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The American Civil war

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American Civil War

In the history of the United States of America, the bloodiest war, the American Civil War was triggered by the firing on Fort Sumter at the Port Charleston entrance in April 1861 by the Militia of South Carolina State. In this conflict, not only countless number of civilians but more than 620,000 soldiers also lost their lives. In 1861, the first shots of war were fired by CSA – the Confederate States of America that were newly seceded. In the initial stages the CSA did achieve a number of victories that were tactical. Soldiers amounting to twice the number were brought to the battlefield by the Union as the Confederacy and dominated the seas.

The Slavery Issue

In 1785 the US Constitution was signed. The slavery issue between the Southern and Northern regions of the United States of America moved inexorably to an edge with both sides refusing to budge an inch. Claims were made by the agrarian states of Southern America that they required slaves to work in a profitable way on the sugar, rice and cotton plantations that dominated the economy there. On the other hand, the northern states were powerful economically, had more population and were also industrialized and felt that slavery was an evil which needed to be eradicated. The conflict arose since the major issue was slavery. Besides this, the northern regions were dominated by the Federal Government due to which the states in the Southern region were quite concerned about their rights.

Then in 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected as the President of the United States and this tipped the scales towards a civil war in America. The Confederate States of America was formed with the involvement of seven Southern States and led by South Carolina with the fear that during his tenure as President, Abraham Lincoln would try to eradicate slavery by trampling their rights in the state. In 1861 the hostilities also started and the total number of states that has seceded amounted to 11with, four more states added.

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As of today the American Civil War is better known as ‘The Civil War’. However when the conflict was going on during the four year period, in the North it was called ‘The War between the States’ and in the South it was called ‘The War of Secession’. It was in the southern states, especially in Virginia State, that many of the American Civil War, battles were fought. For the northern forces, Richmond capital of Virginia State became the main objective.

The conflict was horrific. In April 1865, after four years, Robert E. Lee the Southern General surrendered his Northern Virginia army that has depleted pitifully. Actually in Virginia at the Appomattox Court House, it was a virtual Confederate force that was lastly viable to the commander of the Northern Armies, General Ulysses S. Grant. The small skirmishes were expected to continue for many weeks. However Lee surrendered and the American Civil War was brought to a conclusion.

Main Cause Of The War

The main cause of the war was slavery. It was due to the Emancipation Proclamation by Lincoln that it got eradicated from the United States finally. Till December 1865, there was no ban on slavering, interestingly. This was till about 8 months after the war ended and the re-United States of America ratified the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. According the 13th Amendment of the Constitution, slave ownership was considered to be a Federal offence.

During the American Civil War, Northern Virginia Army’s commander, Robert E. Lee surrendered to the Union forces, officially on 9th April 1865 at the Appomattox Court House. For the next few months the fighting that occurred was sporadic. Robert E. Lee and his army’s loss, led to the conclusion of the war. Troops of the United States occupied the Southern States and then began the Era of Reconstruction.

Much before the breaking open of the hostilities, a conflict that led to the American Civil War had been brewing. Expansion of the United States took place westwards and whether or not slavery should be considered legal within the new territories was the main cause of tension between the southern and the northern states. There was more urban and industrial development in the north and as compared to the Southern States, the Northern States were growing much faster. The Southern states feared about its waning influence in politics at national level.

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Results Of The War

During the war, one turning point that has been cited by a lot of historians was the Battle of Gettysburg that took place in Pennsylvania in which more than 23000 soldiers lost their lives.

The war led to the collapse of the Confederate economy and tactical victories were won by the Union leading to the Battle of Appomattox Court House. Robert E. Lee who was considered as an expert in laying down strategies for the military, was forced to leave the Richmond capital and he moved towards the west only to be defeated at Appomattox.

The CSA did not have a strong central leadership and towards the surrender of Lee at the Appomattox Court House, it did not have any unified response. Till weeks later, none of the armies of East Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama surrendered. In June 1865, Shenandoah, the Confederate warship, fired the last shots. Till 20th August 1866, war was not formally declared by Andrew Johnson, the US President.

By 1865 the warfare reached an end, even if it was organized well, however this war had no resistance to the laws of the Union. There was no technical abolishment of slavery, after the war. Historians consider the Era of Reconstruction a failure.

The black people, faced violence and in many of the Southern areas it was tolerated. It was only 100 years later till the civil rights movement took place, that the legislation to give full rights to the blacks came in.   Important Battles

In the American Civil War, significant events have been represented by the following battles.

1.First Bull Run

This battle forcefully brought to the North the realization that the Civil War could extend beyond three months. On the other side, it gave the South false hopes of a negotiated end to war.

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2.Shiloh

In American history it is considered as the bloodiest battle that lasted for two days from April 6, 182 to April 7, 1862. It was an introduction to the rest of the Civil War that would take place.

3.Antietam

This battle took place on September 17, 1862 which gave Lincoln the victory he had perceived for releasing the Emancipation Proclamation. It led to the end of Robert Lee’s advancements into Maryland.

4.Vicksburg

The battle took place on July 4, 1863 where Lincoln came to realize that for the Western forces controlling Mississippi was the main goal.

5.Seven Days Retreat

The battle took place from June 25, 1862 to July 1, 1862. Edwin Stanton and Lincoln agreed to close the northern recruitment offices with the successful Peninsula Campaign of George McClellan. He reopened the offices again after they admitted they were wrong.

6. Gettysburg

The battle took place from July 1, 1863 to July 3, 1863 which was won by George Meade. In American history it was the costliest and largest battle, on the hillsides and farms of South Pennsylvania.

7. Chattanooga

The battle took place from November 23, 1863 to November 25, 1863. Three of the best generals, including Joseph Hooker, William Tecumseh Sherman and Grant were dispatched to the war by Lincoln.

8. Fort Sumter

The battle took place from April 12, 1861 to April 13, 1861. The Fort Sumter bastion in Charleston Harbor surrendered the artillery with no casualties. This war indicated that the Southern States were willing to put up a fight for federal property which it considered to be its own after the succession.

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Hi. My name is Gaynor and I have been an academic facilitator since 1992. I have successfully developed and imparted the ICSE, IGCSE and IBDP English and History syllabi. My endeavour is to make support material available to students, who find the prescribed content, analysis and collation of information particularly challenging.

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