American Civil War
American Civil War Montage 2.jpg
Top left: Rosecrans at Stones River, Tennessee; top right: Confederate prisoners at Gettysburg; bottom: Battle of Fort Hindman, Arkansas
Date April 12 1861April 9 1865
Location Principally in the Southern United States
Result Union victory; Reconstruction; slavery abolished
Casus belli Confederate attack on Fort Sumter

United States of America ("Union")


Confederate States of America ("Confederacy")

Abraham Lincoln,
Ulysses S. Grant
Jefferson Davis,
Robert E. Lee
2,200,000 1,064,000
110,000 killed in action,
360,000 total dead,
275,200 wounded
93,000 killed in action,
258,000 total dead,
137,000+ wounded
Template:Campaignbox American Civil War

The American Civil Wars pooo (1861–186) was a war between the United States of America (the "Union") and the Southern slave states of the newly formed Confederate States of America under Jefferson Davis. The Union included all of the free states and the five slaveholding border states and was led by Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party. Republicans opposed the expansion of slavery into territories owned by the United States, and their victory in the presidential election of 1860 resulted in seven Southern states declaring their secession from the Union even before Lincoln took office.[1] The Union rejected secession, regarding it as rebellion.

Hostilities began on April 12 1861, when Confederate forces attacked a U.S. military installation at Fort Sumter in South Carolina. Lincoln responded by calling for a large volunteer army, then four more Southern states declared their secession. In the war's first year, the Union assumed control of the border states and established a naval blockade as both sides massed armies and resources. In 1862, battles such as Shiloh and Antietam caused massive casualties unprecedented in U.S. military history. In September 1862, Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation made ending slavery in the South a war goal, which complicated the Confederacy's manpower shortages.

In the East, Confederate commander Robert E. Lee won a series of victories over Union armies, but Lee's reverse at Gettysburg in early July, 1863 proved the turning point. The capture of Vicksburg and Port Hudson by Ulysses S. Grant completed Union control of the Mississippi River. Grant fought bloody battles of attrition with Lee in 1864, forcing Lee to defend the Confederate capital at Richmond, Virginia. Union general William Sherman captured Atlanta, Georgia, and began his famous March to the Sea, devastating a hundred-mile-wide swath of Georgia. Confederate resistance collapsed after Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court House in April 1865.

The war, the deadliest in American history, caused 620,000 soldier deaths and an undetermined number of civilian casualties, ended slavery in the United States, restored the Union by settling the issues of nullification and secession and strengthened the role of the Federal government. However, issues affected by the war's unresolved social, political, economic and racial tensions continue to shape contemporary American thought.


Causes of the war[]

Main articles: Origins of the American Civil War and Timeline of events leading to the American Civil War

The coexistence of a slave-owning South with an increasingly anti-slavery North made conflict inevitable. 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".[2] Much of the political battle in the 1850s focused on the expansion of slavery into the newly created territories.[3][4][5] 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.[6][7][8]

Southern fears of losing control of the federal government to antislavery forces, and Northern fears that the slave power already controlled the 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 vs. 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 emphasized the states' rights ideas mentioned in Jefferson's Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions and the right of revolution mentioned in the Declaration of Independence. Northerners ranging from the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison to the moderate Republican leader Abraham Lincoln[9] emphasized Jefferson's declaration that all men are created equal. Lincoln mentioned this proposition in his Gettysburg Address.

Historian Kenneth M. Stampp mentioned Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens' A Constitutional View of the Late War Between the States as an example of a Southern leader who said that slavery was the "cornerstone of the Confederacy" when the war began and then said that the war was not about slavery but states' rights after Southern defeat. Stampp said that Stephens became one of the most ardent defenders of the Lost Cause.[10]

All but one inter-regional crisis involved slavery, starting with debates on the three-fifths clause in the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Other factors include modernization in the rapidly industrializing North, sectionalism (caused by the growth of slavery in the deep South while slavery was gradually phased out in Northern states) and economic differences between North and South, although most modern historians disagree with the extreme economic determinism of historian Charles Beard.[11] The fact that seven immigrants out of eight settled in the North, plus the fact that twice as many whites left the South for the North as vice versa, contributed to the South's defensive-aggressive political behavior.[12] There was controversy over adding the slave state of Missouri to the Union that led to the Missouri Compromise of 1820, the Nullification Crisis over the Tariff of 1828 (although the tariff was low after 1846[13]), the Gag rule that prevented discussion in Congress of petitions for ending slavery from 1835–1844, the acquisition of Texas as a slave state in 1845 and Manifest Destiny as an argument for gaining new territories where slavery would become an issue after the Mexican-American War (1846–1848), which resulted in the Compromise of 1850.[14] The Wilmot Proviso was an unsuccessful attempt by Northern politicians to exclude slavery from the territories conquered from Mexico. There were unsuccessful attempts to end controversy over slavery in the territories through popular sovereignty and Southern attempts to annex Cuba (including the Ostend Manifesto) and Nicaragua as slave states. The extremely popular antislavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) by Harriet Beecher Stowe greatly increased Northern opposition to the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850.[15][16]

There was the polarizing effect of slavery that split the largest religious denominations (the Methodist, Baptist and Presbyterian churches)[17] and controversy caused by the worst cruelties of slavery (whippings, mutilations and families split apart). In Congress arguments over slavery became violent when Representative Preston Brooks of South Carolina attacked Radical Republican Senator Charles Sumner with a cane after Sumner's "Crime against Kansas" speech.[18] Even rival plans for Northern vs. Southern routes for a transcontinental railroad became entangled in the Bleeding Kansas controversy over slavery. The old Second Party System broke down after passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854. The "Dred Scott Decision" of 1857, the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858, John Brown's raid in 1859 and the split in the Democratic Party in 1860 polarized the nation between North and South. The election of Lincoln in 1860 was the final trigger for secession. During the secession crisis, many sought compromise. Two of these attempts were the "Corwin Amendment" and the "Crittenden Compromise." All attempts at compromise failed.

Southern secession was triggered by the election of Republican Abraham Lincoln[19] because regional leaders feared that he would stop the expansion of slavery and put it on a course toward extinction. Many Southerners thought either Lincoln or another Northerner would abolish slavery, and that it was time to secede. The slave states, which had already become a minority in the House of Representatives, were now facing a future as a perpetual minority in the Senate and Electoral College against an increasingly powerful North. Deep South states with the most slavery seceded first, followed by the secession of four more states following the Battle of Fort Sumter and Lincoln's subsequent call for each remaining state to provide troops to retake forts and suppress the insurrection. Upper South states refused to send troops against their neighbors in what they considered an invasion.


