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Civil War, 1861-1865 . Civil War, 1861-1865 . The Civil War between the North and the South (1861-1865) was the most costly of all American wars in terms of the loss of human life—and also the most destructive war ever fought in the Western Hemisphere 620,000 deaths

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civil war 1861 18651
Civil War, 1861-1865
  • The Civil War between the North and the South (1861-1865) was the most costly of all American wars in terms of the loss of human life—and also the most destructive war ever fought in the Western Hemisphere
  • 620,000 deaths
  • Major cause of death – disease and infections
  • 4 million people were freed from slavery
  • Transformed American society by accelerating industrialization and modernization in the North and largely destroying the plantation system in the South
civil war 1861 18652
Civil War, 1861-1865

The War Begins

  • Lincoln inaugurated in March 1861
  • Had no intention of interfering with slavery or any other southern institution
  • Warned that no state had the right to break up the Union

Fort Sumter

  • In the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina
  • April 12, 1861, the war began
  • First battle of the war
  • Attack on Fort Sumter and its capture two day later united most northerners behind a patriotic fight to save the Union
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Civil War, 1861-1865

Use of executive power

  • Lincoln acted in unprecedented ways, often without approval of Congress
  • 1. Calling for 75,000 volunteers
  • 2. Authorizing spending for the war
  • 3. Suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus
  • Enrollment Act 1863 = riots in New York City

Keeping the Border States in the Union

  • Four other slaveholding states remained in the Union, Delaware, Maryland, Missouri, and Kentucky
  • Lincoln did not free slaves during the first year, because he did not want to drive out the border states from the Union
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Civil War, 1861-1865


  • North’s population of 22 million against the South’s free population of 5 ½ million
  • North had 800,000 immigrants who enlisted in the Union cause
  • Emancipation also brought over 180,000 African Americans into the Union army
  • North also had loyalty of the U.S. Navy
  • Lincoln could not find a capable general like Lee
  • The North agreed on war aims
  • The South achieved frequent victories over Union armies

Union strategy to win

  • Naval blockade
  • Control Mississippi River
  • Capture Richmond, Virginia
  • Keep border states in the Union
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Civil War, 1861-1865


  • Both sides issued paper money
  • Confederacy suffered inflation


  • South’s ideology of states’ rights proved a serious liability for the new Confederate government
  • The irony was that in order to win the war, the South needed a strong central government with strong public support
  • The South had neither
  • South left decisions in the hands of state governments
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Civil War, 1861-1865

The Confederate States of America

  • President Jefferson Davis tried to increase his executive power during the war, but southern governors resisted attempts at centralization, some holding back resources to protect their own states
  • Vice President Alexander H. Stephens, in defense of states’ rights, even urged the secession of Georgia in response to the “despotic” (absolute power) actions of the Confederate government
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Civil War, 1861-1865

Monitor vs. Merrimac

  • North depended on using naval advantages by shutting down the South’s sources of supply
  • Establishing effective blockade of southern ports was crucial to this objective
  • Confederate ironclad ship the Merrimac placed this plan in jeopardy, could attack and sink the Union’s wooden ships almost at will
  • Union countered with an ironclad of its own, the Monitor
  • Fought a five-hour duel with the Merrimac (Virginia)
  • Ended as a draw, would revolutionize the future of naval warfare
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Civil War, 1861-1865

Foreign Affairs and Diplomacy

  • South hoped that cotton would induce Britain or France, or both, to give direct aid to the South’s war effort
  • British industrialists and members of the British aristocracy looked forward with pleasure to the breakup of the American democratic experiment
  • Lincoln kept Europeans from helping the south
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Civil War, 1861-1865

Trent Affair

  • Britain came close to siding with the Confederacy in late 1861 over an incident at sea
  • Confederate diplomats James Mason and John Slidell were traveling to England on a British steamer, the Trent, on a mission to gain recognition for their government
  • A Union warship stopped the British ship, removed Mason and Slidell, and brought them to the United States as prisoners of war
  • Britain threatened war over the incident unless the two diplomats were released, Lincoln had them released but still failed to obtain full recognition of the Confederacy from either Britain or France
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Civil War, 1861-1865

Failure of Cotton Diplomacy

  • South’s hopes for European intervention were a disappointment
  • “King Cotton” did not have the power to dictate another nation’s foreign policy, since Europe quickly found ways of obtaining cotton from other sources like Egypt and India
  • Two other factors went into Britain’s decision not to recognize the Confederacy
  • 1. General Lee’s setback at Antietam played a role
  • 2. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation (January 1863) made the end of slavery an objective of the North, a fact that appealed strongly to Britain’s working class
  • Pro-northern, antislavery feelings of the British majority
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Civil War, 1861-1865

The End of Slavery

  • As president, Lincoln seemed hesitant to take action against slavery
  • Lincoln’s concerns included:
  • 1. Keeping the support of the border states
  • 2. The constitutional protections of slavery
  • 3. The prejudices of many northerners
  • 4. The far that premature action could be overturned in the next election

Confiscation Act

  • Union General Benjamin Butler refused to return captured slaves to their Confederate owners, arguing that they were “contraband of war”
  • Power to seize enemy property
  • Thousands of “contrabands” were using their feet to escape slavery by finding their way into Union Camps
  • The law also empowered the president to use freed slaves in the Union army in any capacity, including battle
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Civil War, 1861-1865

