The American Journey Modern Times © 2009

Chapter 2: The Civil War

Chapter Overviews

Section 1: The Two Sides

Choosing sides in the Civil War was easy for many Northerners and Southerners, but difficult for the people in the border states, which had ties to the North and the South. When the war began, both the North and South had many different strengths, strategies, and purposes. The soldiers, many of whom were teenaged boys, came from every region and all walks of life. Each side expected an early victory.

Section 2: Early Stages of the War

At the First Battle of Bull Run in 1861, Confederate Rebels forced Union soldiers to retreat in panic. In the West, the Union fought for control of the Mississippi River and narrowly won the Battle of Shiloh. Under the leadership of Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, the Southern armies won several important victories in the East during 1862. The Union won at Antietam, one of the bloodiest battles of the war. Abolitionists such as Frederick Douglas convinced President Lincoln to define the war as a fight for freeing enslaved people. Although it could not be enforced, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had an enormous effect in America and abroad.

Section 3: Life During the War

The North did not suffer as much destruction as the South, where more of the war was fought. Nevertheless, the war affected soldiers and civilians throughout the country. Women took on new responsibilities, often serving as nurses and sometimes as spies. All soldiers suffered from the lethal conditions of prison camps and field hospitals. Both the North and South had strained economies, political disputes, and people who opposed the war—some of whom were jailed without trials.

Section 4: The Strain of War

While Lincoln struggled with weak Union generals, the South seemed unbeatable during the winter of 1862-1863. The North needed more soldiers and finally allowed African Americans to form regiments, such as the skilled and courageous 54th Massachusetts. In July of 1863, Confederate forces moved into the North but were defeated by the Union army at the Battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania. Gettysburg and another Union victory at Vicksburg, Mississippi marked a turning point in the war. Lincoln’s address at Gettysburg helped war-weary Americans focus on their shared ideals.

Section 5: The War’s Final Stages

After a long, bloody summer, Union forces under Ulysses S. Grant captured major Southern strongholds. These victories led to Lincoln’s reelection. In the last months of the war, General William Tecumseh Sherman destroyed Southern areas in his March to the Sea. Grant and the Union army marched toward Richmond, and Lee finally surrendered. America’s deadliest war freed millions of African Americans, strengthened the federal government, and launched the challenge of Reconstruction.

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