Main article: History of slavery in the United States

A strong correlation was shown the degree of support for secession and the number of plantations in the region; states of the deep South which had the greatest concentration of plantations were the first to secede. The upper South slave states of Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas, and Tennessee had fewer plantations and rejected secession until the Fort Sumter crisis forced them to choose sides. Border states had fewer plantations still and never seceded.[20][21] The percentage of Southern whites living in families that owned slaves was 36.7 percent in the lower South, 25.3 percent in the upper South and 15.9 percent in the border states that fought mostly for the Union.[22][23] Ninety-five percent of blacks lived in the South, comprising one third of the population there as opposed to one percent of the population of the North. Consequently, fears of eventual emancipation were much greater in the South than in the North.[24]

File:Abraham Lincoln seated, Feb 9, 1864.jpg

Abraham Lincoln 16th President of the United States (1861–1865)

The Supreme Court decision of 1857 in Dred Scott v. Sandford added to the controversy. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney's decision said that slaves were "so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect",[25] and that slavery could spread into the territories. Lincoln warned that "the next Dred Scott decision"[26] could threaten northern states with slavery.

Northern politician Abraham Lincoln said, "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."[27] The slavery issue was related to sectional competition for control of the territories,[28] and the Southern demand for a slave code for the territories was the issue used by Southern politicians to split the Democratic Party in two, which all but guaranteed the election of Lincoln and secession. When secession was an issue, South Carolina planter and state Senator John Townsend said that "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."[29] Similar opinions were expressed throughout the South in editorials, political speeches and declarations of reasons for secession. Even though Lincoln had no plans to outlaw slavery where it existed, Southerners throughout the South expressed fears for the future of slavery.

Southern concerns included not only economic loss but also fears of racial equality.[30][31][32][33] The Texas Declaration of Causes for Secession[34][35] said that the non-slave-holding states were "proclaiming the debasing doctrine of equality of all men, irrespective of race or color", and that the African race "were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race". Alabama secessionist E. S. Dargan said that emancipation would make Southerners feel "demoralized and degraded".[36]

Beginning in the 1830s, the U.S. Postmaster General refused to allow mail which carried abolition pamphlets to the South.[37] Northern teachers suspected of any tinge of abolitionism were expelled from the South, and abolitionist literature was banned. Southerners rejected the denials of Republicans that they were abolitionists.[38] John Brown's raid on the federal Harpers Ferry Armory greatly increased Southern fears of slave insurrections.[39] The North felt threatened as well, for as Eric Foner concludes, "Northerners came to view slavery as the very antithesis of the good society, as well as a threat to their own fundamental values and interests".[40]

Secession begins[]

Secession of South Carolina[]

File:Grand Army of the Republic by Swatjester.jpg

Monument in honor of the Grand Army of the Republic, organized after the war.

South Carolina adopted the "Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union" on December 24, 1860. It argued for states' rights for slave owners in the South, but contained a complaint about states' rights in the North in the form of opposition to the Fugitive Slave Act, claiming that Northern states were not fulfilling their federal obligations under the Constitution. At issue were:

  • The refusal of Northern states to enforce the fugitive slave code, violating Southern personal property rights;
  • Agitation against slavery, which "denied the rights of property".
  • Assisting "thousands of slaves to leave their homes" through the Underground Railroad.
  • The election of Lincoln "because he has declared that 'Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,' and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction".
  • "...elevating to citizenship, persons who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming citizens". Most Northerners opposed the Dred Scott decision, although only a few New England states allowed blacks an equal right to vote.[41]

Secession winter[]

Before Lincoln took office, seven states had declared their secession from the Union. They established a Southern government, the Confederate States of America on February 9 1861. They took control of federal forts and other properties within their boundaries with little resistance from President Buchanan, whose term ended on March 4 1861. Buchanan asserted, "The South has no right to secede, but I have no power to prevent them."[42] One quarter of the U.S. Army—the entire garrison in Texas—was surrendered to state forces by its commanding general, David E. Twiggs, who then joined the Confederacy.

As Southerners resigned their seats in the Senate and the House, secession later enabled Republicans to pass bills for projects that had been blocked by Southern Senators before the war, including the Morrill Tariff, land grant colleges (the Morill Act), a Homestead Act, a transcontinental railroad (the Pacific Railway Acts), the National Banking Act and the authorization of United States Notes by the Legal Tender Act of 1862. The Revenue Act of 1861 introduced the income tax to help finance the war.

Status of the states, 1861.
██  States that seceded before April 15 1861 ██  States that seceded after April 15, 1861 ██  Union states that permitted slavery ██  Union states that banned slavery ██  Territories

The Confederacy[]

Main article: Confederate States of America

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. In April and May 1861, four more slave states seceded and joined the Confederacy: Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia. Virginia was split in two, with the eastern portion of that state seceding to the Confederacy and the northwestern part joining the Union as the new state of West Virginia on June 20 1863.

State and territory boundaries, 1864–5.
██  Union states ██  Union territories ██  Kansas, which entered the Union as a free state after the Bleeding Kansas crisis ██  Union border states that permitted slavery ██  The Confederacy ██  Confederate claimed and sometimes held territories

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 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.

Border states[]

Main article: Border states (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).

Maryland had numerous pro-Confederate officials who tolerated anti-Union rioting in Baltimore and the burning of bridges. Lincoln responded with martial law and called for troops. Militia units that had been drilling in the North rushed toward Washington and Baltimore.[43] Before the Confederate government realized what was happening, Lincoln had seized firm control of Maryland (and the separate District of Columbia), by arresting all the Maryland government members and holding them without trial.

In Missouri, an elected convention on secession voted decisively to remain within the Union. When pro-Confederate Governor Claiborne F. Jackson called out the state militia, it was attacked by federal forces under General Nathaniel Lyon, who chased the governor and the rest of the State Guard to the southwestern corner of the state. (See also: Missouri secession). In the resulting vacuum, the convention on secession reconvened and took power as the Unionist provisional government of Missouri.[44]

Kentucky did not secede; for a time, it declared itself neutral. However, the Confederates broke the neutrality by seizing Columbus, Kentucky in September 1861. That turned opinion against the Confederacy, and the state reaffirmed its loyal status, while trying to maintain slavery. During a brief invasion by Confederate forces, Confederate sympathizers organized a secession convention, inaugurated a governor, and gained recognition from the Confederacy. The rebel government soon went into exile and never controlled the state.[45]

Union supporters in the far northwestern counties of Virginia opposed secession and formed a pro-Union government in Wheeling shortly after Virginia's 1861 declaration of secession from the U.S. They then organized a vote on October 24, 1861 to approve a secession from Virginia, and were admitted to the Union as the new state of West Virginia on June 20, 1863, eventually composed of 50 former counties of Virginia. The vote was poorly attended and only token votes appeared in many counties that had supported Virginia's secession, some giving no vote at all,[46][47] and both before and after admission to statehood, there were disputes over the boundary between West Virginia and Virginia, and the legality of the vote.[48][49][50]

Similar Unionist secessions attempts appeared in East Tennessee, but were suppressed by the Confederacy. Jefferson Davis arrested over 3000 men suspected of being loyal to the Union and held them without trial.[51]


File:American Civil War Chaplain.JPG

A Roman Catholic Union army chaplain celebrating a Mass

Over 10,000 military engagements took place during the war, 40% of them in Virginia and Tennessee.[52] Since separate articles deal with every major battle and many minor ones, this article only gives the broadest outline. For more information see List of American Civil War battles and Military leadership in the American Civil War.

