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Original Articles, battle histories and biographies. Find out what happened on this day during the Civil War in 'Daily Dispatch'. See the outline of the war in our Frequently Asked Questions section.
 



Association to Commemorate the Chinese Serving in the American Civil War (ACCSACW)

This is an electronic Monument built to commemorate the Chinese serving in the American Civil War. They want to honor the Chinese people who fought for freedom in their host country, the United States of America.


 
 


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A Civil War Timeline and History

Famous People, Battles and Events - Table of Contents
List of Civil War Events and People
 
 

A short history of the American Civil War

The American civil war was fought in the United States of America between the northern states, popularly referred to as the "Union", and the seceding southern states (in the U.S., The South), calling themselves the Confederate States of America or the "Confederacy". There is considerable debate about causes that may have motivated the states to war, such as state's rights with respect to the federal government, taxation, and imbalance of trade. But there is no question that the salient issue in the minds of the public and popular press of the time, and the histories written since, was the issue of slavery. Slavery had been abolished in most northern states, but was legal and important to the economy of the Confederacy, which depended on cheap agricultural labor.

The war is also known in the South as the War Between the States or (now half-humorously) as the War of Northern Aggression. More obscure or regional names were The War of Southern Independence, The Second American Revolution, and the War in Defence of Virginia. Northern sources after the War often referred to it as the War of the Rebellion.

The states which seceded consisted of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Several 'slave states' did not secede: Delaware, Maryland, and Kentucky. Although Kentucky did not secede, it declared itself neutral in the conflict. Delaware and Maryland were garrisoned by Union forces throughout the war to prevent their secession. Missouri's government split, with a Unionist government in the capitol and a secessionist government-in-exile run from Camden, Arkansas and Marshall, Texas. The state of West Virginia was created by the secession from Virginia of its northwestern counties, and added to the Union in 1863.

The Union was led by President Abraham Lincoln and the Confederacy by President Jefferson Davis.

It started with Lincoln's victory in the presidential election of 1860, which made South Carolina's secession from the Union a foregone conclusion. The state had long been waiting for an event that would unite the South against the antislavery forces. Once the election returns were certain, a special South Carolina convention declared "that the Union now subsisting between South Carolina and other states under the name of the "United States of America' is hereby dissolved." By February 1, 1861, six more Southern states had seceded. On February 7, the seven states adopted a provisional constitution for the Confederate States of America. The remaining southern states as yet remained in the Union.

Less than a month later, on March 4, 1861, Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as president of the United States. In his inaugural address, he refused to recognize the secession, considering it "legally void." His speech closed with a plea for restoration of the bonds of union. But the South turned deaf ears, and on April 12, guns opened fire on the federal troops stationed at Fort Sumter in the Charleston, South Carolina harbor.

A near-immediate march by Union troops on the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia, was halted in the battle of First Bull Run, whereupon they were forced back to Washington, DC by Confederate troops under the command of Generals P.G.T. Beauregard and Joseph E. Johnston. Major General George McClellan took control of the Union Army of the Potomac (he was briefly given supreme command of all the Union armies, but was subsequently relieved of that post in favor of Maj. Gen. Henry Halleck), and the war began in earnest in 1862.

McClellan reached the gates of Richmond in the spring of 1862, but when Lee defeated him in the Seven Days Campaign, he was relieved of command of the Army of the Potomac. His successor, John Pope, was beaten spectacularly by Lee at Second Bull Run in August. Lincoln then restored McClellan, who won a bloody, almost Pyhrric victory at the Battle of Antietam near Sharpsburg, Maryland, on September 17, 1862. Lee's army, checked at last, returned to Virginia.

When McClellan failed to follow up on Antietam, he was replaced by Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside. Burnside suffered near-immediate defeat at the Battle of Fredricksburg, and was replaced by Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker. Hooker, too, proved unable to defeat the enemy, and was relieved after the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863. He was replaced by Maj. Gen. George Meade, who again checked Lee on an invasion of Union-held territory at the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863), inflicting 28,000 casualties on Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, and again forcing it to retreat to its namesake state.

While the Confederate forces had some success in the Eastern theater holding on to their capital, fortune did not smile upon them in the West. Confederate forces were driven from Missouri early in the war, holding that key strategic state for the Union. Nashville, Tennessee fell early in 1862. The Mississippi was opened up to Vicksburg with the taking of Island No. 10 and New Madrid, Missouri and then Memphis, Tennessee. New Orleans was captured in January, 1862, allowing the Union forces to begin moving up the Mississippi as well.

