American Civil War

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Abraham Lincoln et ses généraux pendant la guerre de sécession
Abraham Lincoln and its Generals during the American Civil War


Origins of the American Civil War

American Civil War, in ang. Civil American War ( American civil war) deeply draws its roots in the history of The United States, born from an opposition between North and the South which goes up at the time of the birth of this young country. After war of independence, the United States forms a weak State under articles of the Confederation, an outline of constitution which in spite of its avant-gardism for the time, is found very quickly insufficient, it is unable in particular to impose taxes or to control the trade between the States of the Union. It is only one "alliance" between the 13 states founders, written quickly to avoid most pressing, to link themselves against the English. But in , the question of the inefficiency of the government is posed again at the time of an argument of border between Virginia and Maryland. A convention is then called to amend the constitution. This convention will make much more than the simple task which of him was required, since she will write a new constitution, that which will become . It remains that it is necessary that this constitution is ratified, and that by 9 of the 13 States then members. A clause had been designed to abolish slavery and to guarantee to any American citizen the same rights, but in front of the increasingly strong reserve of the States of the South, already strongly interested in the question, it was abandoned. In front of the need to make ratify the new constitution, which upset the relations between the states and the federal government, reversing the reports/ratios of force, and passer by of a union of States in a State of union, convention gives up some of its amendments reformists in order to support the signature of an unpopular constitution in the States, and that specifically in the states of the South by tradition more independence and more inclined to refuse to put itself under supervision of a federal government. And thus the abolition of slavery, to preserve the Union, is given up, creating a vacuum which will catch up with the United States very quickly.

It should be known that in the States of North, slavery had been abolished to create a mobile hand of?uvre, available and at a cheap rate. North protectionist, was turned towards its domestic market and animated by egalitarianism. The South was as for him free-trader, directed towards Europe for its exports of matiéres first (cotton, textile), mû by a spirit of tradition. Confrontation was inevitable.

The elites of North however were attached in their will of domination of the South, by the right of secession which provided the federal constitution. The war not being able to be done in the name of the right would thus be done in the name of morals. The man?uvres against the South started since 1832. This year there, the federal Congress (dominated by North) unilaterally imposed a new customs rate, which threatened according to South Carolina all fundamental balances of its economy. In November 1860, the election of the republican candidate - elected official with only 39,8% of the voices - is lived by the States of the South as a true declaration of war which led them to make secession of the Union, and with thus forming them Confederated states of America. Nobostant many the death threat which it accepted, a plot for assasiner the new president before his nomination was thwarted in with Baltimore.

The confederated States of America, gathered South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina. North wanted customs duties to protect its emergent industry and of the customers, which was opposed basically to the agriculture based on the cotton and its slavery of the states of the South.

The choice of the new States and territories of the West became a fundamental question. The States of the West became a stake for the South hoping to find in the West a support for the maintenance of slavery. North wanted at least to stop any propagation of slavery in other states. The American Civil War was going to burst.

Unfolding of the war

Chart on divisions of the States during the American Civil War. In blue states of the Union; in light blue, the states of the Union or slavery was allowed. In red, Confederated States. In white, the territories which was not yet states, under the control of the Union in the great majority

American Civil War engage by an attack of the forces Southerners on Strong Sumter behaviour by unitées remained fidéles with the federal government.

US Army, which in had only 16 367 men, had started to mobilize and multiply by ten its manpower, conscription not existing at the beginning of these évenements and a part of its officers taking it left the Confederation.

Military command of The United States was poor with the departure, compared with that of the confederated Generals, in particular Robert E. Lee. But the government of the Union (North) succeeds in invading the States of the South, and demolishing the confederated army, thanks to an advantage crushing in material and a number of soldiers, and thanks to the progressive appearance of skilful Generals like Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman.

Destruction operated during the war by the victorious Union and invading the South, followed by economic policies of exploitation in particular by carpetbaggers (coming with a bag from bed) generally joined black sheep (scalawags) native of the South, caused a tough bitterness among the old ones and descendants of confederated towards the federal government. This failure to alleviate this part of the country contributed to its difficultées persistent during several decades to make apply them civic rights the old ones slaves afro-American in the South and a massive exodus towards North vis-a-vis at terrorist companies such as Ku Klux Klan. It y have however not of movements of "resistance" in the states of the South.