The war begins[]

For more details on this topic, see Battle of Fort Sumter

Lincoln's victory in the presidential election of 1860 triggered South Carolina's declaration of secession from the Union. By February 1861, six more Southern states made similar declarations. On February 7, the seven states adopted a provisional constitution for the Confederate States of America and established their temporary capital at Montgomery, Alabama. A pre-war February Peace Conference of 1861 met in Washington in a failed attempt at resolving the crisis. The remaining eight slave states rejected pleas to join the Confederacy. Confederate forces seized most of the Federal forts within their boundaries (they did not take Fort Sumter); President Buchanan protested but made no military response aside from a failed attempt to resupply Fort Sumter via the ship Star of the West (the ship was fired upon by Citadel cadets), and no serious military preparations.[53] However, governors in Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania quietly began buying weapons and training militia units.

On March 4 1861, Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as President. In his inaugural address, he argued that the Constitution was a more perfect union than the earlier Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, that it was a binding contract, and called any secession "legally void".[54] He stated he had no intent to invade Southern states, nor did he intend to end slavery where it existed, but that he would use force to maintain possession of federal property. His speech closed with a plea for restoration of the bonds of union.[55]

The South sent delegations to Washington and offered to pay for the federal properties and enter into a peace treaty with the United States. Lincoln rejected any negotiations with Confederate agents on the grounds that the Confederacy was not a legitimate government, and that making any treaty with it would be tantamount to recognition of it as a sovereign government.[56] However, Secretary of State William Seward engaged in unauthorized and indirect negotiations that failed.[56]

Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, Fort Monroe, Fort Pickens and Fort Taylor were the remaining Union-held forts in the Confederacy, and Lincoln was determined to hold Fort Sumter. Under orders from Confederate President Jefferson Davis, troops controlled by the Confederate government under P. G. T. Beauregard bombarded the fort with artillery on April 12, forcing the fort's capitulation. Northerners rallied behind Lincoln's call for all of the states to send troops to recapture the forts and to preserve the Union. With the scale of the rebellion apparently small so far, Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers for 90 days.[57] For months before that, several Northern governors had discreetly readied their state militias; they began to move forces the next day.[58]

Four states in the upper South (Tennessee, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Virginia), which had repeatedly rejected Confederate overtures, now refused to send forces against their neighbors, declared their secession, and joined the Confederacy. To reward Virginia, the Confederate capital was moved to Richmond.[59] The city was the symbol of the Confederacy; if it fell, the new nation would lose legitimacy. Richmond was in a highly vulnerable location at the end of a tortuous Confederate supply line. Although Richmond was heavily fortified, supplies for the city would be reduced by Sherman's capture of Atlanta and cut off almost entirely when Grant besieged Petersburg and its railroads that supplied the Southern capital.

Anaconda Plan and blockade, 1861[]

Main articles: Naval battles of the American Civil War, Union blockade, and Confederate States Navy

1861 cartoon of Scott's "Anaconda Plan"

Winfield Scott, the commanding general of the U.S. Army, devised the Anaconda Plan[60] to win the war with as little bloodshed as possible. His idea was that a Union blockade of the main ports would weaken the Confederate economy; then the capture of the Mississippi River would split the South. Lincoln adopted the plan, but overruled Scott's warnings against an immediate attack on Richmond.

In May 1861, Lincoln enacted the Union blockade of all Southern ports, ending most international shipments to the Confederacy. Violators' ships and cargos could be seized and were often not covered by insurance. By late 1861, the blockade stopped most local port-to-port traffic. The blockade shut down King Cotton, ruining the Southern economy. British investors built small, fast "blockade runners" that traded arms and luxuries from Bermuda, Cuba and the Bahamas in return for high-priced cotton and tobacco.[61] When captured, the blockade runners and cargo were sold and the proceeds given to the Union sailors, but the British crews were released. Shortages of food and other goods triggered by the blockade, foraging by Northern armies, and the impressment of crops by Confederate armies combined to cause hyperinflation and bread riots in the South.[62]

On March 8, 1862, the Confederate Navy waged a fight against the Union Navy when the ironclad CSS Virginia attacked the blockade; it seemed unstoppable but the next day it had to fight the new Union warship USS Monitor in the Battle of the Ironclads.[63] The battle ended in a draw, which was a strategic victory for the Union in that the blockade was sustained. The Confederacy lost the CSS Virginia when the ship was scuttled to prevent capture, and the Union built many copies of the USS Monitor. Lacking the technology to build effective warships, the Confederacy attempted to obtain warships from Britain. The Union victory at the Second Battle of Fort Fisher in January 1865 closed the last useful Southern port and virtually ended blockade running.

Eastern Theater 1861–1863[]

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A Union Regimental Fife and Drum Corps

Because of the fierce resistance of a few initial Confederate forces at Manassas, Virginia, in July 1861, a march by Union troops under the command of Maj. Gen. Irvin McDowell on the Confederate forces there was halted in the First Battle of Bull Run, or First Manassas,[64] whereupon they were forced back to Washington, D.C., by Confederate troops under the command of Generals Joseph E. Johnston and P. G. T. Beauregard. It was in this battle that Confederate General Thomas Jackson received the nickname of "Stonewall" because he stood like a stone wall against Union troops.[65] Alarmed at the loss, and in an attempt to prevent more slave states from leaving the Union, the U.S. Congress passed the Crittenden-Johnson Resolution on July 25 of that year, which stated that the war was being fought to preserve the Union and not to end slavery.

Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan took command of the Union Army of the Potomac on July 26 (he was briefly general-in-chief of all the Union armies, but was subsequently relieved of that post in favor of Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck), and the war began in earnest in 1862. Upon the strong urging of President Lincoln to begin offensive operations, McClellan attacked Virginia in the spring of 1862 by way of the peninsula between the York River and James River, southeast of Richmond. Although McClellan's army reached the gates of Richmond in the Peninsula Campaign,[66] Johnston halted his advance at the Battle of Seven Pines, then General Robert E. Lee and top subordinates James Longstreet and Stonewall Jackson[67] defeated McClellan in the Seven Days Battles and forced his retreat. The Northern Virginia Campaign, which included the Second Battle of Bull Run, ended in yet another victory for the South.[68] McClellan resisted General-in-Chief Halleck's orders to send reinforcements to John Pope's Union Army of Virginia, which made it easier for Lee's Confederates to defeat twice the number of combined enemy troops.

