the civil war that took place between the northern and southern states of the United States between 1861-65.

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32
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17answers
15k views

Was the secession of the Confederate states illegal?

Putting aside their reasons for wanting to do so and all the emotional responses they would provoke, was the secession of states from the Union to eventually form the Confederacy an illegal act in ...
26
votes
6answers
3k views

Why did Civil War officers tell their men to “aim low”?

I'm listening to Gettysburg by Stephen W. Sears and the officers on both sides seem to always exhort their men to "aim low". For instance, General John Gibbon told his 2nd Division infantry: Do ...
22
votes
9answers
7k views

Was the American Civil War the “bloodiest civil war in history”?

I heard something like that once on some TV documentary, but I'm second guessing that there must have been a caveat for just the Americas, or otherwise qualified it as, "in modern history", or as a ...
20
votes
2answers
641 views

What led to the first fight in the American Civil War?

After Lincoln was elected president 11 states seceded from the Union to form the Confederate States of America. What circumstances surrounding this secession led to the first battle of the war, and ...
17
votes
4answers
29k views

Why did the southern states secede from the U.S.?

Lincoln's election precipitated the secession, but didn't they have enough congressional power to continue things much as they were? It seems in the preceding two decades the slave states had managed ...
14
votes
3answers
389 views

Why did George McClellan fail to act?

I'm watching Ken Burns' The Civil War, and he paints a picture of George McClellan as someone who was perfectly prepared to score significant victories against the Confederacy, but simply decided to ...
12
votes
4answers
7k views

Which Confederate State provided the most troops in the American Civil War?

Of all the states that elected to secede during the American Civil War, which one had the largest number of citizens who actually fought for the Confederacy? I would also be interested if anyone could ...
12
votes
2answers
623 views

Why did the Monitor and Merrimac (aka Virginia) have such radically different designs?

This is something that's always baffled me. You have one ship that appears to sit just above the water with one little canon on a turret (the Monitor) and a second that sits high and is brimming with ...
11
votes
3answers
357 views

Why did the Union army favor a “western” route to approaching Richmond during the American Civil War

Anyone can answer this question, but I am particularly interested in hearing from people with a knowledge of northern Virginia geography. For the Union, much of the focus of the Civil War was ...
10
votes
6answers
304 views

Attempts to return the War to the South's favor after Gettysburg

With regards to the Union victory at Gettysburg being the turning point of the American Civil War: Were there any major Confederate victories after the battle of Gettysburg? Did the Confederacy ever ...
10
votes
3answers
3k views

Why wouldn't the South make salt from seawater during the American Civil War?

This article goes into some detail about the state of cooking in the Union and the Confederacy during the American Civil War. One of its interesting claims is that the South was suffering from a lack ...
10
votes
2answers
562 views

Was slavery really on the way out in the antebellum USA?

Gail Jarvis, in an encomium to the Dunning School writes: William A. Dunning fervently opposed slavery but his reading of the trends of the times led him to the conclusion that the institution ...
10
votes
4answers
483 views

Mystery of the many-loaded muzzles

I recall, way back in high school, someone came to describe the American Civil War, show local artifacts, that sort of thing. I remember them mentioning that muzzle-loaded weapons had been found with ...
10
votes
2answers
359 views

Is it true that slavery was banned from discussion on the Senate and/or House floor before the American Civil War?

In one of the latter years of my undergraduate program I read/heard from one of my classes that discussing the slave trade/slavery on either the Senate and/or House floor (I forget which) was banned. ...
10
votes
2answers
463 views

What percentage of men, ages 18 to 35, from the northern states served in the Union Army?

In my genealogy research, I can assume with some certainty that if a white southern family had sons born between 1835 and 1846 there is a pretty good chance that all of them will have served in the ...
8
votes
3answers
448 views

Why did Robert E. Lee stop offensive maneuvers?

According to the Wikipedia article on the Battle of Gettysburg, after that battle Robert E. Lee stopped making offensive maneuvers and rather started reacting to Union offensives. Is this 100% true, ...
8
votes
3answers
694 views

Why was cricket's popularity in USA a casualty of Civil War?

