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The American Civil War (1861–1865) was a civil war in the United States of America. Eleven Southern slave states declared their secessionfrom the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ("the Confederacy") to fight for independence.Sony VAIO VGN-SR21RM/H Battery

Twenty (mostly Northern)free states in which slavery already had been abolished, and five slave states that became known as the "border states" supported the federal government. These twenty-five states, referred to as the Union, had a much larger base of population and industry than the South. Sony VAIO VGN-SR21RM/S Battery

After four years of warfare, mostly within the Southern states, the Confederacy surrendered and slavery was outlawed everywhere in the nation. Issues that led to war were resolved only in the Reconstruction Era that followed the restoration of the Union.Sony VAIO VGN-SR220J/B Battery

In the presidential election of 1860, the Republican Party, led by Abraham Lincoln, had campaigned against the expansion of slavery beyond the states in which it already existed. The Republicans were strong advocates of nationalism and in their 1860 platform explicitly denounced threats of disunion as avowals of treason. Sony VAIO VGN-SR220J/H Battery

After a Republican victory, but before the new administration took office on March 4, 1861, seven cotton states declared their secession and joined together to form the Confederate States of America. Both the outgoing administration of PresidentJames Buchanan and the incoming administration rejected the legality of secession, considering it rebellion. Sony VAIO VGN-SR240J/B Battery

The other eight slave states rejected calls for secession at this point. No country in the world recognized the Confederacy.

Hostilities began on April 12, 1861, when Confederate forces attacked a U.S. military installation at Fort Sumter in South Carolina. Lincoln responded by calling for a volunteer army from each state to recapture federal property. Sony VAIO VGN-SR240N/B Battery

This led to declarations of secession by four more slave states. Both sides raised armies as the Union seized control of the border states early in the war and established a naval blockade that virtually ended cotton sales on which the South depended for its wealth, and blocked most imports. Sony VAIO VGN-SR290JTH Battery

Land warfare in the East was inconclusive in 1861–62, as the Confederacy beat back Union efforts to capture its capital, Richmond, Virginia. In September 1862, Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation made ending slavery in the South a war goal,[2] and dissuaded the British from intervening.Sony VAIO VGN-SR290JTJ Battery

Confederate commander Robert E. Lee won battles in Virginia, but in 1863 his northward advance was turned back with heavy casualties after the Battle of Gettysburg. To the west, the Union gained control of the Mississippi River after their capture of Vicksburg, Mississippi, thereby splitting the Confederacy in two.Sony VAIO VGN-SR290JTQ Battery

The Union was able to capitalize on its long-term advantages in men and materiel by 1864 when Ulysses S. Grant fought battles of attrition against Lee, while Union general William Tecumseh Sherman captured Atlanta and marched to the sea. Confederate resistance ended after Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.Sony VAIO VGN-SR290JVB/C Battery

The American Civil War was one of the earliest true industrial wars. Railroads, the telegraph, steamships, and mass-produced weapons were employed extensively. The practices of total war, developed by Sherman in Georgia, and of trench warfare around Petersburg foreshadowedWorld War I in Europe. Sony VAIO VGN-SR290JVH/C Battery

It remains the deadliest war in American history, resulting in the deaths of 620,000 soldiers and an undetermined number of civilian casualties. According to John Huddleston, "Ten percent of all Northern males 20–45 years of age died, as did 30 percent of all Southern white males aged 18–40."Sony VAIO VGN-SR290NTB Battery

Victory for the North meant the end of the Confederacy and of slavery in the United States, and strengthened the role of the federal government. The social, political, economic and racial issues of the war decisively shaped the reconstruction era that lasted to 1877.Sony VAIO VGN-SR29VN/S Battery

Causes of secession

The Abolitionist movement in the United States had roots in the Declaration of Independence. Slavery was banned in the Northwest Territory with the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. By 1804 all the Northern states (states north of the Mason-Dixon line with little slavery) had passed laws to gradually abolish slavery. Sony VAIO VGN-SR29XN/S Battery