Emboldened by Second Bull Run, the Confederacy made its first invasion of the North, when General Lee led 45,000 men of the Army of Northern Virginia across the Potomac River into Maryland on September 5. Lincoln then restored Pope's troops to McClellan. McClellan and Lee fought at the Battle of Antietam[67] near Sharpsburg, Maryland, on September 17 1862, the bloodiest single day in United States military history.[69] Lee's army, checked at last, returned to Virginia before McClellan could destroy it. Antietam is considered a Union victory because it halted Lee's invasion of the North and provided an opportunity for Lincoln to announce his Emancipation Proclamation.[70]

File:Conf dead chancellorsville 2.jpg

Confederate dead behind the stone wall of Marye's Heights, Fredericksburg, Virginia, killed during the Battle of Chancellorsville, May 1863

When the cautious McClellan failed to follow up on Antietam, he was replaced by Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside. Burnside was soon defeated at the Battle of Fredericksburg[71] on December 13 1862, when over twelve thousand Union soldiers were killed or wounded during repeated futile frontal assaults against Marye's Heights. After the battle, Burnside was replaced by Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker. Hooker, too, proved unable to defeat Lee's army; despite outnumbering the Confederates by more than two to one, he was humiliated in the Battle of Chancellorsville[72] in May 1863. He was replaced by Maj. Gen. George Meade during Lee's second invasion of the North, in June. Meade defeated Lee at the Battle of Gettysburg[73] (July 1 to July 3 1863), the bloodiest battle of the war, which is sometimes considered the war's turning point. Pickett's Charge on July 3 is often recalled as the high-water mark of the Confederacy, not just because it signaled the end of Lee's plan to pressure Washington from the north, but also because Vicksburg, Mississippi, the key stronghold to control of the Mississippi, fell the following day. Lee's army suffered 28,000 casualties (versus Meade's 23,000).[74] However, Lincoln was angry that Meade failed to intercept Lee's retreat, and after Meade's inconclusive Fall campaign, Lincoln decided to turn to the Western Theater for new leadership.

Western Theater 1861–1863[]

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While the Confederate forces had numerous successes in the Eastern theater, they were defeated many times in the West. They were driven from Missouri early in the war as a result of the Battle of Pea Ridge.[75] Leonidas Polk's invasion of Columbus, Kentucky ended Kentucky's policy of neutrality and turned that state against the Confederacy.

Nashville, Tennessee, fell to the Union early in 1862. Most of the Mississippi was opened with the taking of Island No. 10 and New Madrid, Missouri, and then Memphis, Tennessee. The Union Navy captured New Orléans[76] without a major fight in May 1862, allowing the Union forces to begin moving up the Mississippi as well. Only the fortress city of Vicksburg, Mississippi, prevented unchallenged Union control of the entire river.

General Braxton Bragg's second Confederate invasion of Kentucky ended with a meaningless victory over Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell at the Battle of Perryville,[77] although Bragg was forced to end his attempt at liberating Kentucky and retreat due to lack of support for the Confederacy in that state. Bragg was narrowly defeated by Maj. Gen. William Rosecrans at the Battle of Stones River[78] in Tennessee.

The one clear Confederate victory in the West was the Battle of Chickamauga. Bragg, reinforced by Lt. Gen. James Longstreet's corps (from Lee's army in the east), defeated Rosecrans, despite the heroic defensive stand of Maj. Gen. George Henry Thomas. Rosecrans retreated to Chattanooga, which Bragg then besieged.

The Union's key strategist and tactician in the West was Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, who won victories at Forts Henry and Donelson, by which the Union seized control of the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers; the Battle of Shiloh;[79] the Battle of Vicksburg,[80] cementing Union control of the Mississippi River and considered one of the turning points of the war. Grant marched to the relief of Rosecrans and defeated Bragg at the Third Battle of Chattanooga,[81] driving Confederate forces out of Tennessee and opening a route to Atlanta and the heart of the Confederacy.

Trans-Mississippi Theater 1861–1865[]

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Guerrilla activity turned much of Missouri into a battleground. Missouri had, in total, the third most battles of any state during the war.[82] The other states of the west, though geographically isolated from the battles to the east, had a few small-scale military actions take place. Confederate incursions into Arizona and New Mexico were repulsed in 1862. Late in the war, the Union Red River Campaign was a failure. Texas remained in Confederate hands throughout the war, but was cut off from the rest of the Confederacy after the capture of Vicksburg in 1863 gave the Union control of the Mississippi River.

End of the war 1864–1865[]


Jefferson Davis, first and only President of the Confederate States of America

At the beginning of 1864, Lincoln made Grant commander of all Union armies. Grant made his headquarters with the Army of the Potomac, and put Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman in command of most of the western armies. Grant understood the concept of total war and believed, along with Lincoln and Sherman, that only the utter defeat of Confederate forces and their economic base would bring an end to the war.[83] This was total war not in terms of killing civilians but rather in terms of destroying homes, farms and railroad tracks. Grant devised a coordinated strategy that would strike at the entire Confederacy from multiple directions: Generals George Meade and Benjamin Butler were ordered to move against Lee near Richmond; General Franz Sigel (and later Philip Sheridan) were to attack the Shenandoah Valley; General Sherman was to capture Atlanta and march to the sea (the Atlantic Ocean); Generals George Crook and William W. Averell were to operate against railroad supply lines in West Virginia; and Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks was to capture Mobile, Alabama.

Union forces in the East attempted to maneuver past Lee and fought several battles during that phase ("Grant's Overland Campaign") of the Eastern campaign. Grant's battles of attrition at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor[84] resulted in heavy Union losses, but forced Lee's Confederates to fall back again and again. An attempt to outflank Lee from the south failed under Butler, who was trapped inside the Bermuda Hundred river bend. Grant was tenacious and, despite astonishing losses (over 65,000 casualties in seven weeks),[85] kept pressing Lee's Army of Northern Virginia back to Richmond. He pinned down the Confederate army in the Siege of Petersburg, where the two armies engaged in trench warfare for over nine months.

Grant finally found a commander, General Philip Sheridan, aggressive enough to prevail in the Valley Campaigns of 1864. Sheridan defeated Maj. Gen. Jubal A. Early in a series of battles, including a final decisive defeat at the Battle of Cedar Creek. Sheridan then proceeded to destroy the agricultural base of the Shenandoah Valley,[86] a strategy similar to the tactics Sherman later employed in Georgia.

Meanwhile, Sherman marched from Chattanooga to Atlanta, defeating Confederate Generals Joseph E. Johnston and John Bell Hood along the way. The fall of Atlanta,[87] on September 2 1864, was a significant factor in the reelection of Lincoln as president.[88] Hood left the Atlanta area to menace Sherman's supply lines and invade Tennessee in the Franklin-Nashville Campaign.[89] Union Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield defeated Hood at the Battle of Franklin, and George H. Thomas dealt Hood a massive defeat at the Battle of Nashville, effectively destroying Hood's army.


A dead soldier in Petersburg, Virginia 1865, photographed by Thomas C. Roche.

Leaving Atlanta, and his base of supplies, Sherman's army marched with an unknown destination, laying waste to about 20% of the farms in Georgia in his "March to the Sea". He reached the Atlantic Ocean at Savannah, Georgia in December 1864. Sherman's army was followed by thousands of freed slaves; there were no major battles along the March. Sherman turned north through South Carolina and North Carolina to approach the Confederate Virginia lines from the south,[90] increasing the pressure on Lee's army.

Lee's army, thinned by desertion and casualties, was now much smaller than Grant's. Union forces won a decisive victory at the Battle of Five Forks on April 1, forcing Lee to evacuate Petersburg and Richmond. The Confederate capital fell[91] to the Union XXV Corps, composed of black troops. The remaining Confederate units fled west and after a defeat at Sayler's Creek, it became clear to Robert E. Lee that continued fighting against the United States was both tactically and logistically impossible.

Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia on April 9 1865, at Appomattox Court House.[92] In an untraditional gesture and as a sign of Grant's respect and anticipation of folding the Confederacy back into the Union with dignity and peace, Lee was permitted to keep his officer's saber and his horse, Traveller. Johnston surrendered his troops to Sherman on April 26 1865, in Durham, North Carolina. 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 naval force to surrender was the CSS Shenandoah on November 4 1865, in Liverpool, England.

Slavery during the war[]

Main article: History of slavery in the United States

At the beginning of the war some Union commanders thought they were supposed to return escaped slaves to their masters. By 1862, when it became clear that this would be a long war, the question of what to do about slavery became more general. The Southern economy and military effort depended on slave labor. It began to seem unreasonable to protect slavery while blockading Southern commerce and destroying Southern production. As one Congressman put it, the slaves "…cannot be neutral. As laborers, if not as soldiers, they will be allies of the rebels, or of the Union."[93] The same Congressman—and his fellow Radical Republicans—put pressure on Lincoln to rapidly emancipate the slaves, whereas moderate Republicans came to accept gradual, compensated emancipation and colonization.[94] Copperheads, the border states and War Democrats opposed emancipation, although the border states and War Democrats eventually accepted it as part of total war needed to save the Union.

In 1861, Lincoln expressed the fear that premature attempts at emancipation would mean the loss of the border states, and that "to lose Kentucky is nearly the same as to lose the whole game."[95] At first, Lincoln reversed attempts at emancipation by Secretary of War Simon Cameron and Generals John C. Fremont (in Missouri) and David Hunter (in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida) in order to keep the loyalty of the border states and the War Democrats.

Lincoln mentioned his Emancipation Proclamation to members of his cabinet on July 21 1862. Secretary of State William H. Seward told Lincoln to wait for a victory before issuing the proclamation, as to do otherwise would seem like "our last shriek on the retreat".[96] In September 1862 the Battle of Antietam provided this opportunity, and the subsequent War Governors' Conference added support for the proclamation.[97] Lincoln had already published a letter[98] encouraging the border states especially to accept emancipation as necessary to save the Union. Lincoln later said that slavery was "somehow the cause of the war".[99] Lincoln issued his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation on September 22 1862, and said that a final proclamation would be issued if his gradual plan based on compensated emancipation and voluntary colonization was rejected. Only the District of Columbia accepted Lincoln's gradual plan, and Lincoln issued his final Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. In his letter to Hodges, Lincoln explained his belief that "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."[100]

Since the Emancipation Proclamation was based on the President's war powers, it only included territory held by Confederates at the time. However, the Proclamation became a symbol of the Union's growing commitment to add emancipation to the Union's definition of liberty.[101] Lincoln also played a leading role in getting Congress to vote for the Thirteenth Amendment,[1] which made emancipation universal and permanent.

Confederates enslaved captured black Union soldiers, and black soldiers especially were shot when trying to surrender at the Fort Pillow Massacre.[102] This led to a breakdown of the prisoner exchange program and the growth of prison camps such as Andersonville prison in Georgia where almost 13,000 Union prisoners of war died of starvation and disease.[103]

The Emancipation Proclamation[104] greatly reduced the Confederacy's hope of getting aid from Britain or France. Lincoln's moderate approach succeeded in getting border states, War Democrats and emancipated slaves fighting on the same side for the Union. The Union-controlled border states (Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, Delaware and West Virginia) were not covered by the Emancipation Proclamation. All abolished slavery on their own, except Kentucky and Delaware.[105] The great majority of the 4 million slaves were freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, as Union armies moved South. The 13th amendment,[106] ratified December 6 1865, finally freed the remaining slaves in Kentucky and Delaware that numbered 225,000 for Kentucky and 1,800 in Delaware as of 1860.[107]

Threat of international intervention[]

Main article: Great Britain in the American Civil War

Entry into the war by Britain and France on behalf of the Confederacy would have greatly increased the South's chances of winning independence from the Union.[108] The Union, under Lincoln and Secretary of State William Henry Seward worked to block this, and threatened war if any country officially recognized the existence of the Confederate States of America (none ever did). In 1861, Southerners voluntarily embargoed cotton shipments, hoping to start an economic depression in Europe that would force Britain to enter the war in order to get cotton. Cotton diplomacy proved a failure as Europe had a surplus of cotton, while the 1860–62 crop failures in Europe made the North's grain exports of critical importance. It was said that "King Corn was more powerful than King Cotton", as US grain went from a quarter of the British import trade to almost half.[109]

When the UK did face a cotton shortage, it was temporary, being replaced by increased cultivation in Egypt and India. Meanwhile, the war created employment for arms makers, iron workers, and British ships to transport weapons.[110]

After 1846, Northern industry lacked the assistance of a high protective tariff. There were enough Democrats, including Southerners, in the U. S. Senate to keep tariffs low. Britain was by far the best customer of the United States, and the British did not impose a duty on cotton or wheat, although they did tax imported tobacco. About one-seventh of the population of the United Kingdom, or four million people, depended on the cotton industry. Hence the tariff was kept low before the war so that especially the British could import more, despite the outcries of Northern industrialists.[13]

Charles Francis Adams proved particularly adept as minister to Britain for the Union, and Britain was reluctant to boldly challenge the Union's blockade. The Confederacy purchased several warships from commercial ship builders in Britain. The most famous, the CSS Alabama, did considerable damage and led to serious postwar disputes. However, public opinion against slavery created a political liability for European politicians, especially in Britain. War loomed in late 1861 between the U.S. and Britain over the Trent Affair, involving the Union boarding of a British mail steamer to seize two Confederate diplomats. However, London and Washington were able to smooth over the problem after Lincoln released the two.

In 1862, the British considered mediation—though even such an offer would have risked war with the U.S. Lord Palmerston reportedly read Uncle Tom’s Cabin three times[111] when deciding on this. The Union victory in the Battle of Antietam caused them to delay this decision. The Emancipation Proclamation further reinforced the political liability of supporting the Confederacy. Despite sympathy for the Confederacy, France's own seizure of Mexico ultimately deterred them from war with the Union. Confederate offers late in the war to end slavery in return for diplomatic recognition were not seriously considered by London or Paris.


