In the 1860 presidential election, Republicans, led by Abraham Lincoln, supported banning slavery in all the U.S. territories. The Southern states viewed this as a violation of their constitutional rights and as the first step in a grander Republican plan to eventually abolish slavery. The three pro-Union candidates together received an overwhelming 82 % majority of the votes cast nationally: Republican Lincoln 's votes centered in the north, Democrat Stephen A. Douglas ' votes were distributed nationally and Constitutional Unionist John Bell 's votes centered in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia. The Republican Party, dominant in the North, secured a plurality of the popular votes and a majority of the electoral votes nationally, thus Lincoln was constitutionally elected president. He was the first Republican Party candidate to win the presidency. However, before his inauguration, seven slave states with cotton-based economies declared secession and formed the Confederacy. The first six to declare secession had the highest proportions of slaves in their populations, with a total of 49 percent. Of those states whose legislatures resolved for secession, the first seven voted with split majorities for unionist candidates Douglas and Bell( Georgia with 51 % and Louisiana with 55 %), or with sizable minorities for those unionists( Alabama with 46 %, Mississippi with 40 %, Florida with 38 %, Texas with 25 %, and South Carolina, which cast Electoral College votes without a popular vote for president). Of these, only Texas held a referendum on secession.
Confederate Army flag
Eight remaining slave states continued to reject calls for secession. Outgoing Democratic President James Buchanan and the incoming Republicans rejected secession as illegal. Lincoln 's March 4, 1861, inaugural address declared that his administration would not initiate a civil war. Speaking directly to the`` Southern States'', he attempted to calm their fears of any threats to slavery, reaffirming,`` I have no purpose, directly or indirectly to interfere with the institution of slavery in the United States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.'' After Confederate forces seized numerous federal forts within territory claimed by the Confederacy, efforts at compromise failed and both sides prepared for war. The Confederates assumed that European countries were so dependent on`` King Cotton'' that they would intervene, but none did, and none recognized the new Confederate States of America.
Hostilities began on April 12, 1861, when Confederate forces fired upon Fort Sumter. While in the Western Theater the Union made significant permanent gains, in the Eastern Theater, the battle was inconclusive from 1861-- 1862. Later, in 1863, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which made ending slavery a war goal. To the west, by summer 1862 the Union destroyed the Confederate river , then much of their western armies, and seized New Orleans. The 1863 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. Western successes led to Ulysses Grant 's command of all Union armies in 1864. Inflicting an ever-tightening naval blockade of Confederate ports, the Union marshaled the resources and manpower to attack the Confederacy from all directions, leading to the fall of Atlanta to William T. Sherman and his march to the sea. The last significant battles raged around the Siege of Petersburg. Lee 's escape attempt ended with his surrender at Appomattox Court House, on April 9, 1865. While the military war was coming to an end, the political reintegration of the nation was to take another 12 years, known as the Reconstruction Era.
Confederate flag, the`` Stars and Bars''.
The American Civil War was one of the earliest true industrial wars. Railroads, the telegraph, steamships and iron-clad ships, and mass-produced weapons were employed extensively. The mobilization of civilian factories, mines, shipyards, banks, transportation and food supplies all foreshadowed the impact of industrialization in World War I, World War II and subsequent conflicts. It remains the deadliest war in American history. From 1861 to 1865, it is estimated that 620,000 to 750,000 soldiers died, along with an undetermined number of civilians. By one estimate, the war claimed the lives of 10 percent of all Northern males 20-- 45 years old, and 30 percent of all Southern white males aged 18-- 40.
Causes of secession
Main articles: Origins of the American Civil War and Timeline of events leading to the American Civil War
The causes of secession were complex and have been controversial since the war began, but most academic scholars identify slavery as a central cause of the war. James C. Bradford wrote that the issue has been further complicated by historical revisionists, who have tried to offer a variety of reasons for the war. Slavery was the central source of escalating political tension in the 1850s. The Republican Party was determined to prevent any spread of slavery, and many Southern leaders had threatened secession if the Republican candidate, Lincoln, won the 1860 election. After Lincoln won, many Southern leaders felt that disunion was their only option, fearing that the loss of representation would hamper their ability to promote pro-slavery acts and policies.
