SS7 Chapter 17 Notes: The Civil War

Section 1: The Two Sides (p. 452-457)

During the Civil War, states that were undecided about which side to join were called border states.  They included Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri.  The Union’s (North) plan heavily relied on cooperation with the border states if it were to succeed.  For instance, half of Washington D.C. fell within Maryland (a border state).

Going into the Civil War the North (The Union):

  • Wanted to reunite North and South again
  • Had to invade the South and force Confederate states to give up independence

Union (North) advantages included:

  • a significantly higher population than the South.
  • more resources than the South.

Going into the Civil War the South (The Confederacy):

  • Wanted to be an independent country
  • Thought if they fought long and hard enough, the North would give up
  • Hoped for support from Britain and France

Confederate (South) advantages included:

  • great military leaders.
  • a strong fighting spirit (motivation to win).
  • fighting a defensive war on their own land.

General Winfield Scott, a Northern general, devised the Anaconda Plan which involved controlling specific areas of the United States around the South.  The plan was to squeeze the South into defeat.

The Civil War pit families against families and friends against friends.  Many Americans had family members and friends located throughout the United States.  Neither side initially allowed African Americans to fight in the war.  Eventually the North did allow Africans Americans to enlist (join the military).  Both sides expected to win the war quickly but that did not turn out to be the case.

Confederate soldiers were sometimes called Rebels. Union soldiers were known as Yankees.


Section 2: Early Years of the War (p. 458-464)

The first major conflict of the Civil War was the Battle of Bull Run (in Virginia).  Initially it appeared the Union was going to win this battle.  However, General Thomas Jackson (for the South) inspired his soldiers to hold their position and not give in.  This earned him the name “Stonewall” Jackson.  The Confederates won this battle and shocked the Union.  The North realized this was going to be a long war.  Lincoln assigned George B. McClellan as the new Northern general.

General Ulysses S. Grant (for the North) helped the Union control the rivers in the western part of the United States.  In doing this, western Confederate states were unable to receive the supplies they desperately need.  General Grant became a hero in the North.

During the war, the North and South took ships and covered them with iron to protect.  This ships were called ironclads.  The two most well-known ironclads were the Merrimack (South) and the Monitor (North).  When they battled, it resulted in a draw.

The Battle of Shiloh (in Mississippi) resulted in 23,000 casualties (people killed, wounded, or captured) with the Union coming out victorious.  This was the first step in the North controlling the Mississippi River.  Soon afterwards, the Union would captured New Orleans, Louisiana which would make the Mississippi inaccessible to the South.

Richmond, Virginia was the Confederate capital and the Union had a difficult time capturing it.  Southern generals like General Robert E. Lee and General “Stonewall” Jackson protected it.

General Robert E. Lee planned to go North to Pennsylvania.  He split his soldiers up into four groups.  One of the groups fought McClellan (Northern general) in Maryland.  It was the Battle of Antietam and was the deadliest single day of fighting in the war. Lee went back to Virginia after the battle. His plan to invade the North had failed.

There was a push by abolitionist to make Lincoln end slavery.  Lincoln believed that saving the Union was more important than ending slavery.  Lincoln didn’t have the power to end slavery.  He did have the power to take away property and considering that slaves were property, he found a loophole to end slavery.  In 1863, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all the enslaved people in the South.  The Emancipation Proclamation did not free any enslaved people right away. It was only for places held by the Confederacy. Lincoln had no power there. Also, the proclamation was not for the border states. Still, the proclamation was important. It said that slavery is wrong. If the Union won the war, slavery would end.


Section 4: The Strain of War (p. 474-480)

After Antietam, the Confederacy won a number of battles in the East because Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were so good at their jobs.  The South was doing well despite fewer soldiers and resources.  Two of the more noted Confederate victories were the Battle of Fredericksburg and the Battle of Chancellorsville.  In the Battle of Chancellorsville, “Stonewall” Jackson was severely injured and ultimately died.  One of the South’s two great leaders was dead.

One of the main reasons the North was having such difficulty defeating the South was that Union leadership was weak.  Many of the generals did not listen to orders or wound up resigning.

The Confederate army never used African Americans as soldiers for fear they might revolt.  Still enslaved African Americans assisted the Union when possible.  Because of a desperate need for soldiers, the North allowed for the creation of all-black regiments (units of soldiers).  Black soldiers faced racism and discrimination in the Northern military.  The most famous black regiment was the Massachusetts 54th.  They sacrificed their life in order to take a fort and became known for their courage.

After the Confederate victory at Chancellorsville, Lee decided to invade the North. He hoped victories there would convince Britain and France to help the Confederacy.  This led to the Battle of Gettysburg, a three day battle that took place in Pennsylvania between General Lee/Pickett and Union forces.  During the third day of the battle, General Pickett (of the South) tried to charge through the Union army but were defeated.  This became known as Pickett’s Charge.  Losing at Gettysburg ended Confederate hopes of getting help from Britain and France.

Soon afterwards the Confederacy lost another major battle at Vicksburg in Mississippi.  General Grant (of the North) seized (surrounded) Vicksburg and kept the Confederates from receiving supplies for 47 days.  This is considered the last major battle of the Civil War.

A few month after the Battle of Gettysburg, Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address during the opening of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery.  It begins “Four score and seven years ago..” and only took about two minutes to give.


Section 5: The War’s Final Stages (p. 481-487)

Lincoln put General Ulysses S. Grant in charge of all Union armies towards the conclusion of the war.  He decided to have all his armies attack the Southern capital (Richmond, Virginia) at the same time.  As Grant closed in on Richmond, Lee tried to stop him.  This led to a series of three battles where the Union suffered heavy loss of life.  But still, General Grant had Union forces press on.  Grant attacked a Confederate railroad center outside of Richmond and although it took month, Union forces overtook it.

People in the North started losing faith in Lincoln and it was looking like he might not win re-election.  This changed when the Union took Atlanta, Georgia because now the people of the North believed they could win the war.  Lincoln was re-elected as President and the South was losing hope.

After General William Sherman (of the North) took Atlanta, they burned down the city.  Sherman led Union forces across the South using a strategy of total war.  Total war is the systematic destruction of an entire land, not just its army.  In using total war, he destroyed everything he came across (tearing up railroad track, killing livestock, burning fields and cities, etc.).  This became known as Sherman’s March and was his strategy to end the war.

After learning of the fall of the railroad center and General Lee retreat, Confederate leaders fled their capital as they knew Union forces were coming.  The Civil War finally ended in April 1865.  Lee’s starving army found themselves surrounded at Appomattox Court House, Virginia. Lee knew it was over so he surrendered to Grant.

The Civil War had been terrible. More than 600,000 soldiers died in it – more than in any other American war. Much of the South was destroyed, and it would take years to rebuild.

The North’s victory saved the Union and freed millions of African Americans from slavery. Now the United States would have to figure out:

  • a way to bring the Southern states back into the Union.
  • the status of African Americans in the South.