When President Abraham Lincoln took office in 1861, the nation stood on the brink of collapse.
Seven southern states had already seceded from the Union: South Caroline, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas.
Furthermore, the debate over secession continued to rage in the upper South.
To preserve the Union, Senator John J. Crittenden of Kentucky had proposed the Crittenden Compromise in December 1860.
Crittenden Compromise (1860): John Crittenden plan to resolve conflict between North and South by extending the Missouri compromise line Westward through the remaining territories; rejected by President Lincoln.
The Fall of Fort Sumter
Fort Sumter lay in a strategic location in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. The South needed the fort in order to control access to this major port city.
In March 1861 the fort’s commander, Major Robert Anderson sent word to Washington that he was nearly out of supplies. Without reinforcements, Sumter would soon fall to the Confederates.
The president hesitated because most of the eight slave states that remain in the Union had threatened to secede if he used force against the Confederacy.
Lincoln decided to resupply Fort Sumter, reasoning that if the Confederates fired on unarmed supply ships, then they, not the Union, would be the aggressors.
On April 6, 1861, supply ships were on their way, but the ships carried only supplies, not troops or arms.
At 4:30 A.M, on April 12 the Confederate forces opened fire on Fort Sumter.
For 34 hours the Confederate bombarded Sumter.
Finally, with much of the Fort ablaze and their ammunition running low, Anderson and his men formally surrendered.
On April 15 Lincoln publicly announced the existence of a rebellion. He called for the states to provide 75,000 soldiers to put down the uprising.
The recruits were to serve for just three months.
President Lincoln fear of losing more states to the Confederacy quickly became a reality.
The South also had excellent military leadership. In fact, most southern victories would result from the battle strategies of skillful Confederate officers.
Among the ablest of southern military leaders was Robert E. Lee. Lee was born in Virginia, 1807.
Robert E. Lee: During the Mexican War of 1846, he took part in the capture of Veracruz. In 1859 he led the federal troops that captured abolitionist John Brown at Harpers Ferry.
As southern states began to secede from the Union, General Scott advised President Lincoln to ask Lee to command the Union forces. Faced with a difficult choice between country and state, Lee regretfully declined and resigns his commission.
Lee opposed slavery and secession, but he refused to fight against Virginia.
Lee eventually led the South’s army. Both sides quickly built up their military strength.
By the end of 1861 the Union had more than 527,000 soldiers and the confederacy slightly more than 258,000. Most of these soldiers were between the ages of 18 and 29, with drummer’s boys as young as 9 years old.
American Indians and African Americans served in the Union army.
Some Mexican Americans from Mexico and Texas fought during the War. Most supported the Union.
The confederate army also had American Indians that joined because of the promise of all-Indians state following the War.
The First battle of the Bull Run
General Winfield Scott believed the new Union troops needed several months of training. Likewise, a confederate officer reported similar situation with his troops.
Despite these reservations, President Lincoln order General Irvin McDowell and some 35,000 barley trained troops to Richmond, Virginia, in mid July 1861.
General McDowell’s forces never reached Richmond. On July 21, 1861, some 35,000 confederates met the Union troops near Manassas Junction, a railroad crossing about 30 miles outside Washington.
Led by General Joseph E. Johnson, the Confederates dug in on high ground behind a creek called Bull Run.
Northerners would call the fighting that followed the First Battle of Bull Run.
First Battle of Bull Run (1861): Battle of Manassas; first major battle of the Civil War, resulted in a confederate victory.
Confederate general Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and his men stopped the Union.
The events at Bull Run caused most people to realize that the war would last longer than a few months.
As a result, each side begun to seriously train its forces for battle and to plan strategy.
Confederate president Jefferson Davis named Joseph E. Johnson to command the Army of Northern Virginia, and chose Robert E. Lee as his Military advisor.
President Lincoln named General George B. McClellan to head the Union forces.
The most important consequences of the First Battle of Bull Run may have been psychological.
The defeat shamed and shocked the North.
