The American Civil War, widely known in the United States as simply the Civil War as well as other sectional names, was fought from 1861 to 1865. Seven Southern slave states individually declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America, known as the "Confederacy" or the "South". They grew to include eleven states, and although they claimed thirteen states and additional western territories, the Confederacy was never recognized by a foreign country. The states that did not declare secession were known as the "Union" or the "North". The war had its origin in the fractious issue of slavery, especially the extension of slavery into the western territories. After four years of bloody combat that left over 600,000 Union and Confederate soldiers dead, and destroyed much of the South's infrastructure, the Confederacy collapsed, slavery was abolished, and the difficult Reconstruction process of restoring national unity and guaranteeing civil rights to the freed slaves began.

In the 1860 presidential election, Republicans, led by Abraham Lincoln, opposed the expansion of slavery into US territories. Lincoln won, but before his inauguration on March 4, 1861, seven slave states with cotton-based economies formed the Confederacy. The first six to secede had the highest proportions of slaves in their populations, a total of 48.8% for the six. Outgoing Democratic President James Buchanan and the incoming Republicans rejected secession as illegal. Lincoln's inaugural address declared

his administration would not initiate civil war. Eight remaining slave states continued to reject calls for secession. Confederate forces seized numerous federal forts within territory claimed by the Confederacy. A peace conference failed to find a compromise, and both sides prepared for war. The Confederates assumed that European countries were so dependent on "King Cotton" that they would intervene; none did and none recognized the new Confederate States of America.
Hostilities began on April 12, 1861, when Confederate forces fired upon Fort Sumter, a key fort held by Union troops in South Carolina. Lincoln called for every state to provide troops to retake the fort; consequently, four more slave states joined the Confederacy, bringing their total to eleven. Lincoln soon controlled the border states, after arresting state legislators and suspending habeas corpus, ignoring the ruling of the Supreme Court's Chief Justice that such suspension was unconstitutional, and established a naval blockade that crippled the southern economy. The Eastern Theater was inconclusive in 1861–62. The autumn 1862 Confederate campaign into Maryland (a Union state) ended with Confederate retreat at the Battle of Antietam, dissuading British intervention. To the west, by summer 1862 the Union destroyed the Confederate river navy, then much of their western armies, and the Union siege of Vicksburg split the Confederacy in two at the Mississippi River. In 1863, Robert E. Lee's Confederate incursion north ended at the Battle of Gettysburg. Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which made ending slavery a war goal. Western successes led to Ulysses S. Grant's command of all Union armies in 1864. In the Western Theater, William T. Sherman drove east to capture Atlanta and marched to the sea, destroying Confederate infrastructure along the way. The Union marshaled the resources and manpower to attack the Confederacy from all directions, leading to the protracted Siege of Petersburg. The besieged Confederate army eventually abandoned Richmond, seeking to regroup at Appomattox Court House, though there they found themselves surrounded by union forces. This led to Lee's surrender to Grant on April 9, 1865. All Confederate generals surrendered by that summer.
The American Civil War was one of the earliest true industrial wars. Railroads, the telegraph, steamships, and mass-produced weapons were employed extensively. The mobilization of civilian factories, mines, shipyards, banks, transportation and food supplies all foreshadowed World War I. It remains the deadliest war in American history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 750,000 soldiers and an undetermined number of civilian casualties. One estimate of the death toll is that ten percent of all Northern males 20–45 years old, and 30 percent of all Southern white males aged 18–40 perished. From 1861 to 1865 about 620,000 soldiers lost their lives.

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  • 1. [Union Army] The Union Army was the land force that fought for the Union during the American Civil War. It consisted of the small United States Army (the regular army), augmented by massive numbers of units supplied by the Northern states, composed of volunteers as well as conscripts. The Union Army fought and eventually defeated the smaller Confederate States Army during the war, which lasted from 1861 to 1865. About 360,000 died from all causes; some 280,000 were wounded.
  • 2. [Confederate States of America] The Confederate States of America (CSA or C.S.A.), commonly referred to as the Confederacy, was an unrecognized secessionist state 1861-65. It was originally formed by seven slave states in the Lower South region of the United States whose regional economy was mostly dependent upon agriculture, particularly cotton, and a plantation system of production which in
  • 3. [Confederate States Army] The Confederate States Army was the military ground force of the Confederate States of America, also known as the "Confederacy", while the Confederacy existed during the American Civil War. On February 28, 1861, the Provisional Confederate Congress established a provisional volunteer army and gave control over military operations and authority for mustering state forces and
  • 4. [Union (American Civil War)] During the American Civil War, the Union was the term used to refer to the United States of America, and specifically to the national government and the 20 other free states and five border slave states which supported it. The Union was opposed by 11 southern slave states that had declared a secession to join
  • 5. [Abraham Lincoln] Abraham Lincoln /ˈeɪbrəhæm ˈlɪŋkən/ (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was the 16th president of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. Lincoln led the United States through its Civil War—its bloodiest war and its greatest moral, constitutional and political crisis. In doing so, he preserved the Union, abolished slavery, strengthened the federal government, and modernized the economy.