"Cricket was by far the biggest sport [in the USA] in this period," Tim Lockley, an expert in American history at Warwick University, told the Guardian in 1999. "Then the civil war started in 1861, ...
8
votes
1answer
249 views

What did the sympathies lie of the US Navy around the time of the American Civil War?

Around the time of the American Civil War the land military (that is the Army) had its sympathies on the cause of the Confederacy, in my opinion, due to the make up of the military officers of the ...
8
votes
2answers
372 views

How many soldiers were present at the charge down Little Round Top?

The events of July 2, 1863 have been discussed endlessly, from Michael Shaara's The Killer Angels to the film Gettysburg. Since reading the book and seeing the film many times, I can't help but wonder ...
8
votes
2answers
917 views

What uniforms did each of the American Civil War regiment wear during First Bull Run / First Manassas

During the American Civil War battle First Bull Run / First Manassas, regiments of both sides turned up in either the gray militia uniform or the blue 1858 regulation uniform, in addition to any ...
8
votes
2answers
254 views

What were the most common reasons why draft-age men were not conscripted for the Union Army?

Based on this question and an answer, it appears that although almost all southern white men of draft age were in the military during the Civil War, only about half of northerners were. For those in ...
7
votes
3answers
804 views

Founding Fathers and the American Civil War

I was reading an article and was wondering if there is anything out there to indicate that the Founding Fathers saw the potential for conflict regarding these specific points: Economic and ...
7
votes
4answers
431 views

Was the American Civil War the first to include multiple multi-day battles?

Looking at wikipedia reveals that there were plenty of multi-day battles in the American Civil War. I looked at its article on the Crimean War, which as far as I know was the previous significant ...
7
votes
3answers
355 views

Where did the term “Radical Republican” come from?

Where did the term "Radical Republican" come from? I know that Radical Republicans is term for a group of Republicans in the early Republican party in the mid 1800s, but was the term used at the time ...
7
votes
3answers
315 views

Could the Confederates have done better at Gettysburg if they had put cavalry in front of, rather than behind, Pickett's charge?

On at least two occasions when cavalry was used in charges, it was "wiped out." These include the (in)famous charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava, and Marshal Ney's cavalry charge at Waterloo. ...
7
votes
1answer
314 views

During the American Civil War, could you send mail to someone across the border?

Before the Civil War, there was mail service between all the different states. During the war, could you still send a letter from, say New York to Georgia, or did the post office shut down services ...
7
votes
1answer
157 views

What was the congressional level of support for Emancipation Proclamation?

Wikipedia covers pretty extensively the political details surrounding the 13th Amendment, including difficulties in passing it in the House. However, it doesn't note what the level of Congressional ...
6
votes
4answers
686 views

Does Grant's use of attrition tactic support his reputation as a general?

In 1864, General Ulysees S. Grant began the "final campaign" against Richmond using a war of attrition. That's because of the Union's 2-to-1 numerical advantage against a qualitatively superior ...
6
votes
2answers
537 views

Can anyone identify this Union commander?

At the beginning of the first episode of the PBS documentary series about the US Civil War the narrator describes some of the main characters without giving their names. One was 'a professor from ...
6
votes
1answer
6k views

What did sectionalism have to do with the American civil war? [closed]

I've been writing an essay for school and I've been wondering what did sectionalism have to do with the American Civil War? Does sectionalism include the Missouri Compromise and the breaking away of ...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

After the American Civil War, which states had the most problems with rejoining the Union?

Once the American Civil war ended, did some states encounter more difficulty than others when it came to rejoining the Union? What circumstances or conditions might have contributed to their issues?
5
votes
3answers
492 views

How do modern historians evaluate Sherman's “Total War”?

A major element of Sherman's march to the sea was his army's burning southern farms and cities. The rationale for what Sherman called "Total War," approved by Grant and Lincoln, was that it would ...
5
votes
2answers
223 views

The first use of submarines, and the appearance of “modern” submarines

The first submarines surfaced (excuse the pun) during or around the American Civil War. The question I have comes in a few parts: Did the submarines seen in the American Civil War prompt any change ...
5
votes
2answers
361 views

In Civil War Reenactments why do people walk across the battlefield

Mostly all Civil War movies/reenactments you come across a scene that goes as follows... Union/Confederacy are advancing in an open field towards the enemy but are walking as cannonballs and what not ...
5
votes
1answer
126 views

Once formed, could a Confederate militia company find replacements to remain an effective force? How?