Slavery was a major cause of disunion. Although there were opposing views even in the Union States, most northern soldiers were largely indifferent on the subject of slavery, while Confederates fought the war largely to protect a southern society of which slavery was an integral part. From the anti-slavery perspective, the issue was primarily about whether the system of slavery was an anachronistic evil that was incompatible with republicanism. The strategy of the anti-slavery forces was containment-- to stop the expansion and thus put slavery on a path to gradual extinction. The slave-holding interests in the South denounced this strategy as infringing upon their Constitutional rights. Southern whites believed that the emancipation of slaves would destroy the South 's economy, due to the large amount of capital invested in slaves and fears of integrating the ex-slave black population. In particular, southerners feared a repeat of`` the horrors of Santo Domingo'', in which nearly all white people-- including men, women, children, and even many sympathetic to abolition-- were killed after the successful slave revolt in Haiti. Historian Thomas Fleming points to the historical phrase`` a disease in the public mind'' used by critics of this idea, and proposes it contributed to the segregation in the Jim Crow era following emancipation. These fears were exacerbated by the recent attempts of John Brown to instigate an armed slave rebellion in the South.
Slavery was illegal in much of the North, having been outlawed in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It was also fading in the border states and in Southern cities, but it was expanding in the highly profitable cotton districts of the rural South and Southwest. Subsequent writers on the American Civil War looked to several factors explaining the geographic divide.
Between 1803 and 1854, the United States achieved a vast expansion of territory through purchase, negotiation, and conquest. At first, the new states carved out of these territories entering the union were apportioned equally between slave and free states. It was over territories west of the Mississippi that the proslavery and antislavery forces collided.
With the conquest of northern Mexico west to California in 1848, slaveholding interests looked forward to expanding into these lands and perhaps Cuba and Central America as well. Northern`` free soil'' interests vigorously sought to curtail any further expansion of slave territory. The Compromise of 1850 over California balanced a free-soil state with stronger fugitive slave laws for a political settlement after four years of strife in the 1840s. But the states admitted following California were all free: Minnesota( 1858), Oregon( 1859) and Kansas( 1861). In the southern states the question of the territorial expansion of slavery westward again became explosive. Both the South and the North drew the same conclusion:`` The power to decide the question of slavery for the territories was the power to determine the future of slavery itself.''
By 1860, four doctrines had emerged to answer the question of federal control in the territories, and they all claimed they were sanctioned by the Constitution, implicitly or explicitly. The first of these`` conservative'' theories, represented by the Constitutional Union Party, argued that the Missouri Compromise apportionment of territory north for free soil and south for slavery should become a Constitutional mandate. The Crittenden Compromise of 1860 was an expression of this view.
The second doctrine of Congressional preeminence, championed by Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party, insisted that the Constitution did not bind legislators to a policy of balance-- that slavery could be excluded in a territory as it was done in the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 at the discretion of Congress, thus Congress could restrict human bondage, but never establish it. The Wilmot Proviso announced this position in 1846.
Senator Stephen A. Douglas proclaimed the doctrine of territorial or`` popular'' sovereignty-- which asserted that the settlers in a territory had the same rights as states in the Union to establish or disestablish slavery as a purely local matter. The Kansas-- Nebraska Act of 1854 legislated this doctrine. In Kansas Territory, years of pro and anti-slavery violence and political conflict erupted; the congressional House of Representatives voted to admit Kansas as a free state in early 1860, but its admission in the Senate was delayed until January 1861, after the 1860 elections when southern senators began to leave.
The fourth theory was advocated by Mississippi Senator Jefferson Davis, one of state sovereignty(`` states ' rights''), also known as the`` Calhoun doctrine'', named after the South Carolinian political theorist and statesman John C. Calhoun. Rejecting the arguments for federal or self-government, state sovereignty would empower states to promote the expansion of slavery as part of the federal union under the U.S. Constitution.`` States ' rights'' was an ideology formulated and applied as a means of advancing slave state interests through federal . As historian Thomas L. Krannawitter points out, the`` Southern demand for federal slave protection represented a demand for an unprecedented expansion of federal power.'' These four doctrines comprised the major ideologies presented to the American public on the matters of slavery, the territories and the U.S. Constitution prior to the 1860 presidential election. States ' rights
The South argued that each state had the right to secede-- leave the Union-- at any time, that the Constitution was a`` compact'' or agreement among the states. Northerners( including President Buchanan) rejected that notion as opposed to the will of the Founding Fathers who said they were setting up a perpetual union. Historian James McPherson writes concerning states ' rights and other non-slavery explanations:
While one or more of these interpretations remain popular among the Sons of Confederate Veterans and other Southern heritage groups, few professional historians now subscribe to them. Of all these interpretations, the states '- rights argument is perhaps the weakest. It fails to ask the question, states ' rights for what purpose? States ' rights, or sovereignty, was always more a means than an end, an instrument to achieve a certain goal more than a principle.
