Civil War Pages 425-513

Students Will Know

  • What compromises involving the issues of slavery and the admission of new states were made or attempted and why they failed

Students Will Be Able To:

  • Determine the causes that led to the division of the nation
  • Discuss and evaluate the political compromises that were made because of slavery
  • Draw conclusions about the Kansas-Nebraska Act

The Search For a Compromise

Political Conflict Over Slavery

  • The question of slavery had long fueled debate in the United States. Each time this debate flared, the nation's leaders struck some form of compromise.
  • For example, in 1820 the Missouri Compromise preserved the balance between slave and free states in the Senate. It also brought about a temporary stop in the debate over slavery.

New Territory Brings New Debates

  • In the 1840s, the debate over slavery in new territories erupted again. In 1844 the Democrats nominated James K. Polk of Tennessee for president and called for the annexation of Texas at the earliest possible time.
  • After Polk's election, Texas was admitted to the Union in December 1845.
  • Texas's entry into the Union angered the Mexican government. Matters worsened when the two countries disputed the boundary between Texas and Mexico.
  • At the same time, support was growing in the South for taking over California and New Mexico. President Polk tried to buy these territories from the Mexican government, but failed. All these issues helped lead to the Mexican War.

Differing Views

  • Soon after the war with Mexico began, Representative David Wilmot of Pennsylvania introduced the Wilmot Proviso. This proposal would ban slavery in any lands the United States might acquire from Mexico.
  • Southerners protested. They wanted the new territory to remain open to slavery. Senator John C. Calhoun of South Carolina offered another idea, saying that neither Congress nor any territorial government could ban slavery from a territory or regulate it.
  • Neither bill passed, but both caused heated debate. By the 1848 presidential election, the United States had taken California and New Mexico from Mexico but took no action on slavery in those territories.
  • In 1848 the Whigs picked General Zachary Taylor as their presidential candidate. The Democrats chose Senator Lewis Cass of Michigan. Both candidates ignored the slavery issue, which angered some voters.
  • Those who opposed slavery left their parties and formed the Free-Soil Party. Its slogan was "Free Soil, Free Speech, Free Labor, and Free Men." The party chose former president Martin Van Buren as its candidate. Taylor won, but the Free-Soil Party gained several seats in Congress.
John C. Calhoun, Zachary Taylor, Lewis Cass, Martin Van Buren

A New Compromise

  • Concerned over growing abolitionism, Southerners wanted a strong national fugitive (FYOO • juh • tihv), or runaway, slave law. Such a law would require every state to return runaway slaves.
  • In 1849 California applied to become a state—without slavery. If California became a free state, however, slave states would be outvoted in the Senate. Even worse, antislavery groups wanted to ban slavery in Washington, D.C. Southerners talked about seceding (sih • SEED • ihng) from, or leaving, the Union.
The Underground Railroad
  • In 1850 Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky suggested a compromise. California would be a free state, but other new territories would have no limits on slavery. In addition, the slave trade, but not slavery itself, would be illegal in Washington, D.C. Clay also pushed for a stronger fugitive slave law.
Henry Clay
  • A heated debate took place in Congress. Senator Calhoun opposed Clay's plan. Senator Daniel Webster supported it. Then President Taylor, who was against Clay's plan, died unexpectedly. Vice President Millard Fillmore, who favored the plan, became president.
  • Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois solved the problem. He divided Clay's plan into parts, each to be voted on separately. Fillmore had several Whigs abstain, or not vote, on the parts they opposed. In the end, Congress passed the Compromise of 1850
Compromise of 1850

The Fugitive Slave Act

  • Part of the Compromise of 1850 was the Fugitive Slave Act. Anyone who helped a fugitive could be fined or imprisoned. Some Northerners refused to obey the new law.
  • In his 1849 essay "Civil Disobedience," Henry David Thoreau wrote that if the law "requires you to be the agent [cause] of injustice to another, then I say, break the law."
  • Northern juries refused to convict people accused of breaking the new law. People gave money to buy freedom for enslaved people. Free African Americans and whites formed a network, or interconnected system, called the Underground Railroad to help runaways find their way to freedom. Democrat Franklin Pierce became president in 1853. He intended to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act.
Who formed the Free-Soil party and why?
Antislavery Democrats and Whigs, because their parties refused to take a stand on slavery in the territories

The Kansas - Nebraska Act

  • In 1854 Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois introduced a bill to settle the issue of slavery in the territories. It organized the region west of Missouri and Iowa as the territories of Kansas and Nebraska.
  • Both were north of 36°30' N latitude, the line that limited slavery. Before the law they would have been free, giving the free states more votes in the Senate and angering the South.
  • Douglas hoped to make his plan acceptable to both the North and South. He proposed repealing the Missouri Compromise and letting the voters in each territory vote on whether to allow slavery. He called his proposal "popular sovereignty."
  • This idea, which is central to the American system of government, means that the people are the source of all government power. Douglas's popular sovereignty came to mean a particular method for deciding the question of slavery in a place.
  • Northerners protested. The plan allowed slavery in areas that had been free for years. Southerners supported the bill. They expected Kansas to be settled mostly by slaveholders from Missouri. They would, of course, vote to keep slavery legal.
  • With some support from Northern Democrats and the backing of President Pierce, the Kansas-Nebraska Act passed in 1854.

Conflict in Kansas

  • Supporters of both sides rushed to Kansas. Armed pro-slavery supporters known as border ruffians (BOHR • duhr RUH • fee • uhns) crossed the border from Missouri just to vote. When elections took place, only about 1,500 voters lived in Kansas, but more than 6,000 people voted. The pro-slavery group won.
The Border Ruffians were pro-slavery activists from the slave state of Missouri, who in 1854 to 1860 crossed the state border into Kansas Territory to force the acceptance of slavery there. The name was applied by Free-State settlers in Kansas and abolitionists throughout the North.
  • Kansas established laws supporting slavery. Slavery opponents refused to accept the laws. They armed themselves, held their own elections, and adopted a constitution banning slavery. By January 1856, Kansas had two rival governments
  • In May 1856, slavery supporters attacked the town of Lawrence, an antislavery stronghold. Antislavery forces retaliated. John Brown led an attack that killed five supporters of slavery.
  • Newspapers wrote about "Bleeding Kansas" and "the Civil War in Kansas." A civil war is war between citizens of the same country. In October 1856, federal troops arrived to stop the bloodshed
John Brown in "The Tragic Prelude," displayed at the Kansas State Capitol
What events led to "bleeding Kansas"?
Pro-slavery and antislavery supporters rushed to Kansas, where pro-slavery laws were passed. antislavery supporters set up a rival government. both sides were armed. an antislavery attack provoked a response from pro-slavery supporters, and people died

Challenges to Slavery

Students will Know:

  • How slavery contributed to the division of the nation

Students Will be Able to:

  • Analyze the new political party and its role in government
  • Identify and Evaluate the importance of the Dred Scott vs. Sandford decision
The red, white, and blue Republican elephant, still used a primary logo for many state GOP committees

Birth of the Republican Party

  • After the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Democratic Party began to divide along sectional lines. Northern Democrats left the party. Differing views over slavery also split the Whig Party

The 1854 Congressional Elections

  • Antislavery Whigs and Democrats joined with Free-Soilers to form the Republican Party. One of the party's major goals was the banning of slavery in new territories. In 1854 the Republicans chose candidates to challenge the pro-slavery Whigs and Democrats in state and congressional elections.
  • The Republicans quickly showed strength in the North. In the election, they won control of the House of Representatives and several state governments. Unlike the Republicans, almost three-fourths of the Democratic candidates from free states lost in 1854.
  • In contrast, Republican candidates received almost no support in the South. At the same time, the Democrats, having lost members in the North, were becoming a largely Southern party. This division would be even more apparent in the presidential election of 1856
map of the election of 1856 won by Democrat James Buchanan

