Unit 5: Civil War

General Timeline
General Maps

Map # 1: Secession Timeline

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Map # 2: Battles in Eastern Theater (1861-1863)

Map # 3: Battles in Western Theater (1861-1863)

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Map # 4: Battles in Kansas-Missouri Region

Map # 5: Final Union Attack & Confederate Surrender (1864-1865)

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Course Content

Civil War:


Secession of the South & Start of War

Election of 1860 & Secession of Southern States

  • Election of 1860 had Abraham Lincoln as Republican candidate

    • Believed slavery should be confined to the South, didn't want slavery to expand westward

  • Southern slave states hated Lincoln's vision of America

    • Since Lincoln opposed slavery in the west, Southern states wouldn't get much influence​

    • Southern states planned to secede if Lincoln would win

  • In the end, Lincoln (R) won

  • Thus, Southern states sought to secede

    • South Carolina seceded first in Dec 1860; 6 other states seceded by Feb 1861

      • AL, FL, GA, LA, MS, TX (as well as SC) seceded​

      • Met in Montgomery, AL, to form Confederate States of America (Feb 1861)

  • Response from the North was confused

    • President Buchanan said no state can secede, but there was nothing stopping them​​


Initial Clashes with Confederacy & Failure of Compromise

  • Confederacy sought to get weapons from all arsenals in their region

    • Sought to conquer Fort Sumter & Fort Pickens, 2 offshore forts in the Confederacy

    • Buchanan refused to surrender Fort Sumter to the Confederacy & sent an army there

      • Confederacy fired at Buchanan's army

  • Sen. John J Crittenden (KY) proposed the Crittenden Compromise:​

Fugitive slave law reinstated: Runaway slaves would be returned to south

Missouri Compromise line would expand to West Coast (slavery would be allowed south of the line)

All places with slavery currently can keep slavery

  • This compromise failed:

    • Republicans in Congress didn't want westward expansion of slavery​

  • In 1861, when Lincoln was inaugurated, he promoted the vision that the Union can't separate

    • Believed more in keeping the nation together than in preventing expansion of slavery

Battle of Fort Sumter (Apr 1861)

Major Robert Anderson (Union) was stationed at Fort Sumter. He was running low on supplies, so Lincoln quickly sent supplies to him

Gen. P G T Beauregard (Confederate) bombarded Fort Sumter (Apr 12-13, 1861)

Anderson (Union) surrendered on Apr 14. This was the start of the Civil War

Post-Fort Sumter Secession & Situation in Border States

  • After the Battle of Fort Sumter, 4 more slave states seceded & joined the Confederacy

    • VA, NC, TN, AR joined Confederacy

  • Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, Delaware, (& later West Virginia) were border states

    • They had slavery but supported the Union

    • Lincoln convinced these states not to secede

      • They had a high population, so the Union needed them

      • If Maryland joined Confederacy, Washington DC would be completely surrounded by Confederacy

Here is a map depicting the secession timeline:

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Differences in Advantages in North & South


Much larger population

More industrial capacity & weapons

Better transportation & communications systems

Divided opinions about war effort


Much smaller population


Home field advantage (war was mostly fought in south)

More popular support for the war effort

Battles of the Civil War

First Battle of Bull Run (Jul 1861)

Union Gen. Irvin McDowell was stationed in Washington DC w/ 30k soldiers

Confederate Gen. P G T Beauregard was in Manassas (30 miles from DC)

Both armies went to creek of Bull Run & fought. Union forces dispersed the Confederacy, but Confederacy counterattacked

Union forces retreated as Gen. McDowell couldn't reorganize them. Showed that the Civil War would be much longer & not an easy Union victory

Creation of West Virginia

Union Gen. George McClellan went to Western Virginia to gain support of the people there

The people in western Virginia opposed secession & supported Gen. George McClellan

The people in this region created a new state called West Virginia, admitted to Union in 1863. It was a border state