  • 6. [Ulysses S. Grant] Ulysses S. Grant (born Hiram Ulysses Grant; April 27, 1822 – July 23, 1885) was the 18th President of the United States (1869–1877). In 1865, as commanding general, Grant led the Union Armies to victory over the Confederacy in the American Civil War, which ended shortly after Robert E. Lee surrendered to him at Appomattox.
  • 7. [Robert E. Lee] Robert Edward Lee (January 19, 1807 – October 12, 1870) was an American soldier best known for commanding the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War from 1862 until his surrender in 1865. The son of Revolutionary War officer Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee III and a top graduate of the United
  • 8. [Battle of Gettysburg] The Battle of Gettysburg (local /ˈɡɛtɨsbɜrɡ/, with an /s/ sound) was fought July 1–3, 1863, in and around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, by Union and Confederate forces during the American Civil War. The battle involved the largest number of casualties of the entire war and is often described as the war's turning point. Union
  • 9. [Army of the Potomac] The Army of the Potomac was the major Union Army in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War.
  • 10. [Union Navy] The Union Navy is the label applied to the United States Navy (USN) during the American Civil War, to contrast it from its direct opponent, the Confederate States Navy (CSN). The term is sometimes used carelessly to include vessels of war used on the rivers of the interior while they were actually under the control of the United States Army, referred to in the same fashion as the Union Army.
  • 11. [Reconstruction Era] In the history of the United States, the term Reconstruction Era has two senses: the first covers the complete history of the entire country from 1865 to 1877 following the Civil War; the second sense focuses on the transformation of the Southern United States from 1863 to 1877, as directed by Congress, with the reconstruction of state and society.
  • 12. [William Tecumseh Sherman] William Tecumseh Sherman (February 8, 1820 – February 14, 1891) was an American soldier, businessman, educator and author. He served as a General in the Union Army during the American Civil War (1861–65), for which he received recognition for his outstanding command of military strategy as well as criticism for the harshness of the "scorched earth" policies that he implemented in conducting total war against the Confederate States.
  • 13. [Mexican–American War] The Mexican–American War, also known as the Mexican War, the U.S.–Mexican War or the Invasion of Mexico, was an armed conflict between the United States and the Centralist Republic of Mexico (which became the Second Federal Republic of Mexico during the war) from 1846 to 1848. It followed in the wake of the 1845 U.S. annexation of Texas, which Mexico considered part of its territory, despite the 1836 Texas Revolution.
  • 14. [Union blockade] The Union blockade in the American Civil War was a naval strategy by the United States to prevent the Confederacy from trading.
    The blockade was proclaimed by President Abraham Lincoln in April 1861, and required the closure of 3,500 miles (5,600 km) of Atlantic and Gulf coastline, including 12 major ports, notably New Orleans and Mobile.
  • 15. [Battle of Antietam] The Battle of Antietam /ænˈtiːtəm/, also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg, particularly in the South, fought on September 17, 1862, near Sharpsburg, Maryland, and Antietam Creek as part of the Maryland Campaign, was the first major battle in the American Civil War to take place on Union soil. It is the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, with a combined tally of dead, wounded, and missing at 22,717.
