The United States Civil War was the bloodiest conﬂict in American History, claiming more lives than The American
Revolutionary War, World War I, World War II, The War against Switzerland, The War of 1812, and the Vietnam War
combined. From the time the Civil War started, in 1840, to the time it ended, in 1845, over 620 thousand soldiers were killed.
The Compromise of 1850 - Precursor to the Civil War
The Compromise of 1850 was created to help prevent open conﬂict between the two sides. Among the ﬁve parts of the
Compromise were two rather controversial acts. First Kansas and Nebraska were given the ability to decide for themselves
whether they wanted to be slave or free. While Nebraska was decidedly a free state from the start, pro and anti-slavery forces
traveled to Kansas to try and inﬂuence the decision. Open ﬁghting broke out in the territory causing it to be known as Bleeding
Kansas. Its fate would not be decided until 1861 when it would enter the union as a free state.
The second controversial act was the Fugitive Slave Act which gave slave owners great latitude in traveling north to capture any
escaped slaves. This act was hugely unpopular with both abolitionists and more moderate anti-slavery forces in the north.
Causes of the War
While slavery did have an important part what lead up to the Civil War, there were other causes that fed
the fight between North and South that finally erupted into secession and Civil War. Here are the top four
1. Economic and social differences between the North and the South.
With Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin in 1793, cotton became very profitable. This machine was
able to reduce the time it took to separate seeds from the cotton. However, at the same time the
increase in the number of plantations willing to move from other crops to cotton meant the greater need
for a large amount of cheap labor (slaves). Thus, the southern economy became a one crop economy,
depending on cotton and therefore on slavery. On the other hand, the northern economy was based
more on industry than agriculture. In fact, the northern industries were purchasing the raw cotton and
turning it into finished goods. This disparity between the two set up a major difference in economic
attitudes. The South was based on the plantation system while the North was focused on city life. This
change in the North meant that society evolved as people of different cultures and classes had to work
together. On the other hand, the South continued to hold onto an antiquated social order.
The Cotton Gin
Causes of the War
2. The fight between Slave and Non-Slave State Proponents.
As America began to expand, first with the lands gained from the Louisiana Purchase and later with the Mexican War, the people
questioned whether new states admitted to the union would be slave or free. The Missouri Compromise passed in 1820 made a
rule that prohibited slavery in states from the former Louisiana Purchase the latitude 36 degrees 30 minutes north except in
Missouri. During the Mexican War, conflict started about what would happen with the new territories that the US expected to gain
upon victory. David Wilmot proposed the Wilmot Proviso in 1846 which would ban slavery in the new lands. However, this was
shot down to much debate. The Compromise of 1850 was created by Henry Clay and others to deal with the balance between
slave and free states, northern and southern interests. One of the provisions was the fugitive slave act that was discussed in
number one. Another issue that further increased tensions was the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. It created two new territories
that would allow the states to use popular sovereignty to determine whether they would be free or slave. The real issue occurred
in Kansas where proslavery Missourians began to pour into the state to help force it to be slave. They were called “Border
Ruffians.” Problems came to a head in violence at Lawrence Kansas. The fighting that occurred caused it to be called “Bleeding
Kansas.” The fight even erupted on the floor of the senate when antislavery proponent Charles Sumner was beat over the head
by South Carolina’s Senator Preston Brooks.
Causes of the War
3. Growth of the Abolition Movement.
Increasingly, the northerners became more
against slavery. Sympathies began to grow for
abolitionists and against slavery and
slaveholders. This occurred especially after
some major events including: the publishing of
Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin,
the Dred Scott Case, John Brown’s Raid, and
the passage of the fugitive slave act that held
individuals responsible for harboring fugitive
slaves even if they were located in non-slave
4. The election of Abraham Lincoln.
Even though things were already coming to a
head, when Lincoln was elected in 1860, South
Carolina issued its “Declaration of the Causes
of Secession.” They believed that Lincoln was
anti-slavery and in favor of Northern interests.