Since the war's end, it has been arguable whether the South could have really won the war. A significant number of scholars believe that the Union held an insurmountable advantage over the Confederacy in terms of industrial strength and population. Confederate actions, they argue, could only delay defeat. Southern historian Shelby Foote expressed this view succinctly in Ken Burns's television series on the Civil War: "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."[112] The Confederacy sought to win independence by out-lasting Lincoln. However, after Atlanta fell and Lincoln defeated McClellan in the election of 1864, the 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.[113] 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 possible, but not inevitable. The American War of Independence and the Vietnam War are examples of wars won by the side with fewer numbers. Confederates did not need to invade and hold enemy territory in order 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 in order to win.[114]

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.[115]

Comparison of Union and CSA[116]
Union CSA
Total population 22,000,000 (71%) 9,000,000 (29%)
Free population 22,000,000 5,500,000
1860 Border state slaves 432,586 NA
1860 Southern slaves NA 3,500,000
Soldiers 2,200,000 (67%) 1,064,000 (33%)
Railroad miles 21,788 (71%) 8,838 (29%)
Manufactured items 90% 10%
Firearm production 97% 3%
Bales of cotton in 1860 Negligible 4,500,000
Bales of cotton in 1864 Negligible 300,000
Pre-war U.S. exports 30% 70%

The more industrialized economy of the North aided in the production of arms, munitions and supplies, as well as finances, and transportation. The table shows the relative advantage of the Union over the Confederate States of America (CSA) at the start of the war. The advantages widened rapidly during the war, as the Northern economy grew, and Confederate territory shrank and its economy weakened. The Union population was 22 million and the South 9 million in 1861; the Southern population included more than 3.5 million slaves and about 5.5 million whites, thus leaving the South's white population outnumbered by a ratio of more than four to one compared with that of the North. The disparity grew as the Union controlled more and more southern territory with garrisons, and cut off the trans-Mississippi part of the Confederacy. The Union at the start controlled over 80% of the shipyards, steamships, river boats, and the Navy. It augmented these by a massive shipbuilding program. This enabled the Union to control the river systems and to blockade the entire southern coastline.[117] Excellent railroad links between Union cities allowed for the quick and cheap movement of troops and supplies. Transportation was much slower and more difficult in the South which was unable to augment its much smaller rail system, repair damage, or even perform routine maintenance.[118] The failure of Davis to maintain positive and productive relationships with state governors (especially governor Joseph E. Brown of Georgia and governor Zebulon Vance of North Carolina) damaged his ability to draw on regional resources.[119] The Confederacy's "King Cotton" misperception of the world economy led to bad diplomacy, such as the refusal to ship cotton before the blockade started.[120] The Emancipation Proclamation enabled African-Americans, both free blacks and escaped slaves, to join the Union Army. About 190,000 volunteered,[121] further enhancing the numerical advantage the Union armies enjoyed over the Confederates, who did not dare emulate the equivalent manpower source for fear of fundamentally undermining the legitimacy of slavery. Emancipated slaves fought in several key battles in the last two years of the war.[122] European immigrants joined the Union Army in large numbers too. 23.4% of all Union soldiers were German-Americans; about 216,000 were born in Germany.[123]


Main article: Reconstruction

Northern leaders agreed that victory would require more than the end of fighting. It had to encompass the two war goals: Secession had to be totally repudiated, and all forms of slavery had to be eliminated. They disagreed sharply on the criteria for these goals. They also disagreed on the degree of federal control that should be imposed on the South, and the process by which Southern states should be reintegrated into the Union.

Reconstruction, which began early in the war and ended in 1877, involved a complex and rapidly changing series of federal and state policies. The long-term result came in the three "Civil War" amendments to the Constitution (the XIII, which abolished slavery, the XIV, which extended federal legal protections to citizens regardless of race, and the XV, which abolished racial restrictions on voting). Reconstruction ended in the different states at different times, the last three by the Compromise of 1877. For details on why the Fourteenth Amendment and Fifteenth Amendment were largely ineffective until the American Civil Rights movement, see Jim Crow laws, Ku Klux Klan, Plessy v. Ferguson, United States v. Cruikshank, Civil Rights Cases and Reconstruction.[124]


All slaves in the Confederacy were freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, which stipulated that slaves in Confederate-held areas, but not in border states or in Washington, D.C., were free. Slaves in the border states and Union-controlled parts of the South were freed by state action or by the Thirteenth Amendment, although slavery effectively ended in the U.S. in the spring of 1865. The full restoration of the Union was the work of a highly contentious postwar era known as Reconstruction. The war produced about 970,000 casualties (3% of the population), including about 620,000 soldier deaths—two-thirds by disease.[125] The war accounted for more casualties than all other U.S. wars combined.[126] The causes of the war, the reasons for its outcome, and even the name of the war itself are subjects of lingering controversy today. About 4 million black slaves were freed in 1865. 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.[127]

See also[]


  • List of American Civil War topics
  • Abolitionism
  • African Americans in the Civil War
  • German-Americans in the Civil War
  • Canada and the American Civil War
  • Casualties of the American Civil War
  • List of Medal of Honor recipients
  • Military history of the Confederate States
  • National Civil War Museum
  • Naming the American Civil War
  • New York Draft Riots
  • List of people associated with the American Civil War
  • List of wars involving the United States
  • Official Records of the American Civil War
  • Opposition to the American Civil War
  • Photography and photographers of the American Civil War
  • Rail transport in the American Civil War
  • U.S. Congress Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War
  • American Civil War spies
  • List of wars by death toll
  • Confederados

Cinema and television[]

Films about the war[]

  • The Birth of a Nation (1915)
  • The General (1927)
  • Gone with the Wind (1939)
  • Friendly Persuasion (1956)
  • Raintree County (1957)
  • The Horse Soldiers (1959)
  • Major Dundee (1965)
  • Shenandoah (film) (1965)
  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
  • The Blue and the Gray (1982)
  • Glory (1989)
  • Gettysburg (1993)
  • Andersonville (1996)
  • Ride with the Devil (1999)
  • Gods and Generals (2003)
  • Cold Mountain (2003)
  • North and South (TV miniseries) (Book I - November 3 1985 Book II - May 4 1986 Book III - February 27 1994)

Documentaries about the war[]

  • The Civil War (1990)


