Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Civil War History

We all know that I could go on for days and days and days about Civil War history.  I mean, it last for four years on our own soil.  There's a LOT that happened.  But, I'm going to try and just stick with the highlights here.  Starting with...

Why it Started:

We all know that Slavery was a reason that we were fighting the Civil War.  The South wanted it; the North didn't (though, let's not fool ourselves.  The North didn't LIKE or respect the blacks, they simply just didn't want to enslave them.)

But a big part of it was State's Rights too.  The south believed that their rights in their states should be held up in all states (mainly, that they could bring their slaves to states where slavery was illegal and still keep their slaves around.)  This was a huge issue.  The south also strongly believed that it was their right to secede from the Union, which they inevitably did.  The North believed more strongly in preserving the union.  The south and north were one country and should stay that way.

The Major Players:

Ulysses S. Grant- He was a General in the Union army and fought more than a few battles.  But he didn't win them all.  For a long time, people thought that the South was going to win the war.  The Battle of Fort Sumter was the first battle in the Civil War and it was a confederate win.  As we all know, Grant became the 18th President of United States (or maybe you didn't.  You could have not known that.)  He's also credited with ending the Civil War at Appomattox Courthouse.

George McClellan- He was commander of the Army of the Potomac (the largest army the Union had.)  He was also widely known for organizing troops quickly and effectively.  He was put in charge of the Army of the Potomac after the devastating defeat at Bull Run

Robert E. Lee - Probably the most famous name on the Confederate side.  He was very loyal and, though he opposed the succession, he joined Confederate forces because his home state fell into the Confederacy.  While Lee won many battles, he met his match with Grant and the two were constantly meeting on the battlefield.  Inevitably, it was Lee that surrendered to Grant.

Stonewall Jackson - The other name that is incredibly recognizable.  Jackson won the Battle of Bull Run, an incredible Confederate win, and continued to fight until he was killed by friendly fire at the battle at Chancellorsville.  He was determined and about as stubborn as Grant was.

The Major Battles:

Battle of Fort Sumter

This is considered the first fight (or skirmish) of the Civil War, and was won by the Confederate side.  The siege was composed mostly of volunteers to the Union army.

Battle of Bull Run

It was the first MAJOR land battle between the two sides.  The Union army hadn't been properly trained yet and it let to a major victory for the Confederate army.

Battle of Belmont

It was where Grant started his Civil War career.  It showed off Grant's leading savvy, despite not holding onto Belmont for long.

Battle of Winchester

Winchester was, surprisingly, a pivotal place to hold (surprising because the town is so tiny, you blink and you miss it.  And that's MODERN Winchester.  Civil War Winchester must have been SO TINY.)  Really, it's claim to fame is that it changed hands over 100 times during the war, 14 times in just one day.

Battle of Fredericksburg

Fredericksburg was a HUGE battle, mainly because it had more troops than any other battle during the civil war.  It was a crushing defeat for the union army, having twice the causalities than the Confederates.  A large factor was that the confederates had the high ground, and the Union army kept heading straight at them.

Battle of Gettysburg

The largest battle in the war, it was considered the turning point of the Civil War.  A Union win, this battle had almost 50000 casualties and was a war that caused the Union army to rally.  The war tide started turning after this, despite the war lasting two more years.

Obviously, these are just a few facts about the war.  Some facts that are more pertinent to the story this week?  Towards the end of the war, the Confederate army started hemorrhaging men.  Tons of men left the army, whether legally or illegally, because they knew that the south had lost.  Despite that, the Confederate army would send them back, or more often, just kill them on sight.

Also, Virginia was probably the most fought on land.  It was kind of a "no-man's" land, in between the two armies.  Virginia actually was a divided state: half of it wanted to succeed and the other half was against the succession, a division that became permanent when West Virginia separated from Virginia, becoming its own state.

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