The Civil War

"If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save
 it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and
 leaving others alone, I would also do that. What I do about slavery and the colored
 race I do because I believe it helps to save this Union; and what I forbear, I forbear
 because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. . . . I have here stated my
 purpose according to my view of official duty, and I intend no modification of my
 oft-expressed personal wish that all men, everywhere could be free."



   I. Favorite Topic in American History
       A. Plenty o' misunderstanding
            1. Not simply war against slavery, but states' rights
            2. Slavery & racism not confined to South
            3. More than just Ulysses S. Grant vs. Robert E. Lee
                  • Grant = Army of the Potomac (in mid-1863)
                  • Lee = Army of Northern Virginia (entire war)
            4. No major battle lost due to lack of munitions
            5. Opposing armies differed little
            6. Congress active in other affairs
       B. Abraham Lincoln
            1. Compassionate, perceptive, realist, politically deft
            2. Willing to accept status quo w/ no expansion
            3. Vetoed Crittenden Compromise (36° 30' line)
            4. Ultimate war purpose was preservation of Union
            5. Faced w/ dilemma: withdraw or attack
       C. Presidential election of 1860
            1. Secession (S Car + 6 others; 4 more later)
            2. Confederate Constitution
                  • very similar to U.S. Constitution
                  • stressed states' rights & assured slavery
            3. Jefferson Davis & Alexander Stephens
            4. Capital = Montgomery (provisional) & Richmond
            5. Sent diplomats to enlist foreign aid (esp. Britain)
            6. Seized most fed'l property throughout South
       D. North & South underestimated other's resolve
            1. N → thought secession was huge bluff
            2. S → hoped Congress would not forcibly resist
  II. North vs. South
       A. Names of battles: nearby rivers vs. close towns
       B. View of slavery: moral sin vs. economic necessity
       C. Population: 20 vs. 5.5 million (23 vs. 11 states)
       D. Economic base: industrial vs. agricultural
            1. North contained countless more factories
            2. North's industrial output 7X that of South
       E. Railway network: 25-30,000 vs. 9-10,000 mi. (3:1)
       F. Military posture: aggressor vs. defensive
       G. Chief shortage: able commanders vs. food/supplies
       H. Military advantages: materiel vs. intangibles
            1. North had more resources & control of navy
            2. South had better leadership & fought defensively
 III. The Civil War, Part One: "Save the Union"
       A. Bombardment of Ft. Sumter (S Car, Apr 12, '61)
            1. South twice guilty: secession plus war
            2. Lincoln called for volunteers (4 more exits)
                  • dilemma of border states (4 yes & 4 no)
                      ✓ N Car most reluctant to secede
                      ✓ Maryland most wanted to go
                  • West Virginia created (statehood in 1863)
       B. Battle of First Bull Run (Virginia, July '61)
            1. "Light bulb" moment
                  • South's act of secession = no bluff
                  • North's determination to save Union = serious
            2. Stark realization: war = lengthy & bloody
       C. Monitor vs. Merrimack (Virginia, March '62)
            1. Battle between ironclads (≠ submarines)
            2. Famous, but inconslusive
       D. Battle of Shiloh (Tenn, Apr '62)
            1. Battle losses (2 days) > 3 previous U.S. wars
            2. Source of 2 famous Lincoln quotes about Grant
       E. Battle of Antietam (Maryland, Sep '62)
            1. Bloodiest day of entire war (21,000 casualties)
            2. Greatly reduced CSA's hope of European support
 IV. The Emancipation Proclamation
       A. Antietam served as necessary military foundation
       B. Issued Sept '62; effective Jan '63
       C. Emancipation not an initial war aim
            1. Fear of alienating border states
            2. Lincoln's preferences
                  • gradual & compensated emancipation
                  • organized overseas colonization effort
       D. North → preserve Union; South → maintain slavery
       E. Applied to areas "in rebellion against the U.S." only
            1. Slave states in Union not included
            2. Some Union-held pockets in South not affected
       F. War morphed into conflict about union AND slavery
            1. Curtailed any thought of substantial British aid
            2. Authorized unlimited black enlistments
                  • Massachusetts 54th (not #1) in movie Glory
                  • segregated & commanded by white officers
                  • outfitted w/ poor gear & rec'd meager supplies
                  • assigned menial tasks & heavy work details
                  • placed in most perilous battle positions
                  • black POWs rec'd esp. cruel treatment
                  • 12% black by war's end (> entire CSA army)
            3. Aggravated racial prejudices in North
            4. South saw action as incitement to slave rebellion
  V. The Civil War, Part Two: "Abolish Slavery"
       A. Battle of Gettysburg (Penn, July '63)
            1. Preceded by 2 notable Confederate victories
                  • Fredericksburg (Virginia, Dec '62)
                  • Chancellorsville (Virginia, May '63)
            2. South's 1st serious penetration of Union territory
            3. Lee suffered 1st clear battlefield defeat
            4. Turning point of war
       B. Vicksburg Campaign (Mississippi, July '63)
            1. Split Confederacy ("divide and conquer" tactic)
            2. Led to appointment of Grant as Union commander
            3. Exclamation point to Gettysburg (coinciding days)
       C. The Wilderness (Virginia, May '64)
            1. 1st battlefield meeting between Grant & Lee
            2. Onset of Union's bloody "attrition" strategy
       D. Sherman's "March to the Sea" (Georgia, Sept-Dec '64)
            1. Atlanta to Savannah, then north toward Richmond
            2. Concept of "total war"
                  • militarily & emotionally devastated Confederacy
                  • buildings, crops, livestock, railways obliterated
                  • unchallenged Union advance thru heart of Dixie
            3. Aided Lincoln's re-election
                  • V-P mate was Democrat Andrew Johnson (Tenn)
                  • defeated Geo. McClellan 212-21 electoral votes
       E. Appomattox Court House (Virginia, Apr 9, '65)
            1. Grant & Lee prepare for battle (115,000 vs. 30,000)
            2. Lee's surrender effectively ended the war
            3. Grant empathetic in victory; Lee noble in defeat
 VI. Aftermath
       A. Results
            1. Casualties (battle/disease)
                  • North → 110,000/250,000 (death rate 23%)
                  • South → 94,000/164,000 (death rate 24%)
                  • + 535,000 total wounded
                  • ≈ all other U.S. wars (past & future)
            2. Institution of slavery dead (racism still alive)
            3. Threat of secession by unhappy state unthinkable
            4. More productive nat'l economy
                  • absence of slavery not catastrophic
                  • more technologically-advanced
                  • regional systems merged
       B. Lincoln's assassination (Apr 14, '65)
            1. John Wilkes Booth in Ford's Theater
            2. Others targeted
                  • V-P Johnson & Sec. of State Wm. Seward
                  • no vast high-level conspiracy
            3. Disastrous to post-war South
       C. Who's Who
            1. Mathew Brady = renowned war photographer
            2. Stephen Crane = The Red Badge of Courage (1895)
            3. Henry Wirz = commander of Andersonville prison




