The Tide Turns

During the first half of 1863, doubts about the Federal army's ability to defeat the Confederate forces mounted across the North. And when Confederate general Robert E. Lee (1807-1870) led his troops to a spectacular victory at Chancellorsville, Virginia, the North grew increasingly anxious. In July, antiwar feelings combined with anger over many of the wartime actions of President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) led to a deadly riot in New York that took the lives of more than one hundred people....

Lincolns troubles on the home front

The Union victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg in July 1863 came just in time for President Lincoln. In the first half of 1863, political and popular opposition to Lincoln's wartime policies had mounted all across the North. Democrats accounted for a good deal of this criticism. They opposed the Republican president on the war, emancipation, and a wide range of other issues. But many other people had emerged as critics of Lincoln as well. The reasons for this unhappi-ness with the president...

Reconstruction unravels

The remainder of Johnson's term in office was uneventful. Union general Ulysses S. Grant was elected to replace him as president later in 1868. By this time, Congress's Reconstruction program had been in place for two years. It was very unpopular among white Southerners. Many white people in the South hated the Reconstruction policies that allowed blacks to vote and hold positions in the government. They still believed that black people were inferior and should submit to white rule. White...

Slavery and the American South

When America's Founding Fathers (the country's earliest leaders) established the United States in the late 1700s, they decided to build the new nation on principles of freedom and liberty for its people. But during America's first years of existence, the country's leaders decided not to extend those freedoms to a small but growing segment of the population. The new nation's slaves, who had been removed from Africa by force or born into captivity in the New World, were denied the rights that...

Prejudice leads to race riots in the North

Racial prejudice caused other problems for Northern blacks during the Civil War, in addition to preventing them from serving their country as soldiers. At that time, many immigrants from Germany, Ireland, Italy, and other European countries worked in industrial factories in the North. Working conditions in the factories were not good in those days, and many people worked long hours for low wages. Some workers formed groups called labor unions in order to negotiate with their employers for...

Desperation in the Confederacy

Abraham Lincoln Union

In March, Sherman's Army of the Mississippi left South Carolina and Union major general Philip H. Sheridan sits in front of his tent with his staff. (Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.) Union major general Philip H. Sheridan sits in front of his tent with his staff. (Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.) entered North Carolina. Meanwhile, Confederate defenses continued to crumble elsewhere in the South. Over in Virginia, Union troops under the...

Research and Activity Ideas

The following research and activity ideas are intended to offer suggestions for complementing social studies and history curricula, to trigger additional ideas for enhancing learning, and to suggest cross-disciplinary projects for library and classroom use. Imagine yourself as a slave on the Underground Railroad. Keep a diary of your imaginary experiences as you make your way to the North. Create a map showing your progress each day. Divide into two groups of at least four. Assign one group to...

Rosecrans and Bragg duel in the West

The first major clashes of 1863 took place in the war's western theater (military area), in central Tennessee. In the last months of 1862, the two sides had engaged in a number of battles for control of Kentucky and Tennessee. But while an indecisive battle at Per-ryville, Kentucky, in October 1862 had convinced Confederate general Braxton Bragg (1817-1876) to withdraw from that state, he still hoped to take control of middle Tennessee. The struggle for possession of central Tennessee pitted...

Total warfare

During the month of September, Sheridan scored two significant victories over Early's forces. Neither of these battles destroyed the rebel army, but they forced Early to lay low for several weeks. In the meantime, Sheridan went about the process of burning the Shenandoah Valley countryside. Throughout September and early October, Sheridan's Union force which Ulysses S. Grant. (Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.) Ulysses S. Grant. (Courtesy of the National Archives and...

Lincoln silences Maryland secessionists

First, Lincoln decided to clamp down on secessionist activities in Baltimore, a big city that had become a center of Confederate support. The extent of Baltimore's sympathy to the Confederate cause had become clear on April 19, when the 6th Massachusetts militia a Union regiment under the command of Benjamin Butler (1818-1893) that was traveling to Washington, D.C. came under attack in the city from a secessionist mob. By the time the clash ended, dozens of injured people and dead bodies...

The Confederacy considers using blacks as soldiers

As Union victories piled up during 1864 and early 1865, a small number of Southern lawmakers and community leaders suggested adding slaves to the Confederate Army. At first, whites across the Confederacy voiced strong objections to the idea of fighting side-by-side with blacks. Much of this resistance came from deep-seated racism. These bigoted critics argued that slaves did not have the intelligence or discipline to be good soldiers, and they declared that they would be deeply offended if...