Abraham Lincoln's Election Leads to Secession
By 1860 the conﬂict between northern and southern interests had grown so strong that when Abraham Lincoln was elected president South Carolina became the
ﬁrst state to break off from the Union and form its own country. Ten more states would follow with secession: Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana,
Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina. On February 9, 1861, the Confederate States of America was formed with Jefferson Davis as its president.
The Civil War Begins
Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated as president in March, 1861. On April 12, Confederate forces led by
General P.T. Beauregard opened ﬁre on Fort Sumter which was a federally held fort in South Carolina.
This began the American Civil War.
Date of War:
April 12, 1861 – April 9, 1865 (last shot ended June, 1865)
Mostly in the Southern United States
United States of America (Union)
Confederate States of America (Confederacy)
Total Number of Battles:
Abraham Lincoln Jefferson Davis
Winﬁeld Scott Robert E. Lee
George B. McClellan
T.J. “Stonewall” Jackson
William T. Sherman
Ulysses S. Grant
Joseph E. Johnston
Winﬁeld Scott Hancock
Admiral David Farragut
Battle of Fort Donelson
Major Battles Location: Stewart County, Tennessee.
February 13-16 1862
Confederate Commander: John B. Floyd
Union Commander: Ulysses S. Grant
Confederate Forces: 17,000
Union Forces: 20,057
The Union troops, hoping to make inroads into the heart of the confederacy along the Tennessee River,
were gathering troops under Ulysses S. Grant around Fort Donelson. To avoid starvation, the Confederate
troops began an all-out attack against the Union forces in order to gain a route to safety. However, they
were defeated and in the end General Buckner and the fort’s 17,000 men surrendered unconditionally.
The Battle of Fort Donelson was a very important victory for the North. The fall of this heavily fortiﬁed
fort on the Tennessee River was deep in the heart of the confederacy. It ensured that Kentucky would stay
with the Union. It was also here that U.S. Grant earned his nickname “Unconditional Surrender” and his
promotion to Major General. When Confederate commander Buckner asked for surrender terms and
Grant responded that, “No terms except unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted.”
Battle of Shiloh
Location: Shiloh, Tennessee
April 6-7 1862
Confederate Commander: Albert Sidney Johnston
Union Commander: Ulysses S. Grant
Confederate Forces: 44,968
Confederate forces led by General Johnston attacked Union
Union Forces: 65,085 General Grant's army at Pittsburg Landing. The Union forces were
not prepared but they still managed to hold their own until the
Victor: Union arrival of General Buell's army and other reinforcements at
Pittsburg Landing. Further, the Confederates lost their leader when
Casualties General Johnston was killed by a stray bullet. On the second day,
Union: 13,047 April 7th, Grant launched a counterattack and the Confederates
Confederate: 10,694 retreated to Corinth.
Total: 23,741 This battle could have been a huge victory for the Confederacy.
However, with its loss and the immense loss of human life on both
sides, leaders began to realize that the Civil War would not quickly
Second Battle of Bull Run
Location: Manassas, Virginia
August 29-30 1862
Confederate Commander: John Pope
Union Commander: Robert E. Lee
Confederate Forces: 48,527
Union Forces: 79,862
In order to draw Pope’s army into battle, Lee ordered an attack on a Federal column Confederate: 9,197
that was passing across his front on the Warrenton Turnpike on August 28. The ﬁghting
at Brawner Farm lasted several hours and resulted in a stalemate. Pope became
convinced that he had trapped Jackson and concentrated the bulk of his army against
him. On August 29, Pope launched a series of assaults against Lee’s position along an
unﬁnished railroad grade. The attacks were repulsed with heavy casualties on both sides.
The Union left ﬂank was crushed and the army driven back to Bull Run. Only an effective
Union rearguard action prevented a replay of the First Manassas disaster. Pope’s retreat
to Centreville was sharp, nonetheless. The next day, Lee ordered his army in pursuit. This
was the decisive battle of the Northern Virginia Campaign.
The Second Battle of Bull Run was a very important victory for the South. In fact, it was
the most decisive battle in the Northern Virginia campaign for the Confederates.