  • 16. [Army of Northern Virginia] The Army of Northern Virginia was the primary military force of the Confederate States of America in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War, as well as the primary command structure of the Department of Northern Virginia. It was most often arrayed against the Union Army of the Potomac. Three districts were created under the Department of Northern Virginia:
  • 17. [Siege of Petersburg] The Richmond–Petersburg Campaign was a series of battles around Petersburg, Virginia, fought from June 9, 1864, to March 25, 1865, during the American Civil War. Although it is more popularly known as the Siege of Petersburg, it was not a classic military siege, in which a city is usually surrounded and all supply lines are
  • 18. [Battle of Fredericksburg] The Battle of Fredericksburg was fought December 11–15, 1862, in and around Fredericksburg, Virginia, between General Robert E. Lee's Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and the Union Army of the Potomac, commanded by Major General Ambrose Burnside. The Union Army's futile frontal attacks on December 13 against entrenched Confederate defenders on the heights behind the
  • 19. [Jefferson Davis] Jefferson F. Davis (June 3, 1807/1808 – December 6, 1889) was an American soldier and politician, and was the President of the Confederate States of America (the former seceded southern states of the United States of America) during the American Civil War, 1861 to 1865. He took personal charge of the Confederate war plans but
  • 20. [Battle of Chancellorsville] The Battle of Chancellorsville was a major battle of the American Civil War, and the principal engagement of the Chancellorsville Campaign. It was fought from April 30 to May 6, 1863, in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, near the village of Chancellorsville. Two related battles were fought nearby on May 3 in the vicinity of Fredericksburg. The
  • 21. [Virginia] Virginia (/vərˈdʒɪnjə/), officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a U.S. state located in the South Atlantic region of the United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" due to its status as a former dominion of the English Crown, and "Mother of Presidents" due to the most U.S. presidents having been born there. The geography
  • 22. [Peninsula Campaign] The Peninsula Campaign (also known as the Peninsular Campaign) of the American Civil War was a major Union operation launched in southeastern Virginia from March through July 1862, the first large-scale offensive in the Eastern Theater. The operation, commanded by Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, was an amphibious turning movement against the Confederate States Army
  • 23. [First Battle of Bull Run] The First Battle of Bull Run, also known as First Manassas (the name used by Confederate forces), was fought on July 21, 1861, in Prince William County, Virginia, near the city of Manassas, not far from Washington, D.C. It was the first major battle of the American Civil War. The Union forces were slow in
  • 24. [George B. McClellan] George Brinton McClellan (December 3, 1826 – October 29, 1885) was a major general during the American Civil War and the Democratic presidential nominee in 1864, who later served as Governor of New Jersey. He organized the famous Army of the Potomac and served briefly (November 1861 to March 1862) as the general-in-chief of the
  • 25. [Battle of Shiloh] The Battle of Shiloh, also known as the Battle of Pittsburg Landing, was a major battle in the Western Theater of the American Civil War, fought April 6–7, 1862, in southwestern Tennessee. A Union army under Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant had moved via the Tennessee River deep into Tennessee and was encamped principally at
  • 26. [Abolitionism in the United States] Abolitionism in the United States was the movement prior to the American Civil War to end slavery, whether formal or informal, in the United States.
    Britain banned the importation of African slaves in its colonies in 1807 and abolished slavery in the British Empire in 1833. The United States criminalized the international slave trade in 1808 and abolished slavery in 1865 as a result of the American Civil War.
  • 27. [Siege of Vicksburg] The Siege of Vicksburg (May 18 – July 4, 1863) was the final major military action in the Vicksburg Campaign of the American Civil War. In a series of maneuvers, Union Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and his Army of the Tennessee crossed the Mississippi River and drove the Confederate Army of Vicksburg led by Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton into the defensive lines surrounding the fortress city of Vicksburg, Mississippi.
  • 28. [Andrew Johnson] Andrew Johnson (December 29, 1808 – July 31, 1875) was the 17th President of the United States, serving from 1865 to 1869. Johnson became president as he was Vice President at the time of President Abraham Lincoln's assassination. A Democrat who ran with Lincoln on the National Union ticket, Johnson came to office as the
  • 29. [Second Battle of Bull Run] The Second Battle of Bull Run or Second Manassas was fought August 28–30, 1862 in Prince William County, Virginia, as part of the American Civil War. It was the culmination of an offensive campaign waged by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia against Union Maj. Gen. John Pope's Army of Virginia, and a battle of much larger scale and numbers than the First Battle of Bull Run (First Manassas) fought in 1861 on the same ground.
  • 30. [Stonewall Jackson] Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson (January 21, 1824 – May 10, 1863) was a Confederate general during the American Civil War, and one of the best-known Confederate commanders after General Robert E. Lee. His military career includes the Valley Campaign of 1862 and his service as a corps commander in the Army of Northern Virginia under
  • 31. [Richmond, Virginia] Richmond /ˈrɪtʃmənd/ is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the United States. It is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) and the Greater Richmond Region; since 1871 Richmond has been an independent city.
  • 32. [Battle of Chickamauga] The Battle of Chickamauga, fought September 19–20, 1863, marked the end of a Union offensive in southeastern Tennessee and northwestern Georgia called the Chickamauga Campaign. The battle was the most significant Union defeat in the Western Theater of the American Civil War and involved the second highest number of casualties in the war following the Battle of Gettysburg. It was the first major battle of the war that was fought in Georgia.
  • 33. [Joseph E. Johnston] Joseph Eggleston Johnston (February 3, 1807 – March 21, 1891) was a career U.S. Army officer, serving with distinction in the Mexican-American War and Seminole Wars, and was also one of the most senior general officers in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. He was unrelated to Albert Sidney Johnston, another high-ranking Confederate general.