As I understand it, Confederate militia companies were formed of 100 men recruited at the beginning of the war often from within the same county. Disease, battle losses and desertions obviously took ...
5
votes
1answer
149 views

Escape attempts from Elmira POW Camp (Civil War)

My great-grandfather was a POW held first at Point Lookout and transferred to Elmira. Family legend has it that he attempted an escape digging a tunnel with a spoon. I know that there were seventeen ...
5
votes
3answers
262 views

Was there really a labor shortage in the USA until 1970?

After watching several video lectures made by Richard D. Wolff I noticed he frequently draws historical events as evidence to base his arguments on. One thing he mentions frequently (in several ...
4
votes
4answers
629 views

General Sherman's March to the Sea [closed]

When historians look back on General Sherman's infamous "March to the Sea" what conclusions do they draw about his campaign? Do they interpret the evidence as indicating that Sherman's march did ...
4
votes
2answers
214 views

How good were Confederate resupply capabilities during the Gettysburg campaign?

At dinner, the other night, I discussed the battle of Gettysburg with a foreign-born friend, who observed: "The way you describe the battle of Gettysburg, if Pickett's charge had succeeded on the ...
4
votes
4answers
376 views

What were General Johnston's options during the Atlanta campaign?

A Confederate death knell in the Civil War was the capture of Atlanta by the North's General William T. Sherman. Arguably the turning point of the Atlanta campaign was when Confederate President ...
4
votes
2answers
162 views

What factors made success a possibility for the South in the American Civil War? [closed]

I'm curious to know whether or not the southern States had a realistic chance of winning the Civil War. I understand they had a large slave force, but I doubt those slaves could've been forced to ...
4
votes
2answers
422 views

Breakdown of casualty causes in American Civil War

What was the general breakdown of casualties per their cause during American Civil War? E.g. bullets vs. artillery vs. edged weapons vs. disease vs. natural death. Did that breakdown change in ...
4
votes
2answers
166 views

What portion of Northerners were against slavery for humanitarian reasons in 1860 America?

In a Civil war History class, I heard that the percentage of people who favored the abolition of slavery was quite low in the North. Furthermore I understand that, at the time, some of the main ...
4
votes
1answer
731 views

Did the Founding Fathers believe that states had the right to secede?

This question is a follow-up to the Founding Fathers and the Civil War question. Although the Constitution dictates how a state may join the Union, there is no written provision for secession. Did ...
3
votes
7answers
634 views

Has the American Civil War led to any significant innovations in 19th-century warfare?

The American Civil War (1861–1865) was a major conflict with a long string of battles. Has it led to any innovations in 19th-century warfare? It has been pointed out that it may have been the first ...
3
votes
2answers
911 views

Why wasn't the American civil war fought between slaves and masters?

If the American civil war is about liberating the slaves, then it might make sense to expect the war to be fought between slaves and masters. In theory, the slaves should be the ones fighting for ...
3
votes
1answer
88 views

Would Wright's attack on Cemetery Ridge have succeeded if Posey had covered Wright's Left Flank?

On the Second Day of the Battle of Gettysburg, the Third Confederate Brigade under Brig. Gen. Ambrose Wright (serving under Anderson's Division) charged from Seminary Ridge into Union forces holding ...
3
votes
2answers
76 views

Were there any abolitionists imprisoned for being critical of the Congress or the President during the American Civil War?

It's been said that some 14K civilians were imprisoned without trial and that some 300 newspapers were temporarily shut down by the executive branch over the course of the Civil War. I'm wondering if ...
2
votes
3answers
203 views

What are exceptions to the hypothesis that “climate determined ”regional“ loyalties in the U.S. Civil War”?

Besides the fact that "North" implies "cold," and "South implies "hot," I was struck by the fact that Lincoln won absolute majorities (in a four way race) in 16 states wholly or partially above the ...
2
votes
2answers
47 views

How did McClellan's and Grant's strategies vary when capturing Richmond?

The two Generals, George B. McClellan and Ulysses S. Grant were very different as leaders of the Union Army. What were the differences between their strategies when trying to capture the capital of ...