Confederate victories in the West

News of Lee's triumph at the Second Battle of Bull Run sent a ripple of fear through the Lincoln adminis tration, especially since victory suddenly seemed in doubt in the West as well. Only a few months earlier in the spring of 1862 the Union had seemed ready to completely smash the rebels in the West. Federal forces had seized control of almost fifty thousand square miles of Confederate territory in the region, including such prized Southern cities as Nashville, New Orleans, and Memphis. Even...

Buchanan supports the Lecompton Constitution

In early 1858, the federal government was finally able to regain some measure of control over the Kansas territory, and the violence lessened. Both sides continued to battle in the political arena, however. As order was restored, it became clear to proslavery Kansans that they were outnumbered by abolitionists. Supporters of slavery, though, had an important ally in President James Buchanan (1791-1868), a Democrat who was sympathetic to the South. Aided by Buchanan, the territory's proslavery...

Rosecrans occupies Chattanooga

In the months following the clashes at Vicksburg and Gettysburg, By the middle of 1863, shortages of food and supplies had become so severe in some parts of the Confederacy that riots broke out. Hungry mobs invaded stores and food warehouses in more than a dozen Southern cities during the spring and summer, including Augusta, Georgia, and Mobile, Alabama. The largest and most alarming of these riots was the one that erupted in the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia. Richmond was very...

Lincoln signals determination to preserve the Union

Lincoln Preserving The Union

President Lincoln and other Northern political leaders watched events unfold in the South with considerable concern. After all, the Confederate states had gone about the process of creating a recognizable nation for themselves in energetic fashion, and Federal authority in those states was diminishing quickly. Post offices, courts, military posts, customs offices, financial institutions, and other Federal offices were taken over by state troops loyal to the Confederacy in villages and cities...

Lincolns Emancipation Proclamation

A few days after the Battle of Antietam, Lincoln issued a document that changed the very nature of the Civil War. This preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, issued on September 22, stated that unless the seceded Confederate states voluntarily returned to the Union by January 1, 1863, all slaves within those states would be free. The historic declaration also called for the inclusion of blacks into the U.S. armed services. Lincoln's desire to issue such a proclamation had been growing for some...

Farragut devises a bold plan

Farragut's fleet sailed into the Gulf of Mexico and reached New Orleans' defenses in mid-April. The Union commander promptly ordered a heavy bombardment of the two Confederate forts. The Union fleet and the Confederate forts fired shells back and forth at one another for the next several days in an attempt to pound the other into submission. After a week or so, Farragut decided that his mortar attack was not working. He then devised a daring plan to sail past the forts under cover of darkness...

Federal authority and states rights

From the time that the original thirteen colonies declared their independence from Great Britain in 1776, Americans worked to develop an effective system of democratic government. The first comprehensive rules of government passed were the Articles of Confederation, which were ratified (legally approved) in 1781. Under the terms of this document, the individual states held most of the country's legislative power. The Articles of Confederation also provided for the creation of a central or...

The Battle of Spotsylvania

Who Embalmed Abraham Lincoln

As the Army of the Potomac pushed forward, it moved around Lee's right flank and drew near a small Virginia village called Spotsylvania. But Lee quickly mobilized his troops and launched a night march that enabled the Confederates to reach the village first. The rebel army immediately prepared a system of trenches and other fortifications, then settled in to await the arrival of the Union Army. Lee's troops did not have to wait very long. Grant's Union forces attacked Lee's defenses on May 8,...

Spies scouts couriers and saboteurs

American women also played other, less visible, roles in the Civil War for example, by helping their side gain information as spies, scouts, and couriers (messengers carrying information). Many spirited girls and imaginative women were challenged by the opportunity to perform daring deeds for their cause, Massey noted. Some women became spies out of strong feelings of patriotism they wanted to do their part to help their own side win the war. Others became spies for the opposite reason they...

Lee surrenders to Grant

Robert Lee Surrender

General Lee and his dispirited Army of Northern Virginia also evacuated Petersburg and Richmond on April 2. Lee moved his exhausted army southward in a desperate bid to join forces with Johnston's twenty thousand-man force, but the Army of the Potomac immediately gave pursuit. Lee's reduced army of thirty-five thousand men pushed on, spurred by their deep devotion to their commander. But on April 7, Union cavalry under the direction of Sheridan stopped their progress near the little town of...