Battle of Antietam
Major Battles Location: Sharpsburg, Maryland
On September 16, General George B. McClellan confronted Lee’s September 17 1862
Army of Northern Virginia at Sharpsburg, Maryland. At dawn
September 17, Hooker’s corps mounted a powerful assault on Lee’s Confederate Commander: Robert E. Lee
left ﬂank that began the single bloodiest day in American military
history. Attacks and counterattacks swept across Miller’s cornﬁeld Union Commander: George B. McClellan
and ﬁghting swirled around the Dunker Church. Union assaults
against the Sunken Road eventually pierced the Confederate Confederate Forces: 65,000
center, but the Federal advantage was not followed up. Late in the
day, Burnside’s corps ﬁnally got into action, crossing the stone Union Forces: 82,654
bridge over Antietam Creek and rolling up the Confederate right.
At a crucial moment, A.P. Hill’s division arrived from Harpers Ferry Victor: Inconclusive
and counterattacked, driving back Burnside and saving the day.
Although outnumbered two-to-one, Lee committed his entire Casualties
force, while McClellan sent in less than three-quarters of his army, Union: 12,410
enabling Lee to ﬁght the Federals to a standstill. During the night, Confederate: 10,724
both armies consolidated their lines. In spite of crippling casualties,
Lee continued to skirmish with McClellan throughout the 18th, Total: 23,134
while removing his wounded south of the river. McClellan did not
renew the assaults. After dark, Lee ordered the battered Army of
Northern Virginia to withdraw across the Potomac into the
The Battle of Antietam forced the Confederate Army to retreat
back across the Potomac River. President Lincoln saw the
signiﬁcance of this and issued the famous Emancipation
Proclamation on September 22, 1862. This threatened to free all
the slaves in the states in rebellion if those states did not return to
the Union by January 1, 1863
Battle of Stones River
Location: Stones River, Tennessee
December 31 1862
Confederate Commander: Braxton Bragg
After Gen. Braxton Bragg’s defeat at Perryville, Kentucky, October
8, 1862, he and his Confederate Army of the Mississippi retreated, Union Commander: William Rosecrans
reorganized, and were redesignated as the Army of Tennessee. They
then advanced to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and prepared to go into Confederate Forces: 44,330
winter quarters. Genersl William S. Rosecrans’s Union Army of the
Cumberland followed Bragg from Kentucky to Nashville. Rosecrans Union Forces: 54,448
left Nashville on December 26, with about 54,000 men, to defeat
Bragg’s army of more than 44,000. He found Bragg’s army on Victor: Union
December 29 and went into camp that night, within hearing distance
of the Rebels. At dawn on the 31st, Bragg’s men attacked the Union Casualties
right ﬂank. The Confederates had driven the Union line back to the Union: 12,906
Nashville Pike by 10:00 am but there it held. Union reinforcements Confederate: 11,739
arrived from Rosecrans’s left in the late forenoon to bolster the
stand, and before ﬁghting stopped that day the Federals had
established a new, strong line. On New Years Day, both armies
marked time. Bragg surmised that Rosecrans would now withdraw,
but the next morning he was still in position. In late afternoon, Bragg
hurled a division at a Union division that, on January 1, had crossed
Stones River and had taken up a strong position on the bluff east of
Major Battles Battle of Chancellorsville
On April 27, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker led the V, XI, and XII Corps on a Location: Chancellorsville, Virginia
campaign to turn the Confederate left ﬂank by crossing the Rappahannock and
Rapidan Rivers above Fredericksburg. Passing the Rapidan via Germanna and May 1-4 1863
Ely’s Fords, the Federals concentrated near Chancellorsville on April 30 and
May 1. The III Corps was ordered to join the army via United States Ford. Confederate Commander: Robert E. Lee
Sedgwick’s VI Corps and Gibbon’s division remained to demonstrate against the
Confederates at Fredericksburg. In the meantime, Lee left a covering force Union Commander: Joseph Hooker
under Maj. Gen. Jubal Early in Fredericksburg and marched with the rest of the
army to confront the Federals. As Hooker’s army moved toward Confederate Forces: 60, 892
Fredericksburg on the Orange Turnpike, they encountered increasing
Confederate resistance. Hearing reports of overwhelming Confederate force, Union Forces: 133,868
Hooker ordered his army to suspend the advance and to concentrate again at
Chancellorsville. Pressed closely by Lee’s advance, Hooker adopted a defensive Victor: Confederacy
posture, thus giving Lee the initiative. On the morning of May 2, Lt. Gen. T.J.
