American Civil War
||The English used in this article may not be easy for everybody to understand. (February 2012)|
The American Civil War (1861–1865) was a civil war in the United States of America. It is sometimes called "The War Between the States". Eleven Southern states which allowed slaves wanted to separate from the United States of America. They formed the Confederate States of America, also called "the Confederacy". They wanted the Confederate States of America to be its own country, separate and independent from the United States. Jefferson Davis was chosen as president of the Confederacy. The U.S government and the states that remained loyal to it were called the Union. The Union is sometimes called "the North". Every state where slavery was illegal supported the Union. Most of these states were in the North. Five states where slavery was legal also supported the Union. These were called the "border states". War began when Confederate forces seized U.S. federal forts in Confederate states.
The Republican Party, led by Abraham Lincoln, won the 1860 presidential election. The Republican Party was against spreading slavery to places where it was not already legal. Seven Southern states declared their independence from the Union after the election, even before Lincoln became president on March 4, 1861. The outgoing U.S. president, James Buchanan, said this was against the law, but did nothing to stop them. Lincoln and his Republican party thought secession to be a rebellion. No country ever recognized the Confederacy as its own, separate nation.
Fighting started when the Confederates bombarded Fort Sumter, a Union Army fort. The war was fought mostly in the South. Because both sides were American, the war caused more American deaths than almost any other war in U.S. history. After four years of fighting, the Union won the war. After the Union won, slavery was made illegal everywhere in the United States.
The Confederate States claimed that they owned all forts and other federal buildings in the South. Fort Sumter was in South Carolina - one of the Confederate States. However, the fort was controlled by the Union. On April 12, 1861, Confederate forces attacked the fort. They forced the Union soldiers inside the fort to surrender (give up). After this, President Lincoln asked every Union state for volunteers for the Union Army. He asked these volunteers to help take back the captured forts, defend Washington, D.C., and put down the rebellion. Quickly, four more southern slave states joined with the Confederates instead of supplying forces to fight them.
|This section needs more information. (December 2009)|
The American Civil War was fought in three important areas: the Eastern area, which was east of the Appalachian Mountains; the Western area, which was between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River; and west of the Mississippi River.
Both the United States and the Confederacy had their capital cities. Washington D.C. has always been the capital of the U.S. When the South seceded, it named Richmond, Virginia as the capital of the Confederate States. These two cities are only about 90 miles apart. In this area, one of the Confederacy's most important military leader was Robert E. Lee. He led the Confederate military in Virginia from 1862 until the end of the war. Even though the North had more soldiers than the South, Lee and his troops won many battles. Many times, Lee's actions kept the Confederate troops from being badly beaten or destroyed by the Union troops. The North was not able to capture Richmond until the end of the war in 1865.
In the western area, a lot of the fighting happened along the Mississippi River. Ulysses S. Grant was an important Union military leader in the west. (He later became President.) Grant won many battles along the Mississippi. One of the earliest battles that happened in the west was the Battle of Shiloh. The North won control of almost all of the cities on the Mississippi River. However, the Confederacy still held Vicksburg, an important city and fort. On the 4th of July, 1863, after a long siege, Vicksburg surrendered to Grant. This was one of the turning points in the war, because it divided the Confederacy into two parts.
There were also battles west of the Mississippi River, in the area called the Trans-Mississippi. For example, two important battles were the Battle of Wilson's Creek and the Battle of Pea Ridge. After the Union captured Vicksburg, this area became separated from the rest of the South. Other battles happened in this area after the capture of Vicksburg.
Another turning point happened around the same time, in the east. After winning some battles, General Lee decided to invade (or send soldiers into) the North. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia went into Pennsylvania. The Confederate Army met the Union Army near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The two armies fought the Battle of Gettysburg. This battle lasted for three days: July 1-3, 1863. More Americans died at Gettysburg than in any other Civil War battle. The Union won the battle. This stopped the Confederate Army's invasion into the North. Lee and his troops were pushed back into the South.
After this, President Lincoln decided that Grant was his best general. He put Grant in control of all the Union armies. Lincoln also made William T. Sherman the general in charge of the Union troops in Georgia. Grant led many attacks in Lee's army. Meanwhile, Sherman burned Atlanta and Savannah. He did this to try to make the South weaker and to make it harder for Southern people to supply the Confederate Army with food and other things. Lee held out as long as he could. But eventually he decided that he had too few soldiers to keep on fighting the Union, which had more soldiers and supplies. Lee surrendered to Grant on April 9, 1865, near Appomattox Court House.
After Lee surrendered, many other Confederate armies surrendered also. The last Confederate general to surrender was Brigadier General Stand Watie. He surrendered on June 23, 1865, in Oklahoma. After the war ended, President Lincoln pardoned all of the Confederate soldiers. This meant that the Confederate soldiers would not be arrested or punished for fighting against the Union. They would be allowed to rejoin the United States again. However, some Confederates did not want to become part of the United States again. Some of these people moved to Mexico or Brazil.
During the war, inflation happened in both the Union and the Confederacy. This meant that prices went up, and everything became more expensive. Many people in the North and the South could not afford the higher prices. Many went hungry because of this. This was one thing that helped lead to the Confederacy's surrender.
After the war[change]
The years after the war were called "Reconstruction". Reconstruction lasted from the end of the war until 1877. The Union Army stayed in some Southern states during this time. Three important amendments were added on to the United States Constitution. The amendments were proposed (or suggested) by the U.S. government. Although not every American supported them, the amendments got enough support to pass.
The 13th Amendment says that slavery is not allowed anywhere in the United States. This officially ended legal slavery everywhere in the country. During the war, President Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation. This said that all of the slaves in the Southern states were free. However, there were still a few Union states in the west that allowed slavery. Their slaves were not freed by the Emancipation Proclamation. Also, because the Confederacy saw itself as its own country, many Southerners did not obey the Emancipation Proclamation. So until the 13th Amendment was passed, slavery was still practiced in many parts of the United States.
The 14th Amendment makes it clear that all people born in the United States are citizens with equal rights. It also says that these rights cannot be taken away unless a person breaks the law. Before this, African-American people were not seen as citizens. They did not have the same rights as white people. The 14th Amendment gave every American equal rights under the law.
The 15th Amendment says that people in the United States cannot be kept from voting because of their race. (Citizens could be stopped from voting because of their gender, however. Women could not vote until the 19th Amendment was passed in 1920.)
After the war, some of the Union Army's leaders went into politics. Generals Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Harrison, and McKinley became presidents and others were elected to other offices.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: American Civil War|