Blacks in the Confederacy

In the early years of the Civil War, black slaves performed much of the hard labor that was required to prepare the Confederacy for war. They built forts and dug trenches, transported artillery and unloaded shipments of arms, set up army camps and acted as cooks and servants for the soldiers. They also continued to work in the fields, growing food and cotton to be used in the war effort. The prevailing attitude in the South was that every Negro who could wield handle a shovel would release a...

The Confederacy selects its first president

Map During Civil War

On February 9, 1861, delegates of the Confederate States of America elected Jefferson Davis (1808-1889), a wealthy slaveholding senator from Mississippi, to be its first president. Davis had served as the United States' secretary of war in the mid-1850s under President Franklin Pierce (1804-1869). Dedicated to the principle of states' rights and respected throughout the South, Davis was seen as a solid choice for the presidency, even though he had expressed reservations about secession in the...

The Lincoln Douglas debates

Senator Stephen Douglas

As the 1858 Senate contest between Douglas and Lincoln progressed, it quickly drew the attention of people all around Illinois and the nation. This spotlight fell on the two men for several reasons. Both men were energetic campaigners who roamed all across the state to win people to their side. Moreover, most observers agreed that the race was a close one, and that either man might win. But the Douglas-Lincoln contest became most famous because it included a series of heated public debates that...

Grant leads Union victories in the West

The first major battles of 1862 took place in the West, where Union troops led by Major General Henry W. Halleck (1815-1872) and Brigadier General Don Carlos Buell (1819-1898) faced Confederate forces commanded by General Albert S. Johnston (18031862). In February 1862, both sides concentrated their attention on western Kentucky. There, two major rivers offered access deep into Confederate territory. These rivers the Cumberland and the Tennessee were protected by two Confederate forts, but...

Lincoln wins reelection

Sheridan's decisive victory over Early destroyed any hopes that the Confederacy might have had of regaining control of the Shenandoah Valley. Moreover, it provided further evidence to Northern voters that the Confederacy was finally falling apart after years of struggle and bloodshed. Coming on the heels of Mobile Bay and Atlanta, Sheridan's conquest was a tonic that checked war weariness and created a new spirit of optimism in the North , wrote Bruce Catton in The Civil War. The war was...

Women in the Civil

The Civil War had a greater effect on American women than any other conflict in the nation's history. Women from both the North and the South played a wide range of roles during the war. Although conditioned in contrasting environments and schooled in opposing philosophies, women stepped forward as defenders of their respective causes, Mary Elizabeth Massey wrote in Women in the Civil War. Emotions, energies, and talents that even they did not realize they possessed were unleashed. Many women...

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DETROIT * SAN FRANCIS CO LONDON BOSTON WOODBRIDGE, CT Kevin Hillstrom and Laurie Collier Hillstrom Lawrence W. Baker, U*X*L Senior Editor S Carol DeKane Nagel, U*X*L Managing Editor Tom Romig, U*X*L Publisher Rita Wimberley, Senior Buyer Evi Seoud, Assistant Production Manager Dorothy Maki, Manufacturing Manager Mary Beth Trimper, Production Director Michelle DiMercurio, Art Director Cynthia Baldwin, Product Design Manager Shalice Shah-Caldwell, Permissions Specialist Robert Duncan, Senior...

Dred Scotts bid for freedom

John Sanford

One of the most important legal decisions in American history took place in 1857, when the U.S. Supreme Court had to decide whether a slave named Dred Scott (c. 1795- 1858) should be granted his freedom. The Court's ruling against Scott further increased the hostility and distrust between America's Northern and Southern regions, in part because it suggested that slavery could be legally instituted anywhere in the country. Dred Scott was a Missouri slave who had been the property of an Army...

Sherman chases Johnston

The Cruel War Sheet Music

Over in the western theater, meanwhile, Sherman's initial attempts to demolish Joseph Johnston's Confederate Army of Tennessee also failed. Armed with nearly one hundred thousand troops, Sherman's force was considerably larger than the one led by Johnston. This advantage in firepower encouraged the Union commander to During the summer of 1864, several songs about the Civil War became very popular across the North. But unlike the patriotic war songs of previous years, these songs reflected...

