The Civil War The Civil War was the most convulsive and significant war in American history. After the Constitution was adopted by all of the States in 1789, uniting the States into one nation, differences between the States had been worked out through compromises. By 1861 these differences between the Northern States, which included the Western States, and the Southern States had become so great that compromise would no longer work. Therefore, a conflict started within our nation that was called the Civil War. Although causes of the Civil War have long time been debated by historians, there are many reasons that are agreed on. For more than thirty years arguments between the North and South had been growing.
One of these controversies was about taxes paid on goods brought into this country from foreign countries. This kind of tax is called a tariff. In 1828 Northerners helped get the Tariff Act passed. It raised the prices of manufactured products from Europe, which were sold mainly in the South. The purpose of the law was to encourage the South to buy the North’s products.
It angered the Southern people to have to pay more for the goods they wanted from Europe or pay more to get goods from the North. Either way the Southern people were forced to pay more because of the efforts of Northern businessmen. Though most of tariff laws had been changed by the time of the Civil War, the Southern people still remembered how they were treated by the Northern people. In the years before the Civil War the political power in the Federal Government, centered in Washington D.C., was changing. The Northern and Mid-Western States were becoming more powerful as the populations increased.
The Southern States were losing political power. Just as the original thirteen colonies fought for their independence, the Southern States felt a growing need for freedom from the central Federal authority in Washington D.C. They felt that each State should make its own laws. This issue was called State’s Rights. Some Southern States wanted to break away from the United States of America and govern themselves.
(The Civil War Homepage) Probably the most emotional issue of the cause of the Civil War was over the issue of slavery. Farming was the South’s main industry and cotton was the primary farm product. Not having the use of machines, it took a great amount of human labor to pick cotton. The people in the South needed more people (slaves) to work the cotton for them that is why large number of slaves were used in the South. Many slaves were also used to provide labor for the various household chores that needed to be done. Many Northerners thought that owning slaves was wrong, for any reason. Thus, the disagreement. Some of those Northerners loudly disagreed with the South’s laws and beliefs concerning slavery. Except slavery had been a part of the Southern way of life for well over 200 years and they didn’t want to give it up without a fight.
The Constitution of the United States guaranteed the right to own property and protected against anyone taking their property. To them a slave was property. The people of the Southern States did not like the Northern people telling them that owning slaves was a great wrong. A person either believes that slavery is right or that slavery is wrong, so how can two people arguing over this issue come to a compromise? (The American Civil War). Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States in 1860.
He vowed that he would keep the country united and the new western territories would be free from slavery. Many Southerners were afraid that he would not sympathetic to their way of life and would not treat them fairly. South Carolina was the first State to separate from the United States soon after the election of Abraham Lincoln. Six other Southern States quickly followed and also left. These States joined together and formed a new nation, which they named the Confederate States of America.
They elected Jefferson Davis as their first president. On April 12, 1861 the Confederate States of America attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina, which was held by Federal (Union) troops and flew the United States flag. As open conflict kept rising, other United States resigned and joined the Confederacy. The fighting of the Civil War would take four years to end. This country would remain united and slavery would come to an end. (This Hallowed Ground).
The Great Battles of the Civil War were waged all across this great country. From New Mexico and Tennessee to Vermont and Florida, hundreds of thousands of Americans died in this struggle for freedom. Two of the most famous battle are the Battle of Fort Sumter and the Battle of Gettysburg. (Fire and Thunder). The Battle of Fort Sumter strangely ended with no casualties.
On April 10, 1861, Gen. Beauregard, in command of the provisional Confederate forces at Charleston, South Carolina, demanded the surrender of the Union garrison of Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. Garrison commander Anderson refused. On April 12, Confederate batteries opened fire on the fort, which was unable to reply effectively. At 2:30 p.m., April 13, Major Anderson surrendered Fort Sumter, evacuating the garrison on the following day.
The bombardment of Fort Sumter was the opening engagement of the American Civil War. Although there were no casualties during the bombardment, one Union artillerist was killed and three wounded (one mortally) when a cannon exploded prematurely while firing a salute during the evacuation on April 14. (New Age Encyclopedia). The Battle of Gettysburg had more casualties than any other battle in the Civil War estimating 51,000 dead. Gen. Robert E.
Lee concentrated his full strength against Major General George G. Meade’s Army of the Potomac at the crossroads county seat of Gettysburg. On July 1, Confederate forces concentrated on the town from west and north, driving Union defenders back through the streets to Cemetery Hill. During the night, reinforcements arrived from both sides. On July 2, Lee attempted to attack the Federals, first striking the Union left flank at the Peach Orchard, Wheatfield, Devil’s Den, and the Round Tops with Longstreet’s and Hill’s divisions, and then attacking the Union right at Culp’s and East Cemetery Hills with Ewell’s divisions.
