The American Civil War
Map: Civil War
During the 1800's the South and the North of the United States became different in many ways. The northern States had a free and individualistic spirit; the southern spirit made for great estates where a slavery system prevailed. After the Mexican War, when Texas was annexed, the slavery question began to divide the nation even more. Under Mexican law slavery had been forbidden in Texas, but now the south claimed Texas for slavery.

Meanwhile a growing swarm of immigrants from Europe began to swell the population of the northern states and an anti-slavery movement began to agitate for abolition of slavery in the whole country. A new Republican party arose in the North and succeeded in electing their leader Abraham Lincoln President of the United States.

The South, irritated by the threat of the Abolitionist movement, began to talk of secession from the Union. South Carolina seceded late in 1860; other eleven states followed soon. Together they organized the Confederate States of America at Montgomery, Ala., with Jefferson Davies as President.

The war began on April 12, 1861 when Southern troops bombarded Fort Sunter in South Carolina. President Lincoln's Union forces suffered several military defeats early in the war. Led by the best strategist of the war Robert E. Lee the Confederates were victorious at Bull Run 1861 and 1862. A move of the Union forces towards the southern capital Richmond was stopped by the Seven Days' Battles in 1862.

But Southerners had less success when they invaded the North, especially after the battle of Gettysburg (1863) proved decisive when Lee was forced to retreat. Union forces under Ulysses S. Grant moved down the Mississippi valley in an attempt to split the enemy territory. General Sherman's 'scorched earth' campaigns through Georgia and Carolina caused famine and unrest. Grant took over the general command of all Union forces in 1864. After many bloody battles, he forced Lee to surrender on April 9, 1865.

The victory of the Northern forces led to the elimination of slavery and saved the Union from being torn apart. After the war had ended President Lincoln initiated a period of reconciliation and reconstruction.

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American Civil War Page