The Civil War (1861 – 1865)

It was a war between the North and South. Brothers against brothers. The American civil war was the bloodiest war in American history.

There were many causes of the civil war and slavery was a big part of it. Exacerbating tensions, the old Whig political party was dying. Many of its followers joined with members of the American Party  and others who opposed slavery to form a new political entity in the 1850s, the Republican Party. When the Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln won the 1860 presidential election, Southern fears that the Republicans would abolish slavery reached a new peak. Lincoln was an avowed opponent of the expansion of slavery but said he would not interfere with it where it existed and there are a lot of people out there that will say slavery was not the intimidate cause of the civil war but i have historians that will back me up and will say that it was.

The South were determined to fight for their freedom and their system of slavery, but the North will not allow them to leave the union of states.

The reason the Confederates were so against the freeing of slaves was mostly to do with cotton. Cotton being dubbed “white gold” The southern states of America supply 2 thirds of the worlds cotton and it made Southerners very wealthy. Wealth that they got at the expense of slaves picking the cotton. and like i said earlier the election of Abraham Lincoln threatened that way of life and the slavery it was built on and rather than submit to the Northern rule. The South decided to fight. They wanted a separate nation.

South Carolina was the first state to rebel against the North. After that the Confederate states also consisted of Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia Louisiana and Texas.

Anyway, (spoiler alert) The Union won the war, which isn’t surprising because they had massive advantages. They had more people, 22 million as compared to 9 million in the South, of whom 3.5 million were slaves and therefor unlikely to be sympathetic to the southern cause. Also, the North manufactured more than 90% of all American goods. Its factories turned out 17 times more textiles than the South, 30 times more shoes and boots and 13 times more iron and 32 times more firearms. Plus, at the outbreak of the war the North had 20,000 miles of railroad, with the South only having 10,000.

This made it easier for the Union to move its army, which over the cause of the war enlisted over 2 million men, where as the Confederates only had 900,000. The only advantage the Confederates had was they had better military leaders such as Robert E. Lee, Stonewell Jackson, J.E.B. Stuart who were all Southerners.

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General Robert E. Lee (Confederate Army)
In 1862 the civil war was at its height. With the North and South in a bitter conflict for the future of America. But a new type of bullet has brought the war to a deadlock. Bringing death on a never before seen scale in warfare.

In Springfield, Illinois, molten led is beginning its journey on making a the new deadly bullet known as the minie ball. It was this bullet that caused the majority of slaughter in the war. Each one of these bullets could rip through a mans body in the fraction of a second. The minie ball was used by both the North and South and the demand for it was so high that an industry sprung up to deliver it straight to the front line.

In total, the North made half a million minie balls ready to be fired from the 2 million muskets they had. It would take over 33 hours for a box of minie balls to reach the front line. The musket was easier and faster to reload than most traditional weapons. All they had to do was load the gunpowder, ram the bullet down the barrel of the gun and it was ready to fire. After that all you had to do was reload your musket faster than the other guy to decide whether you lived or died.

By the time the war ended more than 1,200,000 men were dead and almost half of those men remained unidentified. The fear of being forgotten on the battlefield caused the men to pin their names to their uniforms. This was the first early version of the dog tag and would help the living identify them.

The growing American postal service meant that soldiers could write to their loved ones from the frontline for the first time. a soldier by the name of Robert Styles wrote

The sights and smells that sailed us are simply indescribable. Corpses swollen twice their original size. some of them actually burst open with the pressure of the foul gasses and vapours.

In August 1862, General Robert E. Lee and his Confederate Army were readying to launch a wide range assault against union forces in Virginia. This battle took place at Bull Run, Virginia.  The Confederate Army were highly motivated at this time because they were fighting on their home turf. The men were ready to die for Southern independence, its traditions and its whole way of life.

with Robert E. Lee at the helm of Virginian Army, The Confederates stood a good chance. Lee was already a veteran of the Mexican war and was very highly regarded. But in the Battle of Bull Run, Lee’s men were outnumbered. What the Virginian troops had to their advantage was that the woodland they were fighting in was home to them and they knew the area like the back of their hands. With the help of strict training, they were able to fight as a powerful force.

Chances are, if you had been a betting person in those days, you would of bet on the South to win the war. All the South had to do was hold their territory, it was the North that had to come in and take it. At the Battle of Bull Run, General Lee demonstrated his full superiority. In a battle that only lasted 10 minutes, The Yankee 5th New York Regiment lost more men than any regiment in the entire war. The Confederates killed almost 1,700 men at Bull Run. It was the greatest victory for the South at that point.

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But what the Confederates underestimated the most, or rather who they underestimated the most was Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln would use the railroad to his advantage. After the Battle of Bull Run a train was already on its way to the Union forces with fresh supply of weapons, ammunition and soldiers. The soldiers were packed into carriages. Lincoln sent 25,000 men on a 1,200 mile journey to the South. On the road, the journey would of took roughly 2 months. By rail, it took these men just 7 days. Lincoln struck a deal with railroad workers, ensuring that the railroad would be owned by the government. This turned the railroad into a weapon of war.

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But in a building just across from the White House, is a room that Lincoln would use as his own and in that room would be a device that would change the war. The telegraph.

The invention of Morse Code in 1844 turned the telegraph into Americas first tool of mass communication. The idea of a message with dots and dashes was an ideal way of secret messages and where as before this messages would take days to arrive on horseback, just like Twitter or Facebook today, a telegraph took seconds to send and was decoded just as quick and it transformed the war. Information and ideas were exchanged at lightening speed. Lincoln protected the telegraph poles by quickly placing them all under Union control and property of the Government.

The railroad and the telegraph gave the North a huge advantage and is arguably one of the things ensured a Northern victory.

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When the union soldiers seized the city of Atlanta, the Confederates torched their own building and burned their supply before abandoning it and leaving it to the North. The Union launched a huge attack on the South with attacks and ransacking taking place from Georgia to Savannah. They cut off the Southern supplies and destroyed anything with Confederate importance. Within 6 months, General Robert E. Lee had no choice but to surrender to the North. The rebellion was over and the South and the Confederates would have to submit to the Union and bring an end to slavery.

As committed as the Confederates were, it was no match for the Union advantages. Its industrial heartland, its growning network of railroads and the telegraph network. All of it brought victory to the North. But within a week, John Wilkes Booth would assassinate President Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre in Washington D.C.

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