Important events at the origin of the war

Chronology of the Secessions

    • Secession of
    • 3 January : A parliamentary resolution, in , condemns the intentions of secession. The State is very divided.
    • 9 January : Secession of Mississippi.
    • : Secession of .
    • : Secession of.
    • : Secession of .
    • : Secession of .
    • 1er February : decides to subject the secession to a referendum.
    • : The referendum of Texas decides the secession.
    • : The first seven States Confédérés adopt their constitution.
    • : Virginia decide to subject the secession to referendum.
    • : decides to remain in the Union, but vote a motion in favour of the States Confédérés, and against the war.
    • : The governor of the State of proclaims the maintenance in the Union, and neutrality in the war.
    • 6 May : Secession of.
    • 6 May : decides to subject the secession to referendum.
    • : Secession of .
    • : the referendum of Virginia decide the secession.
    • 8 June : The referendum of decides the secession.

Military resources and strategies

Involved forces and mobilization

States of the Union States of the Confederation
Population 22 million 9 million including 3,5 million black slaves
Population in age to carry the weapons (White, from 18 to 45 years) ~ 3.500.000, plus the freed Blacks ~ 1.000.000
Mobilization: 1861-1865 2.778.304 (including multiple engagements) 750.000 (official estimate)

Manpower of the armies :

army réguliére of the United States in 1860 was made up 16.637 soldiers of active; In , its manpower were 27.442 men.

States of the Union States of the Confederation
entry in war 186.000 150.000
at the end of 1861 575.917 326.768
at the end of 1862 918.191 449.439
at the end of 1863 860.737 464.646
at the end of 1864 959.460 400.787
1865 1.000.516 358.692

These figures represent the total of manpower, sometimes the absenteeism reached 35 % in the rows of the Union and more than 50 % in those of the Confederation.

The American democrats rèpugnaient to authorize conscription in times of peace. war of American independence the tradition of a mixed army had instituted: one militia citizens reinforced by a small regular army.

But during this war, the volunteers were too very few to support the armies of the Confederation like those of the Union, which obliga the premiere in April 1862 and the second in March 1863 to resort to the conscription.

The "Act Conscription" succeeds in providing to the Union only 6 % of its manpower, but the threat of the conscription to which the prospect for premiums was added caused an engagement solid masses of volunteers: more than one million men were enrôlèrent during two last years of this conflict.

At Confederated, the conscription accounted for 20% their manpower, but there too the fear of recruitment pushed many Southerners to be begun


TRANSPORT (1860) Union Confederation Total
Railroad 35.420 km 13680 km 49.100 km
Horses 4.417.130 1.698.328 6.115.548
Draft animals 1.712.320 1.657.308 3.369.628
AGRICULTURE (1860) Union Confederation Total
Amended grounds 106.171.756 acres (429 662 km²) 57.089.633 acres (231 034 km²) 163.261.389 acres (660 695 km²)
Not amended grounds 106.486.777 acres (430 937 km²) 140.021.467 acres (566 647 km²) 246.508.244 acres (997 583 km²)
INDUSTRY (1860) Union Confederation Total
Industrial plant 110.274 10026 126.300
Investment of capital ($) 949.335.000 100.665.000

This war was one of the premieres to put in?uvre on a large scale the resources and the means of transport of the industrial ére. It preceded the wars of XXeme century by a national mobilization which would start the resources of the civil company deeply, just as the requirements of the conflict, as well soldiers as economic, overpowered North and crushed the South.

North had an advantage considerable on its enemy because it had 35.420 km out of the 49.190 of railways who silonnaient the country. Moreover, its network had been worked out, built and maintained than that the South better better better.

They were the premiére times that they were employed with vast troop movement enter the faces.