Congress banned the African slave-trade in 1808, although slavery grew in new states in the deep south. The Union was divided along the Mason Dixon Line into the North (free of slaves), and the South, where slavery remained legal.[5]

Despite compromises in 1820 and 1850, the slavery issues exploded in the 1850s. Sony VAIO VGN-SR2RVN/S Battery

Lincoln did not propose federal laws against slavery where it already existed, but he had, in his 1858 House Divided Speech, expressed a desire to "arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction."Sony VAIO VGN-SR390NAB Battery

Much of the political battle in the 1850s focused on the expansion of slavery into the newly created territories. Both North and South assumed that if slavery could not expand, it would wither and die. 

Southern fears of losing control of the federal government to antislavery forces, Sony VAIO VGN-SR390NAH Battery

and Northern resentment of the influence that the Slave Power already wielded in government, brought the crisis to a head in the late 1850s. Disagreements between Abolitionists and others over the morality of slavery, the scope of democracy and the economic merits of free labor versus slave plantations caused the Whig and "Know-Nothing" parties to collapse, Sony VAIO VGN-SR41M/P Battery

and new ones to arise (the Free Soil Party in 1848, the Republicans in 1854, the Constitutional Union in 1860). In 1860, the last remaining national political party, the Democratic Party, split along sectional lines.

Northerners ranging from the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison to the moderate Republican leader Lincoln emphasized Jefferson's declaration that all men are created equal. Sony VAIO VGN-SR41M/S Battery

Lincoln mentioned this proposition many times, including his 1863 Gettysburg Address.

Almost all the inter-regional crises involved slavery, starting with debates on the three-fifths clause and a twenty-year extension of the African slave trade in the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Sony VAIO VGN-SR49VN/H Battery

The 1793 invention of the cotton gin by Eli Whitney increased by fiftyfold the quantity of cotton that could be processed in a day and greatly increased the demand for slave labor in the South. There was controversy over adding the slave state of Missouri to the Union that led to the Missouri Compromise of 1820. Sony VAIO VGN-SR51B/P Battery

A gag rule prevented discussion in Congress of petitions for ending slavery from 1835–1844, while Manifest Destiny became an argument for gaining new territories, where slavery could expand. The acquisition of Texas as a slave state in 1845 along with territories won as a result of the Mexican–American War (1846–1848) resulted in the Compromise of 1850.Sony VAIO VGN-SR51B/S Battery

The Wilmot Proviso was an attempt by Northern politicians to exclude slavery from the territories conquered from Mexico. The extremely popular anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) by Harriet Beecher Stowe greatly increased Northern opposition to the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850.Sony VAIO VGN-SR51MF Battery

The 1854 Ostend Manifesto was an unsuccessful Southern attempt to annex Cuba as a slave state. The Second Party System broke down after passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, which replaced the Missouri Compromise ban on slavery with popular sovereignty, allowing the people of a territory to vote for or against slavery. Sony VAIO VGN-SR51MF/P Battery

The Bleeding Kansas controversy over the status of slavery in the Kansas Territory included massive vote fraud perpetrated by Missouri pro-slavery Border Ruffians. Vote fraud led pro-South Presidents Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan to attempt to admit Kansas as a slave state. Buchanan supported the pro-slaveryLecompton Constitution.Sony VAIO VGN-SR51MF/S Battery

Violence over the status of slavery in Kansas erupted with the Wakarusa War,[18] the Sacking of Lawrence,[19] the caning of Republican Charles Sumner by the Southerner Preston Brooks, the Pottawatomie Massacre,[22] the Battle of Black Jack, theBattle of Osawatomie and the Marais des Cygnes massacre. Sony VAIO VGN-SR51MF/W Battery

The 1857 Supreme Court Dred Scott decision allowed slavery in the territories even where the majority opposed slavery, including Kansas.

The Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 included Northern Democratic leader Stephen A. Douglas' Freeport Doctrine. Sony VAIO VGN-SR51MR Battery

This doctrine was an argument for thwarting the Dred Scott decision that, along with Douglas' defeat of the Lecompton Constitution, divided the Democratic Party between North and South. Northern abolitionist John Brown's raid at Harpers Ferry Armory was an attempt to incite slave insurrections in 1859.Sony VAIO VGN-SR59VG Battery

The North-South split in the Democratic Party in 1860 due to the Southern demand for a slave code for the territories completed polarization of the nation between North and South.


Support for secession was strongly correlated to the number of plantations in the region.Sony VAIO VGN-SR59VG/H Battery

States of the Deep South, which had the greatest concentration of plantations, were the first to secede. The upper South slave states of Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas, and Tennessee had fewer plantations and rejected secession until the Fort Sumter crisis forced them to choose sides. Border states had fewer plantations still and never seceded.Sony VAIO VGN-SR70B/S Battery

As of 1860 the percentage of Southern families that owned slaves has been estimated to be 43 percent in the lower South, 36 percent in the upper South and 22 percent in the border states that fought mostly for the Union. Half the owners had one to four slaves. Sony VAIO VGN-SR72B/P Battery

A total of 8000 planters owned 50 or more slaves in 1850 and only 1800 planters owned 100 or more; of the latter, 85% lived in the lower South, as opposed to one percent in the border states.[30] According to the 1860 U.S. census, 393,975 individuals, representing 8 percent of all US families, owned 3,950,528 slaves.Sony VAIO VGN-SR72B/S Battery

Ninety-five percent of African-Americans lived in the South, comprising one third of the population there as opposed to one percent of the population of the North, chiefly in larger cities like New York and Philadelphia. Consequently, fears of eventual emancipation were much greater in the South than in the North.Sony VAIO VGN-SR73JB/S Battery

The Supreme Court decision of 1857 in Dred Scott v. Sandford escalated the controversy. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney's decision said that slaves were "so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect".[33] Taney then overturned the Missouri Compromise, which banned slavery in territory north of the 36°30' parallel.Sony VAIO VGN-SR74FB/S Battery

He stated, "[T]he Act of Congress which prohibited a citizen from holding and owning [enslaved persons] in the territory of the United States north of the line therein is not warranted by the Constitution and is therefore void."[34] Southern Democrats praised the Dred Scott decision, but Republicans branded it a "willful perversion" of the Constitution. Sony VAIO VGN-SR90FS Battery

They argued that if Scott could not legally file suit, the Supreme Court had no right to consider the Missouri Compromise's constitutionality. Lincoln warned that "the next Dred Scott decision"[35] could threaten Northern states with slavery.Sony VAIO VGN-SR90NS Battery

Lincoln said, "This question of Slavery was more important than any other; indeed, so much more important has it become that no other national question can even get a hearing just at present." The slavery issue was related to sectional competition for control of the territories,Sony VAIO VGN-SR90S Battery

and the Southern demand for aslave code for the territories was the issue used by Southern politicians to split the Democratic Party in two, which all but guaranteed the election of Lincoln and secession. When secession was an issue, South Carolina planter and state Senator John Townsend said that,Sony VAIO VGN-SR90US Battery

"our enemies are about to take possession of the Government, that they intend to rule us according to the caprices of their fanatical theories, and according to the declared purposes of abolishing slavery."Similar opinions were expressed throughout the South in editorials, political speeches and declarations of reasons for secession.Sony VAIO VGN-SR91NS Battery

Even though Lincoln had no plans to outlaw slavery where it existed, whites throughout the South expressed fears for the future of slavery.

Southern concerns included not only economic loss but also fears of racial equality. Sony VAIO VGN-SR91PS Battery

The Texas Declaration of Causes for Secession said that the non-slave-holding states were "proclaiming the debasing doctrine of equality of all men, irrespective of race or color", and that the African race "were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race". Sony VAIO VGN-SR91S Battery

Alabama secessionist E. S. Dargan warned that whites and free blacks could not live together; if slaves were emancipated and remained in the South, "we ourselves would become the executioners of our own slaves. To this extent would the policy of our Northern enemies drive us;Sony VAIO VGN-SR91US Battery

and thus would we not only be reduced to poverty, but what is still worse, we should be driven to crime, to the commission of sin."

