The Civil War was considered one of the darkest times in U.S. history. There were doubts the U.S. would even be able to survive as a divided nation.
The Civil War began on April 12, 1861, at Fort Sumter in South Carolina. This was the day when Confederate soldiers from the South attacked Union soldiers in the fort. There are several reasons why the war took place. While slavery was one of the main issues behind the start of the Civil War, it was far from the only one. Trade, individual state rights and tariffs were also factors.
Many Soldiers Fought
There were many more Union soldiers than soldiers from the 11 states that made up the Confederate States of America. The Union army had two million soldiers, while the Confederacy had just 750,000 soldiers. At the time of the Civil War the entire population of the United States was about 31 million people. Of those people, at least 620,000 died in this war. It is considered to be the bloodiest war involving the United States in history.
Not all the soldiers who died on both sides did so in battle. Many also died from diseases that were common at the time. According to the Civil War Preservation Trust, dysentery was the most common disease that killed soldiers during the war. Other diseases common at the time included pneumonia, malaria, yellow fever and smallpox.
The Civil War was fought in many states around the U.S. of that time. There was no central location but many of the battles took place in the states of Virginia and Tennessee. Other battles were fought in Texas, Pennsylvania and Florida. The war was far reaching within the country.
Winning the War
The Union Army was ultimately victorious in defeating the Confederacy. CSA General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia in 1865. Besides losing several decisive battles, including in Gettysburg, Pa., Southern soldiers were starving due to lack of food because Southern farms were burned as the Union army marched through.
With the Civil War's end, slavery was official abolished with the thirteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution signed on Dec. 6, 1865. However, even this victory did not put an end to racial issues. There were many who felt they should not have to compete with ex-slaves for jobs. Violence against former slaves was common. Life in the South was difficult after the war. While it was a time of Reconstruction, the Southern states had to deal with land that had been destroyed during the war. The economy was not good for the South and the population had to deal with outsiders running its political system.
By 1877 the Reconstruction period was over. By this time the Confederate states had all pledged their loyalty to the United States, they had agreed to acknowledge and abide by the thirteenth, fourteenth (equal protection) and fifteenth (right to vote) amendments and they had all drafted new state constitutions. It was during this time that America attempted to come together again, although even today many tensions remain.