The Civil War
Facts, Events & Information about The American Civil War: 1861-1865
Civil War Facts
Eastern Theater, Western Theater, Trans-Mississippi, Gulf Coast, Sioux Uprising
Union: over 2,100,000
Confederate: over 1,000,000
Civil War Casualties
Union: over 350,000
Confederate: over 250,000
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The battlefields of the Civil War cross the nation, and made famous many previously unknown towns, crossroads and farms like Antietam Creek, Shiloh and Gettysburg.
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Civil War Summary: The American Civil War, 1861–1865, resulted from long-standing sectional differences and questions not fully resolved when the United States Constitution was ratified in 1789. With the defeat of the Southern Confederacy and the subsequent passage of the XIII, XIV and XV amendments to the Constitution, the Civil War’s lasting effects include abolishing the institution of slavery in America and firmly redefining the United States as a single, indivisible nation rather than a loosely bound collection of independent states.
It was a war that saw many "firsts." The long list of Civil War firsts include America’s first income tax, the first battle between ironclad ships, the first extensive use of black soldiers and sailors in U.S. service, the first use of quinine to treat typhoid fever, America’s first military draft, and many others. There were advances in medical treatment, military tactics, the chaplain service, and other fields. Over the course of the Civil War weapons ranged from obsolete flintlocks to state-of-the-art repeaters. During the Civil War, women took on new roles, including running farms and plantations and spying; some disguised themselves as men and fought in battle. All of the nation’s ethnic groups participated in the war, including Irish, Germans, American Indians, Jews, Chinese, Hispanics, etc.
Other Names for the Civil War
Northerners have also called the Civil War the War to Preserve the Union, the War of the Rebellion (War of the Southern Rebellion), and the War to Make Men Free. Southerners may refer to it as the War Between the States or the War of Northern Aggression. In the decades following the conflict, those who did not wish to upset adherents of either side simply called it The Late Unpleasantness. It is also known as Mr. Lincoln’s War and, less commonly, as Mr. Davis’ War.
Troop Strength and Casualties
Between April 1861 and April 1865, an estimated 1.5 million troops joined the war on the side of the Union and approximately 1.2 million went into Confederate service. An estimated total of 600,000 were killed in action or died of disease. More than twice that number were wounded but survived at least long enough to muster out. Casualties of the Civil War cannot be calculated exactly, due to missing records (especially on the Southern side) and the inability to determine exactly how many combatants died from wounds, drug addiction, or other war-related causes after leaving the service. An untold number of civilians also perished, primarily from disease as entire towns became hospitals.
Most naval actions occurred on rivers and inlets or in harbors, and include history’s first clash between two ironclads, the USS Monitor and CSS Virginia (a captured and converted ship formerly called the Merrimac), at Hampton Roads, Virginia, on March 9, 1862. Other actions include the Battle of Memphis (1862), Charleston Harbor (1863), and Mobile Bay (1864), and the naval sieges of Vicksburg in 1862 and again in 1863. The most famous clash between ocean-going warships was the duel between USS Kearsarge and CSS Alabama off Cherbourg, France, June 19, 1864. Throughout the war, the Union had a decided advantage in both numbers and quality of naval vessels.
The War Between The States Begins
On April 10, 1861, knowing that resupplies were on their way from the North to the federal garrison at Fort Sumter in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina, provisional Confederate forces in the city demanded the fort’s surrender. The fort’s commander, Major Robert Anderson, refused. On April 12, the Confederates opened fire with cannon. At 2:30 p.m. the following day, Major Anderson surrendered.
On April 15, Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to put down the Southern rebellion, a move that prompted Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas and North Carolina to reverse themselves and vote in favor of session. (Most of the western section of Virginia rejected the session vote and broke away, ultimately forming a new, Union-loyal state, West Virginia.)
The United States had always maintained only a small professional army; the nation’s founders had feared a Napoleon might rise up and use a large army to overthrow the government and make himself a dictator. Many graduates of the U.S. Army’s military academy, West Point, resigned their commissions in order to fight for the South—this was especially true in the cavalry arm, but no members of the artillery "went South." The Lincoln Administration had to rely on large numbers of volunteers from the states and territories.
In Richmond, Virginia, the President of the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis, faced a similar problem in raising and equipping armies. Neither side expected a war of long duration. Volunteers were asked to serve for 90 days. "One big battle, and it’ll be over," was the commonly expressed belief on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line. Southerners thought Northerners too weak and cowardly to fight. Northerners thought a dependence upon slave labor had rendered Southerners too weak both physically and morally to present a serious battlefield threat. Both sides were due for a rude awakening.
The Challenges of North and South
To win the war would require Lincoln’s armies and navy to subdue an area from the East Coast to the Rio Grande, from the Mason-Dixon Line to the Gulf of Mexico. To prevent a Northern victory, the South would have to defend that same large area, but with a smaller population and less industry than the North could ultimately bring to bear. A short war would favor the South, a long one the North.
Theaters of War
Actions in the war were divided into the Eastern Theater, primarily comprised of Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the coast of North Carolina. The Atlantic Coast farther south was the Lower Seaboard Theater. The Western Theater began west of the Alleghenies (West Virginia excepted) and continued to the Mississippi River, but it also included the interior of the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida. Events farther west are considered to have occurred in the Trans-Mississippi Theater and the Far West.
The first inland clash between significant bodies of troops occurred on the morning of June 3, 1861, when 3,000 Union volunteers surprised 800 Confederates at Philippi in (West) Virginia. Lasting less than half an hour, the affair would barely qualify as a skirmish later in the war, but the Union victory there and subsequent ones in the region elevated the reputation of Major General George B. McClellan, commander of the Department of the Ohio.
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The first real battle took place July 21, 1861, on the hills around Bull Run creek outside Manassas, Virginia, a railroad junction some 30 miles south of the Northern capital at Washington City (Washington, D.C.) and about 90 miles north of the Confederate capital at Richmond on July. It is known as the First Battle of Bull Run (Northern name) or the First Battle of Manassas (Southern name). During the war, the North named battles for the nearest body of water, and the South used the name of the nearest town.
The Union army made progress early in the battle, but Confederate reinforcements arrived late in the day from the Shenandoah Valley and routed the Federals. The unfortunate Union commander, Irvin McDowell, was made the scapegoat and was replaced with an officer who had some victories to his credit: George Brinton McClellan.
On September 10, a Union victory at Carnifax Ferry in the Big Kanawha Valley of (West) Virginia virtually ended Confederate control in most of the western counties, although there would be raids and guerilla warfare there. A successful naval invasion of North Carolina took place in August.
The Western Theater saw only minor skirmishing. Kentucky was attempting to remain neutral and had vowed to take sides against whichever side first moved troops into it. That was the Confederacy, which felt compelled to establish Mississippi River forts and establish camps within the state to repel any attempted Union move south.
Near Springfield, Missouri, in the Trans-Mississippi, the South won a major battle on August 10, 1861. The Battle of Wilson’s Creek, also known as the Battle of Oak Hills, saw some 12,000 Confederates defeat less than 5,500 Union soldiers and take control of southwestern Missouri, but the Southerners did not immediately pursue northward. The Union commander, Nathaniel Lyon, was killed, the first Federal general to die in action during the war. The South had already lost Brigadier General Robert S. Garnett in a skirmish at Carrick’s Ford, (West) Virginia, and Brigadier General Bernard E. Bee at First Manassas. After Wilson’s Creek, Confederate forces won another Missouri victory at the First Battle of Lexington, September 13–20, 1861.
During the fall and winter, both sides swelled their ranks, trained troops, and obtained additional weapons, food and equipment, and horses and mules for the coming year’s campaigns.
If 1861 had disabused Americans north and south of the notion this would be a short war, 1862 showed how terrible its cost in human life would be, beginning with the two bloody days of the Battle of Shiloh in Tennessee and continuing through a series of battles in Virginia and America’s bloodiest single day, the Battle of Antietam in Maryland.