Emancipation Proclamation

  • July 1862, Lincoln decided to use his powers as commander in chief of the armed forces to free all slaves in the seceded states
  • … I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States and parts of States are, and henceforward shall be, free; and that the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, shall recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.
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Civil War, 1861-1865


  • Since the president’s proclamation applied only to slaves residing in Confederate states outside Union control, it did not immediately free a single slave
  • Slavery in the border states was allowed to continue
  • With each advance of northern troops into the South, more slaves were liberated
  • As an added blow to the South, the proclamation also authorized the recruitment of freed slaves as Union soldiers
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Civil War, 1861-1865

Thirteenth Amendment

  • To free the slaves in the border states, a constitutional amendment was needed
  • Banned/Prohibited slavery

13th, 14th, 15th Amendments

  • Original document condoned slavery
  • State’s set own voting requirements
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Civil War, 1861-1865

Freedmen in the War

  • Almost 200,000 African Americans, most of whom where newly freed slaves, served in the Union army and navy
  • Segregated into all-black units, 54th Regiment, black troops performed courageously under fire and won the respect of northern white soldiers
  • Over 37,000 African American soldiers died in what became known as the Army of Freedom
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Civil War, 1861-1865

The Union Triumphs, 1863-1865

  • Gettysburg = Robert E. Lee
  • Turning point in the war
  • The most crucial battle of the war and the bloodiest, with over 50,000 casualties
  • Destroyed a good part of the Confederate army, what was left of Lee’s forces retreated to Virginia, never to regain the offensive
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Civil War, 1861-1865

Grant in Command

  • Lincoln finally found a general who could fight and win
  • Lincoln favored an aggressive military strategy
  • 1864, Lincoln made Grant general of all the Union armies
  • Recognizing that the South’s resources were dwindling, he aimed to wear down the southern armies and systematically destroy their vital lines of supply

Sherman’s March

  • Chief instrument of Grant’s aggressive tactics for subduing the South was a hardened veteran, General William Tecumseh Sherman
  • Sherman considered most ruthless
  • Leading a force of 100,000 men, set out on a campaign of deliberate destruction that went clear across the state of Georgia and then swept north into South Carolina
  • He troops destroyed everything in their path, burning cotton fields, barns, and houses—everything the enemy might use to survive
  • Helped break the will of the Confederacy and destroying its will to fight on
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Civil War, 1861-1865

The Election of 1864

  • Republicans nominated Lincoln again and won
  • Democratic party split about continuing the war

The End of the War

  • Union blockade combined with Sherman’s march of destruction spread hunger through much of the South
  • Ended threats of nullification and secession

Surrender at Appomattox

  • The Confederate government tried to negotiate for peace, but Lincoln would accept nothing short of restoration of the Union and Jefferson Davis nothing less than independence
  • Lee surrendered on April 9, 1865
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Civil War, 1861-1865

Assassination of Lincoln

  • April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth, an actor and southern sympathizer, shot and killed the president while he was attending a performance in Ford’s Theater in Washington
  • These shocking events aroused a fury of northerners at the very same time that the South most needed a sympathetic hearing
  • The reunited country had to cope with the overwhelming problems of postwar Reconstruction
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Civil War, 1861-1865

Effects of the War on Civilian Life

  • Civil liberties
  • In wartime, governments tend to be more concerned with the war than with protecting citizens’ constitutional rights
  • Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus to stop disloyal activities
  • Persons could be arrested without being informed of the charges
  • During the war, 13,000 people were arrested on suspicion of aiding the enemy; many of them were held without trial
  • It was often hard to distinguish between combatants an noncombatants
  • The Constitution does state that the writ of habeas corpus “shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it”
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Civil War, 1861-1865

The Draft

  • Both the North and the South resorted to laws for conscripting, or drafting, men into service

Political dominance of the North

  • After the Civil War, the supremacy of the federal government over the states was treated as an established fact
  • Gettysburg Address, Lincoln rallied Americans to the idea that their nation was “dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
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Civil War, 1861-1865

Social Change

  • Women at work
  • The absence of millions of men from their normal occupations in fields and factories added to the labors and responsibilities of women at home
  • Southern and northern women alike stepped into the labor vacuum created by the war
  • Operated farms and plantations by themselves or, in the cities, took factory jobs normally held by men
  • Women played a critical role as military nurses and as volunteers in soldiers’ aid societies
  • The Civil War had at least two permanent effects on American women
  • 1. The field of nursing was now open to women for the first time, previously, hospitals employed only men as doctors and nurses
  • 2. The enormous responsibilities undertaken by women during the war gave impetus to the movement to obtain equal voting rights for women
  • Clara Barton = Women’s position in society greatly advanced
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Civil War, 1861-1865

End of Slavery

  • After the adoption of the 13th Amendment in 1865, 4 million people were “freed men” and “freed women”
  • For these people their descendants, economic hardship and political oppression would continue for generations
  • Four years of nearly total war, the tragic human loss of 620,000 men and an estimated 15 billion in war costs and property losses had enormous effects on the nation
  • Total war = all resources geared for war
  • The characteristics of American democracy and its capitalist economy were strengthened by this second American Revolution