The Presidential Election of 1856

  • he Whig Party, torn apart over slavery, did not offer a candidate in 1856. Republicans chose Californian John C. Frémont, a famed western explorer. The party platform called for free territories. Its campaign slogan was "Free soil, Free speech, and Frémont."
Free Soil, Free Speech, Free Press, Fremont
  • The Democratic Party nominated James Buchanan of Pennsylvania. He was a diplomat and former member of Congress. Buchanan tried to appeal to Southern whites. The Democratic Party endorsed the idea of popular sovereignty
  • The American Party, or Know-Nothings, grew quickly between 1853 and 1856 by attacking immigrants. The party nominated former president Millard Fillmore as its candidate
  • Yet this party was also divided over the issue of the Kansas- Nebraska Act. When the Know-Nothings refused to call for a repeal of the act, many northern supporters left the party
  • The vote in 1856 was divided along rigid sectional lines. Buchanan took all Southern states except Maryland
  • Frémont won 11 of the 16 free states but did not get any electoral votes from south of the Mason-Dixon Line. With 174 electoral votes compared to 114 for Frémont and 8 for Fillmore, Buchanan won.
Why did the Republican Party form?
To join together former Whigs and Democrats and Free-Soilers who opposed the spread of slavery to new territories

Dred Scott v. Sandford

  • Dred Scott was an enslaved African American bought by a doctor in Missouri, a slave state. In the 1830s, the doctor moved with Scott to Illinois, a free state, then to the Wisconsin Territory. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 banned slavery there. Later the doctor returned with Scott to Missouri.
  • In 1846 antislavery lawyers helped Scott sue for his freedom. Scott claimed he should be free since he had lived in areas where slavery was illegal. Eleven years later, the case reached the Supreme Court. At issue was Scott's status, but the case also gave the Court a chance to rule on the question of slavery itself
'The Dred Scott Decision (1857)' synopsis

The Court Rules

  • Chief Justice Roger B. Taney (TAW • nee) wrote the Court's opinion: Dred Scott was still an enslaved person. As such, he was not a citizen and had no right to bring a lawsuit. Taney wrote that living on free soil did not make Scott free. A slave was property. The Fifth Amendment prohibited the taking of property without "due process."
  • Finally, Taney wrote that Congress had no power to ban slavery. The Missouri Compromise, banned slavery north of 36°30' N latitude, was unconstitutional, and so was popular sovereignty. Not even voters could ban slavery because it would mean taking someone's property. In effect, Taney said that the Constitution protected slavery

Reaction to the Decision

  • The Court's decision upheld what many white Southerners believed: Nothing could legally stop slavery. It ruled limiting the spread of slavery, the Republicans' main issue, unconstitutional.
  • Republicans and other antislavery groups were outraged. They called the decision "a wicked and false judgment" and "the greatest crime" ever committed in the nation's courts.
Why did the Dred Scott decision say voters could not ban slavery?
It would be like taking someone's property without due process, which is unconstitutional

Lincoln and Douglas

  • The Illinois Senate race of 1858 was the center of national attention. The contest pitted the current senator, Democrat Stephen A. Douglas, against a rising star in the Republican Party named Abraham Lincoln.
  • People considered Douglas a possible candidate for president in the 1860 election. Lincoln, far less known outside of his state, challenged Douglas to a series of debates. Douglas reluctantly agreed.
Abraham Lincoln - Stephen A. Douglas

The Lincoln - Douglas Debates

  • Lincoln and Douglas debated seven times. The face-offs took place in Illinois cities and villages during August, September, and October of 1858. Thousands of spectators came to the debates. Newspapers provided wide coverage. The main topic, or subject of discussion, was slavery.
  • During the debate at Freeport, Lincoln pressed Douglas about his views on popular sovereignty. Lincoln asked whether the people of a territory could legally exclude slavery before becoming a state.
  • Douglas replied that voters could exclude slavery by refusing to pass laws that protected the rights of slaveholders. Douglas’s response, which became known as the Freeport Doctrine, satisfied antislavery followers, but it cost Douglas support in the South.
  • Douglas claimed that Lincoln wanted African Americans to be fully equal to whites. Lincoln denied this. Still, Lincoln insisted that African Americans should enjoy rights and freedoms.
  • The real issue, Lincoln said, was “between the men who think slavery a wrong and those who do not think it wrong. The Republican Party think it wrong.”
  • Following the debates, Douglas won a narrow victory in the election. Lincoln lost but did not come away empty-handed. He gained a national reputation as a man of clear thinking who could argue with force and persuasion.

"The most famous war of words in history"...

John Brown and Harpers Ferry

  • After the 1858 election, Southerners felt threatened by Republicans. Then, an act of violence added to their fears.
  • On October 16, 1859, the abolitionist John Brown led a group on a raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia. His target was a federal arsenal (AHRS • nuhl), a storage site for weapons
  • Brown hoped to arm enslaved African Americans and start a revolt against slaveholders. Abolitionists had paid for the raid.
  • Local citizens and federal troops defeated Brown's raid. Tried and convicted of treason and murder, Brown received a death sentence. His hanging shook the North.
  • Some antislavery Northerners rejected Brown's use of violence. Others saw him as a martyr (MAHR • tuhr)—a person who dies for a cause.
  • John Brown's death rallied abolitionists. When white Southerners learned of Brown's abolitionist ties, their fears of a great Northern conspiracy against them were confirmed.
  • The nation was on the brink of disaster

Colonel Robert E. Lee and federal troops crushed Brown's raid. More than half of Brown's group, including two of his sons, died in the fighting. Lee's troops captured Brown and his surviving men.

Why did John Brown raid the arsenal at Harpers Ferry?
To take weapons to give to enslaved African Americans and start a rebellion against slaveholders

Secession and War

Students Will Know:

  • The events that led to the Civil War

Students Will be Able to:

  • Evaluate the importance of the election of 1860
  • Analyze the significance of the attack on Fort Sumter
  • Analyze and Compare arguments about whether or not the South had the right to secede

The 1860 Election

  • In the Presidential Election of 1860, the big question was whether the Union would continue to exist. Regional differences divided the nation.
  • The issue of slavery split the Democratic Party. Northern Democrats supported popular sovereignty. They nominated Stephen Douglas. Southern Democrats vowed to uphold slavery. Their candidate was John C. Breckinridge.
  • Moderates from the North and South formed the Constitutional Union Party. The Constitutional Unionists took no position on slavery. They chose John Bell as their candidate.
  • The Republicans nominated Abraham Lincoln. They wanted to leave slavery alone where it existed—but also to ban it in the territories. Still, white Southerners feared that a Republican victory would promote slave revolts as well as interfere with slavery.
  • With the Democrats divided, Lincoln won a clear majority of electoral votes. Voting followed sectional lines. Lincoln's name did not even appear on the ballot in most Southern states. He won every Northern state, however. So in effect, the more populous North outvoted the South.

Looking for Compromise

  • The Republicans had promised not to stop slavery where it already existed. Yet white Southerners did not trust the Republicans to protect their rights. On December 20, 1860, South Carolina voted to secede from the Union.
The South Carolina Secession
  • In other Southern states, leaders debated the question of secession, or withdrawal from the Union.
  • Meanwhile, members of Congress tried to find ways to prevent it. Senator John Crittenden of Kentucky suggested a series of amendments to the Constitution.
  • They included a protection for slavery south of 36°30' N latitude—the line set by the Missouri Compromise—in all territories "now held or hereafter acquired."
  • Republicans rejected, or refused to accept, Crittenden's idea. They had just won an election by promising to stop slavery's spread into any territories. "Now we are told . . ." Lincoln wrote, "the government shall be broken up unless we surrender to those we have beaten."
  • Leaders in the South also rejected the plan. "We spit upon every plan to compromise," exclaimed one Southern leader. "No human power can save the Union," wrote another.
Some Southerners wore ribbons like this to show their support for secession from the Union. The ribbons carried slogans, such as this one used in the American Revolution

The Confederacy Established

  • By February 1861, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and Georgia had joined South Carolina and seceded. Delegates from these states met to form a new nation. Calling themselves the Confederate States of America, they chose Jefferson Davis as their president.
  • Southerners used states' rights to justify secession.
  • Each state, they argued, had voluntarily chosen to enter the Union. They defined the Constitution as a contract among the independent states.
  • They believed the national government had broken the contract by refusing to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act and by denying Southern states equal rights in the territories.
  • As a result, Southerners argued, the states had a right to leave the Union.