Sectionalism resulted from the different economies, social structure, customs and political values of the North and South. Regional tensions came to a head during the War of 1812, resulting in the Hartford Convention which manifested Northern dissatisfaction with a foreign trade embargo that affected the industrial North disproportionately, the Three-Fifths Compromise, dilution of Northern power by new states, and a succession of Southern Presidents. Sectionalism increased steadily between 1800 and 1860 as the North, which phased slavery out of existence, industrialized, urbanized, and built prosperous farms, while the deep South concentrated on plantation agriculture based on slave labor, together with subsistence farming for poor freedmen. In the 1840s and 50s, the issue of accepting slavery( in the guise of rejecting slave-owning bishops and missionaries) split the nation 's largest religious denominations( the Methodist, Baptist and Presbyterian churches) into separate Northern and Southern denominations.
Historians have debated whether economic differences between the industrial Northeast and the agricultural South helped cause the war. Most historians now disagree with the economic determinism of historian Charles A. Beard in the 1920s and emphasize that Northern and Southern economies were largely complementary. While socially different, the sections economically benefited each other.
Slave owners preferred low-cost manual labor with no mechanization. Northern manufacturing interests supported tariffs and protectionism while southern planters demanded free trade, The Democrats in Congress, controlled by Southerners, wrote the tariff laws in the 1830s, 1840s, and 1850s, and kept reducing rates so that the 1857 rates were the lowest since 1816. The Republicans called for an increase in tariffs in the 1860 election. The increases were only enacted in 1861 after Southerners resigned their seats in Congress. The tariff issue was a Northern grievance. However, neo-Confederate writers have claimed it as a Southern grievance. In 1860-- 61 none of the groups that proposed compromises to head off secession raised the tariff issue. Pamphleteers North and South rarely mentioned the tariff.
Nationalism and honor
Nationalism was a powerful force in the early 19th century, with famous spokesmen such as Andrew Jackson and Daniel Webster. While practically all Northerners supported the Union, Southerners were split between those loyal to the entire United States( called`` unionists'') and those loyal primarily to the southern region and then the Confederacy. C. Vann Woodward said of the latter group,
A great slave society... had grown up and miraculously flourished in the heart of a thoroughly bourgeois and partly puritanical republic. It had renounced its bourgeois origins and elaborated and painfully rationalized its institutional, legal, metaphysical, and religious defenses... When the crisis came it chose to fight. It proved to be the death struggle of a society, which went down in ruins.
Perceived insults to Southern collective honor included the enormous popularity of Uncle Tom 's Cabin( 1852) and the actions of abolitionist John Brown in trying to incite a slave rebellion in 1859.
While the South moved towards a Southern nationalism, leaders in the North were also becoming more nationally minded, and they rejected any notion of splitting the Union. The Republican national electoral platform of 1860 warned that Republicans regarded disunion as treason and would not tolerate it:`` We denounce those threats of disunion... as denying the vital principles of a free government, and as an avowal of contemplated treason, which it is the imperative duty of an indignant people sternly to rebuke and forever silence.'' The South ignored the warnings: Southerners did not realize how ardently the North would fight to hold the Union together.
Lincoln 's election
The election of Abraham Lincoln in November 1860 was the final trigger for secession. Efforts at compromise, including the`` Corwin Amendment'' and the`` Crittenden Compromise'', failed. Southern leaders feared that Lincoln would stop the expansion of slavery and put it on a course toward extinction. The slave states, which had already become a minority in the House of Representatives, were now facing a future as a perpetual minority in the Senate and Electoral College against an increasingly powerful North. Before Lincoln took office in March 1861, seven slave states had declared their secession and joined to form the Confederacy.