Beginning in the 1830s, the US Postmaster General refused to allow mail which carried abolition pamphlets to the South.Sony VAIO VGN-SR92NS Battery

Northern teachers suspected of any tinge of abolitionism were expelled from the South, and abolitionist literature was banned. Southerners rejected the denials of Republicans that they were abolitionists.[47] The North felt threatened as well, for as Eric Foner concludes,Sony VAIO VGN-SR92PS Battery

"Northerners came to view slavery as the very antithesis of the good society, as well as a threat to their own fundamental values and interests."

During the 1850s, slaves left the border states through sale, manumission and escape,Sony VAIO VGN-SR92S Battery

and border states also had more free African-Americans and European immigrants than the lower South, which increased Southern fears that slavery was threatened with rapid extinction in this area. Such fears greatly increased Southern efforts to make Kansas a slave state. Sony VAIO VGN-SR92US Battery

By 1860, the number of white border state families owning slaves plunged to only 16 percent of the total. Slaves sold to lower South states were owned by a smaller number of wealthy slave owners as the price of slaves increased.

Even though Lincoln agreed to the Corwin Amendment, which would have protected slavery in existing states, secessionists claimed that such guarantees were meaningless. Sony VAIO VGN-SR93DS Battery

Besides the loss of Kansas to free soil Northerners, secessionists feared that the loss of slaves in the border states would lead to emancipation, and that upper South slave states might be the next dominoes to fall. They feared that Republicans would use patronage to incite slaves and antislavery Southern whites such as Hinton Rowan Helper. Sony VAIO VGN-SR93JS Battery

Then slavery in the lower South, like a "scorpion encircled by fire, would sting itself to death."

According to historian Chandra Manning, both Union and Confederate soldiers who did the actual fighting believed slavery to be the cause of the Civil War. Sony VAIO VGN-SR93PS Battery

A majority of Confederate soldiers fought to protect slavery, which they viewed as an integral part of southern economy, culture, and manhood. Union soldiers believed the primary reason for the war was to bring emancipation to the slaves. Sony VAIO VGN-SR93YS Battery

However, many Union soldiers did not fully endorse the idea of shedding their own blood for African American slaves, whom they viewed as inferior. Manning's research involved reading military camp newspapers and personal correspondence between soldiers and families during the Civil War.Sony VAIO VGN-SR94FS Battery

Manning stated that the primary debate in Confederate states over secession was not over state rights, but rather "the power of the federal government to affect the institution of slavery, specifically limiting it in newly added territories."


Sectionalism refers to the different economies, social structure, customs and political values of the North and South.Sony VAIO VGN-SR94GS Battery

It increased steadily between 1800 and 1860 as the North, which phased slavery out of existence, industrialized, urbanized and built prosperous farms, while the deep South concentrated on plantation agriculture based on slave labor, together with subsistence farming for the poor whites. Sony VAIO VGN-SR94HS Battery

The South expanded into rich new lands in the Southwest (from Alabama to Texas). However, slavery declined in the border states and could barely survive in cities and industrial areas (it was fading out in cities such as Baltimore, Louisville and St. Louis), so a South based on slavery was rural and non-industrial. Sony VAIO VGN-SR94VS Battery

On the other hand, as the demand for cotton grew the price of slaves soared. Historians have debated whether economic differences between the industrial Northeast and the agricultural South helped cause the war. Most historians now disagree with the economic determinism of historian Charles Beard in the 1920s and emphasize that Northern and Southern economies were largely complementary. Sony VAIO VPC CW2MFX/PU Battery

Fears of slave revolts and abolitionist propaganda made the South militantly hostile to abolitionism. Southerners complained that it was the North that was changing, and was prone to new "isms", while the South remained true to historic republican values of the Founding Fathers (many of whom owned slaves, including Washington, Jefferson and Madison). Sony VAIO VPC S11V9E/B Battery