  1. 1.0 1.1 James McPherson, Drawn With the Sword, from the article Who Freed the Slaves? Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "WhoFreed" defined multiple times with different content
  2. Abraham Lincoln, House Divided Speech, Springfield, Illinois, June 16 1858
  3. Shelby Foote, The Civil War: Fort Sumter to Perryville, page 34
  4. Prevent, as far as possible, any of our friends from demoralizing themselves, and our cause, by entertaining propositions for compromise of any sort, on slavery extension. There is no possible compromise upon it, but which puts us under again, and leaves all our work to do over again. Whether it be a Mo. Line, or Eli Thayer's Pop. Sov. It is all the same. Let either be done, & immediately filibustering and extending slavery recommences. On that point hold firm, as with a chain of steel. - Abraham Lincoln to Elihu B. Washburne, December 13 1860
  5. Let there be no compromise on the question of extending slavery. If there be, all our labor is lost, and, ere long, must be done again. The dangerous ground—that into which some of our friends have a hankering to run—is Pop. Sov. Have none of it. Stand firm. The tug has to come, & better now, than any time hereafter. - Abraham Lincoln to Lyman Trumbull, December 10 1860
  6. James McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom, page 241 and 253
  7. Declarations of Causes for: Georgia, Adopted in January 29 1861; Mississippi, Adopted in 1861 (no exact date found); South Carolina, Adopted in December 24 1860; Texas, Adopted in February 2 1861
  8. The New Heresy, Southern Punch, editor John Wilford Overall, September 19 1864 is one of many references that indicate that the Republican hope of gradually ending slavery was the Southern fear. It said in part, "Our doctrine is this: WE ARE FIGHTING FOR INDEPENDENCE THAT OUR GREAT AND NECESSARY DOMESTIC INSTITUTION OF SLAVERY SHALL BE PRESERVED."
  9. Lincoln's Speech in Chicago, December 10 1856 in which he said, "We shall again be able not to declare, that 'all States as States, are equal,' nor yet that 'all citizens as citizens are equal,' but to renew the broader, better declaration, including both these and much more, that 'all men are created equal.'"; Also, Lincoln's Letter to Henry L. Pierce, April 6 1859
  10. Stampp, The Causes of the Civil War, pages 63–65 and pages 152-153
  11. Kenneth M. Stampp, The Imperiled Union: Essays on the Background of the Civil War (1981) p 198; Woodworth, ed. The American Civil War: A Handbook of Literature and Research (1996), 145 151 505 512 554 557 684; Richard Hofstadter, The Progressive Historians: Turner, Beard, Parrington (1969)
  12. James McPherson, "Antebellum Southern Exceptionalism: A New Look at an Old Question," Civil War History 29 (September 1983)
  13. 13.0 13.1 Allan Nevins, Ordeal of the Union: A House Dividing - 1852-1857, pages 267–269
  14. William E. Gienapp, "The Crisis of American Democracy: The Political System and the Coming of the Civil War." in Boritt ed. Why the Civil War Came 79–123
  15. McPherson, Battle Cry pages 88–91
  16. Most of her slave owners are "decent, honorable people, themselves victims" of that institution. Much of her description was based on personal observation, and the descriptions of Southerners; she herself calls them and Legree representatives of different types of masters.;Gerson, Harriet Beecher Stowe, p.68; Stowe, Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin (1953) p. 39
  17. James McPherson, Drawn With the Sword, page 11
  18. Fox Butterfield; All God's Children page 17
  19. David Potter, The Impending Crisis, page 485
  20. James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom 1988 p 242, 255, 282-83. Maps on page 101 (The Southern Economy) and page 236 (The Progress of Secession) are also relevant
  21. David Potter, The Impending Crisis, pages 503–505
  22. Selected Statistics on Slavery in the United States. Archived from the original on 1998-12-03. Retrieved on 2007-10-14.
  23. Otto H. Olsen (December 2004). Historians and the extent of slave ownership in the Southern United States. Civil War History. Southernhistory.net. Retrieved on 2007-11-23.
  24. James McPherson, Drawn with the Sword, page 15
  25. David Potter, The Impending Crisis, page 275
  26. First Lincoln Douglas Debate at Ottawa, Illinois August 21 1858
  27. Abraham Lincoln, Speech at New Haven, Conn., March 6 1860
  28. McPherson, Battle Cry, page 195
  29. John Townsend, The Doom of Slavery in the Union, its Safety out of it, October 29 1860
  30. McPherson, Battle Cry, page 243
  31. David Potter, The Impending Crisis, page 461
  32. William C. Davis, Look Away, pages 130–140
  33. William W. Freehling, The Road to Disunion, page 42
  34. Winkler, E. A Declaration of the Causes which Impel the State of Texas to Secede from the Federal Union.. Journal of the Secession Convention of Texas. Archived from the original on 2000-09-25. Retrieved on 2007-10-16.
  35. Winkler, E. A Declaration of the Causes which Impel the State of Texas to Secede from the Federal Union.. Journal of the Secession Convention of Texas. Retrieved on 2007-10-16.
  36. Speech of E.S. Dargan, in the Convention of Alabama, January 11, 1861
  37. Schlesinger Age of Jackson, p.190
  38. David Brion Davis, Inhuman Bondage (2006) p 197, 409; Stanley Harrold, The Abolitionists and the South, 1831–1861 (1995) p. 62; Jane H. and William H. Pease, "Confrontation and Abolition in the 1850s" Journal of American History (1972) 58(4): 923–937.
  39. David Potter, The Impending Crisis, pages 356–384
  40. Eric Foner. Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party Before the Civil War (1970), p. 9
  41. James McPherson, The Negro's Civil War, page 3
  42. President James Buchanan, Message of December 8 1860
  43. McPherson, Battle Cry, pages 284–287
  44. McPherson, Battle Cry, pages 290–293
  45. McPherson, Battle Cry, pages 293–297
  46. Richard O. Curry "A House Divided: A Study of Statehood Politics and the Copperhead Movement in West Virginia" Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1964, pg. 49, county map of Ordinance of Secession vote of May 23, 1861, and Statehood vote pgs. 149-50
  47. West Virginia Statehood
  48. Curry's "A House Divided", Randall's "Civil War and Reconstruction" pgs. 236–242
  49. State of Virginia v. State of West Virginia, 78 U.S. 39 (1870)
  50. Bastress, R.M. Virginia v. West Virginia. The West Virginia Encyclopedia.
  51. Mark Neely, Confederate Bastille: Jefferson Davis and Civil Liberties 1993 p. 10–11
  52. Gabor Boritt, ed. War Comes Again (1995) p 247
  53. McPherson, Battle Cry, pages 234–266
  54. Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address, Monday, March 4 1861
  55. Lincoln, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861
  56. 56.0 56.1 David Potter, The Impending Crisis, pages 572–573
  57. James McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom, page 274
  58. See the account at
  59. McPherson, Battle Cry, pages 276–307
  60. McPherson, Battle Cry, pages 333–335
  61. McPherson, Battle Cry, pages 378–380
  62. Heidler, 1651–53
  63. McPherson, Battle Cry, pages 373–377
  64. McPherson, Battle Cry, pages 339–345
  65. James McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom, page 342
  66. McPherson, Battle Cry, pages 424–427
  67. 67.0 67.1 McPherson, Battle Cry, pages 538–544
  68. McPherson, Battle Cry, pages 528–533
  69. McPherson, Battle Cry, pages 543–545
  70. McPherson, Battle Cry, pages 557–558
  71. McPherson, Battle Cry, pages 571–574
  72. McPherson, Battle Cry, pages 639–645
  73. McPherson, Battle Cry, pages 653–663
  74. James McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom, page 664
  75. McPherson, Battle Cry, pages 404–405
  76. McPherson, Battle Cry, pages 418–420
  77. McPherson, Battle Cry, pages 419–420
  78. McPherson, Battle Cry, pages 480–483
  79. McPherson, Battle Cry, pages 405–413
  80. McPherson, Battle Cry, pages 637–638
  81. McPherson, Battle Cry, pages 677–680
  82. Civil War in Missouri Facts (1998). Retrieved on 2007-10-16.
  83. Mark E. Neely Jr.; "Was the Civil War a Total War?" Civil War History, Vol. 50, 2004 pp 434+
  84. McPherson, Battle Cry, pages 724–735
  85. James McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom, pages 741-742
  86. McPherson, Battle Cry, pages 778–779
  87. McPherson, Battle Cry, pages 773–775
  88. James McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom, pages 774–776
  89. McPherson, Battle Cry, pages 812–815
  90. McPherson, Battle Cry, pages 825–830
  91. McPherson, Battle Cry, pages 846–847
  92. McPherson, Battle Cry, pages 848–850
  93. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom page 495
  94. McPherson, Battle Cry page 355, 494–6, quote from George Julian on 495.
  95. Lincoln's letter to O. H. Browning, September 22 1861
  96. Stephen B. Oates, Abraham Lincoln: The Man Behind the Myths, page 106
  97. Images of America: Altoona, by Sr. Anne Francis Pulling, 2001, 10.
  98. Letter to Greeley, August 22 1862
  99. Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address, March 4 1865
  100. Lincoln's Letter to A. G. Hodges, April 4 1864
  101. James McPherson, The War that Never Goes Away
  102. Bruce Catton, Never Call Retreat, page 335
  103. James McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom, pages 791–798
  104. McPherson, Battle Cry, pages 557–558 and 563
  105. Harper, Douglas (2003). SLAVERY in DELAWARE. Retrieved on 2007-10-16.
  106. McPherson, Battle Cry, pages 840–842
  107. U. S. Census of 1860
  108. James McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom, pages 546–557
  109. McPherson, Battle Cry 386
  110. Allen Nevins, War for the Union 1862–1863, pages 263–264
  111. Stephen B. Oates, The Approaching Fury: Voices of the Storm 1820–1861, page 125
  112. Ward 1990 p 272
  113. McPherson, Battle Cry, pages 771–772
  114. James McPherson, Why did the Confederacy Lose?
  115. Fehrenbacher, Don (2004). Lincoln's Wartime Leadership: The First Hundred Days. University of Illinois. Archived from the original on 2006-05-13. Retrieved on 2007-10-16.
  116. Railroad mileage is from: Chauncey Depew (ed.), One Hundred Years of American Commerce 1795–1895, p. 111; For other data see: 1860 US census and Carter, Susan B., ed. The Historical Statistics of the United States: Millennial Edition (5 vols), 2006.
  117. McPherson 313–16, 392–3
  118. Heidler, David Stephen, ed. Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: A Political, Social, and Military History (2002), 1591–98
  119. McPherson 432–44
  120. Heidler, David Stephen, ed. Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: A Political, Social, and Military History (2002), 598–603
  121. Black Regiments. Retrieved on 2007-10-16.
  122. John Hope Franklin, The Emancipation Proclamation (1965)
  123. Faust, page 523. Quoting from an 1869 ethnicity study by B. A. Gould of the United States Sanitary Commission.
  124. Eric Foner, Reconstruction - America's Unfinished Revolution - 1863-1877, Harper & Row, 1988
  125. Nofi, Al (2001-06-13). Statistics on the War's Costs. Louisiana State University. Retrieved on 2007-10-14.
  126. James McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom, page xix (from the introduction by C. Vann Woodward as of 1988)
  127. Lambert, Craig (May–June 2001). The Deadliest War. Harvard Magazine. Retrieved on 2007-10-14.