According to Lincoln, the people had shown that they can be successful in establishing and administering a republic, but a third challenge faced the nation, maintaining a republic based on the people 's vote against an attempt to overthrow it.
Outbreak of the war
The election of Lincoln caused the legislature of South Carolina to call a state convention to consider secession. Prior to the war, South Carolina did more than any other Southern state to advance the notion that a state had the right to nullify federal laws, and even to secede from the United States. The convention summoned unanimously voted to secede on December 20, 1860, and adopted the`` Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union''. It argued for states ' rights for slave owners in the South but contained a complaint about states ' rights in the North in the form of opposition to the Fugitive Slave Act, claiming that Northern states were not fulfilling their federal obligations under the Constitution. The`` cotton states'' of Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas followed suit, seceding in January and February 1861.
Among the ordinances of secession passed by the individual states, those of three-- Texas, Alabama, and Virginia-- specifically mentioned the plight of the`` slaveholding states'' at the hands of northern abolitionists. The rest make no mention of the slavery issue, and are often brief announcements of the dissolution of ties by the legislatures. However, at least four states-- South Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia, and Texas-- also passed lengthy and detailed explanations of their causes for secession, all of which laid the blame squarely on the movement to abolish slavery and that movement 's influence over the politics of the northern states. The southern states believed slaveholding was a constitutional right because of the Fugitive slave clause of the Constitution.
These states agreed to form a new federal government, the Confederate States of America, on February 4, 1861. They took control of federal forts and other properties within their boundaries with little resistance from outgoing President James Buchanan, whose term ended on March 4, 1861. Buchanan said that the Dred Scott decision was proof that the South had no reason for secession, and that the Union`` was intended to be perpetual'', but that`` The power by force of arms to compel a State to remain in the Union'' was not among the`` enumerated powers granted to Congress''. One quarter of the U.S. Army-- the entire garrison in Texas-- was surrendered in February 1861 to state forces by its commanding general, David E. Twiggs, who then joined the Confederacy.
As Southerners resigned their seats in the Senate and the House, Republicans were able to pass bills for projects that had been blocked by Southern Senators before the war, including the Morrill Tariff, land grant colleges( the Morrill Act), a Homestead Act, a transcontinental railroad( the Pacific Railway Acts), the National Banking Act and the of United States Notes by the Legal Tender Act of 1862. The Revenue Act of 1861 introduced the income tax to help finance the war.
On December 18, 1860, the Crittenden Compromise was proposed to re-establish the Missouri Compromise line by constitutionally banning slavery in territories to the north of the line while guaranteeing it to the south. The adoption of this compromise likely would have prevented the secession of every southern state apart from South Carolina, but Lincoln and the Republicans rejected it. It was then proposed to hold a national referendum on the compromise. The Republicans again rejected the idea, although a majority of both Northerners and Southerners would have voted in favor of it. A pre-war February Peace Conference of 1861 met in Washington, proposing a solution similar to that of the Crittenden compromise, it was rejected by Congress. The Republicans proposed an alternative compromise to not interfere with slavery where it existed but the South regarded it as insufficient. Nonetheless, the remaining eight slave states rejected pleas to join the Confederacy following a two-to-one no-vote in Virginia 's First Secessionist Convention on April 4, 1861.
On March 4, 1861, Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as President. In his inaugural address, he argued that the Constitution was a more perfect union than the earlier Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, that it was a binding contract, and called any secession`` legally void''. He had no intent to invade Southern states, nor did he intend to end slavery where it existed, but said that he would use force to maintain possession of Federal property. The government would make no move to recover post offices, and if resisted, mail delivery would end at state lines. Where popular conditions did not allow peaceful enforcement of Federal law, U.S. marshals and judges would be withdrawn. No mention was made of bullion lost from U.S. mints in Louisiana, Georgia, and North Carolina. He stated that it would be U.S. policy to only collect import duties at its ports; there could be no serious injury to the South to justify armed revolution during his administration. His speech closed with a plea for restoration of the bonds of union, famously calling on`` the mystic chords of memory'' binding the two regions.
