Brief History of the American Civil War

The United States Civil war as a Civil War between the Union (Northern) and Confederate (Southern) states, the war lasted from April 12, 1861- May 9, 1865. After winning the presidency, Abraham Lincoln, a northern Republican who opposed slavery, several southern states seceded from the Union fearing that Lincoln would change their way of life. The most geographically southern states seceded before April 15, 1865 such as Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Mississippi. States that seceded from the Union after April 15th (beginning of war) were Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina and Arkansas. The Union or "northern" states at the time included Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, Iowa, California, Kansas, Kentucky Minnesota, and Missouri. A few of these states like Kentucky were Border States that the union allowed slavery, also many men from these Border States fought on both sides. Also several of the states like California and Oregon that were far out west did not send troops east to fight the war. During the war West Virginia and Nevada became northern states. There were also multiple territories that were not states yet that were up for grabs for both the Union and Confederate armies. The war started on April 12, 1861 when the Confederate soldiers opened cannon fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston South Carolina. In response to this Lincoln called for roughly 75,000 volunteers to take back the federal property, many states sent men to aid Lincolns call but states such as Virginia, Tennessee and Arkansas did not want to send troops to fight their neighbors so they soon seceded and joined the confederacy. The capitol of the confederacy was then moved to Richmond Virginia. The president of the Union throughout all the years of the war was Abraham Lincoln, and the President of the Confederacy was Jefferson Davis. Several generals on both sides made a big difference during the war. General Robert E. Lee of the confederacy, General of Northern Virginia, became the most well-known General from that time period because of his tactics and his ability to keep his troops morale up. Many Union and Confederate generals were both ferocious and unforgiving at times burning down cities and executing deserters.

At first it seemed like the rebellion would be silenced quickly but after the first Battle of Bull Run that took place on July 21, 1861, a confederate victory, it seemed like the war was far from over. Over the course of several years, dozens of bloody battles took place in both the eastern and western theaters of battle. The Eastern Theater of battle included fighting in states such as Virginia and Pennsylvania and the Western theater of battle was fought in states such as Tennessee. The majority of the battles and the most influential battles affecting the war were fought in the Eastern Theater. Battles such as Gettysburg (46,286 casualties), Antietam (22,717 casualties), Chancellorsville (30,500 casualties), Fredericksburg (18,030 casualties), Bull Run 1&2 (18,788 casualties), Petersburg Siege (25,000+ casualties) and Spotsylvania (31,820 casualties) were all fought in the Eastern theater. Several battles were also fought in the western theater including Chickamauga which was fought in Georgia (East) but by Tennessee army (34,624 casualties), Shiloh (23,746 casualties) and Stones River (24,645) which were both fought in Tennessee. Throughout all of these battles the south was always severely undersupplied with food, ammo, and many times soldiers. Almost all manufacturing of guns and supplies were made in the northern states, and the overall Union army doubled the Confederate army (about 1 million Confederate vs. 2 million Union). One advantage that the Confederate army had was they were usually defending, so they had time to prepare, when the Confederacy decided to make an offensive and move towards Washington D.C they were destroyed at the battle of Gettysburg in which many call the beginning of the end of the war. Eventually after many years of fighting the Confederacy surrendered, General Robert E. Lee surrendered his army of Northern Virginia on April 9, 1865 at Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia. Soon after the rest of the Confederate army surrendered. The total cost of the war in terms of men on both sides was roughly 1+ million casualties, and 620,000-740,000 fatalities. Soon after the war Lincoln granted the southern soldiers and generals’ amnesty, but he was soon assassinated on April 15, 1865 at a play in Washington D.C.
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