Lincoln said that Republicans were following the tradition of the framers of the Constitution (including the Northwest Ordinance and the Missouri Compromise) by preventing expansion of slavery. The issue of accepting slavery (in the guise of rejecting slave-owning bishops and missionaries)Sony VAIO VPCB119GJ/B Battery

split the largest religious denominations (the Methodist, Baptist and Presbyterian churches) into separate Northern and Southern denominations. Industrialization meant that seven European immigrants out of eight settled in the North. The movement of twice as many whites leaving the South for the North as vice versa contributed to the South's defensive-aggressive political behavior.Sony VAIO VPCB11AGJ Battery

Nationalism and honor

Nationalism was a powerful force in the early 19th century, with famous spokesmen like Andrew Jackson and Daniel Webster. While practically all Northerners supported the Union, Southerners were split between those loyal to the entire United States (called "unionists") and those loyal primarily to the southern region and then the Confederacy.Sony VAIO VPCB11AVJ Battery

C. Vann Woodward said of the latter group, "A great slave society...had grown up and miraculously flourished in the heart of a thoroughly bourgeois and partly puritanical republic. It had renounced its bourgeois origins and elaborated and painfully rationalized its institutional, legal, metaphysical, and religious defenses....Sony VAIO VPCB11V9E Battery

When the crisis came it chose to fight. It proved to be the death struggle of a society, which went down in ruins."[62] Insults to Southern national honor included Uncle Tom's Cabin (1854)[63] and John Brown in 1859.[64]

While the South moved toward a Southern nationalism, leaders in the North were also becoming more nationally-minded, and rejected any notion of splitting the Union. Sony VAIO VPCB11X9E Battery

The Republican national platform of 1860 warned that disunion was treason and would not be tolerated:

we denounce those threats of disunion...as denying the vital principles of a free government, and as an avowal of contemplated treason, which it is the imperative duty of an indignant people sternly to rebuke and forever silence.Sony VAIO VPCCW18FJ/P Battery
The South ignored the warnings and did not realize how ardently the North would fight to hold the Union together.

States' rights

Everyone agreed that states had certain rights—but did those rights carry over when a citizen left that state? Sony VAIO VPCCW18FJ/R Battery

The Southern position was that citizens of every state had the right to take their property anywhere in the U.S. and not have it taken away—specifically they could bring their slaves anywhere and they would remain slaves. Northerners rejected this "right" because it would violate the right of a free state to outlaw slavery within its borders. Sony VAIO VPCCW18FJ/W Battery

Republicans committed to ending the expansion of slavery were among those opposed to any such right to bring slaves and slavery into the free states and territories. The Dred Scott Supreme Court decision of 1857 bolstered the Southern case within territories, and angered the North.Sony VAIO VPCCW19FJ/W Battery

Secondly the South argued that each state had the right to secede—leave the Union—at any time, that the Constitution was a "compact" or agreement among the states. Northerners (including President Buchanan) rejected that notion as opposed to the will of the Founding Fathers who said they were setting up a "perpetual union".Sony VAIO VPCCW1AFJ Battery

Historian James McPherson writes concerning states' rights and other non-slavery explanations:

While one or more of these interpretations remain popular among the Sons of Confederate Veterans and other Southern heritage groups, few professional historians now subscribe to them. Sony VAIO VPCCW1AHJ Battery

Of all these interpretations, the state's-rights argument is perhaps the weakest. It fails to ask the question, state's rights for what purpose? State's rights, or sovereignty, was always more a means than an end, an instrument to achieve a certain goal more than a principle.Sony VAIO VPCCW1S1E Battery

Slave power and free soil issues

Antislavery forces in the North identified the "Slave Power" as a direct threat to republican values. They argued that rich slave owners were using political power to take control of the Presidency, Congress and the Supreme Court, thus threatening the rights of the citizens of the North.Sony VAIO VPCCW1S1E/B Battery

"Free soil" was a Northern demand that the new lands opening up in the west be available to independent yeoman farmers and not be bought out by rich slave owners who would buy up the best land and work it with slaves, forcing the white farmers onto marginal lands. Sony VAIO VPCCW1S1E/L Battery

