Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was by far the most important character
of the Civil War. Being the 16th presi...
Thomas Jackson
Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson was one of the most
dependent generals for the Confederacy during th...
(1782-1850) pre-civil war era. None the less, he played a very important
role. He ended up taking the role as a representa...
Clara Barton
Clara Barton was known as the “angel of the battlefield” for
her role as a nurse during the Civil...
Thaddeus Stevens
Thaddeus Stevens was a leading spokesman for the Radical
Republicans who fought to win civil ...
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20 Key People in the Civil War


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20 Key People in the Civil War

  1. 1. Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) Abraham Lincoln was by far the most important character of the Civil War. Being the 16th president, he was also one of the top representatives of the Union. During the Civil war,he makes a huge, key decision by putting Ulysses S. Grant in charge of all northern armies after finding him favorable and dependable in his eyes. Along with this, he stuck with his pro-union policy despite all the threats and warnings that he received. In January 1, 1863, he puts the Emancipation Proclamation into effect,which declared freedom for all slaves in areas of the Confederacy despite the war not being over. Despite all these controversial actions, Lincoln wins the war, and completes the freedom of slaves. Union Jefferson Davis (1808-1889) Jefferson Davis was the first president of the Confederate States. After the Mexican war,he is voted into the US Senate as a Democrat in 1847. Until 1857, he remains a spokesman for slavery and states’ rights but is then voted as the 1st president of the Confederate states. Unfortunately, he made some poor choices as a leader, like choosing his friends for some of the most important positions in the government when it was obvious that they wouldn’t do so well. Due to these poor choices, it’s fair to say that he didn’t succeed as a leader. By the end of the war,Davis flees from Richmond in hopes of continuing the war deep south or organizes a government in exile, but all fails in the end and he ends up in prison. Confederacy Robert E. Lee (1807-1870) Robert E. Lee was the youngest son of the major-general Henry Lee, and a general in the Confederate army. Feeling that his loyal services belonged more to the Confederacy than the Union, Lee rejects the offer to lead a Union army and joins the south. After failing to stop the invasion of Virginia, Lee won a number of important victories, like the Seven Days’ Battle in June 62’. Unfortunately, in the end, Robert E. Lee goes down in the history books as the men who surrendered to U. Grant and thus, end the war after being trapped at the Appomatox court house. He brilliantly held off Grant’s forces severaltimes, but just couldn’t seize the initiative and take offense. Confederacy Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885) Ulysses S. Grant became a lieutenant General in the war, but started small by being the colonel of the “Governor Gate’s Hellions.” From here on, Grant just kept on climbing the ladder. In the beginning, he makes some hasty and careless decisions that nearly cost him huge defeats,like his not-so-well prepared attack on Belmont. However, he soon makes up for these actions by helping other generals in the war with reinforcements. During these times, he greatly impressed Abraham Lincoln with his self-reliance, and so, was placed in charge of all Northern armies. He and Sherman work together to corner Lee after severalmonths of continuous fights, and earned GeneralLee’s surrender to win the war. U. Grant was a perfect example of a case where making mistakes strongly strengthened the person in the end. Union
  2. 2. Thomas Jackson (1824-1863) Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson was one of the most dependent generals for the Confederacy during the Civil War. After joining the Confederate army in early 1861, he earns his nickname after people noticed how his brigades always stood straight (like stonewall). After winning the difficult battle in the Shenadoah Valley, Jackson joins Lee for the defense of Richmond. He records severalmore important victories before his death, like the one at Chancellorsville where he attacked the flank of the federal army. In the end, Jackson dies from pneumonia in May 10th after being shot by one of his one men, who thought that he was an intruder. Losing Jackson was a huge blow to Southern state’s hopes,and even Lee was unsure of how to replace him afterwards. Due to the immense amount of dependence that was put on Jackson, one may say that losing him caused the South to lose the war. Confederacy General Pierre Gustave Toutant de Beauregard (1818 – 1893) P.G.T Beauregard was a generalof the South