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The American Civil War. “We have shared the incommunicable experience of war. We felt, we still feel, the passion of life to its top. In our youths, our hearts were touched by fire.” - Oliver Wendell H olmes. A Change in Warfare. Ironclads Could splinter wooden ships Resistant to burning

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the american civil war

The American Civil War

“We have shared the incommunicable experience of war. We felt, we still feel, the passion of life to its top. In our youths, our hearts were touched by fire.”

- Oliver Wendell Holmes

a change in warfare
A Change in Warfare
  • Ironclads
    • Could splinter wooden ships
    • Resistant to burning
    • Gen. Grant used 4 to capture Fts. Henry & Donelson
    • Battle between Monitor and Merrimack ended era of wooden ships
  • New Weapons
    • Rifle: more accurate than muskets, reload quicker
    • Minié ball – soft lead bullet = more destruction
    • Primitive hand grenades
    • Primitive land mines
monitor vs merrimack
Monitor vs. Merrimack
  • March 9th 1862: (Union) Monitor and (CSA) Merrimack meet. (Merrimack had attacked 3 wooden Union warships: 1 sunk, 2 burnt, 3 driven away).
  • Monitor arrived, engaged.
  • Battle was a draw.
boys in the war
Boys in the War
  • Both Union & Confederate armies had soldiers under 18.
  • Union soldier Arthur MacArthur became a Colonel at age 19.
  • 5% of CSA soldiers were 17 or younger, some as young as 13. (1.5% for the Union)
  • Numbers don’t count those who ran away to join the army w/o enlisting
african americans in the war
African Americans in the War
  • 1862 – allowed to serve in the military
    • 1% of Union population, 10% of the Army
    • Majority – former slaves from VA & other slave states
african americans in the war1
African Americans in the War
  • Faced discrimination in the army:
    • Severed in separate regiments w/ white officers
    • Could not be promoted above Captain
      • Exception: Alexander T. Augustana, surgeon, who became a Lt. Col.
    • White privates: $13/mo. + $3.50 for clothing
    • Black privates: $10/mo.
      • Protesting = several regiments served w/o pay for months
      • Congress equalized pay for soldiers in 1864
african americans soldiers
African Americans Soldiers
  • Higher mortality rate:
    • Many assigned labor duty in garrisons (caught typhoid, pneumonia, malaria)
    • If P.O.W. – would not be treated, many executed on spot
      • If not killed, returned to slavery
      • Ft. Pillow, TN (1864) - 200 prisoners (some white) killed as they begged for their lives
  • Confederacy considered drafting slaves, free blacks, in 1863 & 1864
slave resistance
Slave Resistance
  • Thousands of slaves sought freedom behind Union lines
  • Those on plantations sometimes used sabotage:
    • Breaking plows, destroying fences, neglecting livestock
    • S. plantation owners fled Union army, slaves refused to follow (waited to welcome the Union, liberation)
  • S. feared general slave uprising – tightened patrols, spread rumors that Union soldiers abused runaways
  • Plantation system weakened. 1864: CSA realizes slavery is doomed.
war for the capitals
War for the Capitals
  • As war progressed it became clear part III of the Union plan (capture Richmond) would fail
    • Gen. McClellan (good admin) was too cautious