This was the basis of the Free Soil Party of 1848, and a main theme of the Republican Party. Free Soilers and Republicans demanded a homestead law that would give government land to settlers; it was defeated by Southerners who feared it would attract to the west European immigrants and poor Southern whites. Sony VAIO VPCCW1S1E/P Battery


The Democrats in Congress, controlled by Southerners, wrote the tariff laws in the 1830s, 1840s, and 1850s, and kept reducing rates, so that the 1857 rates were the lowest since 1816. The South had no complaints but the low rates angered Northern industrialists and factory workers, especially in Pennsylvania, who demanded protection for their growing iron industry.Sony VAIO VPCCW1S1E/R Battery

The Whigs and Republicans complained because they favored high tariffs to stimulate industrial growth,; Republicans called for an increase in tariffs in the 1860 election. The increases were finally enacted in 1861 after Southerners resigned their seats in Congress.Sony VAIO VPCCW1S1E/W Battery

Historians in recent decades have minimized the tariff issue, noting that few Southerners in 1860–61 said it was of central importance to them. Some secessionist documents do mention the tariff issue, though not nearly as often as the preservation of slavery.

Election of Lincoln

The election of Lincoln in November 1860 was the final trigger for secession.Sony VAIO VPCCW21FX/B Battery

Efforts at compromise, including the "Corwin Amendment" and the "Crittenden Compromise", failed. Southern leaders feared that Lincoln would stop the expansion of slavery and put it on a course toward extinction. The slave states, which had already become a minority in the House of Representatives, Sony VAIO VPCCW21FX/L Battery

were now facing a future as a perpetual minority in the Senate and Electoral College against an increasingly powerful North. Before Lincoln took office in March 1861, seven slave states had declared their secession and joined together to form the Confederacy.Sony VAIO VPCCW21FX/R Battery

Battle of Fort Sumter

The Lincoln Administration, just as the outgoing Buchanan administration before it, refused to turn over Ft. Sumter—located in the middle of the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. Jefferson Davis ordered the surrender of the fort. Union Maj.Sony VAIO VPCCW21FX/W Battery

Anderson gave a conditional reply which the Confederate government rejected, and Davis ordered Beauregard to attack the fort before a relief expedition could arrive. After a heavy bombardment on April 12–13, 1861 (with no intentional casualties), the fort surrendered. Sony VAIO VPCCW26EC Battery

On April 15, Lincoln then called for 75,000 troops from the states to recapture the fort and other federal property. Rather than furnish troops and access for an attack on their fellow southern states, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas elected to join them in secession. Sony VAIO VPCCW26FX/B Battery

North and South the response to Ft. Sumter was an overwhelming demand for war to uphold national honor. Only Kentucky tried to remain neutral. Hundreds of thousands of young men across the land rushed to enlist.

Secession begins

South Carolina did more to advance nullification and secession than any other Southern state.Sony VAIO VPCCW28EC Battery

South Carolina adopted the "Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union" on December 24, 1860. It argued for states' rights for slave owners in the South, but contained a complaint about states' rights in the North in the form of opposition to the Fugitive Slave Act,Sony VAIO VPCCW28FJ/P Battery

claiming that Northern states were not fulfilling their federal obligations under the Constitution. All the alleged violations of the rights of Southern states were related to slavery.

Secession winter

Before Lincoln took office, seven states had declared their secession from the Union. Sony VAIO VPCCW28FJ/R Battery

They established a Southern government, the Confederate States of America on February 4, 1861. They took control of federal forts and other properties within their boundaries with little resistance from outgoing President James Buchanan, whose term ended on March 4, 1861. Sony VAIO VPCCW28FJ/W Battery

Buchanan said that the Dred Scott decision was proof that the South had no reason for secession, and that the Union "was intended to be perpetual", but that "the power by force of arms to compel a State to remain in the Union" was not among the "enumerated powers granted to Congress".Sony VAIO VPCCW29FJ/W Battery

One quarter of the U.S. Army—the entire garrison in Texas—was surrendered in February 1861 to state forces by its commanding general, David E. Twiggs, who then joined the Confederacy.