The year saw the first clash between ironclad warships, in the Battle of Hampton Roads. Lincoln announced his Emancipation Proclamation. The South found two heroes: Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, for his Shenandoah Valley Campaign, and Robert E. Lee, who took command of the main Confederate army. Lincoln would be hard-pressed to find a commander Lee could not out-general. Farther south along the Atlantic Coast, Federals captured territory in North and South Carolina and Georgia, but lost a chance to shorten the war when they were turned back at the Battle of Secessionville, South Carolina.
In the Western Theater, Union forces made deep penetrations into Dixie, beginning the year along the Ohio River and finishing it in control of Middle and West Tennessee, with outposts in Mississippi. Even New Orleans was under the Stars and Stripes again.
Beyond the Mississippi, initial Confederate successes in New Mexico territory were nullified by a defeat at Glorietta Pass. Texans lynched 50 Unionists in what became known as the Great Hanging at Gainesville and attacked German immigrants trying to leave the state, executing nine of the wounded after the Battle of the Nueces.
In August, starving Sioux Indians in Minnesota, angered because they’d not received badly needed payments promised by their treaty, began an uprising that killed at least 113 white men, women and children. Three hundred Sioux were sentenced to hang, but Lincoln cut that number to 38—still the largest mass execution in U.S. history.
Antietam and Shiloh
If 1861 had disabused Americans north and south of the notion this would be a short war, 1862 showed how terrible its cost in human life would be, beginning with the two bloody days of the Battle of Shiloh in Tennessee and continuing through a series of battles in Virginia and America’s bloodiest single day, the Battle of Antietam in Maryland. September saw simultaneous Confederate invasions into Maryland and Kentucky in September. Neither, however, was long lived.
The year 1862 ended—and the new year would begin—with another bloodbath, on the banks of Stones River outside Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Overall, the scales were still nearly balanced between the two sides in their struggle to restore the Union or to establish a Southern Confederacy.
The tide of war shifted noticeably in favor of the Union in 1863, despite a brilliant victory by Robert E. Lee in the Battle of Chancellorsville, a battle that cost the life of his daring lieutenant Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. Lee then suffered a major defeat at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in early July. The victor, George Gordon Meade, did not pursue aggressively, and the Confederate "Gray Fox" escaped to fight another day. The two antagonists met again in November in a confused, inconclusive affair known as the Mine Run Campaign.
Battle of Fredericksburg
On April 17, the Army of the Potomac, under yet another commander, Maj. Gen. Joseph "Fighting Joe" Hooker, attempted to outflank Lee at Fredericksburg by crossing the Rappahannock and Rapidan rivers above the town. In response, Lee divided his force, leaving part of it to guard the river at Fredericksburg. On April 30, Hooker and Lee collided near a mansion called Chancellorsville in a densely thicketed area of woods known as The Wilderness. After a brilliant flank attack that disorganized Hooker’s right, Lt. Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson was mortally wounded by his own men in the darkness. He died May 10. Lee, learning the Federals had captured Fredericksburg, divided his force again and defeated them at Salem Church. Hooker gave up the campaign and withdrew on the night of May 5–6. The Battle of Chancellorsville is regarded as Lee’s most brilliant victory. Read more about the Battle of Fredericksburg.
Vicksburg, Chickamauga, and Chattanooga
The "Confederate Gibraltar," Vicksburg, Mississippi, fell to Ulysses S. Grant on July 4 after a 47-day siege. Confederates won their greatest victory in the Western Theater at the Battle of Chickamauga in September, but failed to capitalize on it and in late November were routed from the hills above Chattanooga, opening the road to Atlanta for the Union’s Western armies. Grant was placed in command of all Western armies, a prelude to an even greater promotion that would come the following spring.
Two massacres marked 1863. In response to raids by Shoshoni Indians in the Idaho Territory of the far northwest, U.S. troops under Col. Patrick E. Connor attacked the camp of Chief Bear Hunter on January 29. A number of Shoshoni women, children and old men were killed along with Hunting Bear’s warriors in the Bear River Massacre (Massacre at Boa Ogoi). On August 21, Confederate guerrillas under Captain William C. Quantrill sacked and burned Lawrence, Kansas, a center for pro-Union, anti-slavery Jayhawkers and Redlegs, killing 150–200 men and boys.
In mid-June, Lee led his Army of Northern Virginia into Maryland and Pennsylvania in his second invasion of the North, hoping to take pressure off Virginia’s farms during the growing season and seeking a victory on Northern soil. His men encountered the Army of the Potomac, now under George Gordon Meade, at a crossroads town in southeastern Pennsylvania on July 1. Capturing the town but failing to take the high ground around it, Lee assailed the Union flanks the next day. The fighting on the Union left was particularly costly to both sides, memorializing Little and Big Round Top, Devil’s Den, the each Orchard and the Wheatfield. On the right, the Confederates nearly broke through on Culp’s and Cemetery hills before being repulsed. On July 3, Lee made perhaps his greatest mistake of the war, ordering a frontal attack across open ground against the Union center on Cemetery Ridge. Known as "Pickett’s Charge" for the commander of the largest Confederate division involved, George Pickett, the attack failed, leaving thousands of Southern soldiers dead and wounded. On Independence Day, a wagon train of wounded over 14 miles long began Lee’s retreat. With the Confederate’s loss of Vicksburg, Mississippi, that same day, July 4, 1863, is often described as the turning point of the Civil War. Read more about the Battle Of Gettysburg
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The year also saw an event unique in American history. Counties of western Virginia had refused to leave the Union when the state seceded in 1861. On June 20, 1863, West Virginia entered the Union as the 35th state, although the U.S. Constitution requires a mother state’s permission before a new state can be carved out of it.
At the end of 1863, both sides still had significant forces, and the Confederates enjoyed good defensive terrain in Virginia and North Georgia. If they could inflict enough losses on their Northern opponents, they might win at the ballot box what they could not on the field of battle: Lincoln was vulnerable and in the 1864 elections might be replaced by a Democrat who would make peace with the Confederacy.
Since the beginning of the war, Lincoln had sought in vain for a general who understood that destroying the Confederate armies in Virginia was more important than capturing Richmond, and who wouldn’t turn back in the face of a defeat in battle. He believed he’d found that man in Ulysses S. Grant, who was put in charge of all Union armies in March 1864. "Unconditional Surrender" Grant proved Lincoln right, but the cost in lives led many, including the president’s wife, Mary, to call the general a "butcher."
Following his promotion, Grant attached himself to the North’s largest army, the Army of the Potomac, while leaving George Gordon Meade, the victor of Gettysburg, in command of that force. On May 2, the Army of the Potomac crossed Virginia’s Rapidan River. Three days later, it collided with Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia in a wooded area thick with underbrush, known as The Wilderness, near the old Chancellorsville battlefield, site of Lee’s most brilliant victory. There was no such clear-cut outcome this time. After two blood-soaked days of close-quarters fighting, Grant maneuvered his army to outflank Lee’s right. Lee anticipated the move, and the two armies tore at each other again for two weeks in May around Spotsylvania Courthouse. Again, Grant sidestepped, and again Lee met him in the Battle of the North Anna. Grant intended to "fight it out along this line if it takes all summer," and the two armies clashed again and again, moving ever southward. At Cold Harbor, Grant made one of the worst mistakes of his career, suffering 7,000 casualties within 20 minutes while Lee’s losses were negligible. Eventually, the Federals maneuvered their opponents so close to Richmond and Petersburg—a town essential to the Confederates’ supply line—that Lee had to give up his ability to maneuver and settle into trench warfare. The siege of Richmond and Petersburg had begun. Read more about the Battle Of The Wilderness
Petersburg and Richmond
On July 30, the Union exploded a mine beneath a portion of the Confederate works around Petersburg. A tardy advance by a large number of Union soldiers into the 30-foot-deep crater it created allowed the Southerners time to recover. They poured fired into the densely packed Federals; eventually, the fighting was hand-to-hand. Angered by the blast and the presence of black troops, the Confederates gave no quarter and the Battle of the Crater resulted in 4,000 Union casualties for no gain. Read more about the Battle Of Petersburg
Although much of Lee’s army was tied down in the defense of Richmond and Petersburg, other portions resisted Union advances in the Shenandoah Valley. After a victory at Lynchburg in June, Jubal A. Early took his Army of the Valley across the Potomac and boldly marched on the Northern capital at Washington, D.C. A desperate delaying action on July 9 at Monocacy, Maryland, by an outnumbered force under Lew Wallace—the future author of Ben Hur—bought the capital time to prepare. When Early attacked Fort Stevens outside the city on July 11—12, President and Mrs. Lincoln came out to watch the fighting. After Early retired back down the Shenandoah Valley, Grant ordered Philip Sheridan to lay waste to the Valley. On October 9, Early surprised Sheridan’s camps on Cedar Creek near Winchester. Sheridan galloped to the sound of the guns, arriving in time to halt the Union rout and crushed the Confederates, effectively ending Early’s ability to take offensive actions to protect the Valley.
