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Wednesday, 3 August 2011

American Civil War

The American Civil War began on April 12, 1861 when the Confederate troops opened fire at 4.30am on Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor forcing its surrender. In response to the attack, President Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to suppress the rebellion.

View of Fort Sumter from the sandbar, 1865.

The first Union shot of the Civil War was fired by Captain Abner Doubleday two and a half hours later at Fort Sumter in response.

The first bloodshed of the war took place on April 19, 1861 when Confederate sympathizers in Baltimore, Maryland, attacked members of the Massachusetts militia en route to Washington, D.C.

An 1861 engraving of the Baltimore Civil War riots

The first income tax was created in 1861 during the Civil War to finance the war effort.

If you were drafted during the American Civil War, you could legally pay someone else $300 to go in your place.

By proclamation Abraham Lincoln emancipated all the slaves within reach of his northern armies in 1862, thereby interpreting the American Civil War as a crusade against slavery.

During the Civil War a deputation of Southerners remarks to Abraham Lincoln "we trust sir that God is on our side, Lincoln replies ""Sir my concern is not whether God is on our side. My great concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right."

The Battle of Hampton Roads was the most noted naval battle of the American Civil War. It was fought over two days, March 8–9, 1862, in Hampton Roads, a roadstead in Virginia where the Elizabeth and Nansemond rivers meet the James River just before it enters Chesapeake Bay adjacent to the city of Norfolk. The battle was a part of the effort of the Confederacy to break the Union blockade, which had cut off Virginia's largest cities, Norfolk and Richmond, from international trade. The major significance of the battle is that it was the first meeting in combat of ironclad warships, the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia.  The result of the encounter was not a victory for either side. As the combat between ironclads was the primary significance of the battle, the general verdict is that the overall result was a draw.

A chromolithograph of the Battle of Hampton Roads, produced by Louis Prang & Co., Boston

The Battle of Antietam was fought on September 17, 1862 near the mouth of Antietam Creek in Maryland.  It was the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, with a combined tally of 22,717 dead, wounded, or missing. Although the battle was tactically inconclusive, General McClellan of the Union Army did succeed in  blocking Confederate General Lee's advance on Washington.


On Wednesday, September 17, 1862, around 2 pm, the The Allegheny Arsenal, a supply and manufacturing center for the troops in the west, exploded. The explosion shattered windows in the surrounding community and was heard in Pittsburgh, over two miles away. By the time the fire was put out, the lab had been reduced to a pile of smoldering rubble. 78 workers, mostly young women, were killed, making it the single largest civilian disaster during the war.


On December 12, 1862, the USS Cairo became the first armored ship to be sunk by a mine remotely detonated by hand, when while clearing mines from the Yazoo River in preparation to the attack on Haines Bluff, Mississippi, it struck a naval mine detonated by volunteers hidden behind the river bank, The ship sank in 12 minutes and there were no casualties.

USS Cairo photographed in the Mississippi River area during 1862

The Enrollment Act of 1863 provided that by paying a fee of $300 you could officially and legally avoid the civil war draft. You could also find a substitute to fight in your place, a tactic the rich often used to avoid being enlisted. Such famous Americans as Grover Cleveland and John D. Rockefeller took advantage of this provision.

During the Civil War, it was common for prisoners-of war to die of starvation or disease; in Camp Sumter, an American Civil War-era prisoner-of-war camp at Andersonville, Georgia, for instance, 28 percent of the 45,000 Union soldiers died.

The 'Meeting a deadline' refers to a line drawn by American Civil War soldiers to deter prisoners from escaping. Those attempting to cross it would be shot dead.

Approximately 40% of the U.S. paper currency in circulation was counterfeit by the end of the Civil War.

More than 600 women dressed as men to fight in the American Civil War.

The Civil War ended on April 9, 1865, when Confederate General Robert Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox .

A print showing Union Army general Ulysses S. Grant accepting Confederate general Robert E. Lee's surrender in 1865.

The Confederacy was defeated at the total cost of the death of 620,000 Union and Confederate soldiers.

A Civil War soldier’s chance of surviving the war was about 1 in 4.

Two out of three Civil War deaths were caused by disease rather than battle.

Nearly one in ten soldiers who fought in the Civil War were African American.

The term rookies comes from a Civil War term, reckie, which was short for recruit.

United States President Andrew Johnson granted an unconditional pardon to all Confederate veterans on December 25, 1868.

The town of Romney, West Virginia, changed hands between Union and Confederate forces 56 times during the Civil War.

The only captured battle flag from the Civil War not returned to its state is Virginia's. It was captured by Minnesota at the Battle of Gettysburg. Congress ordered its return in 1905.

Each month, Irene Triplett collects $73.13 from the Department of Veterans Affairs, a pension payment for her father's military service—in the Civil War. Pvt. Mose Triplett married so late in life to a woman so young that their daughter Irene is the last child of any Civil War veteran still on the VA benefits rolls.

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