The South sent delegations to Washington and offered to pay for the federal properties[ which? ] and enter into a peace treaty with the United States. Lincoln rejected any negotiations with Confederate agents because he claimed the Confederacy was not a legitimate government, and that making any treaty with it would be tantamount to recognition of it as a sovereign government. Secretary of State William Seward, who at the time saw himself as the real governor or`` prime minister'' behind the throne of the inexperienced Lincoln, engaged in unauthorized and indirect negotiations that failed. President Lincoln was determined to hold all remaining Union-occupied forts in the Confederacy, Fort Monroe in Virginia, in Florida, Fort Pickens, Fort Jefferson, Fort Taylor and Fort Sumter, located at the cockpit of secession in Charleston, South Carolina.
Battle of Fort Sumter
Fort Sumter was located in the middle of the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. Its garrison recently moved there to avoid incidents with local militias in the streets of the city. Lincoln told Maj. Anderson to hold on until fired upon. Jefferson Davis ordered the surrender of the fort. Anderson gave a conditional reply that the Confederate government rejected, and Davis ordered General P. G. T. Beauregard to attack the fort before a relief expedition could arrive. He bombarded Fort Sumter on April 12-- 13, forcing its capitulation.
The attack on Fort Sumter rallied the North to the defense of American nationalism. Historian Allan Nevins said:
The thunderclap of Sumter produced a startling crystallization of Northern sentiment.... Anger swept the land. From every side came news of mass meetings, speeches, resolutions, tenders of business support, the muster of companies and regiments, the determined action of governors and legislatures.''
Union leaders incorrectly assumed that only a minority of Southerners were in favor of secession and that there were large numbers of southern Unionists that could be counted on. Had Northerners realized that most Southerners really did favor secession, they might have hesitated at attempting the enormous task of conquering a united South.
Lincoln called on all the states to send forces to recapture the fort and other federal properties. With the scale of the rebellion apparently small so far, Lincoln called for only 75,000 volunteers for 90 days. The governor of Massachusetts had state regiments on trains headed south the next day. In western Missouri, local secessionists seized Liberty Arsenal. On May 3, 1861, Lincoln called for an additional 42,000 volunteers for a period of three years.
Four states in the middle and upper South had repeatedly rejected Confederate overtures, but now Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, and North Carolina refused to send forces against their neighbors, declared their secession, and joined the Confederacy. To reward Virginia, the Confederate capital was moved to Richmond.
Attitude of the border states
Maryland, Delaware, Missouri, and Kentucky were slave states that were opposed to both secession and coercing the South. West Virginia then joined them as an additional border state after it separated from Virginia and became a state of the Union in 1863.
Maryland 's territory surrounded the United States ' capital of Washington, DC and could cut it off from the North. It had numerous anti-Lincoln officials who tolerated anti-army rioting in Baltimore and the burning of bridges, both aimed at hindering the passage of troops to the South. Maryland 's legislature voted overwhelmingly( 53-- 13) to stay in the Union, but also rejected hostilities with its southern neighbors, voting to close Maryland 's rail lines to prevent them from being used for war. Lincoln responded by establishing martial law and unilaterally suspending habeas corpus in Maryland, along with sending in militia units from the North. Lincoln rapidly took control of Maryland and the District of Columbia by seizing many prominent figures, including arresting 1/3 of the members of the Maryland General Assembly on the day it reconvened. All were held without trial, ignoring a ruling by the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Roger Taney, a Maryland native, that only Congress( and not the president) could suspend habeas corpus( Ex parte Merryman). Indeed, federal troops imprisoned a prominent Baltimore newspaper editor, Frank Key Howard, Francis Scott Key 's grandson, after he criticized Lincoln in an editorial for ignoring the Supreme Court Chief Justice 's ruling.
In Missouri, an elected convention on secession voted decisively to remain within the Union. When pro-Confederate Governor Claiborne F. Jackson called out the state militia, it was attacked by federal forces under General Nathaniel Lyon, who chased the governor and the rest of the State Guard to the southwestern corner of the state( see also: Missouri secession). In the resulting vacuum, the convention on secession reconvened and took power as the Unionist provisional government of Missouri.
Kentucky did not secede; for a time, it declared itself neutral. When Confederate forces entered the state in September 1861, neutrality ended and the state reaffirmed its Union status, while trying to maintain slavery. During a brief invasion by Confederate forces, Confederate sympathizers organized a secession convention, inaugurated a governor, and gained recognition from the Confederacy. The rebel government soon went into exile and never controlled Kentucky.