Union Successes in the West in 1862

Union forces sought to seize control of Mississippi River

Union forces under David G Farragut went to Gulf of Mexico. They defeated Confederate fortifications at Mississippi River's mouth

They did a surprise attack on New Orleans from the south. Gained control of Port of New Orleans, closed it to Confederate trade (April 1862)

Confederates under Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston made a defensive line from Fort Henry to Fort Donelson in Tennessee

Union Gen. Ulysses S Grant used ironclad ships to take Fort Henry via Tennessee River. He then took over Fort Donelson (Feb 1862)

He gained control of Tennessee River, forcing Confederates out of Kentucky & western half of Tennessee

Union Gen. Ulysses S Grant sought to conquer Shiloh, TN, so he could destroy Confederate railroad infrastructure

Grant marched w/ 40k men (after winning battles in Tennessee) to Shiloh. Confederate Gen. Johnston & Beauregard surprised him & forced him to retreat

Grant got 25k fresh troops and counterattacked, taking over Shiloh, TN, and Corinth, MS, a major railroad hub

Gen. Braxton Bragg replaced Johnston as Confederate General in West. He gathered forces in Chattanooga, TN, wanted to take over rest of Tennessee

Union forces led by Gen. William Rosecrans sought to take over Chattanooga 

Both forces met in Dec 1862 - Jan 1863 at Battle of Stones River. Confederates withdrew, so Union forces won

Union Failures in the East in 1862

Gen. George McClellan (Union) was commander of Northern forces. Brought 100k men via a roundabout to Richmond by sea

Gen. Thomas J (Stonewall) Jackson (Confederate) marched through Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, was coming toward DC

Lincoln sent 30k troops from DC to face off Stonewall Jackson. Jackson defeated Union army in Valley Campaigns of 1862

Gen. Joseph E Johnston led Confederacy to attack Gen. McClellan's Army outside Richmond

Union forces (under McClellan) partially lost in the Battle of Seven Pines (May 1862)

Robert E Lee replaced Johnston & Stonewall Jackson. He attacked McClellan's army in the Seven Days Battle (Jun 1862)

Robert E Lee attacked Pope's Army in 2nd Battle of Bull Run (Aug 1862) before McClellan got there. Lincoln recalled Pope & put McClellan in charge of all Union forces in north

Pres. Lincoln told McClellan to go to Northern VA and combine with Gen. John Pope's army. From there, they'd do a direct attack on RIchmond

Union forces (under McClellan) retreated to the East

Battle of Antietam (Sep 1862)

  • After Gen. Robert E Lee defeated Gen. Pope at 2nd Battle of Bull Run, we went offensive in Maryland

    • He was going to assemble at Antietam Creek, near Sharpesburg

    • Gen. McClellan (Union) somehow found out that Lee would assemble at Antietam

  • Both sides fought at Battle of Antietam

    • The Bloodiest battle in Civil War

    • About 6,000 died

    • Additional 16,000 wounded or missing

  • Stopped potential Confederate invasion of Washington DC

  • Union technically won, but both sides were significantly wounded & weakened

    • McClellan allowed Confederacy to retreat instead of attacking them, so Lincoln recalled McClellan

  • Emancipation proclamation was drafted a week after the battle


Battles of 1863

Gen. Joseph Hooker (Union) was in charge of northern forces. He sought to attack Richmond

Gen. Hooker became nervous and retreated to forest area. Gen. Lee & Stonewall Jackson attacked him, so Hooker retreated

Huge Confederate victory, stopped invasion of Richmond. Stonewall Jackson was wounded & died of pneumonia. Battle of Chancellorsville (May 1863)

Gen. Ulysses S Grant (Union) attacked Vicksburg, MS. Conquered it after 6 weeks of siege (May-Jul 1863)

Another Union army conquered Port Hudson, LA (May-Jul 1863)

Union forces controlled the entire Mississippi River. They split the Confederacy into 2 pieces

Gen. William Rosecrans (Union) sought to pursue Gen. Braxton Bragg's forces (Confederate) after taking Chattanooga.