The superiority of the network ferroviére apportat the proof of the frightening industrial resources of the Union, and its capacity to very often replace the lost material immediately was given the responsability to cancel the victories gained by the Sudistes Generals.

The arsenals of the Union, nationals and deprived, produced hardly 50.000 small weapons with fire in 1860 against 2.500.000 throughout war. When in the South, it imported 600 of them.000 in spite of blockade, a part manufactured some, and good requisitioned some on the battle field.

Strategy of the Confederation

The economic disparity between the 2 camps had a decisive influence on strategy. The only wish of Confederated states of America was not to conquer North - what was obviously with the top of these resources - but to fight until A the exhaustion of North, or until A which a Européenne intervention puts an end to the war.

The president of the Confederation Jefferson Davis the choice between defending had the frontiéres of this one or authorizing Robert E. Lee to invade North, as it made it on 3 occasions, in the hope that some victories over the enemy ground would demoralize the Northerners.

Davis was also confronted with contradictory strategic priorities. The theatre of the East was of obvious importance in measurement or of the enemy capitals trouveaient themselves in the vicinity, and where to seize the one of them could have enormous repercussions. But the theatre of the West, vaster, was quite as vital, because the principal railways tranversales of the Confederation crossed the area of Chattanooga-.

Finally, Davis preferred frontier defense with offensive-defensive of Lee, but a policy of compromise adopted by dividing the Confederation into departments whose commanders would ensure the defense and the transfer of the reserves by rail.

It was a strategy conceived to save time, during which Union and perhaps even and it would conclude from there that to crush the South was impossible.

Strategy of the Union

The leaders of the Union understood that they could carry it only as a conqueror the South.

At the time of the first operations of the war, the lieutenant-General Winfield Scott presented his Anaconda plan, intended to asphyxiate the South by a naval blockade (it quasi totality ofUS Navy étant resté dans les mains du gouvernement fédéral à la déclaration de guerre) associé à une poussée en aval du fleuve Mississippi pour diviser la Confédération. Cette approche, lente mais sure, n'obtint pas l'approbation des politiciens ni celle du peuple, pour lesquels le mot de ralliement était :" A Richmond ! ".

It emportat not either the adhesion of Lincoln which pressed its Generals "to destroy the army rebels" in only one decisive battle. Its energetic attitude pushed its last to be embarked in projects against which they nourished solids preventions: it was less easy to destroy an army under the geostrategic conditions of North America, than Lincoln did not want to admit it well.

The fact that the strategy was limited to only one objective did not explain only by the initial incompetence of the northerner officers, although it characterized this army a long time. It had promoted regular soldiers with ranks which did not correspond to their real capacities, because the inflation of manpower involved an explosion of the request for framing of these young recruits. One had had to reconcile Generals whose political claims largely exceeded military competences. The men of merit reflect time to leave the row, but thanks to the flexibility of the northerner system, Grant could become lieutenant-General in 3 years, and brigadier general Upton at the 24 years age.

It took time for North to make feel all its power, and for its chiefs for reconnaitre that it was with blow of bludgeon and not of rapière that they would overcome the South. North must much in Grant which took the command of the armies of the Union in March 1864 and immediately announced its intention to exert the strongest pressure against the staggering Confederation, while using all troops of the army to make them converge towards the same core.

During the last 12 months the war, the strategy of the Union showed an astonishing modernity, in particular by becoming aware that the force of a belligerent is due initially to its human and economic resources.

Principal battles and seats

Naval battles


  • It is said by certain that the soldiers northerners () called them Southerners Johnny Rebb.
  • Term OK (Okay): It is said by certain that at that time, each evening, the report/ratio mentioned the number of killed in the course of the day; if there were not, one wrote OK (either 0 Killed)

Personalities of the Union

Personalities of the Confederation

Artistic references


Comic strips

  • Blue Tunics
  • [ [ the youth of Blueberry ]
  • [ [ the series of "Mac Coy", captain Southerner ]


  • Glory, carried out by Edward Zwick
  • Gettysburg, carried out by Ronald F. Maxwell

See too

Related articles

United States of America gate - Reach the articles of Wikipédia concerning the United States.


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