Carolina militia. Under the orders of the Jefferson Davis, his army attacked Fort Sumter, which caused the Civil War. He was also one of eight full generals of the Confederate army. His greatest achievements were his victory in the First Battle of Manassas or the First Battle of Bull Run as well as successfully defending Charleston from 1862-1864. Confederacy Henry Clay (1777-1852) Henry Clay was known for his great oratory skills as well as a being a great compromiser. He proposed two compromises: The Missouri Compromise of 1820 and The Compromised of 1850. He played a significant role in the pre-civil war era. He tried to bring peace among the Southern and Northern States by these compromises. The first compromise held strong for about the first 3 decades, until the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional in 1857. However,the second compromise didn’t do so well. The North and South weren’t satisfied with the Compromise of 1850. Both regions were thought this compromise wasn’t fair, which caused a further rift between them. Union Stephen A. Douglas (1813-1861) Stephen A. Douglas was a very powerful and influential political leader. His political views were westward expansion and democratic. He really tried hard to maintain peace between the North and the South. So, he came up with the Kansas-Nebraska Act,which supported popular sovereignty to declare whether states should be free state or a slave state. However,his attempt to please both regions caused further division between them. Also, his ambition to become President caused a division between the Democratic Party in the election of 1860, allowing Abraham Lincoln to win. Union John C. Calhoun John C. Calhoun played many different roles during the Confederacy
  3. 3. (1782-1850) pre-civil war era. None the less, he played a very important role. He ended up taking the role as a representative of South Carolina, defending slavery and states rights. He strongly believed that if the issue of slavery wasn’t resolved, it would soon tear apart the nation in two. Although he didn’t want the South to secede the union, he felt that great measures should be taken for their rights. Although he didn’t live to see the Civil War, he was a great orator and defender for the South. He further increased their belief that their rights should be protected, and if not, separate from the Union. William Techumseh Sherman (1820-1891) Sherman was a generalfor the Union during the civil war. Sherman in his military career had many ups and downs. Some of the assignments he had during his career included being colonel of the 13th infantry in May 14 1861, commanding brigade in Division of the Potomac in August 17- 28 1861 and many more. Sherman was well known for taking Chattanooga, Atlanta even Savannah from the Confederates and to offer it as a Christmas present to the Union. William Sherman earned the “Thanks of Congress” twice for his successes in these three battles. Union George McClellan (1826-1885) George McClellan was a general for the Union during the civil war. McClellan was a very young thirty- six year old general who was an outstanding organizer and excellent strategist. Although McClellan was extremely slow in making decisions, he was still a great general. He was placed was commander of the Army of the Potomac by president Lincoln after the Confederates defeated the Union at the battle of Bull Run. In a campaign known as the Peninsula Campaign during the summer of 1852, McClellan led his army to capture the base of the Confederate Army in Richmond in which they were eventually able to push the Confederates out. Union George Pickett (1825-1875) George Pickett was a Confederate generalduring the civil war. Even though Pickett had been defeated and failed many times, he did have a few successes in his resume. He is best known for his courage in Gettysburg called “Pickett’s Charge” one of the bloodiest and costliest battles of the civil war. In this battle, he was known for his bravery in fighting and not surrendering with all his effort. Confederacy
  4. 4. Clara Barton (1821-1912) Clara Barton was known as the “angel of the battlefield” for her role as a nurse during the Civil war. Although she was a supporter of the Union, she healed soldiers from both sides and thus, quickly gained the support from various generals like James Wadsworth. Sure,there were a lot of nurses, but she was very distinctive as she treated soldiers on the battlefield instead of carrying them to the hospitals, as many died on their way. Due to these brave actions, she became the superintendent of nurses. Other than being a nurse, Clara also built an office that was in charge of finding out what happened to the missing soldiers of the war. Although she wasn’t a general, her contributions were just as important. Union Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811 – 1896) Harriet Beecher Stowe was a crucial figure before the Civil War. Her