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Questions tagged [american-civil-war]

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

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95
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7answers
24k views

Why did the Confederacy think they could win the American Civil War?

The early Confederacy (The 7 founding states) attacked Fort Sumter in April 1861, starting the American Civil War. The Confederacy knew this would lead to war with the Union, yet they seemed to be ...
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17answers
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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 ...
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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 ...
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What did the Emancipation Proclamation exactly do?

I'm a bit confused about what Lincoln's proclamation did exactly. It's thought by some the Emancipation Proclamation gave all slaves the status of free. However from reading the introduction of the ...
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5answers
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Why did Lincoln wait to issue the Emancipation Proclamation?

(Apologies in advance: not being American, while I've read up somewhat about the military aspects of the Civil War, I am somewhat unclear as to its political dimension.) Lincoln did not declare the ...
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2answers
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How did the American Civil War help the U.S economy recover from the Panic of 1857 given that civil wars are extremely destructive?

From the Wikipedia article on the Panic of 1857: Beginning in September 1857, the financial downturn did not last long; however, a proper recovery was not seen until the American Civil War. ...
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3answers
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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 ...
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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 ...
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Why were Civil War battle techniques so bloody, if the US had learned guerrilla fighting in the Revolutionary War?

My understanding (which could be wrong) is that armies in the U.S. civil war were "bloody" in the sense that soldiers did not retreat or were sent directly into fire, until one side was wiped out. If ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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2answers
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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 ...
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7answers
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Why did Lincoln's election prompt the Southern states to secede?

I've just finished Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals. The presentation of the book suggested that the Southern states seceded as a response to Lincoln's election. I am confused by that timing: ...
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6answers
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What reasons did the Confederacy have for believing they would have a quick victory?

At the beginning of the U.S. Civil War, both sides were very confident in a quick and easy victory. I can see why the North would think so: they had a better trained army, better infrastructure (...
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3answers
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Post-war indictment of ex-Confederates in the Confederate States of America

Why was the Confederate president, Jefferson Davis, or any other Confederate soldier, not tried for high treason?
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6answers
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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 ...
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Where can I find a personal account of freedom of a slave in America after 1863

The Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 declared free all slaves in the Confederacy. In 1865 the 13th Amendment abolished slavery in the whole country. I am familiar with the context. What I am ...
15
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2answers
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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 ...
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6answers
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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 ...
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3answers
944 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 ...
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5answers
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What is the context of Lincoln saying: “if I could save the union without freeing any slave I would do it”

Lincoln said (emphasis mine): Executive Mansion, Washington, August 22, 1862. Hon. Horace Greeley: Dear Sir. I have just read yours of the 19th. addressed to myself through the New-York ...
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1answer
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Flag with 13 white stars and a crescent on red background

What flag is this? I saw this flag as a sticker on a car from another country. I could not recognize the plate so I do not know its nationality. My search on Google/images resulted mostly in the ...
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4answers
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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 ...
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1answer
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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 ...
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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. ...
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3answers
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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3answers
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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 ...
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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 ...
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6answers
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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 ...
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4answers
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Did the North give the South its debt after Civil War ended?

In discussions with a colleague of mine many years ago, concerning the American Civil War (aka the War Between the States), he mentioned that “... the North left/gave all the [financial] debt to the ...
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1answer
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Why were US “Cavalry” belt buckle backs filled with lead?

Growing up I heard it was so if need be you could swing them as a weapon at the end of the belt. I even heard soldiers would melt bullets to add more lead to their buckle to make it a better weapon. ...
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3answers
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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 ...
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2answers
481 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 ...
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8answers
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Emancipation Proclamation in a tweet

Today is the 155th anniversary of the signing (but not the release) of the Emancipation Proclamation. Critics remarked even at the time that it didn't free a single slave, since it only applied to ...
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5answers
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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 ...
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3answers
879 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, ...
9
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4answers
882 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. ...
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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, ...
9
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1answer
217 views

Did Frederick Douglass affect British policy during the American Civil War?

In his recent biography of Douglass, David Blight talks about Douglass’s trips to England prior to the war. He explains the Douglass was well received, but doesn’t give insight into any effect this ...
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3answers
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Why did Union troops like General McClellan?

I have read that when President Lincoln dismissed General McClellan for the second time (after he didn't try to beat Lee to Richmond in 1862), the troops almost mutinied (The Civil War by Shelby Foote ...
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2answers
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How did the Dred Scott Decision contribute to the Civil War?

I have read numerous times that the Dred Scott Decision led to the Civil War in the United States, but I have been unable to find sources to support this. It seems that the Dred Scott Decision chiefly ...
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4answers
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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 ...
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2answers
279 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 ...
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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 ...
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Which “Walker” is Thoreau referring to in “A Plea for Captain John Brown”?

“If Walker may be considered the representative of the South, I wish I could say that Brown was the representative of the North. He was a superior man.” Excerpt From: Henry David Thoreau. A Plea ...
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2answers
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Why were cavalry raids so powerful during the American Civil War?

In reading McPherson's "Battle Cry of Freedom" he gives several examples of cavalry groups of less than 2000 men causing tremendous damage, seemingly with tremendous leverage. Why was the North so ...
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1answer
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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?
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1answer
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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 ...