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<div class="center"> <b>Status of the states, 1861.</b> </div> <div class="legend"> <span class="legend-color"> </span> States that seceded before April 15, 1861 </div> <div class="legend"> <span class="legend-color"> </span> States that seceded after April 15, 1861 </div> <div class="legend"> <span class="legend-color"> </span> Union states that permitted slavery </div> <div class="legend"> <span class="legend-color"> </span> Union states that banned slavery </div> <div class="legend"> <span class="legend-color"> </span> Territories </div>
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

The American Civil War was a civil war in the United States fought from 1861 to 1865.

and guaranteeing civil rights to the freed slaves.


In the 1860 presidential election, Republicans, led by Abraham Lincoln, supported banning slavery in all the U.S. territories, something the Southern states viewed as a violation of their constitutional rights and as being part of a plan to eventually abolish slavery.

Hostilities began on April 12, 1861, when Confederate forces fired upon Fort Sumter.

The American Civil War was one of the earliest true industrial wars.

Causes of secession

The causes of the Civil War were complex and have been controversial since the war began.

Contemporary actors, the Union and Confederate leadership and fighting soldiers on both sides believed that slavery caused the Civil War.

Slavery was illegal in the North, having been outlawed in the late 18th and early 19th century.

Sectionalism efers to the different economies, social structure, customs and political values of the North and South.

Historians have debated whether economic differences between the industrial Northeast and the agricultural South helped cause the war.

Historically, southern slave-holding states, because of their low cost manual labor, had little perceived need for mechanization, and supported having the right to sell cotton and purchase manufactured goods from any nation.

The Democrats in Congress, controlled by Southerners, wrote the tariff laws in the 1830s, 1840s, and 1850s, and kept reducing rates so that the 1857 rates were the lowest since 1816.

The South argued that each state had the right to secede–leave the Union–at any time, that the Constitution was a "compact" or agreement among the states.

Between 1803 and 1854, the United States achieved a vast expansion of territory through purchase, negotiation, and conquest.

With the conquest of northern Mexico west to California in 1848, slaveholding interests looked forward to expanding into these lands and perhaps Cuba and Central America as well.

By 1860, four doctrines had emerged to answer the question of federal control in the territories, and they all claimed they were sanctioned by the Constitution, implicitly or explicitly.

The second doctrine of Congressional preeminence, championed by Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party, insisted that the Constitution did not bind legislators to a policy of balance – that slavery could be excluded in a territory as it was done in the Northwest Ordinance at the discretion of Congress, thus Congress could restrict human bondage, but never establish it.

Senator Stephen A. Douglas proclaimed the doctrine of territorial or "popular" sovereignty – which asserted that the settlers in a territory had the same rights as states in the Union to establish or disestablish slavery as a purely local matter.

The fourth theory was advocated by Mississippi Senator Jefferson Davis, one of state sovereignty ("states' rights"), also known as the "Calhoun doctrine", named after the South Carolinian political theorist and statesman John C. Calhoun.

Beginning in the American Revolution and accelerating after the War of 1812, the people of the United States grew in their sense of country as an important example to the world of a national republic of political liberty and personal rights.

Nationalism was a powerful force in the early 19th century, with famous spokesmen such as Andrew Jackson and Daniel Webster.

Perceived insults to Southern collective honor included the enormous popularity of[[LINK|lang_en|Uncle_Tom%2527s_Cabin|Uncle Tom's Cabin]] (1852) and the actions of abolitionist John Brown in trying to incite a slave rebellion in 1859.

While the South moved toward a Southern nationalism, leaders in the North were also becoming more nationally minded, and rejected any notion of splitting the Union.

The election of Abraham Lincoln in November 1860 was the final trigger for secession.

Outbreak of the war

The election of Lincoln caused the legislature of South Carolina to call a state convention to consider secession.

Among the ordinances of secession passed by the individual states, those of three – Texas, Alabama, and Virginia – specifically mentioned the plight of the 'slaveholding states' at the hands of northern abolitionists.