  • 34. [Battle of the Wilderness] The Battle of the Wilderness, fought May 5–7, 1864, was the first battle of Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's 1864 Virginia Overland Campaign against Gen. Robert E. Lee and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. Both armies suffered heavy casualties, a harbinger of a bloody war of attrition by Grant against Lee's army and, eventually, the Confederate capital, Richmond, Virginia. The battle was tactically inconclusive, as Grant disengaged and continued his offensive.
  • 35. [Fort Sumter] Fort Sumter is a Third System masonry sea fort located in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. The fort is best known as the site upon which the shots that started the American Civil War were fired, at the Battle of Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. In 1966, the site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • 36. [Philip Sheridan] Philip Henry Sheridan (March 6, 1831 – August 5, 1888) was a career United States Army officer and a Union general in the American Civil War. His career was noted for his rapid rise to major general and his close association with Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, who transferred Sheridan from command of an infantry
  • 37. [Jubal Early] Jubal Anderson Early (November 3, 1816 – March 2, 1894) was a lawyer and Confederate general in the American Civil War. He served under Stonewall Jackson and then Robert E. Lee for almost the entire war, rising from regimental command to lieutenant general and the command of an infantry corps in the Army of Northern
  • 38. [Western Theater of the American Civil War] This article presents an overview of major military and naval operations in the Western Theater of the American Civil War.
  • 39. [James Longstreet] James Longstreet (January 8, 1821 – January 2, 1904) was one of the foremost Confederate generals of the American Civil War and the principal subordinate to General Robert E. Lee, who called him his "Old War Horse." He served under Lee as a corps commander for many of the famous battles fought by the Army
  • 40. [Seven Days Battles] The Seven Days Battles were a series of six major battles over the seven days from June 25 to July 1, 1862, near Richmond, Virginia during the American Civil War. Confederate General Robert E. Lee drove the invading Union Army of the Potomac, commanded by Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, away from Richmond and into
  • 41. [Sherman's March to the Sea] Sherman's March to the Sea is the name commonly given to the military Savannah Campaign in the American Civil War, conducted through Georgia from November 15 to December 21, 1864 by Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman of the Union Army. The campaign began with Sherman's troops leaving the captured city of Atlanta, Georgia, on November
  • 42. [Mississippi River] The Mississippi River is the chief river of the largest drainage system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States (though its drainage basin reaches into Canada), it rises in northern Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for 2,340 miles (3,770 km) to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many
  • 43. [Battle of Spotsylvania Court House] The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, sometimes more simply referred to as the Battle of Spotsylvania (or the 19th century spelling Spottsylvania), was the second major battle in Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's 1864 Overland Campaign of the American Civil War. Following the bloody but inconclusive Battle of the Wilderness, Grant's army disengaged from Confederate
  • 44. [Battle of Cold Harbor] The Battle of Cold Harbor was fought from May 31 to June 12, 1864, with the most significant fighting occurring on June 3. It was one of the final battles of Union Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's Overland Campaign during the American Civil War, and is remembered as one of American history's bloodiest, most lopsided
  • 45. [Braxton Bragg] Braxton Bragg (March 22, 1817 – September 27, 1876) was a career United States Army officer, and then a general in the Confederate States Army—a principal commander in the Western Theater of the American Civil War and later the military adviser to the Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
  • 46. [Slavery in the United States] Slavery in the United States was the legal institution of chattel slavery that existed in the United States of America in the 18th and 19th centuries. Slavery had been practiced in British North America from early colonial days, and was recognized in the Thirteen Colonies at the time of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
  • 47. [Ambrose Burnside] Ambrose Everett Burnside (May 23, 1824 – September 13, 1881) was an American soldier, railroad executive, inventor, industrialist, and politician from Rhode Island, serving as governor and a U.S. Senator. As a Union Army general in the American Civil War, he conducted successful campaigns in North Carolina and East Tennessee, as well as countering the
  • 48. [Battle of Stones River] The Battle of Stones River or Second Battle of Murfreesboro (in the South, simply the Battle of Murfreesboro), was fought from December 31, 1862, to January 2, 1863, in Middle Tennessee, as the culmination of the Stones River Campaign in the Western Theater of the American Civil War. Of the major battles of the Civil
  • 49. [Overland Campaign] The Overland Campaign, also known as Grant's Overland Campaign and the Wilderness Campaign, was a series of battles fought in Virginia during May and June 1864, in the American Civil War. Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, general-in-chief of all Union armies, directed the actions of the Army of the Potomac, commanded by Maj. Gen. George
  • 50. [Secession] Secession (derived from the Latin term secessio) is the act of withdrawing from an organization, union, military alliance or especially a political entity. Threats of secession can also be a strategy for achieving more limited goals.
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