The Union's key stratgist and tactician was Ulysses S. Grant, who won victories at Fort Donelson, Shiloh, Vicksburg, Mississippi, and Chattanooga, Tennessee, driving Confederate forces out of Tennessee. Grant understood the concept of total war and realized, along with Lincoln, that only the utter defeat of Confederate forces would bring an end to the war. At the beginning of 1864, Grant was given control of all the Union armies. He chose to make his headquarters with the Army of the Potomac although Meade remained the actual commander of that army. Union forces in the East faced stalemate at the battle of the Wilderness and took large numbers of casualties at Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor but Grant was tenacious and kept pressing the Army of Northern Virginia under the command of Robert E. Lee. He slowly ground down the Confederate armies; he laid siege to their forces in the siege of Petersburg while General William Tecumseh Sherman marched on Atlanta and laid waste to much of the rest of Georgia and parts of South and North Carolina.

The war ended in 1865 with the surrender of Confederate forces. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia on 9 April 1865 at Appomattox Court house. Joseph E Johnston, who was in charge of the Army of Tennessee in in North Carolina, surrendered his troops to Sherman shortly thereafter. The last Conferdate land forces surrendered by June 1865. Confederate naval units surrendered as late as November of 1865.

Major battles included First Bull Run, Second Bull Run, Shiloh, The Seven Days, Antietam, Vicksburg, Gettysburg, and the siege of Petersburg. A naval battle between the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia was the first battle in history between steam-powered, iron-armored ships with shell-firing guns. The Union's naval blockade of the Confederate coast was one of the most ambitious of its kind up to that time, and was the first major blockade under the Declaration of Paris of 1856.

Significant Southern military leaders included Robert E Lee, Thomas Stonewall Jackson, James Longstreet, and P.G.T. Beauregard. Northern leaders included Ulysses Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman, and George Meade.

This war ended with the emancipation of all slaves held in the Confederate States. Slaves were not freed in the remaining states until the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution by 3/4 of the states, which did not occur until December of 1865, 8 months after the end of the war. A great deal of ill-will among the Southern survivors resulted from the total warfare practiced during the war by the Union armies and the "reconstruction" program forced on the former Confederacy by the Union victors.


 
To learn more - use these online Internet resources

 

  • Artillery Units
  • Battles
  • Confederacy
  • Confederate Units
  • Memoirs
  • Navies
  • Prisons
  • Union Units
  • Women Soldiers


  • See Also:


    • Cyndi's List   - Including over 72,500 Civil War links. Over 60,000 are categorized and cross-referenced in more than 120 categories.