John Brown leads the raid at Harpers Ferry

John Browns Raid With Abraham Linclon

In 1859, relations between the North and the South continued to deteriorate. Resentment of the North reached an all-time high in white communities throughout the South. Weary of Northern criticism of their morals, Southern whites also worried that anti-slavery feelings in the North were growing so strong that the federal government might soon force the South to abolish slavery against its will. In the North, meanwhile, anger at the South's continued defense of slavery and its occasional threats...

The election of 1876 ends Reconstruction

The presidential election of 1876 was a hotly contested one. Rutherford B. Hayes was the Republican candidate, and Samuel J. Tilden (1814-1886) was the Democratic candidate. Most people in the North voted for Hayes, and most people in the South voted for Tilden. The election ended up being the closest in his tory. Tilden won the popular vote 4,284,020 people who submitted ballots voted for him, compared to 4,036,572 for Hayes. But the actual winner of presidential elections is determined by an...

Uncle Toms Cabin

During the 1830s and 1840s, the abolitionist movement distributed millions of antislavery newspapers and pamphlets in Northern cities shipments to destinations in the South were usually intercepted by authorities and destroyed . Many of the essays and articles contained in this literature included eloquent appeals for the abolishment of slavery, helping the movement advance in the North. But the single most important piece of antislavery literature to emerge during the mid-1800s was a novel...

Compromise of 1850

By 1850, the deadlock over slavery in America's western territories had become a crisis. People living in California, New Mexico, and other western lands did not want any delays in being admitted into the Union, but it appeared that there was no way for the North and the South to bridge the division between them. As their frustration grew, Southern policymakers started discussing the possibility of secession from the Union. Georgia congressman Robert Toombs 1810-1885 , John C. Calhoun, the...

The I860 presidential campaign

The 1860 campaign for the presidency of the United States was waged under a dark cloud of anxiety and fear. Some Southern politicians and newspaper editors warned that the region was prepared to secede from the Union if an antislavery politician was elected president. The United States elects its president and vice president through an institution known as the electoral college. The electoral college consists of a small group of representatives from each state legislature, called electors, who...

The North and the South Seek Compromise

Throughout the first half of the nineteenth century, the Northern and Southern regions of the United States struggled to find a mutually acceptable solution to the slavery issue. Unfortunately, little common ground could be found. The cotton-oriented economy of the American South continued to rest on the shoulders of its slaves, even as Northern calls for the abolition of slavery grew louder. At the same time, the industrialization of the North continued. During the 1820s and 1830s, the...

The Crittenden Compromise

In the days and weeks immediately following the secession of South Carolina and six other Southern states, the people living in America's Northern states reacted with a mixture of anger, confusion, and surprise. De spite all the pre-election warnings that the South had delivered, many Northerners never really believed that their Southern neighbors might actually decide to leave the Union. When it became apparent that the slave states of the Deep South were willing to make good on their threat,...

Federal victory at Chattanooga

Lookout Mountain Rebels

In October 1863, the South tried to finish off the Union's Army of the Cumberland. Bragg's forces formed a heavily armed circle around the city of Chattanooga. This line of rebel troops made it impossible for the North to deliver supplies to Rose-crans's soldiers, and prevented the Union Army from making an escape. The Confederates hoped to starve the Union troops into surrendering, just Lookout Mountain, near Chattanooga, Tennessee. Courtesy of the Library of Congress. Lookout Mountain, near...

Missouri Compromise

Another factor that increased tensions between America's northern and southern regions was territorial expansion. In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson 1743-1826 had bought a huge parcel of land in North America from France for 15 million. This acquisition of land, known as the Louisiana Purchase, added more than eight hundred thousand square miles to the United States. The Louisiana Purchase was a very sound investment for America, since the land would eventually make up all or part of thirteen...

The fight over slavery in Bleeding Kansas

The passage of Douglas's Kansas-Nebraska Act triggered a wild outburst of activity. Nebraska's reputation as a solid antislavery territory spared it from becoming a battleground for abolitionist and proslavery forces, and it was allowed to move toward statehood in relative peace. It was a different story in Kansas, however. As soon as the Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed, abolitionist and proslavery forces rushed into the Kansas territory in order to claim the land, knowing that a vote of its...