The Public Reacts to Secession

  • Not all white Southerners welcomed secession. Church bells rang and some people celebrated in the streets. To other Southerners, the idea of secession was alarming.
  • Virginian Robert E. Lee expressed concern about the future. “I only see that a fearful calamity is upon us,” he wrote.
  • Some Northerners approved of the Southern secession. If the Union could survive only by giving in to slavery, they declared, then let the Union be destroyed. Still, most Northerners believed that the Union had to be preserved.
  • As Lincoln put it, the issue was “whether in a free government the minority have the right to break up the government whenever they choose.”

Lincoln Takes Over

  • As always, several months passed between the November election and the start of the new president's term. Buchanan would remain in office until March 4, 1861.
  • In December 1860, Buchanan sent a message to Congress. He said that the Southern states had no right to secede from the Union. He added that he had no power to stop them from doing so.
  • As Lincoln prepared for his inauguration, people throughout the United States wondered what he would say and do. They wondered, too, what would happen in Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Delaware, Maryland, and Arkansas.
  • These slave states had not yet seceded, but their decisions were not final. If the United States used force against the Confederates, the remaining slave states also might secede.
This cartoon was created in 1861, just before the Civil War began. At that time, secession was breaking apart the United States
  • In his Inaugural Address, Lincoln spoke to the seceding states directly. He said that he could not allow secession and that "the Union of these States is perpetual [forever]." He vowed to hold federal property in the South, including a number of forts and military installations, and to enforce the laws of the United States. At the same time, Lincoln pleaded with the South:
  • "In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The Government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. . . .
  • . . . We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection."
  • —Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address

Fighting at Fort Sumter

  • The day after taking office, Lincoln received a message from the commander of Fort Sumter, a U.S. fort on an island guarding Charleston Harbor. The message warned that the fort was low on supplies and the Confederates demanded its surrender.
  • Lincoln responded in a message to Governor Francis Pickens of South Carolina that he was sending an unarmed group to the fort with supplies. He promised Union forces would not "throw in men, arms, or ammunition" unless they were fired upon.
  • Jefferson Davis ordered his forces to attack Fort Sumter before the Union supplies could arrive. Confederate guns opened fire on April 12, 1861. Union captain Abner Doubleday witnessed the attack from inside the fort:
  • "Showers of balls . . . and shells poured into the fort in one incessant stream, causing great flakes of masonry to fall in all directions."
  • —quoted in Fort Sumter
Artwork depicting a battle scene with a stone fort at center surrounded by water
  • Meanwhile, high seas kept Union ships from reaching the fort. Facing a hopeless situation, the Union surrendered the fort on April 14. Despite heavy bombardment, no one had died.
  • With the loss of Fort Sumter, Lincoln decided he had to act. He issued a call for troops. Volunteers quickly signed up. In reaction to Lincoln's call, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas voted to join the Confederacy.
  • The Civil War had begun.
1861, Fort Sumter, the Civil War, Confederacy, the Federal Fort Sumter

The Civil War


Abraham Lincoln - U.S. Representative, U.S. President, Lawyer

Students Will Know:

  • The goals and strategies, strengths and weaknesses of the North and South

Students Will be Able to:

  • Identify and evaluate the goals of both the North and the South
  • Compare the strengths and weaknesses of the North and the South

The Two Sides

Two Very Different Sides

  • The war divided many families. Neither side imagined, however, that the four years of fighting would lead to so much suffering.
  • By the end of the war, 600,000 Americans had lost their lives. Many thousands more were wounded in battle.

Division in the Border States

  • For most states, choosing sides in the Civil War was easy. The border states of Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri, however, were bitterly divided.
  • Slavery existed in all four states, though it was generally not as widespread as in the Confederate states. All four of these states had close ties to the North and the South.
  • The border states were vital to the strategy of the Union. Missouri could control parts of the Mississippi River and major routes to the West.
  • Kentucky controlled the Ohio River. Delaware was close to the key Union city of Philadelphia. Maryland, perhaps the most important of the border states, was close to Richmond, the Confederate capital.
  • Most significantly, Washington, D.C., lay within the state. If Maryland seceded, the North's capital would be surrounded.
  • President Lincoln worked tirelessly to keep the four border states in the Union. In September 1861, he wrote:
  • "I think to lose Kentucky is nearly the same as to lose the whole game. . . . We would as well consent to separation at once, including the surrender of this capitol."
  • —from Abraham Lincoln: His Speeches and Writings
September 1861
  • In the end, Lincoln was successful. Still, many border state residents supported the Confederacy. The president had to work hard to restrain these opponents of the war.

Strengths and Weaknesses

  • When the war began, each side had advantages and disadvantages compared to the other. How each side used its strengths and weaknesses would determine the war's outcome.
  • The North had a larger population and more resources than the South.
  • The South had other advantages, such as excellent military leaders and a strong fighting spirit. Also, because most of the war was fought in the South, the Confederacy knew the land and had the will to defend it.
The North and South went into the war with very different strengths and weaknesses

The Goals of War

  • Each side had different goals in fighting the Civil War. The Confederacy wanted to be an independent nation. To do this, it did not have to invade the North or destroy the Union army.
  • It just needed to fight hard enough and long enough to convince Northerners that the war was not worth its cost.
A soldier is the building block of any army. During the Civil War, the Union Army had more than 2 million soldiers, while the Confederate Army had less than half that number
In the Civil War, an army corps was the largest military formation (50,000 to 300,000 troops), made up of two to seven divisions. A division was made up of two or more brigades. In this painting, a brigade charges into battle
Civil War platoons were a small military unit, with 51 people in them: 50 men and 1 officer (a corporal or sergeant). Platoons were organized into even smaller units called squads. This photo shows Civil War officers posing for the camera
What was the primary goal of the North?
To restore the Union
What was the South's main goal?
To be an independent nation

Confederate Strategies

  • The Confederacy's basic strategy was to conduct a defensive war. This meant that it would hold as much territory as possible. Southerners felt that if they showed determination to be independent, Northerners would tire of the war.
  • The South also tried to win the support of Great Britain and France, whose economies suffered when the war disrupted the export of Southern cotton. Southerners hoped the British and French might pressure the North to end the war.

Union Strategies

  • The North's war plan came from General Winfield Scott, hero of the war with Mexico. He knew that the North would have to defeat the South completely.
  • To do this, Scott proposed the so-called Anaconda Plan, which took its name from a type of snake that squeezes its prey to death.
  • First, the Union would blockade, or close, Southern ports. This strategy would keep supplies from reaching the Confederacy and prevent the South from exporting its cotton crop.
  • Second, the North would seek to gain control of the Mississippi River. This would split the Confederacy in two and cut Southern supply lines.
  • Another goal of the Union forces was the capture of Richmond, Virginia—the Confederate capital.
Why did the South use a defensive strategy?
The South had fewer resources and could not attack the North, so it had to defend its territory from the North in order to become an independent country

Americans Against Americans

  • The Civil War was more than a war between the states. It turned brother against brother and neighbor against neighbor. Kentucky senator John Crittenden had two sons who became generals. One fought for the Confederacy, the other for the Union. Even President Lincoln's wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, had relatives in the Confederate army.
  • Men of all ages rushed to enlist (ihn • LIHST) in, or join, the Union or Confederate army.
  • Some did so out of patriotism. Others thought they would be called cowards if they did not serve. Still others were looking for excitement. The sister of William Stone of Louisiana wrote that her brother was eager:
  • "to be off to Virginia [to join the Confederate army]. He so fears that the fighting will be over before he can get there."
  • —from Brokenburn: The Journal of Kate Stone
  • Though the average Civil War soldier was in his mid-20s, many recruits on both sides were hardly adults. Tens of thousands of soldiers were under 18. Some were younger than 14. To get into the army, many teenagers ran away from home or lied about their ages.
  • Although teenage boys were accepted into service, one group of men was not allowed to fight in the early days of the war. The Union refused at first to let free African Americans enlist. Union leaders worried that white troops would not accept African American soldiers.
  • Later in the war, the Union army changed this policy. The Confederacy refused to consider having African Americans fight until the war's final, desperate days. They did not want to give enslaved people weapons.