As Southerners resigned their seats in the Senate and the House, Republicans were able to pass bills for projects that had been blocked by Southern Senators before the war, Sony VAIO VPCCW2AFJ Battery

including the Morrill Tariff, land grant colleges (the Morill Act), a Homestead Act, a transcontinental railroad (the Pacific Railway Acts), the National Banking Act and the authorization of United States Notes by the Legal Tender Act of 1862. The Revenue Act of 1861 introduced the income tax to help finance the war.Sony VAIO VPCCW2AHJ Battery

The Confederacy

Seven Deep South cotton states seceded by February 1861, starting with South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas. These seven states formed the Confederate States of America (February 4, 1861), with Jefferson Davis as president, and a governmental structure closely modeled on the U.S. Constitution.Sony VAIO VPCCW2S1E Battery

Following the attack on Fort Sumter, President Lincoln called for a volunteer army from each state. Within two months, four more Southern slave states declared their secession and joined the Confederacy: Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee. Sony VAIO VPCCW2S1E/B Battery

The northwestern portion of Virginia subsequently seceded from Virginia, joining the Union as the new state of West Virginia on June 20, 1863. By the end of 1861, Missouri and Kentucky were effectively under Union control, with Confederate state governments in exile.Sony VAIO VPCCW2S1E/L Battery

The Union states

Twenty-three states remained loyal to the Union: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan,Sony VAIO VPCCW2S1E/P Battery

Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin. During the war, Nevada and West Virginiajoined as new states of the Union. Tennessee and Louisiana were returned to Union military control early in the war.Sony VAIO VPCCW2S1E/R Battery

The territories of Colorado, Dakota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Washington fought on the Union side. Several slave-holding Native American tribes supported the Confederacy, giving the Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) a small, bloody civil war.Sony VAIO VPCCW2S1E/W Battery

Border states

The border states in the Union were West Virginia (which separated from Virginia and became a new state), and four of the five northernmost slave states (Maryland, Delaware,Missouri, and Kentucky).Sony VAIO VPCCW2S5C CN1 Battery

Maryland had numerous pro-Confederate officials who tolerated anti-Union rioting in Baltimore and the burning of bridges. Lincoln responded with martial law and sent in militia units from the North.Before the Confederate government realized what was happening,Sony VAIO VPCF112FX/B Battery

Lincoln had seized firm control of Maryland and the District of Columbia, by arresting all the prominent secessionists and holding them without trial (they were later released).

In Missouri, an elected convention on secession voted decisively to remain within the Union.Sony VAIO VPCF115FG/B Battery

When pro-Confederate Governor Claiborne F. Jackson called out the state militia, it was attacked by federal forces under General Nathaniel Lyon, who chased the governor and the rest of the State Guard to the southwestern corner of the state. (See also:Missouri secession). Sony VAIO VPCF116FGBI Battery

In the resulting vacuum, the convention on secession reconvened and took power as the Unionist provisional government of Missouri.

Kentucky did not secede; for a time, it declared itself neutral. When Confederate forces entered the state in September 1861, neutrality ended and the state reaffirmed its Union status, while trying to maintain slavery. Sony VAIO VPCF117FJ/W Battery

During a brief invasion by Confederate forces, Confederate sympathizers organized a secession convention, inaugurated a governor, and gained recognition from the Confederacy. The rebel government soon went into exile and never controlled Kentucky.Sony VAIO VPCF117HG/BI Battery

After Virginia's secession, a Unionist government in Wheeling asked 48 counties to vote on an ordinance to create a new state on October 24, 1861. A voter turnout of 34% approved the statehood bill (96% approving). The inclusion of 24 secessionist counties  in the state and the ensuing guerrilla war  engaged about 40,000 Federal troops for much of the war.Sony VAIO VPCF118FJ/W Battery

Congress admitted West Virginia to the Union on June 20, 1863. West Virginia provided about 20,000-22,000 soldiers to both the Confederacy and the Union.