Grant captures Petersburg and Richmond

When Grant learned of the Union victory at Five Forks, he knew that the South's last hope of saving Petersburg and Richmond had been crushed. Eager to press his advantage, he ordered a full assault on the Confederate defenses at Petersburg. The Union offensive forced the Confederates to evacuate both Petersburg and Richmond. Before fleeing Richmond, Southern mobs looted and burned large sections of the city. As Richmond went up in flames at the hands of its own citizens, Jefferson Davis and a...

The Confederacy passes the Conscription

Events in the eastern United States unfolded more slowly. In Richmond, President Davis spent the first months of 1862 battling with the Confederate Congress over the best way to increase the size of the Confederate Army. At the outset of the war, the South had enlisted its troops for one-year terms. This meant that by the spring of 1862, when the South needed additional troops, many of its existing soldiers would soon be ready to leave the military. Davis and some Confederate lawmakers wanted...

Fugitive Slave Act 1850 Lincoln

As it turned out, one piece of the Compromise of 1850 the Fugitive Slave Act proved to be a disaster for the badly splintered country. At first, slaveholders in the South were quite satisfied with the law. It made the task of retrieving runaway slaves living in the North easier, and it called for severe penalties, including large fines and prison terms, for anyone who provided escaped slaves with food, shelter, or any other kind of assistance. Furthermore, it commanded all U.S. citizens to aid...

Atlanta falls to Sherman

A few weeks after Farragut's dramatic victory, disaster struck the Con- Burned-out buildings can be seen following Union general William T. Sherman's capture of Atlanta. Courtesy of the Library of Congress. federacy again as Atlanta fell into Union hands. Throughout the month of August, Sherman's siege of the city had made life very difficult for the citizens and troops huddled behind its fortifications. But Atlanta resisted Sherman's forces until the end of the month, when Yankee troops seized...

The Siege of Vicksburg

Shortly after surrounding Vicksburg, Grant made two attempts to storm the city's defenses. But Pem-berton's troops beat back both assaults. In the final days of May, the Union general decided to change tactics. Grant posted several divisions to keep an eye on Johnston, then told the rest of his men to prepare for a long siege of the city. The Union Army quickly established a blockade around Vicks-burg, stopping all shipments of food or supplies into the city. Grant's plan was to starve the city...

The controversy over Fort Sumter

Located at the entrance to Charleston Harbor in South Carolina, Fort Sumter was manned by approximately sixty-eight U.S. soldiers under the command of Major Robert Anderson 1805-1871 . A five-sided brick building that stood guard over the port of the largest city in South Carolina, it remained in Union hands throughout the first few months of 1861, even as the Confederacy took control of most other Federal military outposts and offices in the Deep South. The continued occupation of Fort Sumter...

The Union struggle to keep Missouri and Kentucky

In Missouri, Federal military units managed to establish some measure of control over most of the state through the use of martial law. But despite the sometimes ruthless measures employed by Union authorities to maintain control over the state, violent raids by Confederate supporters tormented Missouri throughout the war, and large numbers of Missouri natives served in the Confederate Army during the conflict. In Kentucky the birth state of both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis the struggle...

Harriet Beecher Stowe 18111896

Abe Lincoln And Harriet Beecher Stowe

Abolitionist who wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin served a chance to make lives for themselves on U.S. soil. As free blacks expressed their opposition to colonization, the idea eventually faded away. In the years immediately following the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which kept the United States equally balanced between slave and nonslave states, neither the North nor the South showed much interest in the subject of slavery, since it often caused anger and bitterness whenever it was discussed. In the...

Congress takes control of Reconstruction

Congress came back in session in December 1865, more than six months after President Johnson had begun implementing his Reconstruction policies. Many members were not pleased that the president had proceeded without them. They believed that Congress should control Reconstruction rather than the president. After all, only Congress had the power to admit new states to the Union under the U.S. Constitution. Republican members of Congress, in particular, worried that Johnson's soft policies toward...

Burnsides Mud March

In January 1863, the Union's Army of the Potomac launched another campaign against General Lee's Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. Still stung by his disastrous defeat at Fredericksburg, Virginia, a month earlier, General Ambrose E. Burnside 1824-1881 planned to approach Lee's army from another direction. Burnside hoped to pry Lee out of the hills surrounding Fredericksburg, where he remained. But within hours of setting out, Burnside's advance was slowed by a heavy rainstorm. The storm...