These states agreed to form a new federal government, the Confederate States of America, on February 4, 1861.

As Southerners resigned their seats in the Senate and the House, Republicans were able 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), [666666] the National Banking Act and the authorization of United States Notes by the Legal Tender Act of 1862.

On December 18, 1860, the Crittenden Compromise was proposed to re-establish the Missouri Compromise line by constitutionally banning slavery in territories to the north of the line while guaranteeing it to the south.

On March 4, 1861, Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as President.

The South sent delegations to Washington and offered to pay for the federal properties and enter into a peace treaty with the United States.

Fort Sumter was located in the middle of the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina, where the U.S.

The attack on Fort Sumter rallied the North to the defense of American nationalism.

However, much of the North's attitude was based on the false belief that only a minority of Southerners were actually in favor of secession and that there were large numbers of southern Unionists that could be counted on.

Lincoln called on all the states to send forces to recapture the fort and other federal properties.

Four states in the middle and upper South had repeatedly rejected Confederate overtures, but now Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, and North Carolina refused to send forces against their neighbors, declared their secession, and joined the Confederacy.

Maryland Delaware, Missouri, and Kentucky were slave states that were opposed to both secession and coercing the South.

Maryland ad numerous anti-Lincoln officials who tolerated anti-army rioting in Baltimore and the burning of bridges, both aimed at hindering the passage of troops to the South.

In Missouri, an elected convention on secession voted decisively to remain within the Union.

Kentucky did not secede; for a time, it declared itself neutral.

After Virginia's secession, a Unionist government in Wheeling asked 48 counties to vote on an ordinance to create a new state on October 24, 1861.

A Unionist secession attempt occurred in East Tennessee, but was suppressed by the Confederacy, which arrested over 3,000 men suspected of being loyal to the Union.


The Civil War was a contest marked by the ferocity and frequency of battle.

As the first seven states began organizing a Confederacy in Montgomery, the entire U.S.

In the first year of the war, both sides had far more volunteers than they could effectively train and equip.

When the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect in January 1863, ex-slaves were energetically recruited by the states, and used to meet the state quotas.

In both the North and South, the draft laws were highly unpopular.

From a tiny frontier force in 1860, the Union and Confederate armies had grown into the "largest and most efficient armies in the world" within a few years.

Perman and Taylor (2010) say that historians are of two minds on why millions of men seemed so eager to fight, suffer and die over four years:

At the start of the civil war, a system of paroles operated.

The small U.S. Navy of 1861 was rapidly enlarged to 6,000 officers and 45,000 men in 1865, with 671 vessels, having a tonnage of 510,396.

By early 1861, General Winfield Scott had devised the Anaconda Plan to win the war with as little bloodshed as possible.

In April 1861, Lincoln announced the Union blockade of all Southern ports; commercial ships could not get insurance and regular traffic ended.

The Civil War occurred during the early stages of the industrial revolution and subsequently many naval innovations emerged during this time, most notably the advent of the ironclad warship.

The Confederacy experimented with a submarine, which did not work well, [666666] and with building an ironclad ship, the CSS Virginia, which was based on rebuilding a sunken Union ship, the Merrimack.

The Confederacy lost the Virginia when the ship was scuttled to prevent capture, and the Union built many copies of the Monitor.

British investors built small, fast, steam-driven blockade runners that traded arms and luxuries brought in from Britain through Bermuda, Cuba, and the Bahamas in return for high-priced cotton.

Surdam argues that the blockade was a powerful weapon that eventually ruined the Southern economy, at the cost of few lives in combat.

To fight an offensive war, the Confederacy purchased ships from Britain, converted them to warships, and raided American merchant ships in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

The 1862 Union strategy called for simultaneous advances along four axis.

Ulysses Grant sed river transport and Andrew Foote's gunboats of the Western Flotilla to threaten the Confederacy's "Gibraltar of the West" at Columbus, Kentucky.