When Grant went east his friend and subordinate, William Tecumseh Sherman, took command of the armies of the Tennessee and the Cumberland at Chattanooga. While Grant bludgeoned and sidestepped his way toward Richmond, Sherman was slugging through the mountains of North Georgia. There, Confederate general Joseph Johnston made superb use of terrain to slow the Federal advance. After a series of clashes followed by maneuvers around Johnston’s defenses, Sherman lost patience and ordered a frontal assault on Kennesaw Mountain that cost 3,000 Union lives compared with 1,000 for the Confederates. But gradually, his armies closed in on the rail center of Atlanta. Finally, on September 2, Sherman’s men entered Atlanta after the Confederate army, now under the command of John Bell Hood, evacuated the town, setting fire to it before leaving.
The capture of Atlanta was one of the most crucial events of the war. The South’s last remaining hope was that war-weary Northern voters might turn Lincoln out of the White House in the November elections and replace him with a Peace Democrat. The Democrats had nominated George B. McClellan, the former commander of the Army of the Potomac, as their candidate. The party made many missteps during the campaign, and for the first time ever, the North allowed soldiers to vote in the field. Both of those contributed to Lincoln winning a second term, but had Sherman not taken Atlanta, the long casualty rolls from Grant’s Overland Campaign and the on-going stalemate around the Confederate capital might have been enough to convince Northerners to "give peace a chance" and vote against Lincoln and the war.
Sherman’s March To The Sea
Sherman left Atlanta November 15 on his march to the sea. Along the way, he intended to "make Georgia howl," letting his men live off the land and burning all they couldn’t take with them. He reached Savannah by Christmas, leaving a 60-mile wide swath of ashes, wrecked railroads and utter destruction behind him. Read more about Sherman’s March To The Sea
In an attempt to pull Sherman back into Tennessee, John Bell Hood swung the Army of Tennessee through upper Alabama and struck north for Nashville. Sherman detached George Thomas and the Army of the Cumberland to deal with him. At the town of Franklin, Hood ordered frontal assaults that after five hours of intense fighting, left his army in tatters; five generals were dead. Hood’s reduced force then besieged Nashville—the most heavily fortified city in America after Washington, D.C. After an ice storm melted, Thomas came out of his works and finished the job of shattering the Confederate army. Its remnants withdrew to Tupelo, Mississippi.
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In the spring of 1864, Nathan Bedford Forrest began an expedition that reached Paducah, Kentucky, on the Ohio River before rampaging against Federal installations in West Tennessee. Stories that his men massacred Union soldiers, particularly members of the United States Colored Troops captured at Fort Pillow, a poorly designed Mississippi River fort north of Memphis, gained instant credence in the North, but two official inquiries were unable to reach a conclusion about what had actually happened. At New Johnsonville, Tennessee, Forrest gained the distinction of commanding the only cavalry group ever to defeat gunboats, when they sunk or frightened crews into scuttling four ships.
On the Gulf Coast of Alabama on August 5, Admiral David G. Farragut steamed into the Battle of Mobile Bay with 18 ships. Tradition has it that when he was warned about torpedoes (mines) in the bay he responded, "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!" After Farragut’s ships defeated the unfinished ironclad CSS Tennessee, Union infantry captured forts Gaines and Morgan, sealing off the mouth of the bay, but the city of Mobile remained defiant.
By the end of 1864, the Confederacy had nothing left but courage and tenacity. With Lincoln’s re-election, no viable hope remained for a negotiated peace. The smoke rising above Georgia and the thousands of bodies strung out from Nashville to Atlanta to Petersburg and the gates of Washington said there would be no military victory. Legislators of North Carolina pressed Jefferson Davis to make peace before their state suffered Georgia’s fate but to no avail. The South would fight on, no matter cost.
The noose around the Confederacy was strangling it. In mid-January Fort Fisher in North Carolina fell to a combined land and naval force. The port city of Wilmington followed a month later. Sherman’s bummers were advancing north. When they reached South Carolina, where the rebellion had begun, any bit of restraint they may have shown elsewhere was pitched aside. By February 20, the state capital of Columbia was captured; fires destroyed much of the city, but whether they were set deliberately by Sherman’s troops or by retreating Confederates or accidentally by Union soldiers celebrating with too much alcohol has been long debated. Sherman’s men continued on through North Carolina, setting fire to the pine forests that played an important role in the state’s economy. What remained of the Confederate forces, once more under the command of Joseph Johnston, was far too small to stop the juggernaut.
Outside Petersburg, Virginia, Lee launched a costly failed attack against the besiegers’ Fort Steadman on March 25. When Federals under Phil Sheridan captured the crossroads at Five Forks, cutting Lee’s supply line, he withdrew from the Petersburg–Richmond trenches and headed southwest, hoping to link up with Johnston coming up from the south. Before leaving Richmond, the Confederates set fire to the town. On April 9, at Appomattox Courthouse, after discovering Federals had beaten him to a supply cache, he surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Grant. Despite his nickname of "Unconditional Surrender" Grant and his policy of waging total war against the South to end the rebellion, Grant offered generous terms, realizing this surrender would virtually end the war.
Johnston surrendered to Sherman at Bentonville, North Carolina, on April 26. Sherman extended even more generous terms than Grant had but endured the embarrassment of having to go back to Johnston with harsher conditions. Between Lee and Johnston’s surrenders, an event had occurred that reduced the North’s compassion toward their proud, defeated enemies.
On the night of April 14, John Wilkes Booth, a staunchly pro-slavery Confederate sympathizer, slipped into the President’s Box at Ford’s Theater in Washington and fired a single bullet into the back of Abraham Lincoln’s head. Lincoln died the next morning, the first American president to be assassinated. Booth was shot weeks later while trying to escape from a barn in Virginia. All those captured who were believed to be his co-conspirators in the plot were hanged, including Mary Surratt, who owned the boarding house where the plotters met.
Jefferson Davis, who had escaped Richmond, was captured in Georgia on May 10 and imprisoned for two years at Fortress Monroe, Virginia, before being released on $100,000 bond.
One after another, the remaining Confederate forces surrendered. Their last army in the field was surrendered by Cherokee Chief Stand Watie in Indian Territory (Oklahoma) on June 23.
The Last Battle
The last land battle, a Confederate victory, occurred May 12–13 at Palmito (or Palmetto) Ranch in south Texas, where word of Lee’s surrender had not yet been received. Far across the Atlantic on November 6, 1865, the sea raider CSS Shenandoah surrendered to a British captain; had the ship’s crew surrendered in America, they risked hanging as pirates.