book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin influenced many people in the North to go against slavery. This book was extremely powerful as it convinced many to believe that slavery would corrupt this nation. Her fame allowed her to become a key figure in speaking against anti-slavery. In 1862, even President Lincoln who met Stowe said, “So you are the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war!" Union Dred Scott (1799-1858) Not necessarily the person, but the decision the court had made from his lawsuit caused great controversy prior to the Civil War. Dred Scott, a slave, filed a suit against Irene Emerson saying that since he and his wife lived in Illinois and the Wisconsin Territory, free states,they should be granted freedom. This case went all the way up to the Supreme Court where they decided that Dred Scott should stay a slave. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney added that slaves weren’t allowed to file a suit since they weren’t citizens and that slaves were property so they can never gain their freedom even in a free state. This made the Missouri Compromise of 1820 unconstitutional. This decision made by the court, angered many abolitionists. The people eventually formed the Republican party to make sure that slavery doesn’t expand. The Republican Party gained enough momentum to get their candidate for President, Abraham Lincoln elected. Union John Brown (1800-1859) John Brown was an influential abolitionist who caused further division between the North and South, leading up to the Civil War. He believed that he was chosen by God to end slavery. His first act was when he killed five pro slavery looters which sparked a mass of violent raids throughout Kansas. His second act was when he led 21 men to Virginia to stealthe Federal’s arsenalat Harpers Ferry in order to start a slave rebellion. His raid was going well as he attempted to isolate the town, but word got through and the FederalArmy eventually captured them. He was tried and sentenced to be hanged. The people in the North praised John Brown as a martyr, which angered the South causing tension and separation between the two regions. Union
  5. 5. Thaddeus Stevens (1792-1868) Thaddeus Stevens was a leading spokesman for the Radical Republicans who fought to win civil rights for African Americans. In 1856, he was elected in the Antislavery Republican Party and was known as the “Great Commoner.” He was a fighter for emancipation and black suffrage. Stevens helped draft the Fourteenth Amendment and the Reconstruction Act in 1867. He was a big leading role for African Americans who had just been set free. He fought against many of the South’s ideas and was considered the savior of public education in Pennsylvania. Stevens was also well known for his fiery attitude and passion towards trying to impeach president Johnson. Union Charlotte Forten (1837-1914) Charlotte Forten was a big antislavery woman who was a poet, teacher and abolitionist. She was also one of the first northern African American to go to the south to be a schoolteacher to former slaves. In 1856, a year after the civil was had ended, she moved to Salem to teach at Epes Grammar School. With her help and many other teachers, these children were able to get the type of education they never had and have a new life that they had never had. During this time, her talent for poetry emerged and her works came up in famous antislavery publications such as the Liberator and Anglo African magazine. She was later forced back to move north due to sickness and was sad to leave her children in Salem. After this experience, Forten continued to do her antislavery work and was involved in meeting with famous antislavery members such as William Lloyd Garrison and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Union Blanche Kelso Bruce (1841-1898) Blanche Kelso Bruce was a former slave and was the first black man elected to serve a full term in the senate. As a member of the Senate, Bruce encouraged matters where African Americans didn’t have the same rights as others did. This included asking the government to be more generous to giving land to black emigrants in the west and distribution of clothes to poor blacks. He was a big fighter of African American rights. Union Andrew Johnson (1808-1875) Andrew Johnson was the 17th president after Abraham Lincoln. When the civil war ended, President Johnson formed a reconstruction plan that would allow the Confederates to quickly reunite with the Union. Johnson was a man that did not show favor to rich plantation owners but rather, to the poor. In reality, Johnson issued pardons to those who asked him personally and in 1865; Johnson had issued it to 13,000 southerners. Even though Johnson was helpful and an honorable man, he was unfortunate since the Congress overruled things that Andrew Johnson vetoed. Because of this, it was hard for him to be as effective in his presidency as Lincoln was. Union