By evening, the Federals retained Little Round Top and had repulsed most of Ewell’s men. During the morning of July 3, the Confederate infantry were driven from their last toe-hold on Culp’s Hill. In the afternoon, after a preliminary artillery bombardment, Lee attacked the Union center on Cemetery Ridge. The Pickett-Pettigrew assault, more popularly known as Pickett’s Charge, momentarily broke through the Union line but was driven back because of severe casualties. Stuart’s cavalry attempted to gain the Union rear but was closed off.
On July 4, Lee began withdrawing his army toward Williamsport on the Potomac River. His line of wounded men stretched more than fourteen miles from the battle. (The Gettysburg Campaign). Another battle of the war was the Battle of Bull Run 1. This was the next battle in line after the Battle of Fort Sumter. This was the first major land battle of the armies in Virginia.
On July 16, 1861, the Union army under General Irvin McDowell marched from Washington against the Confederate army, which was drawn up behind Bull Run beyond Centreville. On the 21st, McDowell crossed at Sudley Ford and attacked the Confederate left flank on Matthews Hill. Fighting raged throughout the day as Confederate forces were driven back to Henry Hill. Late in the afternoon, Confederate reinforcements (one brigade arriving by railroad from the Shenandoah Valley) extended and broke the Union right flank. The Federal retreat quickly deteriorated into a rout.
Although victorious, Confederate forces were too disorganized to follow through. Confederate General Bee and Colonel Bartow were killed. Thomas J. Jackson earned the nom de guerre Stonewall. By July 22, the broken Union army reached the safety of Washington.
This battle convinced the Lincoln administration that the war would be a long and costly affair. McDowell was relieved of command of the Union army and replaced by Major General George B. McClellan, who set out to reorganize and train the troops. The next battle is the Battle of Shiloh. As a result of the fall of Forts Henry and Donelson, Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston, the commander in the area, was forced to fall back, giving up Kentucky and much of West and Middle Tennessee. He chose Corinth, Mississippi as the staging area for an offensive against Major General Ulysses S. Grant’s army, before the Army of the Ohio, under Major General Don Carlos Buell, could join it.
The Confederate caution was a surprise, although a pleasant one, to the Union forces, and it took Grant some time to get a southern offensive, along the Tennessee River. Grant received orders to await Buell’s Army of the Ohio at the River. Grant did not choose to fortify his position; rather, he set about drilling his men, many of which were recruits. Attacking the Union troops on the morning of the 6th, the Confederates surprised them. Some Federals made stands and by afternoon, they had established a battle line at the sunken road, known as the Hornets Nest. Repeated Rebel attacks failed to carry the Hornets Nest, but artillery helped to turn the tide as Confederates surrounded the Union troops and captured, killed, or wounded most. Johnston had been mortally wounded earlier and his second General P.G.T.
Beauregard took over. The Union troops made another line covering Pittsburg Landing. Fighting continued until after dark, but the Federals held. By the next morning, the combined Federal forces numbered about 40,000, outnumbering Beauregard’s army of less than 30,000. Beauregard was unaware of the arrival of Buell’s army, and launched an attack in response to an advance by William Nelson’s division of Buell’s army which was, at first, successful. Union troops stiffened and began forcing the Confederates back.
Beauregard ordered a counterattack, which stopped the Union advance but did not break its battle line. At this point, Beauregard realized that he could not win so he retired from the field and headed back to Corinth. On the 8th, Grant sent General William T. Sherman, in pursuit of Beauregard. They ran into the Rebel rearguard at Fallen Timbers. Forrest’s aggressive tactics influenced the Union troops to return to Pittsburg Landing.
Grant’s mastery of the Confederate forces continued. The Confederates continued to fall back until launching their August offensive. (The Battle That Changed the Civil War). The battle following the Battle of Shiloh is the Battle of Antietam. On September 16, 1862 Major General George B.
McClellan confronted Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia at Sharpsburg, Maryland. September 17, Hooker’s corps mounted a powerful assault on Lee’s left flank that began the bloodiest day in American military history. Attacks and counterattacks swept across Miller’s cornfield and fighting swirled around the Dunker Church. Union assaults against the Sunken Road eventually pierced the Confederate center, but the Federal advantage was not followed up. Late in the day, Burnside’s corps finally got into action, crossing the stone bridge over Antietam Creek and rolling up the Confederate right. At a crucial moment, A.P.
Hill’s division arrived from Harpers Ferry and counterattacked, driving back Burnside and saving the day. Although outnumbered two-to-one, Lee committed his entire force, while McClellan sent in less than three-quarters of his army, enabling Lee to fight the Federals to a standstill. During the night, both armies consolidated their lines. In spite of crippling casualties, Lee continued to skirmish with McClellan throughout the 18th, while removing his wounded south of the river. McClellan did not renew the assaul …