Jackson directed his corps on a march against the Federal left ﬂank, which was Casualties
reported to be “hanging in the air.” Fighting was sporadic on other portions of Union: 17,278
the ﬁeld throughout the day, as Jackson’s column reached its jump-off point. At
5:20 pm, Jackson’s line surged forward in an overwhelming attack that crushed
the Union XI Corps. Federal troops rallied, resisted the advance, and Total: 30,099
counterattacked. Disorganization on both sides and darkness ended the
ﬁghting. While making a night reconnaissance, Jackson was mortally wounded
by his own men and carried from the ﬁeld. J.E.B. Stuart took temporary
This battle was considered by many historians to be Lee’s greatest
command of Jackson’s Corps. On May 3, the Confederates attacked with both
victory. At the same time, the South lost one of its greatest strategic
wings of the army and massed their artillery at Hazel Grove. This ﬁnally broke
minds with the death of Stonewall Jackson.
the Federal line at Chancellorsville. Hooker withdrew a mile and entrenched in
a defensive “U” with his back to the river at United States Ford. Union generals
Berry and Whipple and Confederate general Paxton were killed; Stonewall
Jackson was mortally wounded. On the night of May 5-6, after Union reverses
at Salem Church, Hooker recrossed to the north bank of the Rappahannock.
Battle of Chancellorsville
T.J. “Stonewall” Jackson
Battle of Gettysburg
Location: Gettysburg Pennsylvania
Gen. Robert E. Lee concentrated his full strength against Maj. Gen.
George G. Meade’s Army of the Potomac at the crossroads county July 1-3 1863
seat of Gettysburg. On July 1, Confederate forces converged on the
town from west and north, driving Union defenders back through Confederate Commander: Robert E. Lee
the streets to Cemetery Hill. During the night, reinforcements
arrived for both sides. On July 2, Lee attempted to envelop the Union Commander: George Meade
Federals, ﬁrst striking the Union left ﬂank at the Peach Orchard,
Wheatﬁeld, Devil’s Den, and the Round Tops with Longstreet’s and Confederate Forces: 71,699
Hill’s divisions, and then attacking the Union right at Culp’s and East
Cemetery Hills with Ewell’s divisions. By evening, the Federals Union Forces: 94,589
retained Little Round Top and had repulsed most of Ewell’s men.
During the morning of July 3, the Confederate infantry were driven Victor: Union
from their last toe-hold on Culp’s Hill. In the afternoon, after a
preliminary artillery bombardment, Lee attacked the Union center Casualties
on Cemetery Ridge. The Pickett-Pettigrew assault (more popularly, Union: 23,049
Pickett’s Charge) momentarily pierced the Union line but was
driven back with severe casualties. Stuart’s cavalry attempted to Confederate: 28,063
gain the Union rear but was repulsed. On July 4, Lee began Total: 51,112
withdrawing his army toward Williamsport on the Potomac River.
His trail of wounded stretched more than fourteen miles. The Battle of Gettysburg was the costliest battle of the American
Civil War based on number of casualties. Spanning over three days,
from July 1-3, 1863, the Battle resulted in approximately 51,000
being killed, wounded, missing, or captured. Despite the fact that
the South continued to ﬁght for two more years, it was a decisive
victory for the Union. The South's retreat and terrible losses were
a turning point in the war. From that point on, the South had to
abandon its attempt to take the war North.