After Virginia 's secession, a Unionist government in Wheeling asked 48 counties to vote on an ordinance to create a new state on October 24, 1861. A voter turnout of 34 percent approved the statehood bill( 96 percent approving). The inclusion of 24 secessionist counties in the state and the ensuing guerrilla war engaged about 40,000 Federal troops for much of the war. Congress admitted West Virginia to the Union on June 20, 1863. West Virginia provided about 20,000-- 22,000 soldiers to both the Confederacy and the Union.
A Unionist secession attempt occurred in East Tennessee, but was suppressed by the Confederacy, which arrested over 3,000 men suspected of being loyal to the Union. They were held without trial.
General features of the War
The Civil War was a contest marked by the ferocity and frequency of battle. Over four years, 237 named battles were fought, as were many more minor actions and skirmishes, which were often characterized by their bitter intensity and high casualties. In his book The American Civil War, John Keegan writes that`` The American Civil War was to prove one of the most ferocious wars ever fought''. Without geographic objectives, the only target for each side was the enemy 's soldier.
As the first seven states began organizing a Confederacy in Montgomery, the entire U.S. army numbered 16,000. However, Northern governors had begun to mobilize their militias. The Confederate Congress the new nation up to 100,000 troops sent by governors as early as February. By May, Jefferson Davis was pushing for 100,000 men under arms for one year or the duration, and that was answered in kind by the U.S. Congress.
In the first year of the war, both sides had far more volunteers than they could effectively train and equip. After the initial enthusiasm faded, reliance on the cohort of young men who came of age every year and wanted to join was not enough. Both sides used a draft law-- conscription-- as a device to encourage or force volunteering; relatively few were actually drafted and served. The Confederacy passed a draft law in April 1862 for young men aged 18 to 35; overseers of slaves, government officials, and clergymen were exempt. The U.S. Congress followed in July, a militia draft within a state when it could not meet its quota with volunteers. European immigrants joined the Union Army in large numbers, including 177,000 born in Germany and 144,000 born in Ireland.
When the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect in January 1863, ex-slaves were energetically recruited by the states, and used to meet the state quotas. States and local offered higher and higher cash bonuses for white volunteers. Congress tightened the law in March 1863. Men selected in the draft could provide substitutes or, until mid-1864, pay commutation money. Many eligibles pooled their money to cover the cost of anyone drafted. Families used the substitute provision to select which man should go into the army and which should stay home. There was much evasion and overt resistance to the draft, especially in Catholic areas. The great draft riot in New York City in July 1863 involved Irish immigrants who had been signed up as citizens to swell the vote of the city 's Democratic political machine, not realizing it made them liable for the draft. Of the 168,649 men procured for the Union through the draft, 117,986 were substitutes, leaving only 50,663 who had their personal services conscripted.
Rioters attacking a building during the New York anti-draft riots of 1863
In both the North and South, the draft laws were highly unpopular. In the North, some 120,000 men evaded conscription, many of them fleeing to Canada, and another 280,000 soldiers deserted during the war. At least 100,000 Southerners deserted, or about 10 percent. In the South, many men deserted temporarily to take care of their distressed families, then returned to their units. In the North,`` bounty jumpers'' enlisted to get the generous bonus, deserted, then went back to a second recruiting station under a different name to sign up again for a second bonus; 141 were caught and executed.
From a tiny frontier force in 1860, the Union and Confederate armies had grown into the`` largest and most efficient armies in the world'' within a few years. European observers at the time dismissed them as amateur and unprofessional, but British historian John Keegan 's assessment is that each outmatched the French, Prussian and Russian armies of the time, and but for the Atlantic, would have threatened any of them with defeat.
Perman and Taylor( 2010) write that historians are of two minds on why millions of men seemed so eager to fight, suffer and die over four years:
Some historians emphasize that Civil War soldiers were driven by political ideology, holding firm beliefs about the importance of liberty, Union, or state rights, or about the need to protect or to destroy slavery. Others point to less overtly political reasons to fight, such as the defense of one 's home and family, or the honor and brotherhood to be preserved when fighting alongside other men. Most historians agree that no matter what a soldier thought about when he went into the war, the experience of combat affected him profoundly and sometimes altered his reasons for continuing the fight.
