by Gerald Boerner
“If the Confederacy falls, there should be written on its tombstone: Died of a Theory.”
— Jefferson Davis
“Gen. Grant habitually wears an expression as if he had determined to drive his head through a brick wall and was about to do it.”
— A Union Soldier
“…arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction.”
— Abraham Lincoln
“In firing his gun, John Brown has merely told what time of day it is. It is high noon.”
— William Lloyd Garrison
“We have shared the incommunicable experience of war. We felt, we still feel, the passion of life to its top. In our youths, our hearts were touched by fire.”
— Oliver Wendall Holmes
“…this question of Slavery was more important than any other; indeed, so much more important has it become that no other national question can even get a hearing just at present.”
— Abraham Lincoln
“I see the President almost every day. I see very plainly Abraham Lincoln’s dark brown face with its deep-cut lines, the eyes always to me with a deep latent sadness in the expression. None of the artists or pictures has caught the deep, though subtle and indirect expression of this man’s face. There is something else there. One of the great portrait painters of two or three centuries ago is needed.”
— Walt Whitman
“When news of the surrender first reached our lines our men commenced firing a salute of a hundred guns in honor of the victory. I at once sent word, however, to have it stopped. The Confederates were now our prisoners, and we did not want to exult over their downfall.”
— Gen. Ulysses S. Grant
“I can anticipate no greater calamity for the country than the dissolution of the Union. It would be an accumulation of all the evils we complain of, and I am willing to sacrifice everything but honor for its preservation.”
— Gen. Robert E. Lee
“If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong … And yet I have never understood that the Presidency conferred upon me an unrestricted right to act officially upon this judgment and feeling … I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me.”
— Abraham Lincoln
“…our enemies are about to take possession of the Government, that they intend to rule us according to the caprices of their fanatical theories, and according to the declared purposes of abolishing slavery.”
— John Townsend, South Carolina Planter and State Senator
“…the Act of Congress which prohibited a citizen from holding and owning [enslaved persons] in the territory of the United States north of the line [36°30' parallel] therein is not warranted by the Constitution and is therefore void.”
— Roger B. Taney, Chief Justice in Dred Scott v. Sanford
“I think that the North fought that war with one hand behind its back…If there had been more Southern victories, and a lot more, the North simply would have brought that other hand out from behind its back. I don’t think the South ever had a chance to win that War.”
— Shelby Foote, Southern historian
Veterans Day: Remembering the Civil War
A civil war is a war between organized groups within a single nation state, or, less commonly, between two nations created from a formerly-united nation state. The aim of one side may be to take control of the nation or a region, to achieve independence for a region, or to change government policies. It is high-intensity conflict, often involving regular armed forces, that is sustained, organized and large-scale. Civil wars result in large numbers of casualties and the consumption of large resources.
Scholars investigating the cause of civil war are attracted by two opposing theories, greed versus grievance. Roughly stated: are conflicts caused by who people are, whether that be defined in terms of ethnicity, religion or other social affiliation, or do conflicts begin because it is in the economic best interests of individuals and groups to start them? Scholarly analysis supports the conclusion that economic and structural factors are more important than those of identity in predicting occurrences of civil war.
The American Civil War
The American Civil War (1861–1865), also known as the War Between the States and several other names, was a civil war in the United States of America. Eleven Southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America (the Confederacy). Led by Jefferson Davis, they fought against the United States (the Union), which was supported by all the free states and the five border slave states. Union states were loosely referred to as "the North".
16th President of the United States
In the presidential election of 1860, the Republican Party, led by Abraham Lincoln, had campaigned against the expansion of slavery beyond the states in which it already existed. The Republican victory in that election resulted in seven Southern states declaring their secession from the Union even before Lincoln took office on March 4, 1861. Both the outgoing and incoming US administrations rejected the legality of secession, considering it rebellion.
only President of the
Confederate States of America
Hostilities began on April 12, 1861, when Confederate forces attacked a US military installation at Fort Sumter in South Carolina. Lincoln responded by calling for a volunteer army from each state, leading to declarations of secession by four more Southern slave states. Both sides raised armies as the Union assumed control of the border states early in the war and established a naval blockade. In September 1862, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation made ending slavery in the South a war goal, and dissuaded the British from intervening.