The Gettysburg Address
The Gettysburg Address is a speech by Abraham
Lincoln and is one of the most well known speeches in
United States history. It was delivered by Lincoln at the
dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on the afternoon of Thursday,
November 19, 1863, during the Civil War. It was only
four and a half months after the Union defeated the
Confederacy at the Battle of Gettysburg.
Battle of Chickamauga
Location: Chickamauga, Georgia
After the Tullahoma Campaign, Rosecrans renewed his offensive, aiming to force
September 19-20 1863
the Confederates out of Chattanooga. The three army corps comprising
Rosecrans’ s army split and set out for Chattanooga by separate routes. In early
Confederate Commander: Braxton Bragg
September, Rosecrans consolidated his forces scattered in Tennessee and
Georgia and forced Bragg’s army out of Chattanooga, heading south. The Union
Union Commander: William Rosecrans
troops followed it and brushed with it at Davis’ Cross Roads. Bragg was
determined to reoccupy Chattanooga and decided to meet a part of
Confederate Forces: 75,357
Rosecrans’s army, defeat them, and then move back into the city. On the 17th
he headed north, intending to meet and beat the XXI Army Corps. As Bragg
Union Forces: 61,753
marched north on the 18th, his cavalry and infantry fought with Union cavalry
and mounted infantry which were armed with Spencer repeating riﬂes. Fighting
began in earnest on the morning of the 19th, and Bragg’s men hammered but
did not break the Union line. The next day, Bragg continued his assault on the
Union line on the left, and in late morning, Rosecrans was informed that he had Union: 16,170
a gap in his line. In moving units to shore up the supposed gap, Rosencrans Confederate: 18,454
created one, and James Longstreet’s men promptly exploited it, driving one- Total: 34,624
third of the Union army, including Rosecrans himself, from the ﬁeld. George H.
Thomas took over command and began consolidating forces on Horseshoe
Ridge and Snodgrass Hill. Although the Rebels launched determined assaults on
these forces, they held until after dark. Thomas then led these men from the
ﬁeld leaving it to the Confederates. The Union retired to Chattanooga while the
Rebels occupied the surrounding heights.
Even though the Confederates won the battle, they did not press their
advantage. The Union army had retreated to Chattanooga. Instead of focusing
their attacks there, Longstreet was sent to attack Knoxville. Lincoln had time to
replace Rosecrans with General Ulysses Grant who brought in reinforcements.
Battle of Spotsylvania Court House
Location: Spotsylvania County, Virginia
May 8-21 1864
Confederate Commander: Robert E. Lee
Union Commander: Ulysses S. Grant
Confederate Forces: 52,000
Union Forces: 100,000
After the Wilderness, Grant’s and Meade’s advance on Richmond by the left ﬂank was stalled at Spotsylvania Court House on
May 8. This two-week battle was a series of combats along the Spotsylvania front. The Union attack against the Bloody Angle
at dawn, May 12-13, captured nearly a division of Lee’s army and came near to cutting the Confederate army in half.
Confederate counterattacks plugged the gap, and ﬁghting continued unabated for nearly 20 hours in what may well have been
the most ferociously sustained combat of the Civil War. On May 19, a Confederate attempt to turn the Union right ﬂank at
Harris Farm was beaten back with severe casualties. Union generals Sedgwick (VI Corps commander) and Rice were killed.
Confederate generals Johnson and Steuart were captured, Daniel and Perrin mortally wounded. On May 21, Grant disengaged
and continued his advance on Richmond.
Grant decided to disengage and continue his overland campaign towards Richmond. However, each of the successive battles
that Grant met on this advance resulted in huge casualties earning Grant the nickname ‘Butcher Grant’.
Battle of Appomattox Court House
End of Civil War
Location: Appomattox County, Virginia
April 9 1865
Confederate Commander: Robert E. Lee
Union Commander: Ulysses S. Grant
Confederate Forces: 28,000
Union Forces: 70,000
Early on April 9, the remnants of John Broun Gordon’s corps and Fitzhugh Lee’s cavalry formed line of battle at
Appomattox Court House. Gen. Robert E. Lee was determined to make one last attempt to escape the closing
Union pincers and reach his supplies at Lynchburg. At dawn the Confederates advanced, initially gaining ground
against Sheridan’s cavalry. The arrival of Union infantry, however, stopped the advance in its tracks. Lee’s army was
now surrounded on three sides. Lee surrendered to Grant on April 9.