Unions lost Battle of Chickamauga (Sep 1863) & retreated back to Chattanooga

Gen. Bragg (Confederate) later sought to seize Chattanooga

Union forces now had control of most of eastern Tennessee & entire Tennessee River (in addition to Mississippi river from earlier)

Gen. Ulysses S Grant (Union) came to help Rosecrans. At Battle of Chattanooga (Nov 1863), Union forces took Chattanooga

Battle of Gettysburg (Jul 1863)

  • Robert E Lee sought to attack Pennsylvania to divert Union troops from the South

    • Met at Gettysburg, PA

  • Gen. George C Meade commanded Union troops

  • They fought at Battle of Gettysburg (Jul 1863)

    • Meade made a stronghold on the hills near the town, notably Cemetery Ridge

    • Confederates failed to attack Union forces on the nearby hills

    • Lee ordered an offensive assault the next day called Pickett's Charge

      • 15k Confederate soldiers charged up the hills while Union forces kept shooting at them

      • Only 5k made it up the hill & were weakened

  • Confederacy lost & retreated

    • This is significant because it showed that Confederacy failed to invade the North​​

    • One of the only battles fought in the North

  • Lincoln made Gettysburg Address in Nov 1863

    • Only 2 minutes, super important speech

    • Contains lots of important ideas about freedom

      • Mentions that the soldiers fought to preserve the unity & freedom of the nation's people

Here is a map depicting the Battles in the East from 1861-1863:

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Here is a map depicting the Battles in the West from 1861-1863:

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End of the Civil War

Grant's Final Push in Virginia

Ulysses S Grant became general in chief of all Union armies. Finally Union had a smart & trustworthy general

Grant sought to take Richmond by land. He brought his 115k men into VA & won Battle of Spotsylvania Court House (May 1864)

Grant kept pushing to Richmond & lost more of his soldiers at Battle of Cold Harbor (Jun 1864) near Richmond

Grant Petersburg for 9 months (Jun 1864 - Mar 1865)

Grant changed his plan & sought to attack Petersburg, a railroad junction south of Richmond. This would cut off communications from Richmond to rest of Confederacy

Sherman's Final Push in the South

Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman commanded Union troops in the South. Gen. Joseph E Johnston was commander of Confederate troops there

Gen. Sherman kept on advancing toward Atlanta. Gen. Johnston kept trying to maneuver & delay him

Gen. Johnston was replaced with Gen. John B Hood. Hood attacked Union army twice, but he weakened himself

Took Savannah in Dec 1864. Continued to march northward into South & North Carolina to pursue Gen. Johnston (Confederate)

Gen. Sherman & Union forces began "March to the Sea." Marched from Atlanta to Savannah, burned all plantations & towns in their path

In Sep 1864, Gen. Sherman took Atlanta. The Union forces & northerners got really happy & started to support the war more

Final Surrender

After 9 months of battle, Gen. Grant (Union) finally sieged an important railroad junction near Petersburg (Mar 1865)

Gen. Lee (Confederate) lost railroad access to the South. Couldn't get more troops without the railroad

Gen. Lee realized he lost. He met Grant at his home in Appomattox Court House, VA, & surrendered (Apr 1865)

President Davis (Confederate) thought war wasn't over yet. He went to south where he was captured. Some white southerners continued to fight but failed

Gen. Johnston (Confederate) surrendered to Gen. Sherman (Union) 9 days later in Durham, North Carolina

Here is a map depicting the final pushes of Grant & Sherman and the Confederate surrender (1864-1865):

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Mobilization of the North

Boosting the Northern Economy

  • Southerners were mostly gone from Congress, so Northern Republicans passed economic bills to promote the war effort

    • Homestead Act of 1862: People could claim 160 acres of public land & buy it after 5 years

    • Morrill Land Grant Act (1862). Federal gov gives land to the states to sell to individual people

