The American Civil War Portal
The American Civil War (1861–1865) was a sectional rebellion against the United States of America by the Confederate States, 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 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.
The Medal of Honor
is the highest military decoration
awarded by the United States government
. It is bestowed on a member of the United States armed forces who distinguishes himself "conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States". Because of the nature of its criteria, the medal is often awarded posthumously.
Early in the Civil War, Public Resolution 82, containing a provision for a Navy Medal of Valor, was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on December 21, 1861. The medal was "to be bestowed upon such petty officers, seamen, landsmen, and Marines as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry and other seamanlike qualities during the present war." Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles directed the Philadelphia Mint to design the new decoration. Shortly afterward, a resolution of similar wording was introduced on behalf of the Army and was signed into law on July 12, 1862. This measure provided for awarding a Medal of Honor, as the Navy version also came to be called: "to such noncommissioned officers and privates as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action, and other soldier-like qualities, during the present insurrection."
Six Union soldiers who hijacked the General, a Confederate locomotive were the first recipients. Raid leader James J. Andrews, a civilian hanged as a Union spy, did not receive the medal. Many Medals of Honor awarded in the 19th century were associated with saving the flag, not just for patriotic reasons, but because the flag was a primary means of battlefield communication. During the time of the Civil War, no other military award was authorized, and to many this explains why some seemingly less notable actions were recognized by the Medal of Honor during that war.
Grand Parade of the States
The U.S. state of Maine
was a source of military manpower, supplies, ships, arms, and political support for the Union Army
. Maine was the first state in the northeast to be aligned with the new Republican Party
, partly due to the influence of evangelical Protestantism, and partly to the fact that Maine was a frontier
state, and thus receptive to the party's "free soil" platform. Abraham Lincoln
chose Maine's Hannibal Hamlin
as his first Vice President, and said on meeting Brunswick
novelist Harriet Beecher Stowe
(the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin
), "so this is the little lady who made this big war".
Maine was so enthusiastic for the cause that it ended up contributing a larger number of combatants, in proportion to its population, than any other Union state. It was second only to Massachusetts in the number of its sailors who served in the Union Navy. Colonel Joshua L. Chamberlain (later a major general) and the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment played a key role at the Battle of Gettysburg, and the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery Regiment lost more men in a single charge (during the Siege of Petersburg) than any Union regiment in the war.
Jeremy Francis Gilmer
(February 23, 1818 – December 1, 1883) was an American soldier, mapmaker, and civil engineer
most noted for his service as the Chief Engineer of the Confederate States Army
during the American Civil War
. Gilmer was born in Guilford County, North Carolina
. He entered the army corps of engineers as a second lieutenant
upon his graduation from the United States Military Academy
in 1839. He was an assistant professor of engineering at West Point until June 1840, when he was reassigned to New York City where he was assistant engineer in the construction of Fort Schuyler
in New York Harbor
. Gilmer served in the Mexican War
as Chief Engineer of the Army of the West and also surveyed battlefields near Mexico City.
Upon the outbreak of the Civil War, he resigned his commission in June 1861, left California, and entered the Confederate service. He was appointed as a major of engineers. He soon became chief engineer on the staff of General A. S. Johnston. Gilmer was severely wounded in his right arm at the Battle of Shiloh, where Johnston was killed. After his recovery in Georgia, Gilmer was promoted to chief engineer of the Department of Northern Virginia in early August 1862.In 1863, he was promoted to major general and appointed Chief of the Engineer Bureau for the Confederacy. He spent time overseeing the defenses of Charleston, South Carolina, although he was still plagued by recurring health problems from his Shiloh wound.
Concerned that the vital rail and manufacturing center of Atlanta would be targeted by Union forces, he commissioned Atlanta businessman and entrepreneur Lemuel P. Grant to develop a plan to ring the city with forts and earthworks along all the key approaches. These elaborate defenses would prove difficult to seize in frontal assaults, forcing the Union army to lay siege to Atlanta in the summer of 1864. Gilmer helped improve the defenses of Mobile, Alabama, in June and July. He returned to Richmond late in 1864 and spent the rest of the war there in the Engineer Bureau.