      • Wouldn’t invade w/o 270,000 troops
      • Complained 2 bridges across Potomac (only 2!) were not enough for orderly retreat (just in case!)
    • Lincoln said he would like to “borrow McClellan’s army if the general himself was not going to use it.”
union leadership
Union Leadership
  • Ulysses S. Grant
    • Decisive
    • Aggressive
    • Unwilling to give up
  • George McClellan
    • Indecisive
    • Reluctant to attack
confederate leadership
Confederate Leadership
  • Robert E. Lee
    • Modest, willing to go “beyond the textbook”
    • Sided w/ VA (declined position in Union army)
    • Against secession
    • Tactics unnerved McClellan
  • Lee moves against D.C. after CSA victories @ 2nd Bull Run (Aug 29th/30th 1862); crosses Potomac into MD
  • A Union Cpl. Finds a copy of Lee’s army orders wrapped around a bunch of cigars in a field (revealing Lee’s & Stonewall’s armies separated)
  • McClellan orders troops after Lee
  • Sept. 17th 1862 – Antietam Creek
    • Bloodiest single-day battle in American history
    • 26,000 casualties (as many as War of 1812)
    • South lost ¼ of their men
  • McClellan declined to pursue battered Confederates
  • Lincoln fires McClellan (Nov. 7th), characterized as having “the slows”
foreign involvement
Foreign Involvement
  • Britain remains neutral (for now)
    • No longer dependent on S. cotton (accumulated huge inventory before the war) “Old King Cotton’s dead and buried”
      • New sources from India, Egypt
      • New essential import: wheat and corn from the North
foreign involvement1
Foreign Involvement
  • The Trent Affair
    • CSA sends diplomats to get support from Britain, France aboard British merchant ship, the Trent
    • Intercepted & arrested by Union Captain Charles Wilkes
    • British threaten war – send 8,000 troops to Canada
    • Lincoln orders prisoners freed, said Wilkes acted w/o orders
    • Britain & U.S. relieved to find a peaceful way out of crisis
proclaiming emancipation
Proclaiming Emancipation
  • S. tried for foreign recognition, N. became more abolitionist
    • N. believed winning war not enough – settle slavery
  • Lincoln disliked slavery, but didn’t think Fed. Gov. should abolish already-existing slavery.
    • During war – found a way to use constitutional power to end slavery
emancipation proclamation
Emancipation Proclamation
  • Emancipation offered strategic benefit:
    • If Lincoln could order Union army to seize Confederate supplies, they could ALSO emancipate slaves
    • Abolitionist movement in Britain discouraged supporting the Confederacy
  • Jan. 1st 1863 – Emancipation Proclamation: executive order freeing slaves in all regions behind Confederate lines.
emancipation proclamation1
Emancipation Proclamation
  • Proclamation did not free slaves immediately – it only applied to areas outside Union control.
    • A military action aimed at rebellious states
    • Did NOT apply to already-occupied territory OR slave states IN the Union.
    • Britain liked it
    • Inspired N. abolition movement
    • Allowed free blacks to enlist in the Union Army
reactions to proclamation
Reactions to Proclamation
  • Not much practical effect – symbolic importance
  • Gives war a “high moral purpose”
  • Guaranteed G.B. wouldn’t help CSA
  • Free blacks welcomed provisionallowed them to enlist (previously weren’t allowed)
reactions to proclamation1
Reactions to Proclamation


