The War Between the States

The Civil War was the bloodiest and worst war ever fought on American soil. In the spring of 1861, decades of simmering tensions between the northern and southern United States over issues including states’ rights versus federal authority came to a head. (www.history.com) Tension was also mounting over slavery and whether it was morally right for people to own another person. The election of Abraham Lincoln pushed seven southern states to secede from the Union. After the first shots of the Civil War, four more states decided to join the other seven, making it a total of 11 states that had seceded. Four years of bloody battles took place leaving nearly 620,000 dead. (www.civilwar.org) The war was the worst loss of life America had ever seen. The Civil War tragically pitted neighbor against neighbor, brother against brother, in a fight to the death between many states. Looking back on history, the American Civil War is one of the most complex and intriguing wars ever fought by human beings.

The first component to mention about the Civil War is the difference in terms of economy and life in the North and the South. Manufacturing and industry were booming in the north, while the south relied almost completely on slaves to do their bidding for them. The African American slaves were treated terribly and often beaten by their masters. The Southern states economy was about growing and producing crops, meanwhile the Northern states produced items out of metal and other tools. By 1860, 90 percent of the nation's manufacturing output came from northern states. (www.nps.gov) The distinction between the North and South did not just come from manufacturing and economy. Abolitionists in the north were crying out to the south encouraging them to end slavery for good. The south obviously wanted to keep their slaves and were angry with the northern states. Eventually, the south made a statement by appointing Jefferson Davis as their own president. This angered Abraham Lincoln and the people in the North because they knew the south was trying to make a separate country. War was on the horizon, and President Lincoln knew it.

The war started on April 12, 1861, at Fort Sumter, South Carolina. (www.britannica.com) The Union troops were surprised by the Rebels and had to surrender. This was an unexpected loss for Abraham Lincoln’s forces due to the sheer troop advantage that the North had. A number of bloody and vicious battles followed this one including the Battles of Bull Run and Antietam. Bull Run proved to the North that the southern states were there to fight for a cause that they long held true. Both the North and South called for more recruits after this battle when it occurred to everyone this war would last longer than expected. Antietam turned out to be the bloodiest single-day battle in American history. This was also a significant battle because it was the first one fought on northern soil. The Union was on the defensive for the first part of the war. However, this would all change in the small town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The South was feeling more confident in the war effort and decided they were going to try to push the North all the way back to Washington D.C. The Union forces had other ideas and went into full combat with the Confederates on July 1. As the battle raged on, Commander of the South, Robert E. Lee, ordered an attack of 15,000 troops right to the center of the Union army. (www.history.com) The charge was led by a man named George Pickett. This charge failed and caused thousands of Rebel casualties. George Pickett lost ⅔ of his division and it was possibly the biggest blunder in the entire Civil War. This would later come to be known as Pickett’s Charge. This battle considerably changed the momentum of the war in the Union’s favor. The South were no longer able to defend against the Union’s pushes back down into the South.

Eventually, the southern state’s weaknesses really came into play and they were quickly worn down from all the fighting. The Union soldiers took advantage of every opportunity and put the South into a weak position. Finally, the Confederate troops surrendered under Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865. (Eyewitness to the Civil War, Neil Kagan, Stephen G. Hyslop) The North had won the war, but paid a huge cost to do so. The land and property all across the countryside was destroyed in the process. It would be a formidable amount of time before America was back to normal. Shortly after the war ended, the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, was shot and killed by John Wilkes Booth in Ford Theatre. After the death of Lincoln, the cleanup of America had begun with newly appointed president Andrew Johnson at the helm.

Lastly, the Civil War, from start to finish was a bloodbath that the U.S. will never forget. (www.civilwar.org) The nation that the founding fathers worked so hard to build was at a standstill battle for four years. All of the men who gave their lives to end slavery and join the states in harmony once again will forever be remembered. Slavery will never occur in the U.S. thanks to the individuals who fought for one nation and not half of it. In conclusion, the Civil War was the one of the bloodiest and arguably the most shameful event in world history.

Shanksville Senior '17...Future Communications Student at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown

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