      • This money from the land sales is used to finance public schools & colleges

  • Built transcontinental railroad

    • Union Pacific & Central Pacific Railroad Co build a line from Omaha to San Francisco in 1869

    • Finished at Promontory, UT, in 1869

  • Passed National Bank Acts of 1863-1864

    • Any bank could join national banking system if they had enough capital

    • Provided banknotes to these banks

  • Collected income taxes

  • Created a uniform system of paper money & issued lots of paper money

    • Fluctuated in price

  • Encouraged people to invest in bonds to give the government more money

  • Promoted industrial & economic development

    • Boosted production of coal, railroads, etc.

  • Many workers formed labor unions as they hated new working conditions & lower wages


Raising the Union Army

  • Union army was very small & weak

    • Lincoln sought to increase its size

    • Most soldiers were in state militias & volunteer armies

  • Congress passed national draft law in Mar 1863

    • Any young adult male could be drafted

    • Draftees could escape service by hiring someone else or paying $300 to gov

  • Many people rioted against the draft law

    • Immigrants, poor laborers, & most Democrats opposed this

      • Peace Democrats opposed the war, were known as "Copperheads"

    • Most famous were July 1863 New York Draft Riots

      • People burned black businesses, blamed them for the war

      • Irish immigrants believed blacks would replace them as low-income laborers


Opposition to the War & Wartime Politics

  • Lincoln hired a cabinet to represent every possible faction & viewpoint of Republican party

  • Many people opposed the war

    • Many Democrats (called Peace Democrats) opposed it

    • Some believed the national gov had too much power & states should get the power to secede

  • Lincoln used authoritarian methods in his presidency, mostly to suppress opposition

    • Raised an army & declared war on the South w/o Congress's approval

      • Believed it was a domestic insurrection, not a real war against another country

    • Ordered naval blockade of the South w/o Congress's approval

    • Ordered the military arrest of those who opposed the war

      • Suspended habeas corpus, the right to report an unlawful detention​

      • Arrested more than 13k dissidents

    • Even defied Supreme Court orders

      • In a case called Ex Parte Merryman, Court ruled Lincoln must free ​a MD secessionist leader who was imprisoned

        • Lincoln ignored this

      • In another case (Ex Parte Milligan), Court ruled that military arrests were unconstitutional

  • Lincoln sought to boost popular support for the war

    • Made pro-war speeches pamphlets, etc.

    • Told people to take photos of the war to show the sacrifices being made to preserve the Union


Election of 1864

  • Union party was created

    • Combined Republicans with pro-war Democrats​

    • Had Lincoln as president, Andrew Johnson of Tennessee as running mate

      • Johnson was formerly a Democrat, he was meant to gain support of Democrats​

  • Democrats had George McClellan (former Union military general)

    • Wanted peace & truce in the war​

  • Since the US was in a bad military position in 1863, most supported Democrats (which were anti-war)

  • After capture of Atlanta (Sep 1864), people realized the Union was in a good military position

    • More people supported the Republicans / Union party​

  • In the end, Lincoln won, Andrew Johnson was VP


Women's Involvement in the War

  • As men went to battlefield, many women took their places

    • Often teachers, office clerks, mill & factory workers, etc.​

  • Dorothea Dix was in the US Sanitary Commission, sought to bring women into nursing

    • Same person in the mentally ill reform movement

    • By 1900, nursing became almost all female

    • Many resented having women in the nursing field

      • Believed women to be incompetent to care for complete strangers

    • Many women helped care for soldiers at the battlefield

      • Helped decrease mortality of soldiers​

  • Many women believed helping in the war was a liberating experience for themselves

    • Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan B Anthony founded National Woman's Loyal League (1863)

      • Wanted suffrage for themselves in addition to blacks​

    • Clara Barton founded American Red Cross, promoted women in nursing profession

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Emancipation Proclamation

  • Radical Republicans wanted immediate emancipation for slaves

  • Conservatives wanted gradual emancipation

  • At first, Lincoln just wanted to preserve the Union, didn't care much about emancipation

