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The Civil War of 1861-1865

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The Civil War of 1861-1865

The Civil War of 1861-1865

One of the biggest reasons for the start of the Civil War (1861-1865) was centered around the issue of slavery. Southern states (known as the slave states) was dependent on agriculture, this created a huge demand for slaves to do the hard labor. Northern states on the other hand, were liberal and favored the idea of abolition of slavery. The politicians in the Northern states lobbied for abolition of slavery, which the Southern states opposed and threatened to secede if the Federal administration took any such step, which they did and thus the start of the Civil War.

The imminent beginnings of the Civil War began in 1619 because of the arrival of 20 Black Africans from a Dutch frigate as indentured servants. Shortly after this, the Black Africans were experiencing the life as slaves and both the Southerners and Northerners were selling and trading them for profits. As the North started to pass laws to abolish slavery, in the South slavery was still part of the economy, part of the way of life, and remained legally sanctioned. In 1850, the South, with its slave labor, were exporting over a million tons of cotton a year and during this time in the in the North, the abolitionist movement was gaining momentum. Congress was having an intense argument in 1854 over the two states, Kansa and Nebraska that were added, whether they should be admitted to the Union as Free states or slave states. Congress decided that the states should decide on this and past what was known as the Nebraska-Kansas Act, this lead to a very violent situation and was refers to as "Bleeding Kansas".

In February 1857, John Brown, who was an abolitionist, placed an order in Connecticut for 1,000 pikes made from long-bladed Bowie knives fastened to six foot poles. The following November he was back in Kansas, seeking volunteers for a secret mission. His plan was to liberate Southern slaves and set up a Negro commonwealth in the mountains of Maryland and Virginia. The pikes were to arm the slaves who would rally to his cause. On October 16, 1859, John Brown, along with 18 men (5 Black, 13 Whites), struck at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, and with little opposition he seized control of the two bridges into the sleepy town, the Federal armory and arsenal, and a rifle works nearby, then waited confidently for the slave uprising. The uprising never came; instead, the government sent troops to crush the incipient rebellion. John Brown was captured, tried, and executed for treason a martyr to the North, a maniacal villain to the South.

On March 4, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln gave his inaugural address to a crowd of 25,000 people. He reminded the South of his pledge not to interfere with slavery, but he firmly rejected secession-the Union was unbroken. He issued a grave warning, "In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you. You can have no conflict, without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in Heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to preserve, protect and defend it." (Catton, Bruce, and Richard M. Ketchum. The American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War). Abraham Lincoln was resolved to be President of the whole Union. When Lincoln said that he will hold all Federal property he referred chiefly to Fort Sumter, a pentagonal brick stronghold on an island near the mouth of Charleston Harbor.

The commanding officer at Fort Sumter was Major Robert Anderson, a regular army officer from Kentucky. Anderson had 68 soldiers, enough food to last a few more weeks, and a United States flag, which he was determined to keep flying until he was compelled to haul it down. The sight of the flag was an offense to South Carolinians and through them to the entire Confederacy. An independent nation could not countenance the existence of a foreign fort in the middle of one of its most important harbors, and the Confederate authorities tried hard but unsuccessfully to induce Washington to evacuate the place. They also put some thousands of Southern troops in gun pits and encampments all around the harbor, planting batteries where they would do the most good. In the end, negotiations having failed, and Lincoln having sent word that he was going to run supplies into the beleaguered fort, a clear indication that he proposed to hold it indefinitely, Jefferson Davis gave the word to open fire and bombard the place into submission. The Confederate commander at Charleston was the flamboyant general P. G. T. Beauregard, and he obeyed orders promptly. On April 12, 1861, Fort Sumter was ringed with fire, and after a 34 hour bombardment, Anderson hauled down his flag, turned the fort over to the Confederacy, and embarked his men on a steamer for New York, and the war was on.

Even though the attack on Fort Sumter happened, it was not considered the first battle fought. The first battle on land was known as the First Battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861. Bull Run was the name of a small stream that ran through the town of Manassas Virginia. This battle was led by brigadier general Irvin McDowell, in charge of the Union, and brigadier general Joseph E. Johnston and general P.G.T. Beauregard for the Confederate. This battle made people in the North and the South realize that this war was real and not going to end as quickly as they thought. It was believed that the war was going to



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