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On Christmas Day, 1868, President Andrew Johnson issued an amnesty proclamation to all former Confederates, including Jefferson Davis. Only one Confederate was executed, Henry Wirtz, commander of the notorious prison camp at Andersonville. Officially known as Fort Sumter, Andersonville was the largest prison camp in the south and was infamous for its ill treatment of Union prisoners who lacked adequate food and medicine. Southerners have long protested that the death rate in Northern prison camps was higher than that of Andersonville, and Wirtz should not have been punished for war crimes. Learn more about the Andersonville Prison Camp
There were numerous causes that led to the Civil War, many of which developing around the fact that the North was becoming more industrialized while the South remained largely agrarian. Some causes of the Civil War include:
There were over fifty major land battles and over ten thousand skirmishes, engagements and other military actions fought during the Civil War. The first major battle was the First Battle of Bull Run and the last major battle was Appomattox Courthouse. Major Battles include:
Battle Of Bull Run Battle Of Gettysburg
Battle Of Fredericksburg
Seven Days Battle
Battle Of Petersburg
Battle Of Chickamauga
Battle Of Antietam
Second Battle Of Bull Run
Battle Of Vicksburg
Battle Of Shiloh
Battle Of Atlanta
Battle Of Chancellorsville
Appomattox Court House Battle
Several hundred generals were commissioned during the American Civil War in the Union and Confederate armies. These men led the troops into the battles that would ultimately decide the outcome of the war. Prominent Civil War Generals include:
Weapons were the instruments of war in the Civil War and often played a critical role in deciding many battles. Great advances came in the rifle, muskets, artillery, cannon and bullets, including the Minie Ball. Weapons used in the Civil War include:
Women Of The War
Women played an important role in the Civil War, playing the role of authors, as was the case of Harriet Beecher Stowe, abolitionists, civil rights activists, and nurses. Prominent Civil War women include:
There were two main armies engaged in the Civil War were the Union Army and the Confederate Army. But there were other notable armies within them including the Army of The Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia. Some prominent Civil War armies include:
Abraham Lincoln was the central figure of the Civil War. His election as President in 1860 on a platform of anti-slavery was a catalyst for southern states’ secession. He led the nation through the troubled years of 1861 until his assassination in 1865, just before the war ended.
The total number of casualties in the Civil War is not known precisely as records were not accurately kept during the era. Most sources put the total casualties on the Union and Confederate sides at between 640,000 and 700,000.
Sherman’s March to the Sea refers to the Savannah Campaign by General William Tecumseh Sherman which took place November to December, 1864. It is noted not only for its military success but for the sheer destruction inflicted on the south.
The Emancipation Proclamation, was issued by Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863. Delivered soon after the union victory at the battle of Antietam, it freed all slaves in confederate states. The proclamation proved a great motivator for the northern war effort and gave the war a higher purpose.
The Gettysburg Address
The Gettysburg Address, written by Abraham Lincoln and delivered after the battle of Gettysburg at the battlefield, is one of the most famous speeches in American History.
The common soldier of the Civil War varied greatly. Most were farmers, aged 18 to 29. Most were white protestants though African Americans made up roughly 10 percent of the Union army. Most earned 11 dollars per month.
The uniforms for the soldiers of the Civil War are generalized between the blue for the Union and grey for Confederates, but there were many variations depending on location and time period.
The Confederacy is the name commonly given to the Confederate States of American which existed from 1860-1865 throughout the Civil War. It was started when southern states seceded from the Union after the election of Abraham Lincoln. The Confederate President was Jefferson Davis.
Slavery In America
Slavery in America started in the early 17th Century with most slaves coming from Africa and being used in agriculture production. By the 18th Century, the Abolitionism movement began in the north and caused a divide between the northern and southern states. This divide came to the forefront with the election of Abraham Lincoln, who ran on an anti-slavery platform.
Civil War Flags
There were many different flags used during the Civil War. On the Union side, there were both 33 star flags and 34 star flags after Kansas was admitted to the Union in 1861. On the Confederate side, there were three national flags as well as the more recognizable confederate battle flag. Additionally, each corps, divisions, brigades, regiments, and even individual companies carried their own unique flags.
African Americans In The War
African Americans served many roles in the Civil War. In the Union army, over 179,000 African Americans served, with more serving in the Navy and in various support roles. In the Confederacy, African Americans remained slaves and their role was limited mostly to labor positions. Also, figures like Frederick Douglass were active abolitionists before and during the Civil War.
The Reconstruction Period generally refers to the period just after the Civil War, from 1865 to 1877. Reconstruction period was as harsh as the war on the Southern states and that they never fully regained their standing. The period of Reconstruction was important to build equal standing among the states and to regain trust.
Civil War Articles From History Net Magazines
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Was the legality of secession ever brought before the Supreme Court? If not, why?
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The only time the legality of secession was brought before the Supreme Court occurred in December 1868, when the …
Tell me about George H. Booth (b. 1840 Chicopee Falls, MA and d. 1927 Madrid, IA):
Was he related to John Wilkes Booth?
His play, The Drunkard's Dream, is in the Library of Congress; did he have other published works?…
'Civil War: The Untold Story' examines the war in the Western Theater. Photo by Justin Koehler
Civil War: The Untold Story is a five-hour documentary from Great Divide Pictures, which has produced award-winning historical documentaries such as How the …
Emancipation causes a stir both North and South, and a section of Virginia prepares to secede—from Virginia
1 – The Emancipation Proclamation takes effect—as does the Homestead Act, signed into law the previous May.
The first recorded homestead claim …
Abraham LIncoln writes the Emancipation Proclamation. Image courtesy of Library of Congress.
Lincoln's famous flair for words couldn't compete with the gravity of emancipation
When it was first issued, even Northerners who recognized it as a second Declaration of Independence …
There is an advertisement for the History Channel that claims Pres. A. Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth stand together in a picture. Is this true? Is there a reference book that you can refer me to that shows it? Who …
Did any sailors fight and die in the battle of Gettysburg? I have heard there are three sailors graves in the cemetary there and its my understanding that the only people buried there died in the battle there.
What if "Stonewall" Jackson had been with the Army of Northern Virginia at Gettysburg? Nathan Bedford Forrest had been given command of an army in the Western Theater? Joseph E. Johnston had not been wounded at Seven Pines on May …
War on the Waters: The Union & Confederate Navies, 1861-1865 by James M. McPherson University of North Carolina Press, 2012, $36
James M. McPherson, perhaps the greatest historian of the Civil War, continues to find aspects of the conflict that …
A blacksmith's cottage is among the period buildings on the 5-acre Mount Defiance site to be preserved on the Middleburg Battlefield. Image: Civil War TrustMiddleburg's Mount Defiance protected
A public–private partnership will preserve Mount Defiance, a five-acre ridge on the …
We are well into the second year of the sesquicentennial commemoration of the Civil War, and there have been no new national public television documentaries on the subject. Has everything been done? Has the breadth of the Civil War and …
General Lee heads north, producing a bloodbath in Maryland. And Abraham Lincoln presses emancipation
2 – In the aftermath of the Union's second loss at Bull Run, George McClellan is restored to full command of the Army of the …
The Global Lincoln by Richard Carwardine, Jay Sexton, eds. Oxford University Press 2011, $29.95
At the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth in 2009, a new area of Lincoln studies emerged: his legacy outside the United States after the Civil War …
Broadening our horizons
I appreciated the articles on the Monitor in the March 2012 issue but there were a few inaccuracies. The cover statement that Monitor made "every other warship obsolete" is only true if we mean every other warship …
Brian Lamb (image courtesy of C-SPAN)I spent a particularly memorable late-winter day a few months ago watching a 6 1/2-hour-long scholarly debate, hosted by the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, on the subject of who best deserves the title …
Rebels go marauding, emancipation occupies Abraham Lincoln and starving Sioux get restless
1 – Battle of Malvern Hill ends the Seven Days' battles with a Union victory.
The Revenue Act of 1862 establishes the Bureau of Internal Revenue …
The original painting (left) next to the Mary Todd fake. (images courtesy of Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum)The Lady and the scamp
Is she or isn't she? That question has been answered with a resounding "no": The portrait purported to …
"The Medicine of Andersonville Prison" discusses the medicine and medical practices of Andersonville Prison and its impact on the prison population. When: June 9 Where: National Museum of Civil War Medicine, Frederick, (301) 695-1864 CivilWarMed.org
"The Civil War Soldier …
Lincoln urges farmers to go west, McClellan stalls and a new Rebel commander takes over
3 – Confederate General Joseph Johnston orders troops to evacuate Norfolk, Va. Evacuation is completed May 10, and on May 11, the crew of …
The J.E.B. Stuart statue in Richmond, Va.New messages for old statues?
It wasn't quite art, but it wasn't quite vandalism either. So Richmond, Va., police and park employees were a bit stumped at how to handle ink-on-canvas plaques that were …
MHQ Home Page
Cain at Gettysburg
By Ralph Peters. 432 pp. Forge, 2012. $25.99.