Southern newspaper editorials proclaimed the Confederacy’s superiority.
However, the Union army was becoming more determined.
Sec. 2 The North and South Face Off
Strategies of War
From the beginning of the War, the North’s primary goal was to restore the Union. To accomplish this goal, Lincoln and his military advisers adopted a three-part strategy. A) They sought first to capture Richmond, the confederate capital; (B) second, to gain control of the Mississippi River; (C) and third, to institute a naval blockade of the south.
The naval blockade was a nickname the Anaconda Plan because it was designed to slowly squeeze the life out of the south like an anaconda snake. It was important because the south depended on foreign markets to sell its cotton and to buy supplies.
The north devised its battle strategy based on the region’s geography.
Since the confederacy stretch from Virginia to Texas, the Appalachian Mountains divided most of the action in the Civil War into two arenas: the eastern theater and the western theater.
The eastern theater lay east of the Appalachians.
The western theater lay between these mountains and the Mississippi River.
Control of the Mississippi River would enable the north to penetrate deep into the south. It would also prevent the confederacy from using the waterway to resupply its forces.
The south planned to capture Washington and invade the North.
Southern leaders hoped for a successful offensive strike northward through the Shenandoah Valley into Maryland and Pennsylvania.
They hoped this would shatter northern morale, disrupt Union communications, win European support, and bring the war to a speedy end.
Confederate leaders knew that winning the support of France or Great Britain was crucial to a victory for the south.
Because the French and Britain economies depended heavily on cotton, the confederacy had confidence that one of the nations would respond to a naval blockade by coming to the South’s aid.
The South’s strategy failed, however, neither France nor Britain proved dependent on confederate cotton.
French and British mill owners had stockpiled cotton before Fort Sumter’s fall.
Once these reserves ran out, the mill owners turned to Egypt and India for new supplies.
The Military Experience
Young recruits in both the Union and confederate ranks were generally enthusiastic when they first enlisted. Most of these newly recruited soldiers had little experience with military life, however.
Both sides faced shortage of clothing, food, and even rifles.
At the beginning of the war, most troops did not even have standard uniforms. Some simply wore their own clothes from home.
Eventually, each side adopted a distinguishing uniform. The Union chose blue, and the confederacy gray.
The persistent lack of provisions, coupled with unsanitary conditions in most field camps, led to deadly problems of disease. What little food existed in the camps often was spoiled.
Thousands of soldiers died from illnesses such as influenza, pneumonia, and typhoid. Doctors and nurse could do little to help, since most hospitals had little in the way of medical provisions.
Many soldiers with seemingly minor injuries died from infected wounds. In fact, disease, infection, and malnutrition took the lives of more than 65 percent of the soldiers who died during the war.
Nowhere were conditions worse than in the filthy, over crowed prisoner-of-war camps in the North and South.
Union prisoners hold at confederate camps, endured the worst conditions, with no shelter and little food. In some camps more than 25percent of the prisoners died before the end of the war.
In addition to their difficult living conditions, many soldiers suffered from extreme boredom, homesickness, and loneliness.
The Home Front
In the North, women replaced the male factory workers and farmers who left for the battle fields.
Other women worked as bankers, morticians, saloon keepers, and steamboat captains during the war.
Women and boys took responsibility for growing food during the war.
Countless civilians also participated in volunteer groups that raised money for the Union cause or provided relief services for soldiers and their families.
State and local government established homes for injured soldiers and for children of soldiers who died in the war.
Southerners supported the war, effort with a series of patriotic events. At parades and barbecues, public figures urged young men to join the army, and wealthy members of society pledge money to buy arms and uniforms. Raffles and auctions raised much-needed funds for the confederacy.
By 1862 the harsh effects of the blockade and providing for the war effort set in.
The short supply of basic necessities such as shoes, clothing, and farm equipment caused prices to rise.
The inability to obtain medicines caused untold suffering.
Civilian Aid on the Battlefield
In addition to their roles on the home front, many civilians-women particular- actively aided the military. Some women even dressed like men so that they could fight. Other women also served as spies.