  • Later, he passed 1st Confiscation Act (1861)

    • Hated that many slaves were forced to fight for Confederacy

    • Freed all slaves who fought for the Confederacy

  • Passed 2nd Confiscation Act (1862)

    • All slaves whose masters were in Confederate military were free​

    • Lincoln used these slaves in the Union army

  • Now, northerners learned that emancipation was the general goal of the war

  • In Sep 1862, Lincoln signed Emancipation Proclamation

    • Signed after Union victory at Antietam, needed more blacks to serve in his army

    • All slaves in Confederacy were free

    • Didn't apply to border states

    • Gave moral purpose to war: Showed that war was for emancipation, not just preservation of Union

      • Allowed European nations to support the Union as they opposed slavery

  • After Emancipation Proclamation (1863), Union army worked to liberate all slaves in its path


Role of Blacks in the Union War Effort

  • About 180k former slaves joined Union army

    • Often faced discrimination from generals as there were few black regiments

    • Gained popularity after Emancipation Proclamation

    • Often did behind-the-scenes work like digging trenches, transporting resources

    • Had unsanitary conditions

    • Had lower pay than whites (until Congress changed this in 1864)

  • Robert Gould Shaw was a white man who commanded the 54th Massachusetts regiment

    • A very famous all-black regiment

    • The movie Glory is based on this regiment

  • They risk being caught by Confederacy at battle & being returned to their masters

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Mobilization of the South

Confederate Government

  • Confederate constitution gave more rights to the states (much more decentralized)

    • Jefferson Davis was president

    • Alexander H Stephens was VP

    • Limited the power of national government

      • States had lots of power​

      • Pres. Davis couldn't declare martial law

  • Had very strong governmental support for the war

    • Almost all whites supported war

  • Still, not everyone supported war

    • All blacks opposed war (obviously)

    • Some whites in the poor backcountry opposed war & didn't recognize Confederacy

      • Most notably West Virginia, which became a separate state in 1863


Raising the Army & Revenue for Confederacy

  • Generating revenue was hard since they didn't have stable banking system

    • Most money was invested in slaves → little money left for war

    • Didn't want to tax the citizens → encouraged them. to invest in bonds

      • These bonds fluctuated in value

  • Thus, Confederacy issued lots of paper money

    • There was widespread inflation as there was no centralized currency system

  • To raise the army, Confederacy enacted draft law for white males (18-35 y/o)

    • Like the north, they could hire a substitute

    • Many slaves would perform auxiliary tasks (laundry, chores, etc.)

      • Thus, whites were free to serve in front lines​

    • Sometimes, they took slaves from plantations w/o their masters' approval to work in the military

  • Confederacy enacted "food draft" where soldiers can feed on any crops from any plantation in their path

    • Many people opposed this​

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Effects of the War on the Confederacy

  • Economy declined significantly in the South

    • Cotton lost its markets as it couldn't trade w/ industrial north

    • Plantation owners w/o slaves lost their workforce since many whites went to battle

  • Most fighting was in the South → Southern infrastructure, crops, etc. were destroyed

  • US imposed a naval blockade in the South in 1862 → Food shortage in the South

    • South had less food as most of its crops were cotton (which wasn't edible)

    • Many white men served in military → less workforce to harvest food crops at plantations

    • Naval blockade made this worse → food riots

  • Many rioted against draft law, food shortage, etc.