At the start of the civil war, a system of paroles operated. Captives agreed not to fight until they were officially exchanged. Meanwhile, they were held in camps run by their own army where they were paid but not allowed to perform any military duties. The system of exchanges collapsed in 1863 when the Confederacy refused to exchange black prisoners. After that, about 56,000 of the 409,000 POWs died in prisons during the war, accounting for nearly 10 percent of the conflict 's fatalities.
The small of 1861 was rapidly enlarged to 6,000 officers and 45,000 men in 1865, with 671 vessels, having a tonnage of 510,396. Its mission was to blockade Confederate ports, take control of the river system, defend against Confederate raiders on the high seas, and be ready for a possible war with the . Meanwhile, the main riverine war was fought in the West, where a series of major rivers gave access to the Confederate heartland. The gained control of the Red, Tennessee, Cumberland, Mississippi, and Ohio rivers. eventually In the East, the supplied and moved army forces about, and occasionally shelled Confederate installations.
Clashes on the rivers were melees of ironclads, cottonclads, gunboats and rams, complicated by torpedoes and fire rafts.
The Civil War occurred during the early stages of the industrial revolution. Many naval innovations emerged during this time, most notably the advent of the ironclad warship. It began when the Confederacy, knowing they had to meet or match the Union 's naval superiority, responded to the Union blockade by building or converting more than 130 vessels, including twenty-six ironclads and floating batteries. Only half of these saw active service. Many were equipped with ram bows, creating`` ram fever'' among Union squadrons wherever they threatened. But in the face of overwhelming Union superiority and the Union 's own ironclad warships, they were unsuccessful.
Battle between the Monitor and Merrimack.
In addition to ocean-going warships coming up the Mississippi, the Union used timberclads, tinclads, and armored gunboats. Shipyards at Cairo, Illinois, and St. Louis built new boats or modified steamboats for action.
The Confederacy experimented with the submarine CSS Hunley, which did not work well, and with building an ironclad ship, CSS Virginia, which was based on rebuilding a sunken Union ship, Merrimack. On its first foray on March 8, 1862, Virginia inflicted significant damage to the Union 's wooden fleet, but the next day the first Union ironclad, USS Monitor, arrived to challenge it in the Chesapeake Bay. The resulting three hour Battle of Hampton Roads was a draw, but it proved that ironclads were effective warships. Not long after the battle the Confederacy was forced to scuttle the Virginia to prevent its capture, while the Union built many copies of the Monitor. Lacking the technology and infrastructure to build effective warships, the Confederacy attempted to obtain warships from Britain. Union blockade
General Scott 's`` Anaconda Plan'' 1861. Tightening naval blockade, forcing rebels out of Missouri along the Mississippi River, Kentucky Unionists sit on the fence, idled cotton industry illustrated in Georgia.
By early 1861, General Winfield Scott had devised the Anaconda Plan to win the war with as little bloodshed as possible. Scott argued that a Union blockade of the main ports would weaken the Confederate economy. Lincoln adopted parts of the plan, but he overruled Scott 's caution about 90-day volunteers. Public opinion, however, demanded an immediate attack by the army to capture Richmond.
In April 1861, Lincoln announced the Union blockade of all Southern ports; commercial ships could not get insurance and regular traffic ended. The South blundered in embargoing cotton exports in 1861 before the blockade was effective; by the time they realized the mistake, it was too late.`` King Cotton'' was dead, as the South could export less than 10 percent of its cotton. The blockade shut down the ten Confederate seaports with railheads that moved almost all the cotton, especially New Orleans, Mobile, and Charleston. By June 1861, warships were stationed off the principal Southern ports, and a year later nearly 300 ships were in service.
Main article: Blockade runners of the American Civil War
Gunline of nine Union ironclads. South Atlantic Blockading Squadron off Charleston. Continuous blockade of all major ports was sustained by North 's overwhelming war production.
British investors built small, fast, steam-driven blockade runners that traded arms and luxuries brought in from Britain through Bermuda, Cuba, and the Bahamas in return for high-priced cotton. Many of the ships were designed for speed and were so small that only a small amount of cotton went out. When the Union seized a blockade runner, the ship and cargo were condemned as a Prize of war and sold, with the proceeds given to the sailors; the captured crewmen were mostly British and they were simply released.
The Southern economy nearly collapsed during the war. There were multiple reasons for this: the severe deterioration of food supplies, especially in cities, the failure of Southern railroads, the loss of control of the main rivers, foraging by Northern armies, and the seizure of animals and crops by Confederate armies.