Many other women served the war effort in medical roles.
Catholic nuns were among the most important female volunteers for medical duty. They sometimes transformed their convents into emergency hospitals.
They remained neutral and treated all victims of war, becoming the only group allowed to more freely between Union and confederate lines.
Opposition to the War
Opposition grew as the bloody conflict dragged on longer than anymore had envisioned.
Southern discontent intensified in the spring of 1862, when the confederacy passed the first conscription or draft act in U.S. history.
Harsh living conditions in army camps as well as the difficulty of leaving families at home had resulted in a decrease in the number of southern volunteers.
The draft placed the major burden for fighting the war on poor farmers, and working people.
Drafty exemptions for large plantation owners-who had led the confederacy into war- created tension between wealthy southerners and non-slaveholding whites.
Some southerners claimed that the policy proved that the conflict was a “rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight.”
In response, plantation owners argued that some slave holders had to remain at home to keep their slaves form running off. The Confederacy needed food and clothing, and few southerners believed that slaves would work without constant supervision.
Other southerners oppose the draft because they believed that it violated states rights and freedom-the principles that had led southern states to secede.
As the war intensified, the confederacy began to allow soldiers to pay farmers prices far below the market value for food, animals, and other property. This policy placed a heavy burden on food-producing families and contributed to serious food shortage. Many farmers called it robbery.
Discontent also surfaced in the North.
Some northerners sympathized with the south and urged peace.
Others believed that the war was proving too costly in terms of money and human life.
Republican sponsorship of a Union draft law in 1863 caused violence to break out in New York City.
Democratic newspapers claimed that the draft was designed to force white working class men to fight for the freedom of African Americans who would then come and steal their jobs.
Angry whites raged through African American neighborhoods. They attacked and killed people and looted and burned buildings.
They also destroyed the property of wealthy Republicans.
Most northern Democrats who sympathized with the south did not actively interfere with the war effort.
Copperheads: Northern Democrats who sympathized with the south in the Civil War. They limited their antiwar activities to speeches and newspaper articles.
In an attempt to quiet the copperheads, President Lincoln suspended some civil liberties, including the constitutional right of habeas corpus-a protection against unlawful imprisonment.
Thousands of Copperheads and other opponents of the war were arrested and held without trial.
Sec. 3 Fighting the War
The War in the West
During 1862 the confederacy won most of the major battles in the East.
President Lincoln had little luck finding a general able to defeat confederate generals Stonewall Jackson, Joseph E. Johnson, and Robert E. Lee in the eastern theater.
In the West, however, the Union forces led by Ulysses S. Grant achieved great success.
Battle of Shiloh (1862): Civil War battle; resulted in greater Union control over the Mississippi River Valley.
Union control of the Mississippi River depended on the taking of New Orleans.
It was the largest city in the south and a central port for supplying troops along and west of the river.
Capturing New Orleans would allow the Union to cut off supplies to western confederate forces and to move troops up the Mississippi River to join Grant forces.
In late April 1862, Union ships commanded by David Farragut attacked the two forts guarding the approach to New Orleans from the Gulf of Mexico.
After six days of unsuccessfully shelling the forts, Farragut decided to try to sail past them.
Seventeen Union warships advanced during the dark morning hours of April 24.
Despite the heavy fighting and nearly 200 casualties, all but four Union warships arrived in New Orleans.
On April 29 the city was forced to surrender.
After the south’s loss, confederate morale began to weaken.
While the Union racked up important victories in the West, President Lincoln remained committed to capturing Richmond. He ordered General George B. McClellan to return to Virginia in the spring of 1862.
General McClellan trained his men well, teaching them both pride and discipline.
His effectiveness as a military leader, however, suffered from his cautious nature. He often hesitated to commit his men to battle-much to the president’s displeasure.
A Shift in War Goals
As the war dragged on many northerners began to question whether saving the Union without ending slavery was worth the price.
