedition: “The Dead of Antietam.” Even to this day, The Civil War is called the “Greatest War Ever in North America” due to the great number of casualties and damages the country sustained.

Compromise of 1850
There was much dispute over the land in California. On January 21, 1850, Henry Clay wanted to put a plan to Congress to end the dispute over California. To do this, he needed Daniel Webster’s support. This gave California to the Union. New Mexico and Utah would become territories with slavery. It also ended the slave trade in Washington D.C. It also added a fugitive slave law, which made people find their runaway slaves easier.

Webster agreed to help Clay and put it through congress. Congress debated this proposal for nine months. The South during this time thought about simply leaving the Union. Eventually in September, 1850, Congress accepted the proposal. Although Clay wanted to end disputes, he created more. Both the North and South didn’t like the fugitive slave law. The North didn’t want slaves at all so they didn’t want to enforce it. The South didn’t like it because it because of outbreaks between the slaves and law enforcers.

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Strengths and Weaknesses of the Confederacy

  1. They had a clear purpose for fighting – Independence
  2. They were fighting a defensive war
  3. They had strong military leadership

  1. They could not produce equipment
  2. They only could trade cash crops for food
  3. They had a weak central government
  4. They had a small population (9 million)
  5. They had only 1/3 of the Railroad tracks
Some Conferate army soldiers
Some Conferate army soldiers

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Union

  1. They had a large industry that could supply the army
  2. They had lots of food production
  3. They had a strong central government
  4. They had a large population (23 million)
  5. They controlled 2/3 of the Railroad tracks

  1. They had no clear purpose for fighting
  2. They had to fight an offensive war in order to win
  3. They had a weak military leadership crew

Fort Sumter Attack (Beginning the Civil War)

Fort Sumter was the only union controlled fort on southern soil. The Confederacy thought of this fort as property of foreign power on Confederate soil. After succeeding from the Union, the Confederacy considered them as an independent country. Robert Anderson(1805 - 1871), a northern commander of the fort, told President Abraham Lincoln that the fort needed help. President Lincoln knew that if he sent a ship to Fort Sumter the confederates might see this as a step towards a war.

However, Lincoln knew that if he didn’t send help, he would be viewed as a bad president. President Lincoln sent a ship carrying only supplies to the fort. Just as Lincoln predicted, the Confederacy saw this as an act of war. On the morning of April 12, 1861, confederate troops open fire on Fort Sumter. The northern soldiers surrendered the fort to the confederates. The attack on Fort Sumter marked the beginning of the Civil War.

Commander Robert Anderson (1805-1871)

The First Battle of Bull Run (1st Manassas)

The Battle of Bull Run was the first main battle of the Civil War, and was fought in Virginia close to Manassas. There weren’t as many soldiers for each as there were generally in Civil War battles. The Union had an army of about 30,000 men and was led by three generals. The Confederates structure was more unwieldy; it had two “armies” with no division structure and 13 independent brigades. These brigades equaled the Unions power. The Union had an about 18,000 men in the main attack. It was because of Colonel “Shank” Evans and his small brigade that the Confederates did have a huge disaster at Bull Run. Then General Bee and Colonel Bartow joined his line to strengthen the defense. They then attacked the right flank of the union and made them retreat. By the end of the battle the union lost 3,000 casualties (killed, wounded, and captured or missing), and the Confederates suffered about 2,000.
First Battle of Bull Run Map
First Battle of Bull Run Map

The Second Battle of Bull Run (2nd Manassas)

The Second Battle of Bull Run, or the Battle of Second Manassas, as it was known by the South, was fought between August 28 and August 30, 1862, as part of the American Civil War. It was the conclusion of an offensive campaign waged by Confederate General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia against Union Major Gen. John Pope's Army of Virginia, and a battle of much larger scale and numbers than the First Battle of Bull Run (First Manassas), fought in 1861 on the same ground.

Following a big flanking march, Confederate Major Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson captured the Union supply storehouse at Manassas Junction, threatening Pope's line of communications with Washington, D.C. Withdrawing a few miles to the northwest, Jackson took up defensive positions on Stony Ridge. On August 28, 1862, Jackson attacked a Union column at Brawner's Farm, near Groveton, resulting in a stalemate.

