The US Civil War(1861-1865), is often known as the war that freed the slaves in America. This was true, but there were other motives that caused this war. In this week’s essay I will be giving a summary of the history of the US civil war.
War Begins: the First Battles
The US Civil war officially began on April 12th, 1861, with the battle of Fort Sumter. The battle of Fort Sumter was not a major battle with no casualties, if not including one accidental death. But the first major battle began on July 21st, with the very first battle of Bull Run. This battle was a victory for the Confederates(the side that was pro slavery), led by General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson; Jackson had gotten the nickname “Stonewall” by another Confederate general, Barnard E. Bee(who was impressed and surprised by Jackson), this was because Jackson had successfully filled a gap in the defensive line. Both sides(Union and Confederate) army’s were very untrained, unprepared, and lacked leadership in general(this was probably due to the fact that this was the beginning of the war).
The Union army(the side that was anti slavery), after their losses stepped up and won the battles of Fort Henry and Fort Donnelson, under the leadership of General Ulysses S. Grant. These victories opened up two rivers, the rivers of Cumberland and Tennessee. Another major Union victory was the battle of Shiloh, on April 12th, 1862. This battle was the bloodiest battle during the early section of the war. This battle though it was a win for the Union; the Union suffered greatly when it came to casualties, and needed time to regain themselves or recover.
Another major battle early on in the war was the second battle of Bull Run. Like the first battle of Bull Run the second was pretty similar, with similar results and location. But because the soldiers on both sides were now more experienced and trained, the battle was a much more difficult one than the last. This battle again was won by the Confederates, and their general Robert E. Lee.
In the beginning of the Civil war all the battles were fought on Confederate soil, but in September 1862 the very first battle on Union soil occured: the battle of Antietam. The battle was fought in Sharpsburg Maryland, and was the bloodiest one day battle in US history The number of casualties of this battle was in the twenty thousands. Though this battle paid a high price, the Union army won.
The Middle of the War
The first two years or so of the war seemed to be a combination of luck for the Union, but in 1863, the Union side’s luck changed for the better. This was because hundreds of Southern slaves were freed, thanks to the Emancipation Proclamation. This was good for the Union because all the anti slavery people of the Union were very pleased and happy. But a lot of 1863 was a year of great losses for the Union. One of these losses was in Chancellorsville, which left General Lee with another great victory and a start to a campaign north. Lee lost a lot of men during that battle, which left the Union with an opportunity. The Union army fought back hard and their luck changed during the short battle of Gettysburg. With the new victory the Union forces forced the Confederates to retreat back south.
The city of Vickburg, in Mississippi, surrendered to Grant only a day after the battle of Gettysburg. This surrender gave the Union army the Mississippi river. This caused a lot of problems for the Confederates, because the Confederate states of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas were on one side of the Mississippi river, and the rest of the Confederate states were on the other side. But with all these issues the Confederates had another victory, the battle of Chickamauga, the last battle of 1863 and the the first Western victory for the Confederates.
The Last Two Years of the War
The year 1864 was not a successful one for the Confederates, with only one victory(they won the Cold Harbor battle). This victory was the last for the Confederates. Then for the next nine months Lee and Grant engaged in trench warfare, this was known as the siege of Petersburg. This siege was technically just Lee and Grant trying to out strategize each other. The Confederates at the end of these nine months were exhausted, and decided to surrender.
In April 1865, soon after the end of the siege of Petersburg, the very short battle of Appomattox Court House led to Lee’s surrender and the end of the year. The Union army was very generous when it came to the terms of the surrender, even giving the Confederates meal rations.
Like I said above the US Civil War was the bloodiest war in US history, with one million casualties, most of which were soldiers. The better known result of the war was the abolition of slavery in US, or at least in the South(the North of the US had abolished slavery earlier). But the other result was reuniting the US back into its nation whole. This is my essay on the US Civil War.