    • American Civil War - Includes flags, maps and timeline, casualties of the civil war, battles and statistics, women in the war, life stories and people search.
    • American Civil War - Including general informational content.
    • Emancipation Proclamation information.
    • American Civil War - Wealth of information. Categorized links, general resources, documentary records, and state and local studies. Frequently updated. Maintained by Dr. George H. Hoemann, University of Tennessee.
    • The American Civil War - Biographical sketches of Civil War characters, famous, infamous and the lesser known, lists of names and unit histories and letters to and from soldiers in the field.
    • American Civil War Battlefield Images - Battlefield and re-enactment photographs.
    • American Civil War Home - The complete Civil War site - including overviews of different aspects of the war, biographies, battle summaries, and photographs among numerous other things.
    • Army of the Cumberland and GeorgeThomas Source - Information about the units, commanders - George H. Thomas, William S. Rosecrans, Don Carlos Buell, and Robert Anderson - and battles.
    • Atlas of the Official Records of the Civil War - Commercial atlas was originally prepared in the 1890s as an adjunct to official records. Electronic format allows you to digitally zoom in and print from 175 full-color plates.
    • Blue and Gray Trail - North Georgia saw over one hundred thousand men die in less than a year at places whose names are forever engraved in the minds of the American past: Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, and the hell hole. Nowhere else in this war did so many men die in such a short period of time.
    • Bob Koch's Civil War - Over 400 Civil War photographs, current and 19th Century, concerning the Army of Northern Virginia. Also includes Civil War book reviews, and a message board.
    • Camp Nelson - This staging ground and supply center was also the largest recruiting, mustering, and training center for African American troops (called U.S. Colored Troops) in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and one of the largest in the United States.
    • Campaigns and Operations - An overview and pictorial guide of the American Civil War.
    • Carroll College Institute for Civil War Studies - The collection of the late W. Norman FitzGerald holding includes 1,700 books, 400 pamphlets and 75 maps in addition to letters and other materials from noted Civil War authors.
    • Civil War - A presentation of information about the battles and soldiers, in addition to a vast array of photographs and links.
    • The Civil War: A Student's Short Guide - A student's short summary of the American Civil War: causes, biographies, battles, and other information.
    • Civil War Archive - A collection of American Civil War regimental histories, letters from home and diary excerpts.
    • The Civil War As Photographed by Matthew Brady - Mathew Brady and his associates, most notably Alexander Gardner, George Barnard and Timothy O'Sullivan, photographed many battlefields, camps, towns, and people touched by the war. Their images depict the multiple aspects of the war except one crucial element: battle.
    • Civil War Defenses of Washington, D.C. - A historical overview of the fortifications that guarded Washington during the Civil War and their current condition.
    • Civil War Forum Frigate - Discussion forum and live chat devoted to the United States Civil War.
    • Civil War Heritage - Enthusiast's site about the Civil War.
    • Civil War in Miniature - Brief moments of trivia and quotes regarding the War Between the States. (Editor's note: Will try to load Music plug-in, but works without it.)
    • The Civil War Index - A data base of Civil War battle orders, biographies, books, chronology, documents, recipes, songs, and links.
    • Civil War Index Page - Categorized links, includes archives, bibliographies, books and an especially useful "Gateways" category. One of the most comprehensive list of Civil War links. Frequently updated and maintained by Jim Janke, Assoc. Prof., Dakota State University.
    • Civil War Interactive - This is an online Civil War information source, which is updated daily with trivia, book reviews, recipes and links to additional Civil War informative sites.
    • Civil War Maps Collection - Maps pertaining to US Civil War.
    • Civil War Medicine - Like all wars, there was sacrifice and waste, courage and cowardice, brutality and humanity. All of these things can be reflected in the medical side of the War. Vastly unexplored by historians, the medical aspects of this conflict are fascinating.
    • National Museum of Civil War Medicine - The center for the study and interpretation of the medical history of the War Between the States
    • Civil War Medicine - Start of War - At the beginning of the Civil War, the U.S. Army had a medical corps consisting of all of 98 surgeons and assistant surgeons. The Corps had about 20 clinical thermometers, and didn't have a "modern" microscope until 1863.
    • Civil War Miniatures - Unique handmade miniature trunks and room boxes with civil war themes. A wonderful gift or addition to your collection.
    • Civil War Music Site - A source for civil war songs, fife and drum music, bugle calls, MIDIs, forum, and photographs.
    • Civil War Nurses - The nurses and the medical departments on both sides of the Civil War played an important part in the life of injured soldiers. This page covers the role of nurses in the war, including essays, photographs, letters, and more.
    • Civil War Photographs - 1,118 photographs from the Library of Congress. A searchable and browsable database.
    • Civil War Regimental Histories Index, Union - Directory to regimental histories of the Union states, including history, genealogy, personal narratives and muster rolls.
    • Civil War Series - On-line American Civil War resources at The War Times Journal. Includes rare archives, links and books.
    • Civil War Slang - Civil War Slang for all "fresh fish" or "top rail skunks."
    • Civil War Traveler - Travel information for Civil War sites and events in Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Washington DC.
    • Civil War Trust - This private, non-profit membership organization is working toward the preservation of the most historic Civil War battlefield sites.
    • Civil War Victorian - This is a site based mainly on the home-front of the American Civil War. It contains useful information for women and men who participate in Living History events.