High Hopes

  • When the war began, each side expected a quick victory. Northerners could not imagine the Confederates holding out for long against the Union's greater resources.
  • Confederates believed the North could never subdue the fighting spirit of the South. Both sides were wrong.
  • In the end, the war lasted far longer than most Americans could have guessed.

Who Were the Soldiers?

  • Soldiers came from every region of the country and all walks of life. Most came from farms. Almost half of the North's troops and more than 60 percent of the South's had owned or worked on farms.
  • By the summer of 1861, the Confederate army had about 112,000 soldiers. They were sometimes called Rebels.
  • The Union had about 187,000 soldiers, also known as Yankees.
  • By the end of the war, about 900,000 men fought for the Confederacy and about 2.1 million men bore arms for the Union. The Union army included just under 200,000 African Americans. About 10,000 Mexican Americans served in the war.

A Soldier's Life

  • Soldiers of the North and the South described what they saw and how they felt in letters to family and friends. Many wrote about their boredom, discomfort, sickness, fear, and horror.
  • Most of the time the soldiers lived in camps. Camp life had its pleasant moments of songs, stories, letters from home, and baseball games.
  • At other times, a soldier's life was a dull routine of drills, bad food, marches, and rain.
  • Between battles, soldiers on both sides sometimes forgot they were enemies. A private described his wartime experiences:
  • "A part of Co [company] K and some of the enemy came together and stacked arms and talked for a long time. Our men cooked coffee and treated them and [afterward] . . . each one took up his position again and they began to fire at each other again, but not as hard as before."
  • —from The Life of Billy Yank

The Horrors of War

  • In spite of fleeting moments of calm, the reality of war was always close by. Thousands of casualties overwhelmed medical facilities. After the Battle of Shiloh, the wounded lay in the rain for more than 24 hours waiting for treatment. A soldier recalled, "Many had died there, and others were in the last agonies as we passed. Their groans and cries were heartrending."
Faced with these terrible realities, many men deserted. About 1 of every 11 Union soldiers and 1 of every 8 Confederates ran away because of fear, hunger, or sickness

Early Years of the War

War on Land and at Sea

  • While the Union and the Confederacy mobilized their armies, the Union navy began operations against the South.
  • In April 1861, President Lincoln announced a blockade of all Confederate ports. The stage was set for fighting at sea as well as on land.

First Battle of Bull Run

  • Tension mounted in the summer of 1861, leading to the first major battle of the Civil War. On July 21, about 30,000 Union troops commanded by General Irvin McDowell attacked a smaller Confederate force led by General P.G.T. Beauregard.
  • The fighting took place in northern Virginia, near a small river called Bull Run. Hundreds of spectators from Washington, D.C., watched the battle from a few miles away.
First Battle of Bull Run
  • Both sides lacked battle experience. At first, the Yankees drove the Confederates back. Then the Rebels rallied, inspired by General Thomas Jackson. Another Confederate general noted that Jackson was holding his position "like a stone wall."
  • This earned him the nickname "Stonewall" Jackson. The Confederates then unleashed a savage counterattack that broke the Union lines. As they retreated, Union troops ran into civilians fleeing in panic.
  • The loss shocked Northerners, who now realized that the war could be long and difficult. President Lincoln named a new general, George B. McClellan, to head the Union army in the East—called the Army of the Potomac—and to train the troops.
  • Although dismayed over Bull Run, President Lincoln was also determined. He put out a call for more army volunteers.
  • He signed two bills requesting a total of 1 million soldiers to serve for three years. In addition, victories in the West would soon give a boost to Northern spirits and also increase enlistment.

Control of the West

  • In the West, the major Union goal was to control the Mississippi River and its tributaries (TRIH • byuh • tehr • eez), the smaller rivers that fed it.
  • With control of the river, Union ships could prevent Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas from supplying the eastern Confederacy. Union gunboats and troops would also be able to use the rivers to move into the heart of the South.
The New Era was the gunboat that assisted the Union troops. As the fight turns against the Union they pin their hopes in the gunboats ability to sail upstream
  • The battle for the rivers began in February 1862. Union forces captured Fort Henry on the Tennessee River. Naval commander Andrew Foote and army general Ulysses S. Grant led the assault.
  • Soon afterward, Grant and Foote moved against Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River. The Confederates realized they had no chance of saving the fort. They asked Grant what terms he would give them to surrender.
  • Grant replied, "No terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted." "Unconditional Surrender" Grant became the North's new hero.
Ulysses S. Grant

A Battle Between Ironclads

  • The Union blockade of Confederate ports posed a real threat to the Confederacy. Southerners hoped to break it with a secret weapon—the Merrimack. The Merrimack was a damaged frigate that had been abandoned by the Union.
  • The Confederates rebuilt the wooden ship and covered it with iron. They renamed their new ironclad (EYE • uhrn • klad) the Virginia.
CSS Virginia (1862-1862), ex-USS Merrimack
  • On March 8, 1862, the Virginia attacked Union ships in the Chesapeake Bay. Union shells just bounced off its sides. Some Union leaders feared the Virginia would destroy the Union navy, steam up the Potomac River, and bombard Washington, D.C.
  • By this time, however, the North had an ironclad of its own. The Monitor rushed southward to face the Virginia. On March 9, the two ironclads met in battle. Neither ship won, but the stirring clash raised spirits in both the North and the South.
USS Monitor

The Battle of Shiloh

  • Meanwhile, in the West, General Grant and about 40,000 troops headed south toward Corinth, Mississippi, a major railroad junction. In early April 1862, the Union army camped at Pittsburg Landing, 20 miles (32 km) from Corinth, near Shiloh Church. Additional Union forces joined Grant from Nashville.
Map of the Battle of Shiloh, April 7, 1862
  • Confederate leaders decided to strike before more troops arrived to reinforce the Union. Early on the morning of April 6, Generals Albert Sidney Johnston and P.G.T. Beauregard led Confederate forces in a surprise attack.
  • The battle lasted two days. It was a narrow victory for the Union, but the losses were enormous. Together, the two armies suffered more than 23,000 casualties (KA • zhuhl • teez)—people killed, wounded, captured, or missing.
  • After Shiloh, Union troops laid siege to Corinth, forcing the Confederates to withdraw. The Union army occupied the town on May 30. Memphis, Tennessee, fell to Union forces on June 6. The North seemed well on its way to controlling the Mississippi River.

Capturing New Orleans

  • A few weeks after Shiloh, the North won another key victory. On April 25, 1862, Union naval forces under David Farragut captured New Orleans, Louisiana, the largest city in the South.
  • Farragut, who was of Spanish descent, grew up in the South but remained loyal to the Union. The capture of New Orleans meant that the Confederacy could no longer use the Mississippi River to carry its goods to sea.
  • The city's fall also left the Confederate stronghold of Vicksburg, Mississippi, as the only major obstacle to the Union's strategy in the West.
Naval Battle and Capture of New Orleans
How did the loss of New Orleans affect the Confederacy?
It stopped the Confederacy from moving goods down the river to the sea

War in the Eastern States

  • While the two sides fought for control of Tennessee and the Mississippi River, the Union was trying to capture the Confederate capital at Richmond, Virginia.
  • Close to the Union, Richmond was vulnerable to attack. Confederate armies fought hard to defend it. Confederate forces in the East enjoyed much more success than their western counterparts.

Confederate Victories

  • Southern victories in the East were largely the result of the leadership of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. The two generals knew the terrain and could move forces quickly. They were also expert at inspiring troops.
Robert E. Lee Stonewall Jackson
  • In 1862 Confederate forces enjoyed a string of impressive victories in Virginia, each over a different Union general. The Confederates turned back General George B. McClellan at the Seven Days' Battle, General John Pope at the Second Battle of Bull Run, and General Ambrose Burnside at Fredericksburg.
Like the war in the West, the war in the East mostly took place in Confederate states. General Lee's attempts at invading the North failed
  • In May 1863, at Chancellorsville, Virginia, Lee's army defeated a Union force twice its size. "My God, my God," Lincoln said when he learned of the defeat, "What will the country say!" The mood in the Union grew grim.