Confederate commander Robert E. Lee won battles in the east, but in 1863 his northward advance was turned back after the Battle of Gettysburg and, in the west, the Union gained control of the Mississippi River at the Battle of Vicksburg, thereby splitting the Confederacy. Long-term Union advantages in men and material were realized in 1864 when Ulysses S. Grant fought battles of attrition against Lee, while Union general William Sherman captured Atlanta, Georgia, and marched to the sea. Confederate resistance collapsed after Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.
The American Civil War was the deadliest war in American history, resulting in the deaths of 620,000 soldiers and an undetermined number of civilian casualties. Its legacy includes ending slavery in the United States, restoring the Union, and strengthening the role of the federal government. The social, political, economic and racial issues of the war decisively shaped the reconstruction era that lasted to 1877, and brought changes that helped make the country a united superpower.
Causes of secession
The coexistence of a slave-owning South with an increasingly anti-slavery North made conflict likely, if not inevitable. Abraham Lincoln did not propose federal laws against slavery where it already existed, but he had, in his 1858 House Divided Speech, expressed a desire to "arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction." Much of the political battle in the 1850s focused on the expansion of slavery into the newly created territories. All of the organized territories were likely to become free-soil states, which increased the Southern movement toward secession. Both North and South assumed that if slavery could not expand it would wither and die.
Confederate dead behind the
stone wall of Marye’s
Virginia, killed during the
Battle of Chancellorsville,
Southern fears of losing control of the federal government to antislavery forces, and Northern resentment of the influence that the Slave Power already wielded in government, brought the crisis to a head in the late 1850s. Sectional disagreements over the morality of slavery, the scope of democracy and the economic merits of free labor versus slave plantations caused the Whig and "Know-Nothing" parties to collapse, and new ones to arise (the Free Soil Party in 1848, the Republicans in 1854, the Constitutional Union in 1860). In 1860, the last remaining national political party, the Democratic Party, split along sectional lines.
Both North and South were influenced by the ideas of Thomas Jefferson. Southerners used the states’ rights ideas mentioned in Jefferson’s Kentucky Resolutions to defend slavery. Northerners ranging from the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison to the moderate Republican leader Lincoln emphasized Jefferson’s declaration that all men are created equal. Lincoln mentioned this proposition in his Gettysburg Address.
Seven Deep South cotton states seceded by February 1861, starting with South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas. These seven states formed the Confederate States of America (February 4, 1861), with Jefferson Davis as president, and a governmental structure closely modeled on the U.S. Constitution. Following the attack on Fort Sumter, President Lincoln called for a volunteer army from each state. Within two months, four more Southern slave states declared their secession and joined the Confederacy: Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee. The northwestern portion of Virginia subsequently seceded from Virginia, joining the Union as the new state of West Virginia on June 20, 1863. By the end of 1861, Missouri and Kentucky were divided — each of them having a pro-Southern and pro-Northern government.
The Union states
Twenty-three states remained loyal to the Union: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin. During the war, Nevada and West Virginia joined as new states of the Union. Tennessee and Louisiana were returned to Union military control early in the war.
The territories of Colorado, Dakota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Washington fought on the Union side. Several slave-holding Native American tribes supported the Confederacy, giving the Indian territory (now Oklahoma) a small bloody civil war.
The border states in the Union were West Virginia (which was separated from Virginia and became a new state), and four of the five northernmost slave states (Maryland, Delaware, Missouri, and Kentucky).
Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia on April 9, 1865, at the McLean House in the village of Appomattox Court House. In an untraditional gesture and as a sign of Grant’s respect and anticipation of peacefully folding the Confederacy back into the Union, Lee was permitted to keep his officer’s saber and his horse, Traveller. On April 14, 1865, President Lincoln was shot. Lincoln died early the next morning, and Andrew Johnson became President.
A dead soldier in Petersburg,
Virginia 1865, photographed
by Thomas C. Roche.
Events leading to Lee’s surrender began with the capture of key Confederate officers Richard S. Ewell and Richard H. Anderson on April 6, following Confederate defeat at the battle of Sayler’s Creek. On April 8 Union cavalry under Major General George Armstrong Custer destroyed three trains of Confederate supplies at Appomattox Station, leading to the surrender of General Lee the next day. General St. John Richardson Liddell’s army surrendered after the loss of the Confederate fortifications at the Battle of Spanish Fort in Alabama, also on April 9.
