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Overview of the American Civil War

War and Aftermath

By

Abraham Lincoln, Sixteenth President of the United States

Abraham Lincoln, Sixteenth President of the United States

Credit Line: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, LC-USP6-2415-A DLC
Three Confederate prisoners taken at the Battle of Gettysburg, July, 1863.

Three Confederate prisoners taken at the Battle of Gettysburg, July, 1863.

Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-B8171-2288 DLC
Here is a view of the battlefield where the Civil War Battle of Cold Harbor occurred in 1864.Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-B8171-1173 DLC

The Civil War Begins


Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated as president in March, 1861. On April 12, Confederate forces led by General P.T. Beauregard opened fire on Fort Sumter which was a federally held fort in South Carolina. This began the American Civil War.

The Civil War lasted from 1861 until 1865. During this time, over 600,000 soldiers representing both sides were killed either by battle deaths or disease. Many, many more were wounded with estimates of more than 1/10th of all soldiers being wounded. Both the north and the south experienced major victories and defeats. However, by September 1864 with the taking of Atlanta the North had gained the upper hand and the war would officially end on April 9, 1865.

Major Battles of the Civil War

 

Aftermath of the Civil War

The beginning of the end for the confederacy was with General Robert E. Lee's unconditional surrender at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865. Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Union General Ulysses S. Grant. However, skirmishes and small battles continued to occur until the last general, Native American Stand Watie, surrendered on June 23, 1865. President Abraham Lincoln wanted to institute a liberal system of Reconstructing the South. However, his vision of Reconstruction was not to become reality after Abraham Lincoln's assassination on April 14, 1865. The Radical Republicans wanted to deal harshly with the South. Military rule was instituted until Rutherford B. Hayes officially ended Reconstruction in 1876.

The Civil War was a watershed event in the United States. The individual states after years of reconstruction would end up joined together in a stronger union. No longer would questions concerning secession or nullification be argued by individual states. Most importantly, the war officially ended slavery.

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