Lee Invades Maryland

  • Confederate president Jefferson Davis urged Lee to move his troops into western Maryland—Union territory.
  • His goal was to move into Pennsylvania and to bring the war deeper into the Northern states.
  • Though he knew McClellan was following him with a sizable force, Lee's forces crossed into Maryland and began the invasion of Union territory.

The Battle of Antietam

  • Once in Maryland, Lee split his army into four parts. To confuse McClellan, he ordered each part to move in a different direction. Lee's plan never had a chance to work.
  • A Confederate officer lost his copy of the orders describing it. Two Union soldiers found the orders and brought them to McClellan.
  • McClellan did not attack immediately. This gave Lee time to gather his troops. On September 17, 1862, the two sides met at a place called Antietam (an • TEE • tum) near Sharpsburg, Maryland.
  • Antietam was a key victory for the Union. It was also the deadliest single day of fighting in the war. About 6,000 soldiers died. About 17,000 more suffered wounds.
  • Because of the great losses, Lee retreated to Virginia after the battle. For the time being, his strategy of invading the North had failed.
What was the outcome of the Battle of Antietam?
Lee retreated to Virginia, abandoning his attempt to invade the North

The Emancipation Proclamation

  • At first, Lincoln viewed the Civil War as a battle for the Union, not a fight against slavery. As the war went on, Lincoln changed the way he thought about the role of slavery in the war.

The Debate Over Ending Slavery

  • Lincoln hated slavery, yet he was reluctant to make the Civil War a battle to end it. Early in the war, Lincoln hesitated to move against slavery for fear of losing the border states.
  • Even many white Northerners who disapproved of slavery were not eager to risk their lives to end it.
  • Meanwhile, abolitionists, including Frederick Douglass and newspaper editor Horace Greeley, urged Lincoln to make the war a fight to end slavery.
Fredrick Douglass Horace Greeley
  • The abolitionists described slavery as a moral wrong that needed to be abolished.
  • They also pointed out that slavery was the root of the divisions between North and South.
  • Finally, they argued that if Lincoln presented the war as a fight to abolish slavery, Britain and France would be less willing to support the South. Confederate hopes were increasingly linked to this European support.

A Call for Emancipation

Oil on canvas of Abraham Lincoln sitting in an oak chair with red velvet back
  • The Constitution did not give Lincoln the power to end slavery, but it did give him the power to take property from an enemy in wartime. By law, enslaved people were considered property. On September 22, 1862, Lincoln announced that he would issue the Emancipation Proclamation (ih • mant • suh • PAY • shuhn prah • kluh • MAY • shuhn).
  • This decree freed all enslaved people in rebel-held territory on January 1, 1863.
  • The Emancipation Proclamation did not change the lives of all enslaved people overnight. For example, enslaved people living in the loyal border states remained in bondage. Others remained under the direct control of their holders in the South and would have to wait for a Union victory before gaining their freedom.
  • Yet the Emancipation Proclamation had a strong impact. With it, the government declared slavery to be wrong. It was clear that a Union victory would end slavery in the United States.
  • "I never in my life felt more certain that I am doing right than I do in signing this paper. . . . If my name ever goes into history it will be for this act, and my whole soul is in it."
  • —Abraham Lincoln, 1863
How did the Emancipation Proclamation change the focus of the war?
The Emancipation Proclamation made the abolition of slavery an official government policy and the focal point of the war between the North and South

Students Will Know:

  • How the Civil War affected the roles of women, politics, and the economies of the North and South

Students Will Be Able To:

  • Identify the changes in lifestyle during the Civil War
  • Describe the conditions of the hospitals and the prison camps during the Civil War
  • Analyze political and economic changes that occurred during the war

Life During the Civil War

A Different Way of Life

  • When the Civil War began, many young people left their homes to serve in the military. This meant leaving family and friends, and jobs or school.
  • Almost everyone who stayed home was touched in some way by the war. Only about half of the school-age children attended school because many had to stay home to help their families.
  • Schools closed during the war in some areas, especially those near battles and skirmishes. Many schools and churches served instead as hospitals for the wounded.

Hardships in the South

  • Although the war affected everyone, life in the South changed most dramatically. Both armies spent the majority of their time on Southern soil. Because the fighting took place there, the South suffered the most destruction.
  • Southerners who lived in the paths of marching armies lost their crops and sometimes their homes. Thousands of Southern civilians became refugees— people displaced by war.
  • Even those who lived outside the war zones suffered. As the war dragged on, many areas faced shortages of food and everyday supplies. Common household items became scarce.
  • As one observer noted, the South depended on the outside world "for everything from a hairpin to a toothpick, and from a cradle to a coffin." Most people had to learn to do without.
Why did many children stop going to school during the Civil War?
They stayed home to help their families. Also, many schools served as hospitals

New Roles for Women

  • Against the advice of family and friends, Kate Cumming, a young woman from Mobile, Alabama, left home to begin a career as a nurse with the Confederate Army of the Mississippi. Cumming was one of the many women whose lives changed because of the Civil War.
  • In both the North and the South, women kept the farms and factories going. They ran offices, taught school, and kept government records.
  • Women suffered the stress of having husbands away at war and the pain of losing family members. They struggled to keep their families together. With little money available, they cut back on expenses and went without many things they were used to.

Caring for the Wounded

  • In the Civil War, thousands of women on both sides served as nurses. The idea of women nurses on the battlefield was a relatively new one. Many doctors did not welcome them.
  • They said that women were too delicate for the bloody work of wartime hospitals. Some men also felt it was improper for women to tend the bodies of men they did not know.
  • Strong-minded women disregarded these objections. Serving with the Union army, Mary Edwards Walker became the first female army surgeon and later received the Congressional Medal of Honor.
  • Dorothea Dix helped persuade officials to let women work as nurses. She became the superintendent of nurses for the Union army and recruited large numbers of women to serve.
Dorothea Dix was a pioneering social reformer of the mid-1800s. She observed the horrific conditions of mental institutions, where the sick were imprisoned with criminals, without heat or privacy or treatment. She devoted her life to reform legislation and to building new mental hospitals
  • Another Northerner, Clara Barton, became famous for her work helping wounded soldiers.
Clara Barton worked tirelessly to nurse the wounded and search for the missing during the Civil War. She later became an important figure in the International Red Cross and wrote an amendment to the organization's constitution. The amendment gives the Red Cross authority to provide aid not only in warfare, but also in the case of natural disasters
  • In the South, Sally Tompkins set up a hospital for soldiers in Richmond, Virginia. Tompkins held the rank of captain in the Confederate army and was the only female officer in the Confederate forces.
  • The women who served in wartime hospitals came face to face with terrible brutality. After the Battle of Shiloh, Kate Cumming wrote, "Nothing that I had ever heard or read had given me the faintest idea of the horrors witnessed here."


  • Women on both sides served as spies. For example, Rose O'Neal Greenhow entertained Union leaders in Washington, D.C. From them, she gathered information about Union plans and passed it to the South.
  • Greenhow eventually was caught and convicted of treason—the crime of betraying one's country.
  • Belle Boyd of Front Royal, Virginia, informed Confederate generals of Union troop movements in the Shenandoah River valley.
  • Harriet Tubman, a leading "conductor" on the Underground Railroad, also served as a spy and scout for the Union. In 1863 Tubman led a mission that freed many enslaved people and disrupted Southern supply lines.
  • Some women disguised themselves as men and became soldiers. Loreta Janeta Velázquez fought for the South at the First Battle of Bull Run and at the Battle of Shiloh. She later became a Confederate spy.

The Captured and the Wounded

  • For many soldiers, battle could be a terrifying experience. For those with wounds or for those taken prisoner, the misery was just beginning.

Prisoners of War

  • Each side treated its enemy soldiers with a mixture of sympathy and hostility. At first the two sides exchanged prisoners. After this system broke down over issues such as Confederate treatment of African American prisoners, each side set up prison camps.
  • A prisoner typically kept his blanket and a cup or canteen. These possessions were all he had during his imprisonment. Food shortages made the suffering worse. Volunteers distributed bread and soup to the wounded. In the prisons, though, there was little or nothing to eat.
A depiction of Andersonville Prison by John L. Ransom
  • Andersonville prison opened in Georgia in early 1864. It was built to hold 10,000 prisoners. By August, 33,000 crammed its grounds.
  • The men slept in shallow holes dug in the ground. All they received to eat each day was a teaspoon of salt, three tablespoons of beans, and eight ounces of cornmeal.
  • They drank and cooked with water from a stream that also served as a sewer. Almost 13,000 Union prisoners died there, mostly from disease.
  • The Union prison in Elmira, New York, was no better. Captured soldiers from the South suffered through the winter months without blankets and warm clothes.
  • The hospital was located in a flooded basement. A pond within the compound served as both toilet and garbage dump. Almost one quarter of all prisoners at Elmira died.