  • Fort Sumter
  • Anaconda Plan
  • "Dixie"
  • Montgomery, Alabama & Richmond, Virginia
  • Jefferson Davis & Alexander Stephens
  • First Battle of Bull Run
  • George McClellan
  • Robert E. Lee
  • Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson
  • Army of the Potomac
  • Army of Northern Virginia
  • Monitor vs. Merrimack
  • Battle of Shiloh
  • Battle of Antietam
  • Emancipation Proclamation
  • Massachusetts 54th
  • Battle of Gettysburg
  • Vicksburg Campaign
  • Ulysses S. Grant
  • Battle of the Wilderness
  • William T. Sherman
  • Appomattox Court House
  • Andersonville, Georgia & Camp Douglas, Illinois
  • Andrew Johnson
  • Peace Democrats (aka Copperheads)
  • Mathew Brady
  • The Red Badge of Courage

The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane


  • Jefferson Davis: Second Inaugural Address, Confederate States of America (1862)
  • Abraham Lincoln: Emancipation Proclamation (1863)
  • Ulysses S. Grant: Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House in Personal Memoirs (event 1865; written 1886)


1.  "I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and
     political equality of the white and black races." Explain how this 1858 statement
     made by Abraham Lincoln can be reconciled with his Emancipation Proclamation
     of 1862. Is "Great Emancipator" an accurate description of Lincoln?

2.  The Emancipation Proclamation has been called a "puzzling and ambiguous
     document." Discuss its impact on the war.

3.  "The revolutionary means chosen by the southern secessionist leaders were
     incompatible with their conservative purpose." Assess the validity of this statement.

4.  Explain the respective strategies of the North and the South during the first two years
     of the Civil War. To what extent do you agree with the idea that a Union victory in
     the war was a foregone conclusion? What was the relative position of the two
     belligerents by early 1863?

5.  Explain General Ulysses S. Grant's strategy in the final 18 months of the Civil War,
     including some of the major battles which enabled him to guide the North to victory.

6.  Select any three of the following events and discuss the impact each had on both the
     North and the South during the Civil War—assault on Fort Sumter; First Battle of Bull
     Run; Battle of Antietam; Vicksburg Campaign; Battle of Gettysburg; General William
     Tecumseh Sherman's march through Georgia.


  1. When President Abraham Lincoln called for volunteers, all of the following states seceded from the Union except
    1. Arkansas.
    2. South Carolina.
    3. Tennessee.
    4. Virginia.

  2. The description, when applied to President Abraham Lincoln, which most aptly explains how his actions before, during, and after the Civil War supported his objective for fighting the war is
    1. "pacifist."
    2. "emancipator."
    3. "unionist."
    4. "abolitionist."

  3. The Battle of Gettysburg is notable for all of the following reasons except that it
    1. was the first clear defeat for General Robert E. Lee.
    2. represented successful completion of the Anaconda Plan's first phase.
    3. was the first and only serious penetration of Union soil by the Confederates.
    4. is generally considered the military turning point of the war.

  4. General William Tecumseh Sherman's march through Georgia was designed to
    1. cut off British supply ships aiding the Confederacy.
    2. break the southern will to continue fighting the war.
    3. procure needed matériel for the Union.
    4. free the last remaining slaves in the South.

  5. All of the following are true about Virginia except
    1. the Civil War started and ended with key battles on Virginia soil.
    2. Virginia was the northern-most Confederate state.
    3. the Confederate capital was located in Virginia.
    4. Virginia's residents were sharply divided regarding the act of secession.

Mount Rushmore was not Gutzon Borglum's only mountain sculpture. In 1916, he was commissioned to carve a huge memorial in honor of the Confederate Army into Stone Mountain near Atlanta, Georgia. The work barely started, South Dakota officials were able to lure Borglum away from Georgia to commence work on his Mount Rushmore masterpiece. Stone Mountain depicts Confederate President Jefferson Davis and two of his greatest generals, Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. Click on the Stone Mountain carving to access LECTURE GUIDE for this unit.


Julia Ward Howe's
"Battle Hymn of the Republic"
by the Abyssinian Baptist Church
Sanctuary Choir (Harlem, New York)