In addition to ocean-going warships coming up the Mississippi, the Union Navy used timberclads, tinclads, and armored gunboats.

Naval forces assisted Grant in his long, complex campaign that resulted in the surrender of Vicksburg in July 1863, and full Union control of the Mississippi soon after.

In one of the first highly visible battles, a march by Union troops under the command of Maj. Gen. Irvin McDowell on the Confederate forces near Washington was repulsed.


Emboldened by Second Bull Run, the Confederacy made its first invasion of the North.

When the cautious McClellan failed to follow up on Antietam, he was replaced by Maj.

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 in May 1863.

While the Confederate forces had numerous successes in the Eastern Theater, they were defeated many times in the West.

The Mississippi was opened to Union traffic to the southern border of Tennessee with the taking of Island No. 10 and New Madrid, Missouri, and then Memphis, Tennessee.

General Braxton Bragg's second Confederate invasion of Kentucky ended with a meaningless victory over Maj.

The one clear Confederate victory in the West was the Battle of Chickamauga.

The Union's key strategist and tactician in the West was 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; and the Battle of Vicksburg, which cemented Union control of the Mississippi River and is considered one of the turning points of the war.

Extensive guerrilla warfare characterized the trans-Mississippi region, as the Confederacy lacked the troops and the logistics to support regular armies that could challenge Union control.

By 1864, these violent activities harmed the nationwide anti-war movement organizing against the re-election of Lincoln.

Numerous small-scale military actions south and west of Missouri sought to control Indian Territory and New Mexico Territory for the Union.

After the fall of Vicksburg in July 1863, General Kirby Smith in Texas was informed by Jefferson Davis that he could expect no further help from east of the Mississippi River.

At the beginning of 1864, Lincoln made Grant commander of all Union armies.

Grant's army set out on the Overland Campaign with the goal of drawing Lee into a defense of Richmond, where they would attempt to pin down and destroy the Confederate army.

Grant finally found a commander, General Philip Sheridan, aggressive enough to prevail in the Valley Campaigns of 1864.

Meanwhile, Sherman maneuvered from Chattanooga to Atlanta, defeating Confederate Generals Joseph E. Johnston and John Bell Hood along the way.

Leaving Atlanta, and his base of supplies, Sherman's army marched with an unknown destination, laying waste to about 20 percent of the farms in Georgia in his " March to the Sea".

Lee's army, thinned by desertion and casualties, was now much smaller than Grant's.

Initially, Lee did not intend to surrender, but planned to regroup at the village of Appomattox Court House, where supplies were to be waiting, and then continue the war.


Though the Confederacy hoped that Britain and France would join them against the Union, this was never likely, and so they instead tried to bring Britain and France in as mediators.

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.

Lincoln's foreign policy was deficient in 1861 in terms of appealing to European public opinion.


War loomed in late 1861 between the U.S.

The Union victory in the Battle of Antietam caused them to delay this decision.

Union victory and aftermath

The causes of the war, the reasons for its outcome, and even the name of the war itself are subjects of lingering contention today.

Historians have debated whether the Confederacy could have won the war.

Confederates did not need to invade and hold enemy territory to win, but only needed to fight a defensive war to convince the North that the cost of winning was too high.

Many scholars argue that the Union held an insurmountable long-term advantage over the Confederacy in industrial strength and population.

A minority view among historians is that the Confederacy lost because, as E. Merton Coulter put it, "people did not will hard enough and long enough to win." Marxist historian Armstead Robinson agrees, pointing to a class conflict in the Confederates army between the slave owners and the larger number of non-owners.

Also important were Lincoln's eloquence in rationalizing the national purpose and his skill in keeping the border states committed to the Union cause.

Historian Don Doyle has argued that the Union victory had a major impact on the course of world history.