Field Hospitals

  • Surgeons set up hospitals near battlefields. There, with bullets and cannonballs flying by, they bandaged wounds and amputated limbs. Nurse Kate Cumming recalled:
  • "We have to walk, and when we give the men anything kneel, in blood and water; but we think nothing of it."
  • —from Kate: The Journal of a Confederate Nurse
Doctors in the Civil War did not have many modern medicines. To prevent deadly infections, they often amputated wounded limbs with tools such as these
  • Disease was another medical threat. Crowded together in camps and drinking unclean water, many soldiers got sick. Disease spread quickly—and could be deadly. Some regiments lost half their men to illness before they ever went into battle.

Political and Economic Change

  • In the South, many white people opposed the war. The fighting was costly not just in terms of lives lost or damaged, but in food, material, and money.
  • Everywhere, people suffered from shortages. Bread riots broke out throughout the South as hungry people took to the streets. In Richmond, a group of mostly women and children gathered peacefully to protest but soon started smashing shop windows and stealing food.
  • In the North, the Democratic Party was split down the middle. War Democrats supported the war while criticizing Lincoln's handling of it. Peace Democrats argued for an immediate end to fighting and a reunion of the states through negotiation. Most Peace Democrats came from the Midwestern states of Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana.
  • Critics of the Peace Democrats called them Copperheads. A copperhead is a type of deadly snake. Rather than take offense, the Copperheads proudly embraced this label. They wore copper pennies as badges on their clothing.
A Northern newspaper published this cartoon in 1863. It shows Lady Liberty warding off an attack of the Peace Democrats, or Copperheads
  • As in the South, some Northerners who opposed the war discouraged people from enlisting. A few even helped Confederate prisoners of war escape. Opponents claimed that the Peace Democrats encouraged the South to keep fighting. They said the war dragged on because Confederates believed the Peace Democrats would eventually prevail in the North.

Jail Without Trial

  • As a way of dealing with war opponents in the North, President Lincoln suspended habeas corpus (HAY • bee • uhs KAWR • puhs)—a legal process that helps ensure the government has a legal right to keep someone in jail.
  • The Constitution says government can suspend habeas corpus, but only "when in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it."
  • With this act, Lincoln's government was able to jail thousands of Northerners without putting them on trial. Some of these people were likely traitors to the Union. Others did nothing more than use their right of free speech to criticize the government.
  • In the South, President Davis also suspended habeas corpus. He, too, believed he needed to deal harshly with opponents of the war. Still, Davis's action upset many loyal supporters.

Draft Laws

  • Both the North and the South had trouble getting troops to sign up. In 1862 the Confederate Congress passed a draft that required able-bodied white men between ages 18 and 35 to serve for three years.
  • Later the requirement included men from ages 17 to 50. Several exceptions were allowed. A man with enough money could hire a substitute to serve for him
  • At first, the North offered a bounty (BAUN • tee), or a sum of money, to encourage volunteers.
  • In March 1863, it also passed a draft. Men aged 20 to 45 had to register. As in the South, a man could avoid the draft by hiring a substitute or paying $300. Many workers earned less than $500 a year and could not afford these options. In the North and the South, people complained it was "a rich man's war and a poor man's fight."
  • People rioted to protest the draft in several Northern cities. The New York City draft riots in July 1863 were the worst. As the first names were drawn, rioters attacked government and military buildings. Then mobs turned their attacks against African Americans. Many white workers had opposed the Emancipation Proclamation, fearing freed African Americans would take their jobs. After four days, more than 100 people were dead. Federal troops finally stopped the riots.
New York Draft Riots

War and the Economy

  • The war strained the economies of the North and the South. However, the North, with its greater resources, was better able to cope with the costs of the war.
  • The two sides had three ways of paying for the war. First, they borrowed money. Second, they passed new taxes, including income taxes. Third, they printed money. Northern bills became known as greenbacks because of their color.
  • In the North, industry profited from the war effort. It made guns, ammunition, shoes, and uniforms. Farmers prospered, too. They sold their crops to feed the troops. Because goods were in high demand, prices went up—faster than workers' wages. This inflation caused hardship for working people.
Inflation, a rise in prices, hurts people by reducing the buying power of money. The graph shows that with just 3.5 percent inflation, the buying power of $1,000 drops sharply. In 20 years, the $1,000 will have about half its original buying power
  • The white South felt the economic strain even more sharply than the North. Many of the battles of the Civil War took place on Confederate soil, destroying farmland and railroad lines. The Union naval blockade prevented the shipping of trade goods. Vital materials could not reach the Confederacy. Salt was in such short supply that women scraped the floors of smokehouses to recover it. Food shortages led to riots in Atlanta, Richmond, and other cities.
  • The South also suffered much worse inflation. As early as 1862, citizens were begging Confederate leaders for help.

Students Will Know

  • Major battles and turning points of the American Civil War

Students Will Be Able To:

  • Explain why the South seemed to be winning the war
  • Analyze why the Battle of Gettysburg was a turning point in the war

The Strain of War

Southern Victories

  • The military leadership of Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson was a key factor in the Confederates' military success in the East. With their knowledge of the land and ability to inspire troops, these two generals often defeated larger Union forces

The Battle of Fredericksburg

  • After Antietam, Robert E. Lee moved his army out of Maryland into Virginia. This encouraged the newly named Union commander, General Ambrose Burnside, to march his troops toward the Confederate capital at Richmond.
  • Lee intercepted the Union army near Fredericksburg. Lee's forces dug trenches in hills south of the town. This gave them the advantage of higher ground from which to fight.
  • On December 13, 1862, Union forces attacked. Lee's entrenched (ihn • TREHNCHT) troops drove them back with heavy losses. Devastated, Burnside resigned.
Overview of the battle, December 13, 1862

Victory at Chancellorsville

  • In May 1863, Lee met Union forces led by General Joseph Hooker in the Battle of Chancellorsville. General Lee again showed daring and a brilliant command of tactics. Although Hooker had twice as many men, Lee divided his forces.
  • Some Confederate troops confronted the main Union force. Others under the leadership of Stonewall Jackson secretly marched to a spot at the far end of the Union line.
  • The risky plan worked perfectly. Jackson's army surprised the Union force with a crushing attack on its flank (FLANGK), or side. Lee struck from the front.
  • Lee struck from the front. Caught between the two Confederate forces, Hooker eventually withdrew his men.
  • The Confederate victory came at a high cost. In the confusion of battle, Confederate soldiers fired on and wounded Stonewall Jackson by mistake. Surgeons amputated Jackson's arm, prompting Lee to say, "He has lost his left arm, and I have lost my right."
  • Worse, Jackson developed pneumonia. After a week of suffering, he died. His death cost the South one of its great leaders. It also affected the morale of its army and its citizens.

Problems With Union Leadership

  • In contrast, Union leadership in the East disappointed the president. In less than a year, a frustrated Lincoln saw three different generals try and fail to lead the Union to victory.
  • The first, Major General George McClellan, commanded the Union forces at the Battle of Antietam in March 1862. Although he was expert at preparing for battle, he was overly careful and slow to act.
  • Said Lincoln, "If McClellan doesn't want to use the army, I'd like to borrow it for a while.” The last straw came when, after victory at Antietam, McClellan failed to obey Lincoln's order to follow the retreating Confederate troops and destroy them.
  • Lincoln pushed his next commander, General Ambrose Burnside, to take aggressive action. Burnside quickly lost the president's favor after his crushing loss at Fredericksburg.
Major General George McClellan General Ambrose Burnside
  • Next, Lincoln appointed Major General Joseph Hooker, who had often been critical of other generals. Hooker's attitude matched the president's. "May God have mercy on General Lee, for I will have none," he declared.
  • Despite Hooker's confidence, Lee's much smaller army crushed Hooker's forces at Chancellorsville. Hooker soon resigned.
Major General Joseph Hooker
  • Lincoln's next commander needed to prove himself quickly. Major General George Meade took command three days before one of the war's great battles, at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Major General George Meade

African Americans in the Civil War

  • At first, both the North and the South barred African Americans from serving in their armies. As time passed, the North relaxed its rules

Excluded in the South

  • Even though African Americans made up more than 30 percent of the smaller Southern population, Confederate leaders would not allow them to enlist. Only in the last days of the war, when defeat drew near, did they consider it.
  • Confederate leaders feared that once armed, African American soldiers would attack their fellow troops or even begin a general revolt.