On that same day, the wing of Lee's army commanded by Lt. Gen. James Longstreet broke through light Union resistance in the Battle of Thoroughfare Gap and approached the battlefield. Pope became convinced that he had trapped Jackson and concentrated the main part of his army against him.

On August 29, Pope launched a series of attacks against Jackson's position along an unfinished railroad. The attacks were disgusted with heavy casualties on both sides. At noon, Longstreet arrived on the field from Thoroughfare Gap and took position on Jackson's right flank. On August 30, Pope renewed his attacks, seemingly unaware that Longstreet was on the field. When pressed Confederate artillery devastated a Union assault by Major Gen. Fitz John Porter's V Corps, Longstreet's wing of 25,000 men in five divisions counterattacked in the largest, continuous mass attack of the war. The Union left flank was crushed and the army driven back to Bull Run.

Battle of Richmond

The Battle of Richmond was arguably the most complete Confederate victory in the American Civil War. It took place on what are now the grounds of the Blue Grass Army Depot, outside Richmond, Kentucky. In Maj. Gen. Kirby Smith's 1862 Confederate offensive into Kentucky, Brig. Gen. Patrick Cleburne led the advance with Col. John S. Scott's cavalry out in front. The Rebel cavalry, while moving north from Big Hill on the road to Richmond, Kentucky, on August 29, encountered Union troopers and began skirmishing. After noon, Union artillery and infantry joined the fray, forcing the Confederate cavalry to retreat to Big Hill. At that time, Brig. Gen. Mahlon D. Manson, who commanded Union forces in the area, ordered a brigade to march to Rogersville, toward the Rebels. Fighting for the day stopped after pursuing Union forces briefly skirmished with Cleburne's men in late afternoon. That night, Manson informed his superior, Maj. Gen. William "Bull" Nelson, of his situation, and he ordered another brigade to be ready to march in support, when required. Kirby Smith ordered Cleburne to attack in the morning and promised to hurry reinforcements (Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Churchill's division). Cleburne started early, marching north, passed through Kinston, dispersed Union skirmishers, and approached Manson's battle line near Zion Church. As the day progressed, additional troops joined both sides. Following an artillery duel, the battle began, and after a concerted confederate attack on the Union right, the Union troops gave way. Retreating into Rogersville, they made another futile stand at their old bivouac. By now, Smith and Nelson had arrived and taken command of their respective armies. Nelson rallied some troops in the cemetery outside Richmond, but they were routed. Nelson and some men escaped but the Confederates captured over 4,300 Union men. The way north was open. Civil War historian Shelby Foote remarked that Smith "accomplished in Kentucky the nearest thing to a Cannae ever scored by any general, north or South, in the course of the whole war."

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General George McClellan was the general who replaced Irwin McDowell after First Bull Run. He wasn't a very smart general. McClellan was a very prepared general, but never made good decisions. He was extremely over-cautious and always had an excuse for not fighting or for not pursuing after the enemy. Although, he wasn't a very good general, he was very much respected by his Union soldiers. He didn't have very much respect, himself, for others. He called President Abraham Lincoln "the big gorilla in the White House" because he felt Lincoln didn't support him as a general.

In 1862, McClellan led the Union troops to a city called Antietam. This was considered the bloodiest day in the Civil War because there was 23,000 casualties total in one day. There were 2,000 deaths in just fifteen minutes in "The Bloody Cornfield". This was where many soldiers died. The corn stalks in the field were taller than all the soldiers and they didn't know who was who. There were a lot of friendly-misfires, meaning Union soldiers shot other Union soldiers and same with the Confederates.

The battle plan of the Confederacy wound up in Union hands, but from knowing what kind of guy General George McClellan was he didn't take matters into his own hands and he didn't do anything about it. This was a huge missed opportunity for the North because of their poor leadership.

This battle was considered to be a draw because the Confederate army retreated toward the Potomac River and back to Virginia. Many people, though, think it was a slight Union victory.

Emancipation Proclamation

President Lincoln originally believed the war was over uniting the union, not slavery. However, in 1862 he decided to write a document taking action on slavery, and hoped to bring the North together and hurt the South. This document, called the Emancipation Proclamation, said that all slaves in states of rebellion were forever free, when the states in Border States such as Kentucky, Missouri, West Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware, were allowed to keep their slaves. Lincoln let the Border States keep their slaves because the union wanted them to stay on their side of the war and wanted them to keep their loyalty.