Reviewed by Noah Andre Trudeau
I confess to being a fan of Civil War fiction involving real battles. Over the years I've come to …
A letter from Pvt. William Christie, 1st Minnesota Battery, to his father. Christie's battery lost three men killed and six men wounded.
I supposed you have heard of the great battle on the 6th and 7th of this month. …
On April 6, 1862, following the first day of fighting, General Ulysses Grant ordered Union gunboats on the Tennessee River to fire broadsides all through the night, in an effort to unnerve the enemy. John S. Cockerill of the 70th …
Stunning events on land and sea: Naval warfare is reinvented and a placid church gets a bloodbath
March 3 – President Lincoln appoints Andrew Johnson, the only Southern U.S. senator to remain loyal after his state seceded, military governor …
Trail takes helm at Antietam Battlefield
Susan Trail was superintendent at Monocacy National Battlefield for eight years. Photograph courtesy of National Park Service.Monocacy National Battlefield Super-intendent Susan Trail has been selected to serve in the same capacity at Antietam National …
Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War by Tony Horwitz (Henry Holt, 2011, $29)
Tony Horwitz is one of today's keenest commentators on the American character. In Midnight Rising, he turns his intuitive eye …
A speculative rendering of the Canadian merchant Georgian, by Gregory Proch
The Georgian started its life as a merchant steamer, but Confederate agents in Canada had darker plans
The quiet streets of Toronto stretched away from Dr. James Bates, disappearing …
From Battlefields Rising: How the Civil War Transformed American Literature, by Randall Fuller (Oxford University Press, 2010)
Mightier Than the Sword: Uncle Tom's Cabin and the Battle for America, by Davis S. Reynolds (Norton, 2010)
REVIEWED BY NAN …
The Loyalty of Silas Chandler
Was he a heroic black Confederate—or a slave forced to do his master's bidding?
By Myra Chandler Sampson and Kevin M. Levin
'Terrible Has Been the Storm'
William Sherman's men took out years of …
Abraham Lincoln's critics were vitriolic, but at least he didn't have to deal with them in a daily twitter feed.
This past summer, a beleaguered Barack Obama invited a new wave of criticism—if such criticism really surprises him or us …
An old Washington and Lee alum—with a little help from his friends—has posthumously provided his alma mater with a treasure trove of firsthand observations of the Civil War in Virginia, after some alert re-enactors and a Lexington historian spotted his …
1 - The Lincoln administration releases Confederate emissaries James Mason and John Slidell from Fort Warren in Boston Harbor, ending the Trent Affair. The diplomats continued their voyage to Europe, on an unsuccessful mission to win support for the …
A bird's-eye view of pre-war New York displays the shipping commerce that made the city rich. Image courtesy of Library of Congress.
A NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: Because of a production problem, a portion of this article was omitted from …
How do you rate the performance of Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer at the November 27, 1868, Battle of the Washita (near present-day Cheyenne, Okla.), including the way he handled the loss of Major Joel Elliott and his small party …
Two new books celebrate, in mostly commendable fashion, Michigan's contributions to the Civil War. Rick Liblong's Answering the Call to Duty: Saving Custer, Heroism at Gettysburg, POWs and Other Stories of Michigan's Small Town Soldiers in the Civil War (Arbutus …
Halfway through a five-year renovation of the historic Miller farmhouse at Antietam National Battlefield, the Park Service preservation teams have been offering a handful of sneak previews of their handiwork.
David Miller's cornfield became an icon of the battlefield, after …
If we want the young to learn history, we must find appealing ways to teach it
The Lincoln restaurant offers this large white leather banquette as an inviting version of the president's perch at the Lincoln Memorial. Photo courtesy of …
Preservationists, residents, entrepreneurs and Civil War enthusiasts all want a stake in its legacy
At times it seems as if there isn't enough Gettysburg to go around, and almost 150 years after the nation-changing battle, the site remains a hotly …
Most of New Orleans thought Ben Butler was bad news, according to Dr. Charles Bias, who was teaching the Civil War …
The major is often badmouthed as the villain of the Little Bighorn, but eyewitnesses insisted Reno was no coward—and he was in fact exonerated
"What do you do when you're branded, and know you're a man?'
That question comes up …
A congressional war panel proves too many cooks can poison the pot
By any standard, Ball's Bluff was a fiasco. What began as a raid in October 1861 escalated into an unintended battle for Leesburg, Va. The Yankees so badly …
The 150th anniversary of our greatest conflict implores us to take another look
Back in February, the London-based Art Newspaper, the most important journal in the museum world, published a front-page article bemoaning the shocking absence of American art …
Confederate soldiers under the command of Gen. Robert E. Lee camp on the outskirts of Hagerstown, Maryland, in September of 1862. Image courtesy of Weider History Group archive.
War seemed far away to the editors of a Maryland weekly newspaper–until …
No gambling for historic Civil War town
Preservationists claimed victory in Gettysburg this spring when for the second time in five years, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board rejected plans for a casino on the fringes of Gettysburg National Military Park.…
Who Was George G. Meade? with Dr. Allen Guelzo, Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era at Gettysburg College and Author
George Gordon Meade won fame as the victor of the Battle of Gettysburg, but not lasting fame. …
A Sacred Trust: Gettysburg Perspectives Lecture Series
July 1, 2 & 3, 2011
At Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center
1195 Baltimore Pike, Gettysburg, PA
The Gettysburg Foundation is pleased to present our annual lecture …
[PRESS RELEASE] Baldwin City, KS – Four events organized by the Black Jack Battlefield Trust will commemorate the 155th Anniversary of the Battle of Black Jack. On Thursday, June 2nd at 5:00am the actual date and time of the battle, …
The orderly advance of Union troops at the start of the battle would become a distant memory in the hellish retreat that followed the fighting. Picture credit: Frank Leslie'sThe 'unexpected' Rebels he met at Bull Run weren't unexpected at all…
A Louisiana youth wages a personal war with the Yankees on his doorstep
Aleck Mouton was 10 years old, barefoot and Confederate to the core when he confronted Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Banks, who had just invaded the tiny south Louisiana …
Scott brothers produce Gettysburg film for History channel
The famed filmmaking Scott brothers—Ridley (Gladiator; Black Hawk Down; American Gangster) and Tony (Unstoppable; Man on Fire; Top Gun)—have teamed with the cable channel History to produce Gettysburg, …
It's time to remember good Civil War lit—and close the door on the bad stuff
Several months ago, literary critic Adam Kirsch—full disclosure: he's my son-in-law—published an essay in the New York Times voicing concern about recent decisions …
Stunning photos dominate these coffee table tomes
The Civil War sesquicentennial has spawned a new—and not-so-new—wave of literature designed to introduce a new generation to the nation's seminal conflict. Among the first such books are three profusely illustrated volumes that …
The evolution of Father Abraham
Respected historian Eric Foner's new book, The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery, examines what the president truly believed about human bondage
Author Eric Foner. Courtesy of Eric Foner.
Q Why another book on …
A place for all things Lincoln—with a modern twist
Daniel Weinberg and Bjorn Skaptason of Chicago's Abraham Lincoln Book Shop bring the traditional book signing into the 21st century
Dan Weinberg. Photo by M. Sylvia Castle.What was the impetus for …
Secession fever revisited
We can take an honest look at history, or just revise it to make it more palatable
Try this version of history: 150 years ago this spring, North Carolina and Tennessee became the final two Southern states …
Preservationists win Wilderness battle
Rather than face what would likely have been an image-bruising court fight, Walmart has abandoned plans to build a retail supercenter on the doorstep of the Wilderness battlefield in central Virginia.
"This project has been controversial, …
Jackson, Johnston and conflicting interests
The fate of strategic Harpers Ferry hung on the leadership styles of two Southern commanders
Confederate Battery at Harper's Ferry. Courtesy of the Harper's Ferry National Historic Park.