Enlisted in the North

  • At first, President Lincoln resisted calls to enlist African Americans in the Union army. He feared that such a policy would be unpopular in the border states.
  • By 1862, though, it was clear that the North needed more soldiers in order to defeat the Confederacy. Many African Americans were eager to fight. As a result, Congress decided to reverse past policy and allow the formation of all-African American regiments.
Civil War poster recruiting African American men to the Union forces
  • These new Union soldiers were in a tough position. Many white Union regiments doubted their fighting ability. Others resented them. Many Southern troops also especially hated the Union's African American soldiers. They often focused their fiercest fire on African American regiments.
  • Despite this, African Americans joined. By the end of the war, they made up about 10 percent of the Union army. Some were freed people from the North. Others had fled enslavement in the South. These men fought hard and effectively, too. As one white Union officer wrote about an all-African American Kansas regiment:
  • "They make better soldiers in every respect than any troops I have ever had under my command."
  • —Union General James G. Blunt

The 54th Massachusetts

  • The best-known African American regiment was the 54th Massachusetts. Founded in 1863, the 54th was under the command of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, who came from a Boston abolitionist family.
  • Later that year, the 54th served on the front lines in an assault on Fort Wagner in South Carolina. Confederate gunfire caused nearly 300 casualties in the 54th alone, including Colonel Shaw.
  • Though the Union could not capture the fort, the 54th became famous for the courage and sacrifice of its members. It would also serve with distinction in other battles, such as the Battle of Olustee in Florida.
This picture, showing troops camped near Philadelphia, served as a Union recruiting poster

The Tide Turns

  • In spring of 1863, the Confederates had the upper hand. Their victory at Chancellorsville ruined Union plans to attack Richmond. Lee was emboldened. He decided to take the war once more into the North, hoping to impress France and Britain.
  • The Confederate strategy was similar to that of the colonies in the Revolutionary War. Though far outnumbered, the colonies won the support of France—and the war. Now, France and Britain missed the goods, especially cotton, that Southern planters had once supplied. If the Confederates appeared to be winning, those nations might help their cause.

The Battle of Gettysburg

  • In July 1863, a small town in southern Pennsylvania became the site of one of the most decisive battles in the Civil War. Gettysburg was not a capital, a key port, or the location of a fort. It was almost an accident that such serious fighting took place there.
  • The Confederates entered the town looking for supplies. General Lee hoped to avoid fighting in a landscape he did not know well. It was there, however, that he encountered the enemy
  • When Lee's troops crawled out of Gettysburg four grueling days later, they had suffered 25,000 casualties. The Union—the victor—lost 23,000.
  • The battle started at 7:30 a.m. on July 1. Outnumbered Union troops retreated to a section of high ground called Cemetery Ridge. Reinforcements arrived for both sides.
  • On the second day of fighting, Southern generals tried to drive Union forces from hills named Round Top and Little Round Top. In furious fighting, Union forces under General George Meade held their positions.
  • The next day, Lee ordered an attack designed to "create a panic and virtually destroy the [Union] army."
  • First, the Confederates fired nearly 140 cannons at the Union lines. Then, General George Pickett led thousands of Confederate troops in an attack on the Union's position at Cemetery Ridge. Putting themselves directly in the line of fire, they advanced across open land in what came to be remembered as Pickett's Charge.
  • At first, it seemed that Pickett's Charge might work. The Confederates broke the first line of Union defense. In the end, however, half of those who started the attack lay dead or wounded on the ground. Lee later wrote, "The army did all it could. I fear I required of it impossibilities."
  • Gettysburg ended the Confederates' hope of gaining help from Britain and France. The South had hoped to receive two ironclads from the British and use them to sweep Union shipping from the Atlantic. However, in October 1863, the British government decided not to release the ships.
After two days of heavy fighting at Gettysburg, the Confederates mounted a heavy attack on the Union lines
Where did the Confederates concentrate their attack? Cemetery Ridge
What about the Union position as shown on this map might have given Union forces an advantage? They were on high ground and above rivers. This meant that Confederate troops had to cross the rivers and then fight uphill while being fired on from above

The Siege at Vicksburg

  • On July 4, the day that Lee retreated from Gettysburg, the Confederacy suffered another major blow. The important river city of Vicksburg, Mississippi, fell under the control of Union troops led by Ulysses S. Grant.
  • Grant had first attacked Vicksburg in April. His army surrounded the 30,000 Confederate troops there. In May Grant began a siege of the town, preventing food and supplies from reaching the Confederates. Union gunships on the river supported Grant’s 77,000 troops by firing thousands of shells into the city.
  • The siege lasted 47 days. There were more than 9,000 Confederate and 10,000 Union casualties, and many soldiers died of disease or starvation. Despite heavy losses of soldiers, fewer than 20 citizens of Vicksburg were killed in the long siege.
  • A few days after Vicksburg fell, the Confederacy lost Port Hudson in Louisiana, its last stronghold on the Mississippi River. The Union had split the South in two. Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas were now cut off. The tide of the Civil War had turned.
This painting shows Union forces fighting their way to the Confederate lines at Vicksburg, Mississippi, in May 1863

Lincoln's Address at Gettsburg

  • On November 19, 1863, officials and citizens gathered to dedicate the Soldiers' National Cemetery at Gettysburg. At the ceremony, former governor of Massachusetts Edward Everett delivered a two-hour speech.
  • After him, President Abraham Lincoln spoke for about two minutes. In 272 words, Lincoln honored the soldiers and their cause, and stated his vision for the country.
  • "These dead shall not have died in vain. . . . Government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."
  • —from the Gettysburg Address
  • Reactions to Lincoln's Gettysburg Address were mixed. Everett, along with the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Springfield (Mass.) Republican, thought the speech was a success.
  • The Republican wrote, "His little speech is a perfect gem; deep in feeling, compact in thought and expression, and tasteful . . . in every word and comma." It remains one of the most enduring and powerful speeches in American history.
How did the events at Vicksburg change the tide of the war?
The events at Vicksburg led to the success of the Union's strategy of splitting the South in two

The War's Final Stages

Student's Will Know

  • The events that ended the Civil War

Student's Will Be Able To:

  • Evaluate the idea of total war and how it affected the South
  • Identify and analyze the events that ended the Civil War

The Union Closes In

  • By 1864 Union forces had the South surrounded. Union ships blocked the Confederate coast, reducing the trade goods getting out and supplies getting in. The Union also controlled the Mississippi River, cutting off the western Confederate states from those in the East.
  • The South seemed ready to fall—if the Union could come up with the right plan of attack. General Grant would be the one to draw up such a plan.

General Grant Takes Charge

  • Ulysses S. Grant had been only an average student. He failed as a farmer and in business. Yet he became a brilliant soldier. He led Union troops to victory at Shiloh and Vicksburg and at another key battle in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In March 1864, President Lincoln put General Grant in charge of all the Union armies.
Ulysses S. Grant was commander of the Union Army during the later years of the Civil War
  • President Lincoln liked that Grant was a man of action. Now in charge, Grant wasted little time coming up with a plan to finish the war. He would deliver killing blows from all sides.
  • His armies would move on to Richmond, the Confederate capital. At the same time, General William Tecumseh Sherman would lead attacks across the Deep South.
William Tecumseh Sherman (1820-1891) Civil War General
  • Grant soon put his strategy into action. In May and June of 1864, Grant's army confronted Lee's smaller force in a series of three battles near Richmond, Virginia. These were the Battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, and Cold Harbor.
  • At each battle, Confederate lines held at first, but Grant quickly renewed the attack. "Whatever happens, there will be no turning back," Grant promised Lincoln. He was determined to march southward, attacking Lee's forces relentlessly and in spite of heavy losses until the Confederacy surrendered.