The results of this proclamation were the North had a bigger army due to the number of freed slaves that joined, it made the war appear to be over slavery so it gained abolitionists' support, kept Great Brittan and France from recognizing the Confederacy, disrupted Southern economy, and kept Border States in the union. A large amount of freed slaves came and joined the Union army, even though most were put to work in other ways than fighting, they still proved helpful. The document made the war appear to be over slavery, which discouraged European countries such as France and England from helping the south because they had already ended slavery. Making the war appear to be over slavery also gained support of the abolitionists, who did not care if the south left the Union. Obviously the loss of slaves hurt southern economy because they quickly lost the workers they had been so used to and didn't have any way to bring in their crops. As you can tell, the Emancipation Proclamation was an important document in history.

Battle of Gettysburg

The Battle of Gettysburg was fought July 1-July 3, 1863 around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The battle was considered the bloodiest battle in American history. The two armies began to collide at Gettysburg on July 1, 1863, as Lee urgently concentrated his forces there. Low ridges to the northwest of town were defended initially by a Union cavalry division, which was soon reinforced with two corps of Union infantry. However, two large Confederate corps assaulted them from the northwest and north, collapsing the hastily developed Union lines, sending the defenders retreating through the streets of town to the hills just to the south.

On the second day of battle, most of both armies had assembled. The Union line was laid out in a defensive formation resembling a fishhook. Lee launched a heavy assault on the Union left flank, and fierce fighting raged at Little Round Top, the Wheatfield, Devil's Den, and the Peach Orchard. On the Union right, demonstrations escalated into full-scale assaults on Culp's Hill and Cemetery Hill. Across the battlefield, despite significant losses, the Union defenders held their lines. On the third day of battle, July 3, fighting resumed on Culp's Hill, and cavalry battles raged to the east and south, but the main event was a dramatic infantry assault by 12,500 Confederates against the center of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge. Pickett's Charge was repulsed by Union rifle and artillery fire at great losses to the Confederate army. Lee led his army on a torturous retreat back to Virginia. Between 46,000 and 51,000 Americans were casualties in the three-day battle. That November, President Lincoln used the dedication ceremony for the Gettysburg National Cemetery to honor the fallen and redefine the purpose of the war in his historic Gettysburg Address.

Gettysburg Progress Map
Gettysburg Progress Map

Sherman’s March
Near the end of war, some of the Southern states were being invaded by the Union. In 1864, the south was close to falling. General William Sherman began his march with the thought of destroying the resources of the Confederacy. In the month of May, he went into Georgia with about 100,000 soldiers in his command. General Johnston eventually lost.
When Sherman went into Atlanta, he told all the people to leave within five days. The new general, whose last name is Hood, refused to follow this order. Sherman did not listen to them and he burnt Atlanta down to the ground. When Sherman left Atlanta, he knew that he had a long march before him. So he left behind all men with some sort of disabilities or weaknesses. He had an army of 60,000 men. There were soldiers called bummers and they were ordered to take all possessions people and were told to leave a little part of land to the owners. Any major machinery will not be destroyed if it was up to him.
Anywhere General William Tecumseh Sherman went, many things were destroyed. He would destroy anything in his path. But spared some things depending on what it is. He also went through South Carolina and North Carolina. His march ended there in North Carolina.

Map of Sherman's March

Sherman's March

This journey was led by General Williams Sherman. This was a march from Tennessee to Georgia. As they marched they cut a path of total destruction through the land they marched into. As they marched, a lot of people couldn't believe it but they shot down civilians as they went for the use of supplies. This was designed to show that the Union was in control. Then they met with General Grant, and this journey went right into the Wilderness Battles.

The Battle of the Crater at Petersburg

The Union or the Army of the Potomac wanted to surround the Confederates at Petersburg. The town of Petersburg was under siege for awhile with both sides waiting for the action to begin. During this standstill, the Northern general Burnside wanted the union to dig a tunnel under the Confederate lines. They eventually planted explosives in the tunnel. When the explosives went off, the action surprised everybody, including the north. So with the confusion the north charged in, heading straight into the crater that they had just created. With the advantages of high ground, the South defeated the North.