Ten weeks before earning the sobriquet "Stonewall" …
*Note on Philippi, the Civil War's First Battle Inland: Many people ask, "What was the first battle of the Civil War?" The answers that are often given are 'The Battle Of First Bull Run' or 'Fort Sumter.' Chronologically, Fort Sumpter …
My Thoughts Be Bloody: The Bitter Rivalry Between Edwin and John Wilkes Booth That Led to an American Tragedy
by Nora Titone
Free Press, 2010, $30
This new book by first-time author Nora Titone is so intrepidly original in its …
Two Virginias, two Civil Wars?
The state in the forefront of war remembrance still argues over what happened
The state of Virginia has been back in the news, again at war with itself and again over issues relating to the …
Students snag chance to probe 'Camp Misery'
As if the indignity of losing at Fredericksburg were not enough, 100,000 Union soldiers (and 90,000 of their counterparts from the South) settled in to spend the winter along the banks of Virginia's …
Education, Preservation, Dedication
Civil War Trust President James Lighthizer has made saving endangered battlefields his life's passion
Jim Lighthizer. Photo by Kevin Johnson.
What is the biggest threat to Civil War battlefield preservation right now?
No question about it, development—the …
The New York Times Complete Civil War, 1861-1865
Edited by Harold Holzer and Craig L. Symonds
Black Dog & Leventhal Publishing, 2010, $40
It is no stretch to say the New York Times was the nation's most powerful newspaper during …
The one-way voyage of the Stone Fleet:
An aging armada sets course to become an obstacle
There may not have been a less impressive fleet in the entire history of the American Navy. The ships were old, long past their …
So many people insist on viewing the American Civil War (or any war, for that matter) from a good-guys-won perspective. It's a sure way to obscure at least half the facts and distort the meaning of the rest. As long …
Waite Rawls Revels in His Role as the Keeper of the Confederacy's Complex Legacy
S. Waite Rawls has a name and heritage befitting a Confederate general. A Virginia Military Institute graduate, he's got so many Rebel ancestors that he has …
Waite Rawls Revels in His Role as the Keeper of the Confederacy's Complex Legacy
S. Waite Rawls has a name and heritage befitting a Confederate general. A Virginia Military Institute graduate, he's got so many Rebel ancestors that he has …
Remembering the Confederates' last stand at Petersburg: The Confederate Alamo: Bloodbath at Petersburg's Fort Gregg on April 2, 1865
by John J. Fox III
Angle Valley Press, 2010, $34.95
Although it typically doesn't attract the attention it merits, April 2, …
Education that spans generations:
Peter Carmichael takes the helm of Gettysburg College's Civil War Institute, Gabor Boritt's innovative program for history students of all ages
Dr. Peter Carmichael. Photo by Tamela Baker.What attracted you to the Civil War Institute?…
Segways slipping silently across the battlefield might resemble the charge of the very, very light brigade, but the two-wheel, stand-up scooters could be an ideal way for tourists to inspect hallowed Civil War sites.
Beginning in June, the Fredericksburg and …
Southerners insisted they could legally bolt from the Union.
Northerners swore they could not.
War would settle the matter for good.
Over the centuries, various excuses have been employed for starting wars. Wars have been fought over land or honor. …
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'Until Every Negro Has Been Slaughtered'
Why did Rebels execute USCTs at Petersburg?
By Kevin M. Levin
Mad as a Hatter
Crazy Boston Corbett shot down John Wilkes Booth
By Eric …
George Custer and David Crockett each died dramatically in battle—exactly how remains open to debate—at the Little Bighorn and the Alamo, respectively. Those might be the two most memorable deaths in the West, but what other Western endings do you …
A video giving an opinion of what would have happened had General Robert E. Lee had been a Yankee.
To view the video, click here.
Superintendent John Howard plans to retire at year's end after 16 years at the helm of Antietam National Battlefield. Here he shares a few parting thought.
What accomplishment stands out most in your time at Antietam?
John Howard. Photo by …
A proposed casino near the site of Pickett's Charge has landed the Gettysburg National Military Park on the Civil War Preservation Trust's list of the 10 most endangered battlefields in 2010.
In its annual report History Under Siege, CWPT identified …
Becoming American Under Fire: Irish Americans, African Americans, and the Politics of Citizenship During the Civil War Era
by Christian G. Samito,
Cornell University Press, 2010, $39.95
Christian Samito's Becoming American Under Fire is a superb study of the expansion …
Simmering animosities between North and South signaled an American apocalypse
Any man who takes it upon himself to explain the causes of the Civil War deserves whatever grief comes his way, regardless of his good intentions. Having acknowledged …
Getting away with murder
The battlefield claimed many a brave officer, but there were a few others who met not-quite-so-honorable ends
The death toll among general officers during the Civil War was staggering. Because military necessity often placed a general …
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Second-Guessing Dick Ewell
Is it fair to blame General Richard Ewell for the Confederate defeat at Gettysburg?
By Chris Mackowski and Kristopher D. White
PLUS: 5 Battle Maps by David Fuller
The Proclamation and the …
The Louisiana Tigers in the Gettysburg Campaign, June-July, 1863
By Scott L. Mingus Sr.,
Louisiana State University Press, 2009
The legendary Louisiana Tigers, one of the more feared units in the Army of Northern Virginia, get a welcome and comprehensive …
He signed documents with an "X" and left no known recorded quotes or memoir of his experiences.
Yet because of his determination to be free, we know his name: Dred Scott, the intrepid slave who battled an unjust system through …
What makes this exhibit so different?
For one, it's not organized chronologically. Many of the exhibits we looked at start with Fort Sumter, then go to Manassas, then Shiloh, all the way along. But we've organized ours around certain theme …
The National Archives combines 21st-century technology with 19th-century ephemera for a new interactive sesquicentennial exhibition the department calls "the most extensive display ever assembled" from its massive Civil War collection.
View the patent for artifical limbs at the exhibit. National …
Crewmen aboard CSS Alabama pose next to the same type of 32-pounder that was recovered from the ship's wreck site. Courtesy of the Museum of Mobile.The state of Alabama never saw the sloop CSS Alabama, which was built for the …
Americans who lived through the Civil War established four great interpretive traditions regarding the conflict. The Union Cause tradition framed the war as preeminently an effort to maintain a viable republic in the face of secessionist actions that threatened both …
A Rising Star Struck Down in His Prime
Until Antietam: The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army, by Jack C. Mason, Southern Illinois University Press
Up to the moment he was mortally wounded along Antietam's …
How do you grade the Battle of the Little Bighorn performances of Lt. Col. George Custer, Major Marcus Reno and Captain Frederick Benteen on the following grading scale: A-plus (superhero), A (hero), B (almost a hero), C (half hero, half …
Preston Brooks' big stick diplomacy:
Heated oratory leads to violence in the hallowed halls of the U.S. Senate
With swift, powerful strokes, South Carolina Congressman Preston Brooks battered the prostrate body in the aisle of the nearly empty U.S. Senate …
Civil War Preservation Trust announces latest campaign
Fundraising has begun for the preservation of a crucial two-acre parcel on the Gettysburg battlefield. The property, originally part of the historic Philip Snyder farm, lies along the Emmitsburg Road and is entirely …
For Ed Bearss, the past is prologue.
Recalling the National Park Service's response to the war's centennial, its former chief historian reflects on a new milestone.
What impact will the sesquicentennial have on battlefield parks?
In 1955, the Park Service …
Virginia House Speaker Bill Howell and the Virginia Civil War sesquicentennial commission remember the war that split the state in two. Literally. Interview by Chris Howland
Virgina House Speaker Bill Howell. Photo by Kevin Johnson.
Why did the Virginia legislature …
Lincoln's Political Generals, by David Work
University of Illinois Press, 2009
Abraham Lincoln made his share of mistakes as commander in chief during the Civil War, but did his politically motivated appointments of nonmilitary men as Union generals help or …
Army at Home: Women and the Civil War on the Northern Home Front, by Judith Giesberg, University of North Carolina Press
The world of Civil War women has been enriched over the past decade by a bounty of significant …
P. 28, Field Guide: Williamsburg
"The day after Christmas 1850, Williamsburg mayor John Maupin strolled out to his farm south of town lingered and chatted with his slaves until mid-afternoon, then announced he was going "home." Perhaps he meant his …
Future Congressman James Ashley helped 24 slaves escape from bondage in Kentucky when he was 17.The Research History class at Washington High School is working to see that their favorite abolitionist gets a spot in the U.S. Capitol. For these …
Biographies of Civil War generals have appealed to generations of Americans. Famous commanders often attract readers who end up pursuing a lifelong interest in the conflict. J.E.B. Stuart played that role for me.