After fierce debate, Republicans pushed legislation through congress in July 1862 that authorized African Americans to serve in the military.
The legislation also freed slaves held by confederate soldiers or by confederate allies. President Lincoln signed the legislation.
President Lincoln had already concluded that slavery was too important to the southern war effort to be left alone.
More slaves at work meant that more soldiers were available to fight against the Union.
Lincoln hoped that if slaves learned that the North was fighting to free them, they would desert their masters, thereby weakening the South’s economy.
Thus, in July 1862, Lincoln informed his cabinet that he planned to issue a new military order.
As of a certain date, all slaves living in areas still rebelling against the United States would be free. This was known as the Emancipation Proclamation and took effect January 1, 1863.
To quiet constitutional concerns about this order, Lincoln assured his cabinet that this Emancipation Proclamation would apply only to the confederate states. This assurance also relieved concerns about the status of slaves in the Border States.
On September 4, 1862, Lee began crossing the Potomac River into Maryland.
Union forces lost tract of the confederate troops for four days. Then, surprisingly, the Union soldiers happened upon a copy of Lee’s battle plans wrapped around a discarded pack of cigars.
Armed with this information, General McClellan planned a counter attack.
Battle of Antietam (1862): Union victory in Maryland during the civil war that marked the bloodiest single-day battle in U.S. military history.
Although the battle of Antietam was not a resounding Union victory, it raised confidence in the North.
A major confederate offensive had failed. This proved that General Lee could be defeated.
Lee’s loss also cost the south any hope of support from European countries.
The Union victory at Antietam gave Lincoln the necessary political support to move forward with his plans to free the slaves in the south.
African Americans Take Up Arms
Both the July 1862 act allowing African Americans to serve in the military and the Emancipation Proclamation encouraged African Americans to enlist in the Union army.
The First official black regiments were organized in August 1862 in the Union-controlled areas of South Carolina.
Africans American troops faced a danger that white Union soldiers did not. Black soldier’s captures by the confederate were treated as outlaws. They could face execution or be sold into slavery.
Many of the first African American soldiers recruited by the Union served in the 54th Massachusetts Infantry.
54th Massachusetts Infantry: African American Union regiment that helped captured Fort Wagner in South Carolina during the Civil War.
Despite the courage’s performance of African American troops, the Union army did not offer them equality.
For much of the War, black soldiers earned about half the pay of white soldiers.
After much criticism by black soldier and their commanding officers, congress equalized the pay scale in June 1864.
New Union Commanders
After Antietam, President Lincoln chose Ambrose E. Burnside to replace General McClellan. However, after poor leadership, Burnside was replaced by General Joseph “fighting Joe” Hooker.
By April 30, 1863, Hooker had positioned his men in a deep forest known as the Wilderness, near Chancellorsville, Virginia.
Lee divided his troops, sending Stonewall Jackson and some 30,000 men through the Wilderness to out flank Hooker.
When Hooker discovered the troop’s movements, he assumed that the confederates were retreating.
Instead, Lee and Jackson attacked the Union forces from two sides. After several days of fighting, Hooker withdrew in defeat.
The South paid dearly for its victory at Chancellorsville. Riding back to Confederate lines after dark, Jackson was mistaken for a Union cavalryman and shot by his own troops.
As with countless other soldiers, Jackson’s battle wounds led to serious infection. Eight days later, Lee’s most valued general died.
Sec. 4 The Final Phase
Following the victory at Chancellorsville, General Lee decided to invade the North again.
This action would spare war-weary Virginia from further fighting. It also would allow Lee to resupply and feed his hungry troops by seizing provisions from the enemy.
On the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, the Confederates pushed the Union line back to cemetery Hill and cemetery Ridge.
The confederates held seminary Ridge, a lower line of hills about a half mile away.
Battle of Gettysburg (1863): Union victory at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, during the Civil War that turned the tide against the confederates; more than 40,000 soldiers died or were wounded.
George Pickett’s charge (1863): failed confederate attack during the battle of Gettysburg.
