Portal:American Civil War

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Battle of Fort Sumter
Confederate batteries bombard Fort Sumter

The American Civil War (1861–1865) was a bitter sectional rebellion against the United States of America by the Confederate States of America, formed of eleven southern 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 South 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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Battle of Corydon American Civil War.svg
The Battle of Corydon was a minor engagement that took place July 9, 1863, just south of Corydon, which had been the original capital of Indiana until 1825, and was the seat of Harrison county. The attack occurred during Morgan's Raid in the American Civil War as a force of 2,500 cavalry invaded the North in support of the Tullahoma Campaign. It was the only pitched battle of the Civil War that occurred in Indiana, and no battle has occurred within Indiana since.

Although the short battle cost the cavalry twice as many casualties as the outnumbered militia units, the battle resulted in a Confederate victory, which enabled Brig. Gen. John Hunt Morgan to secure supplies and money before continuing his raid through Indiana and into Ohio. The delay, however, proved critical in helping the pursuing Union army overtake and later capture Morgan and his forces.

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Though no major battles were fought in New Jersey, the state provided a source of troops, equipment and leaders for the Union during the American Civil War. Soldiers and volunteers from New Jersey played an important part in the war, including Philip Kearny and George B. McClellan, who led the Army of the Potomac early in the Civil War and unsuccessfully ran for President of the United States in 1864 against his former commander-in-chief, Abraham Lincoln.

The Quaker population of New Jersey was especially intolerant of slavery. However, New Jersey ended up becoming the last of the northern states to abolish slavery by enacting legislation which caused the slow abolishment of slavery. Though New Jersey passed an act for the gradual abolition of slavery in 1804, it wasn't until 1830 that most blacks were free in the state. However, by the close of the Civil War, about a dozen African-Americans in New Jersey were still apprenticed freedmen. New Jersey at first refused to ratify the Constitutional Amendments that banned slavery. New Jersey was a major part of the extensive Underground Railroad system.

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Wlodzimierz Krzyzanowski.jpg
Włodzimierz Bonawentura Krzyżanowski [vwɔˈd͡ʑimjɛʂ kʂɨʐaˈnɔfski] (Wladimir Krzyzanowski; July 8, 1824 – January 31, 1887) was a Polish military leader and a brigade commander in the Union Army during the American Civil War. He played a role in the July 1863 Battle of Gettysburg in helping push back an evening assault by the famed Louisiana Tigers on the Union defenses atop East Cemetery Hill.

Krzyżanowski was born in Rożnowo, Grand Duchy of Posen, into an old Polish noble family that bore the Świnka coat of arms, and whose roots reached back to the 14th century and ownership of the village of Krzyżanowo near Kościan. Krzyżanowski's father and both uncles had fought for Polish independence under Napoleon's banners, and his brother fought in the November 1830 Uprising.

In Washington, D.C., Krzyżanowski enlisted as a private two days after President Abraham Lincoln called for volunteers in early 1861. He recruited a company of Polish immigrants, which became one of the first companies of Union soldiers. Krzyżanowski then moved his company to New York City and enlisted more immigrants and soon became colonel of the 58th New York Infantry regiment, listed in the official Army Register as the "Polish Legion".

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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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