  • Not everyone approved
  • Democrats said S. would be antagonized
  • Union soldiers accepted (sort of) – no love for abolitionists or African Americans
  • Support if reunification
  • Winning = completely defeating Confederacy
  • War becomes deathmatch


  • Outraged
  • Jeff Davis “the most execrable measure recorded in the history of guilty men”
  • More determined to fight to preserve way of life (i.e. slavery)
  • Losing = slave-holding society perishes


political problems
Political Problems


  • CSA sympathizers
    • Baltimore crowd attacks Union solders after Ft. Sumter
    • Lincoln sends Fed troops to MD, suspends habeas corpus (authorities bring prisoner before court; determines if prisoner can be legally held) – used to deal w/ dissent in other states
    • 13,000 arrested, held w/o trial
    • Telegraph offices seized to prevent subversion
    • C.J. Roger Taney said this was unconstitutional (L. ignored)
  • Copperheads: N. Democrats who said N. should make peace w/ Confederates
political problems1
Political Problems


  • Davis denounces Lincoln’s suspension of civil liberties
    • However, suspends habeas corpus in Confederacy in 1862
  • Lincoln’s actions dramatically expand presidential powers during wartime (sets a precedent in US History)
    • Currently – some POTUSs cite war/”national security” as a reason to expand powers of the executive branch
  • Heavy casualties (both sides) lead to need for more than volunteers
  • CSA draft law: 1862, Union: 1863
    • CSA: all able-bodied white men [18-35], [1864 changed to 17-50]
    • Could hire a substitute (if you could afford it!)
    • Exempted planters w/ 20+ slaves
    • “Rich man’s war but a poor man’s fight”
    • 90% of S. men served
  • Union Law:
    • White men 20-45 for 3 years
    • Could hire substitutes
    • Provided commutation ($300 fee to avoid conscription)
    • 46,000 draftees went, 92% of 2 million soldiers were volunteers
      • 180,000 were African American
draft riots
Draft Riots
  • NYC 1863:
    • Crowded slums, rampant crime & disease, poverty
    • Poor white workers (esp. Irish immigrants); “unfair” to fight a war to free slaves
    • White workers feared S. blacks would come N. & compete for jobs
draft riots1
Draft Riots
  • Officials began to draw names, angry men complained
  • 4 days (July 13-16th) – mobs rampaged through city
    • Wrecked draft offices, Republican newspaper offices, homes of antislavery leaders
    • Attacked well-dressed men, African Americans
  • 100 people dead when Fed. troops ended the riot
southern economy
Southern Economy
  • Food shortages due to:
    • Drain of manpower to army
    • Union occ. of food-growing areas
    • Loss of slaves to work fields
    • Meat a 1x/wk. luxury
    • Rice & corn in short supply
      • Prices go from $6.65/mo. (1861)to $68/mo. (mid-1863)
  • 1863 – Women & children storm bakeries. Next day, CSA govdistributed some stocksof rice to appease mob.
southern economy1
Southern Economy
  • Union blockade of ports createsshortages: salt, sugar, coffee, nails,needles, medicines.
  • Many Confederates smuggled cotton to N. for gold, food, etc.
northern economy
Northern Economy
  • Cotton textiles declined, most industries boomed.
    • Military need for uniforms, shoes, guns, etc.
    • Need supported woolen mills, steel foundries, coal mines, etc.
  • Draft reduced work force, W. wheat farmers bought reapers, labor-saving devices (benefited manuf. companies)
northern economy1
Northern Economy
  • Wages didn’t keep up w/ pricesbut businesses made mad profitsthrough cheating
  • Standard of living declined
  • White male workers went on strike
  • Employers hired free blacks, women,immigrants, boys to replace themfor lower pay.
  • Congress decides to help pay for war through citizen’s wealth: 1863 – first income tax law
women during the war
Women During the War
  • Women replace men on farms, city jobs.
    • Obtained gov. jobs for the 1st time
    • Clerks, copying ledgers, letters by hand
    • Earned less than men
    • Regular part of D.C. workforce post-war.
  • Women served as nurses during the war,Surgeon General req. 1/3 of U. hosp. nurses be women (3,000 served)
civil war medicine
Civil War Medicine
  • After Ft. Sumter – fed gov sets up United States Sanitary Commission
    • To improve hygienic conditions of army camps
    • Recruited, trained nurses
    • CSA didn’t have a Sanitary Commission
    • Sent agents to teach soldiers not to pollute water supply
    • Developed hosp. trains & ships to transport wounded men from battlefield.
civil war medicine1
Civil War Medicine
  • Weapon’s tech overtakes medical tech
