The Nation marks the 150th Anniversary of the start of the Civil War today, April 12th. us_news-life
The American Civil War or the War Between the States began April 12, 1861. 11 slave holding Southern States formed the Confederacy under Jefferson Davis. 20 free Northern states and 5 border slave states formed the government Union forces. The issue being fought over originally was not about slavery but rather states’ rights. The Northern states, while rejecting slavery, did not treat Blacks well either, Blacks often had trouble finding jobs. Slavery was a side issue. The Confederates saw D.C. as corrupt and abusive of power. The South had not forgotten that these were the same people who wanted George Washington to become King.
11 Southern States declared their secession after Abraham Lincoln took office March, 1861. Lincoln had campaigned against the expansion of slavery. Abraham Lincoln and the outgoing President, James Buchanan, rejected calls for secession. The other 8 slave states rejected calls for secession at first.
On April 12, 1861, Confederate forces attacked the military installation at Fort Sumter, South Carolina. They called it the belly of the beast. That lead to a call by Lincoln for a volunteer army in each state to regain the government land which then lead to calls for secession by 4 more slave states.
The first battles of the Civil War were not taken seriously by many who thought it would be resolved soon and the war would be over quickly. People came in buggies with picnic baskets to view the battles. On the 21st of July, 1861, a Sunday afternoon, the first collision of amateur armies occurred, and the first major battle of the Civil War came about at Bull Run, also known as Manassas, depending on which side you were on. Lincoln, under the pressure of public opinion, forced his commander, Irvin McDowell, to move his poorly trained and unprepared army–they hadn’t even been taught how to retreat, which they’re about to prove. McDowell complained to Lincoln, saying, “These people can’t fight, we’re not ready, don’t make us move.” And Lincoln said, “I have no choice, you must move.” Lincoln wrote to McDowell and said, quote, “You are green, it is true, but they are green. You are all green alike.” Not very reassuring to McDowell I am certain. McDowell marched about twenty miles south and west of Washington to collide with this Confederate army that had been forming now for three months in northern Virginia, threatening the U.S. capital.
It was a summer outing. A couple hundred civilians in carriages, many of them congressmen and their wives and families, got in carriages, packed picnic lunches, went down to watch the battle. They sat on hillsides to watch this spectacle; they said, you stay far enough away you wouldn’t see any blood. Oh, there’s going to be some casualties but there’s supposed to be.
General Jackson got his nickname at the Battle of Bull Run, at the Robinson House where General Bee saw General Jackson and said, “Look at Jackson standing there like a stonewall.” General Bee died later in the battle and his dying words as he fell were, “Rally on the Virginians.” Jackson was later killed by friendly fire at Chancellorsville.More info
The Civil War became and still is the bloodiest war in U.S. history. More died on the battlefield than in any other American war. Statistics
Blacks served in both the Union and Confederate armies. Brothers fought brothers. Battles were fought on apple orchards and in farms.
Ken Burns documentary on The Civil War is outstanding and highly recommended.