Lincoln fires McClellan

The autumn of 1862 brought about yet another change in the Union's military leadership. McClel-lan's failure to pursue Lee's retreating army at Antietam had infuriated Lincoln and many of his advisors. McClel-lan insisted that he had performed wonderfully. Those on whose judgment I rely, he once stated, tell me that I fought the battle splendidly and that it was a masterpiece of art. But the Lincoln administration believed that Lee's army could have been completely destroyed if McClellan had...

Undecided states join the Confederacy

The battle for Fort Sumter marked the beginning of the Ameri- Perspectives on the Battle for Fort Sumter As the following newspaper accounts show, reaction to the assault on Major Robert Anderson's troops at Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, was far different in the North than it was in the South The perspective of the North, as editorialized in the New York Times, April 15, 1861 The reverberations from Charleston Harbor have brought about what months of logic would have been impotent...

Lincoln attempts to send supplies

Abraham Lincoln And Threat Letters

Almost as soon as he took office, Lincoln found out that the situation in Fort Sumter was even more serious than he had previously believed. A day after delivering his inaugural address, he was informed that Major Anderson and his men had only enough food and supplies to remain at the fort until about April 15. If the Union proved unable to resupply Anderson before then, he and his men would have to surrender the fort or face starvation. Moreover, Lincoln was told that on March 3, South...

Readers Guide

American Civil War Almanac presents a comprehensive overview of the Civil War. The volume's fourteen chapters cover all aspects of the conflict, from the prewar issues and events that divided the nation to the war itself an epic struggle from 1861 to 1865 that changed the political and social landscape of America forever. The chapters are arranged chronologically, beginning with Slavery and the American South and ending with 1865-1877 Reconstruction. Interspersed are two chapters that cover two...

Lincoln grows impatient with McClellan

In Washington, meanwhile, President Abraham Lincoln 18091865 waded through political difficulties of his own during the early months of 1862. In December 1861, U.S. senators nervous about Union defeats at First Bull Run and Ball's Bluff located a mere thirty miles from the U.S. capital had established a Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War in order to review military strategies and leadership. By the spring of 1862, Lincoln could tell that this Republican-dominated committee posed a threat...

Formation of the Confederate States of America

Twasz Szkic

By early 1861, the North was engaged in a bitter debate with itself over the secessionist activities taking place in the South. Some people argued that the United States should allow South Carolina and the other secessionist states to establish their own country without any interference. This sentiment was voiced in towns Robert Anderson 1805-1871 Union major who surrendered Fort Sumter to Confederates in April 1861 Confederate general who captured Fort Sumter in April 1861 also served at First...

Southern forces attack Fort Sumter

100 Gun Salute Fort Sumter

Over the next few days, Beau-regard tried to convince Anderson to surrender. But Anderson, who had been one of Beauregard's instructors at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in New York, refused to give in. The Confederate assault on Fort Sumter was launched early in the morning of April 12, 1861. All day long, Confederate guns under Beaure-gard's command rained fire on the fort held by the rebel commander's former teacher. As the onslaught continued, pockets of flame and smoke erupted...

The calm before the storm

Both the Federal and the Confederate armies used the winter of 1861-62 to organize, outfit, and train their troops. The North was particularly in need of this break. Its confidence Abolitionists people who worked to end slavery Blockade the act of surrounding a harbor with ships in order to prevent other vessels from entering or exiting the harbor the word blockade is also sometimes used when ships or other military forces surround and isolate a city, region, or country Civil War conflict that...

Browns death further divides America

Brown's actions at Harpers Ferry and his execution a few weeks later had a major impact on communities all across America. In the North, reaction was mixed. Many people criticized Brown's violent methods, and most Northern lawmakers agreed with Senator William Seward 1801-1872 of New York, who called the abolitionist's execution necessary and just. But many other Northerners saw Brown as a heroic figure who was willing to die for his beliefs. A number of Northern communities tolled church bells...

Democrats nominate McClellan for president

George Mcclellan

Back in the North, meanwhile, President Lincoln's chances of winning the upcoming presidential election seemed to grow dimmer with each passing day. Taking advantage of widespread disgust and discontent with the war, the Democrats promised voters that they would put an end to the bloodshed if their candidate former Union general George McClel-lan was elected president. The party was dominated by antiwar Democrats known as Copperheads, possibly because some members wore buttons made from copper...

