American Civil War

American Civil War
CivilWarUSAColl.png
Clockwise from top: Battle of Gettysburg, Union Captain John Tidball's artillery, Confederate prisoners, ironclad USS Atlanta, ruins of Richmond, Virginia, Battle of Franklin.
Date April 12, 1861 – May 9, 1865 (by proclamation) [1]
(4 years, 3 weeks and 6 days)
( Last shot fired June 22, 1865)
Location Southern United States, Northeastern United States, Western United States, Atlantic Ocean
Result

Union victory

Belligerents
  United States   Confederate States
Commanders and leaders

United States Abraham Lincoln 
United States Ulysses S. Grant
United States William T. Sherman
United States David Farragut
United States George B. McClellan
United States George Meade
United States John Pope

Confederate States of America Jefferson Davis  Surrendered
Confederate States of America Robert E. Lee  Surrendered
Confederate States of America P.G.T. Beauregard  Surrendered
Confederate States of America Stonewall Jackson +  
Confederate States of America Nathan B. Forrest  Surrendered
Confederate States of America Joseph E. Johnston  Surrendered

Strength

2,200,000: [2]

698,000 (peak) [3][ better source needed] [4]

750,000–1,000,000 [2] [5]

360,000 (peak) [3] [6]
Casualties and losses

110,000+ killed in action/died of wounds
230,000+ accident/disease deaths [7] [8]
25,000–30,000 died in Confederate prisons [3] [7]

365,000+ total dead [9] 282,000+ wounded [8]
181,193 captured [3][ better source needed] [10]

Total: 828,000+ casualties

94,000+ killed in action/died of wounds [7]
26,000–31,000 died in Union prisons [8]

290,000+ total dead
137,000+ wounded
436,658 captured [3][ better source needed] [11]

Total: 864,000+ casualties
50,000 free civilians dead [12]
80,000+ slaves dead [13]
Total: 785,000–1,000,000+ dead [14] [15]

The American Civil War was a civil war in the United States fought from 1861 to 1865. The Union faced secessionists in eleven Southern states grouped together as the Confederate States of America. The Union won the war, which remains the bloodiest in U.S. history.

Among the 34 U.S. states in January 1861, seven Southern slave states individually declared their secession from the U.S. and formed the Confederate States of America. War broke out in April 1861 when Confederates attacked the U.S. fortress Fort Sumter. The Confederacy grew to include eleven states; it claimed two more states and the western territory of Arizona. The Confederacy was never diplomatically recognized by any foreign country. The states that remained loyal including border states where slavery was legal, were known as the Union or the North. The war ended with the surrender of all the Confederate armies and the collapse of the Confederate government in the spring of 1865.

The war had its origin in the factious issue of slavery, especially the extension of slavery into the western territories. Four years of intense combat left 620,000 to 750,000 soldiers dead, a higher number than the number of American military deaths in World War I and World War II combined, and much of the South's infrastructure was destroyed. The Confederacy collapsed and slavery was abolished in the entire country. The Reconstruction Era (1863–1877) overlapped and followed the war, with its fitful process of restoring national unity, strengthening the national government, and granting civil rights to the freed slaves.

History

In the 1860 presidential election, Republicans, led by Abraham Lincoln, supported banning slavery in all the U.S. territories, something which the Southern states viewed as a violation of their constitutional rights and as being part of a plan to eventually abolish slavery. The three pro-Union candidates received an overwhelming 82% majority of the votes among Republican Lincoln in the north, Democrat Douglas nationally and Constitutional Unionist Bell in the border states. The Republican Party, dominant in the North, secured a plurality of the popular votes and a majority of the electoral votes, so Lincoln was elected the first Republican president.

But before his inauguration, seven slave states with cotton-based economies formed the Confederacy. The first six to declare secession had the highest proportions of slaves in their populations, a total of 49 percent. [16] The first seven with state legislatures to resolve for secession included split majorities for unionists Douglas and Bell in Georgia with 51% and Louisiana with 55%. Alabama had voted 46% for those unionists, Mississippi with 40%, Florida with 38%, Texas with 25%, and South Carolina cast Electoral College votes without a popular vote for president. [17] Of these, only Texas held a referendum on secession.

Eight remaining slave states continued to reject calls for secession. Outgoing Democratic President James Buchanan and the incoming Republicans rejected secession as illegal. Lincoln's March 4, 1861 inaugural address declared that his administration would not initiate a civil war. Speaking directly to "the Southern States," he reaffirmed, "I have no purpose, directly or indirectly to interfere with the institution of slavery in the United States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so." [18] After Confederate forces seized numerous federal forts within territory claimed by the Confederacy, efforts at compromise failed and both sides prepared for war. The Confederates assumed that European countries were so dependent on " King Cotton" that they would intervene, but none did, and none recognized the new Confederate States of America.

Hostilities began on April 12, 1861, when Confederate forces fired upon Fort Sumter. While in the Western Theater the Union made significant permanent gains, in the Eastern Theater, the battle was inconclusive in 1861–62. The autumn 1862 Confederate campaigns into Maryland and Kentucky failed, dissuading British intervention.[ citation needed] Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which made ending slavery a war goal. [19] To the west, by summer 1862 the Union destroyed the Confederate river navy, then much of their western armies, and seized New Orleans. The 1863 Union siege of Vicksburg split the Confederacy in two at the Mississippi River. In 1863, Robert E. Lee's Confederate incursion north ended at the Battle of Gettysburg. Western successes led to Ulysses S. Grant's command of all Union armies in 1864. Inflicting an ever-tightening naval blockade of Confederate ports, the Union marshaled the resources and manpower to attack the Confederacy from all directions, leading to the fall of Atlanta to William T. Sherman and his march to the sea. The last significant battles raged around the Siege of Petersburg. Lee's escape attempt ended with his surrender at Appomattox Court House, on April 9, 1865. While the military war was coming to an end, the political reintegration of the nation was to take another 12 years of the Reconstruction Era.

The American Civil War was one of the earliest true industrial wars. Railroads, the telegraph, steamships, and mass-produced weapons were employed extensively. The mobilization of civilian factories, mines, shipyards, banks, transportation and food supplies all foreshadowed the impact of industrialization in World War I. It remains the deadliest war in American history. From 1861 to 1865, it has been traditionally estimated that about 620,000 died but recent scholarship argues that 750,000 soldiers died, [20] along with an undetermined number of civilians. [N 1] By one estimate, the war claimed the lives of 10 percent of all Northern males 20–45 years old, and 30 percent of all Southern white males aged 18–40. [22]