The war produced at least 1,030,000 casualties (3 percent of the population), including about 620,000 soldier deaths—two-thirds by disease, and 50,000 civilians.

Based on 1860 census figures, 8 percent of all white males aged 13 to 43 died in the war, including 6 percent in the North and 18 percent in the South.

Union army dead, amounting to 15 percent of the over two million who served, was broken down as follows: [666666]

  • 110,070 killed in action (67,000) or died of wounds (43,000).
  • 199,790 died of disease (75 percent was due to the war, the remainder would have occurred in civilian life anyway)
  • 24,866 died in Confederate prison camps
  • 9,058 killed by accidents or drowning
  • 15,741 other/unknown deaths
  • 359,528 total dead

In addition there were 4,523 deaths in the Navy (2,112 in battle) and 460 in the Marines (148 in battle).

Black troops made up 10 percent of the Union death toll, they amounted to 15 percent of disease deaths but less than 3 percent of those killed in battle.

Confederate records compiled by historian William F.

While the figures of 360,000 army deaths for the Union and 260,000 for the Confederacy remained commonly cited, they are incomplete.

Analyzing the number of dead by using census data to calculate the deviation of the death rate of men of fighting age from the norm suggests that at least 627,000 and at most 888,000, but most likely 761,000 soldiers, died in the war.

Losses can be viewed as high considering that the defeat of Mexico in 1846–48 resulted in fewer than 2,000 soldiers killed in battle, and roughly 13,000 killed overall.

The wealth amassed in slaves and slavery for the Confederacy's 3.5 million blacks effectively ended when Union armies arrived; they were nearly all freed by the Emancipation Proclamation.

The war destroyed much of the wealth that had existed in the South.

While not all Southerners saw themselves as fighting to preserve slavery, most of the officers and over a third of the rank and file in Lee's army had close family ties to slavery.

The Emancipation Proclamation enabled African-Americans, both free blacks and escaped slaves, to join the Union Army.

During the Civil War, sentiment concerning slaves, enslavement and emancipation in the United States was divided.

At first, Lincoln reversed attempts at emancipation by Secretary of War Simon Cameron and Generals John C. Frémont (in Missouri) and David Hunter (in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida) to keep the loyalty of the border states and the War Democrats.

In September 1862, the Battle of Antietam provided this opportunity, and the subsequent War Governors' Conference added support for the proclamation.

Lincoln's moderate approach succeeded in inducing border states, War Democrats and emancipated slaves to fight for the Union.

Since the Emancipation Proclamation was based on the President's war powers, it only included territory held by Confederates at the time.

In[[LINK|lang_en|Texas_v._White|Texas v. White]], 74 U.S. (1869) the United States Supreme Court ruled that Texas had remained a state ever since it first joined the Union, despite claims that it joined the Confederate States; the court further held that the Constitution did not permit states to unilaterally secede from the United States, and that the ordinances of secession, and all the acts of the legislatures within seceding states intended to give effect to such ordinances, were "absolutely null", under the constitution.

Reconstruction began during the war, with the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863 and continued until 1877.

President Johnson took a lenient approach and saw the achievement of the main war goals as realized in 1865, when each ex-rebel state repudiated secession and ratified the Thirteenth Amendment.

Memory and historiography

The Civil War is one of the central events in American collective memory.

Professional historians have paid much more attention to the causes of the war, than to the war itself.

In sharp contrast, Black preachers interpreted the Civil War as:

Memory of the war in the white South crystallized in the myth of the "Lost Cause", shaping regional identity and race relations for generations.

The interpretation of the Civil War presented by Charles A. Beard and Mary R.

The Beards themselves abandoned their interpretation by the 1940s and it became defunct among historians in the 1950s, when scholars shifted to an emphasis on slavery.

The American Civil War has been commemorated in many capacities ranging from the reenactment of battles, to statues and memorial halls erected, to films being produced, to stamps and coins with Civil War themes being issued, all of which helped to shape public memory.

In works of culture and art

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