Two wounded armies

By the end of May, Grant's plan to exert continuous pressure on Illness and Disease Take a Toll on Soldiers Approximately 359,000 Union soldiers and 258,000 Confederate soldiers lost their lives during the war. Although many of these men died on the battlefield, almost twice as many died of disease as were killed in combat. Part of the problem was that the science of medicine was not very advanced in the 1860s. The unfortunate Civil War soldier, whether he came from the North or from the South,...

Northern blacks want to join the fight

Many free blacks in the North were happy when Southern states began seceding from leaving the United States in 1860. In fact, some black leaders had been suggesting the separation of Northern free states from Southern slave states for many years. These black leaders believed that the U.S. government was obligated to protect slavery under the Constitution. They had seen the number of blacks held in slavery increase from seven hundred thousand to four million since the United States had been...

Antietamthe bloodiest day in American military history

Map Antietam Creek

A few days after Lee crossed into Maryland, McClellan left Washington with seventy-five thousand troops of the Army of the Potomac which now included troops from Pope's disbanded Army of Virginia . McClellan traveled east in search of Lee, who had divided his fifty-two thousand-man army in order to attack the Federal armory at Harpers Ferry, Virginia now in West Virginia , located just south of Maryland near the Potomac River. Led by Stonewall Jackson, the Confederate detachment captured the...

Farragut captures Mobile

Farragut Captures Mobile

During the course of the Civil War, the North's naval blockade of Southern ports had choked off most Confederate efforts to obtain badly needed supplies from Europe and elsewhere. But a few Confederate ports remained open to rebel blockade runners ships that tried to carry supplies through gaps in the Union's naval In July 1864, fourteen thousand Confederate troops under the command of Lieutenant General Jubal Early marched through the Shenandoah Valley and across the Potomac River into...

Union Army finally accepts black soldiers

Black Csa Soldier

In 1862, the Union Army suffered a series of defeats at the hands of the Confederates. This led to low morale among the troops and difficulty attracting white volunteers. As a result, public opinion about allowing blacks to fight gradually began to change. By this time, several Union generals had tried to set up black regiments despite the lack of government approval, including General James Lane 1814-1866 in Kansas, General David Hunter 1802-1886 in South Carolina's Sea Islands, and General...

Changes in attitudes after the war

The Civil War inspired many American women to move beyond the comfort of their traditional roles. Before the war, only 25 percent of white women worked outside the home before marriage. Taking care of a home and raising a family were considered the ideal roles for women, while men increasingly worked outside the home. This situation created separate spheres for men and women in American society. During the war, however, women often worked alongside men as equals in hospitals, offices,...

A time of hardship and grief

The Civil War placed a terrible emotional burden on women on both sides of the conflict. Those who were left at home worried constantly about the safety and comfort of the husbands, fathers, and sons they had sent to battle. They followed reports of the war in the newspapers and waited anxiously for word about their loved ones. Throughout the war years, women often gathered at train stations across the country to hear the names of the dead called, and to comfort those who were grieving...

Sheridan goes to the Shenandoah Valley

Sheridan Shenandoah Campaign 1864 Map

Even as Southerners tried to come to grips with the disasters at Mobile Bay and Atlanta, Confederate misfortunes spread into the Shenandoah Valley, a longtime rebel stronghold. The Confederate Army had used the Shenandoah Valley to their advantage ever since the war began. Stretching across northern Virginia between the Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains, the valley's abundant farmlands had been tapped by Robert E. Lee and other Southern commanders to feed their armies. In addition, rebel...

The Battle of Chancellorsville

Union Soldier Battle Chancellorsville

Rather than engage in a disastrous frontal attack like the one that Burnside had tried a few months earlier, Hooker planned to launch an assault from two directions. As Hooker approached Lee's position around Fredericksburg, he divided his army into two main forces. He stationed a large section of troops directly across from the Confederate positions, but he also took another seventy thousand men around Lee's left flank side to a spot near the town of Chancel-lorsville, Virginia. Lee knew that...

Support for abolishing slavery grows

Angelina Grimke Weld

Northern abolitionists continued to operate under the threat of violence throughout the 1830s, but by the end of that decade, the Northern view of the movement had changed considerably. One major reason for this change was the 1837 murder of an abolitionist named Elijah P. Lovejoy 1802-1837 at the hands of a proslav-ery mob in Illinois. A publisher of anti-slavery pamphlets and other materials, Lovejoy was killed trying to protect his printing press from a violent crowd of antiabolitionists. As...