    • Traumatic wounds often only treated by amputation
    • Effects of bacteria not yet known
    • Surgeons never sterilized instruments (worsening infections)
civil war medicine2
Civil War Medicine
  • Field Hospitals
    • Badly wounded taken here
    • Surgeons used chloroform as anesthetic
  • 1863 – Lee decides to press military advantage (S. victory @ Chancellorsville, VA, Union in retreat)
    • Wanted Lincoln to pull troops from Vicksburg
    • Thought major Confederate victory on N. soil would tip scales for pro-S. Dems.
    • Crossed Potomac into MD, then into PA.
  • July 3rd, infantry charge leads to 3-day battle at Gettysburg. Turning point of the war.
  • Day I:
    • Infantry charge leads to clash against Union position on hills & ridges around town.
    • Shooting attracts reinforcements from both sides
    • N. falls back, S. takes town
    • Lee knew battle not won until S. takes high ground.
  • Day II:
    • 90,000 Yankees & 75,000 Confederates ready to fight
    • Lee orders troops to take the ridge
    • Union Col. Chamberlain successfully repulsed repeated Confederate attacks (soldiers ran out of ammo., 1/3 died, ordered bayonet charge.)
    • Rebels exhausted by uphill fighting & 25mi march shocked, surrendered.
  • Day III:
    • Lee thought 1 more day would break Union defenses
    • Ordered artillery to fire on center of Union lines
    • Both sides fired for 2 hours. When firing stopped, Confederates attacked but were met w/ sudden Union barrage. Confederates stagger back.
gettysburg aftermath
Gettysburg – Aftermath
  • Staggering losses: over 30% casualties
    • Union: 23,000 killed or wounded
    • Confederacy: 28,000
  • Confederacy never recoveredfrom Gettysburg, crippled.
  • Lee cont. to lead brilliantlybut gave up on invading N.
  • S. lost huge numbers of men,on defensive after.
  • Gen. Grant continued W. campaign
  • Vicksburg, MS – 1:2 Confederate holdouts prevented Union from controlling MS R.
  • Grant lands infantry s. of Vicksburg, draws attention from city. Destroys several rebel units, sacks Jackson.
  • City under siege. Grant shelled city. Citizens take shelter in caves, eat dogs, mules. Starving Confederate soldiers plead w/ commander to surrender.
  • July 4th (day after Gettysburg)city falls. Confederacy cut in 2.
gettysburg address
Gettysburg Address
  • Lincoln speaks at a ceremony to dedicate a national cemetery on the site of the battle.
  • Spoke for 2 minutes but “remade America” – said we were one nation, not just collection of states; was worth dying for, but should not be destroyed.
confederacy worn down
Confederacy Worn Down
  • Gettysburg, Vicksburg defeats cost S. much of limited fighting power, low on supplies.
  • Hoped to hang on long enough to destroy N. morale, get armistice. (Unlikely!)
  • S. newspapers, state legislatures, citizens, all start to call for end to hostilities.
confederate morale
Confederate Morale
  • C. Congress passed weak resolution to encourage planters to grow more food (less cash crops)
    • Poor farmers mad, rich still growing cash crops
  • Every state (except SC) – soldiers defected to N.
    • SC governor mad when troops placed under officers from other states
  • Confederate Congress fought, Jeff Davis couldn’t govern effectively.
  • Peace Movements: NC (1863), GA (1864)
union command
Union Command
  • March 1864 – Lincoln appoints Grant to command all Union armies.
  • Grant appoints William Tecumseh Sherman to command MS military div.
  • Both believed in total war.
sherman s march
Sherman’s March
  • Confederate army tried to cut Sherman’s RR supply lines.
  • Sherman abandoned lines, marched SE through GA
    • Killed livestock, destroyed crops, burned most of Atlanta
    • After taking Savannah, turned N. to help Grant w/ Lee
      • 25,000 former slaves followed
    • Marched through SC (1865)
      • Army burned almost every house in its path.
election of 1864
Election of 1864
  • Lincoln faced heavy opposition:
    • Dems dismayed by length of war, high causalities.
      • McClellan had platform of immediate armistice
    • Rad. Republicans – wanted harsher proposal than Lincoln’s (readmit Confederate states)
  • Lincoln expected to lose; military victories & absentee ballots by Union soldiers helped Lincoln win.
  • Union armies approach Richmond, Davis & gov. abandon capital. Set it on fire to keep N. from taking it.
  • Lee & Grant meet @ Appomattox Court House, VA, 1865
  • Lincoln’s request:
    • Lee’s soldiers paroled & senthome w/ personal possessions,horses, 3 days’ rations
    • Officers permitted to keep side arms
    • All Confederate resistance collapsed within 2 mo.
  • War is OVER.