As an 11-year-old, I was drawn to …
CALL TO ARMS:
CALL TO THE COLORS:
GENERAL QUARTERS: …
Going down to town,
I'm going down to town,
Going down to the Lynchburg Town,
To take my tobacco down.
Times a-getting hard,
Money getting sca'ce,
Pay me for them tobacco, boys,…
Gettysburg residents Wayne and Susan Hill recently donated 45 acres to the Gettysburg Foundation. Located near the eastern base of Big Round Top at the southern end of the battlefield, the acreage encompasses an area where Union skirmishers maneuvered on …
State officials as well as volunteers are working to establish a state park in an area of Bates County, Mo., where the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry skirmished with Confederate guerrillas in October 1862. The encounter is known today as the …
Read James Harrison Wilson's The Life of John A. Rawlins online with Google Books.
P. 42, The 'Madness' of John Brown
The 150th Commemoration of Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry will take …
Smoke and fire filled the skies south of Petersburg in December 1864 as the Army of the Potomac's V Corps targeted the Weldon Railroad. During a raid along this vital supply line linking southeastern Virginia with North Carolina, liquor-fueled Federals …
(PLACE CURSOR OVER MCCLELLAN'S AND LINCOLN'S HEADS AND LISTEN)
As the war-weary Union anticipated the upcoming presidential election, beleaguered incumbent Abraham Lincoln faced the prospect of losing his office to the man he had fired as commander of the …
Field Fortifications & Confederate Defeat
by Earl J. Hess
University of North Carolina
New biographies that focus on Civil War–era figures inevitably face the dilemma of how to interpret race, politics and equality …
When the first inklings emerged early in 1861 that a fighting war pitting North versus South would soon break out, the residents of Washington, D.C.—at least those whose sympathies were with the Union—began to feel more than a little threatened. …
On a chill foggy autumn evening in 1859, abolitionist John Brown and a rough gang of 21 men with guns and pikes and revolt in their hearts quietly hiked five miles from a farm in Western Maryland to …
A developer hoping to build a resort near Harpers Ferry, W.Va., faces several regulatory roadblocks.
The developer, Rattling Springs Associates of McLean, Va., has submitted plans for a 50-room lodge and as many as 60 cottages along the banks of …
In the annals of American history, no war has produced as many famous horses as the Civil War: Traveller, Little Sorrel and Rienzi are among the best known, but there are others. Confederate Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, for example, …
Last year, federal archaeologists exhumed 67 bodies from Fort Craig, a Civil War-era fort in New Mexico, after a looting investigation led them to a house where remains of a uniformed "Buffalo Soldier," the nickname American Indians gave to black …
A historic flag captured from the 26th North Carolina Infantry at the Battle of Gettysburg has returned home.
A reenactment unit, whose members include a number of descendants of the original unit's soldiers, led the charge to acquire the flag, …
John Coski is the historian and library director at the Museum of the Confederacy. He is the author of The Confederate Battle Flag: America's Most Embattled Emblem — Interview by Tamela Baker
Describe the museum's expansion to Appomattox, Fredericksburg and …
Robert Krick worked for 31 years as the chief historian at Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park and is a renowned expert on the Army of Northern Virginia Interview by Kim A. O'Connell
How did a California kid get …
This monument marks the 9th Massachusetts Battery's initial position along the Wheatfield Road at Gettysburg. The artillerymen conducted a fighting retreat with their 12-pounder Napoleons to the Trostle Farm in the background. For more information visit:
Abraham Lincoln posed for several famous photographs at Alexander Gardner's Washington, D.C., gallery on November 8, 1863: one with his private secretaries John Nicolay and John Hay, and another full-face close-up that showed the steely-eyed president staring directly into the …
by Brian Holden Reid
Prometheus Books, 2008
One can read extensively in Civil War historiography and not once come across the word "puerile." Yet Brian Holden Reid, professor of American history and military …
by Dora L. Costa and Matthew E. Kahn
Princeton University Press, 2008
A Civil War book full of charts, graphs and tables, even when it is combined with intriguing human interest profiles …
by Ethan S. Rafuse
Rowman & Littlefield, 2008
Is it really possible there's anything new to say about Robert E. Lee, who probably has had more written about him than …
Sherman's March in Myth and Memory
by Edward Caudill and
Rowman & Littlefield, 2008
Memory studies are now a recognized discipline within the canon of Civil War historiography, with leading historians Gary Gallagher, David Blight and …
Many Union soldiers wrote about the soul-chilling yells of attacking Confederates. Thanks to the Museum of the Confederacy, you can hear the real thing on a CD featuring the authentic yell as performed by two elderly Confederate veterans. The two …
Read Dennis Hart Mahan's An Elementary Treatise on Advanced-Guard, Out-posts… online with Google Book Search.
P. 24, Field Guide
Daryl Black was recently named executive director of the Chattanooga History Center (chattanoogahistory.com). …
USS Water Witch is scheduled to be commissioned on April 4, 2009, at the National Civil War Naval Museum in Columbus, Ga. That weekend also marks the first time the painstakingly replicated vessel will open to the public.
"This is …
McClellan's War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union, Ethan S. Rafuse, Indiana University Press Confederate Tide Rising: Robert E. Lee and the Making of Southern Strategy, 1861-1862, …
Vicksburg 1863, by Winston Groom, Alfred A. Knopf
Winston Groom is a first-rate spinner of yarns, and like the tales of his most famous fictional character, Forrest Gump, his accounts seamlessly transport readers into the story. Vicksburg 1863 is …
In February 1861, longtime Illinois residents Abraham and Mary Lincoln moved their family to Washington, D.C., where the new president took up residence in the war-riven White House armed with a reassuring new image: that of a bearded statesman. …
The Central Virginia Battlefields Trust has released Volume 7 of its 2008 journal, Fredericksburg History and Biography. Included in it is "From Foxcroft to Fredericksburg: Captain Sewell Gray of the 6th Maine Infantry," by Chris Mackowski …
On a bleak hillside overlooking the battleground of Sailor's Creek, General Robert E. Lee watched as hundreds of his men fled through the fields and wooded ravines below. "Men without guns, many without hats," one witness recalled, "all mingled with …
The headstrong Gen. Philip Sheridan (left) had little patience for the careful battle tactics of Gen. Gouverneur Warren (right) and replaced him at Five Forks. But in 1880 Sheridan would be forced to justify his actions before a court of …
The year 2009 marks the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth, and it provides an occasion to honor the memory of America's greatest president: the savior of the Union and the emancipator of America's slaves. The festivities have already begun, and …
It's perfectly feasible to imagine that if the South had successfully left the Union, the West would also have split away
Did Confederate soldiers lose the will to fight as the outlook began to appear bleak for the South late …
Civil War Times
Stumbling in Sherman's Path
by Noah Andre Trudeau
Confederate troops had numerous opportunities to stop, or at least delay, the March to the Sea, but they repeatedly botched the job
'I Saw …
America's Civil War
My 15 Minutes Out of the Attic
By Robert Lee Hodge
From the cover of Confederates in the Attic to a "Primetime Live" television feature, a reenactor
discovered the fleeting nature of …
Don't Forget Camp Morton
In the October 2007 "Ask Civil War Times" section, a reader asked whether there was a Union equivalent to the Confederacy's horrific Andersonville Prison. Your answer did not include Camp Morton, the infamous Union facility …
What brought about the defeat of the Confederacy? For many years the prevailing theory was fairly simple: The Confederacy lost by a force of arms, beaten down on battlefields such as Shiloh?(see P. 30) by numerically superior Union armies.
