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The American Civil War




§1 Causes of the American Civil War

There were many interesting causes of the American Civil War and, although many people would argue that slavery was by far the main issue beforehand, there were also many other reasons why such a brutal war occurred. A first cause is strongly linked with slavery and is a very significant reason that the war begun. This is to do with industrialisation. In the mid-1800s, the economies of many northern states had moved away from farming to industry, which meant that the need for slaves was now not so great, and as a result many people there favoured a lifestyle free of forced labour. However, the South relied heavily upon slaves for their way of life because they helped work the land and with hard labour for minimal costs. A quick point in relation to the contrast of the North and South is that the southern states felt that the federal government was taking away their rights and powers, which contributed to the whole idea of a civil war. This also led to conflict in Kansas because the government passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1845, allowing the residents of Kansas to vote on whether they would have slaves. The state was flooded with supporters from both sides and many died as result, although eventually the region declared itself a free state in 1861. A third cause was due to the expansion of the United States. As ever-expanding power began to move westward, each new state added to the country shifted the power between the North and the South, and the southerners were worried that they would lose all their power and rights. However, the final straw for the South was election of Abraham Lincoln as the President of the United States. This is because he managed to get elected without even being on the chosen by any residents in ten of the southern states. As a result, the southern states felt that Lincoln was not only against slavery, but also against the South.

§2 Living in the Civil War

Daily life was hard for most in the Civil War, and most people struggled to survive, with many farmers and lower-class people working even harder just to eat. Most poor men chose to go to war because it seemed more thrilling than toiling hard in the fields back at home, but they quickly found out that it was not only terrifying at times but, in reality, rather boring too. However, the rich tried to avoid the war and they did this in the North by paying a fee of $300+ for someone else to take their place, and in the South fighting could be avoided if you owned more than 20 slaves, as you had proved yourself valuable in a manner which seems horrific in modern days. As with many wars such as WW1 and WW2 women either stayed at home to manage the farm, worked in factories which supplied weapons and even food for the armies, or becoming nurses helping the wounded recover and bravely putting their life on the line to do so. Children worked on the army camps and were not supposed to fight until 18, but many did so anyway when the battles begun nearby. Younger kids still went to school, but these places were beccoming increasingly dangerous as there was much rioting and invasion from both sides. It was an awful time, especially in the south where gruelling starvation and poverty led to the tragic deaths of many, even outside the war. Life was very hard as a soldier too. They were woken at dawn to perform drills and between such drills they would do chores such as cooking meals cleaning equipment and fixing their uniforms, even without the awful prospect of laying down their life on the battlefield.

§3 The Events of the War

The war began to brew when the Confederation was formed on February 9th, 1861. This was where the southern states formed their own joint country called the Confederate States of America, with Jefferson Davis as their president. Just two months later, the Civil War commenced on April 12th, 1861 as the Southerners attacked starting the first battle of the war, Fort Sumter. This is named after the location of the fighting, which is a small island in South Carolina. In this same month four more states, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas, all left the Union (the north) to join the Confederacy. On April 19th, just about a week after the start of the war, Abraham Lincoln announced his plan of action. This was the Union Blockade, where the Union Navy would attempt to keep supplies from entering or leaving the Confederacy. This blockade forced the Confederacy to ration and reduce their supplies. This would of course weaken them later in the war, and perhaps even be a significant reason for the North’s eventual victory. For the next year were a series of many smaller battles in which both sides lost many men. However, some more significant of these included the first and second battles of Bull Run, fought near the Bull Run river in North Virginia. The Confederates claimed victory over the North, which was more than could be said for the Battle of Hampton Road, between the two ironclad ships, the Monitor and Merrimac, the toughest warships yet on the sea, where this ended up in an eventual stalemate. On January 1st, 1863, in quite a contradictory manner, President Lincoln Ordered for many slaves across America to be freed, and this laid foundations for the Thirteenth Amendment, which was a document stating the abolishment of slavery. This was called the Emancipation Proclamation and, six months later, the War was slowly coming to an end as the North won a hugely important victory at Gettysburg, on the 1st of July 1863. The war ended in Spring, 1865 when Robert E. Lee surrendered the last major Confederate army to the North at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865. However, in some sense, the victory of the Northern was not surprising as their army contained 2,100,00, roughly twice the number fighting for the confederates.

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written by Oscar Schultz.