|The Civil War was fought between the Northern and
Southern states of the United States of America from 1861-1865. A
drastic event that changed the course of America's history, it
claimed the lives of 620,000 people. It is a well known fact that
this war, which was fought on America's own soil, sparred family
members against one another.
Although there were a number of causes that started the Civil
War, the issue of slavery was one igniting sparks. There was much
dispute between the northern and southern states. Although the
northern states did not have a high demand for slave labor, slaves
were essential to the South's primarily agricultural economy.
Another underlying cause of the Civil War was the debate over
states' rights. Many of the southern states felt that any state
that wished to secede (to leave from a group) from the Union should
be able to do so. The northern states strongly disagreed, and they
felt that all states that were part of the Union should remain a
part of a united nation.
In November of 1860, Abraham Lincoln became the sixteenth
President of the United States. The official beginning of the Civil
War was on April 12, 1861, after Fort Sumter in South Carolina was
fired upon by Confederate troops. South Carolina became the first
state to secede on December 20, 1860. (It would later be readmitted
as a part of the U.S. on June 25, 1868.) On December 18, 1860, it
had announced itself as an "independent commonwealth." Other states
soon followed and joined the Confederacy. In chronological order of
their departure from the Union, they were Mississippi, Florida,
Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, North Carolina,
Virginia, and Tennessee.
From the start of the war, the northern or Union army seemed to
have greater advantages on its side. Despite the fact that the
Confederacy was able to boast of more highly-skilled commanders,
the Union had a population of about 22 million, a strong
industrialized economy that produced war goods, large
concentrations of wealth, and a transporting system (railroads)
that was far larger than the South's.
As for African-American participation in the Civil War, both
sides had black soldiers, though few of them were given the
opportunity to fight. Those that were allowed to see combat often
fought with great valor. Slaves were also used in the Confederacy
to do physical labor such as building and repairing.
General Robert Edward Lee (1807-1870), the well-known hero of
the Mexican War and the revered commanding general of the
Confederate forces, finally surrendered to Union commander General
Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885) on April 9, 1865, at Appomattox Court
House in Virginia. Although Lee was against seceding from the Union
and the concept of slavery, he did not accept President Lincoln's
offer to head the Union army. Lee's pride and dedication to his
southern heritage were too great. Grant would later serve for two
terms as President of the United States from 1869-1877.
The price of the Civil War was stunning. Of the astounding
620,000 dead, the lives of 360,000 Union citizens were taken, and
260,000 from the Confederacy were killed.