  • Many men were away at war → Women had important managerial roles at home

    • Some were in charge of plantations

  • Masters imposed stricter restrictions on slaves as they were scared of slave revolts

    • Still, many slaves managed to escape to the Union w/ the help of Union troops

Other Wartime Developments

Untrustworthy Military Commanders

  • Lincoln struggled to find a trustworthy military commander for the Union army

    • George McClellan kept missing opportunities to win, which delayed the Union victory

      • Lincoln recalled him

    • Lincoln kept firing & replacing his northern military commanders

    • Finally, he found Gen. Ulysses S Grant to be trustworthy & smart enough

    • The smart commanders knew that you need to capture enemy resources to win, not just enemy people

  • Confederate army was also disorganized, but its commanders were much smarter

    • Pres. Davis named Robert E Lee as his principal military advisor

      • However, Lee left the job to command forces on his own​

    • In 1864, Davis named Braxton Bragg as military advisor, but he didn't do much

    • In 1865, Davis created formal position of General in chief & made Robert E Lee that role

    • Most Confederate commanders were graduates from West Point or US Naval Academy​

      • Still they weren't as smart or capable​


Advantage of Sea Power

  • North had a very powerful navy

  • ​North imposed a naval blockade of the South​

    • Very few Confederate ships were able to slip through

    • Prevented food from getting to Confederacy

  • Confederacy used ironclad warships to try to breach the naval blockade

    • Used US ship Merrimac and retrofitted it with iron

      • Renamed it to Virginia

    • In March 1862, Virginia set sail to attack Union's naval blockade

      • However, U​nion created its own ironclad ship called Monitor, which attacked Virginia

  • Union's navy took control of Mississippi River in 1863

    • With this, it could easily transport supplies throughout the Union

  • South didn't have a good navy, so it could only defend from its fortifications on land


Attempts to Forge European Alliances

  • Union & Confederacy sought to gain the support of Britain & France

    • Both European nations were somewhat neutral but kind of supported the South more

      • Needed southern cotton for its textile mills​

      • Sought to weaken industrial centers of northeast US

    • Popular opinion in Britain supported the North

      • Believed in antislavery

      • Believed Britain has other cotton markets like Egypt & India

    • South sought to use "King Cotton Diplomacy" to gain support of Britain (but it failed)

      • Tried to convince Britain that the South ​had access to cotton which Britain would need

  • Trent Affair (1861) hurt diplomatic relations between Union & Britain

    • US warship, San Jacinto, stopped an English ship, Trent, in Havana, Cuba, and arrested 2 Confederate diplomats on board

    • British gov demanded release of the prisoners, so Lincoln agreed as he wanted to avoid conflict

    • This affair hurt relations between Union & Britain


Wartime Violence in the West

  • There was a lot of fighting between Unions & Confederates in the West

    • All western states (except Texas) were in Union

  • William C Quantrill was captain of Confederacy & organized guerillas to attack Missouri-Kansas border

    • Sacked Lawrence, KS, in Aug 1863, killing 150 people​

    • Union troops killed Quantrill afterward

  • Union guerillas called Jayhawkers attacked Confederates throughout Missouri to get revenge

  • Battle of Wilson's Creek (Aug 1861) was another major battle in Missouri

    • Missouri governor Claiborne Jackson sought to secede & conspired w/ pro-slavery forces

    • Governor Jackson organized an army under Confederate Gen. Ben McCulloch

    • Union Gen. Nathaniel Lyon attacked Confederate forces led by Gen. Ben McCulloch

      • Unions were defeated but Confederates were weakened

  • Some sought to gain support of the 5 Indian tribes in the Indian Territory

    • Indians were divided among themselves

      • Some hated slavery & supported north

      • Others hated the way US treated them & even owned slaves themselves → Supported South

    • Indians didn't formally ally w/ either side

Here is a map depicting the Battles in Kansas & Missouri:

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Wartime Technology

  • Some new technologies were invented

    • Samuel Colt invented revolver (repeating pistol) in 1835

    • Oliver Winchester invented repeating rifle in 1866

    • These repeating weapons caused so many deaths

      • People created trenches & fortifications

    • Used hot air balloons to see enemy fortifications​

    • Submarines, torpedoes, ironclad warships

  • Railroad & telegraph were super important

    • Railroads would transport soldiers

    • Telegraphs would be used to communicate soldier movements

      • Often unreliable due to lack of infrastructure & trusted operators

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Important Terms & People