Lincoln's Relentless Quest for Victory
Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant were each genuinely honest, decent, compassionate men. But each of them could be utterly ruthless when it came to military decisions. Early in 1864, Lincoln decided that he and …
An Election Unlike Any Other
Over the course of the next 12 months a presidential election unlike any we've seen in American history is likely to unfold. Not since 1952 has the race for the White House been so wide …
Madness Great and Small
The War Between the States was madness manifest on a grand scale in its enormous loss of life, limb and treasure. But madness at a more personal level also shaped the course of the war in …
In the fall of 1857, a party of emigrants from Arkansas camped in southern Utah Territory at Mountain Meadows, a lush alpine oasis on the Spanish Trail where wagon trains rested before crossing the Mojave Desert. The party was made …
Civil War Times
The Fierce Pride of the Texas Brigade
By Susannah U. Bruce
Duty, honor and a fervent desire to preserve the storied reputation of the Lone Star State are what drove Robert E. …
America's Civil War
America's Bloodiest Day
George McClellan's lucky find of Robert E. Lee's Special Orders No. 191 led to a fight near Antietam Creek on what became the bloodiest day in American history—September 17, …
September is America's cruelest month. The three most costly events in human terms suffered by our country occurred in that ninth month of the year.
On September 11, 2001, jets fell out of clear blue skies to kill roughly 3,000 …
The Mexican War was over. The Santa Fe Trail, that 909-mile road of commerce which had become the pathway for military invasion, was once again bustling with trade caravans. The necessity of supplying the new American military outposts in New …
Nearly two months after the battle of Gettysburg 24-year-old Isaac Dunsten of the 105th Pennsylvania Infantry lay on officers' row at Camp Letterman, the large tent hospital established just east of the town. On July 2, 1863, the second day …
Visiting the Somme battlefield in northern France is largely a matter of going from one Commonwealth Graves Commission cemetery to another. The graveyards are everywhere, some of them very small, comprising only a handful of white Portland marble stones, many …
Lieutenant Freeman S. Bowley was fighting for his life in the man-made hellhole that was the Petersburg Crater when he noticed that the former slaves in his company of the 30th United States Colored Troops were not the only men …
A ragged line of Union soldiers stood in a field along Goose Creek in Rectortown, Virginia, on November 6, 1864. They jostled, chatted and joked with each other, pleased to be outdoors on a brisk autumn day. As prisoners of …
By Chuck Leddy
Bonding With the Past
Great stuff on the Iron Brigade in the March issue! I'm a reenactor, and several years ago when I participated in a living history event for the Wisconsin Veteran's Museum, Bill Brewster was kind …
The Age of Machines and Steel
It will hardly be revelatory to most people reading these pages to point out that the Civil War materialized on the cusp of a technological revolution. What may be surprising to some is the …
In the final week of the war in Virginia, small villages, crossroads and railroad depots previously untouched by the fighting took on enormous importance as Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant sought to bring General Robert E. Lee to bay and …
Remember Corporal-Captain Radar on M*A*S*H?
My thanks for publishing the story of my telegrapher great-grandfather, Seargent Prentiss Peabody. There is one small correction that my family would appreciate. I want to point out to your editors the proper spelling of …
For most general officers, a headline-making victory accompanied by the abject surrender of an entire enemy army, such as Ulysses "Unconditional Surrender" Grant accomplished at Fort Donelson in February 1862, would have been quite enough for one career. But Grant …
Longstreet vs. Jackson
Jeffry Wert's cover story "Lee's Best Subordinate" in the August 2006 issue is in my opinion wrong. James Longstreet was not Lee's best general.
Longstreet was a failure when given independent command. His conduct at the Battle …
When the Guns Stop Firing
Why is it that wars never end as conveniently and definitively as they are supposed to? It should be so simple, according to movies, television shows and even some of the news coverage in the …
Firing the First Shot
Regarding the July issue, I especially liked Dana Shoaf's editorial about the Wisler house and J.D. Petruzzi's fine article on the first shot at Gettysburg. Like countless others, I've risked life and limb to climb the …
More to War Than Fighting
When you stop to consider everything that was involved in the day-to-day experience of a commanding general in the Civil War, you begin to wonder how they ever found any time to fight battles. It …
In January 1943, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill met in secret near Casablanca, Morocco, for their second wartime summit meeting. At the final press conference on January 24, Roosevelt announced to the world that the Allies would not stop …
By Frank van der Linden
Some turns affect not only lives, but how posterity regards those lives.
Military history abounds with heroes and villains who made larger-than-life names for themselves. It is also replete with fascinating also-rans who, either because of their own …
By Robert N. Thompson
"Tin can on a shingle," some Union soldiers would say upon seeing Monitor; "Cheesebox on a raft," quipped other Yankees. Both are fine descriptions with a homespun American flavor and culinary twist that work well and conjure up an …
The Irish experience in the Civil War has probably received more attention — and celebration — than that of any other ethnic group. Mention of the Irish commonly conjures up images of the Irish Brigade's doomed charge at Fredericksburg, of …
Andersonville vs. Camp Douglas
In Lon L. Leapley's letter ("Mail Call," June 2006) he says he had never heard of Camp Douglas, Ill., until he recently saw a TV documentary about it on The History Channel. He then hastily declares …
The Drive for War
What is it that ultimately causes a person to willfully endure the horrors of combat, and if need be, sacrifice his or her life? Certainly the noble inducements of patriotism, honor, belief in a cause or …
By Pierre Comtois
By Bruce J. Dinges
By Gary R. Rice
By Al W. Goodman, Jr.
By Ken Bivin
By George Rogan
By Joseph F. von Deck
The Underdog Days of Summer
America loves an underdog, for obvious reasons. After all, we were an underdog from the second when feet hit the shore at Jamestown. If you were taking bets around the rest of the world on …
By Ted Alexander
By William J. Stier
By Angela Lee
By Robert C. Cheeks
By Robert C. Cheeks
By Phil Noblitt
By Robert James
By John M. Archer
By Mark J. Crawford
By Max Epstein
By David E. Long
By Harold Holzer
By Claire Hopley
'In the conditions of real war, the feeling of uncertainty is magnified, and this makes the opponent much more sensitive to crafty deception — so that even the most threadbare ruse has succeeded time after time.'
– Sir Basil Liddell …
By Jeffry D. Wert
The words resonate through Confederate history like an unwelcome truth. As General Robert E. Lee made preparations for an assault on the center of the Union line at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863, his senior subordinate, Lieutenant General James Longstreet, …
It had no effect on the battle — other than adding to the casualty lists — and there was no good reason for ordering it in the first place. But for the whim of a subpar brigade commander, whose sobriety …
By Mary Franz
Reviewed by Chrys Ankeny
By Hank H. Cox
Cumberland House, Nashville, Tenn., 2005
Civil War buffs rarely pay it any mind, even though it occurred in 1862 and had more than a marginal body count, and President Abraham Lincoln intervened …
Reviewed by Partick Alan
By Jay Wertz
Civil War enthusiasts are unable to rest until everyone they know stops tolerating their mania and starts sharing it. It is the great crusade that lies at the heart of the …
Reviewed by Craig Symonds
By Bruce Leviner
Oxford University Press
There has been a lot of discussion in the last decade or so about black Confederates. Some of that discussion has questioned the number of African Americans who labored or …
By Jeffry D. Wert
Reviewed by Robert Citino
By Christopher Bayly and Tim Harper
Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 2005
The American view of the war with Japan begins at Pearl Harbor, proceeds through Midway, Guadalcanal and "island-hopping," and ends with Hiroshima and Nagasaki. …
Reviewed by Robert K. Krick
By Thomas K. Tate
AuthorHouse, www.authorhouse.com, Bloomington, Ind., 2005
Keeping ordnance supplied to its soldiers in the field must rank among the most amazing achievements of the nascent Confederate military establishment. The genius, efficiency and …
Reviewed by Perry D. Jamieson, Air Force Historical Studies Office
By Earl J. Hess
University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill and London, 2005
Many books describe Civil War military operations in remarkable detail, but prove disappointing when it comes …
Reviewed by Robert K. Krick
By Stephen Chicoine
McFarland & Company, www.mcfarlandpub.com, Jefferson, N.C.
Chappell Hill, Texas, lies a few dozen miles northwest of Houston, in Washington County. The 1850s brought thriving prosperity to the region, generated by slavery-based cotton …