Battle of Appomattox

On April 8 and 9, 1865, The North and South met at the Appomattox Court House. The Union knew that they were going to win the war if they kept up the pressure on the Confederates. The Confederates were planning on getting to the Court House undetected, but the Union forces, with four times as many troops, met them before they got there. The Union stopped the Confederates until their Cavalry arrived to back them up. The Confederates then, on April 8, met the Union’s Cavalry. The Confederates tried to decide what to do. They decided to attack the Union one last time. On April 9, they attacked and pushed the Union back a little bit, but the confederates soon crossed a low ridge and were wiped out by the Union’s force.
Robert E. Lee then agreed to surrender on genersous terms by Ulysses S. Grant.

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General Ulysses S. Grant- North

Grant first reached national fame by taking Forts Henry and Donelson in 1862 in the first Union victories of the war. The following year, his brilliant campaign ending in the surrender of Vicksburg secured Union control of the Mississippi and—with the concurrent Union victory at Gettysburg—turned the tide of the war in the North's favor. Named commanding general of the Federal armies in 1864, he implemented a coordinated strategy of concurrent attacks aimed at destroying the South's ability to carry on the war. In 1865, after conducting a costly war of abrasion in the East, he accepted the surrender of his Confederate opponent Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House. Grant has been described by J.F.C. Fuller as "the greatest general of his age and one of the greatest strategists of any age." His Vicksburg Campaign in particular has been scrutinized by military specialists around the world. In 1868, Grant was elected president as a Republican. Grant was the first president to serve for two full terms since Andrew Jackson forty years before.

He led Radical Reconstruction and built a powerful patronage-based Republican party in the South, with the skillful use of the army. He took a hard line that reduced violence by groups like the Ku Klux Klan. Although Grant was personally honest, he not only tolerated financial and political corruption among top aides but also protected them once exposed. Presidential experts typically rank Grant in the lowest quartile of U.S. presidents, primarily for his tolerance of corruption. In recent years, however, his reputation as president has improved somewhat among scholars impressed by his support for civil rights for African Americans.

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General Robert E. Lee- South

Lee's greatest victories were the Seven Days Battles, the Second Battle of Bull Run, the Battle of Fredericksburg and the Battle of Chancellorsville, but both of his campaigns to invade the North ended in failure. Barely escaping defeat at the Battle of Antietam in 1862, Lee was forced to return to the South. In early July 1863, Lee was decisively defeated at the Battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania. However, due to ineffectual pursuit by the commander of Union forces, Major General George Meade, Lee escaped again to Virginia.

In the spring of 1864, the new Union commander, Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant, began a series of campaigns to wear down Lee's army. In the Overland Campaign of 1864 and the Siege of Petersburg in 1864–1865, Lee inflicted heavy casualties on Grant's larger army, but was unable to replace his own losses. In early April 1865, Lee's depleted forces were turned from their entrenchments near the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia, and he began a strategic retreat. Lee's subsequent surrender at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865 represented the loss of only one of the remaining Confederate field armies, but it was a psychological blow from which the South could not recover. By June 1865, all of the remaining Confederate armies had capitulated.

Robert E. Lee
Robert E. Lee

Assassination of President Lincoln

This major historical event occurred on Good Friday, April 14, 1865 at 10p.m. President Abraham Lincoln with his wife and two guests were watching a performance of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theatre. Although President Lincoln was shot on the 14th he did not die until the next day in the boarding house of William Petersen. Actor John Wilkes Booth was the assassin of Lincoln. Lincoln was shot in the head. He escaped through the back door. Booth also demanded Lewis Powell to kill William H. Seward (Secretary of State).

By assassinating Lincoln , Seward, and Andrew Johnson, Booth created chaos to bring down the Federal Government. This plan failed. Although Lincoln was killed, Seward was only wounded, and “Johnson’s would be assassin” The reason that Booth murdered Lincoln was that he thought it would help the south. News of the assassination of President Lincoln spread fast through newspapers and word of mouth. A nine-car funeral train took President Abraham Lincoln to his home in Springfield, Illinois.


During the Civil War, most of the spies were actually slaves who were longing for the North to end the war so they could be free. Thee men and women who put their lives on the line to pass information to the Union Army were very courageous. The spies were the ones who really wanted to be free and to make a difference in the war. Those slaves who were spies were also smart. They figured they would rather live than die. If the slave spies who were giving information to the army ever got caught they would be put to do work for longer hours then they had already been doing. Either that or they were put to death. Spies didn't have to be African Americans or slaves. A majority were white and women.
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Battles of the Civil War

The Civil War was one of the defining moments in American History. It took place mostly in the Eastern theater instead of the Western theater. While there were many battles, a list of the major battles can be found here. Major Battles


Civil War why was is it different?

