The Civil War is one of the most pivotal events in the United States' historical consciousness. Though the 1776 revolution led to the creation of America, the Civil War would determine the country's future.
The violent conflict clarified whether the US was susceptible to ideological fragmentation or if the country could flourish under a sovereign central government.
It also defined the country's position on equal rights for the masses, including right-to-liberty and freedom.
The North's victory over the South united America and abolished a slavery system that had kept the nation divided.
However, these accomplishments came at the cost of about 620,000 lives. The human losses from the American Civil War equal the losses from the rest of the wars the US fought.
Unquestionably, the war was the most significant military conflict in the world between 1815 – end-of-Napoleonic-Wars – to 1914, the beginning of World War I.
American Civil War And The Basic Facts
The four years of the Civil War shaped American society as we now know it. Nevertheless, it remains among the most misinterpreted events in American history.
Therefore, we have rounded up these five rudimentary facts about the American Civil War to provide you with a clear and thorough understanding:
The US Civil War Was A Fight Between The South And The North From 1861 to 1865
The United States Civil War was a protracted conflict between the Union and the Confederacy — a collection of eleven Southern States that broke away from the Union between 1860 and 1865.
The war started due to the longstanding disagreement between the South and the North over the institution of slavery.
It all began with the Confederacy electing Jefferson Davis, the former Secretary of War and a US senator, as their leader against the elected American President, Abraham Lincoln. This act signaled their intent for war.
After four gruesome years of war, the US successfully defeated the Confederacy and then re-integrated the rebellion states into the Union with the acceptance of the 13th amendment.
Abraham Lincoln Was America's President During Civil War
Abraham Lincoln was raised in a small shack in Kentucky. Before formally entering politics in the 1840s, he worked as a lawyer and a shopkeeper.
Alarmed by Lincoln's anti-slavery stance, seven southern states parted from the Union as soon as he won the 1860 election. Four more states followed in 1861.
At that crucial moment, Abraham Lincoln – the 16th US President – declared nationwide that he would make every necessary effort to keep America intact.
Therefore, he didn't recognize the Confederacy and their selection of a separate president. Consequently, the American Civil War broke out in 1861.
In 1863, Abraham Lincoln issued an executive order known as the "Emancipation Proclamation." It granted freedom to all slaves in the country.
In 1864, Abraham Lincoln won his second term as the US President, and he made efforts to seek a peace agreement with Southern states. Since being elected, his initiatives showed his willingness to end the battle.
Although he re-united America, won the war, and ensured the end of slavery, a Southern sympathizer assassinated him in 1865 — arguably, for precisely these reasons.
Issues Of Central Power And The Institution Of Slavery Divided The US
Slavery was mainly practiced in the South till the middle of the 19th century. In various Southern states, slaves worked as artisans, house servants, cotton pickers, and farmhands.
And it was this workforce that bankrolled their economy. More specifically, chattel slavery – a practice that gave ownership of a slave's offspring to the primary owner – provided the basis of the predominantly agricultural economy of the South.
Even though the dominant public opinion in the South and the North was that the institution of slavery was immoral, it still lingered on
This practice formed an irreparable divide between the two sides on social and political fronts. Southerners soon became wary of the growing anti-slavery pressure by the abolitionists and politicians from the North, including John Brown, "the zealot."
They claimed that the central government did not have the authority to abolish slavery, push infrastructure improvements, affect the westward expansion, or impose taxes against the wishes of state governments.
On the contrary, the Northern people felt the Southerners wielded excessive power in both the Senate and the House and would never yield.
Nevertheless, from the early days of the US through the pre-war years, politicians from both sides compromised to keep the country united — something the Confederacy was moving against.
Some of these compromises include the Missouri Compromise, Compromise of 1850, Kansas-Nebraska Act, etc., all eventually failed to keep the country intact from war and secession.
The years of disagreements led to the ultimate failure of Abraham Lincoln and James Buchanan's central governments.
Eleven states from the South left the Union and formed the Confederacy or "Confederate States of America." These were Mississippi, South Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, Virginia, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina.
Which Battle Was The Civil War's Bloodiest Battle?
No matter who won, the US Civil War wreaked havoc on both sides, but the Confederacy was utterly devastated. Although they had fewer men than the North, the sheer mobilization of forces meant fewer Southerners were preparing food resources, and more were consuming them.
Therefore, to refill their supply caches and overcome the pressure at Vicksburg, the South under Robert Lee's leadership launched a massive invasion campaign of the Northern states in 1863.
With their depleted resources, the South was defeated by Union General Meade's forces. The fierce, gory battle was fought for three days near Gettysburg and left about 51,000 slaughtered, injured, or missing-in-action (MIA).
Although Southern forces successfully gathered enough supplies, they failed to protect Vicksburg from the Northern troops in 1863.
Most tenured historians call the Northern victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg as the decisive moments in the American Civil War.
In 1863 right after these monumental victories, US President Abraham Lincoln went to Pennsylvania and delivered his famous Gettysburg address, expressing staunch commitment to protect the Union.
The North won the United States Civil War
After four brutal years of war and conflict, in 1865, the principal armies of the Confederacy surrendered at Bennett Place.
The US Civil War left the Southern states bankrupt, with a devastated infrastructure: no farms, roads, or factories. Perhaps, the most monumental loss was that of an entire generation of men.
Being the bloodiest battle ever to be fought on US soil, over 620,000 people were killed in action in the United States Civil War.
Many historians believe Abraham Lincoln's unshakeable stance against slavery and division saw the Union achieve victory. This attitude gave them a resounding victory — one that was unfortunately tainted by the blood of Americans.
Every state that seceded was seized by the Union armies and rebuilt. Slowly and gradually, these states were readmitted to the Union, precisely in twenty challenging and complicated years famously called the "Reconstruction Era."
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American Civil War is undoubtedly the turning point in the nation's history that should be read and understood carefully, especially if you have taken an American history course in your school or college.
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