Gettysburg Address (1863): Speech given by President Abraham Lincoln to dedicate a cemetery at the Gettysburg battlefield; classic statement of democratic ideals.
Although the Union army emerged victorious at the Gettysburg battlefield, it once again narrowly failed to end the war. However, the Union army had proved that the confederacy could be beaten.
Lincoln Finds His General
The war continued in the West in 1863, with the Union attempting to control the Mississippi River valley.
General Ulysses S. Grant won several significant victories for the North. President Lincoln soon Recognized Grant’s invaluable leadership.
Grant knew that gaining full control of Mississippi River required taking Vicksburg, Mississippi. The city’s high river bluffs allowed the confederate artillery to command an extensive area.
In May 1863 Grant hatched a risky plan to take Vicksburg. Marching deep into enemy territory, he bottled up one confederate force in nearby Jackson. Then he raced west to trap the other enemy force inside Vicksburg.
For six weeks General Grant and his men laid siege to the city, preventing any Confederate reinforcements from arriving.
During the long Siege of Vicksburg, the city’s defenders began eating mules and rats to keep from starving.
On July 3, 1863, General Grant and confederate general John Pemberton met to discuss terms of surrender.
On July 8 the confederate forces at Port Hudson, Louisiana, also fell.
These victories gave the Union total control over the Mississippi River, thereby cutting off Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas from the rest of the confederacy.
President Lincoln promoted General Grant to general in chief, commander of all Union forces, in the spring of 1864.
Grant understood better than previous commanders how to take advantage of the North’s soldiers and supplies. His strategy was to use these advantages against an enemy that was reeling from shortage.
Grant informed Lincoln that he would march on Richmond, take his losses, and press on. War of attrition: to continue fighting until the South ran out of men, supplies, and the will to fight.
Sherman’s March to the Sea
Union General William Tecumseh Sherman matched General Grant’s determination. Moody, ambitious, and brilliant, Sherman had performed ably at Vicksburg.
Grant rewarded Sherman by making him commander of the Tennessee army.
While Grant slowly pushed his way towards Richmond, Sherman undertook a campaign to destroy southern railroads and industries.
In early May, he moved some 10,000 troops out of Tennessee towards Atlanta, Georgia.
When Atlanta fell on September 2, 1864, the Confederates lost their last railroad link across the Appalachian Mountains.
After ordering residents to evacuate, Sherman’s men set fire to large portions of the city.
The fall of Atlanta boosted President Lincoln’s re-election campaign. The Union victory came at a critical moment when Lincoln appeared in danger of failing to keep his own party united.
Many Republicans were upset that the war had dragged on for so long.
Sherman’s success renewed hope that the conflict would soon end. Lincoln won the election of 1864.
Sherman’s men took what supplies they could use and destroyed anything that might be helpful to the Confederates.
They uprooted crops, burned farmhouses, slaughtered livestock and tore up railroad tracks.
Total War: type of war in which an army destroys its opponent’s ability to fight by attacking civilian and economic, as well as military targets.
Although Sherman’s tactics brought the Unions goals within reach, his actions left deep and bitter scars across the south.
In early December 1864, Sherman’ and his men reached Savannah, where they were resupplied by the Union navy.
Surrender at Appomattox
On April 2, 1865, Lee’s army was now only half the size of Grant’s.
Knowing his troops could not survive another summer like the one of 1864, Lee attempted to flee westward, hoping to join up with more troops.
Grant cut off Lee’s escape, however.
With his once-proud army reduced to less than 30,000 men, many without food, Lee asked for terms of surrender.
On April 9, 1865, Grant and Lee met in a house in the tiny Virginia village of Appomattox Courthouse.
The terms of surrender were simple. Confederate officers could keep their side arms. All soldiers would be fed and allowed to keep their horses and mules. None would be tried for treason.
The weary confederates were then fed and allowed to depart for home.
On April 26, 1865, General Joseph E. Johnston surrendered to General Sherman under similar terms at Durham Station, North Carolina.