The Civil war was different because civilians targeted. If civilians were targeted each army thought that it would push the other army out of the war. But they were both fooled. But at first the civilians were putting it on themselves because they would sit out and watch the battles.
They would not fight the proper way. This caused the war to be very brutal and costly. If they fought properly the war would have ended a lot sooner but we are not the British.
In this day and age we also developed new weapons. With these new weapons you could be shot by the enemy or by one of your own men. They weapons would produce a lot of smoke so the battle field is basically a smoke pit.

"I can anticipate no greater calamity for the country than a dissolution of the Union. It would be an accumulation of all the evils we complain of, and I am willing to sacrifice anything but honor for its preservation."
--Robert E. Lee, from a letter of January 23, 1861.

What Happend to Jefferson Davis after the war?

Jefferson Davis had a very exciting life, but what ever happened to him after the war? This question is widely asked among historians. Jefferson was a high confederate leader of the south. After the war Davis was arrested for being apart of Lincoln’s assassination, but he was never put to death. He was known for being unrepentant and evil. By the time he died, he was a symbol of the lost cause.

Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Davis

Civil War Chaplains
Governors, Regimentals or post officers, and the Federal Authorities sent about 3,000 chaplains total to the Northern Army. Close to about 2,300 names of those 3,000 chaplains are known today. The biggest amount of chaplains that were serving at the same time was 1,079 on duty. There were three different types of chaplains. The first type is regimental, the second type is hospital, and the third type is post. There were 930 regimental chaplains, 117 hospital chaplains, and 32 post chaplains. There were 66 chaplains that died in that large amount. There was one chaplain named U.P. Gardner who was shot by a 17 year old young man named Jesse James, who was a member of Quantrell’s guerrilla raiders, on November 22, 1864.
The Confederate chaplains were another story. People believed that the confederates had between about 600 to 1,000 chaplains that served. Today, we know the names of only a shocking 25 Confederate chaplains who died while in the Civil War.
Civil War Chaplain
Civil War Chaplain

Prisoner of war Camps
Close after the war had started, the Union had a threat to make Confederate privateers men as pirates, which included the death penalty, the south retaliated by taking hostages from the North. As the war went on, the amount of prisoners increased and there was some kind of plan to switch prisoners that turned in to being unsuccessful. On July 22, 1862, General John A. Dix arranged a cartel to release all prisoners of war. Even if prisoners were exchanged, they didn’t lose their right to still fight in the army. While the cartel was in progress, it was doing good but then got worse as the war went on.
One of the worst war camps was the Andersonville Civil War Prison. It is found in Andersonville, Sumter County, Georgia. The camps became famous for it’s overcrowding, starvation, disease, and cruelty. It ran for about a year. It was made out of pine logs 15-20 feet high and is 27 acres in the camp. It was supposed to hold only 10,000 men but the camp held 33,000 men at one time. 49,485 men went to the Andersonville camp. 13,700 men died at Andersonville. The most to die in a prison camp was the number. 13,737 men were recorded who are in there graves. We do not know 1,040 of them today. It is now a National cemetery and people are aloud to visit.
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Civil War Medical Care
More soldiers died of diseases than actual injuries. For every man killed in battle about two died of a disease. Poor drinking water and food, poor clothing, and mosquitoes, were all a huge cause of illness. Caring for every sick and wounded person during the Civil War was a big problem.

Many doctors didn’t know of the need to wash their hands to avoid infections. Often men died from infections rather than the wound itself. The medicine they had was very basic and the only solution they had for a broken arm or leg, was to amputate it. The hospitals were made from buildings, churches, barns, tents, and even could by made from wagons in the middle of a battle field.

Their were about 2,000- 5,000 women, from the North and the South, served as volunteer nurses during the Civil War. These women took on a very risky, yet supportive, job in the Civil War. This job was originally reserved for the men. They had to experience results of was, mutilated bodies, amputated limbs, disease and death. There were more than 620,000 deaths and 10,000,000 cases of disease during the war. Through their sacrifices, they provided precious aid to everyone they helped. These nurses were often called, "Angles On the Battle Field".