If you combine all the United States wars from the beginning of our great country up to the Civil War, skipping over the Civil War, and adding all the rest of the wars to today; the number of killed and wounded wouldn’t total the number of killed and wounded during the Civil War. Bet you didn’t know that!
There were a total of 360,000 Union soldiers killed, 282,000 that were wounded and 140,000 of the dead were killed in battle. On the Confederate side 258,000 soldiers killed, 94,000 killed in battle and the number of wounded was never tallied. That is a total of 900,000 men in our country that was either killed or wounded.
Just think of all the wives that had to raise there children with out a father, mothers who lost their sons, sister that lost their brothers, children who lost their fathers and you could go on and on. The Civil War was the bloodiest war that Americans have ever seen and I hope it never happens again. But in order for it to never happen, people have to educate them selves about why the Civil War came to a head and why so many men, brothers, husbands had to die in order for this country to unite as one.
The Civil War isn’t an easy one page article for people to read and totally understand; you have to start from the beginning and read, study and learn about every state, every battle and even read soldiers letters and diaries in order to actually get the picture in your mind so you can feel what those people felt.
I know, you don’t have the time or money to read every book that has and will be printed about the Civil War so I will try to sum it up in a nut shell for you then hopefully you can take it from here and do your own reading.
You can follow the roots of the American Civil War back to the dividing differences that the North and South took and kept growing as the 19th century progressed. The main issues were the Confederate states wanting to expand the slavery into the territories, retaining of slavery, states rights and the political power the south had.
All of these issues had been building for decades and in 1860 they exploded right after Abraham Lincoln was elected President. President Lincoln was against the spread of slavery. Soon after his election, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas seceded from the Union
Hostilities started on April 12, 1861 as the Union held Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor. Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard was ordered to open fire on the Union fort. It took 34 hours of bombardment and the fort surrendered. Because of this attack President Lincoln made a call for 75,000 volunteers to put an end to the rebellion.
The Northern states responded to this call quickly but Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas refused. All four seceded and joined the Confederacy. General Irvin McDowell of the Union forces began the march to the south to take the rebel capital of Richmond in July. They met a Confederate army on the 21st near Manassas and they were defeated.
During 1862-1863, after the defeat of Bull Run, General George McClellan took over command of the new Union Army of the Potomac. Gen. McClellan, using the Peninsula, marched his troops south to attack Richmond, early 1682.Marching his troops slowly he was defeated and was forced to retreat after the Seven Days Battles. This was now the rise of Robert E. Lee as the commander of the Confederate forces in the East. Lee won the battle at the Second Battle of Bull Run and started moving his troops north in Maryland. Gen. McClellan was sent to intercept Lee at Antietam on the 17th
Despite McClellan’s larger forces and knowledge of Lee’s dispositions, McClellan was too cautious and tailed to achieve a victory. The victory at Antietam let President Lincoln issue the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves of the South and changed the Union’s war direction. President Lincoln wasn’t happy with McClellan so he gave command to Gen. Ambrose Burnside.
Burnside was defeated at Fredericksburg in December so Gen. Joseph Hooker replaced him. Hooker and Lee engaged in the following May; Lee was outnumbered but he outmaneuvered Hooker and forced Hooker to retreat.
General Ulysses S. Grant captured Forts Henry and Donelson in February 1862 and he defeated a Confederate army at Shiloh, TN two months after taking the two forts. The Union Naval Forces captured New Orleans on April 29th. To the east, marching towards
Kentucky, Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg attempted to invade but was stopped at Perryville on October 8th. He was also beaten in December at Stones River, TN.
Grant now had his attention of capturing Vicksburg and opening the Mississippi River. His troops march through Mississippi and laid siege to Vicksburg on May 18, 1863.
Lee began to move his troops north towards Pennsylvania in June 1863 with the Union troops hot on there heals. After the Union defeat in Chancellorsville, Lincoln gave command to Gen. George Meade to take over the Army of the Potomac. On July 1, the two armies clashed at Gettysburg, PA. Following three days of fighting Lee was defeated and forced to retreat.
One day later, Grant successfully ended the siege of Vicksburg, July 4, opening the Mississippi River to Union ships; this cut the Confederacy in two.
Gen. William Rosecrans marched into Georgia, late summer of 1863, and was defeated at Chickamuaga; fleeing to the north he was besieged at Chattanooga. Grant was sent and in doing so victories was at Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge. General William Sherman took over command for Grant the following spring.
Sherman began moving south, and took Atlanta then marched to Savannah. After he reached the sea, Sherman marched his troops to the north. This pushed Gen. Joseph Johnston troops of the Confederacy into surrendering at Durham, NC on April 18, 1865.
Grant was given command of all the Union armies in March of 1863 and marched his troops east to square off against Lee in Virginia. Both armies clashed in May at the Wilderness. Grant received heavy casualties but pressed on south; fighting took place at Spotsylvania C.H. and Cold Harbor. Grant was unable to get through Lee’s army to reach Richmond. Grant tried to cut Richmond off by taking Petersburg but Lee arrived first; the fighting took place on April 2 and 3, 1865. Lee was forced to evacuate the city and retreat west. This allowed Grant to take Richmond.
On April 9, 1865, Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Courthouse.
Five days after Lee surrendered President Lincoln was assassinated at the Ford’s Theater in Washington. John Wilkes booth, the Presidents killer, was killed by Union troops on April 26.
At the end of the Civil War a period of Reconstruction began. Union troops were in the Southern states overseeing the Southern states back into the Union. Following this there were three new amendments that were added to the constitution.
1. 13th: Abolished slavery.
2. 14th: Extension of legal protection regarding of race.
3. 15th: Abolished all racial restrictions on voting.