Civil War Overview

The American Civil War ran from 1861 to 1865 and was fought between the northern states and the southern states. The southern states had broken away from the Union and were now part of the Confederacy. The main reason for the outbreak of the war was the issue of slavery, and it started when southern forces launched an attack on Fort Sumter in South Carolina, not long after Abraham Lincoln was elected president of the country.

The southern states wanted to keep slavery while the northern states wanted to abolish it. In 1861 there were 34 US states and seven of these chose to secede. They became the Confederate States of America, and throughout the Civil War, this rose to a total of 11 states. The Confederacy was not officially recognized by the US government or by the government of any other country.

Both sides were able to amass large armies, and most of the battles that followed were fought in the south. It is estimated that up to 750,000 people died during the American Civil War; the highest number of fatalities for the US than in any other conflict.

The End of the War

It was in April 1865 that General Lee surrendered to General Grant following the Battle of Appomattox Court House. This was swiftly followed by the surrender of other confederate military leaders and by June 23, 1865, the war was officially over.

The damage to the infrastructure in the south was immense and took a long time to put right, but the war led to the abolition of slavery. This resulted in the freeing of 4 million slaves. The Reconstruction era that followed took some years to complete. Still, eventually, the states became united again, and steps were taken to give civil and political rights to the freed slaves.