Most historians agree that the blockade was a major factor in ruining the Confederate economy; however, Wise argues that the blockade runners provided just enough of a lifeline to allow Lee to continue fighting for additional months, thanks to fresh supplies of 400,000 rifles, lead, blankets, and boots that the homefront economy could no longer supply.
Surdam argues that the blockade was a powerful weapon that eventually ruined the Southern economy, at the cost of few lives in combat. Practically, the entire Confederate cotton crop was useless( although it was sold to Union traders), costing the Confederacy its main source of income. Critical imports were scarce and the coastal trade was largely ended as well. The measure of the blockade 's success was not the few ships that slipped through, but the thousands that never tried it. Merchant ships owned in Europe could not get insurance and were too slow to evade the blockade; they simply stopped calling at Confederate ports.
To fight an offensive war, the Confederacy purchased ships from Britain, converted them to warships, and raided American merchant ships in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Insurance rates skyrocketed and the American flag virtually disappeared from international waters. However, the same ships were reflagged with European flags and continued unmolested. After the war, the U.S. demanded that Britain pay for the damage done, and Britain paid the U.S.$ 15 million in 1871.
Main article: Diplomacy of the American Civil War
Although the Confederacy hoped that Britain and France would join them against the Union, this was never likely, and so they instead tried to bring Britain and France in as mediators. The Union, under Lincoln and Secretary of State William H. Seward worked to block this, and threatened war if any country officially recognized the existence of the Confederate States of America. In 1861, Southerners voluntarily embargoed cotton shipments, hoping to start an economic depression in Europe that would force Britain to enter the war to get cotton, but this did not work. Worse, Europe developed other cotton suppliers, which they found superior, hindering the South 's recovery after the war.
Cotton diplomacy proved a failure as Europe had a surplus of cotton, while the 1860-- 62 crop failures in Europe made the North 's grain exports of critical importance. It also helped to turn European opinion further away from the Confederacy. It was said that`` King Corn was more powerful than King Cotton'', as U.S. grain went from a quarter of the British import trade to almost half. When Britain did face a cotton shortage, it was temporary, being replaced by increased cultivation in Egypt and India. Meanwhile, the war created employment for arms makers, ironworkers, and British ships to transport weapons.
Lincoln 's foreign policy was deficient in 1861 in terms of appealing to European public opinion. Diplomats had to explain that United States was not committed to the ending of slavery, but instead they repeated legalistic arguments about the unconstitutionality of secession. Confederate spokesmen, on the other hand, were much more successful by ignoring slavery and instead focusing on their struggle for liberty, their commitment to free trade, and the essential role of cotton in the European economy. In addition, the European aristocracy( the dominant factor in every major country) was`` absolutely gleeful in pronouncing the American debacle as proof that the entire experiment in popular government had failed. European government leaders welcomed the fragmentation of the ascendant American Republic.''
U.S. minister to Britain Charles Francis Adams proved particularly adept and convinced Britain not to boldly challenge the blockade. The Confederacy purchased several warships from commercial shipbuilders in Britain( CSS Alabama, CSS Shenandoah, CSS Tennessee, CSS Tallahassee, CSS Florida, and some others). The most famous, the CSS Alabama, did considerable damage and led to serious postwar disputes. However, public opinion against slavery created a political liability for politicians in Britain, where the antislavery movement was powerful.
War loomed in late 1861 between the U.S. and Britain over the Trent affair, involving the 's boarding of the British ship Trent and seizure of two Confederate diplomats. However, London and Washington were able to smooth over the problem after Lincoln released the two. In 1862, the British considered mediation between North and South, though even such an offer would have risked war with the U.S. British Prime Minister Lord Palmerston reportedly read Uncle Tom 's Cabin three times when deciding on this.
The Union victory in the Battle of Antietam caused them to delay this decision. The Emancipation Proclamation over time would reinforce the political liability of supporting the Confederacy. Despite sympathy for the Confederacy, France 's own seizure of Mexico ultimately deterred them from war with the Union. Confederate offers late in the war to end slavery in return for diplomatic recognition were not seriously considered by London or Paris. After 1863, the Polish revolt against Russia further distracted the European powers, and ensured that they would remain neutral.