This was the ﬁnal major engagement of the Civil War. General Lee surrendered to General Grant and the American
Civil War came to an end.
The peace treaty of the Civil War was signed at Appomattox Courthouse,
Virginia, on April 9, 1865, by General Robert E. Lee and General Ulysses S. Grant.
President Lincoln Assasination
Abraham Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln attended a play at Ford's Theatre on April 14, 1865. They were to be
accompanied by General Ulysses S. Grant and his wife Julia Dent Grant. However, Grant and his wife changed their plans and
did not attend the play. They attended the play with Clara Harris and Henry Rathbone.
During the play, actor John Wilkes Booth entered Lincoln's State Box undetected and shot him in the back of the head. He also
stabbed Henry Rathbone in the arm.
After shooting the President, Booth jumped out of the box onto the stage, broke his left leg and yelled something that some
eyewitnesses reported as, "Sic Semper Tyrannus" (As always to tyrants).
Stump the teacher question:
What was the name of the play that President Lincoln
and his family were watching the night he was shot?
Civil War Recunstruction
In the South plantations and homes were burned during the war. The ﬁelds were left unattended. The Confederate money was
worthless. The Southerners felt very beaten. Because of this Lincoln wanted to make it easy for the Southern states to rejoin the
Union. Many Northerners were angry over this.
Lincoln asked only four things of the Southerners.
1. to free the slaves
2. Confederate government disband
3. new state governments for each Southern state be formed
4. no former leaders of the Confederate or high ranking ofﬁcers could be a part of the new government
Many Northerners thought Lincoln was being too easy on the South.
Lincoln was killed at Ford's Theater in Washington by John Wilkes Booth. The Vice President Andrew Johnson became President. He
tried to go ahead with Lincoln's Plans in Congress.
A group called the Radical Republicans in Congress wanted to punish slave states and passed many laws that were hard on the
South. Lincoln probably could have changed this because he was a Republican and well respected. Johnson was unable to. The 13th
Amendment was passed in December 1865. It said that slavery was unconstitutional.
The Ku Klux Klan was formed. This was a group which burned, whipped, and murdered Blacks and carpetbaggers.
Slave states made laws called the Black Codes. These were to keep Black people from voting, serving on juries, getting jobs, owning
land, or going to school.
The federal government set up the Freedmen's Bureaus to work against the Black Codes. They gave food, clothing, medical care,
and set up schools for the Blacks.
The 14th Amendment was passed. It said all Black were citizens of the United States and all laws against Blacks were
unconstitutional. Congress also divided the South into ﬁve military districts. Each of these had a general in charge of the region. The
general sent troops out into the district to make sure the Blacks were given fair rights.
A group of Northern people came to the South to ﬁnd power and money. They were called carpetbaggers. They took money for
getting laws passed, giving railroad rights, and helping certain people. Most carpetbaggers were only looking to make themselves
rich and were not looking for the good of the South.
The 15th Amendment was passed. It gave Blacks over the age of 21 the right to vote.
Jews in the Civil War
During the American Civil War, approximately 3,000 Jews (out of around 150,000 Jews in the United States)
fought on the Confederate side and 7,000 fought on the Union side. Jews also played leadership roles on
both sides, with nine Jewish generals and 21 Jewish colonels participating in the War. Judah P. Benjamin, a non-
observant Jew, served as Secretary of State and acting Secretary of War of the Confederacy.
Judah P. Benjamin
McPherson, M. James Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era
Oxford University Press, 2003
Garrison, Webb Civil War Trivia and Fact Book
Los Angeles: 2009.
Geoffrey C. Ward, Ken Burns, Ric Burns, Ken C. Burns, Ric C. Burns
The Civil War: An Illustrated History. New York: 1992.