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Civil War Facts

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” ~ Abraham Lincoln, during his first address to the nation.

The American Civil War fought between the some Southern and Northern states was the turning point in the history of United States of America. In terms of human lives lost, it was one of the most costliest. The Civil War claimed more American lives than the two World Wars, The American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 combined together. To have a better understanding of American history we give you some interesting American Civil War facts below.

Interesting Civil War Facts and Information

  • The Civil War in America lasted for 4 years starting from 1861 and ending in 1865.
  • The Civil War is also called ‘war between the states’ as it was a war between some states in the north and south of the USA.
  • It was towards the end of 1860 that numerous southern states started to separate from the authority of the Union. There were several issues on which the southern states disagreed and the main issue of disagreement was slavery. The south was in favor of slavery whereas the north was anti-slavery.
  • The first state to separate was South Carolina and was later followed by several other states.
  • The states from the south which separated ultimately formed the Confederate States of America commonly called Confederates.
  • It was in South Carolina’s Fort Sumter that the Civil War’s first battle took place. Ships were sent by President Lincoln for resupplying depleted resources and they were escorted by the U.S. Navy. The fort was bombarded by Confederate troops before the arrival of the ships. Confederates achieved a major victory when Major Robert Anderson (a officer of the Union forces) surrendered the fort.
  • Generals Robert E. Lee Notable was the overall commanding officer of the Confederate Army and there were other generals like Braxton Bragg, James Longstreet and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson during the course of the war.
  • Generals Ulysses S. Grant was the commanding officer of the Union forces and other notable commanders included George McClellan, George Armstrong Custer, William Tecumseh Sherman and Phil Sheridan.
  • In 1863, General “Stonewall” Jackson during the course of the Battle of Chancellorsville died when his own men shot at him thinking that he was the enemy.
  • Most of the deaths during the civil war was not because of bullets but due to diseases. The main diseases included pneumonia, tuberculosis, dysentery and typhoid fever.
  • Usually, the Confederates named the battles after the city or the closest city in which it was fought. On the other hand different names were given by the the Union forces . They named these battles after geographical characteristics of a location like creeks and rivers. Due to this reason, several battles of the Civil War have dual names – the Battle of Bull Run/Manassas, the Battle of Sharpsburg/Antietam etc.
  • During the course of the Civil War, naval ships were used by the Union forces so as to block the southern ports. This plan was called the Anaconda Plan and it extended from the coast of Maryland to the coast of Florida, and the Gulf of Mexico. The aim of this plan was to cut off supplies for the Confederate troops.
  • During the American Civil War the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg) was considered the worst ever due to the number of lives lost. It was on the 17th of September, 1862, that the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg) took place between the Confederate and Union forces. The war was fought along Antietam Creek. During this battle, in one day, there were about 23,000 casualties.
  • Though the Battle of Antietam was the worst ever in terms of casualties in a day, it was the Battle of Gettysburg which was considered the worst during the course of the war and was fought over a three-day period.
  • The total number of deaths during the war stands at a staggering 600,000 to 700,000 approximately. If the wounded are factored the total number of deaths rises to about 1,030,000.
  • There were thousands of prisoners of war in several camps on both sides. Of them Andersonville Prison in Georgia was the worst. This camp was used by the forces of the Confederates to imprison the captured troops of the Union. Due to the food shortages, diseases and heat the conditions were inhuman at Andersonville. It is estimated that around 12,000 soldiers of the Union were killed at Andersonville.
  • A strange civil war fact is the deed of General Dan Sickles (of the Union) during the Battle of Gettysburg. The right leg of General Sickles was amputated in the Battle when a cannonball hit his leg and destroyed it. Sickles on his part preserved and donated the cannonball and his bones of the right leg to the Army Medical Museum. Once the war ended, he worked hard and tried to preserve and convert the Battlefield of Gettysburg into a national park. You may like to know more on interesting facts about the American civil war
  • It was on April 9, 1865 that the end of the Civil War was officially declared when the general of the confederate forces Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant, the general of the Union forces.

American Civil War Timeline

The Secession of the Southern States

After the election of Abraham Lincoln as the president of USA, the legislative assembly of South Carolina was threatened as President Lincoln was an opponent of slavery. South Carolina called a state convention and they voted and seceded from the union of the United States of America. Once South Carolina seceded, another six states Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, Florida and Mississippi and there was a perceived threat of another four states namely North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas and Virginia seceding. Ultimately these eleven states formed the Confederate States.

Creation of a Government by the South

A separate constitution was drafted by the confederate states at a meeting in Montgomery, Alabama. The constitution was similar to the constitution of the US, but there was greater stress on autonomy of every state. The new provisional president of the confederate states was Jefferson Davis.

Seizure of Federal Forts

When the predecessor of President Lincoln, President Buchanan refused surrender of federal forts to the confederate forces, southern troops captured them forcefully. The forces of South Carolina forced a supply ship to retreat to New York with its supplies undelivered.

Inauguration of Abraham Lincoln as President

During his inauguration, President Abraham Lincoln said that he has no plans to put an end to slavery states where it exists, but secession would not be accepted. He was of the opinion that the national crisis can be resolved without war.

Fort Sumter Attacked

Due to the depletion of supplies in Fort Sumter, President Lincoln intended to replenish exhausted supplies and as such he informed the state in advance so as to avoid hostilities. On its part South Carolina was suspicious and feared that the president was playing a trick and Robert Anderson, the commander of the fort was ordered to surrender. When his supplies were exhausted Anderson declared that he would surrender, but his offer was rejected. On April 12, the first shots were fired and the Civil War began. Ultimately, the Union forces had to surrender Fort Sumter to South Carolina.

Joining of Four more States into the Confederacy and Birth of Virginia

Once Fort Sumter fell four other states namely North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas and Virginia, joined the Confederates. Once Virginia seceded, Richmond became the capital of the Confederates. However, people of Virginia’s western counties did not want to secede and as such this region was accepted in the Union and was called West Virginia. More on American civil war facts and timeline.

Some Slave States Staying Back with the Union

Even though states like Missouri, Maryland, Kentucky and Delaware practiced slavery they didn’t join forces against the Union. The combined military pressure of the Union and skillful political maneuvering prevented secession of these states.
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