    • Civil War Women - Archival Exhibits at Duke University - In response to the many requests, we have begun to transcribe and scan some of our manuscript collections which document women's experiences in the Civil War.
    • 4CivilWar - Civil War guide featuring information on Civil War museums and reenactments, Abraham Lincoln, other war leaders and generals, documents, historic sites and books.
    • CJ's Civil War - A complete overlook of the War; including maps, indexes, statistics, flags, lists of battles, and photo gallery. Dedicated to the 13th W. Virginia.
    • Crisis at Fort Sumter - In this delicate and potentially explosive situation, Lincoln may well have wondered at times whether it would have been better had the Buchanan administration abandoned Sumter and Pickens. By retaining the forts, Buchanan had, in effect, left him with a highly visible, emotional, symbolic point of contention with the Confederacy.
    • George Tyler Moore Center for the Study of the Civil - The mission of the center is to promote scholarly research war through the development of a database that contains pertinent military, socio-economic and medical data on Union and Confederate servicemen, with initial emphasis on West Virginia's soldiers.
    • Great American History - The outline that follows is fairly extensive, covering the Civil War's major political and military events, but it is neither exhaustive nor finished.
    • Guy Art Gallery - Civil War pen and ink drawings of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Manassas and Antietam National Battlefield historical sites.
    • Historical Natural History: Insects and the Civil War - The fact that microbes caused more death than hostile fire is well known to the student of the American Civil War. This account reveals the influence of insects on soldiering during the Civil War.
    • History Information Center - The story of Adams County, from the days of Indian raids to the development plans of today, spreads over two centuries. But our area is best known for just three days of that time, July 1th, 2nd and 3rd, 1863 - the Battle of Gettysburg.
    • The History Place - An easy-to-use American Civil War timeline with many original photographs and interesting quotes.
    • Images of the Civil War - Images from the Civil War National Archives alphabetically arranged by subject.
    • Insiders' Guide to Civil War Sites in the Eastern Theatre - History and travel guide offering practical information for touring Civil War sites in the Eastern Theater, from battlegrounds to local history, accommodation and restaurants.
    • Life Stories of Civil War Heroes - Biographies of the lives of a few of the noble and brave are presented here, along with sources that may be of interest for more in-depth study. Tributes to the common soldier, valiant unsung heroes and veterans are also included "that they will not be forgotten."
    • Maps of National Historic and Military Parks, Memorials and Battlefields - It is the objective of the University of Texas library to collect scholarly digital materials in order to provide a broad access to articles, monographs and large databases.
    • Mason-Dixon Line Civil War Home Page - From authentic 19th century recipes, to medicine, well-researched period clothing and little-known Civil War facts, this web-site captures real life on the home and war-front.
    • Matts Civil War - Links about the American Civil War.
    • The U. S. Civil War Center - The United States Civil War Center was created in 1993 by novelist David Madden. Promotes the study of the Civil War from the perspectives of all professions, occupations and academic disciplines. Locates, indexes, and makes available all appropriate private and public data on the Internet regarding the Civil War.
    • National Park Service Civil War Related Sites - The National Park Service is developing a Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System (CWSS) of over 5.5 million records for use in civil war parks. Currently contains a partial list of National Park Service (NPS) sites representing Civil War history.
    • Pamplin Historical Park - From August 1864 through April 1865, the blue and gray fought a number of bitter and bloody engagements, the Federals trying to isolate Petersburg from its supply routes and the Confederates desperately defending their lifelines to the outside world.
    • Southern Comfort - These pages include an extensive collection of essays, articles, photographs and additional historical documents pertaining to the Civil War. Also contains an online catalog for Civil War currency, Bonds and period Newspapers.
    • A Storm of Shot and Shell - The battlefield changed dramatically as a result of the accuracy at long distances produced by the rifled musket. No longer could armies march shoulder to shoulder to within a very short distance of their enemy. The rapid advance of technology made the military tactics of Napoleon obsolete. It was no longer considered cowardly to hide and shoot from a position of cover, such as a tree.
    • Texts and Documents: The American Civil War - Hanover College's page with links to primary and secondary Civil War sources.
    • This Week in the Civil War - A weekly updated day by day account of the American Civil War.
    • Time Line of The Civil War - 1861 - Time line of War Between the States.
    • The United States Civil War - This site has information on the U.S. Civil War and the people in it, as well as some of the battles fought.
    • U.S. Civil War - Information includes documents, battle accounts, timelines, original photographs and the officers.
    • U.S. Civil War Center -Louisiana State University. - The goal is to locate, index, and/or make available all appropriate private and public data regarding the Civil War. Contains links to over 4500 Civil War related sites.
    • US Civil War: Internet Modern History Sourcebook - This is a series of history primary on-line resources intended to serve the needs of teachers and students in college survey courses in American history.
    • Valley of the Shadow - Living the Civil War in Pennsylvania and Virginia. This project interweaves the histories of two communities on either side of the Mason-Dixon line during the era.
    • The Valley of the Shadow, Two Communities in the American Civil War - Hypermedia archive of thousands of sources for the Civil War period and follows two communities through the American Civil War, one in Virginia and the other in Pennsylvania.
    • Zoom In on the Civil War - Explore the battle of Gettysburg. Includes an essay, "Origins of the Civil War Conflict," a searchable map, a newspaper article on Southern attitudes towards the end of the Civil War and additional resources.


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