A Unionist secession attempt occurred in East Tennessee, but was suppressed by the Confederacy, which arrested over 3000 men suspected of being loyal to the Union. They were held without trial.Sony VAIO VPCF119FC Battery


Over 10,000 military engagements took place during the war, 40% of them in Virginia and Tennessee. Since separate articles deal with every major battle and many minor ones, this article only gives the broadest outline. For more information see List of American Civil War battles andMilitary leadership in the American Civil War.Sony VAIO VPCF119FC/BI Battery

The beginning of the war, 1861

Lincoln's victory in the presidential election of 1860 triggered South Carolina's declaration of secessio

n from the Union. By February 1861, six more Southern states made similar declarations. Sony VAIO VPCF119FJ/BI Battery

On February 7, the seven states adopted a provisional constitution for the Confederate States of America and established their temporary capital at Montgomery, Alabama. A pre-war February Peace Conference of 1861 met in Washington in a failed attempt at resolving the crisis. Sony VAIO VPCF11AFJ Battery

The remaining eight slave states rejected pleas to join the Confederacy. Confederate forces seized most of the federal forts within their boundaries. President Buchanan protested but made no military response apart from a failed attempt to resupply Fort Sumter using the ship Star of the West, which was fired upon by South Carolina forces and turned back before it reached the fort.Sony VAIO VPCF11AGJ Battery

However, governors in Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania quietly began buying weapons and training militia units.

On March 4, 1861, Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as President. In his inaugural address, he argued that the Constitution was a more perfect union than the earlier Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union,Sony VAIO VPCF11AHJ Battery

that it was a binding contract, and called any secession "legally void". He stated he had no intent to invade Southern states, nor did he intend to end slavery where it existed, but that he would use force to maintain possession of federal property. His speech closed with a plea for restoration of the bonds of union.Sony VAIO VPCF11JFX/B Battery

The South sent delegations to Washington and offered to pay for the federal properties and enter into a peace treaty with the United States. Lincoln rejected any negotiations with Confederate agents because he claimed the Confederacy was not a legitimate government, and that making any treaty with it would be tantamount to recognition of it as a sovereign government.Sony VAIO VPCF11M1E Battery

However, Secretary of State William Seward engaged in unauthorized and indirect negotiations that failed.

Fort Monroe in Virginia, Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, and Fort Pickens, Fort Jefferson, and Fort Taylor, all in Florida, were the remaining Union-held forts in the Confederacy, and Lincoln was determined to hold them all. Sony VAIO VPCF11M1E/H Battery

Under orders from Confederate President Jefferson Davis, troops controlled by the Confederate government under P. G. T. Beauregard bombarded Fort Sumter on April 12, forcing its capitulation. Northerners rallied behind Lincoln's call for all the states to send troops to recapture the forts and to preserve the Union, citing presidential powers given by the Militia Acts of 1792.Sony VAIO VPCF11MFX/B Battery

With the scale of the rebellion apparently small so far, Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers for 90 days. For months before that, several Northern governors had discreetly readied their state militias; they began to move forces the next day. Confederate sympathizers seized Liberty Arsenal in Liberty, Missouri on April 20, eight days after Fort Sumter. Sony VAIO VPCF11S1E Battery

On May 3, 1861, Lincoln called for an additional 42,034 volunteers for a period of three years.

Four states in the upper South (Tennessee, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Virginia), which had repeatedly rejected Confederate overtures, now refused to send forces against their neighbors, declared their secession, and joined the Confederacy. Sony VAIO VPCF11S1E/B Battery

To reward Virginia, the Confederate capital was moved to Richmond.

The city was the symbol of the Confederacy. Richmond was in a highly vulnerable location at the end of a tortuous Confederate supply line.Sony VAIO VPCF11Z1E Battery

Although Richmond was heavily fortified, supplies for the city would be reduced by Sherman's capture of Atlanta and cut off almost entirely when Grant besieged Petersburg and its railroads that supplied the Southern capital.Sony VAIO VPCF11Z1E/BI Battery

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