Grant Moves South Toward Richmond

  • The Wilderness was a densely wooded area about halfway between Washington, D.C., and Richmond, Virginia. Here, on May 5, 1864, the six bloodiest weeks of the war began.
  • For two days, Union and Confederate forces struggled among a tangle of trees through which they could hardly see. A Union private said, "It was a blind and bloody hunt to the death."
  • At the Battle of the Wilderness, Lee had only about 60,000 men, while Grant had more than 100,000. Both sides suffered huge casualties. Grant, who lost 17,000 men, cried in his tent at the end of the second day.
  • Meanwhile, brushfires raged through the forest. The fires burned alive 200 wounded men. On the morning of the third day, with no clear winner, Grant moved his forces south toward Richmond.
Actions in the Wilderness, May 5, 1864
  • The next battles took place at nearby Spotsylvania Court House and at Cold Harbor. On June 2, the night before the third battle began, a Union general observed that men were "writing their names and home addresses on slips of paper and pinning them to the backs of their coats" to help people identify their bodies.
  • The war seemed hopeless. Grant, however, was determined. He explained to the White House, "I propose to fight it out on this line, if it takes all summer."
  • In a space of 30 days, Grant lost 50,000 of his troops. His critics in the North called him a "butcher." Lincoln, however, stood by his general.
  • "I can't spare this man," Lincoln is reported to have said. "He fights." As he fought, the Confederates were also losing men—losses their smaller army could not survive.
Village of Spotsylvania Court House

Siege at Petersburg

  • Grant made steady progress. He next arrived at Petersburg, a railroad center vital to the Confederate movement of troops and supplies. If Grant could take Petersburg, Richmond would be cut off from the rest of the Confederacy. Grant laid siege.
  • The Confederates defended the city, but they could not break the Union's grip. Trains brought food and more troops to the Union side. The Confederates could get neither. Determined, they refused to give up.
Siege of Petersburg, movements against the railroads and A.P. Hill's counterattack, June 21–22

Sherman in Georgia

  • Meanwhile, William Tecumseh Sherman headed for Georgia. In early July, his troops circled Atlanta. There they faced the brilliant Confederate general, John Hood. Hood's forces put up major resistance (rih • ZIHS • tuhnts)
  • Sherman laid siege, finally forcing Hood to abandon the city on September 1. Among white Southerners, the mood became desperate as the prospect of defeat became more certain.
  • Mary Chesnut, a South Carolinian who kept a diary throughout the war, wrote, "There is no hope, but we will try to have no fear."

Farragut Blockade Mobile Bay

  • The highest-ranking officer in the Union navy was David Farragut. The son of a Spanish military man, Farragut had joined the navy when he was only 12 years old. In August 1864, he led a fleet of 18 ships through a narrow channel into Mobile Bay in Alabama.
  • His mission was to gain control of the bay. Faced with stiff resistance, Farragut prepared for battle. To make sure he had a good view, he climbed high into the ship's rigging and had himself tied in place.
David Farragut led the United States Navy to some of its greatest victories in the Civil War
  • The Confederates had forts on both sides of the channel, and they had mined the water with torpedoes. Unwilling to back down, Farragut shouted his famous order: "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" The mission succeeded in blocking the last Southern port east of the Mississippi.

The Election of 1864

  • In the North, opposition to the war grew stronger through much of 1864. It seemed unlikely that Lincoln could win reelection in November. His loss could mean an end to the war and recognition of the Confederacy as an independent country. White Southerners clung to this hope.
  • After Union troops captured Atlanta and blocked Mobile Bay, however, weary Northerners began to believe again that victory was possible. In November, President Lincoln won a second term. He took 55 percent of the popular vote and 212 to 21 electoral votes over the Democratic candidate, General George B. McClellan.
Lincoln-Ruin/ McClellan- Peace Democratic Broadside
  • Many interpreted Lincoln's reelection as a clear sign from the voters: They wanted a permanent end to slavery. On January 31, 1865, Congress passed the Thirteenth Amendment, which banned slavery in the United States.

The War Ends

  • From the beginning of the war, a goal of the Union was to capture the Confederate capital at Richmond. Petersburg had been the last roadblock in Grant's path. After a nine-month siege, Grant finally drove Lee's army out of that city. Jefferson Davis knew that Richmond was doomed.

Sherman's March to the Sea

  • Still, the Confederacy fought on. The Union was determined to break the South's will to continue the fight. To break this will, Sherman burned much of the city of Atlanta in November 1864.
  • Sherman then had his troops march across Georgia toward the Atlantic, burning cities and crops as they went. This trail of destruction is known as Sherman's March to the Sea.
  • Sherman continued his march through the Carolinas to join Grant's forces near Richmond. Union troops took food, tore up railroad lines and fields, and killed livestock. General Sherman's march was part of a strategy called total war.
  • Total war involves targeting not only the enemy's army, but also its land and people. Sherman hoped that by bringing the horrors of the war to the Southern population, he could help end the war.
  • White Southerners were outraged by Sherman's march. Thousands of African Americans, however, left their plantations to follow the protection of his army. For them, the March to the Sea was a march to freedom.

Richmond Falls

  • Meanwhile, Grant continued the siege of Petersburg. Lee and his troops defended the town, but sickness, casualties, and desertion weakened them. Finally, on April 2, 1865, the Confederate lines broke and Lee withdrew.
  • Word of Lee's retreat soon reached the Confederate president. As the Union army marched toward Richmond, Davis and his cabinet prepared to leave. They gathered documents and ordered that bridges and weapons useful to the enemy be burned. Then they fled the city. An observer wrote:
  • "The trains came and went, wagons, vehicles, and horsemen rumbled and dashed to and fro. . . . As night came on . . . rioting and robbing took place."
  • —from Battles and Leaders of the Civil War
  • The armory, with its stores of ammunition, exploded. Boom after boom rang through the city, and fires raged out of control.
  • On April 3, President Lincoln visited the captured town of Petersburg. Later, Lincoln confided to naval officer David Porter, "Thank God I have lived to see this. It seems to me that I have been dreaming a horrid nightmare for four years, and now the nightmare is gone."
  • President Lincoln, his son Tad, and a group of military officials arrived in Richmond on April 4 to tour the fallen Confederate capital. As Lincoln walked through the streets, joyful African Americans followed—singing, laughing, and reaching out to touch the president.
  • When one man knelt down to thank him, Lincoln told him, "Don't kneel to me. You must kneel to God only, and thank Him for your freedom."
  • At the home of Confederate president Davis, Lincoln sat wearily for a while on a chair in the president's office. After visiting two prisons for Confederate prisoners, Lincoln replied to a question about what to do with captured Confederates: "If I were in your place, I'd let 'em up easy, let 'em up easy."
  • As a child, Dallas Tucker witnessed the arrival of Union troops in his hometown of Richmond, Virginia. He later recalled:
  • "[There was] a tremendous shock, which rocked the house and rattled the windows. At first we thought it was an earthquake, but very soon concluded . . . it must be an explosion of some kind. . . . It was, in fact, the blowing up of the government powder magazine just beyond the city limits. . . . Richmond was on fire. . . . In sheer despair, warehouse after warehouse was thrown open, and the gathered crowd of hungry, despairing people were told to go in and help themselves.
  • . . . Just as I reached the Washington Monument, I [saw] the troops entering [Capital] Square. . . . It was then only a few minutes later . . . that I saw the United States flag appear on the flag-pole above, where the Stars and Bars [the Confederate flag] had floated for years."
  • — Reverend Dallas Tucker, writing in the Richmond Dispatch, February 3, 1902

Planning Reconstruction

  • The task of rebuilding the former Confederate states and readmitting them to the Union was called Reconstruction.
  • The Fourteenth Amendment stated that "All persons born or naturalized int he United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside"
  • Before they could rejoin the Union, Southern states were required to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment

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