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Portal:American Civil War

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Morgan's Raid
Morgan's Raiders entering Washington, Ohio in August, 1863
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The American Civil War (1861–1865) was a sectional rebellion against the United States of America by the Confederate States, formed of eleven southern slave states' governments which moved to secede from the Union after the 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States. The Union's victory was eventually achieved by leveraging advantages in population, manufacturing and logistics and through a strategic naval blockade denying the Confederacy access to the world's markets.

In many ways, the conflict's central issues – the enslavement of African Americans, the role of constitutional federal government, and the rights of states  – are still not completely resolved. Not surprisingly, the Confederate army's surrender at Appomattox on April 9, 1865 did little to change many Americans' attitudes toward the potential powers of central government. The passage of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments to the Constitution in the years immediately following the war did not change the racial prejudice prevalent among Americans of the day; and the process of Reconstruction did not heal the deeply personal wounds inflicted by four brutal years of war and more than 970,000 casualties – 3 percent of the population, including approximately 560,000 deaths. As a result, controversies affected by the war's unresolved social, political, economic and racial tensions continue to shape contemporary American thought. The causes of the war, the reasons for the outcome, and even the name of the war itself are subjects of much discussion even today.


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The United States Military Academy at West Point (also known as USMA, West Point, or Army) is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located at West Point, New York. Established in 1802, USMA is the oldest of the United States's five service academies. The military garrison at West Point was occupied in 1778 and played a key role in the Revolutionary War. The academy sits on scenic high ground overlooking the Hudson River, 50 miles (80 km) north of New York City. The entire central campus is a national landmark and home to scores of historic sites, buildings, and monuments. The majority of the campus's neogothic buildings are constructed from gray and black granite. The campus is a popular tourist destination complete with a large visitor center and the oldest museum in the United States Army.

With the outbreak of the Civil War, West Point graduates filled the general officer ranks of the rapidly expanding Union and Confederate armies. Two hundred and ninety-four graduates served as general officers for the Union, and one hundred and fifty-one served as general officers for the Confederacy. Of all living graduates at the time of the war, 105 (10%) were killed, and another 151 (15%) were wounded. Nearly every general officer of note from either army during the Civil War was a graduate of West Point and a West Point graduate commanded the forces of one or both sides in every one of the 60 major battles of the war.

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On January 18, 1861, Georgia declared secession from the Union and joined the newly-formed Confederacy in February. During the war, Georgia sent nearly 100,000 soldiers to battle, mostly to armies in Virginia. Thinking the state safe from invasion, the Confederates built several small munitions factories in Georgia, as well as housing tens of thousands of Union prisoners. Their largest prisoner of war camp, at Andersonville, proved a death camp because of severe lack of supplies, food, water, and medicine. Georgia was indeed relatively free from war until late 1863. A total of nearly 550 battles and skirmishes occurred within the state, with the vast majority in the last two years of the conflict. The first major battle in Georgia was a Confederate victory at the Battle of Chickamauga in 1863—it was the last major Confederate victory in the west.

Sherman's March has become a major part of the state's folk history, and Georgia is the setting for Margaret Mitchell's 1936 novel Gone with the Wind and the subsequent 1939 film. Today, many of Georgia's Civil War battlefields, particularly those around Atlanta, have been lost to modern urban development. However, a number of sites have been well preserved, including Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park and Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park. Other Civil War related sites include Stone Mountain, Fort Pulaski, and the Atlanta Cyclorama.

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Horace Greeley (February 3, 1811 – November 29, 1872) was an American editor of a leading newspaper, a founder of the Liberal Republican Party, a reformer, and a politician. His New York Tribune was America's most influential newspaper from the 1840s to the 1870s and "established Greeley's reputation as the greatest editor of his day." Greeley used it to promote the Whig and Republican parties, as well as antislavery and a host of reforms. Crusading against the corruption of Ulysses S. Grant's Republican administration, he was the new Liberal Republican Party's candidate in the 1872 U.S. presidential election. Despite having the additional support of the Democratic Party, he lost in a landslide.

Greeley made the Tribune the leading newspaper opposing the Slave Power, that is, what he considered the conspiracy by slave owners to seize control of the federal government and block the progress of liberty. In the secession crisis of 1861 he took a hard line against the Confederacy. Theoretically, he agreed, the South could declare independence; but in reality he said there was "a violent, unscrupulous, desperate minority, who have conspired to clutch power" –secession was an illegitimate conspiracy that had to be crushed by federal power. He took a Radical Republican position during the war, in opposition to Lincoln’s moderation. In the summer of 1862, he wrote a famous editorial entitled "The Prayer of Twenty Millions" demanding a more aggressive attack on the Confederacy and faster emancipation of the slaves. A month later he hailed Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation.

Although after 1860 he increasingly lost control of the Tribune’s operations, and wrote fewer editorials, in 1864 he expressed defeatism regarding Lincoln’s chances of reelection, an attitude that was echoed across the country when his editorials were reprinted. Oddly he also pursued a peace policy in 1863-64 that involved discussions with Copperheads and opened the possibility of a compromise with the Confederacy. Lincoln was aghast, but outsmarted Greeley by appointing him to a peace commission he knew the Confederates would repudiate.

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Richmond Virginia damage2.jpg
Credit: Andrew J. Russell

A photograph of damage done to Richmond, Virginia during the Confederate Army's retreat from the city in 1865

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Charles F. CollinsAndrew Wills GouldEbenezer MagoffinHenry MauryJames Ashby (soldier)Albemarle CadyHenry Boynton ClitzBenjamin D. FearingCharles A. HickmanRichard Henry JacksonJohn H. KingJohn LoveFrancis LowePeter S. MichieThomas Grimke RhettJames B. SpeersCharles S. SteedmanBattle at Cherokee StationBattle of Barton's StationBattle of Camp DaviesBattle of Rome Cross RoadsRequested American Civil War Medal of Honor recipients
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31st Maine Infantry Regiment56th Illinois InfantryBattle of Amelia SpringsBattle of BerryvilleBattle of Blair's LandingBattle of BoonsboroughBattle of Cabin CreekBattle of Fort Sumter IIBattle of Guard HillBattle of Middle Boggy DepotBattle of Rice's StationBattle of Simmon's BluffBattle of Summit PointBattle of Yellow BayouCharleston ArsenalEdenton Bell BatteryElmira PrisonFirst Battle of DaltonSamuel BentonBlackshear PrisonOrris S. FerryEdwin ForbesHiram B. GranburyHenry Thomas HarrisonBen Hardin HelmLouis Hébert (colonel)Benjamin G. HumphreysLunsford L. LomaxMaynard CarbineDaniel RugglesThomas W. ShermanHezekiah G. SpruillSmith Percussion CarbineEdward C. WalthallConfederate States Secretary of the NavyConfederate States Secretary of the TreasuryDelaware in the American Civil WarIronclad BoardUnited States Military RailroadKansas in the American Civil WarSalisbury National CemeteryOther American Civil War battle stubsOther American Civil War stubs

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