* Beringer, Richard E., Archer Jones, and Herman Hattaway, Why the South Lost the Civil War (1986) influential analysis of factors; The Elements of Confederate Defeat: Nationalism, War Aims, and Religion (1988), abridged version
  • Catton, Bruce, The Civil War, American Heritage, 1960, ISBN 0-8281-0305-4, illustrated narrative
  • Davis, William C. The Imperiled Union, 1861–1865 3v (1983)
  • Donald, David et al. The Civil War and Reconstruction (latest edition 2001); 700 page survey
  • Eicher, David J., The Longest Night: A Military History of the Civil War, (2001), ISBN 0-684-84944-5.
  • Fellman, Michael et al. This Terrible War: The Civil War and its Aftermath (2003), 400 page survey
  • Foote, Shelby. The Civil War: A Narrative (3 volumes), (1974), ISBN 0-394-74913-8. Highly detailed narrative covering all fronts
  • McPherson, James M. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (1988), 900 page survey; Pulitzer prize
  • James M. McPherson. Ordeal By Fire: The Civil War and Reconstruction (2nd ed 1992), textbook
  • Nevins, Allan. Ordeal of the Union, an 8-volume set (1947–1971). the most detailed political, economic and military narrative; by Pulitzer Prize winner
    • 1. Fruits of Manifest Destiny, 1847–1852; 2. A House Dividing, 1852–1857; 3. Douglas, Buchanan, and Party Chaos, 1857–1859; 4. Prologue to Civil War, 1859–1861; 5. The Improvised War, 1861–1862; 6. War Becomes Revolution, 1862–1863; 7. The Organized War, 1863–1864; 8. The Organized War to Victory, 1864–1865
  • Rhodes, James Ford. History of the Civil War, 1861–1865 (1918), Pulitzer Prize; a short version of his 5-volume history
  • Ward, Geoffrey C. The Civil War (1990), based on PBS series by Ken Burns; visual emphasis
  • Weigley, Russell Frank. A Great Civil War: A Military and Political History, 1861–1865 (2004); primarily military
Reference books and bibliographies
* Blair, Jayne E. The Essential Civil War: A Handbook to the Battles, Armies, Navies And Commanders (2006)
  • Carter, Alice E. and Richard Jensen. The Civil War on the Web: A Guide to the Very Best Sites- 2nd ed. (2003)
  • Current, Richard N., et al. eds. Encyclopedia of the Confederacy (1993) (4 Volume set; also 1 vol abridged version) (ISBN 0-13-275991-8)
  • Faust, Patricia L. (ed.) Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (1986) (ISBN 0-06-181261-7) 2000 short entries
  • Esposito, Vincent J., West Point Atlas of American Wars online edition 1995
  • Heidler, David Stephen, ed. Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: A Political, Social, and Military History (2002), 1600 entries in 2700 pages in 5 vol or 1-vol editions
  • Resch, John P. et al., Americans at War: Society, Culture and the Homefront vol 2: 1816–1900 (2005)
  • Tulloch, Hugh. The Debate on the American Civil War Era (1999), historiography
  • Wagner, Margaret E. Gary W. Gallagher, and Paul Finkelman, eds. The Library of Congress Civil War Desk Reference (2002)
  • Woodworth, Steven E. ed. American Civil War: A Handbook of Literature and Research (1996) (ISBN 0-313-29019-9), 750 pages of historiography and bibliography

* American National Biography 24 vol (1999), essays by scholars on all major figures; online and hardcover editions at many libraries
  • McHenry, Robert ed. Webster's American Military Biographies (1978)
  • Warner, Ezra J., Generals in Blue: Lives of the Union Commanders, (1964), ISBN 0-8071-0822-7
  • Warner, Ezra J., Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders, (1959), ISBN 0-8071-0823-5
* Hess, Earl J. The Union Soldier in Battle: Enduring the Ordeal of Combat (1997)
  • McPherson, James. For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War (1998)
  • Wiley, Bell Irvin. The Life of Johnny Reb: The Common Soldier of the Confederacy (1962) (ISBN 0-8071-0475-2)
  • Wiley, Bell Irvin. Life of Billy Yank: The Common Soldier of the Union (1952) (ISBN 0-8071-0476-0)
Primary sources
* Commager, Henry Steele (ed.). The Blue and the Gray. The Story of the Civil War as Told by Participants. (1950), excerpts from primary sources
  • Hesseltine, William B. ed.; The Tragic Conflict: The Civil War and Reconstruction (1962), excerpts from primary sources

External links[]

Template:American conflicts

Theaters of the American Civil War
Union blockadeEasternWesternLower SeaboardTrans-MississippiPacific Coast