The Battle of Fredericksburg

Andrew Russell Fredericksburg

Burnside's advance on Richmond was halted at Fredericksburg, a Virginia town located near the Rappa-hannock River. As Burnside reached the outskirts of the city, he encountered seventy-five thousand Confederate troops under the direction of Lee, Jackson, and Longstreet. Burnside had a huge army of 120,000 men under his command, and he decided to launch a series of frontal assaults against the rebel positions. As Burnside's December 13 attack on the Confederate's defensive positions unfolded,...

The Underground Railroad

Slavery Mid 1800s

One of the most valuable weapons that the abolitionist movement used in its war against slavery was the so-called Underground Railroad. This was the name given to a secret network of free blacks and whites who helped slaves escape from their masters and gain freedom in the Northern United States and in Canada, where slavery was prohibited. The Underground Railroad system consisted of a chain of barns and homes known as safe houses or depots that ran from the South up into the North. The free...

Discrimination continues in the South

General Oliver Howard

Within a few months, those Northerners who had complained that Johnson's policies were too lenient had evidence to support their claims. Former Confederates began rising to power again throughout much of the South. In fact, during the first elections after the war, the Southern states elected nine men who had served as officers in the Confederate Army and fifty-eight men who had served in the Confederate Congress to represent them in the U.S. Congress once they were readmitted to the Union....

Eli Whitney 17651825 American inventor whose inventions included the cotton gin

Slaves Working Cotton Fields

Selves from English control through the War for Independence, or Revolutionary War 1775-83 . With the war behind them, the leaders of these colonies turned to the monumental task of deciding exactly what sort of nation the United States was going to be. As they discussed the framework for their new country, they quickly realized that it was going to be difficult to address the issue of slavery in a way that would be acceptable to everyone. In 1787, leaders from the original colonies met in...

The Battle of Cold Harbor

Faces Cold Harbor Troops

Lee adopted a defensive position at Cold Harbor. Recent reinforcements from other Confederate positions had increased the size of his army to almost sixty thousand men, but Lee knew that Grant's approaching force was much larger. The rebel army's only hope was to build defensive fortifications that could withstand a full assault from the Yankees. Armed with reinforcements that increased the size of his army to almost 110,000 troops, Grant tried to use brute force to pry the Confederates out of...

President Johnson faces impeachment

President Clinton Impeached 1998

As Congress began implementing its Reconstruction program, some members were willing to compromise with President Johnson. But Johnson refused to accept any changes to his lenient policies toward the South. He believed that some of his Republican opponents were engaged in a conspiracy E The Impeachment of Ss President Bill Clinton For more than one hundred years, Andrew Johnson was the only American president to be impeached. The U.S. Congress put Johnson on trial in an attempt to remove him...

Northern disillusionment with Grants campaign

By midsummer 1864, many Northerners were questioning Grant's Petersburg strategy. At the beginning of the year, most Northern communities assumed that Grant would be able to destroy Lee's army and capture Richmond within a matter of weeks. But as the summer rolled by, the Army of the Potomac had not accomplished either goal. The shockingly high casualty toll was another reason for Northern disillusionment with Grant's campaign. Within a month of setting out in pursuit of Lee's army, Grant's...

Slave Catchers

Ami bey have ulrfnrt Ik-en nrluuHy euwlovf d In KlDVll'I'IX,, CATCHING, V.W Ki'fPIVG SJLA1 ES. Therefore, if you value your LIHEKTY and tie Welfare of the fugitive aittoag you, S'Au hem tn every possible niiinnir, as mi m,niyHol'. I gt on Ihe rnrk of the rnosi uiilbrdmuie of yonr rare. Keep a Sharp Look Out for KIDNAPPERS, and have TOP EYE open. A handbill from 1851 warns blacks in Boston to keep a sharp look out for slave catchers. Courtesy of the Library of Congress. ers retrieve escaped...

American Civil War Timeline

Map Seven Days Battles Civil War

1775 Philadelphia Quakers organize America's first antislav-ery society. 1776-83 English colonies' War for Independence against Great Britain ends with the formation of the United States. 1788 The U.S. Constitution is ratified, providing legal protection to slaveowners. 1793 Eli Whitney invents the cotton gin, which will dramatically increase Southern cotton production. 1803 President Thomas Jefferson purchases the Louisiana Territory from France. Yankee Doodle is written. George Washington...