On April 21 John S. Mosby’s raiders of the 43rd Battalion Virginia Cavalry disbanded and on April 26 General Joseph E. Johnston surrendered his troops to Sherman at Bennett Place in Durham, North Carolina. Surrendering on May 4 and 5 were the Confederate departments of Alabama, Mississippi and East Louisiana regiments and the District of the Gulf. The Confederate President was captured on May 10 and the surrender of the Department of Florida and South Georgia happened the same day. Confederate Brigadier General "Jeff" Meriwether Thompson surrendered his brigade the next day and the day following saw the surrender of the Confederate forces of North Georgia.
On June 23, 1865, at Fort Towson in the Choctaw Nations’ area of the Oklahoma Territory, Stand Watie signed a cease-fire agreement with Union representatives, becoming the last Confederate general in the field to stand down. The last Confederate ship to surrender was the CSS Shenandoah, on November 6, 1865, in Liverpool, England. These surrenders marked the conclusion of the American Civil War.
Victory and aftermath
Historians have debated whether the Confederacy could have won the war. Most scholars emphasize that the Union held an insurmountable long-term advantage over the Confederacy in terms of industrial strength and population. Confederate actions, they argue, only delayed defeat. Southern historian Shelby Foote expressed this view succinctly: "I think that the North fought that war with one hand behind its back…If there had been more Southern victories, and a lot more, the North simply would have brought that other hand out from behind its back. I don’t think the South ever had a chance to win that War." The Confederacy sought to win independence by out-lasting Lincoln; however, after Atlanta fell and Lincoln defeated McClellan in the election of 1864, all hope for a political victory for the South ended.
At that point, Lincoln had succeeded in getting the support of the border states, War Democrats, emancipated slaves and Britain and France. By defeating the Democrats and McClellan, he also defeated the Copperheads and their peace platform. Lincoln had also found military leaders like Grant and Sherman who would press the Union’s numerical advantage in battle over the Confederate Armies. Generals who did not shy from bloodshed won the war, and from the end of 1864 onward there was no hope for the South.
On the other hand, James McPherson has argued that the North’s advantage in population and resources made Northern victory likely, but not inevitable. Confederates did not need to invade and hold enemy territory to win, but only needed to fight a defensive war to convince the North that the cost of winning was too high. The North needed to conquer and hold vast stretches of enemy territory and defeat Confederate armies to win.
Also important were Lincoln’s eloquence in rationalizing the national purpose and his skill in keeping the border states committed to the Union cause. Although Lincoln’s approach to emancipation was slow, the Emancipation Proclamation was an effective use of the President’s war powers.
The Confederate government failed in its attempt to get Europe involved in the war militarily, particularly England and France. Southern leaders needed to get European powers to help break up the blockade the Union had created around the Southern ports and cities. Lincoln’s naval blockade was 95% effective at stopping trade goods, as a result, imports and exports to the South declined significantly. The abundance of European cotton and England’s hostility to the institution of slavery, along with Lincoln’s Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico naval blockades, severely decreased any chance that either England or France would enter the war.
Monument in honor of the
Grand Army of the Republic,
organized after the war.
Slavery effectively ended in the U.S. in the spring of 1865 when the Confederate armies surrendered. All slaves in the Confederacy were freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, which stipulated that slaves in Confederate-held areas were free. Slaves in the border states and Union-controlled parts of the South were freed by state action or (on December 6, 1865) by the Thirteenth Amendment.
The full restoration of the Union was the work of a highly contentious postwar era known as Reconstruction. The war produced about 1,030,000 casualties (3% of the population), including about 620,000 soldier deaths—two-thirds by disease. The war accounted for roughly as many American deaths as all American deaths in other U.S. wars combined. The causes of the war, the reasons for its outcome, and even the name of the war itself are subjects of lingering contention today. About 4 million black slaves were freed in 1861-65. Based on 1860 census figures, 8% of all white males aged 13 to 43 died in the war, including 6% in the North and an extraordinary 18% in the South.
One reason for the high number of battle deaths during the war was the use of Napoleonic tactics such as charges. With the advent of more accurate rifled barrels, Minié balls and (near the end of the war for the Union army) repeating firearms such as the Spencer repeating rifle and a few experimental Gatling guns, soldiers were devastated when standing in lines in the open. This gave birth to trench warfare, a tactic heavily used during World War I.
Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:
American Civil War that can be found at…